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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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Asian Americans, We Must Stand Strong with our Undocumented Immigrants | #MyAsianAmericanStory

The falsified documents of a Chinese American so-called "paper son".
The naturalization papers of a Chinese American immigrant.

Whether it is Donald Trump’s verbal caricature of overseas Chinese businessmen, or Jeb Bush’s proclamation that when it comes to “anchor babies” the issue is “more related to Asian[s]”, or Carly Fiorina’s lamentations over the “industry” of Chinese women having babies in the United States, one thing has become clear: the Right-wing of American politics is now firmly entrenched in a platform of anti-immigrant nativism filtered through the lens of sinophobia. Much of that xenophobic rhetoric comes in the form of railing against undocumented immigrants, whom Trump characterized in his campaign announcement speech as “criminals”, “rapists” and “murderers”.

Two thirds of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) are foreign-born according to the Center for American Progress’ State of Asian America report released last year, and 40% of America’s immigrants currently call an Asian country the place of their birth. Of those approximately 10 million foreign-born AAPIs, 1.3 million (or 1 in every 8) are undocumented immigrants. These numbers also suggest that currently, approximately 1 in every 9 undocumented immigrants is AAPI.  Those numbers are on the rise: over the last decade, the overall Asian undocumented population has doubled, with the undocumented population originating from India, South Korea and China having grown by as much as 300%.  Considered alongside evidence showing that undocumented immigration from Mexico has slowed in recent years, Asian Americans are now the fastest growing undocumented population in America leaving one National Journal reporter to suggest that “someone tell Don­ald Trump that he’s pick­ing on the wrong im­mig­rants.”

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