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Immigration is an AAPI Issue

May Y. Chen reflects on the Department of Homeland Security's deferred action process for young people who are low enforcement priorities and that meet several key criteria.

Just over a week ago, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced a deferred action process for young people who are low enforcement priorities and that meet several key criteria, a step that will help certain young people—sometimes called “DREAMers”—be considered for relief from the threat of deportation. This renews my hope for public policies that recognize the contributions of immigrants and my hope for the possibility of comprehensive immigration reforms.

As a Chinese-American, born in the United States to immigrant parents, I have experienced the deeply felt concerns of my family and community for fairer immigration policies. I became a lifelong advocate for immigrants’ rights through my work with the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU). Through the stories and cases of thousands of Chinese immigrant workers, I learned about their desires to become American citizens, to keep families together, to enjoy fair working conditions, and to provide a brighter future for their children.

Speaking in the Rose Garden, President Obama underscored the need for comprehensive immigration reform, including the adoption of the full DREAM Act. Over the course of my career, I have supported various efforts to pass comprehensive immigration reform. It is heartwarming to see this Administration, acting through the Department of Homeland Security and led by my President—our President––now take bold action towards that goal.

As the President also noted, this announcement was “the right thing to do.” I absolutely agree.

With the President’s leadership on this important issue, I hope everyone can work together to celebrate our history as a country of immigrants, and to acknowledge the hard work and contributions of the generations of immigrants, especially today’s immigrants, with comprehensive, humane immigration reforms.

May Y. Chen is an adjunct professor at the City University of New York and serves on the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.