WASHINGTON — OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates, a national membership-driven organization of community advocates dedicated to advancing the social, political, and economic well-being of Asian Pacific Americans, is disappointed with the recent Senate Judiciary subcommittee name changes.
On Jan. 22, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced senators assigned to each of its six subcommittees. However, the assignments also included name changes for two subcommittees. The subcommittees on “Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights” and on “Immigration, Refugees and Border Security” were changed to the subcommittees on “Constitution” and “Immigration and the National Interest.”
“We are disappointed that these subcommittee names have been changed,” said Ken Lee, OCA chief executive officer. The message Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) are sending to our communities is that civil and human rights are not a priority for the American people and that immigration is not important to the growth and development of our country.
“Many Asian Pacific Americans still feel the weight of the internment camps and how our government stripped away the civil rights of over 100,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. Additionally, despite the significant contributions of Chinese immigrants to the building of the railroads and the economic development of much of the West, that community was a victim of the only immigration law to specifically exclude them based on national origin.
“Those are part of the reason why Asian Pacific Americans are involved in the collective struggle for the recognition of our civil rights and for comprehensive immigration reform. The simple act of removing such important terminology from two of the most important subcommittees is akin to erasing that history.
“We hope that these name changes are merely cosmetic and do not affect the work of the committees. Important civil rights and immigration reform legislation are still necessary, and we are committed to continuing our work in both the House and the Senate to protect our civil liberties in spite of the message our new Congress has shown.”