03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Immigration Reform Dominates Asian American Pacific Islander Week of Action

This week is the National Asian American Pacific Islander week of action -- a collaborative effort among national, state and local AAPI organizations and allies to demonstrate the collective power and voice of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the comprehensive immigration reform debate. We need to engage community members in the broader Reform Immigration FOR America campaign and show my colleagues in Congress that the AAPI community is serious about demanding reform this year.

Last month, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) strongly supported the introduction of comprehensive immigration reform legislation by Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL) in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity Act of 2009 (CIR ASAP), H.R. 4321, includes CAPAC's top immigration priorities, including: Ensuring a robust family reunification system, earned legalization for undocumented workers and DREAM Act students, the restoration of due process and judicial review in our immigration system, humane treatment of immigration detainees, and the integration of new American communities. CAPAC members joined a diverse coalition of Members of Congress as cosponsors to the legislation.

As chair of CAPAC, I am thankful for Rep. Gutierrez's passionate advocacy for comprehensive immigration reform. I was proud to represent the 1.5 million undocumented Asian immigrants living in the shadows and the millions of Asian and Pacific Islander family members caught in endless backlogs waiting to reunite with loved ones. Immigrants built this country and their contributions should be recognized with a fair and humane immigration system. I and CAPAC will continue to work closely with President Obama, congressional leadership, and the Congressional Black, Hispanic, and Progressive Caucuses to enact comprehensive immigration reform. Asian and Pacific Islander voices must be heard in this debate, and I'm proud that CAPAC members stood alongside a diverse coalition that is excited and ready to advance immigration legislation.

I was particularly pleased that CAPAC endorsed this bill which incorporates my Reuniting Families Act to reduce and eliminate our backlogs and ensure family reunification remains a cornerstone of our immigration system. Further, this bill honors the contributions of World War II Filipino veterans by exempting their children from numerical limitations on immigrant visas.

We are a nation of immigrants, but more than that, we are a nation of families. Our nation is built on the American Dream and should have policies that further that dream into a reality, while simultaneously protecting our economy and our security. Our constituents and our communities are demanding as much. We can be both a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws, and this bill will get us there.

There will always be many who say that the time isn't right, that we must wait. But for years, immigration reform has been delayed and the problems continue to worsen. Our constituents elected us to solve tough problems with practical solutions, and the introduction of CIR ASAP is a clear statement that together, we intend to meet the challenge. At the CIR ASAP introduction, CAPAC stood united alongside our Latino, Caribbean, Polish, Irish, and African brothers and sisters and all other immigrant communities that make our diverse nation great to mobilize and prepare to fight for comprehensive immigration reform.

It is my hope that the AAPI immigrant community is ready to go on the ground for the immigration debate ahead. To that end, I thank the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), National Korean American Service and Education Consortium (NAKASEC) for working closely with the Reform Immigration FOR America (RI4A) movement to ensure our AAPI voices are heard and our faces seen, especially during the National AAPI Week of action. Following their leadership, we should remember that it is all our responsibility to change the face of immigration and I know that together, we can FINALLY achieve comprehensive immigration reform that works for all Americans.

Rep Michael Honda (D-CA) represents California's 15th district and is the chairman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.