Politics

On Friday, October 27 at Kerckhoff Patio from 12-3PM, the UCLA External Vice President’s Office (EVP) held a phone banking event, which is a political campaign where students can call their Senator or Congress Representative to express their support for, in this case, the continuation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and for the support of the 2017 DREAM Act.

UCLA has the largest number of undocumented students in the University of California system, and around 1,100 undocumented students study at UCLA and UC Berkeley combined.

DACA, signed by President Obama in June 2012, allowed undocumented immigrants, who had come to the U.S. as a minor and usually know no other home, to legally stay, work, and even receive an education in the U.S. without fear of deportation.

This was tremendous progress for the human rights and civil liberties of undocumented immigrants. Prior to the policy, undocumented immigrants were vulnerable to crimes such as violence and exploitation from employers because they feared that law reinforcements would report the undocumented immigrants for deportation instead of helping.

However, on September 2017, the Trump administration rescinded DACA, claiming that the way Obama installed the policy, which was by Executive Order, was an abuse of power and promised that the current administration will do things the “right way” by passing a bill through Congress.

October 5, 2017 was the last day for undocumented immigrants to renew their DACA and many now face a very uncertain future where they may lose their job, be detained, and even deported because there are no federal legislation that protects them after DACA expires. Moreover, economists commented that the rescission of DACA would actually harm the U.S. economy because most undocumented immigrants today are pursuing a higher education and actively working.

Julio Mendez, a 3rd year Political Science major and Legislative Advocate at the EVP Office, said that this phone banking event’s purpose is to keep the Trump administration accountable for its promise on passing the DREAM Act, which will grant undocumented immigrants “8 years of provisional residency and pathway to citizenship.”

There also will be phone banking events every Friday, from 12-3PM at Kerckhoff Patio. Each week will focus on a different state or federal legislative issue, including Title IX protections and immigration policies.

If you are an undocumented Bruin you can use this link to find more information and support from the university.

If you wish to support the rights of undocumented immigrants, you can call your Senator/Congress Representative or anyone listed here to state your support (sample script included) for the rights of undocumented immigrants.

 

Correction: It was previously stated that the phone banking event every week will focus on different immigration policies. However, the event focuses on a variety of issues such depending on what is occurring state or federal legislature. These corrections have been reflected in the article. 

Despite UCLA’s Principles of Community proclaiming that diversity is essential for the university’s excellence, it is hard to ignore the informal separation experienced by international students. Not only are international students likely to have social circles that are predominantly foreign, but these circles also tend to be limited to one’s ethnic or national group. This phenomenon is especially prevalent among students from Asia who often feel self-conscious of assimilating due to language concerns and are stereotyped as sticking to their own.

As recent politics points towards a more nationalistic bent in foreign policy, international students may experience further alienation. This is more than a feeling; the numbers reflect these concerns. Despite the ever-rising number of applicants to U.S colleges, this last admissions cycle was marked by a significant shrinkage in one demographic pool: international students.

According to a survey of 250 American universities conducted by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers and four other educational organizations, 39% of colleges experienced an overall decrease in the number of international applications at both undergraduate and graduate levels.

At UCLA, the outlook is more optimistic. International applications to UCLA have increased by 1.8%. Although the exact number of applicants is not publicly available, when compared to data from the 2015-2016 application cycle, this estimates to 17,697 applicants: an increase of approximately 300 students.

However, this growth pales in comparison to previous years. Within the last decade, the average rate of increase in international applications was 24.8% per year. Although application rates have slowed in recent years, decreasing to 6.5% in the 2015-2016 application cycle, a growth of 1.8% is unprecedentedly low.

Data was obtained through UCLA Admissions website and compiled by the author into this graph.

Correlating with this trend is increasing immigration restrictions issued by the U.S government, notably the two executive orders issued in January and March of this year. The executive orders issued by President Trump banned U.S entry of citizens of six Muslim-majority countries from the Middle East. In line with AACRAO’s survey data, 39% of participating schools reported a decrease in undergraduate applications.

Despite the Middle East being the only region affected by legalized travel restrictions, the survey also reports a decrease in applicants from Asia. Undergraduate applications from India and China have fallen at 26% and 25% of colleges, respectively. At the graduate level, 15% of universities report a decline in Indian applicants and 32% for Chinese applicants.

South and East Asia have been a long-acknowledged hotspot for recruiters. Indian and Chinese students constitute nearly half of students on F-1 visas in the U.S. The three most populous undergraduate foreign student groups at UCLA come from mainland China, Korea, and India, constituting around 77% of the international student population and 9.1% of the total undergraduate population.

Data was obtained through public data available at the University of California website and compiled by the author into this graph.

It is uncertain whether the political climate is responsible for less international interest. Rising cost of college tuition, as well as the expenses of living abroad, could be a potential factor. The 2015-2016 application cycle also showed significantly less growth compared to years prior. Foreign policy’s true impact on international student application rates can be properly assessed in the successive years of the Trump administration.

Whatever the numbers may be, the atmosphere of concern among international students is palpable. First-year cognitive science major Dorothy Duan remarks that “some people in China are afraid that there will be restrictions on entering into America” and that there is already a sense of greater rigidity upon airport entry. She notes that when the travel ban came out, there was heated talk on Chinese news and online media on how the new law could affect Chinese visitors to the United States.

Duan, who is originally from Tianjin, came to UCLA for a new life experience. Despite this, she finds that international students tend to cluster into their own ethnic communities. When asked about how UCLA has responded to the travel ban, she believes that “there is no effective or strong communication between students from different countries” and hopes that campus organizations catered towards international students, such as the Dashew Center, can bridge this gap.

Issues of xenophobia and immigration affect all international students, regardless of whether a specific region is targeted.The international student population is beginning to recognize their varied, but fundamentally similar concerns as potential common ground for collaborative resistance with the Muslim community. Whether this potential comes to fruition remains to be seen.

 

BY LUCY MA AND VIVIAN LEE

On Friday, March 3, Nikkei Student Union (NSU) hosted their 31st Annual Cultural Night: “Chirashi” in Royce Hall, a reminder of the persecution and discrimination Japanese Americans faced during World War II, with the implementation of Executive Order 9066 on Feb. 19, 1942.

This executive order forced more than 100,000 people of Japanese descent living in the United States, mostly American citizens, into incarceration among ten concentration camps, a process that not only violated personal liberties but also took away ownership of property and tore apart families.

To acknowledge the history of this experience, NSU uses cultural night as a night where, according to their program, “we commemorate the memory of those incarcerated, showcase our talents to the UCLA community, and celebrate the richness of our beloved Japanese American community.”

This year’s title, “Chirashi,” meaning “scattered,” is a Japanese dish usually served with a mix of different kinds of fish and vegetables that are laid together on top of rice.

Chirashi “was a metaphor for the multiple storylines within the drama that conveys the larger theme of acknowledging the variety of motivations that bring people into our community,” said Emiko Kranz, the current NSU president.

We are first introduced to Lynn (portrayed by Stacy Kadomasu), who is somewhat a hot-headed girl. She is followed by Samson (Justin Shinn), who invites her to his staggering family restaurant, Chirashi.

Lynn often worked begrudgingly in the restaurant because she owes Samson a debt, but, through Samson’s cousin June (Emiko Kranz), who is helping with the family restaurant, Lynn learns that Chirashi had been a safe haven for Japanese Americans during WWII — a place where they could be treated like equal human beings.

However, Samson, despite being the current restaurant owner, ran off with the restaurant’s funds, including June and Lynn’s payments. The story later reveals that Samson ran away because his fate was tied to the restaurant, which burdened him.

Samson explaining why he had left the restaurant. Photo courtesy of Brian Kohaya.

As soon as Samson ran off with the money, a contracting firm appears, announcing that the restaurant will be soon evicted.

Meanwhile, Tetsuya (played by Joey Yasuhiro) is introduced as one of the contracting firm representatives, who had a similar experience to June and Lynn. In order to protect his family’s flower shop and his sick mom, Tetsuya joined his uncle’s contracting firm, where he has to evict staggering yet historical and community-centered shops often.

In the end, Samson returned the money to June and Lynn, who then worked with Grace (Kendra Motoyasu), an architect and Tetsuya’s friend, and Noburu (Andre Leite) who quit working at the contracting firm, to restore Chirashi as a place for the community.

Throughout the show, NSU Modern, Odori, and Kyodo Taiko’s performances demonstrated the different aspects of Japanese and Japanese American cultures and reinforced the culture night’s themes by conveying the emotions of the characters.

Performance by Kyodo Taiko. Photo courtesy of Brian Kohaya.

For example, “Tanuki Senbonzakura” by NSU Odori, “Boot Camp” by NSU Modern, and all of Kyodo Taiko’s compositions were military themed.

According to Kranz, “While the drama wasn’t openly aggressive, there was a certain amount of frustration and anger represented by the struggles each character faced whether the battle was internal or external.”

Through “Chirashi,” NSU hoped to communicate the importance of perspective, historical consciousness, and resistance to injustice through their experiences as Japanese Americans.

Today, fear-mongering against the Muslim communities in the United States is perpetuated by the signing of Executive Order 13769 on Jan. 27, following the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump.

The executive order placed restrictions on refugees entering the United States, targeting  individuals coming from the countries Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.  

It should be no surprise then that the issuance of Executive Order 13769 has spurred many Japanese American communities to stand with the Muslim communities due to similarities of propaganda used to target these groups.

It is through these conditions that the Nikkei Student Union’s Cultural Night serves as a powerful platform to share knowledge about their history to the surrounding UCLA community during these times.  

Regarding the story behind the culture night, Kranz stated that “following the recent events that have affected the political climate such as Trump’s inauguration and the executive orders limiting immigration, we decided to bring in the focus on historical consciousness through the drama.”  

Kranz, a graduating senior and a fundamental pillar in past NSU cultural nights, reflects on “Chirashi” with her hopes for future productions: “The Nikkei community has endured much struggle with the incarceration experience and has fought its way back up in society and I think [the cultural night] is the vehicle by which we can extend our voice to a wider audience and remind everyone how Japanese Americans have made their place here and feel responsible to empower other groups.”

On May 23, 2016, Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote, Asian Americans Advancing Justice and AAPI Data released voter survey results in a report titled “Inclusion, Not Exclusion: Spring 2016 Asian American Voter Survey.” The Asian American identity categories detailed in this survey are as followed: Asian Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese.

Main findings of the survey reveal that exclusionary rhetoric has pushed Asian Americans to identity as Democrats, and evidence indicates that “Asian American registered voters…will punish candidates with anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim views” (Report 2016, 1).

Many Asian Americans identify with the immigrant narrative. From the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 to the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965, Asian Americans have faced legal obstacles to come to the United States. Identification with immigrants that are currently under attack by exclusionary rhetoric may reflect why Asian Americans disapprove of anti-immigrant stances. Furthermore, members of the Japanese American community have been active in organizing solidarity movements with Muslim communities. In the shadow of Japanese American internment during World War II, Japanese American communities today strive to avoid the persecution and internment of specific groups, particularly American Muslims in the aftermath of 9/11.

Furthermore, the Asian American dislike for exclusionary rhetoric is reflected in unfavorable views of Donald Trump (see Table 4 below). The anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim attacks espoused by Trump mark an exclusionary rhetoric. In terms of politicians campaigning for the presidency, the survey indicates Hillary Clinton has the most net favorability among Asian Americans.

Candidate Favorability

Asian American voters have great potential in shaping elections in the 21st century as Asian Americans continue to be the fastest growing immigrant population in the United States. Despite the growing presence of Asian American voters, an NPR article reports that Asian American voters continue to be the least likely to vote. To continue, a May 2012 APIAVote/AAJC survey “indicates that Asian Americans were less likely than other racial groups to be contacted” (Report 2016, 29).

It seems like larger organizations are not on the the Asian American electorate bus, so it is important for community organizations to put effort into mobilizing Asian Americans to vote. Many diverse communities should come together to compose the Asian American identity and have those community voices be heard. We need to untap the political potential of Asian Americans to shape elections.

500 cities across the globe were united in the March Against Monsanto Corporation held on October 12. The worldwide rallies and push towards labeling laws and prohibitions regarding genetically modified organisms (GMO) have again, ignited the ongoing debate concerning severe health issues related to GMO’s and the danger of consequent harmful chemicals near residential areas. Strong restrictions on GMO products are already in place in over 60 countries, yet Monsanto’s company website assures the wary that their genetically engineered products are safe and undergo extensive testing.

The American biotech giant based in St. Louis, Missouri has earned $1.48 billion in a 3-month period this year, on the rise from $1.21 billion for the same segment in previous years. Currently the United States is the leading producer of GMO crops in the world. NonGMOproject.org finds that 90% of corn and 95% of soy used within the U.S. has been genetically modified.

Last week, the Big Island of Hawaii’s County Council Committee passed two GMO prohibition bills following a 6-hour debate, which culminated in a vote of 6-2. Bill 113 outlaws all propaganda, experimental testing and open-air cultivation of GMO’s on the island except for papayas, which have been modified in 1990 to withstand the ringspot virus. These GMO papayas make up 75% of all of Hawaii’s papaya production today. Those found growing new GMO crops on the Big Island could face 30 days in jail and be fined up to $1,000 per day. Bill 109 plans to prohibit all GMO plants, animals and feed. Transgressors will face jail time. Both bills will progress to the full council this week, where further advancement to the Mayor may follow.

Testimonies included biologist Michael Hyson among others. Hyson explained the uncertainty of GMO’s and their link to serious health issues, premature death, tumors and sterility. Dennis Gonsalves, a leader in the modification of papaya against the ringspot virus testified against both bills: “The bills simply limit the capacity of the scientists to work to help farmers.” On the other side, a local farmer saw pigs avoiding GMO fruit. Bill 2491, a third restriction for the island of Kauai was passed on October 16 by a vote of 6-1 and will go into effect in nine months. Local Kauai residents camped out overnight to have a seat in the small courthouse for the 19-hour debate.

The bill requires all farmers to disclose if their crops are GMO’s, publicize detailed information about all chemical use, times they will spray and quantities along with keeping buffer areas between their fields and public areas. The bill also requires farmers to conduct health and environmental impact studies in their county.

The topic of biotech hits home with Hawaiians, since multinational companies, Monsanto, Syngenta, Pioneer, DOW and BASF have been experimenting throughout Oahu, Kauai and Molokai for years. Islanders fear the adverse effects to Hawaii’s fragile environment due to chemical pesticide runoff into the ocean and soil. If the bill is passed, these corporations will not be able to expand production to the Big Island.

In the midst of government shutdown, supporters of immigration reform across the nation gathered this Saturday morning for an event called “National Day for Dignity and Respect” to march and rally in effort to pass immigration reform by the end of the year. The New York Times reported that over 100 U.S. cities bustled with protest activity, and Los Angeles was no exception as nearly 2,000 people marched through Hollywood. Though temperatures reached a high of 90 degrees in Los Angeles, the attendance was high with plenty of energy booming, and the diversity of support showed the relevance and impact of current immigration laws affecting many different communities. The range of attendees included people of all ages from toddlers to grandparents, and a spectrum of varying occupations from janitors to students. Participation included organizations such as Advancing Justice, Asian Pacific Coalition (APC) at UCLA, Chicanas for Immigration Reform, China Community for Equitable Development (CCED), API Equality, Korean Immigrant Workers Alliance (KIWA), and United Long Term Care Workers (ULTCW).

From stuffed alien dolls, raised piñatas, songs and dances, attendees came up with many clever ways to gain attention while sending a charged statement against the term “illegal” immigrant. Protesting in languages from English to Korean and Spanish, various groups chanted in unison with each other: “What do we want? Immigration reform! When do we want it? Now!”, “Hal-soo-eet-dah! Si se puede!” and “Congress escucha, estamos en la lucha.” The march lasted about four hours with continuous chanting to familiar song tunes and participants pounding their fists into the air to represent immigrant power. The beating of drums excited dance performances, and the volume of protests were cheered on by blow horns. Fighting against the safe act and the deportation of undocumented immigrants, against employment wage discrimination, and against the possibility and reality of torn families, different groups united together in this march to push a message that ironically was sung and celebrated in early America: “This land was made for you and me.” Though the lyrics originated in a different context, supporters of immigrant rights will continue pushing for a more inclusive law that protects a land for undocumented immigrants and equality.

 

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Students and workers rally together with colorful and creative signs.

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Members of Chicanas For Immigration Reform hold up signs that read, “Stop ripping families apart.”
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A young man protests against the recent passing of AB60, a bill that requires proof of documentation to be eligible for a CA driver’s license.
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These aliens are being wheeled around wearing t-shirts that read: “I don’t want to be an illegal alien. I want to be legal.”

Here’s a short clip from the event, brought to you by PacTies:

By: Christina Trieu

 

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