Violent Attack Might Highlight the Need for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

We hope today's tragedy does not further existing divides on immigration lines and that today's terrible tragedy is not made worse by negatively affecting the perception of our immigrant, Asian and Asian-American communities as a whole.  Today, a Vietnamese or Vietnamese-American man went on a shooting rampage at the American Civic Association in Binghamton, NY.  We are left guessing the motivation for this senseless attack, whether this attack was a protest against immigrants, or the retaliation of an immigrant for hardships endured. 

All we know is that the civic association played an instrumental role in helping immigrants learn English, with their immigration and naturalization application processes, and thus become better incorporated into the United States of America.  We've seen repeated instances recently of horrific random violence, but not all these instances are the same.

Barring severe mental illness, as was the case of Virginia Tech shooter, Seung Hui Cho, this case could be an example of what we have cautioned in prior occasions: postponing comprehensive immigration reform will only lead to a more radical population on both sides of the issue.  MSNBC
has reported that the shooter, Jiverly Voong (or Linh Phat Voong), was recently let go by IBM.  Coupled with the emotional distress of dealing with unemployment, if the man was an H1-B visa holder, or if he was going through the application process for a green card sponsored by IBM, that would mean that he was also dealing with his life in the United States coming to a halt.  Without the job at IBM, he would lose his immigration status.  Our immigration laws must change, our broken immigration system must be fixed to reflect the reality that immigrants do become part of the fabric of our communities.  And it is up to each of us and our elected officials to vehemently speak out against any rhetoric or action that is hostile to immigrants.  Our condolences go out to the families, the community, and those affected by today's devastating events.