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A Softer, ‘Presidential’ Tone Doesn’t Change Trump’s Policies, Say AAPI Critics & Doubters

Rep Judy Chu Reacts to Presidential Address
Rep. Judy Chu, right, expresses her displeasure of President Trump’s comments.

By Ed Diokno
Views from the Edge


Sorry, Trump fans. Just because Donald Trump proved he could read a teleprompter and he could speak with an “indoor voice,” as one pundit described Trump’s performance at the Joint Session of Congress, does not make him “presidential.”

One night’s performance doesn’t erase the first five weeks of his administration or the nearly two year’s of hate-inducing campaign rhetoric or the lies that flows too easily out of his mouth. As former GOP candidate might say, “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig.”

The softer tone of the address spurred the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) to send another letter to him requesting a meeting.

CAPAC Chair Rep. Judy Chu, D-CA, sent the first letter on Nov. 23, 2016 to then President-elect Donald Trump requesting that he meet with the Caucus to discuss pertinent issues impacting the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. To date, CAPAC has not received a response regarding either meeting request.

Presidenti Donald Trump at Presidential Address
President Trump still has to do more to convince
anyone that he has softened his tone.

“Since its inception, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus has engaged with both Democratic and Republican presidents to discuss issues of importance to the Asian American and Pacific Islander community,” said Chu. “These meetings have led to greater understanding of the issues impacting our communities and opened lines of communication to address these problems.

“It is disappointing that our request to meet with President Trump has been ignored for so long. As the fastest growing racial population in the country, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have a myriad of priorities that they would like to raise with the President – from the Muslim travel ban to the need to fix our broken immigration system. If President Trump is sincere about working to create unity in our country, I urge him to meet with CAPAC and work with us to address the diverse issues impacting the millions of Americans that we represent.”

Rep. Mark Takano, D-Ca was a bit more blunt. “President Trump used a new tone … to repeat the same dishonest and dangerous ideas. On health care, immigration, the economy, and foreign policy, he continued his pattern of misrepresenting reality to justify policies that will hurt middle-class families and jeopardize America’s safety.

“It is particularly striking that after seven years and countless promises to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Republicans are still repeating generic principles while offering no detailed plan and no legislation.

“After a month characterized by rambling press conferences and petty tweets, President Trump will likely be applauded for meeting the minimum standard we expect out of the leader of the free world. But his willingness to abandon the truth remains unprecedented, and his eagerness to portray immigrants as criminals is offensive and dangerous.

“Despite shifting his tone, the same reckless President Trump appeared before a Joint Session of Congress. And I fully expect him to tweet about his television ratings tomorrow.”

“Last night, President Trump purported to provide a message of unity, but instead continued his tireless condemnation of immigrants,” said Asian Americans Advancing Justice in a statement. “He divided the room with more anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric and policies that seek to scapegoat and subjugate Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), among other communities of color.”

AAAJ, a coalition of legal organizations, noted the president’s comments on immigration continued to depict immigrants as criminals contrary to several reports that say the opposite is true. Immigrants are less likely to commit a crime than native-born Americans.

“Rather than take the opportunity to speak up for immigrant and Muslim families, he used the family members of victims of tragic but rare events to vilify immigrants and stir fear and hatred. He described the creation of the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) office within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which will list immigrants who have committed crimes. This plan serves no other purpose than to demonize immigrants and fuel racist propaganda, despite the reality that the true face of immigrants consists of peaceful families, workers, neighbors, and community members.

AAAJ also was troubled by Trump’s plan to focus more on merit-based immigration, possibly dismantling the emphasis on family reunification. “A proposal that would dismantle the family-based immigration system that is responsible for the diversity we have in America today is a direct attack on our communities, keeping families separated and preventing immigrant communities from taking root.”


The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) National Director Christopher Kang issued a statement responding to Trump’s speech.

“Although the president then promised a message of unity, he delivered more of the same anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric and policies that seek to divide us. He declared that America must put its citizens first—relegating immigrants and refugees to second-class status—and repeatedly attacked immigrants as a drain on our economy and a source of increased crime, despite overwhelming evidence that both of these claims are lies. While the president spoke of keeping Americans safe, he continued to promote his administration’s inhumane immigration enforcement policies that only generate more fear in our communities. He also continued to fuel Islamophobia by declaring that we must “protect our nation from radical Islamic terrorism”—language his own National Security Advisor has repudiated.”

“The President failed to provide comfort to the hundreds of thousands of DREAMers and their families who live under constant fear of deportation in California and across the country,” said Sen. Kamala Harris, D-CA. “Treating all immigrants like criminals disparages the millions of incredibly hardworking and patriotic families who simply want a chance at the American dream.

“The President failed to provide assurances to the 5 million Californians who rely on the Affordable Care Act for their health insurance. Let’s be clear – access to health care is not the guarantee of health care. The American people are counting on us to improve and build on what we’ve made, not go back to a time when insurance companies could discriminate against women or those with a preexisting condition.

“And the President failed to speak to refugees, many of whom have been vetted for two years, but are now facing a country that denies them entry. I sat with refugees in California who were detained in airports for hours with their families and lawyers on the other side of a door. This is wrong and it makes us less safe.

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