University of Maryland Students Organize Rally for Immigrant Rights as Part of Week of #AAPIAction

Rally attendees at a University of Maryland #AAPIAction event on October 9, 2017. (Photo credit: Conor Huynh)
This past week, Asian American scholars and activists (organized under the group, AAPIVoices) staged a nationwide week of action (#AAPIAction) around topics of immigration justice and the future of Asian American & Pacific Islander political organizing. Compelled by recent assaults on immigrant rights and the Muslim community by the Trump administration, advocacy groups across the country hosted events — including many held on college and university campuses — to promote AAPI political activism around social justice issues.

On event associated with #AAPIAction was hosted at the University of Maryland last Monday. While participants sought to raise the profile of Asian Americans in opposing the rescinding of DACA and anti-immigrant policies, the gathering at UMD was part of a larger effort among coalition partners, including a diverse group of student organizations, staff and faculty to stand up for immigrants, counter xenophobia, and recognize Indigenous People’s Day. At the event, nearly a hundred students gathered around a statue of writer and abolitionist Frederick Douglass — situated outside the campus’ R. Lee Hornbake Library — to protest in support of documented and undocumented immigrants, and against the Trump administration’s ongoing efforts to pass a Muslim travel ban. During the event, several students took to the base of the statue to share their perspectives on immigration justice and other social justice issues.

The event was courageously held at a time when the campus is also experiencing several racist on-campus incidents: the University of Maryland’s Diamondback newspaper reports that a former UMD employee was arrested and charged for spraypainting a swastika on-campus, and in a separate incident, a UMD lecturer revealed on Facebook Live that he has been targeted with numerous racist phone calls after an appearance on Fox News.

After the jump, please check out photos from the event.

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Canada’s NDP Party Elects Sikh-Canadian Jagmeet Singh as Leader

Jagmeet Singh, at a campaign event in Brampton, Ontario in May 2017. (Photo credit: Nathan Denette / Canadian Press)

In a historic vote, the third largest political party in Canada — the social democrat New Democratic Party (NDP) — has elected Sikh-Canadian Jagmeet Singh as its federal party leader, making Singh the nation’s first non-white leader of any major political party.

Singh won 53.8% of the New Democrat vote on Sunday in the first ballot of the NDP Leadership race, far out-performing the other candidates vying for the position. The position of NDP leader was vacated after Singh’s predecessor — former NDP leader Tom Mulcair — lost a leadership review vote at the party’s convention in April.

Hours after winning the NDP leadership vote, Singh declared he was challenging Justin Trudeau to be the next Prime Minister of Canada in 2019.

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Survivor of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Faces Deportation by US Immigration | #FreeNy

Ny Nourn, in an undated photo at the Central California Women’s Facility. (Photo credit: YouCaring)

Ny Nourn was born into war and violence.

Nourn’s mother fled genocide in Cambodia to a refugee camp in Thailand where she gave birth to Nourn. Nourn was just 5 years old when her mother immigrated with her to the United States and married Nourn’s stepfather, whose abusive behaviour against both mother and child motivated Nourn’s mother to enact her own verbal abuse against Nourn, as well.

Nourn grew up knowing no other kind of relationship but abuse, pain, and violence.

Nourn was just 17 years old when she met 34-year-old Ron Barker, the man who would be her boyfriend, and eventually her abuser and rapist. She was just 18 years old when Barker, jealous of her affair with another man, coerced her with physical assault, rape, and death threats to lure her lover into a trap and to stay silent after he shot and killed the other man, and burned the body so badly that dental records would be needed to identify the victim.

Nourn was just 21 years old when she chose to break her silence and tell police of the crime. She was arrested on the spot and charged with murder.

Nourn was still just 21 years old when a jury sentenced her — a survivor of domestic violence and rape — to a 15-years-to-life prison sentence for second degree murder in failing to prevent her abuser from shooting and killing another man. Nourn served 16 years in prison before receiving parole.

But her freedom was short-lived. Immediately upon her release from Central California Women’s Facility earlier this year, she was taken into custody by US Immigration and imprisoned in the Yuba County Jail, an ICE detention facility built to hold immigrants facing deportation.

Now, Nourn faces deportation to Cambodia, a country she does not know.  She is 36 years old.

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Fate of White House’s Black, Hispanic, and AAPI Education and Community Outreach Initiatives In Doubt Under Trump

In a major feature story published today, NBC News reports that three major White House Initiatives — each designed to coordinate outreach to and enhance educational opportunities for communities of colour — have not had expected or scheduled meetings with anyone in the White House since President Trump took office in January.

The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics (WHIEEH), the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans (WHIEEAA), and the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI), are all housed under the Department of Education, and each was originally formed with the mission of improving educational access and outcomes for their respective communities. WHIAAPI was formed in 1999 by President Clinton, but under President George W. Bush, WHIAAPI was directed to shift its focus towards the economy and growing Asian American small businesses. WHIAAPI was later reestablished under the Department of Education to continue its original mission by President Barack Obama.

The three Initiatives each have their own Presidential Advisory Commissions comprised of a mixture of government officials and public advisors — many of them educators — as well as full-time staff to help carry out the Initiatives’ ongoing projects and objectives. Each have been instrumental in developing community outreach programs, sponsoring summits, and providing internship opportunities for their respective communities; and, many of those efforts remain ongoing even after Trump’s inauguration in January. With regard to the Asian American & Pacific Islander communities, WHIAAPI served as a communications hub that helped coordinate efforts between the federal government and community organizers on topics as wide-ranging as health disparities, language inaccess, data disaggregation, and classroom bullying. Furthermore, WHIAAPI provided unprecedented access for the AAPI community to voice public interest concerns directly to the White House.

However, according to NBC News, none of the White House’s three Presidential Advisory Commissions addressing Black, Hispanic, or AAPI communities have met since January, and there has been no communication between the Trump administration and commission members. The three Initiatives associated with these Commissions have received no direction from the Trump White House on their mission over the four years of the president’s term in office, and indeed, it remains unclear whether the three Initiatives will even continue to exist under the Trump administration.

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Widow At Risk of Deportation Following Hate Crime Murder of Her Husband

Srinivas Kuchibhotla (right) and his wife Sunayana Dumala (left). (Photo credit: AP)

Earlier this year, I reported on the hate crime murder of 32-year-old Srinivas Kuchibhotla, an engineer shot and killed at a bar in Olathe, Kansas by a man who yelled “Get out of my country!” moments before pulling the trigger. The shooting left Kuchibhotla dead and his co-worker — with whom he was enjoying happy hour drinks — critically injured; a third bystander who attempted to stop the crime, was also hurt.

Afterwards, the killer — 51-year-old Adam Purinton — fled the scene of the crime and was later apprehended nearly 70 miles south at an Applebee’s, where Purinton had boasted of killing two Iranians. After he was arrested, Purinton faced federal hate crime charges; he currently awaits trial on those charges.

Heartbreakingly, Purinton didn’t just take the life of Srinivas Kuchibhotla that night in February; the shooting also placed Kuchibhotla’s widow — Sunayana Dumala — at risk of deportation. Dumala, who was born in India, worked as a developer for InTouch Solutions; however, her residency status was linked to her husband’s H-1B visa. When Kuchibhotla was murdered in February, Dumala’s residency permit was terminated and she became at risk of deportation.

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