UCA Co-Sponsored 2019 National Civic Leadership Forum
Civic Engagement and Empowerment in 2020 Census and 2020 Election Season are key areas of campaign for UCA
Washington, DC – UCA has successfully hosted and supported its members to participate in the 2019 National Civic Leadership Forum (NCLF) held Sep 15-18th, in Washington, DC. The conference was attended by about 200 Asian Pacific Islander American (AAPI) community leaders representing 100 civic organizations across the country. The conference was led by Asian Apacific Islander American Public Affairs Association (APAPA) and Civic Leadership USA (CLUSA), with UCA being one of the major co-sponsoring AAPI organizations, including, Asian American Unity Coalition (AAUC), Asian Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote), New American Leaders (NAL), 80-20 United, Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS), National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA), Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC). The theme of the conference is “Empower AAPI for 2020”, with an aim to increase civic engagement in the AAPI community, build a broad coalition among many different AAPI organizations, and prepare for the 2020 elections and decennial census.
AAPI population is about 24.2 million in 2018 according to the Census Bureau, a 27% increase since 2010 Census, though this could be a significant underestimate because of undercount of the population. Many AAPIs are successful business owners, lawyers, doctors, and professionals, who are among the major contributing force to American economy and society. Yet AAPIs are also highly diverse and segmented with more than 21 major ethnic groups, over 30 languages spoken, and predominantly immigrants. These communities have experienced lowest voter turnout and census participation in the past two decades.
Facing the challenges in 2020 census and historical 2020 election season coming up, AAPI civic leaders recognized the importance of gathering in Washington DC, discussing pressing issues and urgent threats to the communities that were exacerbated by the rise of anti-immigrant sentiment and hate crimes in recent years. More than 100 AAPI civic organizations representing twelve (12) ethnic groups were represented at the NCLF, including Bangladeshi, Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Hawaiian or Pacific Islanders, Indian, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Pakistani, Thai and Vietnamese.
AAPI Congressional members, including Rep. Judy Chu, Ted Lieu, former Rep. David Wu, attended the conference and encouraged participants to be leaders and champions of the AAPI community. Secretary Elaine Chao (Department of Transportation), and members of the Asian American Caucus in US Congress also sent their representatives and encouraging remarks to the meeting attendees. Other Congressional members and speakers of the meeting included, Tom McClintock, Brendan Boyle, Lloyd Dogget, Bobby Scott, Kurt Schrader, Earl Blumenauer and Sheila Jackson Lee.
During the Congressional Visit session of the conference, AAPI leaders visited more than 70 US House and Senate representatives, and communicated the most urgent issues concerning the AAPI communities, including, 1. cumbersome and outdated immigration procedures that created crowded and lengthy backlogs with inhumane treatment of immigrants and families; 2. lack of funding and support in 2020 census especially for the AAPI community; 3. threats to civil rights under the scrutiny of national security caused by increased tension of international relations in the current administration. UCA has organized a similar Congressional Visit in its 2018 annual convention in Washington DC, advocating for civil rights protection for the Chinese community.
AAPI civic organizations including Asian Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote), Asian American Advancing Justice (AAJC), and others, along with AAPI elected officials and organization leaders, reviewed key statistics of the AAPI community and shared the best practices of voter engagement, leadership development, and how to run social-political campaigns. Full details of the conference can be found at the meeting website of https://whova.com/web/nclf_201909/.
The conference culminated in a press conference, Congressional Reception, and ceremony on Sep 17th, when 90 community leaders attended co-signed a joint statement by participating organizations. The joint statement highlighted the contribution of the AAPIs in their professional fields and economic impact. At the same time, it called AAPI communities to increase efforts in civic engagement and empowerment, to participate in volunteerism, philanthropy, public policy advocacy, census and election, and other areas of social-political activism.
UCA board members played key roles in organizing and supporting the meeting, including Joy Guo, organizing Committee member, Chaoyu Xie, Campaign 101 session chair, Mary Liu, Keynote Speech session chair, Helen Shih, Congressional Visit session chair, and Xie Jan, official photographer. UCA president Haipei Xue, and Chairman of the board, Xiaoyan Zhang, were among the guest speakers at the conference. Vincent Wang (NCLF program chair) and Qiu Hong are Ohio APAPA members and UCA community partnership representatives who are the key organizers and supporters of the conference. Other UCA board members and community partnership leaders representing UCA included Zhida Song-James, Paul Li from Maryland, Lily Chen from Illinois, Hardy Li and Qi Hong Wagner from Washington state, and Zhaobang Zeng from North Carolina.