Family a Priority for Immigration Reform Advocates

Asian American groups react to family petitions limitations for immigrants.

ByABC News
April 2, 2013, 3:26 PM

April 2, 2013— -- Immigration reform advocates are pushing Congress to be inclusive of immigrants' families when drafting immigration reform.

The National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC) kicked off a month-long photography contest Tuesday to highlight the role of family in immigrant communities. The contest "We Are America, America Is Home" seeks to create a visual narrative of all types of families who call the United States home.

Participants are encouraged to submit photos online by April 30, 2013. Photos will be shared with members of Congress and used to promote NAKASEC's family campaign, according to NAKASEC staff.

See Also: Immigration Reform Could Pit Family Ties Against Economic Need

"We want to remind Congress and President Obama what this is all about. It's about families," Hey Kyung Eum, community organizer with partner organization Korean Resource & Cultural Center based in Chicago, said in a statement marking the launch of the campaign.

The push follows a recent proposal by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) that would narrowly limit whom U.S. residents could petition visas or greencards for. Graham is part of a bipartisan group of senators, known as Gang of Eight, who are drafting an immigration bill.

"Green cards should be reserved for the nuclear family. Green cards are economic engines for the country," Graham said. "This is not a family court we're dealing with here. We're dealing about an economic need," he told the Associated Press.

This would be a departure from the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which prioritized families as well as skilled labor in extending residency.

"Some members of Congress think that jeopardizing certain members of our community in the name of economic prosperity is O.K. We're here to tell them it's not," said Dong Yoon Kim, program associate with NAKASEC.

One in 10 Asians in the United States is undocumented, according to a report by the Korean Resource Center in Los Angeles. Koreans are the 8th largest group of undocumented immigrants.

Deferred action applicants from Korea were the largest Asian group and 5th overall after El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Peru.