House Republicans Are Failing Immigrants

A meeting of the Chinese for Affirmative Action Parent Advocates program's workshop on immigration.

It has been almost one year since the U.S. Senate passed their version of comprehensive immigration reform, and the Republicans in the House of Representatives have still done nothing at all.

The refusal of House Republicans to allow a vote on reform legislation is hurting immigrant communities across the country, including Chinese immigrants here in San Francisco. Many of these immigrants are committed to making a difference to fix the system. They know how much immigrants contribute to the economy, how important the extended family is to our sense of community, and how painful it is to be separated from loved ones simply because of immigration status.

As Kathy Li, a San Francisco resident and mother of two public school children, put it at a recent CAA leadership development training, “It is irresponsible for elected officials to not take action. It is also irresponsible for us to not make our voices heard.” Warren Wong, who is raising his son in the Excelsior neighborhood of San Francisco and is one of the most active members of the CAA Parent Advocates program expressed the same sentiment, “All immigrants are part of families and communities, so we must do all that we can to support one another.”

An overwhelming majority of Americans agree with Kathy and Warren that enacting immigration reform is common sense and the right thing to do. Each of us benefits from policies that keep families together, protect worker and civil rights, and create a pathway to citizenship for all immigrants.

Yet too many are suffering because of empty promises from politicians. Inaction and delay by Congress on legislation, as well as the White House on scaling back deportations, have already torn apart millions of families.

But after a year of inaction from politicians, the movement for immigration justice has never been more determined. People from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, in business and labor groups, and with community and faith-based organizations, are working for a breakthrough on federal reform, and engaging in all aspects of the political process.

Now that the bulk of Congressional primary elections have concluded, we expect a roller coaster on immigration reform in the coming weeks. We will all need to be as creative as we can to push House Republicans to take legislative action immediately, and to demand that the President use his full executive authority to halt unnecessary deportations and to improve the situation facing all immigrants.