Tag Archives: Asian Americans

That Immigration bill, Boston, and baseball?

The Boston blasts have knocked even the grand leakage of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 AKA “The Immigration Bill,” down a few notches in the news ladder.


Going over the details now and will post on www.aaldef.org/blog. Initial reaction is it’s “not great,” and forgets why people immigrate here in the first place. There’s an “F” word that seems forgotten.


In the meantime, speaking of words and language, look at all the news stories and  if anyone says “illegal immigrant.”


We didn’t see that faux pas yesterday, but look at how quickly we launched into profile mode.


Yes, we were kind and all to the innocent. But not so much to people of color when the word went out that police were looking for a “dark skinned male, possibly with an accent, and a black sweat shirt.”


Certainly let the white terrorists off the hook.


That kind of profiling shows we haven’t learned much from 9/11.


If you haven’t noticed, I’ve got this thing for baseball, and covering the San Francisco Giants and their half-Filipino pitcher Tim Lincecum.


He’s a real Asian American, not some imported star from Korea or Japan. He’s from the Seattle area.


For me baseball and his struggles to date are the human story of the game that provides real perspective. I use it as an antidote to the reality known as “the political process,” where the glacial pace of change makes a nine-inning game go by in a wink. Read the posts under the heading: Linceblog.


It’s my form of escape that gives me a sense of balance.


It also works both ways. Too much time in the candy store of life, and

you get a day like yesterday.


Yesterday’s violence—amid the intense competitiveness of a marathon hailed as one of the iconic events in U.S. sports—brought us all back to that reality as we prayed for the dead and counted the wounded.


By the way, yesterday was another milestone day in sport: Jackie Robinson Day.


Read my take at  http://diverseeducation.com/article/52621/


And please read my other work at the archives :



On the “new” immigration debate, Latinos, Asians, and the “documented undocumented”

At the Fred T. Korematsu Day ceremonies in San Francisco’s Herbst Theatre (Korematsu is the man who said no to the U.S. internment of Japanese Americans during WWII), I saw two American Filipino heroes most people should know but usually don’t:  Labor organizers Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz. 

Itliong and Vera Cruz were the heart and soul of the farm worker movement when Filipinos dominated California’s Central Valley fields. But they were overshadowed in the 60s by Cesar Chavez, who took advantage of the massive wave of Mexican immigrant labor, and became the face of the farmworker movement.

Were Filipinos in the fields? Aren’t the workers all Mexican?

Itliong and VeraCruz have long been ignored and left out of the histories. Chavez gets streets and schools named for him.

A generation later and Latinos seem poised to trump Filipinos  again as our politicians consider comprehensive immigration reform.

One would think it shouldn’t be so hard to find common ground between Filipinos and Latinos. Thanks (or “no thanks”) to imperialism, the broad group of American Filipinos, both born here and immigrants, legal and illegal, usually have Hispanic last names, as well as the Catholic Church in our DNA. 

For these purposes, I like to call us “Aspanics,” Asian Hispanics by way of those wayward explorers. 

But we definitely screw up the political puzzle in the U.S. especially in this new immigration debate where those of Mexican descent dominate the discussion.

And while there are a lot of them in the 11 million estimated undocumented immigrants here in the U.S., there are a lot of Asian Americans too. It’s estimated there’s an undocumented community of around 270,000 Filipinos, and another 200,000 Asian Indian. All told, there’s maybe a million Asians who are undocumented.

One million and we’ll likely not even be seen as significant in the debate.

Instead, we’ll all be lumped together, as if you can apply a single standard to immigration reform.

You want to talk about immigration? Why is anyone linking any reform to beefing up the Border Patrol and border security with more money and resources?

Does that even make sense if you’re talking about Asian immigration?  Latino advocates say it doesn’t even make sense for them.

I know some Asian immigrants do come in through Mexico, but this is the problem about immigrant “lumping” that I see is a big problem in the ongoing debate.

I’d say for Filipinos and other Asians, the biggest problems are overstays and tourism. There’s something about the bureaucracy where people lose track, documents are forged.

How is Border Security relevant to our group?

Another idea President Obama mentioned is a requirement to “learn English.”   Shouldn’t apply to Filipinos or Indians who know English and spawn call centers. But the whole idea of requiring English seems counter to our democracy. Why are we bringing back the legacy of  literacy laws?

Indeed, there’s a lot of ideas being kicked around. The only thing that seems to unify everyone is that magic phrase:“pathway to citizenship.”

But this is hardly a red-carpet or yellow-brick road. What if the pathway takes decades?

 And where would one wait?

If you have to go back to your ancestral home, where is the line? Hey, there really is no line. You just have to put your life on hold. For decades, maybe.

Where’s the fairness there?

And what if you go home and die waiting? Sounds like the virtue of “self-deportation.”

OK, in an attempt at compromise, what if you get to stay here in the U.S.? 

Then congratulations, you’ve voluntarily turned yourself in and have become an official “documented undocumented person.” 

You had jobs and paid taxes before (not all are paid under the table and skip taxes). Some banks even made mortgages to undocumenteds.

Now will you be allowed to collect on the public benefits you contributed to?

Or will you now have the official brand that allows for people to legally discriminate against you?

At least the bureaucracy that failed to keep tabs on your student or tourist visa, now has you in their sights.

One thing people seem to agree on is the Dream Act. Maybe all the talk of comprehensive reform will allow for that to finally happen. In his Las Vegas speech, Obama definite seemed to signal that would be coming as he told the story of a young man who was among the first to be approved in the deferred action amnesty program.

But what about the mature  immigrant? Why discriminate against the older immigrant who works here, pays taxes but doesn’t have papers?

He has to start over in mid-life back in the Philippines?

There’s lots of problems in beginning this debate that the president says we could be ready for. Let’s hope so. But let’s also hope that Aspanics and other Asians don’t get lost in whatever compromise plan, if any, gets adopted.

But I have to admit, just thinking about what happened to Filipinos when Chavez took over the fields, gives me pause.

Let’s hope fairness doesn’t get lost in the compromise.


Obama loses Chris Lu as Cabinet Secretary: Where will both go next?

The biggest news to rock the Asian American political sphere broke today with this press release from the White House.

Whither Chris Lu?


Statement from the President on the Departure of Chris Lu


WASHINGTON, DC — The White House today announced the departure of Chris Lu, Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary.


President Obama said, “Chris Lu is one of my longest-serving and closest advisors, first crafting my legislative agenda in the Senate, then leading my Presidential transition, and most recently, managing my relations with the Cabinet.  Through his dedication and tireless efforts, Chris has overseen one of the most stable and effective Cabinets in history – a Cabinet that has produced extraordinary accomplishments over the past four years.  For that reason, I have asked Chris to consider other opportunities to serve in my Administration, and after he enjoys some time off, I hope he will consider those opportunities.  I know I speak on behalf of the entire Cabinet in thanking Chris for his friendship and exceptional service to our nation.” 


At the last Inaugural in 2009, I saw and talked to Lu and saw him as a key person for the community. Indeed, over the last year he was the chair of the White House outreach group to Asian Americans. But he was also the high ranking Cabinet Secretary. This year, I wondered what his fate would be, if he’d go up, down or sideways in the administration.  

I didn’t expect it to be out of the administration.

Obama has been under attack for a lack of cabinet diversity (which I find hard to understand). But this will fuel the criticism.  Obama says wait and see until all the changes are made.  Indeed, even the Lu  press release indicates Lu’s been offered something else in the administration.

I suspect Lu’s either burned out from politics and wants a regular high-paying legal job.

Or he didn’t get what he wanted.  

Or he wants to step out from behind the shadow of a boss and run for office somewhere himself.

Still, it’s strange for Lu to be leaving. His ties with Obama go back, not just to Obama’s Senate days, but to their days as students at Harvard Law School.

The smart and talented Lu represents the kind of high level diversity the country and Obama needs. And as the release said, he’s done a good job.

What he does next, and what Obama does to replace him, will certainly be worth noting.



Asian Americans were part of Obama Coalition in big numbers, but with some intra-ethnic differences, AALDEF exit poll shows

Last night you heard media citing exit polls about African Americans backing Barack Obama by 93 percent. Latinos were at 71 percent.

And Asian Americans?

Not a mention.

Yet, the group was a big part of the Obama victory.

72 percent  of Asian Americans backed the president, according to the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund-backed Election Eve poll. The phone survey sampled  800 Asian American voters in 50 states the weekend before the election. With early voting, nearly half of all poll respondents had already voted.

Asian Indians with 83 percent  gave the strongest support  for Obama, based on the survey’s intra-ethnic data. Vietnamese and Filipinos were the least supportive with 59 and 60 percent respectively for Obama. Consequently, those two groups lead the Asian support for Romney.

The national poll put Romney’s Asian American support at  26 percent, with both Vietnamese and Filipinos groups at 40 percent for the Republican challenger.

But when the question comes to political identity,  41 percent of Asian Americans still dentify as Democrats, with the intra-ethnic numbers showing Filipinos and Japanese, at 50  and 51percent, respectively.

Only 14 percent of Asian Americans  overall identify as Republican, with Korean, Filipino and Vietnamese more so at 23 percent.

What makes Asian Americans interesting in the future for politicos is that 45 percent  called themselves Independent (29 percent), Other (3 percent), or “Don’t Know” (13 percent).

Asian Americans are a group with an evolving political identity. As I’ve said, they’re up for grabs. Going forward, no one should take Asian Americans for granted.

And yet, when asked if anyone from “a campaign, political party, or community organization asked you to vote or register to vote, more than half of all respondents nationally (51 percent) said no.  64 percent  of Indians felt most neglected.

It’s clear, we all should be outraged by the lack of outreach.

Someone missed the boat last night. And it wasn’t just Romney with his “All-White” strategy.

That’s why polls like this one from AALDEF are extremely important. It let’s people know when it comes to participatory politics, Asian Americans are quickly filling the void.