Why a Vice President Mike Pence is Bad News for AAPIs

Indiana governor and Trump running-mate, Mike Pence.
Indiana governor and Trump running-mate, Mike Pence. (Photo credit: ABC)

Hours ago, the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump confirmed weeks of political gossip with his announcement that he had chosen Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his general election running-mate.

I’ve already written at length about why Donald Trump’s fear-mongering and race-baiting has exacerbated this country’s hostility towards people of colour, and how his rhetoric will ultimately prove damaging for the Republican Party. In the meanwhile, however, people of colour will have to find a way to survive a general election that has popularized derogatory and racist remarksand open assault — towards non-White people. Today’s decision is by Trump is only more bad news, particularly for AAPI immigrants, women and LGBT individuals and other immigrants, LGBT folks, and other women of colour.

GOP frontrunner Donald Trump. (Photo credit: Reuters)
GOP frontrunner Donald Trump. (Photo credit: Reuters)

Mike Pence first gained notoriety on conservative talk radio in the 1990’s — he styled himself as “Rush Limbaugh on decaf” — before running for office. He served as a Congressman representing Indiana’s 1st and 2nd districts for more than twelve years before being elected governor in 2013.

Throughout that career, Pence has made his stance on a variety of issues abundantly clear, and many of those positions are frightening for AAPIs.

Pence is vocally opposed to amnesty for undocumented immigrants, and has backed legislation to require hospitals check and report the immigration status of patients so that deportation proceedings can be initiated against undocumented immigrants. 1.5 million Asian Americans are undocumented, and Asian Americans are the fastest growing population of undocumented immigrants in the United States. Meanwhile, Pence also opposes a role for the United States in accepting Syrian refugees.

Pence is also vehemently opposed to abortion access, and he supports an overturning of Roe v. Wade. As governor of Indiana, Pence signed into law the Indiana Omnibus Abortion Bill (HB1337) earlier this year. HB1337 is a collection of TRAP (targeted regulation of abortion provider) laws that together make it even more difficult for women in Indiana to receive an abortion in a state where draconian laws already restrict abortion access. Among the HB1337’s many measures, abortion clinics are now obligated to perform an ultrasound and to provide brochures on perinatal hospice at least 18 hours before the procedure, which only delays when an abortion may be performed. Most relevant to AAPI women, however, is HB1337’s ban on abortions related to the sex, race or gender of the fetus.

Sex-selective abortion bans argue that they are designed to protect from the misogyny of communities of colour by preventing women from seeking an abortion for a fetus of an undesired gender (or race). Yet, no evidence that sex-selective abortions are performed anywhere in the United States has been found. Nonetheless, sex-selective bans have been passed in several states using rhetoric that specifically targets Asian American immigrant women. In South Dakota, one legislator reasoned that a ban on sex-selective abortion was necessary “because of Asians.” These bans are clearly racist against Asian Americans.

HB1337 is not the first time that Indiana has used abortion laws to target AAPI women under Mike Pence’s watch. In 2015, Purvi Patel was arrested and charged with feticide in Indiana after suffering what she says was a miscarriage of her late term fetus. Patel — who is Indian American — was the second woman in Indiana to be charged with feticide by the state; the first was Bei Bei Shuai, whose fetus died following an unsuccessful suicide attempt, and who faced charges of fetal homicide in 2012. Shuai later took a plea deal and was released. Unlike Shuai, Patel was convicted of feticide and sentenced to twenty years in prison. Her conviction is currently under appeal, but Pence’s administration has done nothing to stop the gross miscarriage of justice that has occurred in Patel’s case.

Finally, Mike Pence opposes federal funding of gay rights groups or HIV prevention programs, and supports conversion therapy — a highly controversial approach that has been repeatedly criticized for inflicting emotional, psychological and physical trauma. Pence is openly opposed to same-sex marriage, as well as hate crime laws that would protect gay victims of violence. Most notably, Pence signed into law Indiana’s infamous Religious Freedom Restoration Act last year, which legalized discrimination against LGBT customers (and theoretically anyone) on religious grounds. That law is so wildly unpopular that it incited thousands to boycott the state costing the local economy millions of dollars.

There are an estimated more than 800,000 LGBT AAPIs in the United States, and more than three-quarters have experienced discrimination based upon their race and or sexual orientation. Most AAPI voters in California support same-sex marriage, regardless of their own sexual orientation.


The Trump-Pence ticket is bad news for AAPIs. At the top of the ticket is a blowhard who has spent months inciting racism against AAPIs and other people of colour. Now, the bottom of the ticket boasts a man who may be somewhat more soft-spoken, but who has enacted real and damaging laws against AAPI immigrants, women, and LGBT individuals.

60% of AAPIs have an unfavourable opinion of Donald Trump according to the 2016 Asian American Voter Survey (by Advancing Justice, APIAVote and AAPIData). Given today’s running-mate announcement, I really don’t know how any AAPI could vote for Trump-Pence this November.

Who are these people and how doe this happen?
I really want to know how this happens.

Recent surveys show that Trump polls a whopping 0% with Black voters in battleground states, and with this vice presidential pick, he’s well on his way to doing the same with AAPI voters.

At least there’s one silver lining in all of this: with Trump’s pick, Pence may no longer run for re-election in Indiana’s upcoming gubernatorial race. So, y’know, there’s that. Let’s just use our votes in November to ensure that Pence hasn’t given up the governorship for one heck of a promotion.

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  • Ax

    1.5 million Asian Americans are undocumented? If they are undocumented, that means they are not Americans. They should respect the laws of the host country and leave. Immigration is a privilege, not a right. Immigration exists to serve the host country, not to serve the immigrant. You are not entitled to citizenship in whichever country you choose to go to.

  • trer24

    And the millions of Europeans who came here sure did not respect the laws of the Cherokee, Iroquois and other Indigenous peoples who were already here. Yet they expect the same? And don’t give me that crap argument of that happening hundreds years ago so it doesn’t matter. History means everything, as evidenced by the fact that it is taught as Euro-centrically as possible. It’s amazing how people lie and misrepresent how America came to be.

  • trer24

    Just watched the acceptance speech Pence made in New York today. It’s clear that his purpose is to reign in the disparate groups of the Republican party- the religious right and pragmatic conservatives who still doubt Trump. Trump himself made comments that he intends to “give religion a voice” and that he believes current religious leaders are afraid to speak out because they fear losing their tax exempt status (separation of church and state so why are they tax exempt?). Pence made one comment that should give all people capable of critical thought pause: he identified himself as “Christian, Conservative, Republican…in that order”.

  • Ax

    Most countries in the world have a violent history. That doesn’t mean they can afford to take in every person. The U.S. already has 330 million people, many of whom are underserved, and we continue to take in well over a million new peope every year. This is not about history. It is about running a county that serves its citizens first, over foreigners. The U.S. had well over 40 million immigrants already. That is well more people than most countries have, and more people than immigrated from Europe. The U.S. has already said yes to so many legal immigrants. It doesn’t have to say yes to everyone, especially those here illegally.

  • trer24

    I do not agree with the “overpopulation” argument. I believe the problem is resource hogging – as in those peoples who are willing to use aggressiveness and violence are the ones who claim more of the resources for themselves. Yes there are 7.4 billion people on this planet. But today, the world already produces enough food to feed 10 billion people. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eric-holt-gimenez/world-hunger_b_1463429.html) So the problem is not scarcity. The problem is mis-allocation of resources. “Overpopulation” is just another way of saying, “I’m more worth more than you, I deserve to be here and you need to stop existing”. Sounds a bit like racism.
    Even then, what will building a wall do? You ever wonder why people come here? Because of “our freedoms”? No. It’s because we’ve bombed, pillaged, and economically stagnated their countries. Western thirst of oil has been the impetus for continued bombing and de-stabilization of the Middle East. It’s why we have a history of propping up and supporting puppet governments. Read the history of democratically elected Mohammed Mossedegh of Iran and how he was toppled by CIA led coup which led to the Islamic Revolution and the Iran we have today. Look up Royal Oil and Operation AJAX. Read up on Banana Republics and how US agricultural companies in the 20th century pillaged South America, and narrowed their economic output to one or two products for the benefit of US corporations. Read the Metal Clad case where a US corporation goes in to Mexico, flouts all local law and then SUES them in International Court…and wins. Imagine if a foreign company did the same here, we’d never hear the end of it from the Trumpites. Look at the secret bombings in the Southeast Asia by the US during the Vietnam War that displaced millions of Cambodians, Laotians, Hmong and Vietnamese…all because the Soviets and United States felt the need to flex their muscles upon each other.

    So when you say that the US can’t take in any more immigrants, consider what countr(ies) help to create the situations for people to want to flee their countries and come here.

  • Ax

    Being concerned about over population is racism now? You are essentially saying that a country is not allowed to say no to any immigrant. You are basically advocating for the end of borders and countries. America is just the old lady on the block taking in and hoarding every stray cat she can, without seeing if she can afford to. Again, the U.S. already has over 40,000,000 immigrants. It can’t take everyone.

    As for overpopulation, it basically makes it mathematically impossible to ever solve poverty. It is a large contributing factor to pollution, deforestation, mass extinction of animals, plastic oceans, sewage filled rivers and lakes, etc etc.

    It is amazing thst you are so desperate to label everything racist that you can’t even stop to ask yourself how many people is too many?

  • trer24

    Yes I believe it is because and I explained why in my previous comment. Overpopulation is not the problem. Poor distribution of resources is the problem.

    As far as destroying the environment, who is doing all the destroying? Corporations in industrialized countries either directly or creating the market. Isn’t it the United States and China and Europe blowing pollution into the sky? Isn’t it housing markets and demand for Ikea bookshelves in those places that create the huge demand for lumber that is the reason for deforestation?

    And let me reiterate my point about why mis-allocation of resources is the problem and not “overpopulation”. In 2014, the USDA reported that In the United States, 31 percent—or 133 billion pounds—of the 430 billion pounds of the available food supply at the retail and consumer levels in 2010 went uneaten. In 2012, the most recent year for which estimates are available, Americans threw out roughly 35 million tons of food, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. These numbers arejust from this country ALONE!! Ever been to Las Vegas? There are many buffets… Where does all that uneaten food go at end of the night? So when you say there isn’t enough food for everyone, I call BS. There is plenty. That’s why overpopulation is not the problem and to attribute our resource issues to other “undesirable people” existing when we obviously have more food than we could ever eat is lazy and racist.

    And as far as borders and countries, I’d say the world would be far more economically efficient if we eliminated these politically-created artificial barriers. But that is an argument for another day.

  • NinthCommsBatt

    Asians should realize that the race baiting philosophy of the liberal agenda has never been good for them…look at college admissions, Hollywood treatment of “Orientals”, and the pronounced absence of Asians in any discussion on discrimination or racial parity. Time to look somewhere else folks and realize the dream of MLK: content of character versus color of skin….

  • Ax, the problem with your reasoning is that you assume that immigrants — documented or undocumented — only serve as a drain on the American economy and social services. Your assertion that (undocumented) immigrants are an unsustainable overpopulation of America assumes that incoming immigrants only cost Americans, and do not pay into the system and thus that their presence will only cost Americans to the point of critical mass.

    Most of your assertions are, quite simply, untrue — particularly for undocumented immigrants. Undocumented immigrants contribute approximately $12 billion dollars in taxes into the American government — taxes that help pay for federal and state programs. Meanwhile, most undocumented immigrants do not qualify for those same social services, which means that undocumented immigrants are, in essence, a source of tax revenue for America while costing us little by way of services. Beyond this, our economy is dependent upon both the skilled and unskilled labour of undocumented immigrants which helps the economy to grow, and provide additional resources for immigrants and non-immigrants alike.

    It is, quite simply, a naive misunderstanding of how the economy works to propose that undocumented immigrants are only a drain on the economy, which requires you to believe that the economy is only some kind of fixed quantity that does not grow with the presence of low-skilled or low-wage immigrants (documented or undocumented). Furthermore, it is highly cynical to assume that poverty — for documented or undocumented immigrants — will be solved by shrinking the American economy through deporting people you believe are undesirable.

    Finally, you have yet to address the xenophobia and nativism of your argument, and the racial overtones that are invoked by characterizing immigrants as a seething mass and raising issues about “overpopulation”. This is rhetoric that has historically and currently been used to dehumanize people of colour by characterizing us as perilous over-breeders, essentializing immigrants down to their reproductive capacity rather than treating them as humans with potential to be contributing members of society. Simply choosing not to talk about how you are doing this also does not refute the fact that the immigrants you want to exclude are almost exclusively non-White.

  • As far as destroying the environment, who is doing all the destroying? Corporations in industrialized countries either directly or creating the market. Isn’t it the United States and China and Europe blowing pollution into the sky? Isn’t it housing markets and demand for Ikea bookshelves in those places that create the huge demand for lumber that is the reason for deforestation?

    Undocumented immigrants account for less than 3.4% of Americans, and it is unclear how exactly they are more responsible for unsustainable industrial practices compared to other people. If one is concerned about the environment — as we all should be — nativism seems like an extremely roundabout and indirect way to address that problem. Excessive carbon emissions, deforestation, and other bad industrial practices are far more culpable than the undocumented immigrant population who represent an extremely small segment of Americans, and who aren’t exactly decision makers in establishing environmentally unsustainable mass industry and manufacturing practices.

  • Leo R

    How about you come up with solutions to allow content of character to become the deciding factor in people’s success in life? Do you really think that Ivanka Trump is a successful businesswoman just because she liked to build towers as a kid? That would mean that a black girl with parents who work low wage jobs and who are utterly unable to help their kids with homework would have the same prospects in life as Ivanka because she happens to be intelligent and likes skyscrapers?
    Of course not.
    I agree that trying to equalize the playing field on a college admissions level is a bit late and therefore imperfect. But since the money and will isn’t there to allow that black girl to take piano lessons outside of school or travel the world with her parents, this is the best we can do.

  • Ax

    The fact is many people are over breeding. Countries like Japan and Germany have it right, having fewer children and smaller families. The reason The Planet is adding a billion new people every 10 years. We have 330 million. We do not want to get to the point where Indian and China are, living on top of each other. We need to start holding overbreeding people accountable and stop calling it racism to even discuss the topic. Reguardless of race, no one should be having more than two children nowadays .

  • NinthCommsBatt

    Then the solution should be based on extracting poor kids from ALL races out of the ghetto shouldn’t it? Ghettos are filled with whites, blacks, mexicans and asians aren’t they? Many blacks are tired of the patronizing liberal elite and have embraced conservative values….Trump may not be perfect, but he offers hope for the return to rule of law and American exceptionalism!

  • Leo R

    Yes, the solution should be based on helping all disadvantaged kids. However, that would require a very sophisticated effort and a lot of monetary resources. It`s unlikely that politicians will be willing to allocate resources for such an effort any time soon. So affirmative action is the best bad solution for now.

  • Ax

    A lot more goes into having a healthy and sustainable human population than being able to say we can stuff calories in their faces.

  • Skeet Duran

    Asians should realize that the race baiting philosophy of the liberal agenda has never been good for them…look at college admissions, Hollywood treatment of “Orientals”, and the pronounced absence of Asians in any discussion on discrimination or racial parity.

    Many blacks are tired of the patronizing liberal elite and have embraced conservative values….Trump may not be perfect, but he offers hope for the return to rule of law and American exceptionalism!

    Neither side is beneficial to Asian Americans, but at least from the left side some AsAms can voice their grievances against unjustices, whereas GOP AsAms choose to stay silent, condemn and insult those who speakup about discrimination.

    Being anti-Liberals, anti-SJWs, and anti-Communists are not reasonable enough rationale to vote for Trump. Need to look deeper into what’s beneficial to AsAms. What if Trump decides to dismantle and eliminate all immigration, that’s not beneficial to Asians at all.

    What exactly have GOP AsAms done to bring justices for AAPI? They lost the battle on college Affirmative Action, they stay silence and condemn those who speakup about Hollywood whitewashing of Asian characters.

    Hollywood is Conservative, not liberal as you think. Almost all of Hollywood’s power elites, executives, and studio CEOs are conservatives, that’s why they wanted to keep the Asians out. When looking at the audiences, it’s usually liberals who support Asians in entertainment, conservatives do not watch Asians. The Fast and Furious Series with 7 movies that brought box office blockbuster success has an Asian American director and a diversed cast, 75% of the audience who supported Fast and Furious were Liberal Colored people. Most of Fresh off the Boat’s audiences are liberals, all of K-Pop and K-Drama fans are liberals.

    Conservatives do not support Asian entertainers. Bobby Lee talked about this in one of his podcasts, he sold-out his venues whenever he went to liberal cities, and never sold-out tickets when he performed at conservative cities.

  • Skeet Duran

    It’s anti-choices when you propose women to have abortions and not have children for the sake of overpopulation. It’s also anti-climate and anti-environmenism when you trample all over human rights and force refugees to live in insanitary diseased conditions after your governments bombed their countries in the middle-east into oblivion.

    Why is it legal for White people to travel anywhere in the world to permanently live on working or spousal visas, when you want to stop the same courtesy for foreigners to come to the U.S. with those same visas. You said the U.S. already allowed 40 million foreign immigrants into the country, well there’s also been mass immigration and mass colonization from White European people to South America, to Asia, Spaniards colonized the Philippines, Spaniards colonized Mexico and many countries in South America. To this day millions of Russians, Europeans, British and Americans permanently live in SE Asia, in Thailand, etc. Japan, S. Korea, and China have declining birthrates but the immigration from white people to these countries are rising at a fast pace, especially with the Summer Olympics coming to Tokyo Japan in 2020.

    But you want to take away human rights from colored people’s ability to permanently live in Anglosphere and Euro countries?

    Overpopulation has very little to do with pollution, deforestation, mass extinction of animals, plastic oceans, sewage filled rivers-lakes, and destruction of environmental nature. The main culprits are the big corporation capitalists greedy for cutting costs at the risk of human lives and animal lives. They don’t care about human lives, animal lives, nor the environment, they deposit cancerous chemicals into their products including food, like the Formosa Steel company that killed fish and caused Marine Life Disaster in Vietnam, or many oil companies that polluted lakes and oceans.

    Deforestation has more to do with American celebrities live in large mansions that required massive wood and raw materials to construct. A city like Las Vegas with constant new casinos and resorts being contructed required more raw materials and tree supplies than many 3rd world countries. The average person doesn’t need to live in a mansion, there are many homeless shelters around the country that can provide safe environment for thousands of people living on minimum space.

  • Ax

    ? Your solution for unsustainable exponential population growth is not smaller families, but for people to live in tents and homeless shelters… Fantastic! When the population of the plant is 15 billion and every animal is eaten or killed, I’m sure your vision will be a reality.

  • Skeet Duran

    That’s not a solution, I’m showing you two extreme examples of how being wasteful living in mansions with lavish lifestyle extravagantly can be detrimental to the environment such as deforestation. You’re basically advocating to maintain the American wasteful privileged lifestyle with entitlement by kicking out all the colored people.

    At the other extreme example showed that an average person can survive with minimum resources of living space. Of course it’s just hypothetically speaking.

    In reality, the most common sense for all middle-class families are 3-beds 2-baths family sized homes. The point is people don’t need ginormous mansions to survive. Again, you’re anti-human rights, anti-choices by forcing women to abide by your 2-child policy is of Communist-like fantasy. I’d like to see you enforce that onto women and I’d like to see how the feminists react. There are percentages of women who prefer not to have children, there are percentages that prefer exactly 2 children as you suggested, then there are also women who prefer more than 2 maybe 3 or 5, you’ll just have to respect and accept that.