Asian American contingent in solidarity with Chicanas/os at a march against deportations, East Los Angeles, summer 1976. Photo courtesy of Mary Kao.
Census and other studies have put the number of all undocumented immigrants in the U.S. at approximately 12 million. About 1.5 million are Asians — representing 12 percent of the total Asian population — with 23 percent estimated to be Chinese, 17 percent Filipino, 14 percent Indian, 11 percent Koreans and the balance from a variety of smaller countries, all with different issues.
For instance, huge backlogs exist in families where immigrant citizens or legal permanent residents can bring spouses, parents and minor children from overseas. Their wait times are heartbreaking. The longest is for Filipinos, Narasaki said — they currently must wait about 19 years to reunite with family members. Chinese and Indians face up to nine-year waits.
Then there are the concerns of refugees from Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Burma who are wary about strict filing deadlines for asylum claims and crackdowns on deportations for minor criminal offenses.