The problem is a law enacted last year that she says requires her to have an annual income of more than $56,000 or someone to share sponsorship in order for her to qualify as a sponsor for her family's immigration. Nguyen says she and her children became separated in 1964 when her Vietnamese husband left her, taking the children with him. She remarried, to an American, and came to the U.S. in 1968. She returned to Vietnam repeatedly to search for her children, finally locating them four months ago.
However, confronted with the new requirements for sponsorship, Nguyen finds herself unable to gain admittance for her family because her income isn't high enough. Perhaps the Hawaii congressional delegation can secure special legislation that will enable her to bring her family in.
The new law that is Nguyen's problem serves an important purpose: to prevent future immigrants from turning up on the welfare rolls, a situation that has been occurring with some frequency in recent years. That is not the result Congress or the voters intended when they established the requirements for immigration and is an abuse of the system.
The law addresses this problem by requiring sponsors of immigrants to earn at least 25 percent more than the federal poverty level and to sign an affidavit that they will be financially responsible for the people they sponsor. This means that the sponsors can be held legally accountable for the support of the people they bring in. This is entirely reasonable. The immigrants should be the responsibility of the sponsor, not the taxpayers.
This provision of the new law is clearly preferable to the new restrictions on welfare payments to legal immigrants. People who have been admitted to the United States but are not U.S. citizens are subject to the same laws as citizens and should be entitled to the same benefits as citizens -- as they always have been in the past. The target should be the sponsor who does not meet his responsibilities, not the legal immigrant.
It is not reasonable to let another year go by without action by the Legislature. It's time to make a deal.
Rupert E. Phillips, CEO
John M. Flanagan, Editor & Publisher
David Shapiro, Managing Editor
Diane Yukihiro Chang, Senior Editor & Editorial Page Editor
Frank Bridgewater & Michael Rovner, Assistant Managing Editors
A.A. Smyser, Contributing Editor