Mee Moua’s family came to the United States in 1978 after fleeing Laos four years earlier and relocating to a refugee camp in Thailand. Her father planned to bring his brother and father over as soon as he was economically secure, but he had trouble finding a steady job as a new immigrant. When he finally did get work, it was too late — his brother and father had already passed away.

Now the president and executive director of Asian American Justice Center, Moua sees her family experience as similar to that of many Asian families today who are separated for years, sometimes decades, as a result of backlogs in family-based visa applications.

Moua’s interest in the fight for comprehensive immigration reform, she says, is personal: “It is for my family and my father and the people in my community because they are the ones who are directly affected,” said Moua, one of three speakers during an ethnic media telebriefing on immigration reform, organized by New America Media.

About 60 percent of the 17 million Asian Americans in the United States are foreign-born. Ninety percent of Asian immigrants come to the United States through family-based immigration visas, so backlogs in the system affect their everyday lives. In fact, nearly half of the 4.3 million people in the family backlog worldwide are in Asia.

“What people often…frame as a Latino issue, it’s just not true,” Moua said. One