February 1, 2017
Dear OCA-NJ Members, Family and Friends:
The important roles of the Trump Administration is currently in review and of the 16 selected nominees; two of these nominees are facing hurdles in their delayed confirmation for their appointment. Senator Jeff Sessions (Attorney General, updated nomination confirmed for Senate hearing 11:20a.m. today) and Betsy DeVos (Education Secretary, nomination confirmed for Senate hearing Jan. 31) contrasts directly with the effectiveness of OCA Advocates and our role in advocacy for APIA. Here’s what you should know and we all need to take the necessary Action Steps to prevent this from happening.
Who are these individuals and what do they mean for the AAPI community?
Please scroll thru to read further of Senator Sessions
Nominated for Attorney General
Confirmed his nomination today at 11:20am and headed to Senate floor for hearing and vote
What does the Attorney General do?
A key responsibility of the attorney general is to oversee the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division – enforcing our nation’s civil rights laws and upholding the U.S. Constitution. The attorney general also plays a significant role in immigration enforcement and adjudication, including setting policy, through the oversight of the immigration court system and the appointment of immigration judges.
Who is Senator Sessions?
Senator Sessions is the senior senator from Alabama. Senator Sessions has faced controversy for having made derogatory statements and has a history for anti-immigrant movements in his voting record are troubling for many Civil Rights organizations. Senator Sessions historically has not supported legislation and regulations that would protect the AAPI community or other vulnerable communities.
In his own words…
…bemoaned the “last four decades” as a “period of record uncontrolled immigration to the United States” and remarked that “since 1965,” there has been an “extreme unprecedented pattern of immigration… unlike most established countries in the world.” [Citation: A Memo For Republican Members From Sen. Jeff Sessions, Immigration Handbook for the New Republican Majority; Quote from Subcommittee Hearing on “The Impact of High Levels of Immigration on U.S. Workers”]
…has emerged as the lead anti-immigration voice in the United States Senate. Sessions has consistently expressed his opposition to, and raised alarmist concern regarding, patterns of immigration post-1965 – a watershed year in which the United States dismantled its explicitly racist national origin quotas (including the remaining vestiges of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882) and finally allowed larger numbers of non-Europeans into the U.S., creating the diversity we see in America today. Sessions has been the standard bearer for a nativist vision of America, sounding the alarm regarding the “unprecedented” percentage of the American population that is foreign-born – without regard for the fact that the current percentage is lower than during the late 1800s, when the foreign- born were overwhelmingly from Western Europe. Highlights of his record in several areas, including immigration and voting rights, illustrate that Sessions, once deemed unfit to serve as a federal judge due to his racist statements and sentiments, is unqualified and inappropriate for the position of attorney general.
SENATOR SESSIONS ON IMMIGRATION
Proposes a Ban on Muslim Immigrants and Refugees
- supported proposal to ban Muslims from entering the country.
- opposes Syrian refugees coming to the U.S. (at least those who are Muslim)
Oppose Family-Based Immigration and Diversity in Immigration
- proposed eliminating immigration categories that allow U.S. citizens to sponsor their parents, sons, daughters, and siblings, among other provisions that promote family unity.
- wants to reduce overall immigration, especially by low-income immigrants and family-based immigration.
An Inhumane Anti-Immigrant Record
- supported Alabama’s harsh anti-immigrant law, HB 56, which required local police to inquire about immigration status, public schools to track children’s immigration status, and encouraged racial profiling.
- proposed extreme restrictions on the number of people on visas who could work lawfully in the U.S.
- has led the opposition to every bill to grant legal status to undocumented immigrants since he joined the Senate. He strongly opposed the DREAM Act and every recent bipartisan immigration reform bill.
- attacked policies that protect limited English proficient immigrants and seeks to reduce immigrants’ access to benefits.
- has sought to withhold federal funding to localities with sanctuary city policies.
- has offered amendments to limit immigrants with status access to federal health insurance programs, including tax credits in the exchanges under the Affordable Care Act.
SPOTLIGHTING SESSIONS’ DISREGARD FOR CIVIL AND HUMAN RIGHTS
Calls a black attorney “boy” and a white civil rights attorney a “disgrace to his race”; tells a black attorney to “be careful what you say to white folks”; and calls the NAACP and ACLU un-American for “trying to force civil rights down the throats of people.”
- rejected for a federal judgeship after witnesses testified that he made racist remarks.
- does not believe in the Constitutional guarantee that all people born in the United States should be granted U.S. citizenship.
- supported extreme and harsh immigration enforcement and the criminalization of immigrants such as criminal prosecution and prison time for people who enter the country illegally or are out of status, despite the fact that many of them came to America fleeing violence, persecution, and poverty.
- has not supported programs and policies that attempt to end racial disparities in employment, educational attainment, or incarceration rates.
- has opposed criminal justice reform, supported strict sentences for drug offenders, and expressed skepticism about the need for special federal civil rights protections for LGBT people.
SESSIONS OPPOSES VOTING RIGHTS PROTECTION
Senator Sessions referred to the Voting Rights Act as “a piece of intrusive legislation
- praised the 2013 Supreme Court decision, Shelby County v. Holder, that struck down part of the Voting Rights Act with a statement that in “Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, people aren’t being denied the vote because of the color of their skin.” A panel of three judges on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in North Carolina found the state’s new voting restrictions “target African Americans with almost surgical precision.”
- As a U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, prosecuted three black civil rights activists engaged in get out the vote efforts with voting fraud and other crimes. The jury found them not guilty.
Please scroll thru to read further of Betsy DeVos
Nomination has been cleared for Secretary of Education
Facing Senate Vote for the position of Secretary of Education
What does the Education Secretary do?
The head of the Department of Education, is charged with upholding an inclusive and diverse system of high-quality public education, including the 2.6 million Asian Americans currently in public schools.
Who is Betsy DeVos?
Betsy DeVos is well-known proponent of charter school and voucher school programs, particularly in the state of Michigan. DeVos has never held a position in public schools teaching, counseling, or administration of schools.
• As chair of the American Federation for Children, she advocated for the use of public funds to pay for private school tuition in the form of vouchers, which diverts funds from high need public schools to private schools. From 2007 to 2011, the number of Asian Americans in poverty increased by 37 percent and Pacific Islander poverty increased by 60 percent, which far surpasses the national average of 27 percent. Since vouchers often do not cover the full tuition, the people who need public funds the most are the most likely to not benefit at all from voucher programs.
• She also supports charter school programs that are not obligated to comply with federal anti-discrimination laws. A U.S. Department of Education report found that 85% of large central city private schools would “definitely or probably” not be willing to participate in a voucher program if they were required to accept students with special needs, including limited English proficiency. As 1 in 3 AAPIs are Limited English Proficient, civil rights enforcement in schools is a top priority for our community.
• At her Senate hearing, DeVos appeared to not understand that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was a federal law. IDEA ensures that students with disabilities are given a free and appropriate education in public schools.
• She also refused to back equal accountability for federal funds given to schools, which would leave the door open to government waste and unequal education outcomes across the public, voucher, private, and charter schools that are currently funded by the federal government.
What Can I Do?
Both Jeff Sessions and Betsy DeVos have a history or working against Asian American communities when it comes to immigration, education, and social justice. These individuals should not be allowed to have the ear of the President and take our country backwards to a time where many in our country did not have equal rights.
Find your Senator online and tell them you are calling on behalf of OCA-NJ and to oppose the appointment of DeVos and Sessions!
Sample Script for Jeff Sessions:
Hello, my name is ________________ and I am a constituent of Senator ____________.
I am calling today to voice my opposition to the nomination of Jeff Sessions to the position of attorney general. Jeff Sessions has a long history of opposition to basic civil and immigrant rights. He has opposed family reunification through opposing immigration reform, which is how many AAPIs (or my father, mother, uncle) immigrated to the United States. And he has also voted against an amendment to the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that extended temporary visas to undocumented victims of domestic violence.
I urge Senator _____ to oppose his nomination and solely support an attorney general that supports the enforcement of civil rights for all.
Sample Script for Betsy DeVos:
Hello, my name is ________________ and I am a constituent of Senator ____________.
I am calling today to voice my opposition to the nomination of Betsy DeVos to the position of Secretary of Education. She has supported voucher models that disparately affect low income Asian American and Pacific Islander students. Also, with a majority of our community attending public schools, we cannot support a nominee who has never attended public schools and does not understand the needs of our country’s public school system. Finally, she has a history of supporting strongly anti-LGBTQ organizations.
I urge Senator _____ to oppose her nomination and support a Secretary of Education that has a vast experience with different school models that protect the civil rights of all of America’s children.
Who’s who in Trumps Nominations–updates
Schedule of other key nominations
Jeff Sessions, attorney general — Nomination confirmed Feb. 1, 11:20a.m. to be voted on the Senate floor
John Kelly, secretary of Homeland Security — Nomination confirmed
Wednesday, January 11
Rex Tillerson, secretary of state — hearings in the morning and afternoon
Elaine Chao, transportation secretary — Nomination confirmed
Mike Pompeo, director of the Central Intelligence Agency — Nomination confirmed
Betsy DeVos, education secretary — Nomination confirmed Jan. 31, to be voted on the Senate floor
Thursday, January 12
James Mattis, defense secretary–Nomination confirmed
Wednesday, January 18
Tom Price, secretary of Health and Human Services
Hearings yet to be scheduled
Steven Mnuchin, treasury secretary
Andrew Puzder, labor secretary
Scott Pruitt, Environmental Protection Agency administrator
Mick Mulvaney, budget director
Ryan Zinke, interior secretary
Ben Carson, secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Rick Perry, energy secretary
Nikki Haley, UN ambassador