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Congressional Asian Caucus fights to keep sibling visas

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U.S. Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), seen here in a file photo, says there are positive elements in the Senate's immigration bill, but she wants to see changes to the family visas category.

The Senate immigration bill is a product of compromise, which means not everyone is pleased, including Asian American House Democrats. Their concern is the limit on visas for adult married children and eliminating them entirely for siblings.

The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus has been lobbying negotiators working on immigration bills in both the Senate and House. Democrat Judy Chu of Monterey Park, chair of the Asian Caucus, says the Senate bill contains some concessions: adult married children 30 and under would still be eligible for family visas, and siblings could still apply for visas, but only in the first 18 months after the law is enacted.

But Chu says the caucus will continue to raise its voice over the sibling issue. She cites the example of a woman who becomes a naturalized citizen and petitions for her parents to come over. "Does it make any sense that she has to leave her 12-year-old brother behind? That's what this would mean."

Chu says the Senate bill makes some concessions for applicants of sibling visas who've been waiting for decades for their visas to be approved under current law. "Right now," she says, "people are waiting as long as 24 years." The Senate bill contains a mandate that the backlog be cleared up within the decade. "That’s very good," Chu says.

According to the State Department, 40 percent of those currently waiting for family visas are Asian immigrants -- most of them from China, Vietnam, South Korea, and the Philippines.

 

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