In the News – CAA

April 16, 2019
Immigrants Seek To Expand Civic Footprint

“[…] Chinese for Affirmative Action, a group that advocates for civil rights for Chinese Americans, formed the collaborative as a way to partner with multi-racial, multilingual groups and reach as many parents in the African, Central and South American and Chinese immigrant communities as possible. 

The collaborative was formed in 2017 to educate and attempt to boost civic participation among immigrant communities in San Francisco, according to Hong Mei Pang, director of advocacy for CAA. 

It consists of the African Advocacy Network, CARECEN, CAA, Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth, La Raza Community Resource Center, Mission Economic Development and Mission Graduates. 

The groups held workshops, led trainings, and created brochures and other material in six languages. They estimate that they were able to reach more than 60,000 potential voters in San Francisco. 

The outreach consisted of workshops and forums that taught parents not only how to register to vote but where they could talk about the importance of voting as a conduit to affecting their child’s education. 

‘Our work at that moment was to educate the community of these new rights that they had, to inform them of the risks associated with participating in the elections, and to refer community members to the vast networks of safety nets that exist,’ Pang said.”

February 8, 2019
Amid a climate of fear, SF prepares for first online US Census (San Francisco Examiner)

“[…] The City has already budgeted $2 million for the outreach effort, including $850,000 a year for nonprofits to do outreach work, such as walking door-to-door and holding events. A request for proposals to obtain the funding is expected to go out this spring. Efforts to ensure residents participate in the census are expected to begin in July.

The City also plans to assemble a Complete Count Committee, as they did in 2009 for the 2010 census, by April. And The City will also open up later this year a Census Assistance Center at 27 Van Ness Ave., near City Hall.

Hong Mei Pang, director of advocacy for Chinese for Affirmative Action, a nonprofit based in Chinatown that has helped with census counts since 1970, said that in the 2010 count they worked with other groups and the US Census Bureau to connect with 50,000 hard-to-count households.

‘We really want to use the census as an opportunity to encourage civic partnership and civic engagement of immigrant families from a place of power, not panic,’ Pang said.”

November 6, 2018
Noncitizens Allowed to Vote in S.F. School Board Election, But Few Will (KQED)

“[…] Arntz said San Francisco’s Office of Civic Engagement & Immigration Affairs is working with a set of local immigration support groups to provide advice and information for noncitizens, including those seeking to find out if their status might be potentially harmed by registering to vote.

One such support group is Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA).

‘Given the political climate, it’s so important that voters are aware that this visibility to the federal government is present,’ said Hong Mei Pang, director of advocacy for CAA.

‘How it would affect their immigration situation differs from family to family. So our work is really making sure that community members are aware and that they are making the best decision they can for their families.’ “

October 15, 2018
The Rise and Fall of Affirmative Action (The New Yorker)

“[…] Vincent Pan, the co-head of Chinese for Affirmative Action, told me that when he describes affirmative action in terms of employment opportunities, or hiring more Asian-American judges or college faculty, people overwhelmingly support it. He rued how narrow the discussion had become, confined to a few places at the nation’s élite institutions. He pointed out that there are more Asian-Americans in San Francisco’s community colleges than in all the Ivy League schools combined.

While the Harvard admissions process sucks up the headlines, Asian-Americans have benefitted as much as anyone else from increased opportunities in education, employment, and government service. And the current terms of debate don’t capture the full complexity of the Asian-American community. Researchers believe that efforts toward ‘data disaggregation,’ or the breaking down of large categories, like Asian-American, into smaller, more descriptive subgroups, could bring increased focus to poor, underserved populations, like Southeast Asians.”

October 4, 2018
Fear surrounds Trump’s proposed changes to benefits policy for immigrants (San Francisco Examiner)

“[…] Public charge is used to evaluate immigrants at two junctures: when an individual is seeking to enter the United States and when an individual is applying for a green card. So, this new rule will affect legal residents as well as family members looking to join their relatives here.

Eugene Lau of Chinese for Affirmative Action in San Francisco stated in a press release that the change would make immigration sponsorship more difficult ‘especially for those who are already waiting decades to reunite with their families, and deportations become further skewed against working families who access programs they help pay for.’

Besides penalizing the use of government sponsored benefits, what’s rather loosely defined and therefore more alarming, since it gives discretionary power to DHS, is a set of circumstances that could adversely influence the public charge decision. These include being under 18, over 65, having limited English proficiency, having a medical condition, having numerous children or dependents, not having private health insurance or having no employment history.”

October 1, 2018
Activists, Legislators Fear Bill Could Lead To Profiling Of Chinese Students (Huffington Post)

“[…] Cynthia Choi, co-executive director of Chinese for Affirmative Action and a member of End National Security Scapegoating, called Rooney “irresponsible” for “sanctioning” racial profiling.

“The proposed bill is a bogus attempt to whip up fear and animosity towards Chinese and Chinese Americans. This form of painting an entire group as spies and an existential threat to American universities and technology is just wrong,” Choi said.

Rooney’s comments mirror FBI Director Christopher Wray’s remarks in a February hearing that prompted a great deal of backlash from Asian-American civil rights organizations. Wray had labeled China a “whole-of-society threat” and accused Chinese individuals in academia of “taking advantage” of the American research environment.”

August 11, 2018
Groups push to guarantee jobs for local residents in proposed Central SoMA plan (San Francisco Examiner)

“[…] Unions and community advocates are pushing for a requirement to help local residents get some of the tens of thousands of new jobs the proposed Central SOMA plan will create through the development of hotels, office and retail space.

Groups like Jobs with Justice, Chinese for Affirmative Action, Unite Here Local 2 are pushing for a ‘Good Jobs Employment Plan’ requirement for new large non-residential developments in the Central SoMa Plan area.

The proposal is intended to help SoMa residents and disadvantaged residents secure jobs like security guards and custodians but also even engineering and programming jobs with tech companies.

Gordon Mar, executive director of the Jobs with Justice, said The City has spent a lot of time focusing on the housing and development aspects of the plan but ‘we feel there’s a need to look at the job side of it and who is going to fill those jobs.’ “

June 6, 2018
Why we must rename Julius Kahn Playground (SF Examiner)

Op-Ed by Jane Chin, interim executive director of the Chinese Historical Society of America and Cynthia Choi, co-executive director of Chinese for Affirmative Action.

“[…] Congressman Julius Kahn represented San Francisco in the early 1900s until his death in 1924. He was an influential figure of his time and played a prominent role in the creation of a park that was named in his honor in 1926. But Kahn, using his great influence, also led the United States on a mission of exclusion and ethnic cleansing.

The Chinese Exclusion Act, originally signed into law on May 6, 1882, extended by the Geary Act in 1892 and made permanent by the ‘Kahn Bill’ in 1902, excluded Chinese laborers from entering the U.S. under the purported fear that they endangered ‘the good order of certain localities.’ This act was the first time in American history that the country barred entry of a specific ethnic group.

Chinese Exclusion tore families apart, unabashedly minimized the population of ethnic Chinese in America and reduced the race to a second class. The act required Chinese people already in the U.S. to obtain certifications to re-enter the country if they left, making it difficult and risky for them to travel back to China to see their families. It also prohibited state and federal courts from granting Chinese persons citizenship, even for those who were already in the U.S. And when extended, the act required that each Chinese resident register and obtain a certificate of residence, or else face deportation. “

May 10 2018
Non-citizens voting in SF school board elections to get immigration warning (San Francisco, Examiner)

“[…] Hong Mei Pang, Chinese for Affirmative Action’s director of advocacy, said that in 2016 ‘something amazing happened’ when non-citizen parents of schoolchildren were ‘enfranchised’ by the measure’s passage but, at same time, ‘there was also a terrible turn on the federal [level] where the political climate shifted to create a lot of fear and panic in the community.’

She said the measure’s backers want to confront the fear. “Despite the threats … community members are exercising power, not panic and we are invested in a successful implementation through a multi-prong approach.”

The legislation, she said, will ‘help immigrant families weigh their options by providing them with notice of the risks associated with becoming discoverable to the federal government.’ ”