Asians get more vocal in immigration debate


In New York City’s Chinatown, Asian immigrants
held hands and formed a “human chain” at 12:16 p.m. Monday to mark the
day, Dec. 16, when the House of Representatives voted for a bill that
would make illegal immigrants felons.

In Philadelphia, Korean activists held a forum
on immigration. In Los Angeles, they encouraged employers to let
workers take the day off to join a march down Wilshire Boulevard.

Latinos have been the face of recent immigration
rallies, but Asians and Asian-Americans are increasingly joining the
protests or taking their own approach. They are speaking out on issues
such as reducing the wait times for visas for family members or green
cards for skilled workers.

“This is a turning point for them. More Asians
are joining into this larger civil rights movement,” says Pueng Vongs,
an editor at New America Media, a consortium of ethnic news media.

“Our community has been fairly slow to mobilize,
but we are definitely working together now,” says Daniel Huang, policy
advocate for the Asian Pacific American Legal Center. He says Spanish
radio stations helped Latinos organize quickly for rallies, but varying
languages mean it’s harder to reach Asians that way.

People of Asian ancestry were 13% of the 11.1
million undocumented population in a 2005 Census survey, says Jeffrey
Passel, senior research associate at the Pew Hispanic Center. Four
countries — China, India, the Philippines and South Korea — account for
most of them.

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