By Guest Contributor: Mark Tseng Putterman (@tsengputterman)
Dear Senator Hirono (@mazieforhawaii),
On inauguration day, you promised your commitment to “resist any attempt the President makes to dismantle the progress we’ve made” on issues of health care, immigrant rights, civil rights, and economic justice. The next day, you joined hundreds of thousands of women and supporters at the Women’s March in D.C. — tweeting: “Aloha trumps hate & we will not back down”.
These admirable sentiments are all the more powerful coming from you, our first Asian American woman senator, and a longtime advocate for Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. But in these times of political crisis, we know that every single vote counts.
That’s why I was so disappointed to see that on January 20, the same day you promised to resist Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda, you used your vote to help confirm his nominee, John Kelly, as Secretary of Homeland Security.
Trump is already doubling down on turning his heinous anti-immigrant campaign promises into federal policy. That means Kelly will be the enforcer of increased border militarization, immigration raids, and the tearing apart of families. Your colleague, Senator Harris, chose to vote against Kelly, citing his “failure to provide assurances” to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. I wish you could have joined Harris in taking a stand for immigrant rights. Our AAPI immigrant communities — including 1.5 million who are undocumented, and 169,000 who are DACA-eligible — deserve safety and security. We deserve better than Donald Trump. We deserve better than John Kelly.
Every vote — even if symbolic — is an opportunity to delegitimize Trump and the racist, Islamophobic, anti-immigrant waves that carried him into the Oval Office. This week, over 100 AAPI organizations issued a statement of collective resistance against the Trump administration. We are committed to this fight. But we know that in order to win we must have our AAPI elected officials on board.
We invite you to join the resistance. Help us stop Rex Tillerson from putting corporate oil in the driver’s seat of our country’s foreign policy. Help us block Jeff Sessions, a man who lauded anti-Asian immigration quotas that for decades barred our entry, from becoming the chief law enforcement officer of the land. We ask you to carry our concerns to the Senate floor with every vote, to fight side by side with us as we build a resistance strong enough to insist on a moral future for this country so riddled by hate, greed, and white supremacy. Our communities deserve no less.
Mark Tseng Putterman, Guest Writer
Mark Tseng Putterman (@tsengputterman) is thinking, organizing, and writing at the intersections of Asian American, Jewish, and mixed race identity and political movements. He is a 2016-2017 Visiting Scholar at the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU.
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To encourage better and broader civic engagement within the AAPI community in Trump’s America, #DearMyAAPIRep is a new feature that will appear semi-regularly in 2017 that will feature an open letter written to specific Asian American & Pacific Islander elected officials. Each letter will highlight an issue of particular relevance to the AAPI community and will invite a response from our elected officials.
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