Asian American Organizations Outraged by Texas Representatives Remarks
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
9 April 2009
Sarah Smith | OCA Communications Manager
202.223.5500 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Leonie L. Campbell-Williams | AAJC Director of Communications
202.296.2300 ext 135 | Cell: 202.492.4591 | LCampbell@AdvancingEquality.org
OCA, Asian American Justice Center (AAJC) and the Asian American Legal Defense Fund (AALDEF) express disappointment over Texas Representative Betty Brown’s suggestion at a hearing on April 7 that Asian Americans adopt "names that are easier for Americans to deal with.”
The hearing was to discuss Senate Bill 362 on restrictive voter ID requirements. An OCA member commented that people of Chinese, Japanese and Korean descent often have problems voting and identifying themselves because they may have a legal transliterated name and then a common English name that is used on identification cards. Brown suggested that Asian Americans should change their names for manageability.
"Representative Brown’s comments made clear that she lacks an understanding of Asian American cultures and that she in fact undervalues other cultures,” said OCA Executive Director George Wu.
"It is unacceptable that Representative Brown believes that the burden should be placed upon individual voters to make it easier on poll workers to ensure that the voters get to exercise their right to vote, rather than expecting that the burden lay with the government to do its job correctly," said Terry Ao, director of Census & Voting Programs at the Asian American Justice Center. "Participation in the democratic process should unite all Americans; we should be seeking ways to encourage more voters, not inventing excuses to deny citizens their constitutional right to vote."
AALDEF and OCA conducted poll monitoring in Houston during the November Presidential Elections. According to Glenn D. Magpantay, staff attorney at the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, "We found that identification checks were inappropriately or excessively required of only Asian American voters. The State of Texas should not enact such restrictive voting laws that may disenfranchise voters and further subject them to racial profiling.”
Senate Bill 362 will have its greatest impact on voters who are poor, elderly, belong to racial minorities or have disabilities. Asian Americans are among those who will be disproportionately impacted by these laws.
Founded in 1973 as the Organization of Chinese Americans, OCA is a national organization dedicated to the social, political, and economic well-being of Asian Pacific Americans in the United States. Headquartered in Washington, DC, OCA is engaged in organizing its over 80 chapters and affiliates across the nation to develop both leadership and community involvement. OCA is online at www.ocanational.org.
About Asian American Justice Center AAJC is a national non-profit, non-partisan organization that works to advance the human and civil rights for Asian Americans, and build and promote a fair and equitable society for all and is a nationally recognized expert on voting rights.
About Asian American Legal Defense Fund Founded in 1974, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) is a national organization that protects and promotes the civil rights of Asian Americans. By combining litigation, advocacy, education, and organizing, AALDEF works with Asian American communities across the country to secure human rights for all.