This opinion piece was written by:
State Sen.-Elect Joe Nguyen
34th Legislative District
State Rep.-Elect My-Linh Thai
41st Legislative District
Rosa Mai, Legislative Assistant for Senator-Elect Joe Nguyen
This story is not new.
This is not new for our communities, which face these problems from the second our feet leave our countries of origin. And, as we find out now, these problems don’t disappear when we step foot into America, because many of us never become “American” enough to deserve to stay, no matter the lives we’ve built or the communities we’ve founded and bonds we’ve forged. The roots we painstakingly pulled out when we left our countries of origin and lovingly planted here are ripped out yet again.
The fear is not new. The sacrifices made out of fear of the public charge rule, of being seen as un-American for needing to the point that you are an item line on the public dollar– these sacrifices are made in hopes that they will add up to an acceptable threshold of Americanness, or at least of invisibility, that we can save us and ours even while others are sent away.
The pain is not new; every footstep that sounds in the halls of immigration detention centers echoes with those of their family members—or even their own footsteps, from a much younger time—fleeing their countries in an act of desperation and fear and hope. The limbo of waiting on a boat or through processing lines is reflected in those waiting in the detention centers, unsure of what will happen to them. But instead of uncertain steps for a slim hope of a better future, we taste only the despair of leaving our home for an unknown and unwelcoming land.
This is certainly not new for this president, who has repeatedly threatened the rights of immigrants and refugees. His overt hostility towards Syrian refugees has shifted to an overt hostility towards Central American migrants now, with a constant racism against all migrant groups—old and new—throughout his presidency. When his policies don’t involve armies, tear-gas, and deportations, then they involve diplomatic pressure and cutting refugee acceptance rates. This is not even the first time the president has attempted to reinterpret the 2008 MOU with Vietnam.
This is not the first time, but you are not the only one afraid or the only one fighting. Look ahead at those who attack you, knowing that to your side stands your community. Stand with one another, hold yourself tall, and shout your story and that of your community.
The API community generally and the Vietnamese community specifically must stand together as the attacks rain down on us. This is an attack on everything we’ve cultivated in our individual lives, and in our families and communities. It is an attack on American values and promises, and a compounding of historical trauma and pain. We have an obligation to ourselves, to those who came before us, and to those who come after us to stand together and fight with everything we have to make this the last time this happens.
The cycle ends here, by our hands and feet.