Michele Bachmann: U.S. Immigration ‘Worked Very, Very Well’ Under The Asian Exclusion Act

In 1924, Congress passed a package of immigration laws — including the Asian Exclusion Act — establishing a quota system giving preferential treatment to European immigrants. According to the Think Progress Justice blog, under these laws, the number of immigrants who could be admitted from a given country was capped at a percentage of the number of people from that nation who were living in the United States in 1890. Because Americans were overwhelmingly of European descent in 1890, the practical effect of these laws was an enormous thumb on the scale encouraging white immigration.

These quotas were eliminated by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, an act which is widely credited for opening up our nation to new Americans of Asian, Central and South American descent. At a recent CNN/Tea Party Republican presidential candidates’ debate, however, presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann claimed this decision to eliminate our past immigration policy was a big mistake. Bachmann said, “The immigration system in the United States worked very, very well up until the mid-1960s when liberal members of Congress changed the immigration laws. What works is to have people come into the United States with a little bit of money in their pocket, legally, with sponsors so that if anything happens to them they don’t fall back on the taxpayers to take care of them.”

It’s worth noting that the 1924 laws that Bachmann believes to have worked so well singled out certain people for particularly harsh treatment, writes to the blog.

Remembering 9/11: Flight Attendant Betty Ong

The Boston NPR news station, WBUR, remembered Sept. 11 through the stories of men and women from around Massachusetts whose lives were touched that day — those who lost loved ones, those who responded and those whose lives were affected in more unexpected ways. Betty Ong, a flight attendant from Andover, was on board Flight 11, the first of the two planes from Boston to hit the World Trade Center. That morning, Betty’s brother, Harry Ong Jr., was up at 6 a.m. and watching TV. He immediately called his sister, Cathie Ong Herrera. The two remember that day and their battle to present the public with an accurate picture of their sister. Cathie said her brother Harry asked where Betty was. Cathie said Betty should be on her way to Los Angeles because she was going to be meeting with her later that afternoon.

“Harry got very quiet and I could actually sense the concern in his voice as he told me that he thought he heard that the airplane might have originated from Boston, going to Los Angeles.”

This was the scheduled route of Flight 11. Harry said, “You know, I’m hoping that Betty’s not on that plane. I’m hoping that of all the thousands of planes in the air that particular day and morning that Betty is just not on that plane.” Betty Ong was on the plane, hijacked by terrorists. She made a call to the American Airlines operations center and was able to provide officials with the seat numbers of the hijackers, allowing them to identify the men early on. She was still on the phone, trying to help, when her plane hit the World Trade Center. Betty’s siblings have set up a foundation in her name that’s dedicated to promoting healthy eating and exercise for young people, a cause she was committed to.


Chinese Kitchen Workers Sue Restaurant For Discrimination

A group of Chinese workers who say they were forced to take meal breaks in bathroom stalls are suing their former employer for discrimination and retaliation.
In a lawsuit filed in state Supreme Court in Manhattan, thirteen employees who were fired from the kitchen staff at Le Colonial Restaurant claimed they had to work in harsh conditions, including standing for 10 hours a day in excessive heat. According to Reuters, they were not allowed into air-conditioned areas during their breaks, and were restricted to one bathroom, the lawsuit said. If they wanted a second meal break, they had to eat in the bathroom stall, the suit said. A 61-year-old worker with a back injury was forced to stand, and a cook was told that his food was “cooked for animals,” according to the complaint. After repeated pleas to their employer, they were fired Aug. 3, said their attorney. Ken Kimerling, legal director of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, said workers are “treated in this way in part because the employer thinks that they won’t fight back because of language and maybe even [immigration] status issues.”
Workers are increasingly realizing that they have a right to complain and that judges will believe them if they take legal action, Kimerling said. In July 2008, 36 delivery workers of Asian descent won a $4.6 million verdict against Saigon Grill, a popular chain restaurant in Manhattan, for non-payment of wages and overtime. That settlement came on the heels of a suit by 43 Chinese servers, deliverymen and other workers who accused Ollie’s Noodle Shop & Grille, also in Manhattan, of wage violations. Several nonprofit organizations that advocate for higher wages and better working conditions have co-sponsored an ongoing campaign focused on the service industry, called Justice Will Be Served. The effort includes protests, collective bargaining and litigation.


Pres. Obama’s American Jobs Act and its Impact on the API Community

On Sept. 12, President Obama sent a message to Congress with the American Jobs Act of 2011 and a section-by-section analysis of the legislation. The American Jobs Act is composed of the kinds of proposals to put Americans back to work that both Democrats and Republicans have supported.
As the President stressed, this is not a time to play politics: “It’s not okay at a time of great urgency and need all across the country. These aren’t games we’re playing out here. Folks are out of work. Businesses are having trouble staying open. You’ve got a world economy that is full of uncertainty right now — in Europe, in the Middle East. Some events may be beyond our control, but this is something we can control. Whether or not we pass this bill, whether or not we get this done, that’s something that we can control. That’s in our hands.”

The American Jobs Act: The Impact for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and the Economy
• The extension of unemployment insurance will benefit at least 300,000 AAPIs and their families.
• Targeted support for the long-term unemployed could help at least 235,000 AAPIs who have been looking for work for more than six months. To help them in their search for work, the President is calling for a new tax credit for hiring the long-term unemployed.
• Support for subsidized jobs and summer/year-round jobs for Asian American youth – for whom unemployment is above 13.8 percent. The President is proposing to build on successful programs like the TANF Emergency Fund to create jobs and provide training for those hardest-hit by the recession.
• An extension and expansion of the payroll tax cut for 7.6 million AAPI workers. By extending the payroll tax cut for employees next year and expanding it to cut payroll taxes in half, the President’s plan will help increase the paychecks of an estimated 7.6 million AAPI workers.

What the American Jobs Act Will Do
• Provide tax cuts that will help AAPI-owned small businesses
• Help AAPI-owned small businesses access capital and grow

Putting AAPI Workers Back on the Job While Rebuilding and Modernizing America
• Project Rebuild: Putting people back to work rehabilitating homes, businesses and communities. The President is proposing to invest $15 billion in a national effort to put construction workers on the job rehabilitating and refurbishing hundreds of thousands of vacant and foreclosed homes and businesses.
• Targeted investments to modernize schools serving low-income students – from science labs and internet-ready classrooms to renovated facilities
• Putting construction workers back on the job by modernizing infrastructure – with a focus on expanding access to these jobs
• Preventing layoffs of teachers, cops and firefighters
• Tax credits and career readiness efforts to support veterans’ hiring

More Money in the Pockets of Every AAPI Worker, Supporting Local Communities
• Cutting the payroll tax next year — benefitting 7.6 million AAPI workers.

Fully Paid for As Part of the President’s Long-Term Deficit Reduction Plan
• To ensure that the American Jobs Act is fully paid for, the President will call on the Joint Committee to come up with additional deficit reduction necessary to pay for the Act and still meet its deficit target.

Read more about Pres. Obama’s American Jobs Act at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/09/12/president-obama-sends-american-jobs-act-congress.


Fox Sports Cancels Show After Video Mocks Asians

The Fox network canceled “The College Experiment”, the show on which a controversial segment aired. The video features comedian Bob Oschack approaching Asian students at the University of Southern California (USC) and asking them to give an “all-American welcome” to new Pac-12 Conference members, Colorado and Utah. The joke being, of course, that the hordes of Asian kids at USC are anything but all-American.

The network cancelled the show effective immediately, and Fox Sports issued another apology to USC, as well as to the Asian and Asian American communities: “We sincerely apologize to the Asian and Asian American communities, and to everyone else who found this video offensive, and again to the University of Southern California, which was the unfortunate setting for the video,” said Fox Sports Network spokesman Lou D’Ermilio.
The Daily Camera newspaper in Boulder, Colo. reported about the video. University of Colorado ethnic studies professor Darryl Maeda, who saw the segment, told the newspaper that the piece relies on stereotypes of Asians as “perpetual foreigners.” The interviewer appeared to seek students for whom English is not their first language, he said. “This is demeaning to millions of Asian Americans who have put down deep roots in the United States, claim English as their language and root vigorously for their favorite sports teams,” Maeda said.


Family of Slain Student Files Suit Against Yale

The family of Yale University student, Annie Le, murdered by a co-worker in a campus research facility two years ago, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the university, accusing Yale of failing to protect women and tolerating aggressive male behavior.

According to the Hartford Courant, the lawsuit alleges that “sexual attacks on and harassment of women at Yale had been a well-documented and long-standing problem, and there was a widespread belief that Yale repeatedly failed to impose meaningful discipline on offenders.” The lawsuit also accuses Yale of being slow to respond to concerns that Le was missing. A Superior Court judge in June sentenced Raymond Clark III, 26, to 44 years in prison for the slaying of Le, a third-year doctoral student in pharmacology and bride-to-be from Placerville, Calif. She was reported missing Sept. 8, 2009, shortly before her wedding. Police found Le’s body on the day of her wedding, Sept. 13, 2009, stuffed inside the wall of a lab inside the Yale Animal Research Center, where Le was last seen alive and shared with Clark. The state medical examiner said Le was strangled and her body was badly beaten.
The lawsuit says Yale knew or should have known Clark posed a potential threat to the safety of Le, claiming that Clark “previously demonstrated aggressive behavior and a violent propensity towards women.” In a statement Yale released, the university said “there is no basis” for the civil suit.

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