My journey as an undocumented immigrant

I’m on the right making the grumpy face. I was five, on a family road trip with my cousins around the island of Taiwan. (Photo credit: Yin Yin Chan)

By Guest Contributor: Yin Yin Chan (@yinychan)

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.

Continue reading “My journey as an undocumented immigrant”

Asian American Advocacy Group Launches 22-Day, 24hr White House Vigil to Defend Immigrants | #DREAMAction17

Activists prop up signs at DREAM Action 17 on August 23, 2017, in a screen capture from the action’s live stream. (Photo credit: NAKASEC)

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.

Continue reading “Asian American Advocacy Group Launches 22-Day, 24hr White House Vigil to Defend Immigrants | #DREAMAction17”

Under Trump, Dreamers — But Not Parents — Will Be Allowed to Remain in U.S.

Cris Mercado, an undocumented immigrant, in a scene from “American Dream”. (Photo credit: “American Dream”/Fwd.Us via NBC News)

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.

Continue reading “Under Trump, Dreamers — But Not Parents — Will Be Allowed to Remain in U.S.”

Deportations of Southeast Asian Americans: A Glaring Human Rights Issue in an Unjust Immigration System

Organizers in Tacoma. (Photo Credit: 1Love Movement)
Organizers in Tacoma. (Photo Credit: 1Love Movement)

By Guest Contributors: Chanida Phaengdara Potter (@LittleLaosBlog, @chanidanoy) and Mia-lia Boua Kiernan (@1lovemovement1)

Last week, war veterans, mothers, fathers, family, friends, and children held signs of pleas to stop deportations of their loved ones.

Organized by family members of those detained, and supported by a coalition of API advocacy organizations, people lined the streets of Minneapolis outside Senator Amy Klobuchar’s office to demand justice after almost a dozen Cambodian Minnesotans were detained for deportation. This isn’t solely in the Cambodian community. Just last year, the story of Lao American DJ Teace aka Thisaphone Sothiphakhak was in the Minneapolis City Pages.

“That’s the most frustrating feeling,” said Sothiphakhak at the time. “I went through the court system, and literally something 18 years ago came back and made me feel like I was less than human.”

Continue reading “Deportations of Southeast Asian Americans: A Glaring Human Rights Issue in an Unjust Immigration System”

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.

Continue reading “Why a Vice President Mike Pence is Bad News for AAPIs”