Asian American and Pacific Islander communities face many of the same issues with voting access as other minority communities. The AAPI community includes many Americans who do not speak English as a first language, yet voting materials are often presented in just a few languages (if any non-English language at all). In order to ensure that more AAPI Americans exercise their right to vote, voting materials need to be provided in as many languages as is appropriate for a given community.
We value the multitude of communities under the AAPI umbrella, from the ways we identify to our varied experiences. We view our diversity as a strength, and will prioritize growing and strengthening our causes through our collective differences. We aim to empower unique voices across our community and to hold ourselves accountable to push for initiatives that are best for our wider community.
Intersectionality is the understanding of an individual’s social and political identities not as static and separate, but as dynamic processes influenced and connected to each other. Ranging from gender and sexuality to economic or disability status, there are countless intersections with the Asian American and Pacific Islander American identity.
For example, those who hold both LGBTQA+ and AAPI identities “[experience] complex dynamics at the intersectionality of their ethnic identities and sexualities”. AAPI with disabilities report more instances of everyday discrimination and higher stress than AAPI without disabilities.
As the AAPI Caucus, we recognise that different members of our community will face unique circumstances due to other identities they hold.
2.2 Discrimination Against AAPI
Discrimination against AAPI Americans has always been present in American society. Yet the issue has become more prominent in recent years: AAPI Americans are more likely to be blamed for a variety of issues, ranging from the current coronavirus pandemic to struggles with employment. To combat this discrimination, the voices of AAPI Americans need to be heard, to raise awareness and fix the problems that AAPI Americans have been facing for generations.
2.3. Intra-community inequality
The AAPI community includes nearly 50 diverse racial and ethnic groups. However, research on this community, and the diversity within it, is sparse, due to the perception that the AAPI community is generally perceived to be not as disadvantaged as other minority communities. Yet income inequality within the AAPI community nearly doubled between 1970 to 2016, and some AAPI communities make, on average, less than half of their more well-off AAPI counterparts.
This is compounded by a lack of academic and statistical research into the challenges facing AAPI communities, due to the aforementioned perception that these communities are not as disadvantaged. This lack of data limits the ability to fight for structural change within these communities.
2.4. Political Representation
American politics is enhanced when it reflects the diversity in American communities. Like other minority communities, AAPI politicians are under-represented in state and national politics: for example, only 3% of the House of Representatives identifies as AAPI, despite making up 7% of the broader American population.
A better, more accessible system to elevate, support and nominate AAPI politicians for political office at all levels of government will help ensure a government that is more responsive to the concerns of minority communities.
Immigration is a core issue for the AAPI community: in 2019, 28.2% of immigrants into the United States were AAPI.
Many of the protections for undocumented migrants in the United States affect the AAPI community. Almost 16,000 AAPI individuals received protection from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, and an additional 120,000 AAPI individuals were eligible for protection. In addition, changes to Temporary Protected Status also affect the AAPI community: specifically, current plans to remove TPS status for Nepali nationals is under review in court.
4. Affirmative Action
The AAPI Caucus supports efforts to promote diversity in American higher education. America’s student populations should reflect the diversity of the American population, yet minority communities often lack the opportunities and signals that more privileged communities have access to.
Despite assertions to the contrary, affirmative action programs do not limit educational opportunities for AAPI students. Evidence from California’s repeal of affirmative action in 1996 showed that this decreased the number of Black and Hispanic students and reduced the chance that Black and Hispanic students would finish college, while providing no benefit to White and AAPI students. Affirmative action does not deny opportunities to any student, instead allowing more people to benefit from higher education.
5. American leadership
As Americans living overseas, and as AAPI individuals with family connections overseas, we are keenly aware of how America, its institutions, its policies and its values are perceived overseas. We understand how American actions can have unintended consequences abroad, and how American decisions are perceived by overseas communities.
Thus, we support efforts that ensure the United States lives up to its democratic and liberal values at home, which in turn bolsters its reputation overseas. We support a competent, well-staffed and experienced diplomatic corps to help formulate and develop America’s foreign policy.