11/21/2017

Asian American Action Fund Outraged over Trump Cancellation of DACA

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Program Granting Work Permits to Immigrant Youth to End in Six Months

The board of the Asian American Action Fund is united in its outrage over President Trump’s proposal to end the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which permits undocumented minors and young adults up to the age of 26 to come out of the shadows, apply for college and graduate studies, and hold work permits.
DACA recipients are our friends, neighbors, relatives, and coworkers. According to the Center for American Progress, there are 18,000 AAPIs who applied for DACA status. DACA recipients are serving in the military, as frontline healthcare workers, and as educators. They were brought to America by their parents and this is the only home they have ever known. Because of President Obama’s vision and leadership, many of these children are on their way to fulfilling their potential and becoming productive members of society.
President Trump’s decision to end DACA puts an end to the dreams of the hundreds of thousands of children who received DACA status. More disturbingly, it puts these young Americans, who were brave enough to come out of the shadows, in legal jeopardy, as the government knows their immigration status and where they live.
AAA Fund vehemently disagrees with President Trump’s cruel decision to end DACA and looks to Congress for answers and relief. We promise to hold our elected officials accountable for their actions and treatment of the most vulnerable Americans.

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The Asian American Action Fund (www.aaafund.org) is a Democratic Asian American and Pacific Islander PAC founded in 1999. AAAFund’s goal is to increase the voice of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) in every level of local, state and federal government in the United States.



My Asian American Story

A friend asked me what my AAPI experience and history were. The simple query freed me to tell what I’ve wanted to for my own spirit but also my ideal of story telling as a superior method of empowering and inspiring others to speak out about their #NoAlternativeFacts experiences. The recently explosively popular and deservedly so story “My Family’s Slave” by Pulitzer Prize-winning Asian-American journalist Alex Tizon is inspiration for telling our tale. He is also the author of Big Little Man: In Search of My Asian Self which is directly relevant to the AAAFund’s work to empower our community and our blog’s years-long attention to the minority myth. I dedicate my story-telling here to him.

I grew up unwares of AAPI issues or identity. In suburban New Jersey with a 2% Asian town, race was neither identity nor problem as we were all friends. A safe existence in a safe area so nothing to say about childhood identity. Fast forward to college. While CMU has an infamously apolitical bend, its Asian population was 28% & thus the easiest identity to which I attached firmly. Through the big 3 “A” (Asian) orgs, ASA, TSA, and ACF, I spent not only my whole social but also existential time in the world of Asian identity. It however was largely social so I invested nothing political, charitable, cause-wise, or community-wise. It was just for fun. I finished college and started work. Six years of crummy underpaid (50% of industry average) jobs made me seek an outlet for being so uneducated in the practical workplace. After all that academia, harmed by being too meek to get what I wanted, it was time to compensate. After the inspiring 2008 elections, I volunteered with the organization which gave me all of my then political education, Asian American Action Fund (AAAFund), to write about religion and politics, chosen to be a combination of 2 already infamously controversial fields. Writing reflectively, speaking truth to power, hearing from the formerly religious, and seeking truth eventually led me to quit Christianity in early 2017. My values disallow crass, naked, unrepentant sinning while preaching holiness which perversely justifies and tolerates sin, a hypocrisy opposing so many ideals. Politics is merely 1 defiant albeit widely visible expression of that hypocrisy. I’ve come to feel how conservative church-brainwashed Asian-Americans Christians forfeit personal values and identity to gain short-term acceptance, compassion, and belonging. I’m now emotionally secure enough to rise above whitewashing as belonging.

I quickly awoke to how historical and my childhood media and cultural values formed my appearance and self. Wanting to know my identity’s twists and turns, past and present has become a daily consuming work. In 2010, I became AAAFund’s Executive Editor which let me professionally express my desire to empower alike awoke folk. I’ve spent hours weekly since then on this work. I thank my wife for supporting me in this time. It’s all-consuming because there is no other Asian American political news source. AAAFund’s name has the word “Action” in it beacuse we’re not innocent witnesses like bystander journalists idly scratching out a story, we unabashedly advocate the truth, name names (we’re legally a PAC thus our core purpose is to fund candidates and campaigns), taking sides, and taking action. While journalists currently experience a life-or-death struggle over their purpose and the truth, we’re able to take decisive action. We seek not to be neutral but to be truthful and the truth is partisan. It has always been, just now, it’s back for revenge. I feel this is a fuller expression of my citizenship, humanity, and skills.

I recently became a parent to a son and a daughter which accelerate the urgency of seeking joy, contentment, and self-awareness. This work knows no end, but I’m pleased to live in this era of rapidly accelerating attention to AAPI identity. I’m grateful for my position in life and this work to understand my identity is deeply gratifying. Hopefully my story inspires someone to do the same.

For more, read #myasianamericanstory or @myamericanstory & follow our @aaafund.

The Ties That Bind

Editor’s Note: This is the tenth in the pursuit of social justice by our 2017 Mike Honda Writing Fellow, Amanda Ong. Read her first piece on identity, second on Tam v. USPTO, third on power, fourth on feminism, and fifth on Columbia’s xenophobic vandalism, sixth on activism, seventh on voting access, eigth on fearing microaggressions, and ninth on fearing microaggressions.

Ta Boo, Mom, and me
Almost a year ago at this time, my great grandmother died.

​My Ta Boo was very old—verging on her mid-nineties—and common sickness was what led to the end of her long life. Her life spanned worlds I will never know, more war and poverty, loss, time. Even at the end of her life she was still quietly enduring small battles, for health, life, and a place she could call home in a rapidly shifting society.

​In the youngest days I knew her, Ta Boo was old. She hadn’t originally wanted to come to America, but the story is that her gambling in Hong Kong led to money owed to loan sharks, which led to immigration out of the country, which led to a few years spent with my mom’s family in their home in America.

​Ta Boo lived in New York Chinatown in a small apartment next door to her church, which was red brick with the façade of a cross in slightly different colored brick, and was across the street from a public elementary school yard. She had lived in that same apartment in that same building since before I was born, before her husband, my Ta Gong died, since my mom was a kid—almost fifty years by the time she passed away.

​Her apartment itself was just a bedroom, maybe eight by eight feet, a living room that consisted of a TV, a fold out table, and the old couch that my parents gave her when they moved out of the city over twenty years ago. She had a small bathroom, and in the perhaps four by three feet between the living room and bathroom, a stovetop, sink, and fridge.

​We visited Ta Boo every year—I hated New York as a child because I could only ever associate it with humid summer days spent in her cramped apartment, sitting on the floor or her couch playing Pokémon on my Nintendo DS. Ta Boo didn’t speak much English, and I only knew words of Cantonese, but she had a relentless habit of pulling me down on the couch next to her, rubbing my hands between hers, and saying, “Leng neoi, leng neoi. Good girl, good girl.”

When I was little and she still walked, sometimes we would take her out along Mott Street for xiao long bao, look into the beauty store where she used to work, into windows at silk qipaos, pass the smelly fish markets, all while she would offer to buy me box turtles sold on the side of the street.

As a second generation Chinese American, I have never too strongly felt the common first immigration dissonance of belonging neither in America or China: I always held firmly that my home was in America. Instead I often experience moments like the ones with my Ta Boo, moments that feel like strings connecting me to other lives—lives completely different from the usual privileged, white suburban one that I was living. These moments live in me, connecting me to all these lives that I have not lived and yet are a part of who I am: as it is when you come from an immigrant family.

This week I attended an event on the gentrification of Chinatown and the tactics used to displace poor Chinese Americans and make Chinatown an increasingly wealthier and whiter space. Families are dishonestly evicted, many who know little English and with no means to get justice for what has been wrongly thrust upon them. These people live in small apartments under poor living conditions, and are cheated out by landlords who want to raise the rent. I am reminded of the recent statistic that, despite the façade of the wealthy Asian model minority, Asian Americans face the highest poverty rate of any ethnic group in New York City, just over a quarter of all Asian Americans in the city living in poverty.

And then I think of my Ta Boo. I remember watching her over the years as she stopped being able to walk, then couldn’t stand, soon couldn’t breathe without an oxygen tank, until she could not help herself. I remember how my mom said she thought the landlord was waiting for Ta Boo to die so he could raise the rent.

And in a matter of seconds, I am reminded of why I have to care about these people and these issues, though they often feel so unrelated to me. These people of Chinatown at the mercy of poverty and gentrification could be anyone—they are grandmas, brothers, great uncles. They are all of the lives we did not live, but are a part of us as the children of children of children and so forth of immigrants. They are the people connected to us by even the thinnest of threads.

As we look to future legislation there are many issues that must be addressed. But I urge us not to forget those often forgotten, I ask us not to forget these people. I ask us not to forget Chinatown.


If you feel so moved by this piece, I ask that you please look at some of the following links to the websites of organizations seeking to combat gentrification in Chinatown and the greater area of New York.

  • http://www.mfy.org/
  • http://caaav.org/our-work/programs/chinatown-tenants-union
  • http://www.chinatownartbrigade.org/

 

Fmr President George W. Bush: “Not the America I know”

I never thought I would be quoting former President Bush, Jr. Like many of you, I am with Aziz Ansari in a weird position, wistfully watching old speeches by President George W. Bush, wishing that our current president could show that level of empathy and understanding to reach out to and speak at an Islamic center. To be president of all of us, not to divide us.

I’m in this weird position because in college and after, I was convinced that President George W. Bush was the worst US president ever. That the PATRIOT Act, special registration, and the Iraq War were disastrous measures. I still believe this. And then I watch this simple act of unity and community, and wish that we currently had a president this eloquent. Who understands “that America counts millions of Muslims amongst our citizens . . . who make an incredibly valuable contribution to our country. And they must be treated with respect…That’s not the America I know, that’s not the America I value.” No, really. How our standards were lifted by President Obama, and how far they’ve fallen.

It turns out that the W administration had principles and certain bright lines they weren’t willing to cross. After 9/11, President Bush reassured his Secretary of Transportation Norm Mineta, that they wouldn’t repeat internment.

In the uncertain days after the 2001 attacks, when Arab-Americans feared hate crimes and government overreaction, President Bush turned toward Mineta at a Cabinet meeting.

“We know what happened to Norm Mineta in the 1940s, and we’re not going to let that happen again,” Bush vowed. (McClatchy DC)

Right now, it’s not clear that the Trump administration has any such scruples or limits.

-Caroline

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