The JACL took action during January’s AAPI Week of Action for Immigration Reform. Nearly 100 JACL members sent text messages through a program run through Reform Immigration for America showing the AAPI community’s support for comprehensive immigration reform. On January 20, JACL Staff joined in on an AAPI Tele-Townhall over the phone discussing the AAPI Week of Action. As part of a community education effort, JACL staff and board members wrote blog posts highlighting the stake the Japanese American and AAPI community has in immigration reform. Check out the links below:
Japanese Americans and Immigration: Where We Fit (01/19)
by Kristin Fukushima, PSW Policy Coordinator
The Dollars and Cents of Comprehensive Immigration Reform (01/20)
by Tim Koide, JACL Membership Coordinator (SF Office)
The Dirty Pinball Machine Detention System (01/20)
by Brandon Mita, JACL National Board - Youth Representative
The "I-word" in Health Care Reform (01/14)
by Jean Shiraki, Inouye Fellow (DC Office)
National AAPI Text-In Day Jan. 19 (01/13)
by Phillip Ozaki, Mineta Fellow (DC Office)
THE TRAIL OF DREAMS
On June 1, 2010, JACL Mineta Fellow Phillip Ozaki attended a welcome event for the Trail of Dreams. The Trail of Dreams is the story of four undocumented students who walked from Miami, Florida to Washington D.C from January 1, 2010 to June 1, 2010.
The students headed to Washington to demand a stop the deportation of undocumented students. They also asked Congress to pass the DREAM Act, which would provide undocumented youth a pathway to citizenship. The DREAM Act is included in the new draft immigration proposal.
Visit the Trail of Dreams website: http://trail2010.org/
ARIZONA'S S.B. 1070
The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) joined with other national civil rights groups in filing a lawsuit against the implementation of SB 1070, the signed Arizona law that authorizes local law enforcement officers to detain those who may be suspected to be in this country without legal authorization. This lawsuit challenges the new Arizona law that was recently passed through the Arizona State Legislature and signed into law by Arizona Governor Brewer.
The JACL has expressed strong opposition to the legislation because it is seen as open season for local law enforcement officers to prey upon people of color, particularly the Hispanic population who are often the target of discriminatory detention practices of local police. Asian Americans, who have seen a long history of anti-immigrant politics, also fear the threat of detention simply because this group of American citizens are often mistaken for visiting foreigners.
Floyd Mori, the National Executive Director of the JACL stated that, "Japanese Americans are all too familiar with law enforcement actions that have targeted their communities simply because of their ethnicity and nothing else. While there are alleged protections in the new law, we have seen the terrible impact of overzealous law enforcement who ignored the basic protections of the Constitution in the past. It was wrong to racial profile then and it is wrong today."
The National JACL President, Larry Oda commented, "We feel it our duty and obligation to stand with our friends in the civil rights arena to challenge the Constitutional validity of this new law. JACL members are at risk because Asian Americans are often seen as the perpetual foreigner and assumed to be immigrants when many are now fourth and fifth generation Americans."
MARCH FOR AMERICA
On Saturday, May 1, 2010, over 500,000 people collectively called for immigration reform in marches around the nation. In Los Angeles, 250,000 people took to the streets to protest family separation. In Milwaukee, 70,000 immigration reformers rallied for worker's rights. In Chicago, 110,000 activists asked for legislation to provide a fair pathway to citizenship.
In late April, Senators Reid (NV), Schumer (NY), and Menendez (NJ), introduced a draft proposal of a comprehensive immigration reform bill. The JACL is anxious to work with both Democrats and Republicans to progress with comprehensive immigration reform on a bi-partisan basis.
Now, there is a petition to ask Congress to continue this momentum. Check out the petition here: http://reformimmigrationforamerica.org/blog/index.php
CIR ASAP ACT
Congressman Luiz Gutierrez, along with other advocates of immigration reform proposed America’s Security and Prosperity (CIR ASAP) Act of 2009. This bill addresses various pieces of immigration legislation and offers suggestions to resolve the issues with the current immigration status. A summarized version of the CIR ASAP Act can be read here.
Senator Charles E. Schumer has also drafted a Senate version for comprehensive immigration reform. He proposes seven principles that he said would form the basis for the legislation he intends to introduce by the fall:
1. Illegal immigration is wrong, and a primary goal of comprehensive immigration reform must be to dramatically curtail future illegal immigration.
2. Operational control of our borders--through significant additional increases in infrastructure, technology, and border personnel--must be achieved within a year of enactment of legislation.
3. A biometric-based employer verification system—with tough enforcement and auditing—is necessary to significantly diminish the job magnet that attracts illegal aliens to the United States and to provide certainty and simplicity for employers.
4. All illegal aliens present in the United States on the date of enactment of our bill must quickly register their presence with the United States Government—and submit to a rigorous process of converting to legal status and earning a path to citizenship—or face imminent deportation.
5. Family reunification is a cornerstone value of our immigration system. By dramatically reducing illegal immigration, we can create more room for both family immigration and employment-based immigration.
6. We must encourage the world’s best and brightest individuals to come to the United States and create the new technologies and businesses that will employ countless American workers, but must discourage businesses from using our immigration laws as a means to obtain temporary and less-expensive foreign labor to replace capable American workers; and finally
7. We must create a system that converts the current flow of unskilled illegal immigrants into the United States into a more manageable and controlled flow of legal immigrants who can be absorbed by our economy.