AAPI Leader Engages in Civil Disobedience Outside U.S. Capitol

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Gregory Cendana sports a white t-shirt that reads: "Not Your Model Minority." Photo by Soyun Park

Gregory Cendana sports a white t-shirt that reads: “Not Your Model Minority.” Photo by Soyun Park

WASHINGTON – Gregory Cendana, a member of the executive committee of National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), a coalition of 31 national Asian Pacific American organizations that advocates for thousands of community members across the country, was among 200 national leaders, immigrants and civil rights, labor and faith leaders today who took part in a coordinated civil disobedience effort that put them at risk for arrest.

The arrests came toward the end of the “Camino Americano: March for Dignity and Respect,” which was attended by tens of thousands of immigration advocates, faith leaders, members of Congress and others to illustrate the broad-based support for reform. The civil disobedience follows mass mobilizations in more than 160 cities nationwide this past Saturday, during which thousands of Americans called for immediate immigration policy reform.

“I am following in the footsteps of past and current Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) immigrants who have advocated for equality and justice for all people, including immigrants. I am taking part in this civil disobedience to call attention to the needs of thousands of AAPIs and their family members-all of whom demand inclusion and immediate reform to our nation’s dysfunctional immigration policies,” said Cendana, who is also executive director of Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) and AFL-CIO. “We will continue to escalate our efforts until our elected leaders take action and pass comprehensive immigration reform.”

AAPIs, who are the country’s fastest-growing ethnic group, voted in record numbers during last November’s election. AAPI voters showed tremendous support for immigration policy reform because most are directly affected by the immigration system’s rules. Three in five AAPIs are foreign born-the highest proportion of any race group, and nearly half of those waiting to receive visas through the family-based system are relatives of Asians, such as Filipinos, Chinese and Indians. In addition, more than 1 million undocumented immigrants are AAPIs, including many Korean DREAMers.

“Although the House Democrats’ immigration bill introduced last week is definitely progress, we need any future legislation to prioritize family reunification and to ensure that tax-paying undocumented immigrants can access affordable health care and safety benefits that should rightfully be open to them,” Cendana said. “I urge AAPI community members to also take action by contacting their members of Congress and voicing support for immigration policy reform.”

Cendana’s actions were part of a coordinated campaign around immigration reform launched by eight national AAPI organizations: Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC, APALA, Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF), National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC), National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF), National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA), South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) and Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC). The grassroots effort aims to mobilize the community to take action and contact their legislators.


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