South Asian groups in US seek just immigration system

Washington, Feb 2 (IANS) In the wake of President Barack Obama's push for immigration reforms, a coalition of 41 South Asian groups around the United States has called for creating a just and humane system.

The call was made by the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations (NCSO) noting that South Asian Americans are the fastest growing major ethnic group in the United States, increasing by 78 percent from 2000 to 2010 to approximately 3.4 million people.

"This week's announcements from lawmakers and President Obama have given us hope for the future of South Asian Americans and all immigrants in our nation," Deepa Iyer, Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading

Together (SAALT), spearheading the coalition said,

"We urge the Administration and Congress to continue to work together and pass immigration policy reform that unites our families, provides us with options towards obtaining visas and citizenship, and ends unjust enforcement measures that have affected so many of our community members, especially in the past decade."

"Only then will we have a system that is just and humane for South Asian Americans, all immigrants, and society as a whole," she said

The South Asian community is made up of undocumented immigrants, dependent and temporary workers on various visas, refugees and asylum-seekers, lawful permanent residents, and US citizens, it noted.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, there were approximately 240,000 undocumented Indians alone in 2011, making India the seventh highest country of origin for undocumented people in the US.

Additionally, South Asians, especially those from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, are often separated from their families for years at a time as a result of the family and employment visa backlogs, it said.

"The NCSO firmly believes in the creation of just and human immigration reform" it said suggesting a set of ten principles, including "accessible and affordable pathways to legalization and citizenship for all undocumented individuals."

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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