WASHINGTON, D.C. — Diversity of the immigrant population within the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community and their contributions to the U.S. economy have be highlighted in a report released Thursday by the Advancing Justice-LA (Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles) and Advancing Justice | AAJC (Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC).
The report, Inside the Numbers: How Immigration Shapes Asian American and Pacific Islander Communities, provides background on the immigration pathways that people take to come to the U.S. and analyzes key issues, such as how AAPIs are affected by current ineffective immigration policies and are suffering because of new policy proposals. From the impact of the Muslim and refugee bans and the rescission of DACA and Temporary Protected Status to the visa backlogs and long processing times to become naturalized citizens, the Asian American community is undeniably feeling the impact.
“We have been advocating for policies that help our community, not hurt them. This report shows that long visa backlogs, constant attacks on the immigrant community, and enforcement efforts are having a negative effect in our community, but still our community is a resilient one,” said John C. Yang, President and Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC.
“Growing up as an undocumented immigrant, I know how the right policies can have a positive impact and allow for immigrants and refugees in our community to more effectively contribute and even go on to become naturalized citizens and make their mark in the world.”
The report reveals there are more than 1.1 million Asian American immigrant-owned businesses in the U.S. — nearly three times as many as the 389,000 businesses owned by native-born Asian Americans. Over a third of all immigrant-owned businesses in the country are owned by Asian Americans.
“Over 12 million Asian immigrants and 220,000 Pacific Islander immigrants live in the U.S., yet they are often overlooked in domestic policies and immigration policy,” said Jeffer Giang, Research Analyst at Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles. “In order for our communities to thrive, we need to reduce barriers to accessing critical services and opportunities. This report will help policy- and decisionmakers need to better understand the contributions and needs of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in this country.”
There are nearly 3.7 million aspiring immigrants waiting for family preference visas, and more than 40% of the people stuck in the family backlogs are from Asia. In the final section in the report, Advancing Justice | AAJC and Advancing Justice-LA share several policy recommendations:
- Pass legislation to update the family immigration system and resolve the problem of family backlogs.
- Ask Congress to defund and repeal all iterations of the Muslim Ban and prevent any future president from enacting any new, similar bans.
- Recommend the administration honor the requests of asylum seekers, without being criminalized, turned away, detained indefinitely, or separated from their families and cuts made to the enforcement, detention, and deportation budgets of ICE and CBP within the Department of Homeland Security.