Concerns over new US immigration bill: South Asian groups

Concerns over new US immigration bill: South Asian groups

A coalition of South Asian groups has expressed concerns over several provisions in the comprehensive immigration bill passed by the United States Senate that will provide a pathway to citizenship to some 11 million illegal immigrants.

"As it now stands, the Senate legislation has numerous flaws," said a statement issued by nearly three dozen South Asian organisations under the banner of National Coalition of South Asian Organisations (NCSO) after the Senate passed the bill yesterday.

"Of particular concern is the inclusion of the Corker-Hoeven Amendment (Leahy Amendment 1183), which heightens border and interior enforcement with increased militarisation, mandatory implementation of E-verify, and further limits benefits for some immigrants," NCSO said.

Moreover, the Senate bill limits options for US citizens to petition for family-based immigration for their siblings and adult married children over the age of 30 creating needless barriers, it said.

"The bill also fails to create a meaningful prohibition on profiling, as it does not ban profiling based on national origin and religion (only race and ethnicity), and at the same time, creates a large border and national security loophole," the South Asian
organisations said.

"It also requires additional screening for individuals on the pathway to citizenship based on where they are from (country or region), which essentially mandates the ineffective profiling that our community members have been enduring, especially since September 11th," it said.

At the same time the South Asian coalition, recognised that the Senate immigration bill contains numerous provisions that will improve the lives of immigrants here today and those coming in the future.

Additionally, with this week's US Supreme Court decision on the Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA), same-sex couples will be able to petition for their partners, a statement said.

Meanwhile, the North American Punjabi Association (NAPA) applauded the immigration bill.

"While the Senate debate has come to a close, we hope that in the upcoming weeks and months, champions in the House of Representatives will advocate for improvements, much like Senators Cardin, Durbin and Hirono and others have done in the Senate over the last few months," NAPA spokesman Satnam Singh Chahal said.