Philadelphia — Pennsylvania’s first Asian American 501c4 organization officially launched its operations today. The Asian Pacific Islander Political Alliance (API PA) will coordinate get-out-the-vote and electoral advocacy specific to Asian American constituencies this election year, as well as set out to build long-term political power in and for Asian American communities statewide after 2020.
“Pennsylvania is a winner-take-all state that went to Donald Trump by just 44,000 votes in 2016,” said Helen Gym, who is a Philadelphia At-Large City Councilmember and a board member of API PA. “It is essential that we mobilize against the racism, xenophobia and incompetence that has exposed our nation to so much danger. And it’s important that immigrant communities, who are also hungry for change, be part of the larger mobilizing effort to push Trump out of office. API PA will play a key role in stemming the tide of Trumpism in 2020 and fighting for the pro-worker and pro-immigrant legislators and policies our diverse Asian and immigrant communities need.”
“As an Indian American and a Muslim American leader in Central Pennsylvania with 20 years of advocating for the community, I am so excited to see leaders I trust set up the Asian Pacific Islander Political Alliance to provide a statewide political home for Asians in Pennsylvania,” said Samia Malik, a Muslim American community leader in Central Pennsylvania. “There is so much to do to advocate for our many communities across the commonwealth, and I am excited to work with API PA to push for justice here in Harrisburg.”
Leading up to November’s elections, API PA will orchestrate Pennsylvania’s first statewide, language-specific get-out-the-vote program in South Asian (Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Nepali, Bhutanese, Sri Lankan), Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean communities led by leaders with deep relationships and decades of advocacy experience in Asian communities across the state.
“Historically, the API vote has been at best taken for granted, and more often completely ignored by our local, state and national politicians,” said Nancy Nguyen, co-director of API PA. “Our organization exists to make sure our communities’ values and needs are no longer sidelined. In 2020 and beyond, our work is to translate the vision that already exists in our temples, mosques, and churches; in our resilient community hubs and cultural centers across the state, and bring that vision and power to bear at the ballot box, at the table with our representatives and in the streets.”
Voter turnout in Philadelphia and other population centers across Pennsylvania will be critical to ultimately electing local and state legislators who will stand with and be accountable to Asian, immigrant, refugee, and working-class communities. APIs are the fastest-growing demographic in the state, yet are historically under-engaged by political institutions and organizations. API PA is being welcomed by local and regional cultural and community organizations, as well as longtime political leaders who’ve advocated for Asian Pacific Islander communities in the state.
“As the first Asian American woman in Pennsylvania’s state legislature, I’m so excited to see the launch of the first-ever organization dedicated to ensuring Pennsylvania’s diverse Asian American communities make their voices heard in state politics,” said Representative Patty Kim. “Pennsylvania’s Asian American communities deserve a state government that is reflective of and accountable to them, and I look forward to working with API PA on legislation that meets our community’s needs.”
“For progressives to win in Pennsylvania elections and for progressives issues to win at the Statehouse, we need a truly multi-racial coalition that represents the diversity of our Asian and immigrant communities,” said Reesa Kossoff, Executive Director of the SEIU Pennsylvania State Council. “API PA will serve as a force for change within the progressive communities, ensuring that the voices of AAPI Pennsylvanians are heard in our communities, on legislation, and most importantly, at the ballot box.”
The Asian Pacific Islander Political Alliance’s (API PA) mission is to build long-term power for APIs in Pennsylvania, by coordinating political, electoral, and legislative work to hold our elected officials accountable, engaging in culturally competent and linguistically accessible direct voter contact with our communities, and building solidarity with other aligned communities of color across the state.