My daughter, Mia, has another year in preschool, and her father and I are assessing our best options for her educational future. The original plan was to raise her in Taiwan before she reached kindergarten age when we would move back to America for grade school. Although I was born in British Hong Kong, Taiwan is my mother’s native country and where I had lived from ages two to seven.
We had hoped for Mia to develop an understanding of her family’s background by directly immersing her in our ancestral language and culture. But after two years in Taipei, we shortened our plans and created new roots in Los Angeles when Mia turned three. As it turned out, adapting to the Taiwanese culture, climate and language was just too challenging for us as Asian-Americans.
We chose Los Angeles for its vastly diverse spread of people and neighborhoods with access to top schools, museums, and cultural centers. The resources the city offer falls inline with our aspirations of providing Mia with the best education we can afford.
Being an American-born citizen with Asian-American parents, Mia moved back to the US with relative ease. This was in great contrast with my own experience moving from Taiwan to America; I was seven years old when my parents and I came to the US as undocumented immigrants, a status that would shape the rest of my life.
Asian American advocacy group, National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC), is currently one week into a marathon 22-day vigil in front of the White House. Activists with NAKASEC are protesting Republican efforts to eliminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the Temporary Protective Status (TPS) programs, two programs that grant protection from deportation and offers work authorization to certain undocumented immigrants.
DACA was implemented in 2012 as a program to provide protection for undocumented immigrants who are current (or recently graduated) students, who have no criminal history, and who who were brought to the United States as young children. Undocumented immigrants registered under DACA — known colloquially as Dreamers — were raised knowing only America as their home. Yet, without deportation protection, they are at-risk of being detained and removed by Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) to a totally unfamiliar country. TPS is a program that provides deportation relief for undocumented immigrants whose lives would be at risk due to war or environmental catastrophe if they were returned to their countries of origin; currently, TPS covers undocumented immigrants from El Savador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
In a surprise announcement on the 5th anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the Trump administration announced yesterday that it would reverse one of the president’s campaign promises and would instead continue the popular federal program. Founded in 2012, DACA granted renewable permits to undocumented immigrants who had been brought into the United States as children, protecting them from deportation and allowing them to work.
However, yesterday also saw U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly sign a memorandum to roll back a program proposed by the Obama administration in 2014 called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). DAPA was intended to provide legal protections for the undocumented parents of American citizens or residents in an effort to not break up immigrant families. That program was never put into place due to legal challenges in federal court filed by 26 states led by Republican governors.
In January, Trump was quoted as saying about undocumented immigrants, “They are here illegally. They shouldn’t be very worried. I do have a big heart. We’re going to take care of everybody.” However, it is clear by yesterday’s dual announcements that the Trump administration is less interested in “taking care of everybody”, and more interested in taking care of Trump’s approval rating.
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 remarks — and 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.