Majority of Deported AAPI Are Not Criminals


Immigrant advocates have been very vocal about their displeasure at President Obama’s decision to delay executive action on immigration. “Where is the leadership and courage from President Obama?” asked Gregory Cendana, Chair of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), “Asian Americans are losing hope.”

Indeed, it is personal for many in the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community as undocumented family members remain at risk for deportation. About 11 percent of the country’s undocumented are AAPI, mainly from China, the Philippines, India, Korea and Vietnam.

The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), a data group at Syracuse University which gathers nonpartisan information about U.S. federal immigration enforcement, reports that immigration court judges have ordered 82,878 individuals deported so far this fiscal year. TRAC points out that only 20 percent of these people are being “removed” because of criminal or any other activity that posed a threat to national security or the public safety. This statistic only rubs salt in the collective wound of immigrants.

Nearly six percent of individuals ordered to leave their families and communities are AAPI (4,778). Immigrants from China (1,840), India (793), the Philippines (344), Vietnam (251), Nepal (198), and South Korea (189) make up 75 percent of AAPIs being deported. The entire AAPI community is represented, including  the island country of Niue (2), Bhutan (1), Brunei (1), and East Timor (1).

Until immigration reform passes and the deportation of non-criminal immigrants stops, AAPI advocates will continue their protest.

“If our elected leaders are serious about fixing our broken immigration system, they must back up their words with actions,” said Miriam Yeung, Executive Director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF). “We will  continue to mobilize our base and make our concerns and needs heard from all across the country to Washington, DC.”

The Importance of Counting Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders

Press release from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have launched a new project aimed at improving health data collection for Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. The information will be collected through the National Health Interview Survey, which is conducted by CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

As a way to increase the number of Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander households included in the survey, the Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander National Health Interview Survey uses the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, which collects data on approximately 3 million households in the United States annually.

The Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders National Health Interview Survey will include a sample of approximately 4,000 households. Data collection for the survey begins in February 2014 and findings will be available in the summer of 2015. The data will help public health researchers to produce reports on a wide range of important health indicators for the Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander population.

“This project represents a significant milestone in our implementation of the HHS Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities by enhancing the availability and quality of data collected and reported on racial and ethnic minority populations,” said Dr. J. Nadine Gracia, HHS Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health. “This unprecedented survey, which further advances the goals of data collection as called for by the Affordable Care Act, will shed important light on the health status of the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander population.”

CDC’s National Health Interview Survey is the nation’s largest in-person, household health survey, providing information on an individual’s health status, access to and use of health services, health insurance coverage, immunizations, risk factors, and health-related behaviors. The data play a crucial role in monitoring and improving the health of the nation. For example, Healthy People 2020, the set of public health goals and objectives for the nation, uses information from the survey to track progress toward its targets.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders comprise just 0.4 percent of the total U.S. population, which makes it difficult to include them in sufficient numbers in most national population-based health surveys. The lack of reliable health data for this population has made it difficult to assess their health status and health care utilization. However, the available data for this population indicates that they experience significant health disparities when compared to other groups.

“CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics regards this project as a major step forward in providing much needed health data about the ethnically and culturally diverse U.S. population,” said Charles Rothwell, NCHS director.

For more information about the National Health Interview Survey visit

Yes America, Poor Asians Do Exist!

med3_0Most folks think Asian Americans are wealthier than everybody else. This is understandable since the numbers show, in aggregate, that they have the highest income among racial groups in the United States. However, when you start digging into the numbers, you will discover that not all members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community are affluent.

A recent study by the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (National CAPACD) brings to fore AAPI communities in need and challenges the model minority myth that all Asians are rich.

The Spotlight on Asian American and Pacific Islander Poverty study provides a demographic profile of poor Asians whose numbers have increased dramatically. From 2007 to 2011, the number of AAPIs living below the federal poverty level increased by more than half a million. This 38% increase can be broken down into a 37% increase for Asian Americans in poverty and a 60% increase for Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders in poverty. In comparison, the general poverty population grew by 27% during the same time period.

The largest single group living below the poverty line is non-Taiwanese Chinese at almost 450,000, followed by Asian Indian at over 245,000 and Vietnamese at 230,000. The group with the highest poverty rate is Hmong at 27%, followed by Bangladeshi at 21%, and Tongans at 19%.

More than half of all AAPI poor live in 10 metropolitan areas: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Honolulu, Seattle, San Jose, Houston, Sacramento, and Philadelphia. No other racial/ethnic poverty population is as concentrated in as few places. Approximately 30% of all AAPI poor live in only 3 metro areas: New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. An Urban Institute poverty mapping tool confirms National CAPACD’s findings and puts AAPI poverty in context.

So yes America, poor Asians do exist. And just like any other struggling group, they could use a leg up from the rest of us.

18 Million Hearts: Asian Americans Flex Muscle on Immigration

February 28, 2013; Source: Asian Week

Many people see and hear Latino faces and voices whenever immigration is discussed, but the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community is mobilizing to make sure their countenances and voices are added to the discourse. Last week, the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice, a consortium of legal and civil rights groups, and 18 Million Rising, a civic engagement organization, launched the “18 Million Hearts: Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders for Immigration Reform” campaign. There are approximately 18 million Americans of Asian descent, or close to six percent of the total U.S. population. The campaign urges AAPIs to push members of Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

“The time has come for us to mobilize and let other Americans know how the broken immigration system is separating and hurting Asian American and Pacific Islander families and communities,” said Betty Hung, policy director of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center. “Any reform of the immigration laws must fully incorporate our shared American values of family unity, fairness, and equality.”

Unauthorized immigration and family reunification are key immigration issues for the AAPI community. About 11 percent of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. are from Asia, according to a 2012 Department of Homeland Security report. These are often parents, children, and/or neighbors of native-born, naturalized, and legal resident Asian Americans. Nearly two-thirds of Asian Americans are foreign born, but immigration backlogs can keep families apart for years or even decades. According to a Department of State Citizenship and Immigration Services report, four our of the top five countries with the longest wait times for relatives of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents are in   Asia: the Philippines, India, Vietnam, and China.

The leaders of the 18 Million Hearts initiative are empowered by their community’s growing number and clout. AAPIs are the fastest growing community of color in the U.S. and were reportedly key to President Barack Obama’s re-election. “Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are growing in strength, in number and in political power and with this campaign, we plan to flex our political muscles,” said C. M. Samala, director of “The 18 Million Hearts campaign will highlight our stories as   immigrants and as descendants of immigrants to build America’s future together,” added Chris Punongbayan, deputy director of the Asian Law Caucus. “Asian American   immigrants are an integral part of America – we are workers, neighbors, and small business owners who revitalize communities and contribute to the economy.”

Originally posted on Nonprofit Quarterly Nonprofit Newswire.

Disaggregating the Monolithic Model Minority

Better data is the key to understanding the diverse and often ignored population of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (AANHPIs) living in the United States, according to the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans. Last week, the Council—a coalition of 30 AANHPI organizations—gave a briefing to Urban Institute researchers about policy issues salient to the community. They also suggested research specific to AANHPIs, the fastest growing racial/ethnic group in the United States.

Over 18.5 million AANHPIs live in the United States, representing 6 percent of the total population. They originate from more than 30 countries and speak over 100 languages and, yet, are often treated as one monolithic group. Individuals in this community are often cast as the Asian American “model minority:” highly educated, affluent, hard working, and self-sufficient, a constituency that has no need for government assistance. Moreover, its smaller size compared with the Latino and African American communities renders AANHPIs virtually invisible or ignored in the policymaking process and ultimately, in the allocation of resources.

Council presenters sought to dispel the myth and put the spotlight on economic, employment, housing, healthcare, education, civil rights, and immigration issues for AANHPIs. They argued that there is a general lack of data about Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. When research is conducted, the information gathered is not disaggregated, thereby painting an inaccurate picture of the various ethnic groups that comprise the population. This stymies policy initiatives beneficial to AANHPIs and their families, resulting in little to no access to benefits and resources.

Taken together, for example, only 14 percent of AANHPIs experienced job loss since 2008, meaning they fared better than most Americans. When the data is broken down however, we learn that not all AANHPIs had the same experience. Seventeen percent of Chinese and 20 percent of Hmong experienced job loss since 2008; and close to a quarter of Cambodians lost their jobs.

Researchers interested in communities of color, and Asian Americans in particular, need to find ways to collect representative and adequate data on the various subgroups that comprise the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander community. They need to ensure that data is disaggregated when presented, especially to policymakers, in order for the disparate needs of the communities to be addressed.

Additional information on AANHPI policy issues and recommendations can be found in NCAPA’S 2012 Policy Platform.

Originally posted on Urban Institute MetroTrends Blog, December 4, 2012.

Community-Based Organizations Helped Deliver Asian American Vote


November 8, 2012; Source: Bloomberg

In the week since Election Day, much has been made of how the Latino vote helped deliver another term to President Barack Obama, and rightfully so. Asian American groups, however, want to make sure that we also know that the Asian vote, while not as large, was also crucial on November 6th.

Less than 24 hours after the President Obama won reelection, the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (National CAPACD) and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) released a statement touting the fact that, while only four in ten Asian American voters identify as Democrats, they “broke for Barack Obama by a huge margin, with 72% voting for the President and 26% for Mitt Romney.” In congressional races, seven in ten Asian American voters also backed Democratic candidates.

Lisa Hasegawa, National CAPACD’s executive director, believes that the Romney campaign and the Republican Party lost valuable votes by ignoring Asian Americans. “Mitt Romney had room to win the overlooked Asian American community,” said Hasegawa. “While Barack Obama’s narrative attracted Asian American voters, Mitt Romney missed an enormous opportunity to offer a direct appeal to this group.” Hasegawa also acknowledges the pivotal role of community-based organizations in mobilizing Asian Americans. “Community organizations’ efforts are especially critical in getting Asian Americans to the polls when traditional party vehicles ignore this demographic,” she said. “National CAPACD supported 25 groups in 14 states over the election season to help educate Asian American and Pacific Islander voters and get them to the polls on Election Day.”

Another group that energized the diverse Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities was the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC) and its local Cambodian, Hmong, Lao and Vietnamese community-based affiliates. These immigrant-serving nonprofits focused on voter outreach and education in areas with high concentrations of Southeast Asian American eligible voters. According to a statement released by SEARAC Executive Director Doua Thor, “Because of the high numbers of Cambodian, Lao, Hmong, and Vietnamese in areas like the Central Valley of California and the Twin Cities in Minnesota, our communities had a real potential to impact the vote in these parts.”

KAYA Filipino Americans for Progress, a tech-savvy grassroots organization founded in 2008 to support then-Sen. Obama’s first presidential run, was likewise key in mobilizing the second largest AAPI group in California and in the “swing states” of Nevada and Virginia. As the United States transforms into a majority minority nation, it would be folly for any political party to ignore communities of color and the organizations that serve and mobilize them.

Originally posted on Nonprofit Quarterly Nonprofit Newswire, November 13, 2012.

Ignoring the Asian Vote

The Latino vote gets a great deal of attention during presidential campaigns—and understandably so. Latino voters in key states such as Colorado, Florida, Nevada, and New Mexico may well decide whether President Obama gets to stay through 2016 or Governor Romney takes over come January 2013.

But analysts, experts, strategists, and other talking heads are largely ignoring the Asian vote. Again, understandably so. Asian American Pacific Islanders (AAPI) make up only 4.8 percent of the U.S. population, a mere pittance of 14.7 million people compared with the 50.5 million Latinos. Moreover, AAPIs are not exactly known for their attendance come election time. Their share of the electorate hovers around the 2 percent mark.

In an extremely tight election however, every vote does count and the invisible Asian voter can make as much of a difference as her Latino neighbor. In highly contested Nevada and Virginia, AAPIs make up 7.8 percent and 5.6 percent of the population respectively.

Asian Americans are poised to be a force to be reckoned with in the near future. AAPIs are the fastest growing racial group, multiplying by 45.6 percent in the past decade, far outpacing the total U.S. population, which only grew by 9.7 percent. Their numbers have risen by at least 30 percent in all states, except in Hawaii where they are already the undisputed majority. Politicians should take note that the AAPI population grew by 116 percent in Nevada and by well over 80 percent in Arizona and North Carolina. Projections show that by mid-century, over 9 percent of the population will be of Asian Pacific Island descent.

As Don T. Nakashini, director emeritus of UCLA’s Asian American Studies Center, writes in the 2011-12 National Asian Pacific American Political Almanac: As voters, donors, public policy advocates, and elected officials, “Asian Pacific Americans seek to no longer remain as spectators to the parade of politics, or as vulnerable victims of partisan power struggles. Instead they are striving to become more organized, more visible, and more effective as participants and leaders in order to advance—as well as protect—their individual and group interests, and to contribute to our nation’s democratic processes and institutions.”

It just might be worth both parties’ time to pay Asian voters some heed.

Originally posted on Urban Institute’s MetroTrends Blog, April 24, 2012.

Ford, Kellogg, and Kresge Pledge $1M to Asian American Pacific Islander Communities

April 13, 2012; Source: The Asian Journal

The Ford, W.K. Kellogg, and Kresge foundations pledged $1 million to support Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities at a recent White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders briefing. The convening had over 200 participants, including philanthropic leaders from more than 50 foundations.

“This effort is historic in that it is the first time the White House is bringing together foundation leaders, federal officials and community experts to discuss the needs of this often-overlooked group,” said Chris Lu, co-chair of the initiative and assistant to the president. “We must work together to make sure that no community is invisible to its government.”

The AAPI community is the fastest growing racial group in the United States, increasing by 46 percent over the last decade. According to the U.S. Census, the Asian American community includes individuals of Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Japanese, Korean, Malaysian, Pakistani, Thai, Vietnamese, and other Asian descent. It also includes those who are Hawaiian, Guamese, Samoan and other Pacific Islanders.

Elected officials and policy makers, along with the general public, are generally ignorant of the unique needs and concerns of this diverse group. This is due to their combined small number compared to Latinos and African Americans; their lack of representation at the highest levels of government, commerce industry, and philanthropy; and the myth of the “model minority”—the idea that all Asians are healthy, wealthy and wise.

But not all Asians are so fortunate. Close to 13 percent of AAPIs live below poverty. The stats are worst among Southeast Asians: 38 percent of Hmongs, 29 percent of Cambodians, and 17 percent of Vietnamese live below poverty. Second, AAPIs suffer certain health conditions worse than other Americans. Cervical cancer incidence rates are among the highest in the country for Laotian, Samoan, Vietnamese, and Cambodian women. Over half of Americans chronically infected with Hepatitis B are AAPIs. Third, not all AAPI children and youth do well in our schools. Nearly a quarter of AAPI students are “limited English proficient.” The dropout rate among Southeast Asians is mind-blowing: 40 percent of Hmong, 38 percent of Laotian, and 35 percent of Cambodian youth do not complete high school.

The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders hopes that partnerships among government agencies, community-based organizations, and foundations would uplift the AAPI community.

Ford Foundation President Luis Ubiñas said that the $1 million committed by the foundations will “support follow up program planning for some of the outstanding ideas that emerged from the White House event that will improve the quality of life of AAPI communities.” Among these ideas are building community capacity; improving language access; tackling significant disparities among Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders and Southeast Asian Americans; and combating discrimination, bullying, and harassment of South Asian and Muslim communities.

This effort only scratches the surface. As Kresge Foundation President Rip Rapson observed, this “momentous conversation between federal and philanthropic leaders addressing the critical needs of the AAPI community marks the beginning of what we hope is a long and productive partnership.”

W.K. Kellogg Foundation Vice President for Program Strategy Dr. Gail Christopher also underscored that addressing the challenges faced by the AAPI community “will require both philanthropic and governmental organizations to evaluate their strategic plans to ensure that the critical needs of these marginalized communities are addressed.”

Originally posted on Nonprofit Quarterly Nonprofit Newswire, April 16, 2012.