I have three children. I chose not to have an abortion because I knew I could provide my children with a safe home and loving environment. The fact that “Minnesota abortions continue to decline,” as the July 3 St. Cloud Times article put it, should not be credited to anti-choice policies.
Such policies do not lessen the number of abortions. They only lessen the number of safe and legal abortions. Women will find a way to control their own lives, as they did in dangerous numbers before 1973.
I look forward to a day when abortions are no longer necessary because all women and children are respected and valued. A step toward that journey is access to the full range of reproductive health care.
As an Asian-American woman, I may face obstacles to access because of deceptive and misguided laws based on racial stereotypes. In eight states, politicians have created laws that assume Asian-American women choose abortion because they do not want girl children. The laws criminalize doctors who perform “sex selective abortions” despite no evidence of abortion for son preference being a problem in the United States.
During legislative debates in South Dakota, the vice president of South Dakota Right to Life suggested that Asian Americans in South Dakota are “from ethnic backgrounds that are known to practice sex selection.”
Although it has not yet happened in Minnesota, the bill was introduced here in 2009 and neighboring states are perpetuating these racist stereotypes. They further claim they are doing this for women’s rights while they are themselves undermining women’s constitutional rights.
The voting records of politicians behind these laws have never been in favor of women or people of color. This is simply a clever ruse.
In the state and federal arenas, politicians who support the sex selection abortion ban are at the forefront of the movement to make abortion illegal. For example, U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), a vocal supporter of the federal bill that would ban sex-selective abortion, also supports bills that would prohibit federal funding for abortion services and groups such as Planned Parenthood.
As part of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, I am privileged to have access to research from credible sources. A new publication “Replacing myths with facts: Sex-selective abortion laws in the United States” does just that. It dispels misinformation and racial assumptions.
Data does show there are male-biased sex ratios (more boys than girls) in China and India. This has led to organizations that work hard on changing the systemic devaluation of women and girls. However, the social and political conditions here in the U.S. are vastly different.
Data show that foreign-born Chinese and Indian (from India) families in the U.S. have more girls on average than whites.
In fact, the sex ratio (number of males per 1,000 females) of all Asian-Americans are within the standard range, and it is white families that have more boys than girls.
The 2012 National Asian American Survey of Asian Americans posed the question: “If, for whatever reason, you could only have one child, would you want it to be a boy, a girl, or does it not matter?” Ninety-two percent of Chinese and Indians in America did not have a gender preference.
Why then stereotype Asian women in America?
Even if they are not seeking sex selective abortions, these negative messages can lead to the denial of needed health care services for Asian-American women.
Is sex selection really at the heart of this controversial issue? Other methods such as artificial insemination, sperm sorting and preimplantation genetic diagnosis can control the gender of the fetus. However, no laws prohibit sex selection prior to conception or implantation.
I do not support the practice of sex selection in any form. However, it is obvious that the laws banning sex-selective abortions in the United States actually perpetuate racial and gender discrimination and is a deceptive strategy by legislators who support an anti-choice platform.
Click Here for St. Cloud Times Posting of Article.
During the month of June, we celebrated Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month. 45 years after Stonewall, we honor the contributions of LGBT people to our communities. Our partners at the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) worked with the Asian Pride Project to develop a series of multilingual Public Service Announcements (PSA) on AAPI parents who love their LGBTQ children.
On June 27, exactly one year since the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill, advocates from the We Belong Together campaign, co-led by NAPAWF, delivered over 7500 signed pledges demanding comprehensive immigration reform to six Republican Congressional members: Representatives Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Michael McCaul (R-TX), Candice Miller (R-MI), Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Trey Gowdy (R-SC), and House Speaker John Boehner.
On June 30, President Obama addressed the country regarding the current state of immigration reform and the humanitarian crisis of over 50,000 child refugees fleeing violence in Central America. He has directed DHS Secretary Johnson and Attorney General Holder to identify administrative actions that can be taken to try to fix as much of the immigration system as possible on his own by September. “If Congress will not do their job, at least we can do ours,” the President said. He did not allude to any provisions for increased protections for any detainees. Regarding the humanitarian crisis, President Obama has asked Congress for 3.7 billion dollars to increase funding for ICE, Border Patrol, Health & Human Services, Dept. of State, and Dept. of Justice, with very little funding allocated to provide legal representation to handle asylum cases for the women and children crossing the border. Meanwhile, the United Nations is urging the Administration to recognize the child migrants as refugees in need of “international protection” over deportation. We Belong Together, co-led by NAPAWF, calls on President Obama to support efforts for family reunification by providing the broadest relief possiblefor both the millions of undocumented immigrants already in the U.S. and the incoming women and children refugees seeking safety.
The United States Supreme Court issued a number of decisions in June that severely affect immigrant communities and AAPI women’s economic and reproductive security. We highlight some of those cases in this month’s AP(eye) on the Hill newsletter.
On June 30th, The United States Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision was a stunning blow to women’s ability to access healthcare. The Court ruled in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby that a craft supply company is allowed to deny workers basic contraception coverage because of the company’s religious beliefs. This decision is an affront to all women that opens the door to more denials based on religious belief. Read reflections on this decision from our Executive Director, Miriam Yeung, here.
In part due to the high cost of contraception, AAPI women already have low rates of contraception use. The Court’s decision is an affront to all women and yet another barrier to AAPI women who already face significant health disparities and obstacles to insurance coverage. The Court’s decision is a dangerous setback for women’s health and economic security.
Employers shouldn’t get special treatment to get out of complying with the law just because they don’t want to give their employees birth-control coverage. The choice about whether to use birth control, or any health care service, should be between a woman and her doctor — and no employer should be able to take away that right. Furthermore, Justice Ginsburg’s scathing 35-page dissent, talks about the slippery slope of this case and how it can be used to deny other medical services like blood transfusions, vaccinations, and other services based on religion. There is also the very real threat of employers denying employment to LGBTQ workers.
On July 3rd, soon after the Hobby Lobby ruling, Wheaton College, a religiously-affiliated non-profit college in Illinois who is already excused from the contraceptive mandate requirement, filed an injunction request with the Supreme Court stating that the form they need to fill out to opt out of the contraceptive mandate requirement was a burden on their exercise of religion. The Supreme Court granted an emergency injunction to Wheaton with Justice Sotomayor, Kagan and Ginsburg dissenting. The slippery slope, despite denial from the majority opinion in Hobby Lobby, is definitely descending.
On July 9th, in an attempt to rectify the Hobby Lobby decision, pro-choice leaders in Congress introduced a bill called the Protect Women’s Health From Corporate Interference Act, or “The Not My Boss’ Business Act.” This bill would ensure that employers cannot refuse to cover health services guaranteed under federal law, which all employees have a right to access. The bill states that employers’ responsibility to provide healthcare for their workers under the Affordable Care Act cannot be infringed upon by any other bill, including the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, under which the Hobby Lobby case was filed. We are severely disappointed that on July 16, 2014, the Senate failed to pass the bill. The bill received bipartisan support of 56 Senators, but failed to get the necessary 60 votes to move forward. House Republicans also blocked the bill with a procedural vote.
On June 26, in the case McCullen v. Coakley, the Supreme Court unanimously struck down Massachusetts’ buffer zone law which protected women from anti-abortion harassment at health clinics. The 35-feet buffer zone has been in place for seven years as a result of a Massachusetts law that helped protect those seeking healthcare from protestors. Under the guise of the 1st amendment to freedom of speech, anti-abortion activists are now able to stand as close as they want to patients on public sidewalks, as they enter and exit health clinics. These activists have a history of violence, physical and emotional, toward patients and providers. This ruling is another setback for women who need abortion care, especially those within the AAPI community. AAPI women already face many barriers to health care access, and also have high rates of depression. The bullying protesters inflict on women on the way to a clinic can only do more harm to a woman’s wellbeing.
In a 5-4 ruling, in the case Scialabba v Cuellar de Osorio, the Supreme Court ruled that children who turn 21 during their visa application process to immigrate to the United States must reapply for their visas as adults. Children would lose their places in line and may be prohibited from reuniting with their families. For AAPI immigrants, this may mean an additional wait of 11-23 more years. This verdict does nothing to help the thousands of Asian-American immigrants who are already struggling with enormous visa backlogs. Previously, the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) was passed to help children convert their applications into adult visa applications, without losing their place in line. Although a bipartisan group of legislators submitted an amicus brief explaining the purpose and intent of CSPA, the Court decided the law was too confusing and could be interpreted in contradictory ways. The decision means that immigrants will not be granted any leniency when dealing with the government’s bureaucratic, slow processing that continues to break up families who attempt to navigate the United States’ broken immigration system.
In Harris v Quinn, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that non-union employees are not required to pay union fees that were incurred when said union was bargaining on their behalf. This deals a blow to unions’ efforts to organize the many workers who provide home-based services, financed by the state, to the elderly and persons with disabilities. Organizing home care workers has occurred over the past 30 years and has reached success in combating exploitation and fighting for fair wages. Domestic workers play a critical and important role in the home, but because they work behind closed doors, this isolation makes them vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. Almost 90% of home care workers are women and almost half are women of color. Without the funds to bargain for better conditions and wages, women of color’s collective power is reduced.
On June 23, the White House Council on Women and Girls, the Department of Labor, and the Center for American Progress held a Summit on Working Families, which NAPAWF’S Executive Director, Miriam Yeung, attended. President Obama spoke on the needs for workplace flexibility, a raise in minimum wage, affordable childcare, paid family leave, pay equality, and protection and support for pregnant workers—defining them as “commonsense” issues.
A report from the Center of American Progress shows that between 1997 and 2013, businesses owned by women grew by 59 percent, a number that is one and a half times the national average. Women of color drove this growth and constitute one-third of all U.S. women-owned firms, despite facing numerous entrepreneurial obstacles, like accessing capital or bank loans. In those 15+ years, Asian American women-owned businesses grew by 156 percent, while Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women-owned businesses grew by 216 percent, making up a total of 620,300 AAPI female-owned businesses in 2013.
Despite these advances, 45.5% of Asian-American women still do not have access to paid sick leave and, on average, Asian-American women with bachelor degrees earn $10,840 less than their Asian-American male counterparts and $11,354 less than white males with bachelor degrees. In general, the United States lags behind most other countries in establishing policies that protect and enhance quality of life for all working families.
On June 26, a district judge in Indiana struck down a ban on same-sex marriage, declaring it unconstitutional under the 14th amendment guarantee of equal protection and due process. However, the order was put on hold two days later, as Indiana’s Attorney General appealed to the7th Circuit Court of Appeals. 120 same-sex marriage licenses were granted in the interim. In Utah, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, found Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Almost 1700 couples were married last year after the initial ban was struck down under the district court, before a stay was put in place.
On July 1, a federal judge in Kentucky ruled the state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, saying, “assuring equal protection for same-sex couples does not diminish the freedom of others to any degree.” This makes Kentucky the eleventh state to be in the process of appeal after a pro-same-sex marriage ruling.
The AAPI population is growing significantly in these states; from 2000 to 2010, AAPIs grew by 74% in Indiana, 60% in Utah and 67% in Kentucky.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights into law on July 2. The act amends state law to include protections for domestic workers, including nannies and housekeepers, like 24 hours off per 7-day calendar week and 48 hours off per month; meal and rest breaks; maternity leave and more. Domestic workers also receive official recognition from the commonwealth and are eligible for benefits like unemployment compensation and guaranteed minimum wage. With this law, Massachusetts becomes the fourth state with protections for domestic workers, joining California, New York, and Hawaii. This is a huge victory for the over 60,000 domestic workers of Massachusetts, most of whom are women of color including the 17% of Asian Americans who work in service fields including domestic work.
The California State Senate unanimously passed resolutions seeking to amend past wrong-doings against Chinese-Americans. Senate Concurrent Resolution 122 apologizes for past anti-Chinese Californian legislation and policies that oppressed the Chinese American community. Senate Joint Resolution 23 calls for Congress to issue a formal apology for the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Congress has formally issued a resolution of regret, but Chinese-American advocates and allies insist this is not bold enough. The Chinese Exclusion Act was the first federal immigration law restricting a specific group’s immigration to this country on the basis of race and nationality. The resolutions have been sent to the California State Assembly and are awaiting further action.
California State Senator Ricardo Lara’s bill, the Health for All Act, which would provide health care coverage for all Californians, regardless of documentation status, died in committee. Senator Lara introduced the bill in hopes of addressing the gaps created by the Affordable Care Act, which has left an estimated three to four million people without insurance, one million of which are undocumented immigrants (of an estimated total 2.3 million undocumented immigrants in the state) and therefore ineligible for coverage. California has the largest AAPI population in the U.S., with over 4 million Asian-Americans and a growth rate of 34% from 2000 to 2010. This act would provide thousands of AAPI people the coverage and care they are currently unable to attain.
New York City council voted June 26 to create municipal identification cards for all residents of the city, regardless of documentation status. The $8 million program, a facet of Mayor Bill deBlasio’s election campaign, allows for an estimated 500,000 undocumented immigrants to access numerous services that may previously have been unattainable, including opening bank accounts, signing leases, and more. The council approved the measure 43-3, a move also endorsed by the NYPD.
The Council also voted to expand a program that gives immigrants facing deportation free legal counsel. Previously, studies showed that 67 percent of detained immigrants go to court without a lawyer as they cannot afford one, and only 3 percent are successful representing themselves. The New York Immigrant Family Unity Project proved extremely successful in its year-long trial run and is set to provide legal representation for another 1,380 detained immigrants with the $4.9 million newly earmarked by the city.]]>
by Miriam Yeung, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum
July 2, 2014 – 10:30 am
The U.S. Supreme Court decision inBurwell v. Hobby Lobby is an affront to all women and yet another barrier to Asian American and Pacific Islander women who already face significant health disparities and barriers to insurance access. Women seeking birth control through health insurance will now be dependent upon their bosses to make a moral judgment about their choices.
Read the entire article on RH Reality Check http://bit.ly/1rjzEbp]]>
WASHINGTON — In response to today’s Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. U.S. Supreme Court decision, Miriam Yeung, executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, issued the following statement:
“In part due to the high cost of contraception, Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women already have low rates of contraception use. The high court’s decision is an affront to all women and yet another barrier to AAPI women who already face significant health disparities and obstacles to insurance coverage. This decision is a dangerous setback for women’s health and economic security.
“After decades of discriminatory coverage by insurance companies, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) made great gains by requiring insurance companies to cover birth control with no out-of-pocket cost to women. Last year, the share of women with no out-of-pocket cost for the types of contraception covered by ACA increased to 56 percent in 2013 from 14 percent one year earlier. Today’s decision could reverse this hard-won progress.
“Employers shouldn’t get special treatment to get out of complying with the law just because they don’t want to give their employees birth-control coverage. The choice about whether to use birth control, or any health care service, should be between a woman and her doctor — and no employer should be able to take away that right.”
Contact: Lyndsay Christian, firstname.lastname@example.org / 212.255.2575
The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) is the only national, multi-issue Asian and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women’s organization in the country. NAPAWF’s mission is to build a movement to advance social justice and human rights for AAPI women and girls.]]>
The Olga Vives Award honors women who have shown leadership on issues specifically impacting women of color, immigrant women, women with disabilities and/or LGBTQ individuals and communities.
An immigrant, a lesbian, and a single mother, Olga was an outspoken activist of our movement who fought for the rights of all women. For eight years, she served at numerous levels of national NOW leadership, including as Vice President Executive, spearheading many valiant fights, such as hosting the first meeting of the National Coalition for Immigrant Women’s Rights and devising a lobbying strategy to support marriage equality.
Olga passed away in 2012, and NOW has chosen to honor her memory and her passion for social justice for years to come by presenting the award to women like Miriam and Pramila who exemplify Olga's spirit and passion.
WASHINGTON – In response to the decision handed down today by the U.S. Supreme Court in McCullen v. Coakley this morning, Miriam Yeung, Executive Director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, issued the following statement.
“We are extremely upset by the Court’s decision. Buffer zones were put in place for a reason—to protect public safety and women’s health care needs. With this ruling, women will endure even more harassment on their way to their doctor’s offices, and health providers will be put in danger.”
“By removing the 35-foot zone in which no protests or demonstrations are permitted during health center operating hours, the Court has removed important protections for women seeking reproductive health care, and created room for even more interference in women’s personal decision-making.”
“Asian American and Pacific Islander women already face many barriers to health care access, and also have high rates of depression. The bullying protesters inflict on women on the way to a clinic can only do more harm to a woman’s wellbeing.”]]>
By Sarah Macaraeg, co-chair NAPAWF-Chicago
Last July, while surveillance cameras rolled, CPD vice squad officers raided the Copper Tan and Spa where Jessica Klyzek, a 110 lb naturalized citizen of Chinese descent, worked as manager. As seen in the video recently gone viral, the raid resulted in Jessica’s abuse at the hands of Chicago police. Threatened repeatedly with death, violence, and deportation, Jessica was handcuffed, dragged on the floor to her knees, and struck in the face amidst anti-immigrant verbal abuse. Of the officers’ actions, Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said, “Everybody has bad days.”
Given the video evidence, Jessica’s case may be the most flagrant recent example of CPD violence. But in Chicago we know all too well this instance of brutality is not the first, not an exception in police conduct, and will not be the last.
We stand here today for Jessica Klyzek and we stand here today to challenge the longstanding culture of impunity in the CPD; the City’s historic mishandling of police abuse; and the fear of violence surrounding our communities and other communities of color.
According to a study of the University of Chicago Law School—in recent years:
- The odds that a Chicago police officer charged with abuse will ever receive any form of meaningful discipline are less than 3 out of 1,000
- 75% of Chicago police officers with multiple charges of abuse never receive any discipline whatsoever
- Brutality complaints in Chicago are 94% less likely than in the nation as a whole to be found as having sufficient evidence
While Mayor Emanuel recently apologized for the Jon Burge police torture scandal, the fact remains that the City’s legacy is one in which the administration not only looked the other way at revelations of police torture for decades, but suppressed and supported it. Our City government alone spent $20 million in taxpayer dollars paying Burge’s legal fees, and another half million paying his pension.
In a similar vein, the vice squad officers, DiPasquale and Messina, who abused Jessica Klyzek were not suspended despite City Hall’s knowledge of the incident for 9 months—until the story hit local media. Only then, Messina alone was stripped of his powers. This is also despite a separate 2009 federal lawsuit that ended in a settlement in which the same two officers were accused of abusing an immigrant; placing a gun in his mouth; slamming his head in a dashboard; and breaking his nose.
On the supposition of uncovering sex work at the Copper Tan and Spa DiPasquale and Messina were then free to physically assault Jessica; threaten to tase her 10 times; threaten her family with death; scream that she was not American; and swear to ‘put [her] in a UPS box and send [her] back to wherever the f–k [she] came from.’
But not only was Jessica a naturalized citizen, Chicago is a city of immigrants—a supposed Sanctuary city. But one in which raids happen in immigrant communities by ICE officers posing as police regularly, leading to the deportations of workers who make the city go round, the tragic separation of families, and a climate of xenophobia.
It is also a city in which tasering and brutality mean death for young Black men, deemed disposable, in the words of Prison Culture blogger Mariame Kaba, by the CPD and the City at large. Earlier this spring, 23-year-old Dominique Franklin Jr., known as Damo by his friends, was tasered by the police and soon died. This young man’s death is yet another tragic loss amidst a larger undeniable story. According to the Independent Police Review Authority’s 2012 report on officer shootings, CPD officers shot 57 individuals in 2012. 50 of them were black, and 55 were male.
But as Jessica’s case goes to show, police violence targets women as well. Among those shot and killed by police in 2012 was Rekia Boyd, an unarmed 22 year old woman.
Meanwhile we have seen numerous charges of sexual assault by Chicago police officers in recent years—including 2 rapes within a span of 19 days by the same two police officers, Clavijo and Vasquez. Despite the fact that the first Jane Doe immediately filed a complaint, the officers were free to rape again. The case resulted in a plea deal that alleges no sexual wrongdoing on their part.
So, we are here today for Jessica Klyzek and we are here for all survivors of police violence. We have not forgotten the Burge torture victims, an estimated 25 of whom still languish in jail. Nor have we forgotten the many Jane Does who have suffered violence at the hands of the Chicago police—whether by sexual assault, or vice squad violence borne from the unnecessary criminalization of sex work among consenting adults.
We are here because we insist we should live in a city where no one is deemed disposable, where sex work and trafficking are disentangled, where no violation of human rights is acceptable. For that to happen our elected officials must not only recognize the profound harm done to our communities but invest in making things right. We want reparations for survivors and decriminalization of sex work. We want the City to make good on its promise of Sanctuary, and we want new, truly independent civilian structures of police accountability.
NAPAWF is the only national organization dedicated to improving the lives of AAPI women and girls through multi-issue work. Please follow the links to learn more about our related organizing and advocacy work on Immigrants Rights, Anti-Human Trafficking, and Reproductive Justice.]]>
On June 3rd, we released “Replacing Myths with Facts: Sex Selective Abortion Laws in the United States.” This report is the product of a partnership with the International Human Rights Clinic at the University of Chicago School of Law and the Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health program at the University of California, San Francisco. In 2013, sex-selective abortion bans were the second most-proposed abortion ban in the states. Our report busts the myths used to pass this ban and replaces them with facts about this growing affront on women’s health.
On May 13th, the California Assembly Health Committee voted down the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (AB 2336), which sought to ban sex-selective abortions- deceptively exploiting Asian Americans in order to undermine reproductive rights, all under the guise of gender equality. California has the highest number of AAPIs in the nation. NAPAWF’s National Governing Board member S. Nadia Hussain testified against the bill. California legislators also spoke out against the bill, stating that, as Asian Americans, they were deeply offended by this bill.
Sex selective abortion bans rely on xenophobic stereotypes about the AAPI community, claiming that Asian American women are practicing sex selective abortion because of son preference in the U.S.- a myth that has recently been debunked. NAPAWF, along with the University of Chicago Law School, and Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) program at the University of California, San Francisco, have released a report debunking the myths anti-choice proponents use to further this legislation. You can download our report here.
On April 30th, NAPAWF’s own Systems and Sustainability Director Jes Rooks was arrested along with 12 courageous youth from across the country, who led a civil disobedience action blocking an intersection in front of Congressional buildings in Washington, D.C. The youngest participant, at 11 years old, spoke about his Dad and how he was participating in this action so families like his could stay together. There are an estimated 200,000 undocumented AAPI youth in the U.S.
In May, we celebrated Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. At NAPAWF, we highlighted over 85 AAPI everyday Sheros across the country who change the world and further our vision of a just society for all.Many of them shared their personal connection to NAPAWF and the movement we are building.
The White House Initiative on Asian American Pacific Islanders kicked off the month with an event featuring great AAPI leaders like founding NAPAWF sister Helen Zia and none other than Vice President Joe Biden. The Asian Pacific American Institute on Congressional Studies (APAICS) held their 20th Anniversary Gala Dinner with keynote speaker, actor and activist, George Takei. And, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) celebrated their 20th Anniversary and remembered the legacies of Congressman Norman Mineta, Senator Daniel Inouye, Congresswoman Patsy Mink, and Senator Daniel Akaka— who founded the caucus to make sure AAPIs have a voice in Congress.
Our shero and one of our great movement leaders, Japanese American activist Yuri Kochiyama, passed away on June 1st after recently celebrating her 93rd birthday. Yuri saw the parallels in the injustices between African Americans in the Jim Crow South and Japanese Americans during World War II and was involved in some of the most significant events of the 20th century, including the Black Liberation movement, the push for Puerto Rican independence, and the Japanese American Redress movement. At NAPAWF, Yuri is who we think of when we work to build bridges with our allies, when we lead with love in our movement, and when we stand tall and strong side by side with our brothers and sisters of color. She is fierceness embodied, and we are forever grateful and forever learning from her courageous, remarkable, beautiful life. 18 Million Rising is accepting submissions to their Tumblr where people are sharing reflections on Yuri Kochiyama’s life and legacy. Please feel free to read the thoughts from around the country and to submit your own here.
After promising to review The Department of Homeland Security’s deportation policy, President Obama has delayed the process until August, when Congress adjourns. The delay is said to be an effort to give the House of Representatives more time to consider legislative action on immigration reform. This has a significant impact on our community. There are an estimated 1.2 million undocumented Asian American and Pacific Islanders in the U.S. and over half of all immigrants are women. In response, We Belong Together, which NAPAWF co-leads, issued a statement and is taking action to continue pushing for “both broad and comprehensive immigration reform that treats women fairly, and for immediate administrative action to stop deportations.”
With the stall in federal immigration reform, state officials are taking immigration issues into their own hands. Officials in Philadelphia and Baltimore stated that they will no longer detain potentially undocumented immigrants despite the Secure Communities program by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Florida and Virginia recently approved granting in-state tuition for undocumented students attending state universities. Florida and Virginia have the 8th and 9th highest numbers of AAPIs in the country, with approximately 0.6 million and 0.5 million, respectively.
The California Senate passed SB 1135, banning sterilizations for the purpose of birth control in state prisons and jails. NAPAWF issued a public letter of support for the bill. The bill arose as a response to the almost 150 involuntary sterilizations that took place in California prisons from 2006 to 2010. Women of color, including Japanese American women in internment camps, have had a long history of forced sterilizations in this country.
On May 20th, over 400 Asian Americans in Illinois gathered to push for the passage of the Illinois Domestic Workers Bill of Rights (SB 1708), which demands the protection of basic labor rights for domestic workers. The fight for their rights has been championed by many immigrant rights organizations across the nation, including the National Domestic Worker’s Alliance and Filipino Advocates for Justice in Oakland. To date, four states — New York, Hawaii, California, and Massachusetts — have passed domestic workers’ rights bills.
On May 15, Governor Martin O’Malley signed into law The Fairness for All Marylanders Act (SB212), banning discrimination against transgender people, in relation to housing, employment, credit, and use of public restrooms. Transgender people of color experience discrimination due to their race and gender identity. The National Transgender Discrimination Survey reports that nearly half of all AAPI transgender and gender non-conforming people have experienced harassment at work, and 21% have been refused housing due to bias.
Opponents attempted to repeal the law but failed to gain enough support. Maryland is now the 18th U.S. state to pass a law protecting transgender people from discrimination.
On May 12, Virginia governor Terry McAuliffee ordered the Board of Health to conduct an extensive review of the TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) law. TRAP laws require abortion clinics to be regulated as hospitals with certain remodeling requirements that force the clinic to incur exorbitant costs. TRAP laws usually require unnecessary building requirements unrelated to the standard of care of the clinic. TRAP laws are a tool to force clinics to incur high remodeling costs, which, if aren’t met, require clinics to close their doors. Asian Americans are one of the fastest growing demographics in Virginia and are gaining increased political power. In certain areas of Northern Virginia, Asian Americans make up more than 17% of the population.
In Ho v. Sim Enterprises, Inc., a Manhattan federal judge awarded 13 Chinatown garment workers over $1.2 million in damages for unpaid minimum wage and overtime pay owed between 2005 to 2010. The plaintiffs were paid by the piece, often not receiving minimum wage or overtime despite working six or seven days a week for 10-12 hours a day. The factory also owed workers over $110,000 in unpaid wages after it closed.
NAPAWF applauds the appointment of Judge Mary Yu, who was appointed to the Washington State Supreme Court, after the bench’s most conservative member, Justice James Johnson announced his retirement. Judge Yu is the state’s first Asian American, and openly gay, justice on the court. In Massachusetts, Judge Indira Talwani has been confirmed to the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, making her the first AAPI federal judge in the state as well the First Circuit.
The Seattle City Council passed an ordinance to raise the minimum wage from its previous state-wide rate of $9.32/hr to $15/hr over the course of the next three to seven years. The federal minimum wage is at $7.25/hr. Kshama Sawant, a local activist and socialist Seattle City Council member, played a vital role in the victory through her leadership in the “15 Now” campaign. AAPIs comprise over 16% of the Seattle population.]]>
NAPAWF is proud to celebrate legacies of those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and those whose gender and sexual identities may not be confined to such a label. Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) peoples come from a multitude of histories. At NAPAWF, we honor the experiences of everyone within the AAPI community. It is our community’s real lived experiences upon which we are proud to center our movement.]]>
Tuesday, May 6th, the California Assembly Health Committee will consider an abortion ban that stigmatizes our community and could lead to racial profiling of Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) women in the doctors office. We’re outraged that this is happening in the state with the highest number of AAPIs, and during the first week of Asian American Heritage Month no less.
AB 2336 is a wolf in sheep’s clothing— anti-choice lawmakers pretend it’s about protecting women when it really takes away women’s rights. And worse, it exploits and harms the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.
Without conclusive evidence, anti-choice politicians are saying Asian immigrants are bringing backward values to the U.S. and practicing sex-selective abortion.
If this passes, doctors will scrutinize the decisions of AAPI women in ways other women aren’t subject to, and may even refuse to provide AAPIs with abortion care.
This is unacceptable. Click here to help us tell California lawmakers to vote NO on AB 2336.