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American Muslim

Daschle-Hagel bipartisan
immigration reform bill applauded

Washington D.C. January 21, 2004 -- Today Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle and Republican Senator Chuck Hagel introduced bipartisan immigration reform legislation, The Immigration Reform Act of 2004.

The National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium and its affiliates, the Asian Law Caucus and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, commend Sens. Daschle and Hagel for taking the first step in tackling the difficult issue of immigration reform by introducing bipartisan legislation that addresses all the issues involved in comprehensive immigration reform.

First, the Daschle-Hagel bill contains provisions to reduce the massive backlog in family immigration.  “Millions of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents have been waiting for years, sometimes over a decade, to be reunited with their family members in the United States,” observed Karen K. Narasaki, President and Executive Director of NAPALC.  Over 1.5 million of 3.5 million people caught in the family immigration backlog are from Asian countries.  “By proposing concrete measures to reduce this unconscionable backlog in family immigration, Senators Daschle and Hagel have recognized that reuniting families in a timely manner is a crucial component in reforming our immigration system.”

Second, the Daschle-Hagel legislation provides a mechanism for undocumented immigrants to earn their way to lawful permanent residence if they can show that they have worked hard, have paid or are willing to pay taxes, and are willing to fulfill English and Civics requirements.  Currently, approximately one million undocumented immigrants from Asian countries live in the United States.

“We would like to thank Senators Daschle and Hagel for acknowledging that hard-working immigrants with roots in United States must be given meaningful opportunity to come out of the shadows and earn their way towards becoming permanent, fully integrated members of our society,”  said Traci Hong, Immigration Staff Attorney for NAPALC.  “We look forward to working with the senators to ensure that all hard-working undocumented immigrants who have contributed to our economy can participate in either the earned legalization or the temporary worker provisions of this bill.”

Finally, the Daschle-Hagel bill creates a new temporary worker program to facilitate a legal and orderly future flow of workers in and out of the United States.  “While the temporary worker programs in the Daschle-Hagel legislation provides greater wage and labor protections for both U.S. workers and immigrant workers than the President’s proposal or other guest worker legislations currently pending in Congress, we would welcome the opportunity to work with Senators Daschle and Hagel and other members of Congress to further strengthen protections for U.S. and immigrant workers alike,” stated Stewart Kwoh, Executive Director of APALC.

“Senators Daschle and Hagel have shown that Congress can tackle immigration reform in a comprehensive and bipartisan manner,” continued Kwoh.  “There is now a widespread consensus that the current immigration system is broken.  We hope that the President will work with Senators Daschle and Hagel as well as other members of Congress on both sides of the aisle who want to fix the broken system.”