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However, on September 2017, the Trump administration rescinded DACA, claiming that the way Obama installed the policy, which was by Executive Order, was an abuse of power and promised that the current administration will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.

 

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.

Within the last few years, there has been an increase in Desi American representation, with Satya Nadella in Corporate America to Vivek Murthy, the Surgeon General of our country. 

A week or so ago, Obama released his list of potential nominees to take over the position of Supreme Court Justice, with the unexpected passing of Justice Antonin Scalia last weekend. One of the potential nominees on this list was a Desi American by the name of Sri Srinivasan. Srinivasan, 48, may have a chance to join the Court he argued in front of. He is near the top of a short list of President Obama’s potential nominees to the Supreme Court.                                                               

Srinivasan, who emigrated from India to Kansas at a young age, would be the first Asian-American and Indian-American Supreme Court justice and the first immigrant on the Court in more than 50 years.

As a lawyer in private practice and for the federal government, Srinivasan has argued 25 cases in front of the Supreme Court. He now serves as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which is seen as the second most important court in the country.

Scalia and three other Supreme Court justices served on that court before being nominated. Lawyers in the insular world of the Supreme Court bar say Srinivasan is one of the most talented litigators of his generation; the New Yorker called him a “Supreme Court nominee-in-waiting.”

After graduating from Stanford—where he got a B.A. and a joint law and business degree—Srinivasan clerked for moderate Republican appeals court judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III and Supreme Court judge Sandra Day O’Connor. Then he did stints in private practice at the well-respected D.C. firm O’Melveny Myers and at the office of the Solicitor General—the chief lawyer of the federal government—during the Bush and Obama administrations.

Srinivasan isn’t the only Asian American or immigrant who’s been talked up as a potential Obama nominee for the Court. There’s also Jacqueline Nguyen, an appeals court judge who once lived in a refugee camp with her Vietnamese family, and Goodwin Liu, a Taiwanese-American justice from Georgia on the California Supreme Court.

The number of Asian-American federal judges has more than tripled in the last decade, from eight to 25, thanks mostly to Obama’s nominations. But there’s never been an Asian on SCOTUS. The reason why it’s important to have judges who reflect the population is because it instills more confidence in the justice system. People can feel more a part of society and not be considered a perpetual foreigner. Though there is a ways to go with diversity in the United States government bodies, Sri Srinivasan is a good start as the trend of increased Desi American representation gains momentum.

 

By Priscilla Hoang, Contributing Writer

The announcement of USAC Gen Rep 2’s “first ever night market” at UCLA left a sour taste in my mouth.

As a Chinese American, the co-director of the Asian Pacific Coalition, and a UCLA Bruin, I am deeply disappointed in UCLA’s General Representative 2, Aaliya Khan, for hosting an event Monday night in this manner. The “Night Market” features various UCLA student groups selling food, providing goods (i.e. henna tattoos), and performing.

It’s supposed to be a fun, relaxed approach for different communities to get to know each other and try new foods. In theory it’s a great idea, except for one fundamental flaw: communities where night markets hold vast cultural significance were ignored in the planning of this event.

Night markets have been a cultural stronghold for various countries in Asia, especially in Taiwan, China, Malaysia, and Singapore, to name a few. While other countries may have markets that occur at nighttime, the term “night market” alludes to the unique characteristics of Taiwanese night life. Open-air markets were created as more affordable shopping options to lower and middle class locals, enabling easier access to groceries, fresh foods, and other resources right in their neighborhoods.

Eventually, it gained popularity in both Asia and the United States, providing opportunities to socialize with friends and build community across ethnic backgrounds. The overall essence of night markets empowered communities to have greater involvement in the local economy while serving communal needs.

The idea of a night market is not new. While this may be the first night market held by USAC, it is definitely not the first at UCLA. Clubs and organizations such as the Taiwanese American Union, Taiwanese-American Social Change Initiative, Asian Pacific Coalition, and Hong Kong Student Society have held night markets on campus annually for years prior to this event.

I think UCLA’s Gen Rep 2 had good intentions for hosting this event. I am not angry at the student vendors taking part in Night Market. Future events, however, should be culturally competent and thoroughly researched before being implemented. Night Market is acting as large-scale “cultural education” for UCLA without any substantive research or representation regarding its history.

USAC falls short in representing the communities where night markets are of great social, cultural, and economic importance, and gains recognition for doing a night market for the first time ever while undermining the organizations who have worked hard, for years, to spread this cultural tradition.

The decision to call this event a night market fails to include the countries that prominently feature night markets, and corrodes its cultural significance. I hope future events are regarded with greater sensitivity and cultural awareness to accurately inform the larger UCLA community.

The Mother Organizations (MOs) hosted a discussion about the differences between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation called “What is Cultural Appropriation?” on Wednesday, Oct. 28. The MOs hosted this event to address both the influx of cultural appropriation and the recent “Kanye Western” raid hosted by Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity and Alpha Phi Sorority.

Cultural appropriation refers to a power dynamic in which members of a dominant culture take elements from a culture of people who have been systematically oppressed by that dominant group, which often occurs during the Halloween season

The MOs are a coalition of nine cultural organizations that include Afrikan Student Union (ASU), Asian Pacific Coalition (APC), Samahang Pilipino (SP), Queer Alliance (QA), Vietnamese Student Union (VSU), American Indian Student Association (AISA), Pacific Islander Student Association (PISA), Muslim Student Association (MSA) and Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA). These organizations are united by their goal to improve representation for each of their respective communities through different forms of activism.

Erineo Garcia, chairperson of MEChA, gave a presentation about the history of racial intolerance on the UCLA campus and the differences between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation. In just the past five years, UCLA has had multiple incidents of bigotry including Alexandra Wallace’s “Asians in the Library” and stickers placed in Campbell Hall justifying the death of Freddie Grey.

In October, the “Kanye Western” themed raid took place where members of Greek Life dressed up as pop culture figure Kanye West, mimicking stereotypical aspects of black hip-hop culture such as gold chains and baggy clothes. One member of Alpha Phi Sorority took the costume a step further by stuffing a pair of boxers imitating a large penis.

In response to the raid, members of UCLA’s ASU staged a rally and protest calling for UCLA’s administration to take action against the fraternity and sorority. Reactions to “Kanye Western” have been mixed: multiple organizations, including the MOs, have condemned the rally while other students have called it an overreaction.   

After the brief presentation, the audience broke into small groups to discuss the differences between cultural appropriation and appreciation and to share their personal experiences with cultural appropriation. Many talked about going to parties where their culture was the theme and consequently feeling uncomfortable.

“The space tonight allowed those who are not involved in mother organizations to see the collaborative work that does not only affect one specific community, but all communities of color,” third-year geography major Lauren Jones said. “The small group discussions in particular included personal experiences, but also offered a chance for students to express how change can be implemented on campus and within their own respective spaces. It was great to see steps being taken between each organization to bring solidarity and overall community building.”

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