April 19, 2015

The Historical Connection Between U S Immigration Policy and Civil Rights in America

Editor’s Note: We welcome Charles Cheng-Kung Wang, an immigration attorney at law in Cincinnati, Ohio, back as guest blogger with the below piece. His last piece “Why Asian Americans Confuse Affirmation Action with the Very Real Plight of being Capped Out from Universities of Their Choice“, aggressively touched on this topic critical to all of us and our community and families.

The Whole Truth about US Immigration Detention

2013 has been dubbed the year of hope for passing immigration reform. There is less than two months of the year left to do this, and given the dysfunctional state of the U.S. Congress, it is unlikely that anything substantive will pass.

This said, I would like to explore the historical connection between U S Immigration Policy and Civil Rights in America. One reason is that an appreciation of this connection will also help explain why immigration reform is so hard to achieve today.

I will make the bold assertion that, historically, immigration policy is racially based, and even at this moment there are those who oppose immigration reform also for the reason of race. Let us look at the key milestones in U.S. Immigration legislation.

All immigration lawyers will agree that the single most important piece of immigration legislation in modern times is the Immigration & Naturalization Act (Hart-Celler Act) of 1965. The key progress achieved in 1965 is the writing over of the then notorious Immigration Act of 1924. Notorious because the 1924 Act is totally race based – it contained two racially obnoxious parts calculated to ban the entry of “undesirable” immigrants: the National Origins Act, and Asian Exclusion Act. The Asian Exclusion Act is blatantly obvious on its face – it barred immigration from the Asia-Pacific Triangle. The National Origins Act is more subtle – it sought to preserve the racial mix of the USA to that which existed in the year 1890. Up to 1920, about 90% of immigrants were from Europe. The Immigration Act of 1924 is also remembered as the Eugenics Act, eugenics being the pseudo-science of genetic engineering based on perceived traits of superiority started the 1860s but discredited along with the defeat of Nazism at the end of World War II in 1945.

The hand-waving of the National Origins Act was necessitated partly by the advocacy and efforts of African American activitists and supporters. In 1890, at the height of Jim Crow laws in the South which arose after the end of Reconstruction in 1877, the discriminatory situation was a rallying cry for segregationists seeking to preserve white supremacy in America. In 1883, the U S. Supreme Court in various Civil Rights cases declared unconstitutional the Civil Rights Acts passed by Congress during Reconstruction Era reasoning that the 14th Amendment did not authorize legislation against individual conduct, but only against official state action. Are you surprised, then, that given the racial attitudes gripping America during that period, that in 1882 Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act which barred immigration from China? This brings me to the crux of my discussion – the impact of civil rights on immigration.

The year 1965 is also significant because Congress passed and President Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act. A year earlier, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also became federal law. These 2 Acts are the culmination of the civil rights movement to eliminate segregation historically against freed slaves and their children, that is, to end Jim Crow. The pinnacle of the legalization of discrimination is the approval of the “separate but equal” doctrine by the U. S. Supreme Court in Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896 which upheld segregation of public transportation by reason of color. Lesser known is the case of Giles v. Harris decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1903 forbidding the federal courts from hearing complaints against state officials of voter suppression against African Americans.

With Brown v. Board of Education, the Court in 1954 signaled a cardinal reversal of national policy towards institutional segregation. In response to the modern civil rights movement, Congress got into the act in 1964-1965 with the modern Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts. Is it a mere coincidence that in 1965, Congress also passed the Immigration & Naturalization Act which removed the color bar and equalized immigration from the “Eastern and Western Hemispheres” of the world? Is there a connection with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965? I think there is a direct connection – the Congress could not in good faith continue the racially discriminatory immigration policy in the face of the progress made in civil rights at home.

I view slavery as involuntary immigration where people from Africa were forced against their wills to leave their homes and were transported in chains to these shores. Those enslaved are nonetheless immigrants just like the people who crossed the Atlantic Ocean from Europe to find political and religious freedom and economic opportunity for themselves and their children (economics and race are hand in hand in making immigration policy). After the baptism by fire and steel of the American Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation of President Lincoln, and the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the United States Constitution, can immigration be restricted to only from across the Atlantic? In fact this is exactly what happened – immigration policy continued to be race and color based until 1965, the year Jim Crow was officially struck dead by the U. S. Congress, but after a hundred years from the end of the Civil War.

After the comprehensive overhaul of immigration law in 1965, immigration from Europe dropped to around 15%. After 1965, subsequent amendments in immigration in 1980, 1986, 1990, and 2001 (Patriot Act passed a month after 9/11) all show a tendency towards restricting immigration. What kind of immigration amendment will come in 2013-2014?

Earlier this year, the U. S. Supreme Court in the landmark case of Shelby County v. Holder, signaled that the Voter Rights Act may have outlived its purpose, striking down the core Section 4(b) because Congress had renewed it using stale 1975 data, suggesting that states and local government previously subject to strict federal oversight of voting procedures are no longer engaged in voter suppression. Has American totally freed herself from racial animus and perceptions of color supremacy that gave rise to slavery, Jim Crow, the Chinese Exclusion Act, and the Asian Exclusion Act?

Will this emerging rationale epitomized by Shelby County have an impact on immigration reform in light of the historical relationship between civil rights and immigration policy? I close with the current census projection based on current trends that by 2043, the population demographics in the United States will shift to no racial majority but only a plurality of races. How can American have a relevant & useful immigration policy given such rapid shifts with a useless Congress?

– Charleston C. K. Wang

The power and potential of organizing

Protestors chanted "immigration reform now" and "deportation hurts this nation" while Speaker John Boehner addressed the audience at the Capitol Christmas Tree lighting ceremony Tuesday. Jayna Omaye/Medill

Protestors chanted “immigration reform now” and “deportation hurts this nation” while Speaker John Boehner addressed the audience at the Capitol Christmas Tree lighting ceremony Tuesday. Jayna Omaye/Medill


Today was like any other day as a reporter on the Hill. I showed up early to the Capitol Christmas Tree lighting ceremony to shoot some photos and cover the event for a story.

The ceremony flowed smoothly until Speaker John Boehner stepped up to the podium and began speaking – it is a long-standing tradition that the Speaker of the House lights the Capitol Christmas Tree.

As soon as Boehner started talking, a group of protestors from behind the fence started chanting loudly “immigration reform now” and “deportation hurts this nation.” While some people were distracted, Boehner continued on as if nothing happened.

After the ceremony ended, the group of protestors continued to chant and wave their signs that read “keeping families together” and “immigration reform now.”

This demonstration reminded me of Ju Hong, a young immigrant who interrupted President Obama’s speech on immigration reform in San Francisco.

Are these bold acts effective in keeping immigration reform in the forefronts of policymakers’ agendas or does the public see them as disrespectful? Many of the spectators at the Capitol Christmas Tree ceremony were families and children, and many flew to the district from Washington State, which is where this year’s Capitol Christmas Tree was harvested.

Some might say the Capitol Christmas Tree ceremony was the wrong time to introduce politics into a holiday celebration. But others might say those protestors had every right to this demonstration —some families face the possibility of deportation and separation every day because immigration reform has not been passed yet.

What are the potential effects and consequences that may result from that bold act? Is it worth it? There is a fine line – so how do they know when it’s the appropriate time to make the bold move to stand up for an issue they think is important?

There’s so much power and potential in organizing, but sometimes the most difficult part is figuring out when this power works, and most importantly, when it may not.

Thriving in the gray areas

News judgment is one of those tough-to-describe intangible concepts that best represents a balance between understanding what readers want to read and knowing what they should read.

But it’s never that simple.

As journalists, we are told that we need to have “good” news judgment. But all journalists possess a different sense of what’s newsworthy based on their own values and backgrounds. So how can all of us have the same news judgment? Isn’t that what diversity is meant for, to provide different perspectives on issues?

This past week, I worked on a story about the effectiveness of solitary confinement in protecting gay and transgender immigrants held at U.S. detention centers. Although solitary confinement is supposedly used to protect these vulnerable immigrants from abuse and assault from other detainees, a new report found that the psychological trauma of solitariness can be extremely harmful and in some cases, irreversible.

I pitched this story to a couple of publications that I thought would be interested, but they didn’t want it.

Although I finally found an outlet that published my story, I did not understand why this underreported issue was deemed not newsworthy to some.

Maybe it was my background and experiences that shaped the way I saw this piece. Or maybe I need to develop my skills and gain more experience, because this isn’t the first time I felt this disconnect.

Yes, my story affected a smaller demographic (gay and transgender immigrant detainees), but that does not mean it is not important. Most good stories are rarely isolated issues, and many journalists understand that a smaller issue is part of a bigger problem. With this particular story, it dealt with the bigger picture of immigration reform and how we, as a country, treat vulnerable populations.

So the most important part of news judgment is the balance between want and need. Working at a media outlet requires a journalist to hone into the publication’s audience and understand what they want to read about. However, journalism is also about setting the news agenda and publishing stories that we think our readers should know about. How do we find that balance, especially when everyone has such different backgrounds and perspectives? Should we place want before need or vice versa?

I don’t know if there will ever be a black-and-white answer to these questions. However, I think good journalists are able to thrive in the gray areas and help their audiences understand that many issues today are rarely black and white.

LGBT immigrant story:
“Report raises concerns about solitary detention for gay, transgender immigrants”

Immigration reform: What exactly does that mean?

Although there have been a number of immigration protests and rallies in Washington this year, many have been organized by immigrant advocacy groups. But last week was different – I covered a fly-in event where conservatives from across the country gathered in the district to push for immigration reform.

Hundreds of conservative religious, business and law enforcement leaders met with their members of Congress to discuss how the people they represent would benefit from immigration reform.

While the evangelical community felt immigration reform was the “moral thing to do,” business leaders pushed for more immigrants to fill labor-intensive positions that have not been occupied by American workers. Law enforcement officials also believed that by securing the borders, more attention and resources could be focused on domestic issues.

As my editor read over my story, he asked me a simple question that I had to stop and think about: “So what exactly does immigration reform mean to these people?”

When you think about it, “immigration reform” is a broad term and encompasses different definitions for a number of groups. To answer my editor’s question accurately, it took me a while flipping through my notes and handouts to determine exactly what these conservative groups wanted from the reform bill. Something as simple as this can make all the difference when talking about a story, especially a controversial one.

However, I am not sure if there is one concrete answer to this question that fits everyone’s opinions and stances.

So what does this mean for the public? Whenever we hear anything, it is never a bad idea to think about it carefully before believing it wholeheartedly. Even the most trusted sources make mistakes sometimes; it is inevitable and a part of being human.

As a journalist, I am taught to think about a story as a compilation of different voices. Putting your own opinions and viewpoints aside, everyone has a voice, some heard more than others. But it is our job as journalists to make sure that each of these voices are represented accurately and fairly in all of our stories.

I hope this same idea of seeing a story as a compilation of voices also resonates with the public. It is difficult to sometimes know what is true and what is not. Relying on instinct and also conducting some research could make all the difference. There is so much information out there—we just need to learn how to sift through the discordant voices.

My story on the conservative fly-in (w/ video):

“Top conservative leaders push for immigration reform”

How Should Our Immigration Policy Be Reformed

We proudly announce our 2013 Blogathon winner: Subrata Saha! We congratulate his very thoughtfully writing and impassioned spirit on this topic all-important to our community & readers. His submission is below.

The Whole Truth about US Immigration Detention

My parents immigrated to the U.S. from India. I could go on and tell you about how they are productive, good people, but I’m not going to. Sharing my story won’t help you think about the immigration debate in any real constructive, analytical way. It might make you feel good for a few seconds, but there’s chicken soup for the soul for that. This post is not about feelings. This post is about how should our immigration policy be reformed.

So when the pen touches the paper and proposals are to be produced for lawmakers, how should we do this?

I don’t know. I’m not an expert on immigration. I’m not a social scientist, or an immigration attorney, or someone who knows econometrics very well and can analyze all of the data.

But what I do know is that there are beginning steps in how immigration policy should be reformed. More specifically, these steps are about how we should think about immigration policy. Let’s face it, at this hour, this post, nor others like it, will have any effect on the Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 that is up for debate. What this post instead hopes to do is to get you to think about immigration policy reform in a slightly different way. This will hopefully allow you to think about immigration not just now, but down the line.

(1) Open Your Mind About Immigration

Let’s get rid of all immigration. I mean, hell, why or why not? Let’s just close all of the doors to legal, and to the best of our ability, illegal immigration. Do we even need it? Let’s just subsist on what we got and see how it goes. Is that a bad idea? I don’t know. I can’t predict the future.

Or how about just making it a free for all? Let in whoever wants to come. Give us your tired, your sick, your poor, etc.

The point is: we need to be more broad minded about immigration. By thinking of all sorts of possibility reforms, we think more about the reasons why we do things. This will help us better think about what it is that we really want for our country.

(2) Move Past Thinking about What’s Fair and What’s Not Fair

The government isn’t about fairness. A rich person pays more in pure dollars in income tax than a poor person. As if that’s not enough, a rich person also pays a higher percentage for income tax than a poor person. That’s not fair. But neither taxes nor the government are about fairness. It’s about interests and the betterment of society. On the same token, immigration should not be about fairness either. An illegal immigrant comes to the U.S., works her butt off for years, and is productive in the economy. Would it be fair to grant her amnesty just because of her efforts? Maybe, maybe not. But again, we are not about fairness. The government should think more broadly than simply thinking about fairness. This should be considered when thinking about issues like amnesty or giving people opportunity.

(3) Think Less Like Positional Bargainers

“There’s too much immigration!” “We need more immigration!” This type of attitude gets us nowhere.

Positional bargaining, as discussed in Fisher’s and Ury’s modern classic “Getting to Yes,” is where each side opens with their fixed position on an issue and argues for it without considering underlying interests. The typical example is haggling over price. Sometimes a compromise is reached. And often both parties end up feeling crappy. The authors of “Getting to Yes” instead suggest bargaining on interests.

We haggle too much on immigration, particularly immigration numbers. Get past that and consider what are the real interests of the U.S. What do we really want? What are we really interested in? Having a greater diversity in population? Making sure low-level jobs are fulfilled? Highly-skilled jobs? Trying to market the U.S. as the central place for everyone to try to come?

Positional bargaining also causes us to have blinders. If we are pro-immigration, we are happy that more H-1B visas are available. If we are anti-immigration, we are happy that less H-1B visas are available. But what about the idea that many domestic individuals are qualified for the same jobs that H-1B visa holders are taking up? Or that H-1B visa holders are often underpaid and can often have a seemingly indentured servant relationship with their employer? By focusing less about the numbers and more on interests we can better analyze whether goals of visa holders and the U.S. are being met.

In short, when it comes to immigration policy, think outside the box and think about interests. At best, you can help shape the future immigration policy of our country. At worst, you can have more interesting conversations about immigration reform. And of course, if all else fails, fall back on a chicken soup for the soul story.

– Subrata Saha

Why Asian Americans Confuse Affirmation Action with the Very Real Plight of being Capped Out from Universities of Their Choice

Editor’s Note: We’ve given immigration particular attention with our posts over the last 2 years from the importance of family immigration (of particular concern to our community) to calling out bigots in the immigration debate (a serious concern, not ok or passeable) to original personal stories about immigration. Our annual blogathon was about this very topic. We continue with a piece from Charles Cheng-Kung Wang, an immigration attorney at law in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Since debate regained energy among Asian Americans with Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin (just like in the Jewish American community with DeFunis v. Odegaard nearly 40 years ago), I have reflected on the facts and law, seeking to think out-of-the-box, if you will.

In my mind, the answer lies partly in understanding DeFunis. He was a person of Jewish ancestry who applied to the University of Washington Law School way back when and was denied admission. He sued in state court and then in federal court claiming that he was a victim of affirmative action which favored African Americans. DeFunis was unable to derail Affirmative Action (just as Fisher also failed a few months ago). However and sadly, the Defunis salvo caused such discord both in his own community and in the black community that to this day, the scars are still there within the very civil rights community itself.

Deep lessons are there to be discerned if Asian Americans use independent and analysis and start thinking for themselves, i.e. not what the conventional wisdom want us to look at things. We must think for ourselves, using a combination of tools, such as historical appreciation (including our own history in America), statistically savvy, and finally legal acumen.

Affirmative Action is an artificial and quite imperfect (and being imperfect, it necessarily must be a temporary) construct of sociology and ultimately of American civil rights law that is designed to assist African Americans (back in the old days of Brown v. Board and onwards and such great men as pastor Martin Luther King, JR. and attorney, late Justice Thurgood Marshall) to cure some of the injustices of slavery, Jim Crow and modern de facto discrimination. As Asian Americans, and because we are Americans, we must revisit this history again and again until the day when our children are not judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character (the man who said these words was a theologian accustomed to contemplating the eternal). Unfortunately, the temporal reality today is that African Americans (and also Hispanic Americans) continue to be under-represented at choice Universities.

Nevertheless, in my opinion, Affirmative Action remains a positive force to correct injustice, and being such, is never a device to inflict injustice. More important, being a device to do justice, it must never be allowed to be perverted to do injustice.

The statistical reality for University enrollment is that the tail end of the Bell Curve is about 10-15%. The bulge of the bell i.e. the “majority” is 50-70% of the population depending on the school one looks at. Asian Americans usually occupy the other tail of the bell at say around 10-15%. So I ask you to figure out, which group is currently the most privileged in terms of access to top schools?

In my opinion, over the years, for a number of reasons too complex to cover here, Asian Americans have been induced to believe, erroneously, that the cause of Asian American being shut out of schools of their choice is Affirmative Action. I think the fundamental reasons, once understood will lead to a totally different conclusion – this I have explained above and in previous writings. I had arrived at this assertion mostly from very simplistic theoretical analysis (e.g. under a very rudimentary feel of the basic nature of a Gaussian bell curve but alas I almost failed statistics in college) and without in-depth study of actual current data (some of which are guarded by the admissions officers like their crown jewels). However, others e.g. Dr. Chen Yu have started looking at data that is available and are coming to the same conclusion with reliable current data as far as I can see.

So I humbly write this rather long letter to urge everyone, and I mean everyone – Asian Americans and everyone in the civil rights community and everyone in university administration offices to revisit this in a new light. I urge all concerned to engage in some de-construction, if you will, that is to consider the premise that Affirmative Action is not the cause of Asian American rejection at the top Universities, and then do some reconstruction to accept that the rejection is due to the cap quota or upper ceiling that keep the Asian Americans out. The outcome of such a quota benefit very much the middle bulge of the bell and not the other tail of the bell. The proof is that while Asian Americans need higher numerical scores to be admitted, the other minorities still are under-represented.

The hard question reduces to “How can the majority occupying a legacy position of privilege benefit from appropriating the remedy of affirmative action to keep better qualified Asian Americans out of the best Universities of America and are still failing in correcting historical under-representation?” Dear friends, something is out of joint! And this challenge will remain vital, regardless of how the United States Supreme Court decide Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action (again no space for me to explain why here).

As the alarm clock I bought for my little daughter always hollers, it is time to WAKE UP and DO SOME MORNING EXERCISE!

Respectfully submitted,
Charleston C K Wang

Living vs dead Chinatowns, gentrification & elections

AALDEF, the NYC based Asian American civil rights organization, has a new report out about the rate of gentrification in Chinatowns in NYC, Boston, and Philadelphia. (I guess DC was just a lost cause.) In conjunction with the discussion of this article, I want to propose the idea of “living” (these three cities, Chicago, San Francisco) versus “dead” Chinatowns (DC.) In my mind, when I walk the streets of a given Chinatown, “living” connotes active engagement and residency by the Chinese American community versus the slick, big box retail feel of Washington, DC Chinatown, which most Chinese Americans fled decades ago for Montgomery County, MD, and Fairfax, VA. The shops in DC Chinatown are adorned in bright signs with Chinese characters, but have very little daily relevance to Chinese or Chinese American culture, such as the skateboard shop, the Ann Taylor, and the Legal Seafood.

It’s a very read-worthy report, and I’ve gone on the walking tour of Boston Chinatown where you can see how highway I-93 literally cuts through the enclave, with a half-sheared building standing mute but providing powerful testimony to interesting municipal planning. The report illuminated that the AAPI population in Boston Chinatown went from 70% in 1990 to 46% in 2010. Philadelphia Chinatown has been encroached upon by developers, and was under threat from a proposed casino for a significant period. NYC Chinatown was at one point overtaking Little Italy, but now with the New Museum and the gentrification of the Bowery, is being pressed upon by towering luxury apartment buildings. Not to mention, Park Row, a residential community adjacent to South Chinatown, and nearby commercial buildings (shops and restaurants) have been under the shadow of 9/11 for 12 years, with limited access for a substantial period of time (9/11 cleanup), depressing retail sales. To this day, there are armed police stations that guard the entrance path to Park Row.

San Francisco Chinatown has managed to thrive due to a high intra-ethnicity turnover rate, and Chicago Chinatown (of which, really, there are 3 – historic Chinatown, “new” Argyle (largely Vietnamese-Chinese American) Chinatown, and “new new” Chinatown, which is across the street from historic Chinatown, and includes a number of residential properties that have lured second and third generation Chinese Americans back to the city center. (There is some small degree of this happening in other cities as well, but in my mind, Chicago has done a better job than most.)

The reason that I keep rotating back to this issue of whether Chinese Americans who have “made it” come back is because it is also a large part of why “living” Chinatowns become essentially “dead” Chinatowns. Moving out of Chinatown and to the suburbs is intrinsically seen as one of the markers of success for first, second, and third generation Chinese Americans. This is antithetical to keeping Chinatowns vibrant. This is separate from biased and discriminatory urban planning decisions hatched in concert with the stereotypically greedy developers. And it absolutely doesn’t discount folks who want to stay but get pushed out – I’m just bringing this up because it’s also a real thing.

Don’t get me wrong – DC Chinatown/Verizon Center is more bustling and lively than a decade ago, and is now an economic engine and one of the hearts of the city, but the business owners by and large do not live there. Although the DC AAPI population has risen 60% since 2000, according to the 2010 Census.

In NYC, the press of developers on the boundaries of Chinatown has caused friends who have lived, breathed, and worked in Chinatown for decades to move to Harlem, where elected officials like City Councilor Melissa Mark-Vivitero have noticed the increase of AAPIs. This follows on a previous out-migration to Queens (Flushing, Woodside, etc.), Brooklyn (where there is another Chinatown), New Jersey, Long Island, Westchester, and Connecticut.

So how do we keep the living nature of Chinatowns across the country? The report proposes several solutions: reinforcing and constructing more low-income housing, subsidizing local small businesses, prioritizing green spaces, strengthening the links between satellite Asian Am enclaves in the suburbs to the Chinatown cores, and engaging in dialogue with traditional community land owners like the family associations. All of these are great, and I’m going to a step further.

What I’m fundamentally saying is that keeping Chinatown affordable and full of vitality is partially dependent upon the people in elected office. They hold hearings and have influence over city planning to varying degrees. Former At-Large Boston City Councilor Sam Yoon came out of the fight to keep one Boston Chinatown. Michelle Wu and Suzanne Lee are running for city council in Boston (different seats.) Philadelphia has yet to elect a progressive AAPI city councilmember, whereas SF has a plethora of AAPI electeds (and folks in the pipelines to run when the inevitable term limits hit.) AAAF Greater Chicago helped get Alderman Ameya Pawar, the first AAPI alderman ever in Chicago, elected in 2011. Progress is slow, but steady.

Not that AAPI candidates are necessarily going to be informed about the community’s issues, or even live in the Chinatown district. It is incumbent upon the community and those who work to keep living, breathing Chinatowns to educate candidates and elected officials, regardless of their ethnicity. Because we all need allies and champions in this effort, and sometimes people surprise you.


Rep. Takano slams GOP Congressmembers’ Faulty Logic, in Red Ink

Takano edits to GOP immig

Like the veteran high school teacher that he is, Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside), decided to take out his red pen and apply it to a letter on immigration that fellow Congressmembers from the other party were circulating. Politico gave him some ink for exposing the shoddy reasoning.

He dishes out kindly but exacting critique, pointing out where the letter has logical and factual flaws. For example, the Republican letter claims that the Senate-passed bill is over 1,000 pages, so Rep. Takano circles this and points out that it’s exactly 286 pages. (Note to Congressmembers and staff: please do your research.)

Rep. Takano repeatedly points out “tawdry accusations” and Republican claims that are lacking in evidence. No, seriously, he points it out no more than four times in the short letter. What assertions does he specifically call out?

-“reportedly not all the Senators have read [the bill]”
-“We are disturbed by the secret and under-handed way that the immigration bill moved through the Senate…”
-“To attempt to do everything at once ensures that little will be done right”
-“will prevent the last minute secret deal-making and vote-buying”

One of Rep. Takano’s best closing lines is, “If you don’t understand the bill, come by my office and I’ll explain it. Weak draft, re-do.”

That’s called taking your colleagues to the toolshed. and why I love teachers as elected officials! (Full disclosure, AAA Fund enthusiastically endorsed Rep. Takano early in his campaign.)


July 12: CAPAC Twitter Town Hall on Immigration

Editor’s Note: The below is a reposting of “CAPAC Twitter Town Hall” from our friends at CAPAC (Facebook, Twitter).

CAPAC Twitter Town Hall

CONTACT: Dan Lindner
July 10, 2013

CAPAC to Host Twitter Town Hall on Immigration Reform

Washington, DC – The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) will host a Twitter Town Hall this Friday, July 12th from 2:00-2:30 p.m. focused on comprehensive immigration reform. Members of the press and public are encouraged to join the conversation by using #AskCAPAC.

WHO: Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), CAPAC Chair
Senator Mazie K. Hirono (HI), CAPAC Executive Board Member
Congressman Mike Honda (CA-17), CAPAC Immigration Taskforce Co-Chair
Congressman Mark Takano (CA-41), CAPAC Whip
Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13), CAPAC Health Taskforce Co-Chair
Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (IL-08), CAPAC Executive Board Member
Additional Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus

WHAT: CAPAC Twitter Town Hall on Immigration Reform
WHEN: Friday, July 12th at 2:00 p.m. EST
WHERE: Live on Twitter


The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) is comprised of Members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and members who have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Currently Chaired by Congresswoman Judy Chu, CAPAC has been addressing the needs of the AAPI community in all areas of American life since it was founded in 1994.

The Importance of Family Immigration

Editor’s Note: The below is a re-posting our Endorsed Candidate Rep. Mike Honda‘s piece in the May 17, 2013 edition of Roll Call. Our Chicago has made a statement on family reunification. Our AAA-Fund Endorsed Canadidate Sen. Hirono pushes her amendment for family reunification for financial aid for DREAMers. Our own Board Member Bel Leong-Hong why family reunification is so import to AAPIs. Our ongoing Blogathon is on this very topic. We encourage you to advance this important issue in any way you deem fit. Comment or contact us if we can help in any way.

For too long our immigration system has had an exclusionary effect, leaving families separated and causing unimaginable heartache. Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders know this too well. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, for the first time in our nation’s history, excluded a group of people based purely on ethnicity.

The Chinese immigrants strengthened our nation’s infrastructure, only to be persecuted when their labor was seen as competition and when the dirtiest work was done. Their families excluded from our shores, these immigrants had to choose whether to remain in their new country, never to see their relatives again — or return permanently to China. Today, because of our broken immigration system, AAPIs experience a similar predicament. AAPIs sponsor nearly half of all family-based immigrants, yet wait decades in an immigration backlog. The wait time for a U.S. citizen petitioning for a brother or sister from the Philippines exceeds 20 years.

I commend the Senate “gang of eight” for forging a bipartisan immigration reform bill. I am concerned, however, that eliminating the ability of U.S. citizens to sponsor their brothers, sisters and married adult children for legal permanent residence will be disproportionately detrimental to AAPI families. The Philippines, Vietnam, India, China, Pakistan, South Korea and Bangladesh rank among the top countries with the largest number of siblings and married children awaiting immigrant visas. Exclusionary immigration legislation erodes the values that make America great; principles of love and family unite our nation. Now is the time to learn from our mistakes. Comprehensive immigration reform can correct ills of the past and honor the founding values of our nation.

As comprehensive immigration reform moves through the legislative process, we must ensure that family reunification remains the cornerstone of our immigration system. That is why I proudly stand with, and commend, Sen. Mazie K. Hirono of Hawaii for her courageous amendments filed in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Hirono’s amendments strengthen the bill’s family immigration system by restoring the adult married child and sibling categories for families looking to reunite with their loved ones. They also recognize the value of siblings and adult married children to families and America as a whole — they join the military, become teachers and work in our health care sector, among many other things.

The family is the basic unit of our society. That is why today’s immigration dialogue should not pit family against employment. Strong immigrant families start businesses that create jobs and contribute to our nation’s social and economic fabric. They enhance opportunities to establish roots in their communities and prosper together.

AAPIs, whether they are high-skilled tech workers, small-business owners, students or health care professionals, make profound contributions to America’s economic prosperity. My colleagues in Congress must not underestimate the power and concerns of the AAPI community.

A broad consensus of business, academic and policy leaders warn that the U.S. is on the verge of science and technology workforce shortages. AAPIs are twice as likely to hold jobs in these fields as any other immigrant group, with as many as 1 in 5 workers employed in the engineering and technology sector. Additionally, more than 63 percent of foreign-born science, technology, engineering and math graduates are Asian and Pacific Islander. These aspiring citizens and drivers of our global economic competitiveness should not be separated from their families. The community’s growth rate, buying power and political power are explosive and irrefutable. This is a presence that must not be ignored.

On both sides of the aisle, my colleagues agree that family values are quintessential to the moral, social and economic fabric of our society — and that families knit this nation together. As Congress deliberates comprehensive immigration reform, we must stay true to a shared vision of preserving and strengthening our families, and therefore, our economic prosperity.

We know, unquestionably, the value each family member brings to the table. Immigration issues are not new to AAPIs. The AAPI community’s history is the story of immigration in our nation. We have a story to tell — a dog in the fight. No family should be left out of the immigration system, and only by forging truly comprehensive immigration reform can we forge a more perfect union.

– Mike Honda

Rep. Michael M. Honda is a Democrat who represents California’s 17th District.