‘Immigration is a Filipino story, it’s about bringing families together’

Irene Bueno

Irene Bueno

By Maricar CP Hampton

The proposed Senate bill called Border Security Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (or S.744) is the first possible major overhaul to America’s immigration laws since the1986 amnesty.

Although the bill attempts to create a new roadmap to citizenship for an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants through legal work permits and the Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) status, it falls short on key issues such as family reunification.

The Filipino American community here voiced their anxieties and objections to the bill at a recent town hall-style Talakayan sa Embahada held at the Philippine Embassy. Let’s hear from those who were there.

Irene Bueno
Former Special Assistant to the President in the Clinton Administration

There are some good things and there are some bad things in the Senate bill. Some of the good things are they would reduce the backlog. So those that are currently on a backlog will be able to come in eight to 10 years. Some individuals like their spouse, minor children immediate relatives will not have to wait they just have to do some paper works will be able to come immediately if you are a U.S. citizen or a legal resident.

The bad thing is they are getting rid of the fourth preference so U.S. citizens cannot petition for his or her brother and sister to come to the U.S. Another thing is they would limit the petition for your adult married children, you must be 30 years and younger in order to be petitioned.

Vida Benavides
Organizer, Filipinos For Family Reunification coalition

Taking the example from the veterans bill, Filipinos can make a difference. The story of Filipino Americans is about immigration and we have to own it. Filipinos are everywhere, we have to educate mobilize advocate we have to be involved.

Jon Melegrito
Spokesman, National Federation of Filipino American Associations

The Bill is moving very quickly and we want to make sure our community is aware as well as educated about this very complex issue because it affects them. Immigration is a Filipino story. It affects our relatives, siblings, children and it’s all about bringing families together. It’s a very crucial part of this legislation.

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