November 28, 2015

AAA Fund Condemns Remarks of Roanoke Mayor to Treat Syrian Refugees like Japanese American Internees

Editor’s Note: We posted it on our Facebook and Twitter. Repost.

AAAF logo

NOVEMBER 19, 2015

Contact: Gautam Dutta (415) 236-2048

AAA Fund Condemns Remarks of Roanoke Mayor to Treat Syrian Refugees like Japanese American Internees

Asian American and Pacific Islander Democratic PAC condemns politicians who seek to scapegoat vulnerable populations

American values do not include xenophobia. Roanoke Mayor David Bowers is wrong to call for treating Syrian refugees the way Japanese American citizens were sent to internment camps during World War II. It was one of the darkest decisions by the American government to unfairly and cruelly relocate and separate Japanese American families, and our government has apologized and made reparations for its actions. It is reprehensible to suggest that Executive Order 9066 was a model policy for how we should treat refugees to our country.

AAA Fund Board Member Ken Inouye commented, “It is truly hard to believe that in this day and age we are seeing the Japanese American Internment being cited as something to be lauded and emulated. President Ronald Reagan had the courage and leadership to sign HR 442 (the Civil Liberties Act of 1988), apologizing on behalf of the people of the United States for the Japanese American internment. Years ago, our great country formally recognized this dark episode of our history for what it was: a mistake, and today we call on politicians of both parties to stand up to xenophobic elements in our communities and work to fulfill the greatest version of our democracy.”

Earlier today, AAA Fund’s Honorary Chair, Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA) was interviewed about his experience in the Granada Relocation Camps in Amache, Colorado. “We were able to get the country to recognize that what led to the incarceration was three things: Racial prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership,” Honda said.

“That’s what makes this country so great: In the face of this kind of peril — terror, tragedy and disruption — that we remain calm and anchored to our Constitution,” Honda said. “That’s what makes us so different.”

The Asian American Action Fund supports the Constitutional and equal treatment of refugees, who are some of the most vulnerable amongst us. Refugees in this nation have gone on to become some of our most celebrated Americans including Albert Einstein, Madeleine Albright, and former U.S. Representative Anh “Joseph” Cao (R-LA).


The Asian American Action Fund ( is a national Democratic political organization whose goal is to increase the voice of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) in local, state and federal government, by encouraging AAPIs to volunteer on campaigns, raise money for candidates, and run for political office.

Rep. Mike Honda on Roanoke Mayor’s remarks

I strongly recommend reading the whole thing. Here’s what happened: Democratic Roanoke Mayor David Bowers issued a statement on Weds saying that he would deny assistance to Syrian refugees, making a favorable comparison to the internment of Japanese Americans:

“I’m reminded that Franklin D. Roosevelt felt compelled to to sequester Japanese foreign nationals after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and it appears that the threat of harm to America from [the Islamic State] now is just as real and serious a threat as that from our enemies then,” he said.

My initial response was, that’s so wrong. Literally wrong. 2/3 of the Japanese Americans who were interned were citizens, not foreign nationals. Also, that period of history is one of the worst times of American history and in the 1980s, Congress passed and President Reagan signed a bill to apologize and make reparations to Japanese American families who were separated and relocated.

Rep. Honda has so much more to say, and so much more eloquently. From his interview with the Washington Post:

When we spoke, shortly after Bowers’s (D) statement was published, Honda took strong issue with the mayor’s innocuous depiction of the internment. The program began in 1942 with the enactment of Executive Order 9066 a few months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The order mandated that people of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast be moved further inland, out of fear that sympathizers among the group would take up arms or conduct sabotage. But Bowers got basic facts wrong.

“First of all, we weren’t foreign nationals,” Honda said. “Two-thirds were natural-born citizens and the rest couldn’t become citizens because federal law prohibited us from becoming citizens.” What’s more, Honda noted, Bowers fundamentally misunderstood the nature of the program.

“My father volunteered to be part of the group that taught Naval Intelligence the Japanese language, because when they incarcerated other Japanese, they found out that they had no one who could listen to their communication,” Honda said. “They had other Japanese Americans who were incarcerated, and engaged them in the fighting overseas in the South Pacific.”

That resonates with Honda now. “The bottom line for me is that the failure of political leadership is what we have to talk about,” he said. Pointing out America’s past mistakes — history being doomed to repeat itself, and so on — is critical to “quieting the fears” of the moment.

Despite Mayor Bower being a Democrat, his history is quite mixed. He defeated the Democratic incumbent mayor, running as an independent. Bower was a member of Hillary for Virginia’s committee, but has since been removed and the Hillary campaign moved quickly to distance itself from his remarks.

Josh Schwerin, of Clinton’s campaign, had to say when The Post’s David Weigel asked about supporter Bowers’s statement: “The internment of people of Japanese descent is a dark cloud on our nation’s history and to suggest that it is anything but a horrible moment in our past is outrageous.”

Tennessee GOP House Chair Glen Casada goes even further, calling for rounding up and detaining Syrian refugees. From the Tennessean:

“We need to activate the Tennessee National Guard and stop them from coming in to the state by whatever means we can,” said House GOP Caucus Chairman Glen Casada, R-Franklin, referencing refugees.

“We need to gather (Syrian refugees) up and politely take them back to the ICE center and say, ‘They’re not coming to Tennessee, they’re yours.’ “

It’s so great to see how politicians on both sides can be alarmist and xenophobic. [/sarcasm]

More fall out from Bowers’ remarks – the national Democratic Party distancing itself. Even the Virginia Republicans didn’t want anything to do with his remarks.

Here is the DNC chair and Rep. Honda’s joint statement, fresh off the presses:

DNC Chair and Rep. Honda joint statement on Mayor David Bowers’ comments


WASHINGTON – DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), a former vice chair of the DNC who lived in a Japanese internment camp during World War II, released the following joint statement today in response to comments made by Mayor David Bowers of Roanoke, VA:


“Mayor Bowers’ comments about Japanese internment do not represent the values of the Democratic Party, and his rhetoric has no place in our party. The cruel and baseless Japanese internment policies enacted during World War II are an ugly stain on our democracy, and should not be used to justify future exclusionary policies. Mayor Bowers should reflect on dark moments like these in our history when the dual crises of war abroad and the perceived threat of terror at home have emboldened dangerous xenophobia in America.

“We are a nation of immigrants born out of an enduring desire to be free, but it’s essential that we avoid repeating the mistakes of our predecessors. As the war against terror continues worldwide, the Democratic Party is firmly committed to recognizing the humanity of refugees and honoring and protecting the liberty, security and diversity of our great nation.”




Interview with Kumar Barve for MD-8

Editor’s Note:  Maryland Majority Leader and AAA-Fund Honorary Board member and the first Indian-American elected to state legislature Kumar Barve runs to represent Maryland’s 8th Congressional District. The AAA-Fund endorses Kumar Barve and we interviewed him last week.

Kumar Barve for Congress
  1. How did you get your start in politics?

    I started in politics, like most people, by volunteering on campaigns.  I grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland attending public schools.  There weren’t any kids who looked like me or had a name like mine.  When I became interested in politics I saw that none of the volunteers, workers or, certainly, the candidates or elected officials, looked like me.  I became increasingly interested in serving in government, working on issues of social justice and economic opportunity and expanding AAPI participation in the political and  civic life of their communities.  I ran for a seat in the state legislature at a time when I was an unknown and a huge underdog and at a time when no Indian American had ever won a state legislative seat in our nation.  I am very proud that my election in 1990 inspired so many AAPIs to seek and win elective office.  If elected to Congress, I will continue to break ground as the first Asian American to elected to Congress from Maryland.

  2. The AAAF’s mission is to increase AAPI participation in politics
    especially at the federal level such as your campaign does. What would you like to see us do more?

    I would like to see AAAF continue its outreach especially to students and young adults.  The AAPI community needs to continue to build a political farm team.  When I ran for state legislature in 1990 I received virtually no support from the community.  To the extent there was political involvement at that time  it was focused on presidential politics.  We need young people to get involved, to get involved in their communities and to vote!  We need to recruit young people to run for local offices – school board, city and town councils, county office, and the state legislature.  AAAF should be continue to be involved at the federal level and I am grateful for the support of my campaign for Congress –  but we also need to focus on the local offices which will add additional qualified, experienced Congressional candidates in the future.

  3. What’s your hope for your successor in MD House District 17?

    My hope is that my successor will a strong effective progressive legislator, dedicated to the community and constituent service, and, hopefully, reflective of the increasing diversity of my state legislative district.

  4. How do you feel the Maryland elections will end up representing AAPIs?

    First, we need to make sure that AAPI community and political leaders support their own when qualified candidates present themselves.  Next, we need to reach out to all parts of the AAPI community to make sure that they come out and vote.  In areas like mine, it is imperative that the AAPI community recognize that our elected officials are chosen in Democratic primaries and register as Democrats to ensure that the voice of the AAPI community is heard in our elections.

  5. What do you want your constituents-to-be to know as they vote on Nov. 8?

    Well, first I want them to know that the Democratic Primary is April 26.  In the 8th Congressional District, the Democratic nominee is highly likely to be the next Member of Congress so it is imperative that AAPIs register to vote as Democrats and support my candidacy for Congress in the April 26 primary.

    I want the voters to know that I work will hard for them on a pragmatic progressive agenda focusing on the environment and job creation while fighting climate change and encroachment on social justice issues from the right  Voters in my district are concerned about the disappearance of good middle class jobs and quality affordable college education.  They are afraid that their children will never pay off their students loans and move out of their homes.  We must raise the minimum wage and train our workers to fill the millions of job openings across American with qualified workers.

Beyond the Model Minority Myth: Investing in AAPI community

Editor’s Note: This has been cross-posted from the Department of Housing and Urban Development blog.

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) are now the fastest growing racial group in the country, expected to more than double from 20 million to 47 million by 2060. With this tremendous growth comes the need to better understand and address issues of social equity and overall community well-being within this diverse community.

Population by race and Hispanic origin

As you may know, AAPIs face the model minority myth – the notion that virtually all are well-educated, affluent, and self-sufficient. In reality, the AAPI community is not a monolithic group and each group faces unique challenges. One out of three AAPIs does not speak English fluently. Certain subgroups have low levels of educational attainment and high levels of unemployment. For example, 40 percent of Hmong Americans do not complete high school, and Pacific Islanders have among the highest unemployment rates of all racial and ethnic groups. And we cannot ignore the fact that more than two million AAPIs, representing over two dozen subgroups, live in poverty.

Underinvestment in AAPI communities has remained persistent, with philanthropic investments staying at around 0.3% for the past quarter century and ongoing barriers to accessing government funding. By aligning investments, we can better work to improve the well-being of underserved AAPI communities.

It is clear that we must develop and implement more effective methods in assisting and investing in AAPI communities. Recent data disaggregation efforts by the U.S. Department of Labor have provided deeper insight into how poverty, unemployment, and housing affect AAPIs. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development identified several areas for further disaggregation of AAPI data, including the American Housing Survey, which is conducted biennially and will now include the collection of Asian subgroup data in 2015 for the first time in its history. The Annual Homelessness Assessment Report will now break out “Asian” and “Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander” populations. In light of this progress, however, there is a significant opportunity to do more.

Today, we have the privilege of joining a historic event at the White House to better align investments to low-income AAPI communities. Hosted by the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, in partnership with Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP), the Public-Private Partnership Summit on Issues Facing Low-Income AAPI Communities will convene philanthropic, community, and government leaders to take a deeper look at how public, private, and community partnerships can address AAPI needs.

Since the beginning of his Administration, President Obama has prioritized public-private partnerships and social innovation, with the belief that both government and private resources are needed to create social change. This is evident in the fact that today’s Summit builds upon the first-ever National Philanthropic Briefing on AAPIs at the White House in 2012. As a result of the briefing, the Ford Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and Kresge Foundation together made a commitment of $1 million, the first-of-its-kind coordinated public and philanthropic investment in the AAPI community.

We have made great strides over the years in public and private commitments that are beginning to address the critical issues faced by low-income AAPI communities. Earlier last year, President Obama signed Executive Order 13658, “Establishing a Minimum Wage for Contractors,” which will raise the minimum wage for all workers on federal construction and service contracts beginning January 2016. This is an important step toward fulfilling the belief that all Americans, including AAPIs, who work full-time jobs should not live in poverty. And the third and final round of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Promise Zones competition recently opened, where federal, state, and local agencies will partner with leaders in vulnerable communities to increase economic activity, improve educational opportunities, leverage private investment, reduce violent crime, and enhance public health, among other priorities. A current Promise Zone in Los Angeles, CA prioritizes communities in Hollywood, East Hollywood, Koreatown, Pico Union, and Westlake, which have high AAPI populations. To read more about these commitments, the White House Initiative on AAPIs has released a fact sheet today.

We seek to continue our commitment to the AAPI community by recognizing both the progress we have made and the work that still needs to be done. It is an exciting time for all of us, and we hope to renew our pledge to the AAPI community and produce innovative, cross-sector, and multidimensional solutions for effective change.

Nani Coloretti is Deputy Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and Chris Lu is Deputy Secretary of Labor.

Post Show and Tell

Dr. Ken, ABC’s new sitcom starring Ken Jeong, premiered tonight on ABC. Dr. Ken is ABC’s fourth Asian American sitcom after the groundbreaking Mr. T and Tina, All-American Girl, Fresh Off The Boat. Dr. Ken is breaking ground of its own. Ken Jeong’s character is 2nd generation and Suzy Nakamura‘s character (Ken’s TV wife) is 3rd generation, making the kids the first kids beyond 2nd generation in an Asian American sitcom. Dr. Ken is also the first Asian American sitcom set in the 21st century.

Critics’ reviews before air are mixed at best. Arthur Chu wants Jeong to be let loose. I don’t disagree.

If you haven’t seen Dr. Ken, I suggest giving it a watch. The pilot episode starts slow but grows increasingly funny as the episode goes on. I, for one, am looking forward to next week’s episode.

If you saw Dr. Ken and were disappointed, keep watching. It gets better:

But wait there’s more!

Shortly after Dr. Ken’s premiere came the unveiling of a secret project — Post Show and Tell. Created by the beloved 8asians Editor-In Chief Jocelyn “Joz” Wong, Post Show and Tell is the official unofficial after show for Dr. Ken. Post Show and Tell will treat viewers to Dr. Ken behind the scenes exclusives and special appearances from Dr. Ken cast and crew. Post Show and Tell will also feature your questions! To ask a question, put your question in a comment on Post Show and Tell’s YouTube channel or tweet your questions to @PostShowAndTell.

The first Post Show and Tell features Ken Jeong, the star of Dr. Ken, and Krista Marie Yu, the brilliant young actress who plays Dr. Ken’s daughter:

Did you enjoy Dr. Ken? Did you enjoy Post Show and Tell? Let us know!

– Justin Gillenwater

NY Asm. Ron Kim chases, tackles alleged purse-snatcher

My friend and fellow Baruch alumni Assemblymember Ron Kim was recently quite the hero. Via the NYPost:

Kim and the do-gooder briefly lost sight of the crook, until a Main Street coffee-shop employee said the suspect ducked into a nearby commercial building.

“At that time I proceeded to call the police,” Kim said. “And while I’m on the phone with police, this person came running out and the other guy started yelling, ‘That’s him, that’s him!’ and that’s when I tackled him and put him on the floor.”

Kim said he was still on the phone with police as he brought the man down. The pol’s glasses broke during the scuffle, he said.

“It was pretty obvious he was suffering from mental illness,” he said. “I’m glad that there are people besides me who came to help.”

Way to put those college football skills to good use, Ron!


Sept. 17, DC, Rep. Mark Takai Event

The below is a AAA Fund-sponsored event. Please give it your consideration to either attend, donate, or volunteer. Rep. Mark Takai (HI-01) is an AAA Fund Honorary Board member and a strong supporter of our mission and is running to represent Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District.

Mark Takai for Congress

Asian American Action Fund
Bel Leong-Hong
Mieke Eoyang
Melissa Unemori Hampe &
Shekar Narasimhan
Host Committee in Formation

Cordially Invite You to A Reception to benefit
Rep. Mark Takai (HI)-01)
House Armed Services Committee
House Committee on Small Business

Thursday, September 17, 2015 6-8p
Democratic National Committee – Wasserman Room
430 S Capitol St SE, WAshington, DC 20003

Suggested Contribution Levels
PAC Host: $5000
PAC Sponsor: $2500
PAC Guest: $1000
Individual Host: $2000
Individual Sponsor: $1000
Individual Guest: $250

Please donate online and RSVP to Nick Beek at (202) 480-2978 or

Please make checks payable to:
Mark Takai for Congress
PO Box 2267, Pearl City, HI 96782

Contributions to Mark Takai for Congress are not tax deductible. Federal law requires political committees to report the name, address, employer, and occupation of any individual who contributes more than $200.00 in a calendar year. Please supply this information with your contribution. Individuals may contribute up to $ 2,700 per election, and federal multi-candidate PACs may contribute up to $5,000 per election. Contributions from corporations, labor unions, national banks, government contractors and foreign nationals who are not admitted for permanent residence are prohibited. All contributions must be made from personal funds and may not be reimbursed by any other person.

Paid for by Mark Takai for Congress

Asian American Action Fund Endorses Rep. Mark Takai for Congress

AAAF logo

SEPTEMBER 12, 2015

Contact: Gautam Dutta (415) 236-2048

WASHINGTON D.C. – Today, the Asian American Action (AAA) Fund announced their endorsement of Rep. Mark Takai in his reelection bid for Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

He is distinguishing himself as a new member on the House Armed Services and Small Business Committees, as well as continuing to stand up for Filipino Veterans, Pacific Islanders, and various causes important to the Asian Pacific Islander American community.

Prior to coming to Congress, Rep. Takai served for almost 20 years in the Hawaii State Legislature, including as Chairman of several House Committees (Veterans, Military, and International Affairs; Higher Education; and Culture and the Arts), as well as House Vice Speaker. During his time in the state legislature, he has also served as a member of the Hawaii National Guard for 15 years.

“Congressman Takai is a true asset to the Hawaii Congressional Delegation and Congress as a whole, given the way he commits himself to the causes important to the people he represents and brings people with opposing viewpoints together to have productive discussions. He remains a good friend to the Asian Pacific American community‎,” said Deputy Executive Director Melissa Unemori Hampe.

“It is an honor be serving in Congress with the endorsement of the AAA Fund. We have much work ahead and I look forward to expanding opportunities for Asian American and to increasing the number of AAPIs serving in elected positions throughout the nation, including here in DC. Thank you for your endorsement. Mahalo.”

AAAF is co-hosting a fundraiser for Rep. Takai on Thursday, September 17th, at the Wasserman Room in the DNC building. We encourage our supporters to attend or to donate to Mark’s campaign.