Across the nation, Asian-Americans took a stand against anti-immigrant policies last week.
More than 30 organizations participated in #AAPIAction, a weeklong campaign from Oct. 7-14. The groups protested a variety of Trump administration moves that affect the Asian-American community, including the termination of DACA as well as the proposed RAISE Act, which would significantly cut legal immigration.
The policies they’re fighting are “racist nativist attacks on immigrants,” the groups say. And they decided to speak out on the variety of topics all together as they believe they’re rooted in a common problem.
“It is important to address all of these issues together because they all stem from deep-seated xenophobia and exclusion,” Janelle Wong, an American studies professor at the University of Maryland (UMD) told HuffPost. She helped organize an anti-racism rally at the school, which included students of a variety of backgrounds and races.
Asian-American groups from all ends of the country took part in the week of resistance, including the Asian Law Alliance, the Filipino Youth Coalition and the Asian Counseling and Referral Service, among several others. Some participated in rallies, others hosted virtual discussions, and more held press conferences to spread awareness on how the policies hurt Asian-Americans.
Mari Quenemoen, director of communications and development at SEARAC, told HuffPost her organization actually took part in the Southeast Asian American March for Equity, which started at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. and concluded at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. That particular event served to honor the family members of Southeast Asian-Americans who had fallen during the war but weren’t recognized on the memorial, as well as to pay homage to a civil rights legend who paved the way for the community.
Referencing the slew of policies aimed at cracking down on both legal and illegal immigration, activists say that the Asian-American community is under threat. By 2055, Asians are expected to surpass Hispanics in population, becoming the largest immigrant group in the country, Pew Research reported. Currently, immigrants make up almost 60 percent of the Asian-American population. There are about 1.7 million Asian undocumented immigrants in the US as well. And when looking at the refugee population, Southeast Asians represent the largest refugee group in U.S. history to resettle in the country at more than 1.2 million.
With so much at stake for the Asian-American community, Quenemoen told HuffPost that communities cannot afford to be silent.
“The Trump administration’s rhetoric has emboldened the worst undercurrents of American society - the white supremacists and the nativists who wish to drive out immigrants,” Quenemoen told HuffPost.
She added that with the rise of these groups, it’s particularly important to make the struggles and contributions of the Asian-American community known to the public.
“We oppose the policies that have come out of this administration and Congress, but our work to uplift our stories and voices is important to counter these cultural currents more broadly in the Trump era.”