Immigration Issue Heats Up in U.S. As Democrats Support DACA, Reuniting Families Act

Nancy Pelosi gave an 8-hour speech on the House floor on DACA, a day after the Reuniting Families Act was brought up by several Democrats.


Democrat leader Nancy Pelosi held the House floor for record eight hours on Feb.7 to speak about Dreamers, the undocumented migrants who came to the United States as children. A day earlier, the Reuniting Families Act, which aims to remove the backlog in family-based immigration, was proposed by several House Democrats in a press conference held on Feb. 6 in Washington DC, India West reported.

Pelosi, in her record-breaking marathon speech in the House, read out testimonials from the Dreamers, who were protected by Obama-administration’s Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA) that the Trump administration wants suspended. This was a bid to oppose the budget deal to lift spending caps and avert a government shutdown as the plan does not address immigration issues, CNN reported.

The Reuniting Families Act, meanwhile, sponsored by Judy Chu, the Democrat representative of California and chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, had the backing of three of the four members of the “Samosa Caucus” — Pramila Jayapal of Washington, Ro Khanna of California, and Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois. The “Samosa Caucus” includes the Indian American members of Congress.

The legislation, co-sponsored by 45 members of the Congress, has the support of several civil rights organizations. Jayapal said at the event: “My parents spent all the money they had to send me from India to America when I was 15.I didn’t realize as I went through 17 years of process to become a U.S. citizen that I would never be on the same continent as my parents ever again.”

Chu, in turn, targeted the term “chain migration,” saying, “Let’s call ‘chain migration’ what it is: blatant discrimination.”

Referring to Trump’s State of Union address on Jan.30 where he said a single immigrant can bring in unlimited number of distant relatives, Chu pointed out that it takes up to 24 years for some families to reunite due to a huge backlog in the system. There are currently 4.4 million people, largely from India, Philippines and China, in the queue.

“It is not the floodgates Trump believes it to be,” the Congresswoman said.

The bill will have provisions such as eliminating per-country immigration limits, reclassifying spouses and minor children as immediate family members who are not subject to the per-country limits, protection of widows and orphans who would be able to wait for their visa after death of sponsoring relative, and recapturing unused employment-based and family-sponsored visas from fiscal years 1992-2016. The unused visa numbers would be rolled over to the next fiscal year. In the current system, spouses and minor children are classified as “first preference” for immigration. The removal of per-country immigration limits is crucial to eliminating backlogs, the Congress representatives said.

“Those that have reunited with their families are happier, more financially stable, less likely to rely on government assistance, open more businesses, and own homes in greater numbers than native-born citizens. It’s clear family immigration works for our country and should be strengthened, not weakened,” said Chu.

“We believe families should be together. That has been the cornerstone of U.S. immigration policy for decades,” said Jayapal.

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