First Annual NYC Fred Korematsu Day

First Annual NYC Fred Korematsu Day

New York, NY – Today NYC Council Member Daniel Dromm and Fred T. Korematsu Institute Executive Director Karen Korematsu gathered on the steps of City Hall with Council Members Margaret Chin and Peter Koo, New York Day of Remembrance Committee Co-chair Michael Ishii, Japanese American Citizens League New York Chapter Co-President George Hirose, Long-time activist Suki Terada Ports, Coalition for Asian American Children and Families Director of Programs Mitchel Wu, Bridging Cultures Group Inc. Founder & CEO Debbie Almontaser and Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY) Legal Director Albert Cahn to celebrate the first annual New York City Fred Korematsu Day Of Civil Liberties and the Constitution.

In 2015, Dromm introduced Resolution 792 to recognize January 30 as Fred T. Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution in honor of the late civil rights activist who objected to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.   The effort received widespread support from many individuals and organizations.  After being voted out of the Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Intergroup Relations committee, the entire Council unanimously passed Resolution 792 on December 19, 2017.

Fred Korematsu refused to comply with Civilian Exclusion Order 34, based on the federal Executive Order 9066, which imposed strict curfew regulations and resulted in the forcible removal of 120,000 Japanese Americans from their communities to be incarcerated indefinitely in American concentration camps during World War II.  He was arrested and convicted, but fought back because he believed the conviction went against the basic freedoms guaranteed to him by the U.S. Constitution. 

Korematsu and a handful of his fellow patriots stood up not just for themselves but for the preservation of our Constitution, during the racist and xenophobic hysteria that was unfortunately part of our country’s response to the war.  At that time, overwhelming fear stoked by the United States government allowed the darkest elements of our society to have free reign.  The rule of law and respect for basic human rights became unfortunate casualties in the rush to demonize, segregate, and then persecute Japanese Americans.  While fighting fascism overseas, our government uprooted families here, ruined livelihoods, and tore communities apart.  Only decades later did the United States recognize the grave injustice perpetrated against its own people.

“In these times of Muslim bans, attacks on immigrants and refugees, and neo-Nazi rallies encouraged by the Trump administration’s hateful rhetoric, it has become increasingly important to reiterate the lessons of history,” said NYC Council Member Daniel Dromm (D-Elmhurst, Jackson Heights), who represents one of the most diverse districts in NYC.  “Fred Korematsu’s courage to take a stand against injustice is an inspiration to us all.  By co-founding Korematsu Day in NYC, I hope to educate our youth on Korematsu and all that he did to make our nation a better place.  I thank Speaker Johnson, my colleagues in the Council and the many advocates who came together to support this important effort.  May the sins of our forefathers never again be repeated.”

Karen Korematsu, Founder and Executive Director of the Fred T. Korematsu Center said, “My profound thanks to Councilman Dromm and the New York City Council for establishing Fred Korematsu Day Of Civil Liberties and the Constitution on January 30, in perpetuity for New York City and, as my father said, for ‘Standing Up for What is Right.’”

“Fred Korematsu was a visionary who always tried to stand up for what was right. His activism and commitment to advancing civil rights were crucial to starting important conversations about race, inclusion, and the history of Asian Americans in our country, imparting deep wisdom that we continue to carry with us,” said NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson. “This year, on what would be his 99th birthday, we establish January 30th as Fred T. Korematsu Day in order to honor his dream of a more equal and just society.”

“I am so proud to join my Council colleagues as we celebrate the life and leadership of Fred T. Korematsu, the late civil rights activist who spoke truth to power and valiantly challenged the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, ” said NYC Council Member Margaret Chin (D-Lower Manhattan).  “Today, in spite of the many challenges brought on by the current political climate, Korematsu’s legacy endures as young Asian Americans across the country are rising up to protect our civil rights and resist the Trump Administration’s cruel endorsement of division and hate. Thank you to Council Member Dromm and advocates across our City for your efforts to officially establish January 30th as Fred T. Korematsu Day in New York City, and encourage more New Yorkers to learn about the outstanding service and contributions of this real life hero.”

“The modern world has become increasingly diverse so that people of different races, colors, and creeds cross paths more frequently than ever before,” said NYC Council Member Peter Koo (D-Flushing).  “The modern world has become increasingly diverse so that people of different races, colors, and creeds cross paths more frequently than ever before.  We must always remember our country’s multiculturalism and remain vigilant against veiled attempts to marginalize, segregate, and to pit one group against another.  In naming Fred T. Korematsu Day, we are reminded of the conviction and fighting spirit of America that was embodied in one man. We are also reminded that although times have changed, we still have a long way to go before America can truly become the beacon of ‘liberty and justice for all’ that it strives to be. We thank Mr. Korematsu for his bravery, and we commit to continuing his fight to ensure the injustices that befell the Japanese people does not happen again.”

“We call on citizens and communities across our great country to champion the ideals of Fred Korematsu,” said Michael Ishii, Co-chair of the New York Day of Remembrance Committee.  “Today, we stand with every neighbor and fellow human being targeted in a national resurgence of bigotry and trampling of civil liberties. Know that Japanese Americans are standing with you. In the words of our community, ‘Never Again’ to registries, forced removal and imprisonment or the dismantling of civil liberties based on race, identity, immigration status or creed.”

“Japanese Americans are the only group in the United States to have been mass-incarcerated and we are painfully aware that racial profiling and bigotry can only result in the destruction of many innocent lives,” said George Hirose, Co-President of the Japanese American Citizens League New York Chapter.  “It is our moral duty to tell our story so that society and our government should not forget, and not repeat the grave mistakes of the past.”

“The Coalition for Asian American Children and Families (CACF) is extremely excited to see January 31st be recognized in New York City as Fred T. Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution,” said Mitchel Wu, Director of Programs for the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families (CACF).  “We want to thank Council Member Daniel Dromm for sponsoring this resolution.  This day holds deeper and greater relevance to so many of our community members. His legacy is more than a commemoration of a American civil rights leader. CACF’s Asian American Student Advocacy Project (ASAP), high school youth leaders started working three years ago and advocated by sharing experiences of how Asian Pacific American youth face victimization in public schools, experience loss of identity, and feelings of exclusion. Fred T. Korematsu Day is an inspiration for New Yorkers to be a stronger diverse community.”

“The establishment of this day is not just about the accomplishments or actions of one man, but is a highly symbolic acknowledgement of how racially and religiously motivated policies can infringe on our basic civil and human rights, which are morally wrong,” said Dr. Debbie Almontaser, Founder and CEO of Bridging Cultures Group, Inc. “Fred T. Korematsu courageously fought the US Government in the Supreme Court for the incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans during WW2.  His courage, gives Muslim Americans and I the courage to stand up the Travel Ban created to target Muslim majority countries.” 

Albert Fox Cahn, Legal Director of CAIR-NY, said, “Today we honor Fred T. Korematsu’s fight for civil rights, pledging that we will never forget this dark chapter in American history or allow its repetition.”

“The Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) is proud to celebrate the inaugural Fred T. Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution on this 30th day of January with its friends and allies,” said Yang Chen, Executive Director of the Asian American Bar Association of New York.  “AABANY keeps alive the legacy of Fred T. Korematsu and other civil rights heroes like him through its trial reenactments project, which for the past 11 years has brought to life famous legal cases involving Asian Americans. The contributions made by Asian Americans to the legal, social and political history of the United States have been largely forgotten or ignored.  Yet these cases teach current and future generations important lessons about the need to speak up and stand up for what is right—values that Fred T. Korematsu embodied through his activism.  In the spirit of Korematsu Day, let us all speak up and stand up for what is right.  Let us all learn the lessons of history so that we may never again repeat the same mistakes.”

Dromm, Karen Korematsu

PHOTO CAPTION: (left to right) Council Member Daniel Dromm, Fred T. Korematsu Institute Executive Director Karen Korematsu, Council Member Margaret Chin and Council Member Peter Koo celebrate the first New York City Fred T. Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution on the steps of City Hall.

###

African Union Commission and OECD Development Centre call for tapping immigrants’ contribution to Africa’s economic transformation

African Union Commission and OECD Development Centre call for tapping immigrants’ contribution to Africa’s economic transformation

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, January 30, 2018/ — The perceptions that international migration is first and foremost a South-North phenomenon and that immigrants cost more than they yield is widespread. Yet about eight out of ten African migrants leave for another African country. Their impact on the economies of host countries is generally positive though limited. At the same time, Africa’s population is set to double by 2050, bringing 26 million additional young people into the labour force each year. Ambitious and effective policies for labour markets, education and skills, health, fertility, food security and access to financial services will be key to creating enough decent jobs and reap a demographic dividend, while maximising the positive contribution of immigrants to Africa.

These topics were at the heart of the joint press conference held today (January 29, 2018) by senior Officials from the African Union Commission (AUC) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on the side-lines of the 30th African Union Summit held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

“The African Union’s Agenda 2063 provides an ambitious, continental vision of inclusive economic transformation. We support the Commission in its implementation both at regional and national levels. Addressing the interrelations between migration and other public policies is key to unleashing the continent’s potential for economic transformation”, said Mario Pezzini, Director of the OECD Development Centre and Special Advisor to the OECD Secretary General on Development.

The media event built on the research on Migration and Development conducted by the OECD Development Centre in around 30 countries worldwide, including seven African countries; and the conclusions of the recently published OECD Development Centre-ILO How Immigrants Contribute to Developing Countries’ Economies report. The discussion highlighted the importance of intra-African migration and of immigrants’ contribution to their African host country in three areas: labour market, economic growth and public finance.

Using both quantitative and qualitative methods, the report presents numerous instances of immigrants’ positive economic contributions in African countries. For example, in Côte d’Ivoire, immigrants paid more than half a percent of GDP more in taxes and contributions than they generated in additional fiscal costs in 2008. In Ghana, wages of native-born workers who live in areas where there is a higher concentration of foreign-born workers with similar skills appear to be higher than elsewhere in the country. In Rwanda, immigrants contribute more than 2.5 as much to value added as their share in the workforce would suggest and in South Africa, the rate of workers who are employers is almost 50% more elevated than among native-born workers.

“Drawing on its unique membership of African and other emerging economies, the OECD Development Centre has been providing analytical and comparative policy expertise and dialogue platforms – at the global, regional and national levels – to support the development of better policies for better lives.”, said Victor Harison, Commissioner of Economic Affairs of the AUC.

Building on their longstanding co-operation, and with a view to deepening high-level dialogue and co-operation on a citizen-driven pan-African agenda of integration and transformation, the AUC and the OECD Development Centre announced the launch of their forthcoming joint report Dynamic of African Economies (DAE). Other joint high profile projects include notably the yearly International Economic Forum on Africa and Revenue Statistics in Africa.

NYC’s Municipal ID Program Gives Immigrants Another Option for Identification

NYC’s Municipal ID Program Gives Immigrants Another Option for Identification

On June 26, 2014 the New York City Identification bill was passed by the City Council. The program is set up to help immigrants who are not able to obtain New York City state IDs, but the program also applies to homeless, transgender, seniors, and others who are unable or unwilling to obtain a non-driver’s license ID, the accessibility of the card coupled with the plan to make it free for its first years makes it a particularly viable option for undocumented immigrants.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his plan to create a municipal ID system in the city on Feb. 10, 2014 during his first state of the city address. The purpose of the card system is to provide services not afforded to NYC residents without a valid form of identification. These services include opening bank accounts, taking out a lease, and obtaining library cards.

Opportunities like this were not available to illegal immigrants in NYC prior to the legislation, and some are hopeful about what it means for the undocumented.

“They are doing it to help undocumented immigrants,” says Pap Drammeh, President of the Association of Senegalese in America. Though he does understand people’s concerns about the identification system he sees it as a better alternative to what is currently going on.

“Some people think they’re trying to locate undocumented immigrants, but I don’t think so.When they get stopped by the police they have nothing to show.”

But he does believe that most African immigrants do agree with the legislation.

“Most of them see it as something positive,” he said.

There is fear in the immigrant community that the municipal ID system, which collects proof of residence and identification from all applicants and stores them in a database for up to two years, will be abused by officials to locate immigrants. The city counters that the information will only be accessible by court order.  Nevertheless, the New York Civil Liberties Union withdrew support, fearing that the collected information of the undocumented would be used to aid in their deportation.

NYC officials have been asking that “incentives” be offered with the card to counter the suspiciousness of the city’s immigrant population.

These incentives include a full year of free membership to thirty-three of the city’s famous cultural sites such as the Bronx Zoo, Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET), and the New York Botanical Garden. The incentives themselves are offered to encourage New Yorkers to explore several of the city’s cultural institutions for one year without having to worry about payment, encouraging a sense of appreciation for the many museums, zoos, and music halls that the city offers for people who otherwise would not be able to afford such opportunities.

The institutions themselves are hoping that the card holders will renew their subscriptions.

The decision was announced Thursday, September 18th at the Bronx Zoo by mayor de Blasio.  The card will be available on January 1st, 2015.

ZenoRadio Release Android App With TamiFlash.fm

ZenoRadio Release Android App With TamiFlash.fm

download

The ZenoRadio app for android phones was released today as a collaborative effort of ZenoRadio and TamiFlash.fm to bring a better radio experience for their listeners who are typically immigrants.

ZenoRadio’s services before the app launched allowed anyone in the U.S. on a landline or mobile phone to listen to live or prerecorded radio for news, sports, music, and talk radio from their prospective countries. TamilFlash.fm is the largest radio broadcast for tamil-a Dravidian ethnic group- listeners appealing largely to the youth.  Separately they target very specific audiences causing the app to be more successful together.

The app’s website description:

ZenoRadio connects users in the US to live radio stations from all over the globe. Simply search by country or station. ZenoRadio connects your phone to the live broadcast by dialing a local US phone number. That way no data is being used on your phone. To make it easy to use, ZenoRadio will automatically offer your recently listened- to stations the next time you use the service.

Both broadcasting radio services are very popular with their separate audiences it just made sense combining the two together for the app. They believe it “will expand the listening experience to the millions of users who listen to audio content on their mobile devices,” said in a press release. Listeners can download the app for free and choose between using their mobile phone minutes or internet data that are already available through their service providers.

“The ZenoRadio mobile app for TamilFlash.Fm helps us reach our listeners via mobile devices, no matter what their mobile plan is. We thank ZenoRadio for this great service,” Dr. Med. Ohmed Ahmed, CEO of TamilFlash.Fm. 

TamilFlash.fm can now reach listeners away from their computer and on their phones enhancing the experience for them.

“We are working together with TamilFlash.FM to enhance their listeners’ experience with this revolutionary app. We will be adding features that will help to turn their broadcast into a conversation over the coming months,” said Baruch Herzfeld, ZenoRadio’s President and Founder.

The large youth appeal of TamiFlash.fm makes the app exciting for the the company.

“The app is a great concept of ZenoRadio. Our listeners love to use it!” said Ahmed.  

 

Immigrants Must Learn English and Become Americans

Immigrants Must Learn English and Become Americans


By: Donna Poisl

This country doesn’t need millions of visitors living and working here. We need millions of Americans living and working here. And what we really need is for the immigrants who are here to become Americans. The most important thing they have to do to become American, is learn the language that most of the residents speak.

These people will never learn the laws or the rights they are entitled to, will never get good jobs, will never become successful, will never become Americans if they don’t speak English. And they will certainly never learn much about this country they moved to or feel any loyalty to it. In their minds, they will always be guests or visitors, always planning, however unrealistically, that they will go “home” sometime.

When Spanish speaking immigrants first arrive in this country, legal or not, they should be encouraged to learn English. Right now, they don’t have to. They can live here quite easily and even drive without speaking ANY English. They can get government forms in Spanish and almost all offices and departments have interpreters available for them. This certainly makes it easier and safer for them to live here, but it is perpetuating the problem and proving to them that learning English is unnecessary.

When Hispanic immigrants don’t learn English, they are doomed to remain second class citizens (or never become citizens). They are segregated in their “ghettos” and never assimilate. They are forced to take low paying jobs, their children are raised in poverty, often don’t finish school, take low paying jobs themselves, raise their own children in poverty and remain in this cycle.

Our federal and local governments must organize English classes for all immigrants, regardless of legal status. While they are learning English, they should be taught some of our laws and history. If these people are ever to become citizens, they must be given the opportunity to learn how to do that. This isn’t something people can figure out for themselves, they have to be taught.

Obviously there will be some cost to this, but the returns will more than make up for it. If these newcomers understand the language and laws, they will not get in as much legal trouble or traffic accidents, they will be able to get better jobs and pay more taxes, they will be healthier, they will be loyal Americans and contribute much more to this country. When parents speak English and get involved in their children’s schools, the children are likely to get better grades and the school benefits. When the schools are more successful, it helps the neighborhood.

Much of the animosity felt by citizens here is because these immigrants don’t speak English. Some think they are stupid, some think they are arrogant, some think they are dangerous. They actually are probably confused, scared or shy because they can’t communicate. If these people, the immigrants and the ones who are feeling the animosity, started talking to each other and found out all the things they have in common, I’m sure the bad feelings would dissolve. That can only happen with a common language.

About 50% of Europeans speak more than one language and only 10% of Americans do. Most Americans don’t realize how difficult it is to learn a language as an adult and don’t have much compassion for immigrants who have heavy accents or are too shy to try out their few English words and learn more.

Americans can do so much more to help immigrants. This country was built by immigrants, imagine how hard it was for our grandparents to move here and learn the language and the culture and succeed. They helped make this a strong country, we can help make it even stronger by helping the new residents integrate into this society and become Americans.

Immigrants have to be shown how important it is to learn English and how much they will benefit when they do. Their success adds to our success and everyone who lives here benefits when immigrants succeed.

About The Author

Donna Poisl is President of Live & Thrive Press and the author of “How to Live & Thrive in the U.S. / Como Vivir y Prosperar en Estados Unidos”. She wrote this reference guide to help immigrants learn our system and succeed in this country.