KAYA PARTICIPATES IN COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM DEBATE

Washington, DC (January 18, 2010) – KAYA: Filipino Americans for Progress is proud to announce its participation in the National Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Week of Action in order to call on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform. All communities, including AAPIs, have an important stake in the passage of comprehensive immigration reform, which looks to be a top priority in the 111th Congress.

The National Asian American Pacific Islander Week of Action, which runs from January 12-20, is a collaborative effort among national, state and local AAPI organizations and allies to demonstrate the collective power and voice of AAPIs in the comprehensive immigration reform debate. Coordinated outreach and events across the nation will engage community members in the broader Reform Immigration FOR America campaign, and show Congress that the AAPI community is serious about demanding reform this year.  KAYA will work with other community-based organizations that serve immigrant populations at both local and national levels to engage our community.

“Filipino Americans have a clear stake in the passage of comprehensive immigration reform,” said Iryll Umel, Washington, DC-based Vice Chair for KAYA: Filipino Americans for Progress.  “As a voice for Filipino Americans in Washington, DC and across the country, KAYA is engaging in the comprehensive immigration reform debate to fix the broken immigration system.  We look forward to educating our families and communities and advocating in the halls of Congress for progressive comprehensive immigration reform legislation.”

Rafael “Ace” S. Climaco, San Francisco-based KAYA Steering Committee member, explains the importance of raising awareness and moving toward action. “As an attorney, I have had clients who have waited over 20 years for their petitioned relatives to arrive in the United States.  By the time their relatives immigrated to the United States, they were already past working age,” said Climaco.   “Therefore, without any substantial income, they have had a difficult time maintaining a decent quality of life.  This shows how unsustainable the current immigration system is.  If family reunification is indeed a priority, then the laws should reflect that priority and unify families, not keep them apart.”

According to American Community Survey, Filipino Americans there are almost 3 million U.S. residents of Filipino descent. Second to Korean Americans, Filipino Americans have next highest number of undocumented residents in the AAPI community, at about over 20 percent. Additionally, non-criminal deportations of Filipino Americans have significantly increased since 9/11.

Families in our community have been separated for far too long. Out of AAPI ethnic groups, Filipino Americans suffer from the longest backlogs, with sponsorship and immigration into the U.S. up to 22 years for siblings of U.S. citizens.

Another key item of immigration legislation for the Filipino American community will exempt the children of Filipino WWII veterans from annual numerical limitations and allow for quicker processing of petitions.  The Filipino WWII Veterans Family Reunification Act is part of the broader Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity Act of 2009 (CIR ASAP Act of 2009), which was introduced by Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-IL).  It has become one of the first pieces of legislation in the comprehensive immigration reform debate, and KAYA will continue to monitor developments and make sure that Filipino Americans are included in the discussion.

“With last year’s passage of historic legislation recognizing the military service of Filipino World War II Veterans and the official recognition of October as Filipino American History Month by both houses of Congress, Filipino Americans achieved unprecedented legislative victories last year,” said Melissa Josue, San Francisco-based KAYA Communications Director.   “KAYA looks to continue to push this momentum into the comprehensive immigration reform debate.

During the Week of Action, you can support immigration reform by doing the following:

  • Text “AAPI” to 69866 to receive timely action alerts and updates.
  • Call or write your Congress members and ask them to support comprehensive immigration reform this year.
  • Join an event in your area.
  • Download the Field Packet for AAPI Communities.
  • Share your immigration story by emailing kayanatin@kayagrassroots.org

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Download the press release here: KAYA Press Release/Statement on Immigration Reform Week

KAYA is a progressive grassroots organization previously known as Filipinos for Obama. During the Obama campaign, KAYA volunteers successfully reached out to thousands of voters and helped to deliver key votes in California, Nevada and many other states. Today, KAYA focuses on electoral mobilization, policy advocacy, and leadership development through internship and mentorship programs. KAYA believes in the power of civic engagement and volunteerism. Find out more at http://www.kayagrassroots.org.

Contact: Melissa Josue, KAYA Communications Director, melissa@kayagrassroots.org, 510-258-2899

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