Policy Divides Families
From The World Journal
To fight for legal immigrant status, Chinese-American laborers in New
York City are ready to give strong support to the first nationwide Immigrant
Workers Freedom Ride sponsored by various labor organizations. At a June
13 news conference held by the Central Labor Council, Li Jing Xian, a Chinese-American
garment worker, told how U.S. immigration policy has separated her family across
the Pacific Ocean.
Li, who immigrated to the United States from Hong Kong in
1989 with her husband and youngest son, told the audience that her two other children
could not come at the time because they were slightly over 21 years of age. After
her arrival, Li began working in a garment factory in Chinatown while waiting
for her children to come.
But that waiting took six years. In 1995, her oldest
son finally completed all the immigration applications and brought a girlfriend
with him to the United States. Shortly after the young couple settled here, the
two married and had a baby girl. Then, in 1996, when a new immigration law prohibited
families who remain too long in the in the United States from coming back to the
county in the future, the family became frightened.
Although she still had visitor
status, Lis daughter-in-law was afraid to stay any longer. She took her
daughter back to Hong Kong and waited until she could return to the United States.
Now, seven years have passed, and there is still no news from the immigration
department. For all these years, Lis son and his wife and daughter have
Li emphasized that she knows the situation of family separation
is not just confined to her family. There are many laborers like her, living without
other family members around.
Chen May Ying, Associate Manager of Local 23-25
of UNITE (the Union of Needle Industries and Textile Employees), is in charge
of liaison work in New York City for The Freedom Ride. She explained
that since immigration was put under the direction of the Department of Homeland
Security, the application process has become more and more difficult, and it takes
more time to for the application to go through. Even people with green cards now
wait longer to receive citizenship.
The Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride
is a national movement organized by different immigrant rights organizations,
civil rights groups and labor unions. Beginning September 20, immigrant workers
of various backgrounds from cities around the country will board buses leaving
for Washington. Along the way, the workers will seek support from state and city
governments and many civil rights organizations.
When the workers converge in
Washington, D.C. the group will meet with Congress members. Them, on October 3,
they will gather at the Liberty State Park of New Jersey. A mass rally for immigrant
workers will be staged in New York City on October 4.
Chen Mei Ying and Li Jing
Xian call for more Chinese-American involvement in The Immigrant Workers
Freedom Ride movement. For information, people can visit look into its website
www.iwfr.org, or call (212) 929-2600
to the education department of the garment workers union.
from Chinese by Michael Huang
to The Citizen Page