Family reunification is the American Dream

It is in the best interest of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) to support a clean Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) bill and oppose efforts by Republicans to eliminate family reunification and the diversity visa. You may think that DACA does not apply to AAPIs, but thousands of the 800,000 young people who have DACA status are AAPIs, and we should help them remain in their homes. Republicans are trying to tie DACA to eliminating family reunification.  Family reunification is how 80 percent of Asian immigrants, such as my family and probably your family, came to America. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that we can continue reuniting families who have been separated, sometimes for up to 20 years — which is how long some Filipinos have to wait. In two decades, children are born and become adults, estranged by an ocean and antiquated immigration policies.

Tearing up families is immoral. And yet so many supposedly family values politicians are eager to separate DACA children from their parents, and to prevent Asian American families from being whole. Indeed, Republicans now call family reunification “chain migration” — the better to ignore the fact that they are keeping father and son, sister and brother apart.

Think about your family, and how they came to America. What would have happened without family reunification? Indeed, my whole family is tied through family-based immigration — after my father came, he brought my mom. After I was born, they brought my grandma who applied for my uncle and he brought my two cousins. After benefiting from a public school education, my cousins taught in Riverside and Los Angeles, giving back to the community as teachers. Family is fundamental to Asian culture, with many of us living in multi-generational homes together, and it’s fundamental to how we are able to start small businesses, working alongside aunties and uncles to make our lives here a success. And family is fundamental to American culture.

America was built on bedrock principles — principles of fairness, equality, and inclusion. It’s what the Pilgrims sought, and it’s what my dad was aiming for when he came here by himself after 1965, when the quotas were lifted with the signing of the Immigration and Naturalization Act. Prior to that, the Chinese Exclusion Acts of 1882 kept Chinese and Asians from immigrating to the U.S.

Many AAPIs are under the assumption that Trump and his anti-immigrant base only seek to reduce undocumented immigration, but in reality, they want to limit the overall numbers of immigrants in America. That is why they seek to prevent people from bringing their family here, regardless of status. They’d like to go back to the Exclusion Acts, overturn birthright citizenship, and leave our family members stranded. AAPIs need to be vocal and call on our elected officials to pass a clean DACA bill, and to preserve family reunification and the diversity visa, which allowed 16,000 Asians from places like Taiwan and Macau to come to the U.S. last year. We need to recognize that when the President hatefully maligns certain countries as being dirty and inferior, that he is talking about our family members, too.

Caroline Fan

Caroline Fan is the Communications Director for the Asian American Action Fund (, a Democratic political action committee dedicated to empowering Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders by electing better officials at the local, state, and federal levels. Caroline Fan is a Board Member and former Endorsements Chair for the Asian American Action Fund, a Democratic Asian Pacific American political action committee founded in 1999. The AAA Fund has supported over 100 AAPI candidates for office, including 20 women, and saw a doubling of AAPIs in Congress in 2012. She also founded the organization’s group blog. 

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