Keep Our Families Whole – SEARAC Applauds Reintroduction of the Reuniting Families Act

Washington, DC – SEARAC applauds the reintroduction of the Reuniting Families Act (RFA) by Rep. Judy Chu (CA-28). The RFA would streamline the United States’ family immigration system – which has not been updated in over 20 years – to ensure the timely and humane reunification of immigrant and refugee families. The bill would eliminate bureaucratic red tape: clearing visa backlogs in the family and employment immigration systems, as well as providing an opportunity for relief for immigrants in deportation proceedings to remain with their families.
There are over four million applications in the family reunification system. More than 260,000 of these applicants are from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. As the largest refugee community ever resettled in the United States, family sponsorship has long been a crucial avenue to reunite families separated by war. In 2016, 87% of Cambodians, 96% of Laotians, and 97% of Vietnamese immigrants who received a green card were able to do so due to a family-based visa petition. Additionally, more than 15,000 Southeast Asian Americans currently have a final order of removal. The family unity waivers in the RFA would provide an opportunity for many of these individuals to remain in the United States with their children, parents, and life partners.

Quyên Đinh, Executive Director of SEARAC, provides remarks at the reintroduction of the Reuniting Familes Act 2023 on Sep 19. 

“In the aftermath of war and genocide in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, many Southeast Asian American families were separated in their escape to safety. Today, too many of our community members have not been able to see their loved ones for decades because of a backlogged family immigration system,” said Quyên Đinh, Executive Director of SEARAC. “Many SEAAs also still live with the constant fear of being torn apart from their families and their communities because of the limited relief available to them from unjust removal orders. The Reuniting Families Act would ensure that immigrant and refugee families are made whole again and make the US immigration system more humane for countless families that simply want to live with and care for their loved ones. We thank Congresswoman Chu for her commitment to refugee and immigrant families, and we look forward to working with her, our community partners, and the Value Our Families Campaign to advance this bill.”

For more information on how family-based immigration benefits Southeast Asian Americans, check out SEARAC’s resource here.