Say No To “Public Charge”

by Rev. Norman Fong

September 3, 2019

norman fong

Everyone’s talking about the proposed change of rules regarding “Public Charge”. Last week 500+ Community Tenants Association members met together to learn more about what benefits legal permanent residents can no longer use. Recently, the Department of Public Health held their commission meeting right in Chinatown to say they disagree with the Trump Administration’s change in rules over public charge. The changes might scare people from getting needed services. It is important for those of us on government assistance to not be afraid but continue with the benefits. People who are eligible for assistance could still apply for necessary government services. Five days ago, the Bay Area gathered to say NO TO PUBLIC CHARGE. And we need EVERYONE to say NO.

cta community tenants association san francisco super sunday
Community Tenants Association (CTA)

department of public health sfdph dph
SF Department of Public Health

one nation rally washington dc

one nation rally washington dc

A HUGE RALLY took place in Oakland’s Chinatown called ONE NATION. In reality, there are two Americas: One being America the Beautiful where immigrants are welcome and included. The other America is VERY UGLY. And is exclusive, hateful, and divisive. We together, as “one nation”, want to continue to welcome and protect immigrants. Our history has taught us that sometimes immigrants are treated differently and this is one of those times where we all have to join together to fight for our RIGHTS. Like a water faucet, sometimes immigrants are wanted and even encouraged to come to America, other times the water faucet gets turned off. Most of the time, it is for POLITICAL reasons. The President has chosen to turn off the faucet but also scare recent immigrants. This is so unfair to people of color as well as legal and undocumented immigrants. The Chinese community has made a mistake by simply not caring about undocumented immigrants and now face the same exclusions as legal immigrants. The point I’m trying to make is that we need to see the BIG PICTURE. The current administration is trying to increase white supremacy against ALL immigrants and people of color. If we can’t see the big picture, we will always continue to look the other way. We have to build more bridges with other immigrant groups and communities and we ALL need to STAND TOGETHER or we ALL FAIL. The easy way out is to just protect our own community and our own single issues. Believe me, there aren’t that many Chinese in America. We HAVE TO UNITE. But it also means learning about and supporting other community groups with their issues.

One of my mentors, Rev. Lloyd Wake, taught me a lot of things about the Japanese, for example. He and other Japanese American citizens, not immigrants, were arrested and placed into internment camps. This is an example of when even with U.S. citizenship, they were still not seen as American. My father’s generation didn’t like the Japanese because of WW2. But getting to know the Japanese American history as I grew up gave me a newer picture in looking at the Japanese American community. Rev. Lloyd Wake preached at my ordination service when I became a minister in 1981. He said, “For many pastors, the church is their whole world. But for Rev. Fong the whole world is the church.” The point is, we need to be compassionate towards ALL GROUPS who face discrimination, poverty and not be exclusive. Forever there will be tensions in America against certain groups and sometimes we may be included and other times, like now, we may be excluded.

Going to Washington, DC to stop the change in public charge rule, I was so happy to see the black caucus, Asian caucus, and Latino caucus standing together! We have to stand together for each other’s causes. Or our voice won’t be heard just like in 1882, when the Chinese Exclusion law passed. I always wondered how the United States Congress could hate the Chinese so much back then even though 95% of the Congress people at the time had never seen a Chinese person. We were such a small minority! Since that time, hopefully, the Chinese in the U.S. have learned to work more collaboratively. As a pastor, building REAL communities that love and respect each other is one of the most important values in life. I have crossed some cultural bridges that were scary at first but I came to find them all beautiful. Keep America beautiful by welcoming EVERYONE! Especially those who STILL face discrimination today! Trump talks about building walls but LET’S BUILD MORE BRIDGES AND CROSS THEM TOGETHER.

Originally published in Sing Tao Daily on September 1, 2019

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