Asian Americans have large stake in immigrant rights, too
On May 1, 1975, the day after Saigon fell, my family and I had recently left Vietnam for the United States.
So the immigrant rights rallies on May 1 had special meaning for me.
I always hear how impressed people are with Vietnamese refugees, who came here with nothing and excelled beyond anyone’s expectations. But what they leave out is that early Vietnamese families came during a time that U.S. refugee policy supported them.
We had case managers, food stamps and English tutors. My family was allowed to come here, and we were then able to support each other. That meant my grandmother could baby-sit, allowing both my parents to work even without being able to afford childcare.
Though we tried to make it on our own as quickly as possible, knowing that we had a safety net gave us the courage to excel.
One million Asians living in the United States are undocumented. About 18 percent of Korean Americans are undocumented. There are undocumented immigrants in the Chinese community, in the South Asian community, in all of our communities.
That’s why tens of thousands of us marched for our rights along with our immigrant friends and neighbors.
Los Angeles has a large Korean population. They and other Asian communities have given major support to the immigrant rights marches. Watching and listening to a Korean drum contingent enter an immigration rally site, drums pounding, chanting “si se puede” is inspiring and a true demonstration of what solidarity is.