As Asian-American Pacific Islander Heritage Month draws to a close, it is an important time to celebrate the significant contributions that this community has made towards the U.S. economy. There are an estimated 17.3 million U.S. residents that are of Asian descent, which makes up 5.6 percent of the total U.S. population according to 2010 Census data. Asians have the highest proportion of college graduates of any race or ethnic group in the country; and, Asians are extremely successful entrepreneurs enjoying a 40 percent surge in business ownership since 2002 with total receipts in excess of $506 billion. Yet, there are a large percentage of Asian immigrants that reside in the U.S. who are forced to live in the shadows because they are undocumented. Of the country’s 11.2 million undocumented immigrants, 11 percent, or 1.2 million are from Asia.
This means that the pending comprehensive immigration reform will not only affect the Latino population but will have a huge impact on this community as well. In fact, Asian Dreamers, so named because they’d benefit from the Dream Act, are now the biggest group on the University of California’s campuses. They make up 46 percent of undocumented students compared to the 42 percent for Latinos. The Dream Act stands for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors. It proposes a path to citizenship and, with it, increased access to federal education funding for undocumented children and adults who were brought to the United States at a young age. It makes economic sense for these undocumented youth to have access to the same opportunities as other U.S. citizens. This is a community that will continue to grow and contribute to our nation’s bottom line.