By Brittney Le
AsAmNews Staff Writer
Korean American DACA recipient Jung Bin Cho is using his 15 minutes of fame to step up his advocacy for a clean DREAM Act after he attended the State of the Union as the guest of Rep Judy Chu (D-CA).
“We had to endure sitting through a speech in which he (Trump) villainized the immigrant community,” said Cho, 23, to AsAmNews. “My mom is somebody, my dad is somebody, and my brother is somebody, and I am a somebody that deserves full equality.”
Coming from South Korea to Virginia when he was only 7 years old, Cho now works as an intern at the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC).
In South Korea around 2001, Cho’s family was allegedly scammed by a lawyer who promised his family green cards and citizenship if they came to America with work visas. Still he managed to graduate with a degree in business from Virginia Tech in 2017.
Cho pointed out how Trump had failed to acknowledge immigrants in his statement about the American dream during the State of the Union. “There’s a lot of hurdles that they need to go through to achieve the American dream,” Cho said of the immigrant experience.
“He’s putting Dreamers hostage,” Cho said, referring to Trump’s desire to build a wall and end family reunification in return for reform that would protect Dreamers. “The DREAM Act is a big issue but that’s one small part of what our immigrant community is, which is over 11 million undocumented people in the United States. What we want to pursue is some kind of citizenship for all.”
President Trump blamed Democrats on Friday for the prolonged delay in immigration negotiations. “I think they want to use it for political purposes, for elections,” Trump said, according to a White House pool report. “I really am not happy with the way it’s going, from the standpoint of the Democrats.”
Cho countered that Trump’s real goal is “Making America White again.” Sam Yu of NAKASEC said nothing short of a clean DREAM Act is acceptable.
“The DREAM Act needs to be clean through and through,” said Yu. “Even if family reunification remains untouched, if there are any elimination of diversity visa programs (programs that benefit African countries) or funding for a border wall (which affects Latinx/Hispanic communities), for example, then those are still communities that are being negatively impacted, and we cannot stand for those ‘unclean’ things being added to the DREAM Act. Our liberation is tied to other communities, so we will not support anything that does not uplift all of our communities.”
“We are particularly concerned about cuts to family reunification because the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community relies on family reunification to keep our families together,” Yu added. “In 2015, 82% of visas given to Asian countries were family based. If these kinds of cuts are made (which they are in Trump’s White House Framework on Immigration Reform & Border Security), then our communities will suffer.”
When asked about how others can get involved, Cho highlighted some important steps, such as calling Congress members and telling them to make immigration a priority issue in their campaigns. He also hopes to see more Dreamers invited to visit Congressional offices and to the Senate floor. “One important thing that undocumented people, and people in America, have is the freedom of speech,” said Cho. “A story itself is very powerful.”
Yu also is urging the public to call representatives and senators to “demand that they be champions for immigrant youth and hold them accountable to that commitment.”
“I would like to thank Representative Congresswoman and Chair of CAPAC Judy Chu for being a true champion of Dreamers,” said Cho. “Especially for the AAPI community, one more voice and one more story like mine will help move Congress to do the right thing and pass a Clean DREAM Act.”
To learn more, follow NAKASEC on Facebook, Twitter, and their website to keep up to date on these issues. You can also volunteer with NAKASEC and join them directly in future actions.
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