Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Kamala Harris: Donald Trump's SOTU fell short of the truth

U.S. Senator Kamala Harris panned the State of Unioin speech. 'It fell short of the truth," she said.

IMMIGRANTS were a big part of the State of the Union address by Donald Trump. He used immigrants and immigration as a wedge to further divide the nation in his 80-minute speech.

He began the topic of immigration by talking about MS-13, a violent criminal gang with ties to El Salvador that has been linked to grisly killings around the country.

Trump recognized two families from Long Island whose daughters had been killed by members of MS-13 as the camera focused on the grieved parents.

“Many of these gang members took advantage of glaring loopholes in our laws to enter the country as unaccompanied alien minors,” Trump said.

“Tonight I am calling on Congress to finally close the deadly loopholes that have allowed MS-13, and other criminals, to break into our country,” Trump said.

He then went on to tout the “four pillars” of his immigration plan: creating a path to citizenship for an estimated 1.8 million Dreamers; $25 billion for border security; attacking family reunification visas for relatives of U.S. citizens; and ending the diversity visa lottery program.

Harris, formerly the Attorney General for California and a former D.A. in San Francisco, argued that Trump acted irresponsibly by citing MS-13 crimes in attempting to justify his demand that broader immigration reforms be attached to helping Dreamers.

“We’re not supposed to convince the American public of policy because we make them afraid. And that’s what this president apparently thinks he needs to do and it’s irresponsible,” Harris said.

Harris further blasted Trump, “MS-13 is an example of some of the worst of criminal gang behavior. To equate that with Dreamers and DACA was completely irresponsible and it was scapegoating and it was fear-mongering and it was wrong,” Harris said, speaking of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, in an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews.

“It was wrong technically in terms of the nature and character populations, and in terms of the difference — in terms of who they are and how they live their lives,” said the Indian/American senator. “And it was wrong because that’s not what leaders are supposed to do."

Dreamers are young adults who brought into the country as young children by their parents and became eligible for protection from deportation under the Obama-instigate DACA program set up in 2012.

U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., released the following statement after President Trump delivered his 2018 State of the Union Address:

“With the world watching, I hoped Donald Trump would finally remember some of the promises he made to the American people and display the leadership needed to unify this nation. I hoped he would present a serious infrastructure plan that makes the investments we desperately need to rebuild our crumbling roads, tunnels and bridges. I hoped he would offer a plan to rebuild rural communities that have been left behind like Cairo, Illinois. And I hoped he would finally propose a realistic bipartisan proposal to lift the inhumane threat of deportation countless Dreamers face because of him.

“Instead, the President engaged in more of the reckless rhetoric that divides instead of unites—and that already caused countless diplomatic crises and brought us to the brink of nuclear war with north Korea. He made little mention of smaller communities across America that he promised to help rebuild during his campaign. He failed to propose an infrastructure plan and focused only on public-private partnerships, which would force new tolls and taxes on middle-class families and fall seriously short of what is needed.

“We need our commander-in-chief to change course, try to forge bipartisan agreements on issues like immigration, and present the American people with a more positive and inclusive message that moves us forward as a nation. Tonight, President Trump failed on each of these counts.”

Rep. Judy Chu, D-CA, showed her support of the members of the Black Congressional Caucus by wearing a Kente cloth and wore a monarch butterfly on her lapel. The butterfly was recently adopted by immigration activists for its ability to fly over borders without visas.

At a counter-State of the Union event held a few blocks away from the Capitol, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-WA, joined her colleagues who boycotted the SOTU. She called on members of the audience to hold hands, who stood, lifted their arms and reached for a “vision” of progressive values. There, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal told the crowd that diversity is what makes the State of the Union strong, as members of the audience held hands, stood, lifted their arms and reached for a “vision” of progressive values.

“The state of our union is strong when fearless people stand up against tyrannical policies and don’t confuse xenophobia with patriotism or vitriol with values,” said Jayapal, vice chair of the Progressive Caucus. “You just ground yourselves, and you reach for that vision of the State of the Union that is strong, because of us, because of love, and stories, and listening. My name is Pramila Jayapal. I believe in the power of our union, and I pledge to fight for all of us.”

After the speech, she was interviewed on MSNBC and asked about Trump's comments on immigration. "It was so horrendous," said Jayapal. "I say that as an immigrant myself. I came when I was 16 and now I'm a member of Congress.

"It is so insulting to see him continuously scapegoat immigrants trying to make us the division, when we know all our ancestors came here and helped build this country."

When Trump mentions "chain migration, "He really means family reunification, the cornerstone of immigration in this country for the last 50 years," said Jayapal.
By emphasizing MS-13 first as an intro to the portion of speech about immigration, CNN factcheckers called the claim misleading and false.
"Roughly 50,000 immigrants per year arrive on diversity visas and hundreds of thousands annually come on family-related visas. The Trump administration has linked a fraction of a percentage of those to terrorism.

"But while diversity lottery winners are chosen at random, it is not true that there are no requirements or screening before they actually receive permission to come to the US.

"By law, they are required to have at least a high school education or equivalent and work experience that requires specialized training, and they also must be screened for any form of ineligibility, including security risks, and interviewed before they receive a visa," said CNN.

Rep. Judy Chu introduced her guest to the SOTU, Jung Bin Cho and other Dreamers invited by other members of Congress. Cho's family emigrated to the U.S. from Korea in 2001 with the hope of attaining the American Dream for their children. Thanks to DACA, Jung Bin was able to work and save money that allowed him to graduate from Virginia Tech with a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Information Technology. 

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Survey: 4 in 10 AAPI elders are victims of fraud

NEARLY 40% Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) age 50 and older report that they or their family members have been victimized by fraud schemes, according to the recent fraud survey from AARP.  The survey reports that an even greater number, over 70%, have been targeted by scammers.

Additionally, one-third of victims lost $15,000 on average. Non-financial costs are even more widespread, with most fraud victims (72 percent) experiencing some sort of emotional, physical or mental health impact, including anger, stress and anxiety, difficulty sleeping and shame.

"Everyone in the AAPI community is at risk for fraud," said Daphne Kwok, AARP Vice President of Multicultural Leadership, Asian American and Pacific Islander Audience Strategy. "This survey underscores the need to raise awareness around fraud and scams in order to protect against financial and non-financial loss. AARP seeks to help the AAPI community protect their families and their hard-earned savings."

Awareness and education are major factors in avoiding fraud, but many AAPIs age 50 and older may be overconfident in their ability to spot common scams. In the survey, nearly three of four participants (73 percent) were confident they could spot a fraudulent offer, yet the majority (71 percent) failed a general fraud knowledge quiz of six questions, unable to correctly answer more than half of the questions.

Some of the most common types of fraud targeting AAPIs age 50 and older include:

  • Foreign lottery scams (36 percent) 
  • Crisis-related charitable donations (33 percent) 
  • Tech support scammers offering virus removal (32 percent) 
  • IRS imposter calls to collect back taxes (24 percent) 
  • Phishing emails (20 percent) 
Key findings include the following:
  • Seventy-two percent (72%) of AAPIs age 50-plus and their families have been targets of fraud.
  • Thirty-nine percent (39%) of AAPIs age 50-plus and their families have been victims of fraud.
  • One in three victims of fraud did not talk to anyone about the fraudulent incident.
  • Thirty-three percent (33%) of victims lost money, costing them $15,000 on average.
  • Seventy-two percent (72%) of fraud victims experienced an emotional, mental or physical outcome.

AARP offers advice on dealing with the non-financial impact of fraud, including:
Understand you are not alone and that it's not unusual to experience feelings of anger, shame and embarrassment. 

Re-channel those feelings into action. Volunteer to help educate others about fraud. Share tips with family and friends. 

If you have continued feelings of shame, embarrassment or anger, seek professional help. Talk to your doctor or another professional. 
Family members can also support a victim of fraud by:
  • Listening with an empathetic ear to your loved one. 
  • Asking questions to better understand the situation and context in which the fraud occurred. 
  • Keeping lines of communication open. Remember to focus frustration and anger on the scam and the perpetrator — not the victim. 
  • Listening for clues of continued participation, such as: "I'm going to win money" or "the nice man on the phone said." 
  • Reading the free AARP Fraud Prevention Handbook and discussing it with your family members (see below for details). 
AARP urges people who have lost money to a scammer to report it immediately to the consumer credit bureaus (directions available on their websites) and credit card companies if a charge card was involved. Victims should also report scams to the Federal Trade Commission and their state Attorney General's office.

(For more information, visit For detailed tips on avoiding fraud, download the free AARP Fraud Prevention Handbook in English and Chinese.)________________________________________________________________________________

Sundance film festival spotlights Asian & Asian/American filmmakers

John Cho in the feature film 'Search'

YOU WON'T FIND blockbusters with superheroes and tons of special effects at the Sundance Film Festival. Events like Sundance give independent filmmakers a chance to expose their movies to potential distributors.

Artistically, Asian and Asian/American movie makers did pretty well but whether that will translate into a distribution deal, only time will tell.

One of the movies picked up by a distributor is Search, starring John Cho and Debra Messing. 
Search, a taut thriller directed by Aneesh Chaganty, won the Audience Award. Sony reportedly paid $5-million for distribution rights, according to Variety.

Cho said it was “exciting” to play a member of an all Asian-American family in the movie. “I’m usually paired with someone who is not Asian, which is progressive in its own sense,” he said. 

 "I wanted to put this family on screen. I wanted to see a loving family, a family that wasn't dysfunctional,"

“But I thought to have a complete family that was all Asian-American was an interesting thing. It wasn’t what it was about, but it was a part of it, and I like that.”

Sundance has been kind to Cho. His last movie, the indie film Columbus, also debuted at the Utah venue featuring a 3-dimensional, subdued but perfect performance by the actor. The movie directed by Kogonada has been well received by critics and one of the few films with an Asian/American lead who wasn't a martial artist or a computer geek.

Computers and the Internet is central to Search, as Cho plays David, a father searching for his daughter by going through her social media accounts trying to find out what happened to her. While a helpful detective searches for Margot out in the real world, David grasps at rediscovering his daughter in an unfamiliar online landscape as he searches through the traces she left behind on her laptop.

Besides Search other documentaries and features by Asian and Asian/American filmmakers received notice at the festival's awards ceremony.

Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award:
Christina Choe for Nancy, which she also directed. An aspiring writer confuses fact and fiction when she finds a couple she believes are her real parents.
Special Jury Award – Social Impact Filmmaking:
Stephen Maing for directing Crime + Punishment.  A group of minority whistleblower officers who risk everything to expose racially discriminatory policing practices and smash the blue wall of silence. 
Special Jury Award – Breakthrough Filmmaking:
Bing Liu for directing Minding the Gap (Diane Quon producing), A documentary follows Bing, who at age 24, returns home and reconnects with his friends Zack and Keire, whom he’s been skateboarding with since childhood.
Special Jury Award – Cinematography:
Genesis 2.0 to Das Peter Indergand and Maxim Arbugaev (also director). A documentary on two competing groups who hunt for mammoth tusks for entirely different reasons.
Dead Pigs

Special Jury Prize – Ensemble Acting:

Dead Pigs directed by Cathy Yan. A feature giving a glimpse of modern China through the intersection of a seemingly unconnected group of diverse people.
Best Directing for a Documentary:
Sandi Tan for Shirkers. A Chinese novelist searches for the man who stole the raw footage of her first attempt to make a movie.
Not all of these features and documentaries found a distributor. The ones that did find a distributor, such as Search, will probably get shown in local art houses or regional film festivals. Also, check the listings of your PBS station who might show them this May during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

Amazon pulls costume perpetuating Chinese stereotype

This ad and costume was featured on Amazon.

Walmart's racist costume

AN AD showing a boy wearing a Chinese costume while pulling his eyes back has been pulled from Amazon following backlash from the internet, reports the Mirror.

The costumes were sold by third party companies Atosa and Fyasa.

We Are Resonate reports neither company has issued an apology.

Amazon issued a one line statement saying “The products in question have been 

Meanwhile, is facing criticism for it’s China Boy costume.

While there is no slant-eyed gesture in the ad, many remarked the costume’s name is too close to the racial slur Chinaman.

Judge grants immigration activist 'the right to say goodbye'

Ravi Ragbir

IN A MOVING ruling, a federal judge in Manhattan federal court has ordered the immediate release of immigrant rights leader Ravi Ragbir from detention in New York, calling it “unnecessarily cruel.”

The decision by U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest did not stop Ragbir's deportation, but it did grant him "the right to say goodby."

Ragbir is the executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City. He’s been held since he was detained last month following a check-in with ICE.

In her ruling, Judge Forrest wrote: “There is, and ought to be in this country, the freedom to say goodbye. That is, freedom to hug one’s spouse and children, the freedom to organize the myriad of human affairs that collect over time. It ought not to be–and it has never before been–that those who have lived without incident in this country for years are subjected to treatment we associated with regimes we revile as unjust, regimes where those who have long lived in a country may be taken away without notice from streets, home, and work. And sent away. We are not that country; and woe be the day that we become that country under a fiction that laws allow it. We have a law higher than any that may be so interpreted-and that is our Constitution.”

RELATED: Outspoken immigration activist faces deportation
She concluded by writing: “Having carefully reviewed the submissions and entire record in this matter, and having heard the parties, the Court is convinced that it must grant the petition for habeas corpus. Constitutional principles of due process and the avoidance of unnecessary cruelty here allow and provide for an early departure. Petitioner is entitled to the freedom to say goodbye. Accordingly, it is hereby ordered that petitioner shall be immediately released from custody.”

Read the complete order in which Judge Katherine B. Forrest orders Ragbir’s release.

Ragbir immigrated to the U.S. from Trinidad in 1991, but lost his legal status when he was convicted of wire fraud nearly two decades ago. He’s been fighting deportation ever since, and even appealed for a pardon from President Obama.

He was detained during a regular check-in earlier this month and flown to Miami for the beginning of his deportation proceedings, his wife, the immigration lawyer Amy Gottlieb, wrote for The New York Times. 

Forrest acknowledged that Ragbir’s efforts for staying his deportation were probably at an end. But. for her, the sudden removal crossed a line.

"But if due process means anything at all, it means that we must look at the totality of circumstances and determine whether we have dealt fairly when we are depriving a person of the most essential aspects of life, liberty, and family," Forrest wrote. "Here, any examination of these circumstances makes clear that the petitioner's personal interest, his interest in due process, required that we not pluck him out of his life without a moment's notice, remove him from his family and community without a moment's notice."

"Taking such a man, and there are many such men and women like him, and subjecting him to what is rightfully understood as no different or better than penal detention, is certainly cruel," she wrote. "We as a country need and must not act so. The Constitution commands better."

The judge acknowledged that ICE can deport Ragbir at any time. But there's no evidence that he needs to be locked up, or that he wouldn't leave on his own if ordered to, she said.

It's not certain Ragbir will be able to stay out of jail. An appellate court could put a hold on Forrest's order, meaning he could be detained while an appeal is argued.

But Ragbir's lawyers hope to prevent his deportation while they challenge his criminal conviction in court.


Rep. Judy Chu: 'The White House immigration proposal is an insult to our nation'

DESPITE WHAT HE SAYS, -- "Love those Dreamers," -- Donald Trump isn't serious about giving DACA participants a pathway to citizenship. Otherwise, why would he propose immigration reform measures that would be impossible for Democrats to accept?

If it was just the $25-billion Damn Wall, there might be a little give-and-take in negotiations increasing border security while allowing the Dreamers to remain in the only country they've ever known. However, the Trump proposals essentially closes that door. 

Among the key elements of Trump's plan that are stumbling blocks are:
  • Cutting legal immigration -- 1.1 million annually -- by 44%
  • Shutting off family-based migration for all but spouses and minor children
  • Eliminating the visa lottery program, or “green card lottery,” which aims to diversify the immigrant population
That's a huge bet in a high-stakes poker game. The GOP is dangling the fate of 800,000 DACA enrolees vs. a complete overhaul of the immigration policies that have been in effect since 1965 when the Immigration & Naturalization Act removed the policies that favored immigrants from Europe by giving each country a 20,000 yearly quota.

Rep. Judy Chu, D-CA, Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), released the following statement in response to the White House’s immigration proposals:

“The White House immigration proposal is an insult to our nation. This purely partisan plan is as extreme and xenophobic as its creators: Stephen Miller and Donald Trump. It holds Dreamers hostage by demanding exorbitant border enforcement funds and proposes to decimate our legal, family-based immigration system and end diversity visas in order to enshrine DACA protections. 

"As I have said before, any cuts to our family-based immigration system in a DACA deal is absolutely unacceptable. Our current, family-based immigration system has been in existence since 1965 and has contributed greatly to America. It has strengthened our economy and has often been the only mechanism for women to reunite with their families in the United States. Contributing to America should not require individuals to abandon their loved ones, and CAPAC will not support an anti-immigrant proposal that simply trades one family’s pain for that of another.

“Trump’s extreme proposal slams the door on immigration to this country. U.S. citizens and green card holders would no longer be able to sponsor their parents, siblings, or adult children over the age of 21. Only spouses and minor children would be able to come. This would cut in half the number of legal immigrants who could come to this country.

“This proposal runs contrary to our values as a nation, and is especially harmful to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, many of whom have reunited with their families through our legal immigration system. It is clear that Donald Trump’s cruel decision to terminate the DACA program last September was made to appease his anti-immigrant base. The fact that Donald Trump would now demand that we decimate our legal, family unification system reveals his true goal: to make America white again.

“The overwhelming majority of Americans believe that Dreamers should be able to stay in the United States and continue to contribute to the only country many of them have ever known. There are multiple proposals to protect Dreamers in Congress that have strong bipartisan support. However, Donald Trump has chosen to double down on his hateful, xenophobic demands and hold Dreamers ransom in order to propagate his anti-immigrant agenda. I urge Republican leadership to prioritize governing over campaigning, and allow us to vote on a clean DREAM Act immediately.”

The vast majority of DACA recipients are from Mexico. Eighty-four percent of Mexicans and 83 percent of Salvadorans applied in 2016. Immigrants from Asian countries have some of the lowest application rates — less than 30 percent of eligible applicants applied from the Philippines, India and South Korea. Only about 20% of the eligible Korean population applied, and only 23% of eligible Filipinos and 20% of eligible Indians applied, according to the Migration Policy Institute. But 82% of eligible Mexicans applied.

"Instead of stepping up as heroes, too many members of Congress in both parties are still acting like cowards, abandoning immigrant families who are natural political allies and have the power to sway elections," said Christina Jimnez, executive director of United We Dream.

"Year after year, members of Congress count on the support of immigrants and people of color. Our communities regularly show up at the polls. But when we call on Congress to show up for us, some Democrats and moderate Republicans are reluctant to step up," she warned.

"When considering Trump’s latest plan for immigration and the Dream Act, Democrats and Republicans of conscience must hold the line, and do what is morally right and politically necessary for the protection of immigrant youth and families."

Monday, January 29, 2018

Asian Americans cast in national touring company of 'Hamilton'

The HamilAsians, from left: Shoba Narayan, Joseph Morales and Marcus Choi.

ASIAN/AMERICAN actors Joseph Morales, Shoba Narayan, and Marcus Choi are filling leading roles in the second national tour of the hit musical Hamilton.

Morales, who is Hawaiian, will star as Alexander Hamilton in the hip-hop musical beginning in Seattle on February 6; he currently plays the alternate of Alexander Hamilton in the musical’s Chicago production alongside Asian/Americans Ari Asfar and Jin Ha. Morales has previously performed in Bollywood-themed Broadway musical Bombay Dreams and starred in Asian American theatre company East West Players’ production of The Who’s Tommy.

Narayan will be playing Eliza Hamilton, the musical’s leading female role, which was originated by Chinese/American actress Phillipa Soo. Naryan recently starred in Broadway musical Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812. According to Playbill, Naryan was the first South Asian woman playing a principal role on Broadway in over 10 years.

RELATED: Diversity increases on Broadway, but not for Asians
“This is for the women, the immigrants, the minorities that wake up every morning and push to defy the odds, to dream big, and to not throw away their shot,” Narayan wrote in an Instagram post.

Choi will be playing George Washington, a prominent supporting role. The role has never been played by an Asian/American man. Choi has previously performed alongside Asian/American casts in musicals such as Flower Drum Song, Allegiance, and Miss Saigon.

“I can’t help but feel like it’s a big win for our community,” Choi told Backstage Pass with Lia Chang. “Asian Americans are the most under represented ethnic group in entertainment and I am so grateful to Hamilton for taking the chance and casting Asians in principal roles for this tour.”

The theatre industry has been criticized for providing little representation for Asian American performers. According to The Atlantic, Hamilton intentionally casts people of color in portrayals of white historical figures to reflect the ethnic diversity of present-day America.


Sunday, January 28, 2018

2018 Grammys: It's a 24K Magic party for Bruno Mars!

Bruno Mars won in six categories of the Grammy Awards.

BRUNO MARS had a helluva night at the Grammy Awards show Sunday. The performer won in all the categories in which he was nominated. 

Mars won six Grammys at this year’s show held in Madison Square Garden Sunday night. His wins included Album of the Year (24KMagic), Record of the Year (“24K Magic”), Song of the Year (“That’s What I Like”), Best R&B Album (24K Magic), Best R&B Performance (“That’s What I Like”), and Best R&B Song (“That’s What I Like.”

The 32-year old Mars also teamed up with rap sensation Cardi B to bring down the house with their remix of "Finesse" that included a dance break that included choreographer Phil Tayag of the Jabowockeez dance crew that had the audience out of their seats dancing and clapping along.

When he won Record of the Year for "That's What I Like," as his hit song blasted when he approached the song, he tried to get the tune to continue playing for the audience, "Turn it up, play it again, too many ballads tonight!"

This is the second timee he won Record of the Year. Back in 2016, he and Mark Ronson’s collaborative global hit “Uptown Funk” won the category.

Each time his name was announced, the Filipino/American made sure to thank his fans. After winning the big one, Album of the Year, he paid tribute to the artists, the rock and soul pioneers who wrote and performed the songs that helped launch his performing career while growing up in Hawaii.

"Those songs were written with nothing but joy and love ... and that's what I tried to do (with 24K Magic) ... that's what I wanted to do. Bring back that love and joy."

Meanwhile, the animated feature set in Polynesia, Moana, had a winner with it's song "How Far I'll Go," sung by Aulii Carvalho and written by Lin Manuel Miranda, won in the category  Song Written for Visual Media.


Picture of the day erupts on the world wide web

HOW DO you make your wedding day photo more unforgettable? You invite an active volcano to your wedding.

Maria and Arlo Delacruz took a picture on their wedding day Jan. 25 that is going viral because Mt. Mayon in the Philippines is getting ready to erupt.

The perfect cone of the volcano, long a tourist attraction, has been spewing forth mini-eruptions for about a week now. An evacuation recommendation has been ordered for the towns and cities nearby.
RELATED: The wedding photo that brought tears to eyes to the world
But what are you going to do when all the arrangements had already been made, the flowers ordered, the hotel ballroom reserved and the invitations have been sent out? Mr. and Mrs. Delacruz decided to go ahead with the event, a day they won't ever forget.

Thanks to POD for bringing the nuptials to our attention. We're suckers for wedding photos.

Our congratulations go to the newlyweds. 


Judge blocks deportation of Cambodians

Former Cambodian veterans protest deportation of their fellow refugees.

A U.S. DISTRICT Judge in California has blocked the deportation of 92 Cambodian refugees, reports the Long Beach Press-Telegram.

U.S. District Court Judge Cormac Carney ruled the detainees “were denied due process by the government when it detained them and threatened to deport them without adequate notice and an opportunity to be heard.”

They were arrested in October during raids which have been described as the largest raids in the history of the Southeast Asian American community. Most had escaped the Khmer Rouge in the 70’s.

“ICE’s campaign of detention and deportation ignores the reality that Cambodian refugees with deportation orders continue making vital contributions to our communities,” said Jenny Zhao, Immigrant Rights Staff Attorney at Advancing Justice – ALC. “As this decision affirms, the government’s actions here offend our basic desire for justice and the Constitution.”
RELATED: Judge delays deportation of Cambodians
According to Reuters, three other judges have issued similar rulings blocking the government from quickly deporting immigrants who have lived a long time in the country.

“The court had the same understandable reaction as federal judges in Detroit, Boston and Miami have recently had, pointedly asking why the administration was intent on abruptly removing long term residents without even giving them a chance to show they were entitled to remain here.”

SUNDAY READ: Trump's immigration proposals rooted in racism

AFTER A YEAR in office, it is now clear even to the most casual observer -- Donald Trump is a racist.

The White House will release a "legislative framework" for an immigration deal on Monday that it believes can earn bipartisan support, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said. 

As we have seen the basis for almost all his policy proposals is to keep whites in power and to turn the tide of growing influence of people of color and to stop the demographic shift to a browner America.

There is no doubt about Trump's anti-immigrant positions after his comments Jan. 11 in the Oval Office when lawmakers proposed restoring protections for immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries as part of a bipartisan immigration deal, according to two people briefed on the meeting.

“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump asked in that infamous meeting at the White House.

He followed up with another question, “Why do we want people from Haiti here?” Then he reportedly said, Why can't have more immigrants from Norway? In other words: Why can’t we have more white immigrants, and fewer nonwhite ones?
Trump stokes the deeply felt the fears of his mostly-white constituency by painting immigrants as a danger to our society.

"Today we face a number of serious threats—from the vicious MS-13, to the deadliest drug epidemic in American history, to radical Islamic terrorism," said Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a speech to law enforcement officers in Norfolk, VA last Jan. 26.
Trump's underlying message of his campaign plays to the fear held by white people that they will lose their position of privilege propped up and perpetuated by the dominant influence of white people in almost every area of influence in our culture.
There appears to be two primary strategies to achieve that dubious objective:
1. Stop the increasing power and influence of people of color by ending the avenues  or opportunities through which POC advance their social status in the U.S., ie. education, employment and political influence. To achieve this goal might take the form of various policies: ending  affirmative action, lower the quality of public schools where most POC send their kids for an education, removing penalties for bias in the workplace and making it more difficult to vote.

2. Besides the obvious deportation of undocumented immigrants, the administration wants to stem, or more realistically slow down, the inflow of immigrants from Latin America and Asia. The long-term overall impact of this policy will hurt the U.S. economic and political standings in the world. Despite the harmful effects this policy will have, the goal of this administration is decidedly short-term: the temporary shoring up of Trump's supporters' xenophobia, the fear of the "other." 
The policies for No. 1 are numerous, complicated and ongoing. It will require a watchful eye on the current administration as they try to disguise their efforts under the guise of economic development and job creation. Views From the Edge will continue to track the policy proposals that will inevitable generate turmoil and harm to our country, no matter what race one may be.

The goals of Trump's immigration policies have a strong appeal to his base -- to those Americans who see "their" county changing and "their" status of privilege slipping away.  that we will focus on today.

The day Trump announced his candidacy and declared immigrants from Mexico as criminals, rapists and drug dealers, should have set off alarm bells among all Americans who believe we are a land of immigrants and the pursuit of the American Dream that separates the U.S. from other countries. and it is continuing with his proposed Muslim bans that are winding their way through the courts all the way to a Trump-friendly Supreme Court.

The Trump administration has taken a hardline approach to immigration thus far, including: 

  • Cracking down on undocumented immigrants, 
  • Calling for harsh punishments for so-called sanctuary cities
  • Executive orders executing what are essentially Muslim bans,
  • Proposing to cutback on H-1B visas and the necessary visa extensions,
  • Curtailment of the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program that allows family reunification,
  • Despite stating his support for immigrants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Trump is instead using the program as a bargaining chip to build a $20 billion wall on the Mexican border.

Trump has also endorsed the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act introduced by GOP immigration hardliners Sens. Tom Cotton (AR) and David Perdue (GA) last August, which attempts to cut immigration to the United States in half — from approximately 1 million people to only 500,000. 
The RAISE Act also seeks to cap refugee numbers and do away with the diversity visa lottery. As he is wont to do, Trump has already branded the family reunification policy with a derisive moniker: "chain migration." It is the policy that gives priority to immediate relatives of green card holders in order to stabilize the new immigrant's emotional well-being by reuniting the family in America.

Despite a desire to move to a merit system to bring in immigrants with specific skills that would benefit the U.S. the Department of Homeland Security under Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen appears to be undercutting this stated objective. The DHS is considering new regulations that would prevent H-1B visa extensions, according to two U.S. sources briefed on the proposal. The measure potentially could stop hundreds of thousands of foreign workers from keeping their H-1B visas while their green card applications are pending.

The administration is also getting stricter in issuing the coveted H-1b visa given to those workers and grad students who wish to continue working or studying in the U.S. By cutting off extensions of the three-year visa, the proposed policy would drive these highly-skilled individuals back to their home countries, depriving the U.S. of their skills in technology, medicine and science.

Trump is reportedly considering a proposal to stop H1B-visa extensions to highly skilled foreign workers mostly from India, while they wait for their green cards to be granted. If the proposal passes, between 500,000 and 750,000 skilled Indian workers who hold the non-immigrant work document could be deported. if H-1B workers were no longer allowed to apply for extensions. 
The bulk of affected workers would be from India. “It would remove hundreds of thousands of tech workers from the work force, and discourage new people from coming,” said Leon Fresco, an immigration lawyer and former deputy assistant attorney general at the Justice Department’s Office of Immigration Litigation.

Trump recently criticized policies that stressed family reunification, the American Immigration Council says case-study evidence shows that extended immigrant families "ease the economic assimilation of new immigrants and promote investment in U.S. human capital as well as the formation of businesses."

Trump blames so-called "chain migration" for allowing one immigrant “to bring in dozens of increasingly distant relations” with “no real selection criteria.” Trump pointed to a Bangladeshi man who detonated a pipe bomb in a New York City transportation hub last month as an example of how the system can compromise national security. 

The number of visas granted to extended family members of legal immigrants dropped to the lowest level in more than a decade—and he is calling on Congress to stop such “chain migration,” claiming it presents a national security threat.

The number of approvals for family-based visas in the first nine months of 2017 fell to 406,000 from 530,000 in the same period a year prior, a drop of nearly a quarter, according to a Reuters review of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) data. A similar amount of applications were submitted for both periods.

This proposal could severely impact Asian immigrants who have used this policy to bring over family members. "They're talking about your tias/tios, lolas/lolos, cousins, etc. They're talking our families," tweeted Jose Antonio Vargas, one of the most outspoken undocumented Americans who has advocated for expansion of the DACA program.

White House immigration 'framework'

The White House "framework" for immigration is so extreme that it will be almost impossible for Democrats to accept which could endanger negotiations to safeguard participants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

The supposed framework reportedly will create a pathway to citizenship for DACA participants. The White House would pit DACA, which surveys show the American public has great sympathy for, against Trump's immigration reform that would contain all the elements discussed above.

“Let’s call this proposal for what it is: a white supremacist ransom note," 
immigrant advocacy group United We Dream said in a statement Thursday (Jan. 26). "Trump and Stephen Miller killed DACA and created the crisis that immigrant youth are facing. They have taken immigrant youth hostage, pitting us against our own parents, Black immigrants and our communities in exchange for our dignity, 

“So let us be clear: any politician who backs up this ransom note is enabling Trump and Miller’s white supremacist agenda. Members of Congress of conscience must make the moral choice to reject this white supremacist proposal and pass legislation that protects us without harming others. Dream Act now.”

Then, there's that $25 billion Wall Trump wants to build between the U.S. and Mexico. It appears he won't back down on that.

What the immigration debate is really about is the future of America. Whites see Trump's immigration policies as a way to stay on top. Whites, like most of the world, see the U.S. a white country. But the beauty of the American experiment is that it is continually changing. It has the ability to absorb new peoples, their energy, ideas and drive to create a country the world has never seen before. 

Whites and all their power structures need to accept the changes that are happening.  What they will discover is that not much will change that dramatically.

America was never just their country - ask the Native Americans whose land was stolen, ask the Chinese who built the railroads, the Filipinos and Mexicans who toiled in the fields, the millions of military personnel of color who died fighting for the America, or ask  the Asians driving the information economy. it has always been - OUR  country - all of us!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

ORANGE COUNTY REPORT: AAPI are a lot more complicated than a simple stereotype

Westminster in Orange County, Calif. is home to Little Saigon.

IN 2016, the Asian population became the largest ethnic group in California's Orange County, according to the Census. In the last two decades, the huge influx of Asian and Pacific Islanders has dramatically changed the character of the region. 

The relatively sudden population boom the county's institutions largely remain ignorant of the disparities and differences between the various Asians ethnic groups. At the same time, Orange County experiences ongoing anti-Asian sentiment, discrimination, and segregation.

“Despite these numbers and the rapid growth of the AA&NHPI population, there is little research available that describes the distinct cultures and histories across ethnic groups, their social, political, and economic contributions to the county, or the needs of a population whose majority is immigrants and refugees,” said Dr. Linda Trinh Vo, study co-author and UC Irving School of Humanities professor of Asian American Studies. 

A new report, Transforming Orange County: Assets and Needs of Asian Americans & Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, provides a deeper, more intimate look into the complexity of the AA&NHPI community that belies long-held stereotypes as the “model minority" or “perpetual foreigner.”

Orange County is home to the third largest Asian American & Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AA&NHPI) community in the United States comprising 21 percent of its 3-million residents. The county serves as a microcosm of the major demographic shifts taking place across the nation, placing it squarely in the midst of the growing scrutiny on the family-based immigration system. 

From 2000 to 2010, the local Asian American population jumped 41 percent, and Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders increased by 17 percent, compared to the county’s 6 percent total population growth, making it the fastest-growing population. With 62 percent born outside of the country, AA&NHPIs are also the county’s largest community of recent immigrants.

“Our most important policy recommendation is the collection and reporting of disaggregated data in order to better understand the nuanced diversity of the AA&NHPI community, because aggregated data conceals disparities affecting specific ethnic groups, especially Southeast Asians and Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders," says Vo, one of the report's authors. "We hope this will improve understanding of the specific experiences of AA&NHPI communities and race relations more broadly in Orange County.”

 Through interviews with 20 key community leaders representing different ethnic groups and interests, the report examines the major needs and assets of the AA&NHPI population in six areas: building sustainable communities, economic development and disparities, K-12 and higher education, health care services, political participation and civic engagement, and civil rights advocacy.

“In each chapter, we share key policy recommendations that will further strengthen our community’s assets and better address needs to help promote equity and improve the quality of life for everyone in the county,” says Sylvia Kim, regional director of Advancing Justice-OC. “We hope this report can be a stepping stone for business owners, elected officials, educators, healthcare professionals, and policy makers, to enhance their understanding about the complexity of AA&NHPI communities.”

Additional policy recommendations include providing culturally and linguistically accessible outreach and counseling for each area addressed in the study, and continuing to strengthen AA&NHPI-serving community agencies, cross-ethnic coalitions and organizations that amplify the assets, needs and voices of AA&NHPI community members.

“The idea for this study began in 2016 when Sylvia Kim and I discussed the need for a baseline study of the Orange County AA&NHPI communities and their economic, social and health care needs,” said social sciences dean Bill Maurer.

A South Asian couple wed in Orange County.
Some other findings of the report:
  • Homeownership among Asian Americans (58%) and NHPI (46%) is overall lower than non-Hispanic Whites (67%).6 In such an expensive county as Orange County, this disparity in homeownership is masked by the focus on wealthier overseas Asian homebuyers.
  • In 2012, AA&NHPI businesses brought nearly $26 billion in revenue and over 100,000 jobs to the county. 
  • 12% of Asian Americans in Orange County live in poverty (below general poverty rate of 13%), certain ethnic groups, including Thai, Vietnamese, Korean, and Cambodian, have higher-than-average poverty rates. Countywide, poverty rates for Thai Americans (20%), Vietnamese Americans (16%), and NHPI (15%) are particularly high.
  • AA&NHPI could potentially represent up to 20% of Orange County voters but only currently comprise 14% of voters.
  • An estimated 52,000 undocumented immigrants in Orange County identify themselves as Asian.