On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced an executive action on immigration offering relief to millions of undocumented immigrants. His plan comes after the 113th Congress failed to pass immigration reform legislation, and in response to demands for action from communities, activists, and leaders President Obama took action himself. Key pieces of the executive action include:
President Obama’s action represents the most significant transformation of immigration policy in decades, however, there is still work to be done to fight for citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants. The announcement does not address the many barriers to health care access for our communities. Undocumented immigrants eligible for relief programs will not be eligible to participate in the Affordable Care Act—meaning 5 million people will continue to be excluded from equal and affordable access to care.
Read NAPAWF’s press release on the Administration’s actions here. For more specific details about Obama’s plan, visit Adminrelief.org. Check out the resources we prepared, including a fact sheet and talking points, here.
In the weeks that have passed since the midterms, analysts and advocates have had a chance to look more closely at AAPI voter turnout and exit polling. In addition to reports of ongoing barriers to voting faced by AAPIs, largely due to discrimination and lack of language assistance, it was widely noted that AAPIs are the fastest growing ethnic group and swing vote in the country, with a full 40% of AAPIs not identifying with any particular party.
Early news coverage focused on exit polls that found that almost half of AAPIs voted Republican, a sharp contrast from 2012 when 73% of AAPIs voted for Democratic candidates. Many analysts point to the selective and disproportionately low AAPI voter turnout during midterm elections to explain the shift in numbers, however, a more nuanced analysis revealed that the AAPI sample size from these initial polls was only 304 out of 29,581. This means that AAPIs made up between 1.0% to 1.5% of those surveyed – even though AAPIs are estimated to only make up 3% of all voters. In fact, community-specific polling by Asian American Decisions found that 66% of AAPIs voted for Democratic candidates during the midterms. While AAD’s number suggests a more modest shift in AAPI voter preferences since the last elections, it also underscores the potential impact of AAPI influence in future ones.
The big headline of the November elections was the Senate shift in power to the GOP. However, the midterms also reflected a different turning of the tide—overwhelming voter support for initiatives that gave workers paid sick days and that boosted the minimum wage. Even states that have traditionally leaned Republican voted for the measures, which have long been associated with Democrats. Minimum wage increases were passed in Alaska; Arkansas; Nebraska; South Dakota; San Francisco, CA and Oakland, CA. Measures to implement or improve paid sick days were also passed in Massachusetts; Trenton, NJ; Montclair, NJ; and Oakland, CA. At the end of last year, only one state and 6 cities had required paid sick leave, but the total is now up to three states and 16 cities.
According to exit polling by Asian American Decisions, 74% of AAPIs support raising the minimum wage. The share of AAPI women at or below minimum wage more than doubled from 2007 to 2012. Moreover, in 2011, 12.3% of AAPI women—more than 1 million—lived in poverty, compared to 7.7%of white men.
On November 15, the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) online health insurance marketplace reopened to allow millions of Americans to renew their current health insurance plan or to shop for, compare, and enroll in a new one.
Before implementation, approximately 15 percent, or 2.32 million, of Asian Americans and 18 percent of Pacific Islanders did not have access to health insurance—compared to 13 percent of whites. During last year’s open enrollment period, AAPIs accounted for 5.5 percent of all enrollees in the federally facilitated marketplace, more than the 5.1 percent of the total population that was uninsured in 2012.
During this enrollment period, depending on income, financial assistance is available to those who may need help affording coverage. Enrollment is open to U.S. citizens and lawfully present persons, but individuals who are ineligible for coverage may still apply on behalf of other family members without being required to disclose their citizenship or immigration status. Immigrants are encouraged to apply and their immigration information will only be used to verify eligibility.
The marketplace will remain open until February 15, 2015, but to ensure coverage on January 1, 2015, consumers must enroll by December 15, 2014. Enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP, and for small businesses is open all year-round. For more information, including information about where to enroll, please visit HealthCare.gov. To find someone who can help you in person—including non-English language support, visit Localhelp.healthcare.gov.
In a surprise move, on November 7th, the Supreme Court decided to hear a new challenge to provisions of the ACA. This time, King v. Burwell asks the Court to consider the constitutionality of the federal tax subsidies that help eligible low income individuals and families afford a plan in health care exchanges. In creating these subsidies, Congress said that they were intended to be used in exchanges “established by the State.” Challengers to the ACA are asking the Court to interpret that language literally and hold that the law actually limits the availability of tax credits to state-run exchanges. Meanwhile, the Obama Administration is arguing that reading that language in so limited a way as suggested by challengers would go against the program’s broader purpose and be contrary to Congress’s intent.
Since the health care exchanges have been in operation, nearly 5 million individuals have received federal subsidies to help them afford health insurance through the exchange run by the federal government. The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that at least 80% of uninsured AAPIs are eligible for tax credits in the health insurance marketplace under the ACA
The last challenge to the ACA was decided by the Court in 2012 and called into question the constitutionality of the individual mandate and Medicaid expansion.
Last month, a federal appeals court struck down a 2006 Arizona law that denied bail to undocumented immigrants charged with serious crimes. On November 12th, the Supreme Court issued a refusal to block the ruling, allowing undocumented immigrants to once again seek bail while awaiting trial for criminal charges. The Court’s decision does not guarantee bail—that decision will be made by individual judges—but clears the way for bail hearings for immigrants across the state. Arizona’s AAPI community is one of the fastest growing in the nation with a 95% increase between 2000 and 2010.
On November 3rd, the Supreme Court refused to hear two abortion-rights cases, letting stand the lower court rulings for each case.
The first case affirmed a New York City law requiring truth-in-advertising for crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs). Passed in 2011, the law requires CPCs to disclose to patients whether they have a licensed medical provider on staff and whether they provide referrals for abortions, emergency contraception, or prenatal care, and to provide a message that the New York City Department of Health encourages women who are or may be pregnant to consult with a licensed provider. A lower court previously had struck down the law, but a federal court of appeal reinstated the disclosure regarding whether a licensed medical provider is on staff.
The Supreme Court also refused to take up a challenge to Colorado’s buffer zone law, which makes it a crime to “knowingly obstruct, detain, hinder, impede, or block another person’s entry to or exit from a health care facility.” The complaint in that case argued that Colorado’s law was unconstitutionally vague and too broad, but a federal appeals court disagreed.
This month, the Supreme Court allowed same-sex marriages in Kansas and South Carolina to proceed after declining to intervene in cases where lower court judges had ruled each respective state’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. Meanwhile, in Montana, same-sex marriage advocates scored another victory when another ban was struck down by a federal court judge.
Despite this progress, however, November also brought sobering news in the form of a federal appeals court decision upholding bans on same-sex marriage in Tennessee, Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio. Dismissing the equal protection rationale relied upon by the lower courts to overturn bans in the four states at issue, the appeals court ruled that same-sex marriage was an issue that should be left to the democratic process.
The merits of these cases will continue on appeal, but until then, these decisions bring the number of states allowing same-sex couples to marry up to 35.
On November 6th, the White House announced the creation of a new Interagency Initiative on Hate Crimes to address prevention and effective responses to hate crimes. Launched to commemorate the five year anniversary of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the Initiative will be coordinated by the White House Domestic Policy Council and was launched along with several other actions to strengthen and improve the federal government’s ability to prevent and respond to hate crimes.
This month, the White House also launched the AAPI Bullying Prevention Task Force, a joint project of the White House Initiative on AAPIs (WHIAAPI), the Department of Justice, the Department of Education, and the Department of Health and Human Services. More than 25% of all students—nearly 7 million in total—between the ages of 12 and 18 reported being bullied at school during the 2010-11 school year, with some areas reporting significant rates of bullying of AAPI students. For example, on study found that over two-thirds of turbaned Sikh youth in Fresno, California reported experiencing bullying and harassment.
The Task Force will bring together federal experts in civil rights, language access, education, community relations, public health, mental health, and data. This task force will help federal agencies better understand the impediments to seeking relief and support, analyze data regarding the prevalence of bullying in the AAPI community. Consequently, this will help improve outreach, develop training and toolkits for schools, students, and parents. The Task Force will also make policy recommendations to address the AAPI community’s growing concerns about bullying of AAPI Youth.]]>
For Immediate Release
November 25, 2014
Contact: Lyndsay Christian, email@example.com / 212.255.2575
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum stands with Michael Brown’s family and the community of Ferguson
WASHINGTON — In response to the grand jury decision in the Michael Brown shooting, Miriam Yeung, executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF), released the following statement:
“We are profoundly saddened and outraged by the St. Louis County grand jury’s decision. The failure to indict Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, is a national travesty. As an organization that builds a movement daily to advance social justice, this is an extremely painful moment to bear, as justice was not served.
“As an Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women’s organization that works relentlessly to dismantle the systemic layers of racism, discrimination, and injustice that AAPI women face on a constant basis, this decision feels like a big slap across our face. We cannot allow and will not permit this system built on fear to be a deterrent to us in this fight for justice. NAPAWF stands in solidarity with those in the street demanding accountability and justice for Ferguson and the African-American community.
“We strongly urge the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate racial profiling, police brutality, excessive force, and officer-involved shooting policies and practices in the Ferguson Police Department. As a community, we cannot heal until justice is served, and we are going to continue demanding for answers and hold our leaders accountable.”
The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) is the only national, multiissue Asian American 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 White House held its breath as Affordable Care Act open enrollment began for a second time last week. In addition to the prospect of reliving the website malfunctions that occurred when the ACA began, the number of people who take advantage of the ACA this time around is projected to be low. Based on U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) calculations, 9.1 million people are expected to enroll by the end of the enrollment period in February. That is just 1.8 million more than the number enrolled in August.
Given this mediocre prediction, there has been much talk among government officials and healthcare advocates about how to have the best, most robust outreach possible. But these conversations most often ignore the people locked out of healthcare because of their immigration status.
The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, as many call it, is rightfully seen as President Obama’s most pivotal achievement. Even his detractors support some of the act’s provisions. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, more than 10 million people have gained access to health insurance since it first began. Insurance companies can no longer discriminate against people based on a preexisting condition or charge more because of gender, and they are now required to cover prevention and wellness benefits at no charge.
Making health a national priority by ensuring as many people as possible are covered is immensely important for obvious reasons — anyone could get hurt or sick at any time. No person should live in fear that one accident or illness could threaten an entire family’s economic security.
However, there are millions of people living and working in the United States who are unable to access the important benefits made available by the ACA. It has been reported that 112,000 people lost their ACA coverage this year because they did not verify their eligibility based on citizenship and immigration status. Moreover, there are more than 11 million people living in the United States who are ineligible for the ACA at the national level simply due to their immigration status.
More than 550,000 of them are young people, often called “Dreamers,” who came to the United States as children and are, at present, lawfully residing here. These Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program recipients, who have been given reprieve from deportation, were explicitly carved out of the ACA through announcements made by CMS and HHS on Aug. 28, 2012, issued as federal regulations and guidance. The announcement altered federal rules for DACA-eligible people by excluding them from health insurance options available to others with deferred action status.
Immigrants work, pay taxes, and contribute to our communities and our economy. They should have the same responsibilities and opportunity to participate in health care as their friends and neighbors. Further, it’s better and more affordable for all of us when immigrants can participate in the health care system their tax dollars support. Affordable health coverage improves access to preventive care, protects public health, prevents suffering, and puts less strain on under-resourced and costly emergency services. The impact of the large number of uninsured on our economy is huge. It results in a loss of $65 billion to $130 billion annually, consisting of lost wages, absenteeism, and family leave.
Offering DACA recipients the same opportunity for affordable health insurance as people in other deferred action categories would be a strong step toward ending the staggering numbers of uninsured immigrants across the country. This is something the Obama administration can and should take action on immediately for the hundreds of thousands of young people in this program, and a step that would benefit the country as well.
Of course, the number of uninsured would decrease dramatically if everyone, regardless of immigration status, had the opportunity to receive health coverage under the ACA. Everyone needs health care at some point and everyone should pay a fair share.
At this moment, as we await the president’s executive order on immigration reform and begin the second ACA enrollment, this one adjustment would make sure we at least cover the 550,000 young people who have been left out.]]>
For Immediate Release
November 21, 2014 – amended 3:41pm
Contact: Lyndsay Christian, Lyndsay@caminopr.com / 212.255.2575
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum supports the Obama administration’s actions to provide relief to immigrant families
Asian American and Pacific Islander Women to come out of the shadows
WASHINGTON — In response to President Barack Obama’s immigration announcement, Miriam Yeung, executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF), released the following statement:
“The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) joins with immigrant women around the country to celebrate President Barack Obama’s leadership in taking the critical first step to reform the broken immigration system. These reforms include granting relief from deportation and work authorization to over 4 million members of our country’s undocumented community, reforming immigration enforcement practices and dismantling the Secure Communities program, increasing protections for victims of workplace abuse, and indicating an intent to address the backlogs in the family immigration system. Over hundreds of thousands of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women will be able to breathe a sigh of relief today.
“There is no doubt that history was made today — thanks in large part to immigrant women who came out of the shadows and have been fearless advocates for change. Over 75 percent of undocumented immigrants are women and children. Women bear the burden of trying to raise their families while working and living under the constant fear of deportation. The president’s actions bring hope to immigrants across the United States and throughout the world.
“The president heard our calls to enhance protections for survivors of violence against women. We know that AAPI women disproportionately experience intimate partner violence and many come to America seeking refuge from abuse. By ending Secure Communities and by strengthening the visa systems for trafficking and domestic violence survivors, the president did right by our survivors.”
“The victory today also reflects the dedication of many individuals, especially those that have been organizing for decades, courageous undocumented folks of many who were AAPI coming out and stepping up, and allies from all walks of life who understand that immigration reform is a human rights issue. And I’m proud of all the work that NAPAWF has done to get us to this place.
“However, we continue to be disappointed that the many barriers to health care access for our communities remain. Undocumented immigrants eligible for relief programs will not be eligible to participate in the Affordable Care Act — meaning 5 million people will continue to be excluded. Asian Americans already experience barriers to accessing health care, and this only adds to the hardship our communities continue to face.
“NAPAWF is committed in this fight, and we will keep organizing for broad and permanent immigration reform to ensure that all of the 11 million undocumented immigrants — mothers, fathers, and children living, working and contributing to our communities — are able to raise their families without fear. Behind all the statistics are the lived experiences of millions of women suffering under a broken and defective immigration system. Over half, 52.9 percent, of Asian immigrants are women. AAPI women cannot be left out of the conversations about immigration, because immigrant justice is a women’s issue and is central to all women’s equality.
Now is the time for Congress to take President Obama’s lead to ensure that no family is left behind.”
The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) is the only national, multi-issue Asian American 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.]]>
Published in the Minnesota Women’s Press
by May Esperanza Losloso
Immigration has always been an important subject for me. As a 1.5 generation Filipino-American, I have memories of growing up in the Philippines with my mom while my dad lived in the United States. For years, I didn’t understand why my parents were separated by an ocean. I didn’t know why it took nine years for us to be together as a family under one roof.
Fast forward to the immigration debates in the last few years. It has been largely focused on Latinos, but where were the stories of Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs)? Out of the 11 million undocumented immigrants, 1.3 million are AAPIs. Currently, 1.6 million are in the visa backlogs that have families waiting over 20 years to be reunited. Although AAPIs are nearly invisible in the media coverage on immigration, my family’s immigration story is not unique to the AAPI community.
As director of programming for the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) Twin Cities Chapter, I knew I wanted to take action on this issue.
Fasting for families
In December 2013, NAPAWF organized the Fast for Families, where members volunteered to fast for one day during the month. It was more challenging than I thought it would be. I signed up right around the Christmas holidays, and it took a tremendous amount of willpower to get through that day. I thought about why I was fasting, which helped me stay grounded. I wanted to fast in solidarity with all the families who are being separated by our outdated immigration policies. It’s something I knew from personal experience.
In March, NAPAWF launched another Fast for Families campaign. This time, instead of 30 women, more than 1,500 women in 36 states across the United States, in Washington, D.C., and in Mexico City fasted with the We Belong Together campaign. This action culminated in a two-day fast on Capitol Hill, where 100 women fed courage to our elected officials to stop deportations and pass immigration reform.
I participated in that important fast, along with two other leaders from the NAPAWF Twin Cities Chapter. Although we were physically in Minnesota, I definitely felt a connection to the others who were fasting all over the country. I remained informed about how the efforts were going on Capitol Hill; it was uplifting to see photos of members of Congress visiting the women doing the two-day fast at their tent across from the Hill.
Keep the pressure on
Fast for Families amplified our message to stop tearing families apart, but we are still waiting for action from our elected officials. President Obama made promises and I trusted him to follow through with comprehensive immigration reform while he was in office. His inaction has deeply disappointed me as a citizen, as an immigrant and as a woman of color.
It also keeps me motivated to keep working with community organizations such as NAPAWF to make sure our AAPI voices are heard and recognized. Asian-Americans make up 27.7 percent of our country’s immigrant population and over half of us are women. We are critical decision-makers in our families and we were part of a deciding vote in the last presidential election.
As AAPI women, our voices matter, and I remain hungry for comprehensive immigration reform.
May Esperanza Losloso is the director of programming for the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) Twin Cities Chapter.]]>
Many of us woke up this morning to somber news. The results from the 2014 mid-term election brought mostly bad news to progressives though there were definitely some bright spots to celebrate. Even though the topline story was about Republicans having control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate, we are buoyed by the election results in Colorado and North Dakota where fetal personhood amendments were defeated. We celebrate the four states and two cities (Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, San Francisco, and Oakland) that passed ballot initiatives to raise the minimum wage (in addition to Illinois and three counties in Wisconsin which passed non-binding referenda) and Massachusetts and three cities which won paid sick leave victories. Congress will also be welcoming two new AAPI members – Mark Takai from Hawaii and Ted Lieu of California. We also want to send a huge congratulatory note to our friend, sister, and co-chair of our We Belong Together campaign, Pramila Jayapal for winning a Washington State Senate seat.
For those who are wondering how AAPIs fared at the polls yesterday, there is some crucial exit poll data that will emerge shortly but early indications already show that the share of the AAPI vote has grown to close to 3% of the total electorate. This year, according to the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund’s poll watching project (AALDEF), Asian Americans encountered many different barriers at voting sites, ranging from language barriers to improper demands for identification. Despite efforts to suppress our vote, we know that AAPI women are part of a crucial and growing women of color voting bloc that is making a difference. According to the Center for American Progress, Asian American women saw the largest growth as a share of their size—an increase of 107 percent, or 2.7 million voters—since 2000.
As we look forward to the coming year, we need to steady ourselves, continue to build our muscles, and recommit to fighting for issues that affects AAPI women and girls in our community. We know that attacks against our reproductive rights are going to be extreme and unrelenting. And legislative efforts for the kind of immigration policy reform AAPI women need will not be possible under this new Congress. Therefore we must continue to lift up our voices, organize and keep up our fight for human rights and social justice! NAPAWF is in it for the long haul and we hope you are too.
Executive Director, NAPAWF
Since our last issue of AP(eye), immigration reform remains at a standstill after the President’s announcement of his decision to further delay administrative relief. NAPAWF, along with other immigration advocates, continues to push the Administration to continue the conversation around reform and the White House has promised movement before the end of the year. To remind the President of his promise, this month, as co-anchor of the We Belong Together campaign, NAPAWF helped to launch We Belong Together’s annual “A Wish for the Holidays” project. A Wish for the Holidays gives children and youth a chance to write letters and draw pictures sharing one powerful wish with the President: “Keep our families together. Take action now!” In December, a youth delegation will deliver the letters to the President as he prepares to spend time with his own family during the holidays.
If you would like to get involved, check out A Wish for the Holiday’s gallery of letters from last year and download their Activity Guide to learn more about how to get started!
On Tuesday, by a margin of 54 to 46 percent, Tennessee, voters approved Amendment 1, removing protections for abortion under the right of privacy guaranteed under the state constitution. Specifically, the amendment provides that “nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion” and gives Tennessee lawmakers a constitutional right to “enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion.” While supporters of the measure claim that its intent is merely to “neutralize” the law on abortion, its effect would actually be to deprive all pregnant women the full protections of the Tennessee constitution, as explicitly upheld by the Tennessee Supreme Court in 2000. Passage of the law opens the floodgates for stricter and unnecessary regulation on abortion access. Over 100,000 AAPIs live in Tennessee, a number which has almost doubled since 2000.
By contrast, voters soundly defeated personhood measures in Colorado and North Dakota. Colorado’s Amendment 67 was rejected by a vote of 63 to 37 percent. The law would have completely redefined the words “person” and “child” in the criminal code to include “unborn human beings,” criminalizing a woman who deliberately and intentionally terminates her pregnancy, making her guilty of first-degree murder and subjecting her to a sentence of life in prison or death. Two previous personhood amendments had been proposed in Colorado—both were also rejected by voters. AAPIs comprise over 4 percent of Colorado residents.
North Dakota’s constitutional amendment declared: “The inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected.” The measure was voted down by a margin of 64 to 36 percent. Supporters argued that the law would not have created new rights and did not pose a threat to abortion access, but the amendment’s vague language would have been subject to broad interpretation by courts. In addition to affecting abortion rights, the measure would have created barriers to in-vitro fertilization, certain forms of birth control, and dying patient’s end-of-life instructions. North Dakota has one of the fastest growing AAPI populations in the country, increasing by 85 percent between 2000 and 2010.
With days to spare before the upcoming midterm election, the Supreme Court allowed Texas to move forward with enforcement of its controversial new law requiring voters to produce certain types of identification to cast ballots. The law, which has been in effect since June 2013 when the Court effectively struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act, requires voters to provide at least one out of only seven forms of approved identification, including concealed handgun licenses, but not college student IDs.
Early in October, a federal district court had ruled that the law was an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote, concluding that the bills’ sponsors were “motivated, at the very least in part, because of and not merely in spite of the voter ID law’s detrimental effects on the African-American and Hispanic electorate.” Enforcement of the law would result in the potential disenfranchisement of as many as 600,000 voters. The district court’s decision was temporarily set aside by an appeals court because it changed the rules too close to an election. The appeal was considered by the Supreme Court on an emergency basis, and the Court’s order is not a final ruling on the merits.
AAPIs make up 3.4 percent of Texas’ voting age population, a proportion that has grown 60 percent between 2000 and 2010. As one of the fastest growing populations in Texas, many AAPIs were first-time voters on Tuesday. For these individuals, the ID restriction was one additional potential barrier to voting, creating unnecessary confusion around poll access for some and making access impossible for others.
On October 14th, the Supreme Court reinstated a stay blocking enforcement of a provision of HB 2, a controversial 2013 Texas law that would have shut down the majority of abortion clinics in Texas. The provision in question would have required—among other things—that doctors providing abortion services have admitting privileges in hospitals within 30 miles of their clinics and that all abortion clinics must meet the strict requirements for ambulatory surgical centers, including rules governing hallway widths, the presence of showers and lockers, and heating and cooling specifications. Though proponents of the law argue its provisions are meant to protect the health of patients, providers and professional medical associations have consistently stated that the law would actually expose women to increased risks by not enabling them to have a procedure near where they live and potentially forcing some to cross the border into Mexico to seek unsafe and illegal abortions. Moreover, abortion facilities are specifically targeted under such regulatory regimes—no other outpatient facilities are subject to such harsh rules.
Previously a district court had found that these provisions impermissibly imposed an undue burden on a woman’s right to choose whether to terminate her pregnancy. The judge imposed a stay on the law while the case proceeded on appeal, but the stay was later overturned by the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Since HB 2 was passed, almost half of the 40 abortion clinics across Texas have shut their doors. Without the Supreme Court’s decision, that number would have dropped to 8, leaving more than one million potential abortion-seeking Texan women living more than 150 miles from a legal abortion facility.
Texas has the largest Asian American population of any state in the South, totaling over 1.1 million and comprising 4 percent of the general population.
On November 4th, the Oklahoma Supreme Court blocked two recent abortion restrictions from taking effect. Without the court’s intervention, beginning November 1st, Oklahoma would have been allowed to enforce its new anti-abortion admitting privilege requirement and its new restrictions on medication abortion.
Oklahoma’s admitting privilege requirement mandates all clinics that provide abortion services to have a physician on-site with admitting privileges at a local hospital whenever an abortion is performed. In an order handed down on October 24th, a state district court judge ruled that the law likely did not violate due process and that the plaintiff’s inability to obtain admitting privileges in any of the 16 local hospitals did not have any bearing on the law’s constitutionality. The district court also ruled that the plaintiff did not have standing to challenge the law on behalf of his patients. Dr. Larry A. Burns, plaintiff in the lawsuit, argued that the law could force him to shut down his clinic, which performs over 44 percent of the abortions in the state.
The other injunction stops an October 29th district court order that would have allowed the state’s restrictions on medication abortion to remain in effect while the constitutionality of the law is challenged in court. The restriction would have prohibited off-label use of the drug RU-486, used to induce abortions, and bans all medication abortions after 49 days of pregnancy. Adherence to FDA labelling is not required by the agency and different, newer regimens requiring less medication have been scientifically proven to be equally as effective.
Over 80,000 AAPIs call Oklahoma home, a number that grew over 40 percent between 2000 and 2010.
On October 6th, the Supreme Court let stand appeal court decisions allowing same-sex marriage in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin. A move made in a brief series of orders with no further explanation, the Court’s decision does not represent an affirmative judgment about the constitutionality of same-sex marriage. However, the immediate practical effect of the decision was to increase the number of states in which same-sex couples can be married from 19 to 24. Experts predict that allowing the holdings of certain federal courts of appeals to stand will also result in a rollout of same-sex marriage in states within those court’s circuits—up to 30 states, or two-thirds of the states in the U.S.
In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision in Hobby Lobby, California bucked the state trend of narrowing coverage for contraception and became one of the few states to require coverage for most birth control drugs and devices approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration without co-payments, restrictions or delays. SB 1053, signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on September 25th, also expanded the state’s existing contraceptive coverage requirement to Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program.
AAPIs make up 15 percent of California’s population and 30.9 percent of the country’s AAPI population lives in California. National studies have found that AAPI women are substantially less likely to use contraception than their white counterpart. Moreover, 35 percent of pregnancies end in abortion for AAPI women—compared to 18 percent for white women, suggesting that AAPI women may not be engaging in effective contraceptive use.
On September 11th, Missouri overrode the veto of its governor and enacted one of the country’s most stringent waiting periods for women seeking abortion. Once the law takes effect, patients in the state who are seeking to terminate their pregnancy will have to wait 72 hours after receiving initial counseling before they can receive abortion care—a drastic leap from the previous 24-hour waiting period. Because Missouri also requires counseling to take place in person, a patient seeking an abortion must make two trips to a clinic before they can obtain a procedure. This raises the financial and personal cost of accessing abortion services by requiring patients to take additional time off work, arrange for additional child care, and sometimes delay seeking abortion services, which may necessitate a later term and costlier abortion.
The AAPI population in Missouri has almost doubled since 2000 to over 120,000, and represents approximately 2 percent of the general population.]]>
Published in the MinnPost
By Melissa Kwon
This week marks the 38th anniversary of Congress first passing the Hyde Amendment, which bars Medicaid from covering abortion care. This ban, enacted annually through the federal appropriations process, makes abortion unaffordable and often pushes it out of reach for women who are on Medicaid.
Just as disturbing as politicians’ willingness to interfere in personal decisions is the disproportionate impact the Hyde Amendment has on women of color. As an Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) woman, I am very concerned about the impact that the Hyde Amendment continues to have on my AAPI community. Also, being a mother of a daughter in Minnesota, it has become even more personally important to me because I want to ensure that my daughter will grow up in a world where women have the right to make their own decisions about their bodies.
In the United States, 1 in 10 Asian Americans, 1 in 7 Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, and 1 in 5 Southeast Asians are enrolled in Medicaid. These statistics are exacerbated in Minnesota, where there is the largest ratio of Southeast Asians (including Bhutanese, Burmese, Cambodian, Hmong, Karen, Laotian, Thai, and Vietnamese) among all states. Minnesota is home to the second largest Hmong population and third largest Lao population in the United States. Since 32 percent of Hmong, 28 percent of Laotian, 15 percent of Cambodian, and 12 percent of Vietnamese in Minnesota live below the poverty line, a large percentage of the AAPI community in Minnesota is not able to use their Medicaid insurance to cover an abortion.
Working to lift coverage bans
The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) has been actively engaging the AAPI community in fighting to repeal the Hyde Amendment. NAPAWF is one of more than 60 partner organizations in the All* Above All Campaign building support for lifting abortion coverage bans.
Locally, the NAPAWF Twin Cities Chapter recently co-sponsored the All* Above All campaign’s Minneapolis stop on the Be Bold Road Trip, uniting people across the country to stand up against abortion coverage bans. Covering nearly 10,000 miles and visiting 12 cities in 8 states, the tour mobilized millennials, people of color, and other diverse groups to stand up to the avalanche of attempts to disenfranchise them and their reproductive health decision making. The chapter also sent two leaders to All* Above All’s Hill Education Day in Washington, D.C., earlier this month, where representatives from across the U.S. met with legislators in D.C. to tell them about the impact that the Hyde Amendment has on low-income women and women of color.
When it comes to the most important decisions in life, such as whether to become a parent, it is vital that a woman is able to consider all her options, including an abortion, regardless of her financial status. Instead of bans like the Hyde Amendment, it’s time for Congress to lift the restrictions on abortion coverage so women can make decisions based on what’s best for themselves.
Melissa Kwon, PhD, is the Reproductive Justice Leadership and Research Associate Director for the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) and co-chair of the NAPAWF Twin Cities Chapter.]]>
On September 16th, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a resolution condemning “sex-selective abortion bans” for discriminating against Asian American women and restricting access to reproductive health. NAPAWF worked with Board President Supervisor David Chiu to craft the language of the resolution and it was introduced on September 9 with the co-sponsorship of all four women on the Board –Supervisors London Breed, Malia Cohen, Jane Kim, and Katy Tang. NAPAWF sisters and supporters came out to City Hall to testify in support of the resolution.
Sex-selective abortion bans prohibit terminating a pregnancy on the basis of gender and impose criminal or civil penalties on physicians who perform such abortions. This sounds good, but it is a deceptive conservative tactic to chip away at reproductive rights. In a press release, Board President Chiu stated that “The rhetoric used by legislators advocating these measures is perpetuating racial stereotypes, is deeply offensive and can lead to the denial of health care services to women. No woman should ever be scrutinized by her doctor based on her racial or ethnic background, but this is exactly what a sex-selective abortion ban encourages.”
Sex-selective abortion bans are the second most -proposed type of abortion restriction in the country. They have already been introduced in at least 21 states and the United States Congress, and have passed in 8 states. The San Francisco resolution is the first of its kind nationwide to proactively oppose sex-selective abortion bans.
Over 20 organizations stood with NAPAWF in endorsing the resolution, including ACCESS, ACLU of California, Alliance of South Asians Taking Action (ASATA), Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach, Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center, Asian American Women’s Art Association, Asian and Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence, Asian Law Caucus, Asian Pacific Islander American Health Forum, Asian Women’s Shelter, Backline, Center for Reproductive Rights and Justice, Chinese for Affirmative Action, Community Health for Asian Americans, Forward Together, Ibis, Law Students for Reproductive Justice, Law Students for Reproductive Justice- UC Davis, Maitri, NARAL California, Narika, Physicians for Reproductive Health, and Trust Women/Silver Ribbon Campaign.
San Francisco’s population is 33 percent AAPI and 30.9 percent of the country’s AAPI population lives in California.
On September 6th, White House officials announced that the President would delay any steps towards reform until after the midterm elections. After Congress’s failure to enact immigration reform earlier this year, Obama promised to act through his executive powers to repair the nation’s broken immigration system before the summer.
NAPAWF and other immigration advocates swiftly denounced the President’s broken promise. Almost immediately prior to the announcement of the President’s delay, advocates held a rally in front of the White House to demand immediate action for immigration reform. During the rally, NAPAWF staff along with other AAPI community advocates were arrested for civil disobedience.
Approximately 1.3 million AAPIs are undocumented and more than a third of those waiting in the immigration system backlogs are from Asian countries—about 1.6 million AAPIs . Immigrant rights advocates estimate that the additional period of delay would result in the deportation of upwards of 70,000 people, with 1100 or more families broken apart every day.
The September 6th delay was the administration’s response to concerns that political posturing on the issue of immigration could jeopardize Democratic Senate races. However, White House officials stated further “[b]ecause of the Republicans’ extreme politicization of this issue, the president believes it would be harmful to the policy itself and to the long-term prospects for comprehensive immigration reform to announce administrative action before the elections.”
On September 8th, the Seattle City Council unanimously passed a resolution calling for a lift of all restrictions on public and private coverage of abortion care. Part of a movement to pass proactive legislation demanding an end to all federal and state restrictions on insurance coverage of abortion care, Seattle’s resolution also supports efforts to improve access to public and private insurance coverage for comprehensive reproductive health care, including abortion.
The Hyde Amendment, a rider attached to the federal spending budget each year and first passed by Congress in 1976, prohibits the use of federal funds for abortion, except in cases of rape, incest, and life endangerment of the mother. States have the option to cover abortion beyond the federal exceptions using state funds, but according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, only 17 states have chosen to do so–including the state of Washington.
In 2010, AAPIs comprised 9 percent of Washington’s population. One in 10 Asian Americans and 1 in 7 Pacific Islanders are insured through the federal Medicaid program, a ratio that will continue to rise as the Affordable Care Act is implemented. Restricting Medicaid coverage of abortion forces 1 in 4 women to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term, and a woman who wants to get an abortion but is denied is 3 times more likely to fall into poverty than those who can get an abortion.
On September 17th, NAPAWF sisters joined 180 advocates to speak with our lawmakers about the impact bans on abortion coverage have on low income women. The Hill Education Day was organized by All* Above All, a public education campaign that unites organizations and individuals to build support for lifting the bans that deny abortion coverage.
All* Above All also took to the road this summer on the Be Bold Road Trip, travelling over 10,000 miles and visiting over 12 cities to mobilize individuals and organizations to take part in All Above All’s innovative and uplifting campaign to restore public insurance coverage so that every woman, however much she makes, can get affordable, safe abortion care when she needs it.
On August 26th, the highest immigration court in the nation found for the first time that women who are victims of severe domestic violence may be eligible for asylum in the United States. The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) ruled that women fleeing domestic violence can be members of a particular social group, one of the grounds for asylum, and remanded a case involving a Guatemalan woman asylum seeker to the immigration court for a new decision.
In a lawsuit filed on September 17, a group of low-income Californians charged the state with violating a state law that requires the government to process Medicaid applications within 45 days. According to the lawsuit, some applicants have been waiting since the end of last year to receive their Medicaid benefits. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include children, pregnant women, and adults with life-threatening health conditions who as a result of the delay are either postponing critical treatment or paying out-of-pocket to see their doctor.
Expansion of Medi-Cal, California’s system of Medicaid, under the Affordable Care Act resulted in the addition of 2.2 million new participants, bringing the total number of Medicaid patients in the state to about 11 million. The California Department of Health Care Services verified that as of September 1, approximately 350,000 applications remained backlogged in the enrollment system, a marked improvement from earlier this summer, when that number reached as high as 900,000. California officials stated that the approval and verification process has been frustrated by computer problems.
Prior to California’s Medicaid expansion under the ACA, approximately 14 percent of Asian Americans and 15 percent of Pacific Islanders did not have health insurance—a rate higher than Whites (10%). Among AAPI groups those most likely to be uninsured are Koreans (27%), Tongan (25%), Thai (22%), and Cambodian (21%). 22 percent of likely eligible applicants under the ACA expansion were AAPIs.
The controversy surrounding the nomination of Michael P. Boggs for a lifetime appointment as a federal judge appears to be at an end. Earlier this year, President Obama nominated Boggs for a seat on the federal bench in Georgia. Boggs was nominated as part of an “all-or-nothing” package of judicial candidates selected by Republican lawmakers in exchange for ending the filibuster of another judicial nominee. However, while others in the pre-selected package have moved forward in the confirmation process, Boggs’ nomination has been stalled by controversy.
During his time as a Georgia state legislator, Boggs voted to keep the Confederate symbol on the state flag, voted against same-sex marriage, and supported numerous extreme anti-choice measures—including one that would publish the name and personal information of providers who performed abortions online.
During an interview with the New York Times on September 22, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, stated that Boggs “doesn’t have the votes” to pass the committee. In response, the White House stated that it has no plans to ask Boggs to withdraw his nomination as a candidate and that “the president believes that Judge Boggs has the qualifications to serve in this role.” If Boggs chooses not to withdraw his candidacy, the nomination will automatically expire at the end of the year.
On September 22, the Obama Administration unveiled a public awareness and education campaign, “It’s On Us,” to engage college students in preventing sexual assaults. Community leaders, including NAPAWF’s Executive Director, Miriam Yeung, joined the White House for the campaign’s launch.
In addition to producing multiple PSAs that highlight the issue of campus sexual assault, the campaign will also provide resources for students and administrators at ItsOnUs.org and NotAlone.gov. According to a press release, the campaign’s ultimate goal is to “fundamentally shift the way we think about sexual assault, by inspiring everyone to see it as their responsibility to do something, big or small, to prevent it.”
A 2010 NAPAWF report found that although AAPI women experience more campus sexual assault on average than all other ethnic groups, they are less likely to report it.]]>