Chinese Rally for Family-Based Immigration

Around 100 protesters, which included Chinese, Korean and Latino immigrants and their supporters, condemned government plans to cut immigration numbers. (Photo by Chunxiang Jin via World Journal)

President Trump’s proposal of cutting back the number of legal immigrants by, among other things, largely restricting family-based immigration prompted more than a hundred immigrants to gather in midtown Manhattan to protest on Feb. 10.

The proposal, which was announced last month, was reflected in H.R.4760 and S.1720, both pending in Congress. As it would only allow immigrants to bring their spouses and minor children to the U.S., it is stirring up fear, and protests, in immigrant communities.   

The protesters, which included Chinese, Korean and Latino immigrants and advocates, condemned the two pieces of legislation. They pointed out that the general belief that immigrants can easily bring all their extended family members to the U.S. is false. It takes (…) years of waiting for a family member to get a family reunification green card. The protesters urged the U.S. government to understand that if this country would like to retain high-end talent, it cannot have families ripped apart.

If the legislation is passed, it would reduce the number of new legal immigrants by 420,000 in fiscal year 2019, a 38 percent drop from the current level. Na Peng, a Chinese immigrant who has been in the U.S. for almost 20 years and works in the IT industry, said the proposal not only plans to eliminate the green card category for the parents of American citizens, it also aims to lower the age threshold for citizens’ eligible children from 21 to 18. These changes will severely affect the reunification of immigrant families. He said Chinese culture places great importance on family values. Such a policy would tear apart many families, and it goes against the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965.

Peng also said that the anti-immigrant waves that have occurred in U.S. history were all based on racial discrimination, including the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and Mexican Repatriation which happened after the 1929 economic crisis and had hundreds of thousands of Mexicans deported, many of them American citizens. He said under the current politically-charged atmosphere, immigrants not only have to fight to keep their families intact, but also have to protect their children from the animosity. “It’s not good for the children to grow up in an anti-immigrant environment,” Peng said.

Meixin Huang, who was born in the U.S. to an immigrant family from Taiwan, said she was taken care of by her grandparents when she was a child. And their love guaranteed her a happy and healthy childhood. Her grandparents were able to come to the U.S. because the immigration policy allowed her parents to sponsor her grandparents for a green card.

Huang said many people get it wrong [in their belief] that immigrants can easily get their family members to the U.S. under the current policy. “That is not true at all. The average waiting time is 13 to 23 years,” she said. “Also, anti-immigrant people exaggerate the situation and say that ‘one can bring in five, and each of the five can bring in five more, and so on.’ This is so far from the reality.”

Huang said that to sponsor a green card for a family member, one has to prove that he or she is able to financially support them in the U.S. And the applicants have to go through a background check. “Some people think terrorists can come into the U.S. via family immigration. But in fact, immigrants coming in on a family reunification basis have to go through a very strict security check,” Huang said.

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