President Obama’s anticipated executive action on immigration is long overdue, but still might not include important provisions for Asian Americans, said Bill Ong Hing, founder of the Immigration Legal Resource Center and University of San Francisco law professor.
Missing from the list of policy details so far has been any positive mention of the petitioning of older siblings, the historical way Asian families have reunited in America. “We’re disappointed that wasn’t on the list,” Hing said in an interview with NBC News. “He could have taken action on that. We’re still going to fight for that.”
It's estimated that of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, 1.4 million are either Asian or from the Pacific Islands.
Hing praised any executive action that could provide deportation relief for up to five million people by expanding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) and making it possible for those not here legally to apply for temporary work permits.
“There are people here who are helping society, helping the economy, have strong family ties, and make contributions to this county,” said Hing. “In my opinion, they’ve earned the right to be here.”
Hing, who recently met with top Obama advisors on the plan -- including Cecilia Munoz, the director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, and Esther Olavarria, Senior Advisor at the Department of Homeland Security -- warns any action would be temporary, and could be reversed by future administrations.
Some Republicans have already threatened counter action. This week, Democrats closed ranks with a letter of support for immigration reform. Hing hopes Congressional leaders will find a way to come together.
“If Republicans want any chance at winning the White House," said Hing, "they can’t afford to alienate the groups that support immigration reform.”
The full details of the plan are expected to be announced by the president this week.