Originally published on 18 Million Rising as part of their campaign called #MyAAPIVote
In the last decades of the 19th century, an American named Wong Chin Foo tried to organize the small Chinese American community of New York City against mounting calls that “the Chinese must go!” During a time of economic hardship following the Civil War, Chinese in America became a perfect pincushion for aspiring politicians. Wong was part of a tiny politically active cadre. They were an exception among the hundreds of thousands of Chinese who lived in America but outside of its politics. The whole lot were thus defenseless against racially charged attacks from soapbox speeches to the Senate floor to the lynch mobs in the Los Angeles night. In 1882 Chinese became the only ethnic group to ever be deemed ineligible for American citizenship. Wong would not live to see the end of his Sisyphean crusade; the Exclusion Acts were not repealed until 1943 after millions of Chinese had, and continued to die fighting the Empire of Japan, a fact that greatly aided America’s own war effort.
Today, many Asian Americans still shirk politics. Our voter registration and turnout rates are the lowest of any racial group. Maybe we feel that we have nothing to gain or lose from an act as simple as voting. This year Asian Americans, especially non-Muslim and East Asian Americans, have not been targeted by racist and bigoted politics to the extent of many other groups. However, don’t think for a minute that this means we have achieved coveted “white privilege” status. What do you suppose a person that votes to ban Muslim arrivals or deport Latino immigrants thinks of people who look like us? How does opinion about our communities change when both political parties make a sport of bashing Asian countries for ruining the American economy and for threatening national security?
Since the founding of our country, people from Asia have come to these shores in search of economic opportunity. We ascribe to a very American narrative that individual hard work is the secret ingredient to success. If we keep our heads down, slowly disappear, the rest of the country will live and let live. We carry on at the margins of society, hoping to have first pick of the crumbs that the dominant groups in this country let fall from their table. “Success” achieved this way is a privilege, not a right; we exist at the permission of the ruling class. How quickly that privilege can be taken away: from Pearl Harbor to Japanese Internment, the rise of Japanese manufacturing to Vincent Chin, 9/11 to the Oak Creek shooting, the renaissance of China to Xi Xiaoxing, when Americans taste bitter in world events, Asians among us suffer as scapegoats.
Unlike in Wong’s time, our community is not only able but encouraged to participate in politics. Today we are the fastest growing racial group in the country. Although they still exist, we face fewer barriers at the ballot box than ever before. Multilingual ballots can be found at many polls. You can vote absentee from home or bring friends or family to assist at the voting booth. From the city council member who fixes the roads in your town to the president who directs our nation’s grand strategy, elected officials want to hear from our community. The responsibility is now on us to grasp these opportunities on November 8th and beyond. We are blessed to live in a democratic society under the rule of law. This means that although we are less than 6% of the population and 4% of registered voters, when Asian Americans vote, we create the institutions that protect our communities and sponsor our success. We shout that we are of this country and that this country is of us.
Brendan is one APIAVote MI's community organizers. He primarily works in Western Wayne and Oakland Counties, and in Ann Arbor.
You can pledge to vote and create your own selfie badge like this one at 18 Million Rising's website
Originally published by 18 Million Rising as part of their campaign called #MyAAPIVote
I am a daughter of Hmong refugees who escaped from genocide faced by our people after the Secret War in Laos. My parents fled to the United States when my oldest sister was still a baby. With no educational diploma or degree, my parents worked entry-level jobs at manufacturing companies and Thai/Chinese restaurants. Nevertheless, my parents made sure to work hard, so they can provide food, shelter and opportunity for my siblings and me. They believe that as long as you work hard in America, you could achieve the American dream. But they’re wrong; hard work is not enough.
It’s not enough that my dad works 12-hour shifts in a kitchen for ten years, because he still has not receive a raise or promotion despite his dedication to deliver his best performance and punctuality every single day. It’s not enough that my mom works crappy shifts at a manufacturing company where she stands for long hours, only to come home to complain about how much her knees and back hurt. She refuses to go to the hospital because medical bills are too high, so she has either one of my sisters or me to massage her with a minty ointment in hopes that her pain goes away so she can rest and go back to work in early morning the next day. It’s not enough that my parents never miss a payment for bills and taxes, because my parents were not considered U.S. citizens until they participated in the rigged naturalization process to gain their right to vote. And even now ‘earning’ the right to vote is not enough, because my parents have trouble understanding why their voice matters in a country where they’re still mistaken for foreigners.
All of my siblings and I spent most of our education in Detroit Public Schools, one of the most problematic educational systems in the nation. This experience consisted of passing through security metal detectors, reading outdated textbooks, and walking around buckets placed in the middle of the hallway so it could collect water dripping from the molding ceilings. Some of our classes were basically ran by substitute “teachers” who would let us watch movies all day, because they weren’t qualify to teach. I preferred my parents picking me up from school because walking meant that I had to go through a block furnished with all abandoned boarded up houses accompanied by grass that haven’t been cut for months. We had several facilities, such as the swimming pool and library, that were rarely utilized, because the school didn’t have the funds to operate it properly. Resources and programs were limited. All of the schools that we attended in Detroit were threatened to shut down for poor academic performance.
It’s not enough that we worked our hardest in school to receive good grades, because honestly, I don’t believe I was prepared for college. In fact, I almost failed my first semester of college. But because of support and resources made available to me as a student of color, I have more confidence now in pursuing my bachelor’s degree and hopefully attend graduate school.
Like my parents, many Asian Pacific Islander Americans do not understand why voting is such an important civic duty. Even though we’re the largest growing minority group in the U.S., we have one of the lowest voting turnout rates. This does not accurately represent the power and passion we have to make changes relevant to ourselves, family and friends. We might “work hard” to overcome barriers, but that will never change policies that directly affect us. Hard work will not provide my parents the respect they deserve from their employers. Hard work will not change systemic discrimination. It will not push action for issues that we care about, such as immigration reform, affordable health care, education and more.
But you know what can change that? Active participation in policy decisions.Please make sure you rock out your vote this year! If we all work together to educate each other and push out the vote, we can absolutely influence a big difference in policies that affect all of us.
Sarah is APIAVote MI's campus liaison at Michigan State University where she is studying public policy.
You can pledge to vote and create your own selfie badge like this one at 18 Million Rising's website
Originally published by 18 Million Rising as part of their campaign called #MyAAPIVote
Human rights. That’s a pretty vague term, isn’t it?
Let me break it down for you.
You have the right not to be dragged out of your home at two in the morning. You have the right to understand what is happening to you. You have the right to speak. You have the right to see your children. You have the right to cross the street. You have the right not to understand English. You have the right not to be beaten for not understanding English.
You have the right to dress in cultural and religious clothing. You have the right to walk on a college campus and not be targeted. You have the right not to be misidentified and shot.
And we have the right to remain silent no longer.
Whether your issue is immigration, police brutality, Islamophobia, or anything else that affects Asian and Pacific Islanders in this country, it’s being voted on in this election. It may not be directly on the table, but you may very well be voting for the person who puts it there. As people who are so often grouped as one in America, AAPIs know that when we speak, we are not only speaking for ourselves. We’re speaking for our families, friends, or neighbors. Maybe you haven’t been a victim of injustice, but someone in our community has. It could be someone close to you - a cousin, classmate, team member. You may not even know. You are casting a vote for someone who can’t - the mother facing deportation and separation from her infant child, the elderly man beaten by police for jaywalking in New York, or the six Sikh Americansshot at their place of worship in 2012.
Human rights are about dignity, humanity, and respect. My #AAPIVote is to uphold human rights, for ALL people.
Chelsea is APIAVote MI's campus liaison at the University of Michigan where she studies as the Ross School of Business.
You can pledge to vote and create your own selfie badge like this one at 18 Million Rising's website
Speech given by Ciara Timban at the March 19, 2016 Asian American Civic Leadership Conference
My name is Ciara Timban, and I’m currently a senior at Troy High School. I just have to say, I’m so excited to be a part of this conference, sitting alongside these wonderful women and speaking to you all today. As Mahima mentioned, I’m here today to talk about education, more specifically about the importance of promoting Asian Pacific-Islander American awareness in our education as well as having a more culturally relevant and diverse curriculum in our school systems.
However, before I go more in-depth on that subject, I figured I’d give a little more background about myself and share some of my own experiences with diversity and the importance of having a culturally relevant education.
For the past nine months, I’ve been a member of APIAVote’s Youth Leadership Core, or the YLC as we like to call it. I’ve been able to work closely with Theresa Tran, the director of APIAVote, as well as the other fabulous facilitators and college and high school students that make up the YLC. And I just have to say, my time with APIAVote and the YLC has been such a rewarding learning experience and nothing short of eye-opening. Since this past June, when we first started, the YLC has tried to meet at least twice or three times a month. While a lot of our meetings are dedicated towards accomplishing APIAVote’s mission of promoting voter education and awareness amongst the APIA community here in Michigan whether it’s through phone banking or holding conferences like this, the majority of our time is actually spent simply getting together to talk about the issues that face our Asian American community as well as larger societal issues that have been plaguing our nation, like cultural identity, racism, and the overall dangers that negative stereotypes and ignorance rooted in fear and misunderstanding have on both the national and individual level.
What I’ve really come to appreciate about our YLC meetings though is that we don’t simply get together to talk about the issues, but that we actively work together as the future generation of leaders to find solutions to these problems that we could implement within this community. As I said earlier, my experience working with the YLC truly has been eye-opening, and I think that’s partly due to the fact that it’s helped me to realize just how lucky we all are to belong to such a strong and supportive APIA community.
About a year and a half ago, I moved to Michigan from Southern New Jersey. Opposed to North Jersey, which was extremely diverse and had a large Asian American population, South Jersey was definitely more monotonous and largely Caucasian. For the first sixteen years of my life, I grew up in Medford, NJ, which was this small little town tucked away in the back of the woods with an equally small school district that had to be at least 95% caucasian. I remember going to school and having this vague sense that I was different somehow but not really understanding why. It wasn’t until 4th or 5th grade that it finally hit me, like an epiphany of sorts, when I realized that “Hey, I’m not white.” That realization served as a turning point in my life; it was the first time I grasped this sense of a cultural Asian American identity and learned to embrace it. Right up until my sophomore year, which was the year before I moved, I had grown and learned to be proud of my Korean-Filipino heritage and Asian American identity. But I would be lying if I didn’t say that that same identity oftentimes left me feeling like an outsider becuase in a community as small as mine, people could be ignorant and they could most definitely be insensitive. How could I blame them, though? They probably lacked any form of cultural or diverse education growing up and simply didn’t know any better.
When I moved to Michigan, I was actually really excited to come to Troy High, especially after hearing that the student body was close to 40% Asian. Over the past year and a half, I’ve become so grateful to be a member of such a large, diverse, and supportive APIA community both in and outside of school that has helped made my transition here so much more easier. However, one thing I’ve noticed is that even though we have this strong Asian American community and presence in our schools, I still feel out of place at times. As Tsu-Yin mentioned previously, we’re not only invisible in healthcare, but we’re also invisible in our own school systems. Although Asians make up the largest minority at my school alone, I, along with my fellow peers and friends, still feel like outsiders, largely underrepresented and ignored when it comes to school discussions or curriculums on race.
While I think it’s great that more teachers and classrooms are making an effort to include discussions on race and culture, those discussions have been largely narrow minded and two-sided, literally black and white with very little in-between. I think I speak on behalf of all of my fellow APIA peers when I say that we feel isolated from these discussions to the point where we, as Asian Americans, forget what we have to offer to our society. I’ve always been interested in politics and current events, so it continues to surprise me just how disinterested or apathetic a lot of my Asian American friends are when it comes to large social and political issues. While you could of course attribute this to typical teenage apathy or just different interests, I really do believe that part of this widespread apathy amongst Asian American youth is due to the lack of Asian American representation in our schools and governments as well as the overall lack of awareness when it comes to Asian American heroes of history to look up to. This lack of representation in everything from our governments to dialogues on race and our own school curriculum creates this misunderstanding that we as a community don’t have a voice or place in our country.
This past summer, Theresa Tran asked me to work with her on a Fred Korematsu Day bill and give a small testimonial as a high school student on why Fred Korematsu Day should be celebrated and taught in schools. For those of you unfamiliar with Fred Korematsu, he was a true Asian American and national civil rights hero. As a Japanese American citizen during WWII, he challenged the government’s forced incarceration of Japanese Americans into internment camps and brought his case to the Supreme Court. Although the Supreme Court ruled against him, his case set a precedent for government misconduct and Fred Korematsu remained an outspoken activist his entire life.
Working with Theresa [Tran] on this bill was one of the first instances where I realized just how important culturally relevant and diverse curriculum is in our school systems. Implementing such a curriculum in our schools is not difficult at all, especially in elementary and middle schools. Diverse cultural education could range anywhere from learning about Asian American heroes like Fred Korematsu, celebrating Asian American History Month, or even simply being included in dialogues about race and culture in our country. The possibilities for learning are endless, but what we as a community must make sure of is that our schools adopt these kinds of culturally relevant curriculum. As Asian Americans, and especially as Asian American youth, we need exposure to our own histories and cultures through diverse education in order to realize that we do have value to offer to our society and that we deserve a voice and place within our country to speak up.
For the first time in our history, APIAVote-Michigan has been working to turn out Michigan's APIA voters for the March 8th presidential primary. Part of that work is for a research study to learn more about messaging and motivations for turning out our voters, which means some very strict scripts. We're excited to learn some lessons to apply to the November general election. But sometimes research doesn't always go as planned.
At 8:57pm on the eve of the presidential primary, I dialed my last number after hours of phonebanking. On the other end was a man who I could hear was thinking, translating, and taking his time to make sure he was able to communicate with me in English. His accent was not too different from how my own parents speak, a cadence that hinted he was Vietnamese. So I took the liberty to go off script, mustering up and dusting off what Vietnamese language I still had in me since my grandparents passed away a few years ago. I asked, "Are you Vietnamese?". After he affirmed that he was from Vietnam, I proceed to speak, saying in my best broken Vietnamese, "I am also Vietnamese, but my Vietnamese language is very poor. I'm calling you because we are voting for President tomorrow, for the Republicans and Democrats." Yes - not entirely accurate - but the best I could do at my third grade equivalency level.
He immediately rambled off in Vietnamese, a sense of joy in his voice that he was able to communicate with someone in his first language. He shared with me that he was 85 years old, reliant on his kids who would visit him a few times a week at the nursing home to be his his ride; Tuesday was not a visiting day. He also expressed that he had no idea any voting was happening, that he was certain that voting happened at the end of the year. As I proceeded to explain to him in the best of my abilities how the primaries work, and how absentee voting works, I couldn't help but think of how important this conversation was, no matter how bad my Vietnamese was. But it was a moment to engage an eligible voter in a conversation about his right to vote that he might not have otherwise had.
In a national 2012 Post-Election Survey of Asian American and Pacific Islanders, only 31% of Asian American voters said that they had received any of communications about elections, compared to 43% of white voters, 39% of black voters, and 36% of Latino voters. The percentage is even less among Pacific Islander voters, of which only 26% had received any communication. The not so dirty little secret is that parties and candidates don't speak to Asian Americans because we don't tend to turnout. It's true. When aggregated, we don't have a really good history of voting as a community. Candidates who do want to know how to communicate with our community quickly realize the challenge of translating, finding bilingual volunteers, and so much more, that the resources in terms of time and dollars aren't always worth spending if it's more efficient to turnout English speaking, high likelihood voters. But how can we vote if no one talks to us? How can we vote if we don't have the information necessary to vote? Like the elder I spoke to on the phone, he didn't even know there was a primary election and didn't know about the absentee ballot option.
What this phone bank conversation highlighted for me was that this work to turn out voters isn't about getting someone to cast a single vote on election day. No, this work is so much more than that. It's about speaking to a community that doesn't get spoken to because we don't turn out in numbers that parties or candidates think are worthy of their time. It's about uplifting the barriers and challenges that our community members face in turning out to vote. This work is about providing solutions for our community so that they can fully participate in our democracy and I'm proud that every little action we take as APIAVote-Michigan works to be that solution.
By Theresa Tran
Over the weekend, there were several protests across the country, mobilizing thousands of Chinese and other Asian Americans on behalf of officer Peter Liang, a Chinese American police officer convicted last week for manslaughter in the accidental shooting of Akai Gurley, an African American man. This has also illuminated a bifurcated response from Asian American groups and individuals from across the country about our real experiences as victims of racism, and our experience as benefactors of relative privilege when we buy into anti-blackness - both true and real experiences.
First and foremost, we have to remember Akai Gurley, an innocent man, a human being, has tragically lost his life at the hands of law enforcement, and his family must go on without him. Peter Liang and his family's life will also forever be changed due to what the jury determined was an unfortunate accident.
If you've been following the coverage like me, you know that this has uncovered a real complexity of race, in particular the tension between a valid desire to address the individual/interpersonal racism faced by an Asian American police officer within the justice system as well as addressing institutional racism that often fails to hold police officers accountable in wrongful deaths that African American males are largely the victim of.
Rather than rehashing it all for you, I wanted to share links to some of the various perspectives and conversations that I've found interesting:
These co-existing truths require a more nuanced analysis that makes space for us to collectively address both of these forms of racism, and this moment in time can be an opportunity. We can seize this moment to broaden the conversation to seek equitable justice for all and solidarity across all communities of color that holds accountable a racist system that impacts all of us. This calls us to address racism on its multiple levels, in a coordinated manner that doesn't co-opt or undermine those who choose to address one form over another.
As an Asian American woman who has done some substantial (but certainly not enough) reflection, retooling, reframing of the anti-blackness that I've been socialized in and continue to unconsciously perpetuate, I do think it is important to sit in the discomfort of acknowledging our anti-blackness. This practice ultimately requires us to see the dignity and humanity in a community whose bodies have been enslaved, commodified, and disposed. Because in the end, our Asian American community's liberation is bound to the liberation of the African American/Black community. This is a moment and opportunity for dialogue that builds, not discourse that tears us apart.
Perhaps you've taken a firm position yourself, but I would challenge us all to think about creating space for truth in all sides and practicing listening that seeks to understand.
These are my own opinions and do not reflect the opinions of APIAVote-Michigan as an organization, nor does it represent the opinions of any part of the Asian American community.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
News from Engage Michigan
January 18, 2016
Contact: Marissa Luna, 989-798-3051, firstname.lastname@example.org
Citizens Groups Call for Expanded Voting Rights on MLK Day
Legislators should be making voting more accessible
LANSING – Today, in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr., voting rights groups are calling on elected leaders in Lansing to expand citizens’ voting rights and oppose voter suppression legislation.
Several bills were introduced and/or passed in 2015 that would negatively impact voters’ ability to participate in elections. Governor Rick Snyder signed a bill to eliminate straight ticket voting. Another bill that was introduced would put up numerous roadblocks to local officials who want to make voting more convenient and accessible in their communities.
The organizations listed below sign on to the following statement:
“Voting is our right and our responsibility. The integrity of our elections depends on every eligible citizen being able to register and cast their ballot. Martin Luther King Jr. knew that and dedicated his life to ensuring that every eligible citizen in America had the right to participate in our democracy. We continue in 2016 in carrying on his quest by urging our representatives to modernize and streamline elections in order to make voting more accessible, convenient, accurate, and fair.”
Michigan State Conference NAACP
Sierra Club Michigan Chapter
The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
Fair Elections Legal Network
League of Women Voters of Michigan
Michigan Election Reform Alliance
Michigan Muslim Community Council
Michigan Center for Election Law
American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan
By Theresa Tran, Executive Director
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I was fortunate to spend time with some newer family and friends, taking some time to share old family stories of history and migration, taking a moment of pause to acknowledge the global similarities we are facing now in our world, some 40 years later.
I have always been vocal about my identity as the daughter of Vietnamese refugees. In the late 1970s, my parents came as boat people to the U.S., fleeing a country torn by war and opposing political ideologies, not much different than what every day people are experiencing today in other parts of the world. As I hear and read about the rhetoric around Syrian refugees, I can't help but be disturbed by the unfounded fear and hate from individuals who are unable to recognize and show empathy for the violence, hunger, poverty, and every day fear that has pushed hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes, often making life or death decisions in hopes of finding safety for their children and families. I know that if it were not for the compassion of the U.S. to take in refugees like my parents, I would not be here writing this today.
So this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the courage and sacrifice my parents made, and the compassion and generosity shown to my family by so many when my parents and countless other refugees made their journey to and laid roots here in Michigan. And I am thankful for organizations like APIAVote-MI. Our work in immigrant rights, educational equity, voting rights, economic justice and leadership development are all a part of our commitment to justice and equity for not only the Asian American community, but all communities who share in struggle to be accepted and treated with the dignity and humanity we all deserve. We're looking forward to continuing and growing this work in the years to come, and hope to count on you for support with your time, talents and treasures.
By: Mahima Mahadevan
Public Policy Chair, APIAVote-MI
Partisan politics, corporate interests, jargony language, boys’ club mentality – these are some reasons why I’ve kept a distance with the people that get elected to Lansing and the legislation that comes out of Lansing. To be quite honest, I was satisfied with thinking of our state government as a black box. By doing this, I gave myself permission to stay out of Lansing and hurl complaints and criticisms from afar knowing that I couldn’t (but in my reality, wouldn’t) do anything about it.
So what changed? The initial shift happened when I attended APIAVote-MI’s Legislative Day on February 28th. It was my first time being inside legislators’ offices, meeting their staff and at times the legislators themselves, and having conversations with them guided by my interests. Before that day, I had not known that legislators had an open door policy that often resulted in a high level staff member taking a few minutes to talk to people like us that walked in unannounced. The second shift happened when I realized how important it was for our representatives to make direct contact with us and vice versa. As is natural to all of us, we are more likely to consider a viewpoint or an issue when we connect a name with a face. Now, when legislators see the name APIAVote-MI, hopefully they are more likely to pause and consider what we’re asking of them since they have met us. In a similar manner, when I see the name of a legislator, I feel more empowered and willing to do something since I feel I actually know this person, even if from a brief encounter. It will still take time for me to be more actively engaged, but at the very least, I don’t feel that Lansing and I are separated by an imaginary wall. Instead, I am starting to punch through this wall instead of staying put and being quiet on the other side.
I feel the best way to get past whatever wall you’ve created around Lansing is to do what I did and take a chance to step inside. Consider joining APIAVote-MI at our upcoming Lobby Day in Lansing on Tuesday, May 14th. No experience is needed (all of us were first timers at the February 28th lobby day!). We will provide the training and materials for our legislator visits. Please RSVP to receive more details. We will also join the Michigan Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission (MAPAAC) at the Capitol on Tuesday, May 14th for their annual celebration of APIA Heritage month with distinguished APAs, legislators and special guests. Details found here. Finally, the best way to break down walls is to be introduced to the legislative process at a young age so as not to build the walls in the first place. For this reason, APIAVote-MI is holding a free Youth Civic Engagement Leadership Training this Saturday, May 11th from 10-3pm. Please RSVP to attend. And as always, consider becoming a member. It is through our membership support that we are able to build our presence in Lansing and make our legislators accountable to our concerns.
On Wednesday, May 1, 2013, Theresa Tran, President of APIAVote-MI gave a speech at a May Day Rally in Detroit, asking workers to remember the needs of Asian Americans in the discussion around Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Below is the transcript of the full prepared speech.
My name is Theresa Tran and I’m standing here today on behalf of Asian & Pacific Islander American Vote- Michigan in solidarity with our workers to support humane and swift comprehensive immigration reform.
Today is also the first day of Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month, and I want to mark this day by sharing a piece of my heritage with you. I am the daughter of immigrants.
My father had the good fortune of being sponsored by his sister just before the fall of Saigon almost 40 years ago. Because of this sponsorship, he was on the second-to-last flight out of Vietnam before it was captured by the communist regime and all travel in and out of the country was shut down. If it wasn't for his sister’s sponsorship my dad and I would not be here today.
My mother came to the United States as a refugee from Vietnam. She along with her younger brother endured months of dangerous travel by boat, boat raids by pirates, and a stay in an Indonesian refugee camp before her sister in the U.S. was able to find her and sponsor her to come to here. It was because of sibling sponsorship that my mom and I are here today. My aunt was also responsible for sponsoring my grandparents and remaining aunts and uncles in Vietnam over the years. After waiting over a decade, my mom was finally reunified with her family.
Family is central to the Asian as well as the American identity. Senate bill 744 needs to prioritize the family-based system, and we need to work together to ask Senators to preserve and improve family reunification in the proposed bill’s provisions. We’re calling on our community and allies to urge our senators to include siblings and married adult children over 31, and LGBTQ bi-national couples into family reunification visa categories to be inclusive of all of our families. The bill should also be amended to put back the diversity lottery, and Bangladesh back into the country category.
Today on International Workers’ Day, we are gravely concerned about a federally mandated E-Verify. This will push our most vulnerable workers into the underground economy, falling prey to more unscrupulous employers, labor abuses and wage theft issues. The U.S. Congressional Budget Office has estimated a loss of more than $17.3 billion in federal tax revenue alone over ten years.
We also want a bill that supports our working communities. Millions of legal employees could be considered ineligible to work if E-Verify was mandated nationally; this is according to our government’s own audit. Upwards of 770,000 workers are projected to be fired after faulty “final non-confirmations (FNCs)” are given. The system has high error rates that kick out citizens and legal residents, with an error rate 20 times higher for foreign-born than U.S.-born workers. As ⅔ of APIAs are foreign-born, the highest of any demographic, with a sizeable portion Limited English Proficient, this will likely disproportionately affect APIAs. Other concerns on this issue include the potential of E-Verify becoming a de facto National ID card and used to check statuses in the street, at the airport, or getting housing. Privacy and identity theft risks, unfair and costly burdens on small businesses, and forcing employers to act as immigration agents are additional concerns.
Mandatory national E-Verify could cost small businesses $2.7 billion in the first year, and more than $6.1 billion for all businesses. Businesses could potentially shift these costs onto workers by paying them less. That’s why we’re calling for reform that treats all workers with the dignity and humanity we deserve.
Finally, we want to urge Governor Snyder and our State Representatives to support the New American Opportunity & Fairness Act, a state immigration reform package introduced last week by Reps. Tlaib, Singh, Irwin, Zemke, and Dillon, that allows MI DREAMers to get ID cards, driver’s licenses, and in-state tuition. This act will help implement the Governor’s current Welcoming Michigan initiative, and show that our state is serious about welcoming immigrants here.
We’re calling on you as allies to the Asian & Pacific Islander American community and supporters of our shared American family values to call, email, and meet with your State Representatives and Senators to demand humane and swift comprehensive immigration reform that reunites all families, includes the Diversity Lottery adding Bangladesh back into the country category, and eliminates federally mandated use of E-verify.
As my parents have always told me, “Nothing is more important than family.” We cannot wait a decade more for our families to be reunited. Preserve our families!
The opinions expressed by those providing comments on this blog are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of APIAVote-Michigan. APIAVote-Michigan is not responsible for the accuracy of, or loss or damage caused by, any of the information supplied by the blogger or those providing comments. The blogger reserves the right to delete any comment if deemed inappropriate.