Immigration and Immigrant Rights

The overwhelming majority of Asian Americans are immigrants or the children of immigrants, and the Asian American and Pacific Islander population includes the highest proportion of immigrants of other racial and ethnic groups in the U.S. Immigration continues to be a significant, current, life-affecting issue for AAPIs across the country, particularly as more immigrants enter the U.S. from Asia than from any other region in the world.

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In Immigration Today

On January 25, the administration issued two executive orders that included several inhumane and draconian measures that would criminalize immigrants and cause fear in immigrant communities. The executive orders include a promise to withhold federal funding to sanctuary cities, greatly increase the number of immigration enforcement officers and border patrol officers, resurrect the controversial Secure Communities program, build a wall at the Southern border, create new deportation priorities, and to increase detention—including children and families—at the border, among other things. We will provide more analysis and information on this order as it becomes available.

On January 27th, President Trump issued an executive order creating a Muslim ban, ending the Syrian refugee program and temporarily halting the entire refugee program. The executive order effectively bans all entry of immigrants and nonimmigrants from Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Sudan for a 90 day period without assessment of actual security threats. The ban has the potential to be extended indefinitely if those countries fail to meet certain requirements. Initially the order was applied to lawful permanent residents (people with green cards) despite the fact that a blanket ban on lawful permanent residents is not legal.

Since the order was signed, many people with valid visas have been detained or denied the ability to board planes to the U.S. After several lawsuits were filed and a nationwide temporary restraining order was issued by a federal judge, the U.S. government announced that the ban no longer applies to lawful permanent residents. Much uncertainty remains about the implementation of this executive order, and we will provide more information as it becomes available. People with questions about travel should read the factsheets below and speak to an attorney or Bureau of Immigration Appeals (BIA) accredited representative. We need you to tell your Members of Congress that you oppose attacks on immigrants, Muslims, and refugees and ask them to stand up against the ban.

How you can help

1) Find your representatives in the House and in the Senate.

2) Call 202-224-3121 and ask to speak with your Member of Congress.

3) Make your ask. You can use this sample text: "Hi, my name is __________ and I’m a constituent of __________. I’m horrified by the President’s executive orders targeting Muslim immigrants, banning Syrian refugees, and spending billions of dollars on harsh and inhumane immigration enforcement. I urge you to stand up for immigrants, refugees, and Muslim Americans."

4) Share your message! Use #NoBanNoWall on Twitter and Facebook to tell your friends and family how you're engaging with your Members of Congress, and encourage them to do the same.

5) Find out when your next Townhall meeting is and say the same message in person. 

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Our Work

The national debate continues to largely ignore the stake Asian Americans have in the debate over immigration, despite facts like the following: 40 percent of all immigrants come to the U.S. from Asia; 1.5 million of those immigrants are undocumented; nearly two-thirds of all Asian Americans are foreign-born. Advancing Justice | AAJC works to educate the public, lawmakers, and the media on Asian Americans' relationship to immigration, as well as the pressing need to overhaul immigration policies and programs that separate families, contradict our nation's values, and simply don't make sense.

Our program has focused on winning a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., family re-unification and keeping families together, immigration enforcement and racial profiling, due process rights, detention standards, removal and repatriation regulations and anti-immigrant state and local legislation. We have authored and signed on to a number of amicus curiae briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court and appellate courts in cases affecting the rights of immigrants, and are currently embarking on an impact litigation program.