Asian Americans Against SB 1070

Illegal immigrants from China are among the highest populations of illegal immigrants in the country.

Undocumented Chinese are the second largest group of illegal immigrants who cross the U.S.-Mexico border. Last year, ten times as many Chinese illegal immigrants were arrested by Border Patrol along Arizona’s southern border, compared to the year previous. The Arizona Department of Health Services remarked that while the Asian-American population in Arizona represents only about 2% of the population, it is one of the fastest growing minority populations in the state, nearly doubling in size between 1990 and 2005

Contrary to popular perception, SB 1070 will undoubtedly affect Arizona’s Asian American population.

Yet, neither conservative supporters of SB 1070, nor Democratic opponents to the bill, have identified the Asian American community as putative targets of this legislation. Democrats have not taken strides to invite Asian Americans into an anti-SB 1070 coalition; indeed, national press has painted SB 1070 as an anti-Latino law.

These efforts not only detract from efforts against SB 1070 by marginalizing in Asian Americans a small, but vocal, political group that could help raise opposition against the law, but discourages political participation within the Asian American community.

Some Asian Americans are seeking to rectify the situation. They have started an online petition — Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Against SB 1070 — specifically to help Asian Americans lend their voice to the growing movement against SB 1070. Here is the text of the petition:

We the undersigned oppose SB 1070, the bill signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer on April 23, 2010. SB 1070 will create second-class citizens of those who are perceived to be foreign and undocumented. We ask that Governor Brewer and the Arizona state legislature repeal SB 1070.

The Asian American and Pacific Islander communities particularly understand the unequal burdens of this law because of the racially and economically motivated restrictions on Chinese immigration in 1875 and 1882, Alien Land laws in western states, and the unlawful imprisonment of Japanese Americans based on their ethnic heritage during WWII. Various politicians have noted that the bill is not meant to apply only to Latinos but also to Chinese and Middle Eastern individuals as well.

We believe this bill is unconstitutional.  Individuals stopped for traffic violations or infractions of city codes will have to prove their citizenship to any law enforcement officer who has reason to question their status%u2014based on dress, behavior, and accents.  This places an unequal burden of proof on immigrants, foreign-born individuals, and people of color, and violates the right of equal protection under the law.  

We protest the criminalization of humanitarian efforts to aid undocumented migrants through provisions of water, food, and sanctuary.  We further condemn the assumptions that undocumented immigrants are criminals. Most immigrants–documented or undocumented–are hard-working individuals seeking economic opportunities that are not available in their homelands due to structural and global inequities. Furthermore, these immigrants–documented and undocumented–are recruited as a result of US immigration admission policies, and/or hired by US employers.

We urge groups and organizations that were planning on hosting conferences, meetings and conventions in Arizona to boycott the state and move their events elsewhere, to explicitly protest this law. This call to observe the boycott does not extend to those coming to protest and work with local organizations to overturn SB 1070.

We additionally call for immigration reform by the US federal government that treats all people equally and provides ways for immigrants who are contributing socially and economically to the United States to gain naturalized citizenship, reunite with families, and protects migrants from exploitation and crime.

As Asian American and Pacific Islander individuals, and organizations representing AAPIs, we sign in the spirit of other AAPIs such as Yick Wo and Gordon Hirabayashi who, in challenging local and national laws based on economic and racial considerations, strengthened the US constitution and our democracy.

Act Now! If you agree with the above petition text, please sign the petition. In addition, forward the link to your friends and family. Let’s be heard, folks.

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