Statement on Immigration

February 7, 2018

Commonwealth of Massachusetts Asian American Commission (AAC) Statement in Support of a Clean DREAM Act and Southeast Asian Refugee MOUs

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Asian American Commission is dedicated to promoting the rich diversity that Asian Americans and all immigrants and refugees offer to the Commonwealth. In recent months, two immigration policies have directly impacted the well-being and integration of Asian Americans throughout the state. We encourage our state leaders to uphold our historic legacy of welcoming immigrants and refugees into our communities locally and nationally.

On September 5, 2017, it was announced that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program would not be renewed, putting 800,000 DACA recipients, including over 30,000 Asian Americans, at risk for deportation. In Massachusetts, 20% of DACA eligible youth are of Asian descent. DACA youth came to the U.S. as young children and have spent their entire childhood in this country. They have contributed to the rich learning experiences in the classroom, to the economic and innovative vibrancy of nation, and even to the defense of the U.S. abroad as members of the military. The Massachusetts Asian American Commission supports the extension of DACA eligibility for college admissions within the state, and for the swift passage of a clean DREAM Act, without additional funding for enforcement or a border wall, in January 2018 before the program expires. The DREAM Act should focus solely on the extension of DACA for these youth, who came to the United States as children and have been productive members of Massachusetts and the country.

Secondly, Cambodian and Vietnamese refugees from the Viet Nam war have resettled in Massachusetts over forty years, constituting the second largest and fifth largest populations in the U.S. respectively. In the summer of 2017, over half of the deportations to Cambodia came from Lowell, MA. The Cambodian government called for a moratorium on deportations of those who came as refugees, citing the intense trauma from the genocide they experienced in the 1970s that resulted in their flight. Cambodia requested a dialogue to revisit the current Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the U.S. to accept refugee deportees. The U.S. has responded instead with visa sanctions and an unprecedented number of detentions of Cambodian refugees

throughout the country. In December 2017, the deportations resumed. Additionally, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has also violated the existing MOU with Viet Nam, which states that Viet Nam would not accept refugees from the Viet Nam war. DHS has begun to deportation proceedings for these refugees regardless. These practices are creating a sense of collective fear and re-traumatizing these communities who fled from genocide and war to the refuge of the U.S. We encourage the U.S. government to respect the current MOU with Viet Nam and prioritize a diplomatic process to renegotiate the MOU with Cambodia.

Massachusetts is a model for immigration and integration. We believe in the promise of America as the beacon of hope and refuge for people escaping violence and death. Let us live up to the ideal of who we are as a nation.


February 9, 2017

Commonwealth of Massachusetts Asian American Commission (AAC) Statement on Immigration

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Asian American Commission (AAC) is the only governmental nonpartisan organization representing our diverse and multi-faceted Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities in our state. AAPIs are the fastest growing racial group nationally and in our Commonwealth, and are expected to reach an estimated national population size of 40 million by 2060. Importantly, two-thirds of all AAPIs in the United States were born outside of this country, designating AAPIs as the racial group with the highest proportion of foreign-born residents in the United States. Immigrants are the backbone of our AAPI communities, and our AAPI immigrants have contributed significantly to the accomplishments and achievements of this country.

Recent events and decisions at the federal level affecting the immigration of certain members of our national community recall to mind similarly restrictive policies which directly impacted AAPIs in this country’s recent history.

This year we will observe the 75th anniversary of the Executive Order 9066 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, which led to over 100,000 Japanese Americans being forced into internment camps across the United States, due to fears that these American citizens of Japanese descent were a threat to national security.  2017 will also mark 135 years since the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed, which was the first law implemented in the United States that prevented a specific ethnic group from immigrating to this country, based largely on concerns that Chinese laborers were negatively impacting the wages and the economy of municipalities where they worked. Subsequently, beginning in the 1920’s, restrictions on AAPI immigration remained in place via a quota system that disfavored immigrants from Asian countries, until the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965.

It is this historical context of our own AAPI community members being targeted, limited, or restricted, based on our race, ethnicity, or country of origin, which prompts the AAC to express our support for those affected by current federal policy decisions concerning entry to the United States.

Let’s not repeat history.  Many of us In the AAPI communities are immigrants or refugees ourselves, or are the daughters and sons of immigrants and refugees, and would not be here in the United States today, had the immigration policies remained as they were before the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965.

Local, statewide, and national contributions have been made by residents and citizens of the United States, of diverse ancestry.   The United States of America is home to all of us, but particularly for those who chose to seek liberty, happiness, and a better life in this nation by leaving behind their country of origin, the American Dream is a real goal and not an abstract concept.

What can you do?  Take action by contacting your local non-profits, your elected city, municipal, and state officials, your advocacy groups, and other supporters.  The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Asian American Commission would like to laud those organizations which have already taken a stance in support of immigration rights and have shared messages of unity with their community members. We, Staff and Commissioners of the AAC, stand in support of all our country’s many immigrants and refugees, who have helped make this nation great.