Meeting Mark Takano

I had the unique opportunity of meeting U.S. Representative Mark Takano of California at a campaign event for Massachusetts State Representative Carl Sciortino on May 28th, 2013. Rep. Sciortino is currently running for Ed Markey’s congressional seat and Rep. Takano was giving him, his formal endorsement.

Takano’s election made history in 2012 when he was elected as the first gay Asian American to the U.S. Congress. He also became the first Democrat to be elected in California’s 41st District, one of the state’s highly Republican districts, in a long time. His district primarily includes Riverside and Moreno Valley.

During the event, Takano and I discussed the current immigration bill being debated in the U.S. Senate. He expressed his confidence that the bill will pass because of the significant Republican votes. Although they do not like the bill, Republicans are being pressured by their interest groups such as the Chamber of Commerce to vote for it. However, Takano, being part of the gay community, voiced his disappointment about the LGBT couples exemption component not being included in the final bill. He did have high hopes that the US Supreme Court could take action in overturning the Defense of Marriage Act, despite concerns whether the institution of marriage could go back to the states.

In addition to immigration, the Representative is passionate about social security, and Medicare/Medicaid issues as well as education.  When he entered Congress, he and Congressmen Alan Grayson drafted a letter stating they will vote against cuts to Medicare/Medicaid issues and social security.  Furthermore, as a former teacher in the Rialto Unified School District, Takano plans to focus his work on increasing access to education for minority students.  He has co-sponsored the House Version of Student Loan Fairness Act, Equal Access to Quality Education Act, and Project Ready STEM Act.

Overall, I felt very honored to meet him and look forward to see his future actions in Congress.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Kickoff

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On the first day of May, I attended the Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Kickoff at the Josiah Quincy Elementary School in Boston. The event was hosted by Governor Deval Patrick’s Asian American Commission with a wonderful performance by the Boston Chinese Folk Dance Group (a troop of cute and sweet and talented little girls in pretty outfits!). Prominent guests included State Representative Keiko Orral, Cambridge City Councilor Leland Cheung, and Fitchburg Mayor Lisa Wong (she is the first minority mayor in Fitchburg and the first female Asian American mayor in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts) with Governor Patrick delivering the keynote speech.

However, I thought the most inspiring and moving speeches were given by ordinary individuals of immigrant backgrounds including a high school senior at Boston Latin Academy, Chup Chiu and Simon, principal of the Josiah Quincy Elementary School.  Chup talked about being a first generation immigrant from Hong Kong and experiencing difficulties and frustration in elementary school in America because of the language barrier. He was able to overcome that challenge by being part of the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center and joining and eventually becoming captain of his high school volleyball team.  Chup is now planning to attend UMASS Lowell and major in Architecture.  Simon talked about coming to this country and originally studying Economics. After he graduated, Simon was approached to be a substitute teacher and he has been in the Education field ever since. He proudly talked about the notable accomplishments of his school such has having art and music curriculum being 80 percent of the school day (a big rarity in this “teaching to the test” environment). Furthermore, Leland Cheung specifically discussed his experience being the first Asian American member of the Cambridge city councilor (as well as the youngest), coming from a Physics and Aerospace Engineering background. He also talked about living in a country like the United States and having the opportunity as an immigrant to become a city councilor and understanding his parents’ sacrifice after going back to their home country for vacation and seeing how his cousins lived.

Moreover, having studied public policy, it was definitely an encouragement to see a number of Asian Americans in the public service sector (like those mentioned previously) from court judges to mayors and state senators. And thanks to the Governor, the number of Asian Americans serving in the Executive cabinet rose significantly.

What’s Going On?

Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus introduced the Filipino Veterans Fairness Act 

Elementary has been picked up for a Second Season!

In his lifetime, film critic Roger Ebert defended Asian American Cinema  

Dr. Mindy Lahiri and many other female Physicians and Surgeons like her deserve a pay raise! And get recognized!

Quote of the Day

We support family unity and reducing immigration backlogs. Families should not be divided across continents when we know that our society benefits by keeping them together. We are a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants, and it is time for us to reconcile these facts with a workable process for people who want to move here. These people share the same aspirations as past generations of newcomers who helped build this country. Their spirit and talent is not a threat to our nation’s prosperity – if anything, it’s been the secret to our success. And as our nation has benefited from diversity, so too will our immigration debate. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders bring a unique perspective to this discussion, and without our input, the next stage in this great American experiment will be incomplete.

Judy Chu and Michael Honda, House Representatives of California on Immigration Reform and the important need to recognize Asian and Pacific Americans be part of the conversation. Great article, I’m glad Judy Chu is taking leadership on bringing more voices to immigration reform!

Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus

Read full blog on The Hill

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What’s Going On?

Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus unveils Immigration priorities 

Rep. Tammy Duckworth is getting the most buzz in new congress

Reps. Ami Bera, Grace Meng, Carolyn Maloney and Tulsi Gabbard petition for the Post Office to produce a Diwali stamp 

Feministing.com questions where in the comprehensive immigration reform bill include domestic workers? 

What’s Going On?

Kristen gets her revenge by out-cooking Josie on Last Chance Kitchen. Hopefully Kristen will be back in the competition!

Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus react to Senate Bi-Partisan Plan for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Rep. Tammy Duckworth claims a “win for our nation” on the Defense Department allowing women in combat

Massachusetts swears in six new members to the Asian American commission

What’s Going On?

The Power of the Asian-American vote is growing and may be the deciding vote

Tammy Duckworth uses her personal stories of family immigration to appeal to voters in the 8th district of IL

Jeremy Lin could be the next Steve Nash

Suzy Khimm reports that the ‘fiscal cliff’ is already dragging down the country’s GDP

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