Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Say “Never Again”
The AAPI community has seen dark chapters in U.S. history, and we must remind our nation not to repeat the mistakes of the past.
The following are remarks from National Director of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) Christopher Kang at a press conference with the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus to oppose President Donald Trump’s executive order banning Muslims and refugees from entering the United States.
The United States is a country of justice, opportunity, and liberty, but there’s no question that there have been dark chapters in our nation’s history, and that the Asian American community has seen some of those chapters. We’ve lived through them — the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the forced internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, the special registration of foreign nationals from 25 countries in the aftermath of 9/11. Not one of those things did anything to keep our country safe. No single person has been convicted of an act of terrorism or espionage in any of these programs. They were imposed under the guise of keeping up safe but really sought to divide us.
The Asian American and Pacific Islander community is proud to stand here and to remind this nation of these chapters in our history. We have the responsibility to remind our nation ‘never again,’ and we have the privilege to speak on behalf of our ancestors who could not come to this country, to our ancestors who were discriminated against, who were interned and who were profiled, and who may not have the opportunity to tell their own story. We have that opportunity and privilege and responsibility to stand up for them and to make sure this country remembers ‘never again.’
We have to remind people of what refugees bring to this country and why our country and indeed the entire world demands that refugees who are fleeing violence and persecution be accepted and given safe haven.
The Asian American community also has the opportunity to remind this country of its true values — those values of opportunity and justice and equality, the values that led Southeast Asian Americans, many of them coming over the past decades as refugees, to become an incredible, growing part of our Asian American community — enriching the diversity of not only the Asian American community, but of our entire nation. We have to remind people of what refugees bring to this country and why our country and indeed the entire world demands that refugees who are fleeing violence and persecution be accepted and given safe haven. We have to remind this nation of the underlying principle of being a welcoming nation, a nation of immigrants, a nation that my father came to as a blind Korean person who could not have an opportunity for education or employment in Korea, and who came here to become the first blind Korean person to earn a Ph.D. and even advise President George W. Bush on disability policy. That’s the story of so many people who come to this country looking for promise and opportunity. That’s the kind of story that we need to remind this nation of: that we are better than this.
We as Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders stand here to both remind this country of the promise that it holds out to us and to remind it ‘never again.’ We are so proud to stand here with CAPAC as they fight in Congress to repeal and defund these executive orders. I also am proud that, while the Senate Judiciary Committee today advances the nomination of Jeff Sessions to become our Attorney General and who would implement this policy, CAPAC as well as CBC and CHC have stood strong to oppose this nomination. We need a government, an Attorney General, and judges that will stand up to this president when he seeks any policy that goes beyond the law and beyond the Constitution. This is only the first and probably not the last of these executive orders we will see and I’m so proud to have the leadership of these members of Congress to speak for us and to fight for us.