First Statewide Asian Electoral Organization in PA Built Largest Electoral Field Program for Asian Americans in the Country in support of Biden
Pennsylvania — As President Joe Biden releases an executive memorandum condemning racism against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) and directing agencies to take steps towards increased support for AAPIs in the federal government’s response to COVID-19, the Asian Pacific Islander Political Alliance (API PA), PA’s first and only statewide political organization dedicated to the needs and interests of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities, celebrates the outcome of years of community organizing and months of election work.
Pennsylvania’s Asian American and Pacific Islander community, the fastest-growing voter population in the commonwealth, has been hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. AAPI communities are facing not just the virus itself, but also a lack of access to government support and relief — often driven by a lack of language access in these programs — and former president Donald Trump, who repeatedly used his bully pulpit to fearmonger about Asian American communities and blame them for the novel coronavirus. These twin crises of COVID-19 and anti-Asian racism drove unprecedented AAPI voter turnout in the 2020 election, spearheaded by Asian American political organizations like API PA specifically mobilizing community members for Joe Biden and against Donald Trump. The Asian Pacific Islander Political Alliance’s work resulted in 2 million attempts to contact voters across Pennsylvania, including a significant vote by mail signup effort that boosted AAPIs into having the highest vote by mail signup rate of any community in Pennsylvania.
In response to the news of President Biden’s new executive action, Mohan Seshadri, Co-Executive Director of API PA, had the following statement:
“Work works. API PA went into the 2020 election cycle knowing that we would have to elect leaders who would listen to and fight for our people – and then hold them accountable to their promises to our Asian American communities. Last year we did this by joining Asian American organizations across the country in calling on then-candidate Biden to take down an ad that played into the Trump campaign’s narrative of scapegoating China and Chinese people for the COVID-19 crisis — while simultaneously running the largest voter contact program by and for Asian American communities of any election cycle to ensure PA’s AAPI vote turned out decisively for Joe Biden and against Donald Trump. This January, it looks like running inauguration day ads in Asian ethnic media explaining President Biden’s campaign promises to our communities and asking them to join us in making them a reality, while also celebrating President Biden for this very real victory for Asian Americans.
Removing Trumpian phrases like “China virus” and “Kung Flu” from the language of government, working towards greater language access in health response work, and bringing the resources of the Department of Justice more fully to bear on combatting COVID-inspired anti-Asian racist harassment, violence, and hate crimes – these are more than symbolic gestures, they have a very real impact on our communities’ ability to be safe, healthy, and strong.
Now it’s time for all levels of government to move towards further inclusion of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders: better mental health response and policing reform that could have prevented the death of an Asian American teen in Stroudsburg in December; a massive expansion of language access in federal, state, and municipal services to support the 78% of Asians in Pennsylvania who speak a language other than English at home; and supporting President Biden’s Day One immigration reform package to bring necessary relief and protections to the 2 million Asian undocumented immigrants in America.”
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.