Education, News

NC group to train Asian American high schoolers in hopes of spurring political engagement

Image: http://ncaatogether.org/

Asian Americans are the fastest growing racial group in North Carolina, according to the 2016 American Community Survey, far outpacing other racial minorities. According to statistics from the U.S. Census, between 2000 and 2010, North Carolina’s Asian American population grew by 85 percent, and between 2010 and 2015, it grew by 30 percent, six times more than the overall population.

Their political potential, however, is largely untapped. Voter registration and turnout for Asian Americans lags behind that of both white and Black voters in the state. According to civic engagement organization North Carolina Asian Americans Together, or NCAAT, this political participation gap has a few important causes.

According to NCAAT’s youth engagement coordinator, Danica Lee, one of the main reasons for the gap in political participation is lack of outreach to Asian Americans. “People don’t ask [Asian Americans] if they voted or if they’re interested in voting,” says Lee. The failure of other organizations to extend civic outreach efforts to Asian Americans is what attracted Lee to NCAAT, an organization which she says focuses on “targeting specifically Asian American communities for civic engagement.”

Another reason for the lack of political engagement from the Asian American community is the lack of education and resources provided to the various Asian American sub-communities. It is important to remember that Asian Americans are not a monolith. Within the Asian American community, there is great diversity of language, culture, religion, and experience, and utilizing a blanket strategy to target all Asian American voters in the same way would not be productive. “Understanding the nuances of various communities within the Asian American population should be at the forefront of developing any voter engagement strategy,” advises a 2016 report by NCAAT.

Lack of “outreach and resources available” to potential voters are the top two barriers to voter engagement in the Asian American community, according to Lee. NCAAT is trying to help erode those barriers.

The organization is committed to making sure Asian Americans have a strong political voice, and one of the ways it does this is by encouraging Asian American youth to be part of the next generation of community leaders. This July 10-12 will be NCAAT’s second annual summer Youth Leadership Institute, a three-day workshop for Asian and Asian American high school students to build their skills in leadership and advocacy.

Registration ends on June 9, and late registration is open until June 30. Interested high school students can apply here.

Aditi Kharod is a student at UNC Chapel Hill and an intern at NC Policy Watch.

Commentary, News

Trump’s latest immigration proposal: Short on details and endorsements

President Trump revealed a new immigration proposal on Thursday afternoon. In a speech in the White House Rose Garden, Trump announced his plan to boost “merit-based” immigration, which he says would “transform America’s immigration system into the pride of our nation and the envy of the modern world.”

His plan focused mostly on legal immigration, with no provisions for undocumented migrants already in the country or Dreamers.

Currently, our immigration system favors migrants with family already in the U.S. and allots a minority of visas – around 12 percent – to immigrants with higher education or special workforce skills. Trump’s proposal would increase that 12 percent to 57 percent and decrease family visas from 66 to 33 percent. Applicants would be required to speak English and pass a civics test. Preference would be given to younger, financially stable applicants entering the country with an existing offer of employment.

Under Trump’s proposal, family-based migration would be limited to the nuclear family, so that spouses and minor children would still be given high priority. Extended family members, however, would not qualify.

Trump also addressed asylum, saying that “legitimate” asylum-seekers would “quickly be admitted,” but those with “frivolous” claims would “promptly be returned home.” The president did not expand on what might constitute a “frivolous” claim for asylum. The percentage of total visas provided for humanitarian purposes would decrease from 22 to 10 percent.

“Like Canada and so many other modern countries, we will create an easy-to-navigate points-based system,” said Trump. Unlike Canada, however, Trump made no commitment to resettle thousands of refugees.

The plan is unlikely to garner bipartisan support. Democrats probably will not support any immigration plan that does not discuss young people covered under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, but White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says Trump’s plan does not include DACA for a reason. Read more

News

“Divine Nine” advocates press state lawmakers for change

Nicole Dozier speaks at today’s press conference, flanked by other Divine Nine representatives, including Rep. Jean Farmer-Butterfield at left

The North Carolina Divine Nine, a group of nine historically African-American Panhellenic fraternities and sororities, held a press conference today at the General Assembly to announce the group’s advocacy agenda for the 2019-2020 year.

Tejuan Manners, district director of the Association of North Carolina Alphamen, described six areas of emphasis in the group’s policy agenda: criminal justice reform, voting reform, accessible health care, improved public education, economic empowerment and housing justice and assuring a full count in the 2020 Census.

Nicole Dozier, director of the Health Advocacy Project at the North Carolina Justice Center (the parent organization of NC Policy Watch), specifically addressed the importance of closing the Medicaid coverage gap while decrying the decision of state legislative leaders to keep North Carolina in what she called the “mean-spirited minority” that have refused to expand the program.

In exploring some of the details of the six priorities, Manners gave particular emphasis to securing full public access to all police body camera footage and the group’s demand that North Carolina enact a program providing for automatic voter registration for all North Carolinians when they reach their 18th birthday.

Rep. Jean Farmer-Butterfield (D-Wilson) and Sen. Mujtaba Mohammed (D-Mecklenburg) were present at the press conference and praised the North Carolina Divine Nine for their consistent commitment to political advocacy in the state.

This press conference was part of the fourth annual North Carolina Divine Nine Legislative Day. Organizers estimated attendance at today’s event at over 600.

Aditi Kharod is a student at UNC Chapel Hill and an intern at NC Policy Watch.