New Jersey Alliance For Immigrant Justice Statement On Mass Shooting In Georgia
In the wake of a brutal mass shooting in Georgia that murdered eight people, including six Asian American women, the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice (NJAIJ) resolutely condemns the continued violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) and the white supremacist views that inspire it. In response, NJAIJ’s Director, Amy Torres, issues the following statement:
“The beauty and diversity of the AAPI community comes from over 30 countries, speaking over 100 languages and dialects. Asian immigration to North America predates the founding of the United States. The first Asians arrived as indentured Filipino crew aboard Spanish ships. Since then, AAPIs have been at the forefront of labor, civil rights, anti-war, and immigrant justice movements.
“Despite this community’s legacy, AAPIs continue to be marked as perpetual foreigners. AAPIs have been subject to racist public policies, including the Chinese Exclusion Act, Japanese Internment, and surveillance of Muslim and South Asian communities in the wake of 9/11. Their food, language, and culture are frequently used as punchlines in American media and entertainment. Asia and the Pacific Islands have also been a frequent target of US foreign intervention and colonization. The mass violence committed against this community and their homelands has served to normalize the violence committed against them as individuals.
“It is no coincidence that Tuesday’s attack targeted Asian women, sex workers, and massage workers. Asian women have been simultaneously fetishized and demonized in America since the earliest inceptions of naturalization and immigration policy. America’s first immigration laws were enacted to exclude Chinese women due to fears about sexuality and polygamy. America’s current definitions of naturalization were formed by litigating against Asian immigrants, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. Anti-AAPI violence did not start in Georgia, nor with xenophobic COVID-19 hysteria. Anti-AAPI violence and exclusion has been a centuries-long attack that, in many ways, is central and formative to America’s white hegemony.
“To truly provide safety for AAPIs, America must radically redefine belonging through policies that welcome and establish immigrant communities. As these communities seek justice, NJAIJ maintains that increased policing will not provide solutions. Christian Hall and Angelo Quinto, both Asian Americans, serve as recent, tragic reminders that police involvement too frequently ends in death and harm for people of Color. The callous response of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office the day after the shooting, compounded by allegations that one of the department’s lead police captains promoted “Chy-na Virus” t-shirts, is further proof of this point.
“NJAIJ calls on state and federal leaders to pass policies that affirm inclusion by decriminalizing informal economies, funding excluded and undocumented workers, and protecting migrant and immigrant worker rights. As AAPIs continue to lead the nation as the fastest-growing racial group and electorate, NJAIJ calls for policies that build pro-democracy reforms that establish the rising political power of naturalized immigrants. And finally, as many celebrate bills like HR 6: Dream And Promise, NJAIJ calls on federal leaders to go further to pass pro-naturalization policies without criminal inadmissibility bars and to end detention and deportation once and for all. Only then will AAPI and immigrant communities truly know belonging, inclusion, and justice."