PIVOT - The Progressive Vietnamese American Organization
Policy Platform
2017-2018

Submitted by PIVOT Policy Committee on October 25, 2017
Approved and adopted on October 29, 2017

Main Contact:
Thu Quach, PhD
Policy Committee Chair
tquachwork@gmail.com

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

PIVOT - the Vietnamese American Progressive Association - was formed to be a collective voice for progressive Vietnamese Americans who seek a just and diverse America. In 2017, PIVOT was established in direct response to a political landscape and physical environment that threatened the human rights and safety of many Americans, particularly disenfranchised populations (e.g., low-income, immigrants and refugees, people of color, LGBTQ populations, and women). Vietnamese Americans with progressive values came together from across the nation, to engage and empower Vietnamese Americans to work towards a better future.

Key to these efforts is our ability to advocate for policies that align with our values regarding:  1) Promoting human, civil, immigrant, and refugee rights; 2) Increasing cultural, linguistic, and financial access to quality education, health care, and economic opportunities; and 3) Protecting the environment.

To that end, we are focusing on three key priorities for 2017-2018: immigration, health and civil rights. Our policy platform for these priorities are outlined below:

Immigration

  • Support a pathway to citizenship for non-citizens;
  • End abusive enforcement and detention;
  • Advocate for due process and humane policies in deportation proceedings;
  • Protect immigrant and asylum seekers rights; and
  • Promote issues specific to Vietnamese-American communities.

Health

  • Preserve and expanding affordable health coverage;
  • Ensure that everyone has a right to quality healthcare, regardless of immigration status, sexual orientation/gender identity, and language/cultural barriers;
  • Promote awareness and utilization of mental health services;
  • Advance reproductive justice to promote health and well-being;
  • Eliminate health disparities (disproportionate burdens of health issues in select populations); and
  • Address the root causes of health disparities.

Civil Rights

  • Advocate for equal access to justice, healthcare, and other vital systems and services;
  • Preserve and expand access to voting rights for Vietnamese Americans and other marginalized populations;
  • Support all efforts to count Vietnamese Americans comprehensively and fully;
  • Stand in solidarity with other ethnic groups on some of the most pressing and urgent civil rights issues of today; and
  • Ensure equal access to economic prosperity by promoting fair protections for all workers.

PIVOT IMMIGRATION PLATFORM

Our Objective
We are immigrants in a nation founded by immigrants. The Statue of Liberty is one of our nation’s most significant landmarks, a reminder of our tradition and pursuit of welcoming those who come here to escape persecution, oppression, abject poverty or violence. Simply put, immigration is at the core of who we are as a nation.  

Our current immigration system is broken.

There are over 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the shadows. Even when given lawful permanent resident status, immigrants are scapegoated for draining the nation’s resources and taking away jobs from citizens. U.S. citizens are forced to wait several years to be reunited with loved ones due to bureaucratic red tape and backlogs.

Our detention and deportation policies and practice also give rise to serious due process concerns. Moreover, given the anti-immigrant and xenophobic policies enacted by the new Trump administration, our country is moving away from its traditional role as a beacon of hope for people seeking refuge.  

We must fight for a new immigration reform that is common sense, humane, lawful and above all, consistent with the promises and image of an America we are proud to call home.  

Our Plan

  1. Support a pathway to citizenship for non-citizens.
    1. Create a pathway to citizenship for  undocumented immigrants and other non-citizens
    2. Emphasize reasonable wait for citizenship.
    3. Minimize fees for naturalization.
    4. Repeal the 3-year, 10-year and permanent bars, which force people into a cruel dilemma of either living in the shadows or leaving the country and family behind for years.
    5. Allow eligible undocumented individuals to serve in the military and then receive expedited pathways to citizenship.
  2. End abusive enforcement and detention
    1. Provide Border Protection Agency (“CBP”) with modern equipment and technology while at the same time, ensure that CBP officers have adequate training and oversight to understand how their actions may violate human rights norms, including profiling or use of excessive force.
    2. End state and local intrusions into immigration enforcement.
    3. Reject all discriminatory bans on immigrants and refugees, including the Trump Administration’s illegal “travel bans.”
    4. End family detention, such as recent detention of mothers and children asylum seekers from Central America.
    5. End private and for-profit immigration detention centers, because their approach does not align with human rights standards.
  3. Advocate for due process and humane policies in deportation proceedings.
    1. Push for prosecutorial discretion and due process in comprehensive immigration reform legislation and in immigration policies.
    2. Provide bond hearings in deportation proceedings.
    3. Ensure access to government-funded counsel in deportation proceedings, including for unaccompanied children.
    4. Expand the use of humanitarian parole and the granting of Temporary Protected Status.
    5. Prevent unfair mass deportation of immigrants with criminal convictions who have already “served their time for their crime.”
  4. Protect immigrant and asylum seekers rights.
    1. Protect and enforce legal rights of immigrant workers vulnerable to labor abuses.
    2. Ensure that all immigrants, regardless of immigration status, have access to quality and affordable health care.
    3. Promote immigration integration, including increased access to language programs to encourage English proficiency, promote and fund early learning programs for children, increase funding for community organizations to promote outreach, increase job training opportunities, improve workers’ rights protections for immigrant workers, and expand fee waiver programs to reduce naturalization costs.
    4. Challenge state and local discriminatory laws (inspired by Arizona’s SB 1070) that invite racial profiling and authorize the police to demand papers proving citizenship or immigration status from anyone it suspects of being in the country unlawfully.
    5. Continue our country’s tradition of welcoming refugees fleeing persecution and violence, including increasing the refugee quota for the US.
  5. Promote issues specific to Vietnamese American community.
    1. End indefinite detention of Vietnamese immigrants with outstanding removal orders who cannot be deported because they entered the U.S. prior to the 1995 cut-off date (as provided by the U.S.-Vietnam Memorandum of Understanding on Deportation).
    2. Inform Vietnamese-American community about practical (and oftentimes drastic) effects of immigration laws and policy on community members.
    3. Inform community about resources (e.g. organizations, online…) to help them with immigration issues.
    4. Prevent and expose frauds committed by unscrupulous attorneys or purported immigration “professionals”.
    5. Help eradicate stigma and shame associated with immigration problems.

PIVOT HEALTH PLATFORM

The right to health is a fundamental human right. At the core of this statement is the assertion that every individual has the right to the highest attainable standard of health, both physical and mental. To attain health requires access to quality health care as well as access to food, livable conditions, healthy work environments, and a clean environment.

Much of the current policy debate around health has focused primarily on health care coverage and cost, with little discussion of health disparities and underlying causes of inequities. PIVOT recognizes that health encompasses health care as well as the many other factors that may directly and indirectly influence health. Thus, we are committed to advancing a health agenda that focuses on promoting health (including health care), reducing health disparities, and addressing the underlying causes of such disparities. To this end, we expand our health paradigm to consider issues around racial, income, and environmental inequalities, which are often root causes of health disparities.

Our Plan

  1. Preserving and expanding affordable health coverage.
    1. Protect the Affordable Care Act (ACA) from being repealed; and if repealed, promote a replacement that minimally provides the same number of people covered, and the same level of coverage without increasing cost to the consumer.
  2. Ensuring that everyone has a right to quality healthcare, regardless of immigration status, sexual orientation/gender identity, and language/cultural barriers
    1. Remove restrictions on access to health care based on discriminatory policies around immigration status, English proficiency, and sexual orientation (i.e. LGBTQ individuals).
    2. Promote workforce development that ensures cultural and linguistic competency and diversity among health care providers.
  3. Promoting awareness and utilization of mental health services.
    1. Given the stigma associated with mental health, the under-diagnosis and reporting of mental health issues particularly among Asian Americans (including Vietnamese Americans), and the under-utilization of mental health services, promote awareness of mental health issues and the importance of mental health care.
    2. Increase behavioral health coverage, both for integrated behavioral health with primary care as well as specialty mental health services.
    3. Promote mental health workforce development, and ensure cultural and linguistic competency training and diversity among mental health care providers.
  4. Advancing reproductive justice to promote health and well-being.
    1. Increase access to reproductive and preventive health care.
    2. Protect a woman’s right to choose when it comes to decisions about her body.
    3. Promote awareness around issues of human trafficking, including but not limited to sex trafficking (e.g., commercially sexually exploited children), and domestic violence; and support efforts to eliminate these abuses towards women and children.
  5. Eliminating health disparities.

    1. Promote the disaggregation of health-related data that can help identify hidden health disparities, particularly in the AAPI population. 
    2. Ensure strategic focus on communities/ populations at greatest risk.
    3. Identify and support effective strategies to eliminate health disparities.
  6. Addressing the root causes of health disparities.

    1. Promote efforts to understand the root causes of health disparities, including factors related to race, income, and environment.
    2. Support strategies that can address these root causes of health disparities, which can include (but are not limited to) language access and entitlement programs linked to income, food access programs, affordable housing, and employment opportunities.

PIVOT CIVIL RIGHTS PLATFORM

For decades, Vietnamese Americans have advocated for human rights for their country persons abroad, in their que huong, Vietnam. Unfortunately, in the United States, Vietnamese Americans also face human rights and civil rights threats and abuses that impair equal opportunity and equal access to systems. It is upon the following principles that PIVOT will build a civil rights and human rights platform that would focus on Vietnamese Americans, and elevate our needs:

  1. Advocate for equal access to justice, healthcare, employment, and other vital systems and services. The Census 2010 found that approximately 67 percent of Vietnamese immigrants (age 5 or older) are limited English proficient.
    1. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act should be fully enforced, to the extent that many Vietnamese Americans are often discriminated on the basis of language (which is by Supreme Court law, proxy for national origin discrimination). Recipients of federal funding should provide language assistance to those who do not read, write, and speak English very well.
    2. Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act should be fully enforced, to the extent that many Vietnamese Americans cannot access critical health information and services because of limited English proficiency (LEP). Health industry and health organizations must notify LEP Vietnamese of language assistance.
  2. Preserve and expand access to voting rights for Vietnamese Americans and other marginalized populations. Over 76% of naturalized Vietnamese Americans are eligible to vote. PIVOT’S goal is to ensure maximum Vietnamese American voter participation in all elections.
    1. Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act, which provisions for in-language voting information and ballots for certain districts, will be fully implemented – specifically in areas where there are high concentrations of Vietnamese that meet the legislative thresholds.
    2. PIVOT will oppose efforts to disenfranchise Vietnamese Americans and all marginalized and minority voters, including efforts to request citizenship documentation.
    3. PIVOT will support efforts to expand registration, including same-day and online voter registration.
  3. Support all efforts to count Vietnamese Americans comprehensively and fully. When Vietnamese Americans are not counted, we are left out of policy decisions, funding decisions, and other critical legislative efforts. We are “invisible.”
    1. Fully fund Census 2020, including a multifaceted – culturally and linguistically appropriate- outreach campaign that is inclusive of Vietnamese.
    2. Maintain a mandatory American Community Survey and ensure that socioeconomic data points are disaggregated as much as possible.
    3. Support state and local efforts to disaggregate race data so that Vietnamese Americans are counted.
  4. Stand in solidarity with other ethnic, religious, and identity groups on some of the most pressing and urgent civil rights issues of today.
    1. Support legislation such as the End Racial Profiling Act, which would prohibit profiling by federal, state, and local law enforcement on the basis of actual or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation. Oppose profiling or efforts to profiling.
    2. Stand in solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives. Stand in solidarity with Muslim, Sikh, Arab, and South Asian Americans and oppose hate and harsh rhetoric and negative policies (e.g. refugee ban) targeting these communities.
  5. Ensure equal access to economic prosperity by promoting fair protections for all workers.
    1. Educate the Vietnamese community around worker rights issues, including ending wage theft and protecting workers’ rights to organize.
    2. Support efforts that promote fair wage.