New Report Goes Behind the Numbers to Convey The Facts About Immigration

Advancing Justice – AAJC and Advancing Justice –LA Report Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Use All Immigration Pathways But System and Policies Not Working
For Immediate Release
Michelle Boykins 202-296-2300, ext. 0144
Mary Tablante 202-296-2300, ext. 0114
Alison Vu (213) 241-0283

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Advancing Justice | AAJC (Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC) and Advancing Justice-LA (Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles) release a new report today, Inside the Numbers: How Immigration Shapes Asian American and Pacific Islander Communities, which details the diversity of the immigrant population within the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, including contributions to the U.S. economy.

The report 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 contribute more effectively to this country.”

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 to better understand the needs and contributions 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:

  • Congress should pass legislation to support family unity, including updating the family immigration system and resolving the problem of visa backlogs.
  • Congress must defund and repeal all iterations of the Muslim Ban, broaden nondiscrimination provisions in immigration law to add religion, and extend coverage to include all visa applicants, immigrant and nonimmigrant alike. In addition, we call on Congress to lift the refugee ban and extend humanitarian relief to individuals fleeing persecution, regardless of religion or country of origin.
  • Rather than spending tax dollars on the criminalization and mass incarceration of immigrants, the administration should exercise greater prosecutorial discretion and withhold from arresting, detaining, and deporting, long-time members of our communities and the family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. Furthermore, the administration should honor the rights of asylum seekers to request asylum without being criminalized, turned away, detained indefinitely or separated from their families.

Inside the Numbers: How Immigration Shapes Asian American and Pacific Islander Communities is a report that not only provides a better understanding of the changing demographics of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, it provides a way forward to help our communities living in the United States.