Hillary Clinton rallies Fil-Am, Asian supporters
LOS ANGELES—Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton on Thursday (Friday in Manila) rallied several hundred supporters, including Filipino-Americans, at an event at San Gabriel Hilton launching a grassroots outreach to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
Clinton talked about issues affecting Fil-Ams and other groups in the Asian Americans and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, including immigration reform and family reunification, access to education, health care and opportunity for entrepreneurs.
“We know our immigration system is broken,” she told the crowd at the launch of the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders for Hillary. “Millions of undocumented people are raising their families here living in fear of seeing their families ripped apart.”
Clinton said that when she was a senator, she helped reduce the backlog for family visas to help reunite families. About 40 percent of family visa applicants were from the Asia Pacific region, she said.
“Some from the Philippines waited for their visas for 23 years,” Clinton added.
Clinton vowed to defend President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration—the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (Dapa) and an extension to the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca)—that are still stuck in the courts.
Daca helped hundreds of thousands of undocumented young people get a relief from deportation and a work permit. One of them was a Fil-Am high school student who is now one of Clinton’s campaign volunteers.
“Cheska is a dreamer. She came from the Philippines with her family when she was a young girl,” Clinton said. “Her father had a work visa but he lost his job in the recession and that meant the whole family became undocumented.”
“I want to give young people like Cheska a chance to succeed,” she added. “I believe they can make great contributions to our country”
The former secretary of state expressed her strong support for diversity and criticized Republican front-runner Donald Trump’s “hateful rhetoric.”
“They forget a fundamental lesson about our great country. Being an open and tolerant society doesn’t make us vulnerable,” she said. “It’s at the core of our strength, of who we are as Americans.”
Community leader Loida Nicolas-Lewis, who led a large delegation of Fil-Ams at the event, described Clinton, her long-time friend, as a “champion for Filipinos and Fil-Ams, especially our war veterans.”
“Anytime I need her for Philippine causes, she’s there,” said Lewis, national chair emeritus of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (Naffaa).
“As a person, Hillary has the heart and she has a great sense of humor. She knows what it means to be a mother and a grandmother.”
Lewis said Clinton, whose mother once worked as a housemaid, also “knows about hardship.”
Clinton supporter Mark Pulido, the first Fil-Am mayor of Cerritos, said Clinton has the experience, the knowledge and the tenacity “to get the job done for our people and our country.”
“I was so excited to hear about her plans for immigration reform and improving our economy,” said Evelyn Granada, a businesswoman from Carson who took a selfie with Clinton. “I know she will keep her promises.”
“My heart melted. I was jumping for joy,” said Suzette Lopez, who held up a plackard saying “Filipino Americans for Hillary.”
“I hugged (Clinton) and told her she’s my idol.”
One of the event organizers, Fil-Am community leader Melisa Ramoso, said AAPIs are the fastest growing racial minority in the country and their votes are considered critical in the swing states of Nevada and Virginia.
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