Recent Comments

    Stay Awake

    By Assemblymember Phil Ting

    Immigrant communities are afraid. They’re afraid to visit their families outside the country because they may be turned away when coming back. They’re afraid to report crimes for fear of deportation. They’re afraid of being separated from their children.

    This environment of fear is pervasive and omnipresent for immigrant and Muslim communities due to President Trump’s executive orders promoting racial and religious discrimination. Today’s political climate isn’t unprecedented and Asian Americans see the echoes of the past in President Trump’s executive orders.

    During World War II, Japanese Americans were forcibly removed from their homes and sent to internment camps.  They lost their homes, their businesses, and their livelihoods because of the assumption that they would somehow be disloyal to the United States.

    On May 6, 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act was signed by President Chester A. Arthur. It was the country’s first law prohibiting immigration solely on the basis of ethnicity. This law, made permanent in 1904, prevented Chinese laborers from entering the country, despite the many years that these laborers toiled on the Transcontinental Railroad. It also denied a path to citizenship for Chinese persons for more than 60 years.

    While the Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed in 1943 and Japanese internment has long since ended, this stain on our nation’s history serves as a painful reminder about the very real harmful effects of discrimination against an individual’s ethnicity, race, or religious beliefs. Unfortunately, the current federal administration under President Trump is repeating the same mistakes of the past.

    The tragic reality of today is that we have a president who does not understand our nation’s history, and pursues senseless executive orders that discriminate against an individual based upon their immigration status or religious beliefs.

    The Chinese Exclusion Act was a painful part of Chinese American history in this country that we cannot forget. I introduced Assembly Joint Resolution (AJR) 14 with Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco), so that we can mark the 135th anniversary of the Act, call on Trump to repeal his anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim executive orders, and push every person to stay awake and act when injustices of the past are recycled and repeated.

    The text of the Chinese Exclusion Act states “the coming of Chinese laborers to this country endangers the good order of certain localities,” which served to criminalize Chinese people who wanted to come to the United States to work.  This parallels Trump’s executive orders, which operate on the assumption that Muslims are terrorists, Mexicans are rapists to be walled off, and people who come to our country for a better life are dehumanized with the label “illegal.”  We cannot let this stand. We are better than this.

    The President rose to power despite acknowledging our history of prejudice, and the consensus that equal rights strengthen our nation.

    If we’ve learned anything from these last few months, it’s that our progress to become a more perfect union is fragile.  We must be vigilant about keeping the progress we have made, and stopping rollbacks of justice and equality. We must stay informed and stay awake to resist the wrongs of those who seek to divide this country.

    Phil Ting represents the 19th Assembly District, which includes the Westside of San Francisco along with Broadmoor, Colma, Daly City and parts of South San Francisco.