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Where EAST meets the Northwest


URGING ACTION. President Barack Obama speaks at the Asian Pacific American Institute of Congressional Studies (APAICS) awards dinner in Washington, D.C. At the dinner, Obama urged Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to fight bigotry and to press congress to update U.S. immigration policy. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

From The Asian Reporter, V26, #10 (May 16, 2016), page 7.

President Obama urges Asian Americans to stand up to bigotry

By Darlene Superville

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON ó President Barack Obama this month urged Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) to fight bigotry and to press congress to update U.S. immigration policy.

Obama said Americaís tradition is to welcome newcomers because it was founded by immigrants. He said that tradition also makes it difficult to understand why some people are blocking efforts to overhaul U.S. immigration laws.

"We donít simply welcome new immigrants. We are born of immigrants," Obama told hundreds attending the annual awards dinner of the Asian Pacific American Institute of Congressional Studies (APAICS). The nonpartisan, nonprofit organization promotes AAPI participation and representation in politics.

Comprehensive immigration legislation cleared the senate in 2013, but house leaders did not bring the bill up for a vote. Obama has used his executive authority to shield some immigrants living illegally in the country from deportation, but more than two dozen states, led by Texas, challenged his action in federal court.

The Supreme Court recently heard arguments in the case and a decision is expected by the end of June.

In his remarks, Obama said: "The actions Iíve taken on my own canít take the place of what we really need, which is congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform. ... You have the power to push congress to do it."

He said the AAPI community is the fastest-growing minority group in the U.S., but is also significantly underrepresented at the ballot box.

In a reference to Donald Trump, the likely Republican presidential nominee, Obama urged the audience to push back against anti-immigrant sentiment, especially from people who stoke such feelings for political gain.

Trump has called for barring Muslims from entering the country, and also has pledged to deport the estimated 11 million people living illegally in the U.S.

Obama said that just as the U.S. has moved beyond "No Irish need apply" signs, questioning the loyalty of Catholics, persecuting Chinese immigrants, and its treatment of Japanese Americans and immigrants during World War II, "we are going to move beyond todayís anti-immigrant sentiment, as well."

"We will live up to our ideals," said Obama.

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