ASPIRE was honored by the Japanese American Citizens League – Youth Council. Check out our Keynote Speech. The transcript can be found here.
“…Instead of being subservient and yielding to the people in power, we see time and time again that the power of the people is stronger and more fierce. The generation before us have made great strides in advancing our liberation, but our fight is not finished. We must continue to advance their gains. We continue to struggle as people of color, as women, as LGBTQ individuals, and as immigrants, but we struggle together. As such, everyone in this room and the API community need to continue to work collectively to fight for a society that treats all its members justly and humanely.”
Keynote Speech: Akiko Aspillaga
Written by: Akiko Aspillaga, So Young Lee, Dora Lee, and Wei Lee
Ju Hong talks to Democracy Now about interrupting President Obama during his speech at San Francisco.
“As an undocumented immigrant, my power comes through my voice. President Obama, you have the executive power to stop the pain in our communities. You said you are just following the law. But as you have acknowledged, our immigration laws are broken. The law also does not require you to deport 400,000 a year. You cannot support us while deporting thousands of our community members every day. We don’t need any more speeches. We need you to take real action.” — Ju Hong
Akiko Aspillaga immigrated to the United States from the Philippines at the age of 10 years old. Because of lack of resources and false information from her mother’s employer, she fell out of status. Despite the complexities and challenges she experienced as an undocumented immigrant, she continues to pursue her dreams.
Akiko is the Community Organizer with ASPIRE, the first youth-led undocumented Asian Pacific Islander organization. Akiko reflected on lessons from organizing for pro-immigrant policies and on what it means to trust your struggle.
“In the Asian Pacific Islander (API) community, it is very challenging to come out as an undocumented immigrant. Many times, even our own immediate family members perpetuate the “shame” of being undocumented by keeping us silent and in the shadows. This may even go to the extent where our own cousins won’t know about our immigration status. In general, topics like immigration are to be avoided by any means necessary.As a result, ASPIRE (Asian Students Promoting Immigrant Rights through Education) was created in order to create a safe space for API Dreamers to share our stories.As undocumented immigrants, we often encounter awkward situations where we find ourselves making elaborate excuses in order to avoid talking about our immigration status. In this video, an everyday situation where a group of friends just hanging out turns AWKWARD when the topic of traveling abroad gets brought up.” -Steve Li (12/10/11)