Yesterday, I had the opportunity to observe a panel on immigration reform that featured Jose Antonio Vargas. I attended the event with two of my friends, both of whom are also AAPI interns in D.C. this summer. At one point during the panel, the moderator framed the current immigration bill as a civil rights movement for Latinos. When he said that, all three of us cringed. I heard stories of undocumented AAPI experiences that belong to a Pakistani child who immigrated for facilities that treat cancer, a Chinese immigrant who overstayed her visa because her father’s rash prevented everyone in their family from being fingerprinted, and more. This issue affects our communities on multiple levels. It’s an AAPI issue that attacks the way our different communities honor family and challenges our claim to being American.
Immediately after the moderator asked his question, two of the panelists responded by saying that this is an AAPI issue in addition to being a Latino issue. For the three of us, it was only too obvious. However, knowing that this fact still needs to be continually uttered through the panelists’ responses and this blog post is a reminder that not everybody remembers our stake in immigration. Consequently, it’s a reminder that not everybody remembers we have a stake in being American. As a queer person of color, I know only too well the feeling of “coming out” and acknowledging my identity. Coming out is what allowed us to be recognized and acknowledged beyond the stereotypes that others hold. For many undocumented AAPI immigrants, coming out of the shadows is their way of asking for that same recognition. As a result, it is critical that we remember immigration reform is also an AAPI issue.