Statement from APALA National President Johanna Puno Hester

Contact: Diana Bui
 

Statement from APALA National President Johanna Puno Hester

Mixed Supreme Court decisions must strengthen our resolve  

to further civil rights for all

June 28, 2013 – This week has truly sparked a nationwide debate on equality and civil rights. From marriage equality to voter protection to affirmative action, we as a country must unite through our values to ensure civil rights for all community members. The Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO, the first and only national organization for Asian Pacific American workers and allies, is deeply impacted by the Supreme Court rulings which leave us at a crossroad in our movement going forward.

I am encouraged by the Supreme Court decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act and rule out the appeal of the overturned Prop 8 ruling in 2009. This is a huge step forward for the LGBT community in gaining equal protection under the law. The 5-4 Supreme Court vote allows same-sex couples to have access to the same benefits as heterosexual couples including family reunification.  What the Senate could not and refused to do in the negotiation of the Senate immigration bill S.744, this decision has accomplished. It will clear the path for LGBT Americans to petition for and reunite with their loves ones if immigration reform passes into law.  As an ally, I celebrate this victory with my LGBT brothers and sisters, and will continue to uplift other issues that intersect across communities. I thank Justices Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan for standing strong on the right side of history.

However, I am extremely disappointed by the 5-4 Supreme Court decision to gut Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). By effectively striking down the heart of VRA, state election laws will change without advance federal approval. This will already allow nine states, most with a long history of racism and discrimination, to disenfranchise and deter voters from diverse communities. The legacy and fundamental principles the civil rights movements are at stake. Justice Scalia, one of five justices who argued that Section 5 is outdated, has severely underestimated the impact and need of voter protection from discrimination. Over the years, APALA has fought to protect and empower voters from the ongoing assault against civic participation. From extreme voter I.D. laws to voter suppression tactics, voters have long endured strategies to strip them of their rights. The Voting Rights Act plays a vital role in allowing as many people to vote as possible.  APALA, along-side diverse communities and labor unions, will continue to fight against discriminatory practices.

On Monday, the Supreme Court gave an unresolved ruling on Fisher vs University of Texas, a case involving diverse inclusion and affirmation action within college admissions. The 7-1 vote will send the case back to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals for reconsideration. The lack of clarity from the highest court in our country leaves us at a standstill on diversity inclusion across all college campuses. Once again, the legacy of the civil rights movement of the 1960s calls on our communities to speak out and stand up for justice.

I continue to remain vigilant and committed to addressing equality and equity for all communities, especially those that have long been marginalized and oppressed. Though the Supreme Court decisions deeply and widely impact the lives of our community members, we must remind ourselves that our communities hold the power to fight for our families and our future.

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The Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), AFL-CIO was founded in 1992 as the first and only national organization for Asian Pacific American union members to advance worker, immigrant and civil rights. For more information, visit www.apalanet.org and follow@APALAnational

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APALA-DC Rallies for Family Unity at the AAPI Day of Action for Immigration Reform

stand w/ families rally

Yesterday, APALA-DC joined immigrant families and allies from over 20 different states in front of the Capitol to rally for fair and just immigration reform. Community leaders spoke to the energized crowd, along with Reps. Judy Chu (CA) Jan Schakowsky (IL).

“Our message is clear,” said APALA’s own Greg Cendana, “America needs united immigrant families for a stronger economy…We will not stand idly by as fathers, mothers and children are detained or deported as immigration reform draws closer. We will not be silenced while family reunification is being used as a bargaining chip in exchange for big business where working Americans are displaced and immigrant workers are exploited by employers seeking to cut costs.”

Stand w/ Families Rally

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Welcome the 2013-2015 APALA-DC Board members!

President: Jenny Ho

Secretary-Treasurer: Samar Malik

Vice President of Communications: Heather Laverty (re-elected)

Vice President of Community Outreach: Jessica Cendana

Vice President of Membership Development: Alvina Yeh

*DC Chapter Representative to the National Executive Board: Jenny Ho

According to our by-laws: 
Section 7:  If only one candidate is nominated for an officer position, then that candidate shall be declared elected

Huge shout out and thank you to our former President Katrina Dizon and former Vice President of Community Outreach Ja-Rei Wang for their dedication and work.

Statement from APALA National President Johanna Puno Hester on Immigration Bill Passage to Full Senate

Contact: Diana Bui
 

Statement from APALA National President Johanna Puno Hester on

Immigration Bill Passage to Full Senate

May 22, 2013 – Yesterday marked an important step towards fully realized comprehensive immigration reform. The Senate Judiciary Committee successfully passed the immigration bill with a 13-5 bi-partisan vote. Throughout the two week process, we saw many victories and lost ground with some amendments including family unity for siblings, adult children, and same sex bi-national couples. As the bill moves to the full Senate and in the House, the fight and our work, continues.

I applaud champions such as Senator Richard Blumenthal who offered many amendments that passed on worker protections including labor recruitment regulations to combat trafficking and abuses. Cases like those of the Grand Isle Shipyard workers recruited from the Philippines to Louisiana under false pretenses and harsh conditions will be prevented in the future. Employment based immigration must be transparent, humane and close the loopholes on predatory practices.

The leadership and courage of Senator Mazie Hirono showed the nation that key issues affecting Asian American and Pacific Islanders matter. We thank Senator Hirono and supporters of family reunification for Filipino World War II veterans and access to federal financial aid for DREAMers. Our community has been organizing for years across generations for both the veterans and DREAMers. While I am hopeful for progress, APALA members and allies will continue to mobilize and protect the roadmap to citizenship for the 11 million aspiring citizens.

The largest and deepest cut to our communities is the exclusion of siblings, adult children over 31 years of age, and same-sex bi-national couples from family reunification. Senator Hirono and Senator Leahy were shutdown on their amendments to expand the definition of family. I am personally impacted by family reunification and am extremely disappointed that family unity has become a bargaining chip.

Community and labor across the country will continue to make our voices heard and watch closely as comprehensive immigration reform continues to the full Senate. We will make calls, mobilize in district and share our stories to urge members of congress to stand on the right side of history. The time is now for commonsense legislation.

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The Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), AFL-CIO was founded in 1992 as the first and only national organization for Asian Pacific American union members to advance worker, immigrant and civil rights. For more information, visit www.apalanet.org and follow@APALAnational

Election Time

It’s been an amazing two years working with all of you to advance socioeconomic justice in the AAPI community. We are so grateful for the support and dedication of all our members and allies– you keep us steadfast in our DSC03155commitment to build a strong labor movement that works to fight for the middle class!

The APALA-DC board has been honored to serve this chapter the past two years. With our Bi-Annual Convention coming up this August in Las Vegas, it is time to open up the floor for nominations to the 2013-2015 APALA-DC board! We encourage all 2013 members to consider stepping up into a leadership role to build APALA-DC’s work for the future.

The following positions are open for nomination:

President (must be a union member)
Secretary-Treasurer
Vice President of Communications
Vice President of Community Outreach
Vice President of Membership Development
DC Chapter Representative to the National Executive Board (must be a union member)

To include yourself in the running or to nominate a fellow member, please email your/his/her resume and 250 word bio to katrina.dizon@gmail.com by COB on Monday, May 20, 2013. Find the attached document listing a brief description for each position. Only current, dues paying members of APALA-DC are eligible to run and vote. If you haven’t done so yet, you can update your membership online.

Celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month with APALA

The Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) and the AFL-CIO cordially invites you to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month with us. The reception will take place at the AFL-CIO on Monday, May 6, 2013 from 5:00 to 7:00 pm and will feature remarks by AFL-CIO President, Richard Trumka. Refreshments will be served. Please RSVP by April 30th to confirm attendance:bit.ly/APAHMcelebration

My Story on Why Time Is Now for Commonsense Immigration Reform

By Ann Marie Tran, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance Intern

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On April 10th worker, immigrant and civil rights advocates, including many members the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) from multiple states will be a part of rally in support of citizenship for the 11 million Americans who are undocumented at West lawn of the Capital.

I will be present at the rally in support of my own family members and friends who have/had once arrived in the United States as aspiring citizens. I have witnessed their struggles and successes and hope to stand amongst other allies and constituents, who will be taking their personal stories to the members of Congress on April 10th to advocate for a more reasonable and humane roadmap to citizenship.

The immigrant community deserves the right to a reasonable pathway to citizenship, protection and civil rights in the workplace, viable resources to integrate into American society and community without discrimination practices in enforcement, better conditions and judiciary system regarding detention, improved health care system, and, lastly, equal treatment for all regardless of status, gender, age, and sexual orientation.

As a first generation daughter of Vietnamese refugee immigrants, I have first hand experience with the hardships and struggles as well as the accomplishments achieved by my parents and other aspiring Americans.

At about age 20, both my parents were forced by the politics of the Vietnam War to migrate from their homeland to the United States. Once we arrived, they saw the opportunity to create a new and improved life for themselves, my sisters and me.

To help us fall asleep, they would sing us lullabies in sweet melodies of broken English rather than symphonies of gunshots and crescendos of dropping bombs. We complained about our plates full of unwanted vegetables unaware of our mother’s experience in a refugee camp surviving off of small portions of expired food. In exchange for the long hours of work, which limited their interaction with each other to only 30 minutes a day for first few years, my parents earned enough to ensure we have access to a quality education.

My sisters and I are products of the hard work and sacrifices that many immigrant families similarly put forth to support their families.

I plan on not only attending the rally on Wednesday, April 10, I also will hold the experiences of my parents close to me and remember them as chant, “The Time Is Now.” I look forward to being a part of the history that brought my parents to America as well as fighting for the security and welfare of all immigrants who share the same goals of a brighter future.

Will you join me? For more information for the Rally for Citizenship, visit: http://www.citizenship-now.org/ or email APALA’s DC Chapter President Katrina Dizon at Katrina.Dizon@gmail.com.

Ann Marie Tran is a third-year undergraduate student at the University of California Santa Cruz. She is a double major in Sociology and History of Art & Visual Cultures as well as a minor in Education. She is currently a participant of the University of California at Washington DC (UCDC) program through which she is interning with the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA).