As Immigration Taskforce chairman of the Congressional Asian and Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), I am very pleased that the Senate bipartisan working group reached a consensus on a core set of principles for comprehensive immigration reform. This is a big step toward honoring our nation’s legacy as a land of opportunity.
I applaud the Senators for answering the call from Silicon Valley. The tech industry is on the verge of a debilitating workforce shortage. By prioritizing a visa category for persons with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), comprehensive immigration reform will strengthen our nation’s economy, and we will avoid serious peril to our global economic competitiveness. Immigration reform that allows high-skilled workers to join our workforce will advance our country’s technological innovation, entrepreneurship, and economic prosperity.
I commend the Senators for addressing family reunification and the reduction of visa backlog that keeps families separated, as well as supporting the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, legislation that will benefit hard-working and brilliant undocumented students. The current family-based immigration system has not been updated in over two decades – keeping spouses, children and their parents separated for years and often decades. There are currently over 4.55 million people in the family immigration backlog waiting unconscionable periods of time to reunite with their family members. Our families deserve a comprehensive fix to our broken immigration system that tackles bureaucratic delays, inefficiencies, and outdated policy that keep loved ones apart.
As LGBT Caucus vice-chairman, however, I am very disappointed that the Senators have not included, in their list of immigration priorities, the elimination of discrimination in immigration law against same-sex, bi-national partners and their families who are seeking to reunite. No one should have to choose between their spouse and their country, and no family should be left out of the immigration system. That is why, next month, I will reintroduce the Reuniting Families Act, a bill that will reduce the backlog of families trying to reunite by classifying lawful permanent resident spouses, children, and same-sex, bi-national partners as “immediate relatives,” and exempting them from numerical caps on family immigration.
Rep Michael Honda (CA-17) is a member of the House Appropriations Committee.