August 22, 2014

Standing with DREAMers

Yesterday I sat in the Senate Gallery in the U.S. Capitol with about a hundred immigrant youths to show my support for and solidarity with these DREAMers. And sitting with them, hands clasped, heads bowed, lips praying, the reality of their situation hit home to me. These young people, brought to the United States as minors, had known no other home than America and wanted nothing more than to serve and contribute openly for the good of the country. And this morning, that occasion, was more than just a vote for them, more than just the raising or dropping of an index finger to signify approval or disapproval. This morning’s vote was about the very lives and livelihoods of the approximately 800,000 undocumented young people who would benefit from the DREAM Act.

This morning was what I needed: a reminder that the work that we do in seeking to live out the gospel’s demands of justice, of speaking up for the marginalized and voiceless, and of welcoming the stranger, really does matter.

Moving forward, the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Theodore Parker echo in my head: “The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”

I have faith that justice will be served for these young people, that they will be afforded the chance to contribute and live lives out of the shadows. I have faith because justice is at the very heart of God, because the defense of those who are marginalized and oppressed is always the right thing to do. I have faith because American progress, though often slow and tortuous, continues to rumble forward, and comprehensive immigration reform–including the DREAM Act–that demolishes and defeats xenophobic rhetoric and anti-immigrant fear mongering will have its day.

And it will come soon. Not as soon as we would like, perhaps. But soon.

[Praying with the DREAMers after the vote.]

Update from the campaign (10/7)

Events:

On Tuesday we hosted a 350.org event, entitled Panel for the Planet. It was a great success, with attendees from across the political spectrum all supporting environmental responsibility. Dr. Fred Van Dyke, professor of biology at Wheaton College, was the keynote speaker, and discussed how politics could address the environmental issues facing us.

Ben, speaking afterwards, said:

I’m thankful that everyone could be here and that Dr. Van Dyke could lead us in a frank discussion of what we need to do to create a more just and sustainable future. We desperately need good jobs in Illinois, and the clean energy economy is our best option for putting people back to work while tackling the urgent climate crisis. That is why, unlike my competitor, incumbent Peter Roskam, I strongly support robust clean energy legislation. It is just the right thing to do for our community. Clean energy is not solely a Democratic or Republican priority; it is a moral priority, an American priority, and one that I am proud to champion for our district.

Yesterday Ben spoke at three Political Science/American Government classes at College of DuPage, each time answering questions on his positions, on his thoughts on politics, and on why he decided to run (and to run the way he is running, free from special interests). Something he said really hit home: “Only when we have people who will win the right way will we have people who will govern the right way.”

Amen, brother.

(You can find some pictures from the events, and our campaign pumpkin here.)

Donations:

We recently talked to a local businessman, a Wheaton grad and a pillar of the community—he’s been overseeing his company for over 50 years! He said he’s done with supporting political candidates who simply feed into the broken status quo. But, meeting with him yesterday, he said to Ben, “You’re different. You’re the only one I’m supporting.”

The fact is, Ben’s decision not to take money from interests—to run with integrity and conviction—is refreshing for many people.

If you’d like, you’re welcome to give here. This is a grassroots campaign, energized, supported and run by volunteers. This is your campaign.

Update from the campaign (10/3)

From the campaign trail this week …

Canvassing:

Over the last few days, we’ve spent time canvassing around the Wheaton, Elk Grove Village, Glen Ellyn, and Lombard neighborhoods. We’ve handed out flyers, lawn signs, talked to folks, and it’s been real encouraging. We’ve gotten a great reception from people–Republicans, Democrats, independents–especially when we mention that Ben (1) isn’t taking money from PACs or special interests; and (2) is a newcomer to politics. People are looking for fresh insights, and for someone that challenges the status quo where money dictates politics rather than politicians being responsive to the people who elected them.

One afternoon, when I was canvassing with Ben, we spotted a lawn sign that was already up, and decided to pay a surprise visit. The couple, who’d moved out to Elk Grove Village from Chicago, were delighted to meet Ben, and reiterated their gratitude that he was running.

Events

Yesterday afternoon, we had a “Meet the Candidate” session at Elk Grove Village Public Library. It was a smaller crowd, but what was very encouraging was the articulation of support for Ben. “It’s good to have someone who represents your views, who stands for what you stand for,” said one lady.

People talked about their concerns: poverty, often overlooked in the suburbs of the 6th; immigration reform, including young immigrants brought to the country as children and the approximately 12 million undocumented people living in the shadows; and an energy policy that continues to devastate our environment. Here too, people were excited to have a candidate who refused to be bought by big corporations, and stood up for the people of the district.

Later in the afternoon, we headed over to a fall fair at a church in the area, browsed the stalls, chatted to vendors, ate some hot dogs, and bought a campaign pumpkin to support the Navajo Indians. Once we get it carved, we’ll get a picture up!


For more info, visit Lowe for Congress.

First time on the campaign trail!

Yesterday was my first full day in Wheaton, Illinois. I’m here volunteering for my friend Ben Lowe (above), who’s running for the congressional seat in the 6th District against the incumbent, Republican Peter Roskam. While I was involved informally in the Obama 08 campaign–blogging, holding events in my tiny studio apartment, giving away bumper stickers–this is the first time I’ll be out in the field, so I’m pretty excited about that!

Having spent the last year working in faith and politics, I’ve been tasked with doing faith outreach, connecting with church and other faith leaders in the area, and making them aware of who Ben is and what he stands for. One of the unique aspects of Ben’s candidacy is that, unlike Roskam, he isn’t taking any money from special interests or PACs, nor even from the local branch of the Democratic Party. While this places the campaign at a financial disadvantage, it does mean that if Ben does get elected, he’ll be accountable solely to the people who have voted him into office.

Lowe for Congress HQ

Targetting the IL06

Canvassing the neighborhood with flyers

Find out more at Lowe for Congress; spread the word; and check back for regular updates on my campaign experience!

President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
_______________________________________________________________________________________
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 16, 2010

President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

WASHINGTON – Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent to appoint the following individuals to key administration posts:

· Sefa Aina, Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

· Debra T. Cabrera, Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

· Kamuela J. N. Enos, Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

· Frances Eneski Francis, Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

· Farooq Kathwari, Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

· Hyeok Kim, Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

· Ramey Ko, Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

· Rozita Villanueva Lee, Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

· Sunil Puri, Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

· Amardeep Singh, Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

· Unmi Song, Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

· Dilawar A. Syed, Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

· Khampha Thephavong, Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

· Doua Thor, Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

· Hector L. Vargas, Jr., Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

· Hines Ward, Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

· Admiral John B. Nathman, USN (Ret), Member, Board of Visitors to the United States Naval Academy

· Lieutenant General Frank E. Petersen, USMC (Ret), Member, Board of Visitors to the United States Naval Academy

President Obama said, “Our nation will be well-served by the skill and dedication these men and women bring to their new roles. I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead.”

President Obama announced his intent to appoint the following individuals to key administration posts:

Sefa Aina, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders
Sefa Aina is the Director of the Asian American Resource Center (AARC) at Pomona College. Prior to coming to Pomona, Mr. Aina worked at the UCLA Asian American Studies Center as a counselor, organizational advisor and instructor. He’s also a founding member of Pacific Islander Education and Retention (PIER), which does tutoring and mentoring for Pacific Islander youth in the Carson, Long Beach and Inglewood areas of Los Angeles. He’s a founding member of the National Pacific Islander Educators Network (NPIEN) and Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC). Mr. Aina graduated from UCLA with a BA in History and is currently starting the Masters program in Asian American Studies also at UCLA.

Debra T. Cabrera, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders
Debra T. Cabrera is currently a social science faculty member at St. John’s School located in Tumon, Guam. From 2008-2009, Dr. Cabrera was Dean of Academic Programs and Services at the Northern Marianas College in Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Prior to that, she served many years as a faculty member at the college, earning recognition for her teaching in the social sciences. She has been active in community organizations, namely the Northern Mariana Islands Council for the Humanities, where she served as the board chair. Dr. Cabrera holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Kentucky, an M.A. in Sociology from Ohio University, and a B.A. in Sociology from Washington State University.

Kamuela J. N. Enos, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders
Kamuela Enos is currently the Director of Community Resource Development at MA`O Organic Farms, where he works with low income communities to combat major health issues and promote sustainable agriculture. He worked previously at Empower Oahu on economic and community development initiatives and with the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, where he served as a research assistant in the Office of Youth Services Strategic Planning Process. He is a Director of the Hawaii Rural Development Council. Mr. Enos holds a B.A in Hawaiian Studies and a M.A. in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Hawai`i at Manoa.

Frances Eneski Francis, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders
Frances E. Francis is currently a partner with Spiegel & McDiarmid LLP, a Washington DC law firm specializing in energy, telecommunications, and regulatory matters. Ms. Francis has primarily worked in the fields of hydroelectric regulation, nuclear decommissioning, and electric rate regulation and contract negotiations. She has also been a visiting professor at George Washington University Law School, an attorney with the Federal Power Commission, and a consultant for the Energy Policy Project and the New England River Basin Commission. Ms. Francis holds a B.A. from Dickinson College, an LLB from Yale Law School, and an M.P.A. from Harvard University.

Farooq Kathwari, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders
Farooq Kathwari is the Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Ethan Allen Interiors. He has been President of the company since 1985, and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer since 1988. Mr. Kathwari serves on many non-for-profit organizations including the chair of the Kashmir Study Group; a member of the Council on Foreign Relations; a director of the International Rescue Committee, the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University; a director and former chairman of Refugees International; and a director and former chairman of the National Retail Federation. He holds a B.A. degree in English Literature and Political Science from Kashmir University, an M.B.A. in International Marketing from New York University, and also holds two honorary doctorate degrees.

Hyeok Kim, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders
Hyeok Kim is currently Executive Director of InterIm Community Development Association, a nonprofit community development agency that works to preserve and revitalize Seattle’s Chinatown/International District, and which advocates on behalf of low- and moderate-wage residents and small businesses in the broader Asian and Pacific Islander community in the Puget Sound region. From 1999 to 2008, Ms. Kim worked for the Washington State Legislature, first as a Legislative Assistant to State Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos and then as a policy analyst for the House Democratic Caucus researching and analyzing child welfare, human services, and affordable housing issues. She has also worked as a lobbyist for the Children’s Alliance, a statewide children’s advocacy organization and for the Children’s Administration in Washington. Ms. Kim is a 2010 Marshall Memorial Fellow, as well as a 2010-2011 Fellow with the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Children & Family Fellowship program. Ms. Kim holds a B.A. from Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

Ramey Ko, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders
Ramey Ko is currently Associate Judge of the City of Austin Municipal Court. Before being appointed a judge by the Austin City Council in January 2010, Judge Ko was an attorney at the Texas Advocacy Project, a non-profit organization that provides free legal services to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Prior to his position with the Texas Advocacy Project, Judge Ko was an Equal Justice Works Fellow with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc. and focused on direct representation, education, and outreach related to housing issues faced by survivors of domestic violence. Judge Ko is an Advisory Board Member of the Texas Asian Chamber of Commerce and serves on the City of Austin Public Safety Commission. Judge Ko holds a B.A. from Yale University and a J.D. from the University of Chicago.

Rozita Villanueva Lee, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders
Rozita Lee is currently the National Vice Chair of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations. From 1991 to 2010, she was the owner of RVL, Inc., a Polynesian/Hawaiian Entertainment company. Previously, she served as Vice-President of the Nevada Economic Development Company, as special assistant to former Nevada Governor Bob Miller, and as an administrator of the Diversity Training Program at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). From 1981 to 1983, she produced and hosted a television program called SPECTRUM for PBS Television Channel 10 KLVX TV featuring various ethnic groups in Las Vegas. She was the founding Chairwoman of the Board for the Asian Chamber of Commerce and President of the Las Vegas Chapter of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance.

Sunil Puri, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders
Sunil Puri is the President and sole owner of First Rockford Group, Inc., a real estate development firm he founded in 1984. He also sits on a number of boards including the Rockford Area Economic Development Council and the Rockford College Board of Trustees. Mr. Puri holds a B.S. in Accounting from Rockford College. He has also pursued graduate work at Rockford College, London Business School, as well as continuing executive courses at Harvard Business School.

Amardeep Singh, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders
Amardeep Singh is the co-founder and presently the Director of Programs at the Sikh Coalition, the nation’s largest Sikh civil rights organization. Prior to joining the Sikh Coalition in 2002, Mr.Singh worked as a Researcher in the U.S. Program of Human Rights Watch (HRW). While at HRW, he authored its report, “We Are Not the Enemy: Hate Crimes Against Arabs, Muslims, and Those Perceived to be Arab or Muslim after September 11.” Mr. Singh was also an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race where he taught a course on the intersection of ethnic identity and the law. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the South Asian Bar Association of New York. Mr. Singh holds a B.A. from Rutgers University and a J.D. from Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

Unmi Song, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders
Unmi Song is Executive Director of the Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, a private foundation that awards $8 million in grants annually to nonprofits serving low-income communities in Chicago with a focus on Arts Education, Education, Employment, and Health. Prior to joining the Fry Foundation in 2003, Ms. Song handled employment program grantmaking, which covered job training and welfare policy issues, at the Joyce Foundation. Before she moved into the nonprofit sector, Ms. Song was vice president of Bankers Trust Company and held positions at Citicorp Investment Bank in New York City, at the First National Bank of Chicago and at Gold Star Tele-Electric Company in Seoul, South Korea. Ms. Song holds a B.A. and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago.

Dilawar A. Syed, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders
Dilawar A. Syed is President and CEO of Yonja Media Group, an emerging markets internet company. Prior to joining Yonja Media, Mr. Syed was head of business strategy and operations in the Platform division at Yahoo!. Mr. Syed was President of a non-profit entrepreneurship organization, OPEN Silicon Valley, and currently serves on the steering committee of the Fred T. Korematsu Institute for Civil Rights and Education. Mr. Syed holds an M.B.A. from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. from The University of Texas at Austin.

Khampha Thephavong, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders
Dr. Khampha Thephavong is currently a primary care physician at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Fresno, California. Dr. Thephavong also serves on the Board of the Lao-American Advancement Center. Dr. Thephavong holds a BSN degree from the California State University of Fresno and a D.O. degree from the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Doua Thor, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders
Doua Thor is the Executive Director of Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC), a national nonprofit organization advancing the interests of Cambodian, Laotian, and Vietnamese Americans through leadership development, capacity building, and community empowerment. Formerly she was a New Voices Fellow with Hmong National Development, Inc. (HND). Currently, she serves on the board of the Asian Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF), and the Red Cross National Diversity Advisory Council. Ms. Thor holds an undergraduate degree from Wayne State University and a graduate degree from the University of Michigan’s School of Social Work with a concentration in social policy and evaluation.

Hector L. Vargas, Jr., Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders
Hector Vargas Jr. is Executive Director of the Gay & Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA), a non-profit association of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) healthcare professionals working for equality in healthcare for LGBT people and healthcare providers. From 2001 until earlier this year, Mr. Vargas worked at Lambda Legal, first as Southern Regional Director and later as Deputy Director of the Education and Public Affairs Department, where he played key leadership roles in the organization’s education and communication strategies. Prior to joining Lambda Legal, he also worked at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the American Bar Association’s Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Ethics Division and Equal Justice Works (formerly the National Association for Public Interest Law). Mr. Vargas holds a J.D. and B.A. from the University of Georgia.

Hines Ward, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders
Hines Ward is a professional football player for the Pittsburgh Steelers who was voted MVP of Super Bowl XL. Born to a Korean mother and an African American father, he has long been an advocate for biracial youths. He is actively involved in various philanthropic initiatives, including starting his own foundation, the Hines Ward Helping Hands Foundation, which seeks to help mixed-race children suffering from discrimination.

Admiral John B. Nathman, USN (Ret), Appointee for Member, Board of Visitors to the United States Naval Academy
Admiral John B. Nathman is a Distinguished Fellow and Member of the Military Advisory Board for the CNA Corporation. He retired from the U. S. Navy in 2007 as Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces. Admiral Nathman served for 37 years and held many high ranking positions including Vice Chief of Naval Operations; Commander, Naval Air Forces; Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfighting Requirements; and Commander, Battle Force Fifty in the Persian Gulf. His personal decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star with Combat V. He serves on the board of directors for the Custiss Wright Corporation and the Strategic Advisory Board for Boeing Defense, Space and Security. Admiral Nathman received his MS in aero engineering in 1972, graduated with distinction from the United States Naval Academy in 1970, and is a distinguished graduate of the USAF Test Pilot School.

Lieutenant General Frank E. Petersen, USMC (Ret), Appointee for Member, Board of Visitors to the United States Naval Academy
Lieutenant General Frank E. Petersen is a veteran fighter pilot who served 38 years in the United States Marine Corps. In 1952 he became the first African-American pilot in the history of the Corps and in 1978 the first African-American Brigadier General. General Petersen served combat tours in Korea and Vietnam and held command positions at all levels of Marine Corps aviation, commanding a Marine fighter Squadron, Marine Aircraft Group and Marine Aircraft Wing. He retired in 1988 as Commander, Marine Corps Combat and Development Command, Quantico, Virginia and as senior ranking aviator in the U.S. Naval Service with the respective titles of “Silver Hawk” (USMC) and “Grey Eagle” (USN). After retirement from the military, General Petersen served as Corporate Vice President of the E.I. DuPont Company, managing the company’s international capital assets. He currently serves as Chairman Emeritus on the National Marrow Donor Board and Director Emeritus on the Education Credit and Management Corp. In 2009 General Petersen was appointed by the Secretary of Defense to serve on the Military Leadership Diversity Commission. He is a graduate of the National War College and received his Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees from George Washington University.

##

On Arizona, Artists Speak Up, Refuse to Play

As a musician, I’m always interested in seeing how my fellow creative types respond to injustice or need. To raise awareness of human trafficking, musician Justin Dillon integrated musical offerings from artists such as Moby, Talib Kweli, Matisyahu, Imogen Heap and more, creating the rockumentary CALL+RESPONSE. To raise funds in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti, writer/director Paul Haggis (Crash, Casino Royale, Due South – yes, I loved this show) joined together with Ben Stiller, Olivia Wilde, and a host of other friends to form Artists for Peace and Justice, working with Father Rick Frechette to minister in the slums of Port-au-Prince and provide money for infrastructure and aid.

In the wake of Arizona’s immigration law, a group of artists came together to form The Sound Strike, pronouncing and demonstrating their opposition to SB1070 by refusing to perform in Arizona until it was no longer law. The list, primarily musicians, includes (as of the end of June): Tenacious D, Massive Attack, Ozomatli, Rise Against, Kanye West, Joe Satriani, Rage Against The Machine, Conor Oberst (of Bright Eyes), Cypress Hill, Billy Bragg, Ry Cooder, Ben Harper, Maroon 5, Chris Rock, and Nine Inch Nails.

As a Christian, I believe people are called to exercise the gifts and talents God has given us responsibly. I believe this means that when I see injustice or oppression that denigrates the image of God in any human being, it is my responsibility to call it out, to point to the alternative vision of what Christians call the kingdom of God, where human-made barriers — whether physical, ideological or spiritual — do not separate us.

Of course, I think most people know that Arizona is symptomatic of the desperate need for federal action – even those who back the law support comprehensive immigration reform. But even ‘smaller’ injustices need to be confronted, and so I applaud The Sound Strike for taking a stand.

As Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel said in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech:

I swore never to be silent whenever, wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant.

Original version posted on God’s Politics.

Statement by the President on Philippine Independence Day

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 11, 2010

On behalf of the American people, I send my best wishes to all those who celebrate the 112th Anniversary of Philippine Independence Day – here in America, in the Philippines, and around the world. Our two countries share a common history and values, and we continue to partner to promote peace and development. Here in America, many Americans can trace their roots to the Philippines, and they are all an important part of the American identity. I am confident that our nations, sharing in our democratic principles, will continue our strong friendship and cooperation.

###

Asian-American History: 10 Facts

Asian-American history doesn’t get taught much in schools (and probably even less so in Texas), but May is Asian-American Heritage Month (in case you didn’t already know). And Jenn Fang has compiled ten facts you may not know about Asian-American history. Here are the first five:

  1. The first Asians whose arrival in America was documented were Filipinos who escaped a Spanish galleon in 1763. They formed the first Asian-American settlement in U.S. history, in the swamps surrounding modern-day New Orleans.
  2. In the years between 1917 and 1965, Uncle Sam explicitly outlawed immigration to the U.S. of all Asian people. Immigration from China, for example, was banned as early as 1882, when the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed. It wasn’t until the Immigration Act of 1965 — which abolished national origins as a basis for immigration decisions — that nearly 50 years of race-based discrimination against Asian immigrants ended.
  3. Because of their race, Asians immigrants were denied the right to naturalize as U.S. citizens, until the 1943 Magnuson Act was passed. Consequently, for nearly a century of U.S. history, Asians were barred from owning land and testifying in court by laws that specifically targeted “aliens ineligible to citizenship.” Even after the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868, American-born children of Chinese immigrants were not regarded as American citizens until the landmark 1898 Supreme Court case, United States v. Wong Kim Ark, which established that the Fourteen Amendment also applied to people of Asian descent.
  4. Among the earliest Asian immigrants, virtually all ethnicities worked together as physical laborers, particularly on Hawaii’s sugar cane plantations. On these plantations, a unique hybrid language — pidgin — developed that contained elements of Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Korean and English. Today, pidgin is one of the official languages of Hawaii, a state that is itself 40% Asian.
  5. Despite the Alien Land Law, which specifically prevented Asians from owning their own land, Japanese farmers were highly successful in the West Coast where they put into practice their knowledge of cultivating nutrient-poor soil to yield profitable harvests. By the 1920s, Japanese farmers (working their own land, or land held by white landowners that they managed) were the chief agricultural producers of many West Coast crops. In fact, the success of Japanese farmers is often cited as one of the reasons white landowners in California lobbied to support Japanese-American internment following the declaration of World War II.

You can find the rest here. And here’s a fuller timeline of Asian-American history.

Thanks to Angry Asian Man for the heads-up.

– Justin

Asian Americans Speak Up Against SB1070

Ed. Note: The below is a re-posting of Standing FIRM.

immigration

Photo: Seng Chen

The rhetoric surrounding Arizona’s new law, popularly known as SB 1070, has raised the furor of communities nation-wide. Essentially, SB 1070 would criminalize anybody that “looks” like an undocumented immigrant. Nobody, even Governor Jan Brewer who signed the bill into law, can describe how this law will be implemented without resorting to racial profiling.

So the question is, who “looks” like an undocumented immigrant?

The answer is not as simple as you think. The popular debate on immigration reform has focused on Latinos, particularly immigrants from Mexico. But there are other communities that are left out of this frame.

In January, the New York Times wrote a profile on the increasing number of “illegal” Chinese immigrants crossing the border from Mexico. According to the United States Border Patrol in Tucson, the number of Chinese immigrants arrested while illegally crossing the border into Arizona increased ten-fold in the last year.

That means that SB 1070 will affect Arizona’s Asian & Pacific Islander American population too.

To many of us who work or know folks who work with Asian immigrant communities, this bit of news isn’t surprising. After all, there have always been an influx of “illegal” immigrants from Asia. And the long story of Asian & Pacific Islanders in America reveals the backlash that our communities have historically felt (see, for example, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882). Nowadays, many undocumented immigrants from Asia have overstayed visas. Some like Mohammad (who also identified as gay) were brought here illegally by his parents at a young age. Others, like DREAM activist Tam Tran, were caught in limbo from a broken immigration system.

And now we see immigrants from Asia crossing the border into Arizona in record numbers.

Thanks to research by Jenn from Reappropriate we now know that the Asian & Pacific Islander community in AZ is one of the fastest growing minority populations in the state, nearly doubling in size between 1990 and 2005. Will these folks be subjected to profiling too?

Thankfully, there are organizations that are doing their part for justice. This week, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center and the Asian American Justice Center filed a lawsuit with other national civil rights organizations to challenge SB 1070. And many organizations based in Asian & Pacific Islander communities are mobilizing against this unjust law too. (see NAKASEC for example)

At this point, I’m wondering about the opportunities for cross-racial organizing in AZ to create long-term power above and beyond immigration reform. Imagine the possibilities!

In the meantime, for my fellow Asian warriors in the struggle, take action against SB 1070 here:

Sign the petition

– Dennis Chin, guest blogger