The Department of Justice’s new section dedicated to seeking out and clawing back citizenship from naturalized Americans is one of the most alarming programs to come out of this White House. The board of the Asian American Action Fund stands unified in opposition, and we call on our elected officials and allies to protest and defund this. While horrific, it is the natural progression for an administration that is focused on stripping the rule of law and Constitutional protections from everyday Americans under the guise of fear. What started off as one office in Los Angeles dedicated to uncovering mistakes in people’s applications and terming them deliberate fraud, and going after the families who have strived to be Americans for decades – and their attorneys – has turned into a travesty.
This is the anti-thesis of the family reunification policy enshrined in the 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act that brought so many of us here to America. Family reunification has broad bipartisan support and has allowed small businesses to flourish and create jobs in Rust Belt communities. It is a natural progression from what has been happening at the border where the Trump administration has been separating families and throwing kids in cages. We will not allow ourselves to be depersonalized and erased.
Many of us are former administration appointees and career civil servants. Many of us and our parents fled repressive regimes where dictators labelled our family criminals because they dared disagree or speak up for vulnerable individuals and communities. Some of our family were not so lucky, and died. Some of us have family who were interned and thrown into concentration camps for the “crime” of being ethnically Japanese and therefore suspect – perpetual foreigners. Others of us have ancestors who miraculously made it out of Nazi concentration camps. We know what this is – a foreshadowing.
When the theoretical leader of a country tries to undermine the 13th and 14th Amendments that are the foundational documents of our democracy, this is not a warning drill. We are in the crisis. Because it’s a very short step from here to getting rid of birthright citizenship, and Korematsu is still on the books as “good” law. Know and recognize this for what it is, and prepare accordingly. Asian American Pacific Islander communities have power – it is time for us to use it. Before it’s too late. Never again is now.