AAAFund Stands for Reuniting Families, DREAMers, and the Diversity Visa

Strongly Objects to Family Ban for Immigrants, Calls on Endorsees to Do Same

Contrary to what President Trump’s hateful comments about not wanting immigrants from certain countries, the board of the Asian American Action Fund (AAAFund) fully supports and welcomes immigrants from all countries to the United States. The President is supposed to be a president for all Americans, not just some. Tearing families apart is cruel, and we call on our endorsed candidates and elected officials to stand strongly and vocally for family reunification. We oppose any attempt to shoehorn the xenophobic and anti-family RAISE Act into what should be a clean DACA bill and negotiations over a self-imposed crisis that President Trump created by ending DACA authorization. Family is a central value to Asian cultures, and many Asian American households have multigenerational families helping to raise children and start successful businesses.

The AAAFund supports legalization for the 800,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients, including many young Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. We vociferously object to ending family reunification and the visa diversity lottery. It is wrong to end family reunification for the hardworking immigrants who came as children, or to study and start businesses, many of which succeed because of the blood, sweat, and tears of a whole and united family. Over 80 percent of Asian Americans are in the United States because of family reunification, whether through siblings, spouses, or sons and daughters.

As the children of immigrants who saw our parents and our friends’ parents start businesses from scratch, we know that making families whole is fundamental to the American Dream. And to successful businesses, which grow the economy. We saw our parents working with their siblings and our grandparents to staff mom and pop shops from restaurants to dry cleaners to tech startups.

It is wrong to end family reunification for DACA recipients and for people who have waited for over 20 years to be reunited with family members, the way that applicants from the Philippines do. Asian Americans and Filipino Americans have served proudly alongside and in the US military, at times sacrificing their lives for American freedoms. In two decades, children have grown into adults, estranged from loved ones by an ocean and antiquated immigration policy. So we would call for a fix to the family reunification backlog to shorten wait times, not to end family reunification altogether.

AAA-Fund is a progressive political organization that is dedicated to empowering Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders across the United States. Through the AAA-Fund, Asian American Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) from different ethnic groups and from all over the country work together to increase the voice of the AAPI community in local, state and federal government. We do this by helping to elect AAPI and other political candidates who have a demonstrated commitment to the community, and by engaging AAPIs in the political process.

SCOTUS case an effort to de-naturalize citizens

The current US Supreme Court case against Divna Masenjak, a Bosnian Serb who fled civil war and naturalized as a US citizen, centers around efforts by the Trump administration to claw back citizenship from US citizens. She was admitted as a refugee in the 90s, gained citizenship in 2007, and then had it revoked and was deported 7 years later after admitting to having lied about her husband’s participation in the Bosnian Serb military.

Although not commendable, her actions were understandable, and SCOTUS justices seemed even more perturbed at the government’s line of reasoning that even minor offenses and white lies could be actionable. with Justice Sotomayor asking if withholding information about childhood nicknames would count.

According to SCOTUSblog:

Kennedy was also clearly uneasy about the government’s interpretation. Your argument, he admonished Parker, is “demeaning” to the “priceless value of citizenship.” Kennedy added, “you are arguing for the government of the United States, talking about what citizenship is and ought to mean.”

Landau tried to capitalize on this unease in his rebuttal, telling the justices that “the questioning today makes it chillingly clear that the government’s position in this case would subject all naturalized Americans to potential denaturalization at the hands of an aggressive prosecutor.” And that, Landau concluded, “is not what Congress intended” and “not what is in the language of the statute.”

The Trump administration attorney Robert Packer argued that even minor offenses, including speeding 5mph over the limit (an example that Chief Justice Roberts cited) would be punishable by withholding or taking away citizenship. Considering that this administration has already deported undocumented citizens over past minor offenses, it is not that big a leap to conclude that they would try to do the same to naturalized citizens.

This is another example of the Trump administration trying to move the Overton window, to make the surreal normal. Fortunately, the administration’s absurdity seems to be leaving the justices incredulous. The Trump administration’s actions on H1B and support of curbing legal immigration, as well as their participation in this case, leave little room to doubt that they would very much like to not simply curb immigration to this country, but to actually kick people out who have gone through the long and arduous process of naturalization. That’s what their policy proposals around clawing back public benefits like school lunches to immigrant children say. We cannot let this administration’s efforts against immigrants stand. Their trial balloons are full of poison. We have to educate ourselves, educate our communities, and organize by building power. That is how we resist.





Thank You ECAASU

ECAASU: East Coast Asian American Union

I had the great pleasure and honor of facilitating a workshop ECAASU2017 today, “The United States of Asian America.” This post is just 1 of many post-ECAASU and this time, I comment on that tagline.

A Facebook post popular today is about how America’s greater thanks to this politically charged environment. Same for Asian America. Today, our community involvement, political interest, civic engagement, empowerment, and a desire for a public life are at record highs. From humanitarian orgs in San Francisco to mental health advocates in San Gabriel to pan-Asian Advocates in DC to political greatness in Chicagoland to legal defense funds in NYC & LA to community leaders in Florida to 2017 election work in NJ & NoVA to Santa Ana to celebrities in LA to professional networks in Dallas, Asian America is rich and rife with unity and mutual energy. We have the diversity of people, financing, talents, professions, and connections to continue making our community ever greater.

Asian Americans paid a steep price for most of American history in blood, sweat, and tears for our role in America today. We’ve been attacked for our mere existence here. We’ve been sent to concentration camps (FDR’s words) for being loyal Americans. We’ve been legally excluded from immigrating because of xenophobia. We’ve been bullied, belittled, and micro-aggressioned for going about our lives. I speak of our community lovingly, eloquently, and with unity because you have shown me this heartfelt feeling in heart and mind and action.

Attendees came searching for many things: inspiration, professional connections, an update on AAPI politics, credible ways to get involved, answers to student advocacy, and a path from protest to power. I hope I provided all. I encourage all to continue this work as our community has always invested that kind of work to enable this fortunate present day. AAAFund stands with ECAASU and its attendees, past, present, and future, in the shared work to empower Asian America. Onwards and upwards together and forever.

Comment below if you want to connect with us, ask us something, get help, get an answer, anything.

Rep. Stephanie Murphy: My Family Fled Vietnam. Don’t Mix Politics and National Security

Op-Ed Special to the Orlando Sentinel
By U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy


The highest priority of government leaders is to protect the American people. This solemn responsibility was brought into sharp focus when the United States was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001. The attacks underscored our vulnerability as a nation and the need to strengthen our security policies. On a personal level, 9-11 led me to leave the private sector and eventually to enter public service, becoming a national security specialist in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

My experience working alongside our men and women in uniform was inspiring because so many had put their lives on the line to serve our country. It was even more special because, years earlier, U.S. service members rescued my family.

In 1979, when I was just an infant, my family fled Communist Vietnam after the fall of Saigon. Families associated with the South Vietnamese and American governments, like my own, were at risk of being sent to re-education camps and subjected to forced labor, torture, starvation and disease. To escape this fate, we and many others — collectively known as the Vietnamese boat people — set off in small ships in search of safer shores. 

Many didn’t survive the passage, and we almost didn’t either. However, a U.S. Navy vessel discovered us adrift at sea, refueled and resupplied us, and directed us to a Malaysian refugee camp. We eventually made our way to the United States and became proud citizens.

America’s greatness, born of a unique blend of power and principle, is not an abstract concept to me. I did not discover it simply from eloquent words on a page or soaring lyrics in an anthem. Instead, my patriotism is the product of a life lesson, one instilled by U.S. service members bestowing grace upon desperate strangers.

Later, during my time at the Pentagon, I was involved in numerous decisions related to national security. In light of this experience, I am particularly sensitive to — and troubled by — the prospect of mixing the national security policy-making process with partisan politics. That is why I recently introduced legislation to prevent politics from interfering with decisions made by the National Security Council, arguably the most vital institution advising the president on issues related to defense, foreign affairs, and intelligence. At NSC meetings, the stakes could not be higher. Choices are made about whether to deploy our service members into combat, how to defend the homeland against terrorism, and how to support our allies and counter our adversaries around the globe.

The bill — my first as a member of Congress — has obtained more than 110 cosponsors to date, including leaders on the House Armed Services, Foreign Affairs and Intelligence committees. Legislation with a similar purpose was subsequently introduced by several U.S. senators.   

The specific action that led me to file this legislation was President Trump’s Jan. 28 directive authorizing the “Assistant to the President and Chief Strategist” — Stephen Bannon — to attend all NSC meetings. This effectively places Bannon, whose role in the administration has a strong political component, on the same plane as the secretaries of state, defense and homeland security. Bannon’s appointment has generated concern from respected figures of all political stripes, including Republican Sen. John McCain (who called it a “radical departure” from precedent), former Defense Secretary and CIA Director Leon Panetta, and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen.

Although Bannon may be a controversial figure, particularly among my fellow Democrats, this bill is not about his personal character or party affiliation. It is about fidelity to a principle — the separation of national security policy making and domestic politics — that is both deeply American and, in light of my background, profoundly personal.

Our men and women in the military, like the ones who rescued my family or the ones I worked with at the Pentagon, should never have their lives placed at risk as the result of a NSC decision that is politically motivated or unduly informed by political calculation.  

Keeping politics off the NSC is not a partisan proposition. Since 1947, when Congress created the NSC, presidents of both parties have sought in good faith to wall off national security policy making from domestic politics to the greatest extent possible. Of the walls that President Trump is considering, this is one wall worth preserving.

 Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy represents Florida’s 7th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives and is a member of the Armed Services Committee.


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