Political organization hits record high in Austin Asian-American community


Eligible Asian American voters in Texas are more politically organized than ever and are poised to make an impact on this election.

The rapid growth of this population, current government policies and the 2020 census may have contributed to the group’s active participation in this electoral cycle and the possible continuation of political dialogue after November 3.

Texas has the third largest Asian American voter population in the United States with 698,000 voters. The latest Census Bureau data shows Austin’s Asian community has grown, becoming the second largest in the state with more than 80,000 Asians, surpassing the black population for the first time in history.

At least five Texan candidates of South Asian descent are running for county, state and federal positions this year, indicating heightened political awareness within the community, reports the Texas Tribune.

“We have more Asians running for office to activate our communities. Additionally, we have seen heinous attacks on our communities from the White House through immigration policies, racist COVID attacks- 19 and the ban on Muslims that made our community want to stand up and fight back, ”said immigration lawyer Pooja Sethi, candidate for Austin District 10 city council.

Asian-American voters exhibit great diversity in terms of national origin, geographic region, religion and English language proficiency, according to Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote, a national non-partisan organization that mobilizes Americans to Asian descent and Pacific Islander, or AAPI, in electoral and civic matters. participation.

Voters of Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese, Filipino, Cambodian, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan, Hmong and Laotian descent are included in the Asian category, according to AAPI Data, a publisher of demographics and policy research.

In many cases, Asian Americans are naturalized citizens who did not grow up with the American political system. They couldn’t apply the same political ideology to the United States that they had seen in their home country.

“It is important that Asians are part of the political process to make their voices heard and work for the long term for a strong and sustainable community through political voice and commitment,” said Ahmed Moledina, president-elect of the American House of Commons. Asian origin from Greater Austin. Trade.

In 2016, only about half of the 1.3 million Asian Americans in Texas were eligible voters.

This year, politically active organizations from the Asian community collaborated in forums, where they invited political candidates to meet the people. Zoom facilitated participation and participants spoke about issues of interest to them.

WiseUp TX, a non-partisan, nonprofit organization that educates Asians on political issues, has gathered more than 1,500 participants in each of its three forums this election season on Facebook. It has partnered with the Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce and 20 other AAPI organizations to welcome Democratic, Republican and Libertarian candidates for Texas House, the city of Austin, and Travis and Williamson counties.

“Community involvement gives you a very good indication of how all organizations in Latin America and the Pacific Islands, AAPI, including the South Asian community, are organizing to ensure that our community is continually informed. in every way we can really make a difference. electoral cycle, ”said Azra Siddiqi, founder of WiseUp TX.

According to a 2020 survey of Asian American voters, most Asian American communities in the Pacific Islands are concerned about health care, immigration, the environment, guns and education. A live survey conducted by the Pakistani American Collaboration for Texas, or PACT, a political advocacy group, reflected the same in October.

PACT co-founder Imran Baqai said the organization had already started planning for post-election talks on “polarized topics” such as healthcare, immigration, gun control and reform of the police.

“The past four years have energized this group and forced it to wake up, organize and get involved in the political process,” Baqai said. “Kamala Harris’ appointment has also energized the entire immigrant community,” added Sabiha Rahman, co-founder of Friends of India Texas, another recently formed Asian political group. Harris’ mother, running for vice president, is an Indian immigrant.

Additionally, the highly politicized census encouraged community leaders to engage with the Asian American population. The result is that community members are much more aware of the benefits of participation and the risks of not being counted.

“Several community leaders have risen to the challenge of ensuring that every member of the community is counted. Justice, polarization and political rhetoric are of great concern,” said Ashwin Ghatalia, member of the Indian American Coalition of Texas. .

While it is not known whether Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders can transform this particular election, the fact that many community leaders are involved and several diverse candidates are running could indicate a change to come in the future. Texan political spectrum.

Here’s where you can vote on election day in Travis County
(Bob Daemmrich)

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