ASIAN-AMERICAN legislators joined hundreds of activists yesterday in condemning legislation passing through Congress aimed at sharply curtailing legal immigration into the United States.
Two bills which would cut back family reunion visas by as much as 40 per cent, and ban all but the closest relatives coming to the US, were called 'an insult to Asian-Americans and all immigrant communities' by Californian Congressman Robert Matsui.
Asian-Americans, the fastest-growing immigrant community in America, should band together and use their voting power in this year's elections to oppose candidates supporting the proposals, said Mr Matsui.
Patsy Mink of Hawaii, chairman of Congress' caucus of Asian members, said the bills were 'the most un-American bills I have ever seen proposed. This immigrant-bashing has to come to an end.' The legislators spoke at a press conference organised by 30 groups, including the Organisation of Chinese Americans, whose members came to Washington to lobby politicians and administration officials to reject the plans.
Matthew Finucane, director of the Asian Pacific American Labour Alliance, said: 'We are united in the desire that our community be able to reunite with our loved ones overseas, and we are united in our opposition to legislation which scapegoats our community and blames us for the country's social problems.' Dorothy Yung, a health worker from San Francisco, told the legislators that her brother had been waiting since 1985 to join her and her mother in the United States from China, but would be barred if the bills pass into law.
Senator Alan Simpson and House member Lamar Smith, chairmen of their bodies' respective sub-committees on immigration, are leading a push to have the restrictions on immigration passed this year.
The issue has been thrown back into the spotlight by the campaign rhetoric of presidential hopeful Pat Buchanan, who advocates ever sharper curbs on immigration to protect jobs.
The bills would also impose taxes on companies recruiting foreign technology specialists, and place time limits on workers' stay in the US.