Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Pinoys in Nevada urged to participate in US polls

from PASKIE PASCUA, Philippine News

LAS VEGAS—Two prominent community leaders were here recently to campaign for Asian Pacific participation in the political process by attending the upcoming Nevada caucuses – set for January 19 – as initial step toward voter awareness. Rozita V. Lee and Gloria T. Caoile, president and political director (Nevada chapter) and executive director, respectively, of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (Apala), have called on fellow Filipinos and other Asian and Pacific Islander Americans (APIA) to participate in a mock caucus to be held on January 13 as preparation for Jan. 19.“We want Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, including Filipinos, to be prepared to join neighbors and friends and attend the caucuses on Jan 19," Lee told Philippine News. “We are trying to educate our people to work together because unless we work together, it’s difficult to get things done." Nevada has the third largest percentage of Pacific Islanders and the sixth highest percentage of Asian Americans in the U.S. Filipinos comprise the largest ethnic subgroup in Clark County—which includes Las Vegas—with 46 percent of the total Asian American population. Apala, the first and only national organization of Asian Pacific American union members, is affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO). AFL-CIO is the largest federation of unions in the United States, representing more than 10 million workers.“The Iowa caucuses painted a different picture of what we are. They missed out on (significant APIA issues) by not focusing on us," Caoile, who is based in Washington D.C., said. “This time, we’d like to challenge the community, engage them to participate more."Lee and Caoile enjoined APIA voters to look beyond the debates. “Our core non-partisan programs are voter registration, voter education, voter protection, and voter mobilization," Caoile explained. “Participation in the caucus process—expressing presidential preference, discussing platform issues, running for delegate positions to the convention is another step towards political empowerment for our community."Both leaders are hopeful that minority issues would be a focal point in the Nevada caucuses. Despite a significant minority voting population in Nevada, Lee voices concern that “we are still invisible as a people."“Largely, Filipinos don’t want to unite and form a coalition," Lee observes. “I’ve been working for so long to get Filipinos to realize this. We can grumble and grumble all our life—but unless we grumble as a group, we might not be heard at all." Lee is also the national vice chair of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA), the national affiliation of more than 500 Filipino American institutions and the largest advocacy group in the U.S.Two of the significant ethnic minority or immigration issues that directly concern Filipinos that Lee believes should come out in the upcoming caucuses are public education and the pending family reunification bill. “The candidates do address minority concerns, like immigration," says Lee. “But apart from the fact that immigration covers Hispanics, Europeans, Africans, and other Asians—Filipino concerns are usually lumped with mostly Mexican issues." “Moreover, the issue that I’d like to see more attention is education, an assurance that people from the Philippines, Korea, Thailand, or Vietnam, for instance, will have the opportunity to have a good public education in America," Lee adds.“The (family) unification bill has been pending for I don’t know how long. We are hoping it will pass in this Congress, we have been fighting for that for quite awhile now," Lee said. “Why the long delay for Filipino children to join their parents in America?"A stalemate on the controversial compromise immigration reform bill has placed in jeopardy the Filipino American veterans unification amendment and legalization of undocumented Filipinos. The failure of the Senate to approve the bill has also put on hold a bill calling for speedy approval of the family-based immigration visas to spouses and minor children. Asian Pacific American organizations have launched nationwide rallies urging passage of the bill. Currently, Filipino siblings wait 22 years for their petition from relatives to be approved.Lee and Caoile reiterated the need for Asian Americans to come out as one unified force. “We have to look at ourselves as Democrats, and why we’re not able to get more Democrats to participate in the Iowa caucus, and what can we do in future caucuses, and eventually to the election itself," Lee said. They chorused: “First, we have to mobilize our kababayans and fellow minorities in our communities to get out, get involved, participate in the discussions, and then vote wisely as a people."



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home