Asian Americans And Pacific Islanders For Edwards
"I believe that everyone in Americaregardless of the family you were born into, the color of your skin or the country your family came fromshould have an equal chance to build a better life." -- John Edwards
There are still Two Americasone favored and the other forgotten. Over the last 20 years, American incomes have grown apart: 40 percent of the income growth in the 1980s and 1990s went to the top 1 percent. Between 2001 and 2005, the top 1 percent of households gained $268 billion of total income and the bottom 90 percent lost $272 billion ($2,071 per household). [EPI, 2006; EPI, 2007]
The Asian American and Pacific Islander community is as diverse as America itself but, at the same time, faces its own unique challenges. From the "model minority" myth to language accessibility to the struggle for equal opportunity to the challenges of our broken immigration system, all Americans must share responsibility for breaking down the barriers that prevent any of us from realizing the American Dream. To make sure everyone has the same chances that America has given to him, as president, Edwards supports:
Guaranteeing Health Care for Every American
Nearly 18 percent of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders lack health insurance. Rates are even higher among many AAPI communities: 34 percent for Korean Americans, 27 percent for Vietnamese Americans and 20 percent for Chinese and Filipino Americans. Edwards has a plan to take on the insurance and drug companies and guarantee true universal health care that provides everyone in America with the option of a public plan. To combat the language barriers that have led to major health disparities, Edwards will establish a national 24-hour medical translation and interpretation hotline for rural and smaller hospitals and will give urban hospitals additional resources to provide language access. He will also increase funding for research into health disparities and support outreach programs that use peers to educate about health concerns. [Census Bureau, 2007]
Strengthening Schools So Every Child Can Succeed
More than 50 years after Brown v. Board of Education, our education system remains shockingly unequal. States spend $900 less per student in their most diverse school districts. The lack of federal funding for education has led to cuts for English language and minority outreach programs. Edwards will invest in teacher pay and training to attract teachers where we need them most, reduce class size, create second-chance schools to help dropouts get back on track, expand early childhood education and strengthen high school curricula. Edwards has also proposed providing new federal resources to promote economic diversity in schools. He will also make college more affordable through his College for Everyone program, which will pay the first year of public-college tuition, books and fees for students willing to work part-time and stay out of trouble. [Urban Institute, 2004; Prestoop & Ross, 2006]
Comprehensive Immigration Reform
Immigration is central to the story of America, but today our immigration system needs a fundamental overhaul. Our economy is harmed by an underground economy that features a large and unprotected labor force. And our values are violated by a system that keeps families apart and forces people to live in the shadows, vulnerable to abuse. The first step is to control our borders and stop illegal trafficking. We also need to crack down on employers that hire undocumented immigrants. At the same time, it is unrealistic to think that we can deport more than 12 million people. Edwards believes we need to give people here the opportunity to pay a fine and learn English to earn American citizenship.
Edwards will end the backlog of background checks for people who are already in this country and are applying to become lawful permanent residents and, eventually, citizens. Our immigration policies should bring families together, not keep them apart. Edwards believes family reunification is an important value that should be preserved in our immigration laws.
Creating Safe and Affordable Housing
Safe and affordable housing should be accessible to all, but Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are discriminated against when searching for housing over 20 percent of the time. Edwards will promote economically integrated neighborhoods by enforcing anti-discrimination laws, creating more than 1 million new housing vouchers and cracking down on the scourge of predatory mortgage lending. [HUD, 2000]
Helping Small Businesses
Entrepreneurship has always given immigrant communities a toehold in the American economy. But in 2006, less than 1 percent of federal contracts went to Asian American and Pacific Islander-owned businesses. Edwards will increase federal contracting opportunities for minority-owned small business and use the power of the federal government to help small business. The single most important thing we can do to help small businesses is cut skyrocketing health care costs. The Edwards health care plan will eliminate at least $130 billion a year in wasteful health care spending and reduce the cost of a typical family policy by $2000 to $2500 a year. And new Health Care Markets will bring down costs, particularly for individuals and small businesses through negotiating power and administrative efficiencies, making it easier for them to care for their employees. [FPDS, 2007]
Ending Poverty in America
Every day, 37 million Americans wake up in poverty -- including more than 1.4 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Poverty rates are disproportionately higher among Hmong Americans (38 percent), Cambodian Americans (29 percent) and native Hawaiians and Samoan Americans (both 18 percent). Edwards has set a goal of eliminating poverty within a generation by rewarding work, creating opportunity and strengthening families. Edwards will raise the minimum wage to $9.50 by 2012, create 1 million stepping stone jobs, expand the earned income tax credit, strengthen labor laws to make it easier for workers to join a union and step up enforcement against wage violations. Edwards also supports a family assistance policy that supports training and education, such as English classes. [Census Bureau, 2006]
Ending Hate Crimes and Racial Profiling
Over the last 20 years, the number of hate crimes against Asian Americans has grown faster than crimes against any other group and since 9/11, Americans of South Asian descent have become targets of racial profiling. Edwards believes that everyone is entitled to live in dignity without fear of violence; he supports strengthening the federal hate crimes legislation to sure law enforcement has all the tools and resources it needs to protect every community in America. Edwards will ban racial profiling in law enforcement and ensure that all everyone in America is treated with dignity and respect. [OCA, 2007]
Protecting the Right to Vote
Forty years after the Voting Rights Act, we still have more work to do to ensure a meaningful right to vote for every American. Edwards will support effective implementation of the Help America Vote Act, using technology and other assistance to make voting easier for non-English speakers. He also supports secure and accessible voting ballots for all voting machines. Edwards believes we should allow voters to register on Election Day, ending the fiasco of purge lists, provisional ballots and voter registration intimidation, and he opposes voter photo identification legislation, which disproportionately disenfranchise racial and ethnic minorities.
Honoring Our Sacred Contract with Veterans
Edwards believes that all veterans who courageously served and defended our country should receive full benefits. He supports giving Filipino veterans the benefits they deserve.