Organizations Call for Historic National APA Mobilization for Just and Humane Immigration Reform

March 27, 2007
For Immediate Release

Contacts: Eun Sook Lee, NAKASEC, 323-937-3703
Dae Joong Yoon, KRC, 323. 937. 3718
Becky Belcore, KRCC, 773. 506. 9158
YuSoung Mun, YKASEC, 718. 460. 5600

Organizations Call for Historic National APA Mobilization for Just and Humane Immigration Reform

[Los Angeles] Organizations nationwide are calling for a national mobilization of Asian Pacific Americans (APAs) to Washington DC on April 30 – May 1, 2007. This 2-day event will include community dialogues, legislative visits, and a rally in the Capital.

Eun Sook Lee, Executive Director of the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC) explains: “Hundreds of participants from more than 20 states will come together to educate the public and lawmakers about how today’s broken immigration system is hurting all our communities. This event comes at a strategic moment with the recent introduction of the first serious legislative proposal in the new Congress by Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) and Representative Jeff Flake (R-AZ). As the debate begins to unfold, APAs must come together to project our unified voice and vision for just and humane immigration reform.”

“Asian American immigrants are an integral part of America - we are workers, neighbors, and small business owners who revitalize communities and contribute significantly to our economy. Immigration policies impact Asian American immigrants and the hundreds of community based organizations that serve them. As a coalition of more than one hundred such organizations, we add our voices to the call for Comprehensive Immigration Reform – a call to reunite families, create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and extend legal protections to all workers who seek the American Dream. In this national day of mobilization, we tell our stories as immigrants and as descendants of immigrants to build America’s future together,” said Lisa Hasegawa, Executive Director of the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development.

“Immigration reform has been at the heart of JACL advocacy from its founding in 1929 when anti-Asian immigration laws were passed to keep Asians from coming to this country. Yet the spirit associated with immigration is at the heart of the American economic system and is an institution essential to the future of this country. Comprehensive Immigration Reform must be passed in this Congressional session in order that basic American economic growth and economic justice continue into the future,” said Floyd Mori, National Director of the Japanese American Citizens League.

"For many years, we as APAs have conducted countless grassroots activities for changes to our immigration laws. In this way, we have contributed to the building of America's future by actively participating in shaping the debate for workable and just immigration reform. In New York City alone, hundreds of APAs took part in the biggest national mobilization in US history on April 10, 2006. In this coming event, APAs from across the country will show the breadth of diversity and power we bring as significant contributors to this country." said Yu Soung Mun, Executive Director, YKASEC-Empowering the Korean American Community in Flushing, NY.

“The time has come for Asian Americans to mobilize and let other Americans know how the broken immigration system is undermining Asian American families and communities,” Karen Narasaki President & Executive Director Asian American Justice Center emphasized. “We need to make sure that any reform of the immigration laws fully incorporates our shared American values of family, human rights, civil liberties, and due process. We hope Asian Americans will join us in Washington to form a strong voice calling for comprehensive, workable and fair immigration reform.”

The APA Mobilization will include groups that have been underrepresented in the immigration reform discussion. Doua Thor, Executive Director of the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center said, "Refugee populations are largely impacted by immigration policies and have traditionally been left out of immigration reform debates. A national day of mobilization provides us an opportunity to stand united with all APIA communities to ensure that our voices are included on this very important issue."

"Immigration reform is a critical next step for South Asians who are waiting in the shadows to become strong participants in society. Between 2000 and 2005, undocumented immigration from India rose by 133%. Policy solutions that will provide pathways to citizenship and eliminate the visa backlog are priorities for South Asian immigrants," stated Deepa Iyer, Executive Director of South Asian American Leaders of Tomorrow.

“Unfair immigration laws in this country have a profound impact on immigrant young people. We receive dozens of calls and visits to our office everyday from disheartened immigrant students wondering what they will do without a chance at college or a job,” said Dae Joong Yoon, Executive Director of the Korean Resource Center in Los Angeles, CA. In the Korean American community, 1 in 5 is undocumented with many under the age of 18. “No one will deny that children are America’s future, but as a country and a society, we must pass legislation like the DREAM Act to ensure that all children will be included in this future. APAs are coming to DC from Los Angeles to urge Congress to pass the DREAM Act.”

“We are bringing APAs from around the country to DC to call on Congress to bring immigration law in line with reality and to recognize the contributions of immigrants to the US economy,” said Michael C. Lin, Executive Director of Organization of Chinese Americans, a national organization dedicated to social justice for Asian Pacific Americans, “Important first steps towards fair and comprehensive immigration reform have already begun, but concerns remain about proposed legislation. We strongly urge members of Congress to respond to their immigrant constituencies when continuing the debate.”

"As immigrants today, it's our responsibility to learn about the newly introduced bill, and participate in whatever we can to improve it. Now is the time that we can make a difference. After passage of this bill, whether you like it or not, this legislation will impact the daily lives of all immigrant communities. Here in Chicago, we are working with Korean, Chinese, Cambodian and other APA communities who understand this and are willing to take a stand,” concluded Becky Belcore, Executive Director of the Korean American Resource and Cultural Center in Chicago.

For more information, please contact Morna Ha at NAKASEC, 323-937-3703 extension 201.