Friday, May 9, 2008

Lofgren-Sensenbrenner Visa Bill

Family immigration has been one of the key strengths of our nation. Those who immigrate in family categories contribute to every level of the economy in addition to bringing social stability and strong values to the country. Here's a press release on legislation that recognizes the need to keep the family immigration categories strong and viable.

Asian American Justice Center Applauds the Introduction of Lofgren-Sensenbrenner Visa Recapture Bill

Calls on Congress to Address Family and Employment Visa Backlogs
Washington, D.C. – The Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), a leading national civil and human rights organization, applauded last week’s introduction of a visa recapture bill (HR 5882) by Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI). The bill would ensure that unused and unclaimed family and employment-based visas which have been allocated in past years could be re-allocated in future years.
“We commend House Immigration Subcommittee Chair Lofgren’s effort to work in a bipartisan way to restore some fairness to the system,” said Karen K. Narasaki, president and executive director of AAJC. “It is only fair that visas that don’t get used in one year get rolled over for future use, particularly when the existing annual quota is already too limited. The limited availability of family visas is resulting in separations of five to 23 years depending on the category. It is outrageous that visas are allowed to go to waste.”
Immigrants coming to join Asian American families face some of the worst immigration backlogs in the world. An estimated 4 million family-based immigrants are currently waiting in line, and 1.5 million family members of these family-based immigrants are family members of Asian Americans. Studies have also shown that the long backlogs in the family-based immigration system contribute to the rise in undocumented immigration, which includes 1.3 million Asian Americans without legal immigration status.
The bill would also provide some relief to immigrants who came under temporary employment visas for high skilled labor under the H-1B program. Under that program, a fixed number of immigrants who want to stay and who have employers who also want them to stay are allowed to apply for a permanent employment visa. However, there are not enough visas allocated for immigrant visas and a long backlog has developed. In recent years, almost half of the H1-B temporary visas were issued to high skilled immigrant workers from India and China. Many of these workers are facing long unreasonable waiting times to adjust to legal permanent residence status.
Congresswoman Lofgren’s bill would recapture hundreds of thousands of family and employment visas, and give much-needed relief to the families and individuals waiting for a visa for permanent residence because of bureaucratic delays and system backups.

“We cannot continue to allow bureaucratic delay and dysfunction to further undermine an already broken system,” said Tuyet G. Duong, senior staff attorney at AAJC. “To fully fix the system, Congress needs to do much more to ensure that immigrant families are able to lawfully come to our country in a timely and humane manner and that the promises made to immigrant workers are fulfilled.”
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The Asian American Justice Center, formerly known as NAPALC, is a national organization dedicated to defending and advancing the civil and human rights of Asian Americans. It works closely with three affiliates – the Asian American Institute of Chicago, the Asian Law Caucus in San Francisco, and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center in Los Angeles – and nearly 100 community partners in 49 cities, 23 states and Washington, D.C.


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