Robert Menendez

US Senator for New Jersey
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Sen. Menendez And Rep. Honda Work To Protect Family Reunification In The Immigration Process

Reuniting Families Act would utilize thousands of unused visas, among other provisions

September 19, 2008

Washington - U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) this week introduced the Reuniting Families Act in the Senate and House of Representatives to ensure that the immigration system emphasizes family reunification in its distribution of entry visas. Four million people are currently stuck in the entry backlog, many of whom are family members of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents and are ready to help play vital roles in the U.S. economy and in American communities. Among other provisions, the legislation would direct thousands of unused visas from previous years to close family members of U.S. citizens and legal residents, reclassify spouses and children of legal residents as immediate family and would raise the per-country cap for visas from seven percent to ten percent.

"We need to focus on the families. After all, family reunification is the bedrock of our immigration system - it upholds American values and reinforces our economy," said Senator Menendez. "Families are at the core of the American community. By making sure that we can reunite U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents with their parents, husbands, wives, sons or daughters, we can help promote safe and stable communities and the values that this nation was built upon. In addition, family members boost our economy with their willingness to work hard, with their propensity to pool resources to start small businesses and with their ability to help care for elderly, infirmed or infant relatives."

"We have an immigration system right now that penalizes families," said Rep. Honda, chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. "Family values start with family unity and we need to put these values back into our immigration policy. This bill ensures that children and their parents, husbands and wives, get a chance to live the American dream together. This bill is right for our economy, right for our communities and right for hundreds of thousands of families."

The Reuniting Families Act supports the reunification of families by:

  • Recapturing visas unused and unclaimed due to bureaucratic delay
  • Reclassifying lawful permanent resident spouses and children as "immediate relatives" and exempting them from numerical caps on family immigration
  • Increasing per country limits from 7% to 10% so that nations with a higher demand for workers can better equip the American economy with talent
  • Allowing families to reunite despite the death of a petitioner
  • Recognizing the sacrifices of our military by exempting children of World War II Filipino veterans from numerical caps; and
  • Allowing family members to reunite despite bars to reentry


Reuniting Families Act organizational endorsements:

American Immigration Lawyers Association
Alliance of Filipinos for Immigrant Rights and Empowerment
Asian American Justice Center
Asian American Institute, Chicago, IL
Asian Law Alliance
Asian Law Caucus, San Francisco, CA
Asian Pacific American Legal Center, Los Angeles, CA
Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center, DC
Boat People SOS, Inc.
Casa de Esperanza
Church World Service, Immigration and Refugee Program
Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles
Hmong National Development
Organization of Chinese Americans
Organization of Chinese American, South Florida Chapter
Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
Japanese American Citizens League
Korean American Resource & Cultural Center, Chicago, IL
Korean Resource Center, Los Angeles, CA
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services
Mexican American Legal Defense Fund (MALDEF)
Migration and Refugee Services, Diocese of Trenton
National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association
National Council of La Raza
National Federation of Filipino American Associations
National Immigration Forum
National Immigration Law Center
National Korean American Service & Education Consortium
National Lao Federation Abroad Council
National Organization for Women
National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum
New York Immigration Coalition
South Asian Americans Leading Together
Service Employees International Union
Statewide Parent Advocacy Network of New Jersey
United Chinese Association of Florida
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society

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