For Asian American communities who celebrate, Lunar New Year is a time for celebration, food, and welcoming the year with messages of hope and prosperity. It is also a time for families and friends to reunite.
As we think about family this new year, we remember that having a welcoming, family-based immigration system is why many Asian Americans are able to be with their families in the U.S. Still, we cannot help but think about those who will not be together to celebrate the holiday because they have been deported or are waiting in the decades-long visa backlogs.
President Trump and many in his administration have been wrongly perpetuating a harmful myth that it is “easy” to bring hundreds of family members over, but that is not the case. For some, it takes decades to bring just one family member over to this country. The president also wants to put into a place a “merit-based” system, which runs counter to our nation’s values of family and as a land of opportunity for all.
Yiqian of Maryland has been celebrating the new year without family for more than 13 years. He would be affected by the president’s immigration proposal, which would not allow U.S. citizens to sponsor their parents. As an only child, he is beginning to think about who will take care of his parents when they get older, and if he will have to go home to China to take care of them rather than sponsoring them to come to the U.S.
“[The Lunar New Year] is not just about tradition, but also love. [Family] are the closest persons in life and it is important to have them by you when the new year starts,” Yiqian says. “Family unity is one of the utmost issues in any community. No one [should] have to endure a broken family. Ending [the family-based immigration system] will only make the whole immigration situation worse.”
The family-based immigration system has positively affected Asian Americans, who would be one of the most impacted communities. Eighty-two percent of visas from Asian countries are family-based.
For Linh of Virginia, his family would not be here today had the United States not given his family a chance to start over after his father fled persecution in Vietnam in the 1980s. Because of his father’s sacrifice, Linh was able to start a management consulting practice business and could not have done so without the unwavering support from his parents, sisters, and brothers.
Reflecting on their first new year reunited as a family after eight years apart, Linh says, “Vietnamese New Year is a time for family reunions and for preparing for the year ahead with your loved ones. When we came to the United States, we brought with us our traditions for bringing in the new year. We eagerly awaited our red envelopes, we made delicious new year’s dishes, and I wished a year of good health, prosperity, and longevity to my dad and mom, who I had not seen together in eight years. We were overjoyed when our family grew, and we welcomed my baby sister into the world as she was born in Oakland a short time later.”
“I support the family-based immigration system because it gives families the opportunity to be together and to contribute to this land of opportunity,” Linh adds. “Without the family-based immigration system, I would not be here, and I would never have been able to start my business.”
This Lunar New Year and the months ahead, we ask you to think about what it would be like to spend important holidays, birthdays, weddings, or even simple evenings at the dinner table, without your loved ones. We cannot have a future America that does not #ValueOurFamilies.
Show your support for the family immigration system. Here’s how you can take action:
· Sign the Asian Americans Advancing Justice pledge to stand with families
· Share your family immigration story to share with lawmakers
· Call your representatives at 202–224–3121 to keep up the pressure to preserve our family-based immigration system
· Share your thoughts and stories on social media using #ValueOurFamilies and #NoFamilyBan