Chinese Americans Join Protest against AZ Anti-Immigration Law

Be afraid, for the Asians are mobilizing against racism!

The media seems intent on painting SB 1070, the bill signed into law last week that would make being an undocumented immigrant a state crime, as an anti-Latino law. Everywhere you turn, you hear about the ramifications of this bill against Latino residents of Arizona, both legal and undocumented. But, while the impact of this bill on the Latino community will be profound here in Arizona, I think this insistence on focusing exclusively on SB 1070 as a “Latino” issue creates the same divisive wedge normally used to prevent minority communities from forming coalitions and building bridges. Even Reverend Al Sharpton, who spoke the other night on Larry King Live, failed to talk about the impact of SB 1070 on the non-Hispanic community.

The truth is that SB 1070 is harmful to all Americans, both White and of colour. Yet, we aren’t talking about the fact that the second largest group of undocumented immigrants who cross into America along Arizona’s southern border are ethnic Chinese; Asians in Arizona are also very likely to be targeted for racial profiling by Arizona’s state cops when SB 1070 comes into effect this summer. And we certainly aren’t talking about the dangerous precedent that Arizona’s anti-immigrant law will have across the nation, in terms of state’s rights, legalized racial profiling, and privacy issues; yet, it is these consequences that can have dangerous ramifications for all people of colour.

It is for these reasons that progressive and minority communities should be mobilizing in full force against SB 1070, and not be distracted by the false notion that the law will not affect you. Beyond the fact that we shouldn’t stand idly by while minorities are disenfranchised, we must also recognize how we, too, are threatened by this unjust law.  

New American Media has a short article about Chinese American groups on both the east and west coasts urging their members to participate in protests against SB 1070. Here’s the article:

Chinese Americans to Join Protest against Arizona Law

Chinese American leaders on the east and west coasts urged community members joining the Labor Day demonstration to protest against Arizona’s anti-immigration law. The leaders also called for immigration reform, reports China Press.

Hong Zhen from the New York Immigration Coalition described the Arizona law as “non-American”and an ugly way to criminalize undocumented immigrants. He urged President Obama to reform the immigration system. Li Hua from Chinese Staffs and Workers Association said criminalizing undocumented worker violated human rights.

Meanwhile, Asian community leaders in San Francisco said that even though the Arizona law targeted Latino communities, Asian Americans and members of other ethnic groups should fully participate and show their disagreement on any anti-immigrant law

In addition to the groups described above, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), chaired by Representative Mike Honda (Democratic Congressman from California) released a statement on behalf of CAPAC on Arizona’s anti-immigrant bill. Here’s an excerpt (read the full text here):

As a Japanese American who spent part of my childhood in an internment camp, I know all too well the effects of scapegoating and racial profiling. I suffered through what happens when governments pass policies based on fear and misguided attempts at law and order.

This law is un-American as it unjustly targets communities of color, in particular immigrant communities, which have been critical to the economic growth of our country throughout our nation’s history.

The law’s enactment also demonstrates the urgent political and moral imperative for the federal government to act now on comprehensive immigration reform.

Comprehensive immigration reform is particularly important for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. There are currently 1.5 million undocumented Asian immigrants who contribute to our communities and economy everyday and who could contribute more if they were legalized. Millions of families are separated for years, sometimes decades, waiting in the backlogs of our broken family visa system.

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