Asians See Discrimination in US Immigration Reforms

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Asians may not account for the large majority of illegal immigrants in the United States but are in the forefront of protests of what they see as increasingly discriminatory moves to regulate immigration.

In recent days, dozens of Asian groups joined mammoth Hispanic-led protests from California to the grounds of Capitol Hill demanding better treatment for immigrants amid plans for a draconian crackdown on illegal immigration.

''Asians were historically discriminated against emigrating to the United States for about 200 years, so we are very wary,'' said Traci Hong, director of the immigration program at the Asia America Justice Center, a national group defending the civil and human rights of Asian Americans.

Hong, an attorney, cited the period from the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the first US law to ban immigration by race or nationality, saying national origin quotas that discriminated against Asians were not fully eliminated until 1965.

Her center is among 40 Asian groups up in arms over a bill passed by the House of Representatives that would make it a felony to be in the United States without proper papers, and a federal crime to aid illegal immigrants.

The groups, some of whom likened the bill as the harshest legislation directed at immigrant workers since the Chinese Exclusion Act, said regulations and policies have been used to ''systematically'' exclude Asians from the United States.

The groups are concerned that the Senate, currently debating immigration reforms, could adopt key provisions from the House bill, including one which basically allows the police to detain suspects first and verify citizenship status later. …