By Darryl Yip
United States Senator and Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders held an intimate AAPI Town Hall meeting at the Cubberly Community Center in Palo Alto yesterday. Several hundred members of the AAPI community across the Bay Area came to learn about the Senator’s stance on issues like foreign policy, climate change, healthcare, immigration, labor, racial justice, and housing.
Representative Tulsi Gabbard, the first United States Congressperson to endorse Bernie Sanders for President, spoke on the cost of war on the AAPI community: “AAPI community across the county has served tremendously and sacrificed greatly for our country in ways that are disproportionately represented of the communities they represent. Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders are over represented in the Army by 249%, so when you think of the contributions that have been made by our community by our brothers and sisters, it’s tremendous.” Senator Sanders cited his votes against the invasion of Iraq in 1990s and 2000s, in contrast to then-Senator Clinton’s vote for the war, and his leading effort as a Congressperson to protect diplomacy with other nations.
A panelist cited the fact that people of color are more likely to live in the areas most affected by climate change and pollution. Senator Sanders responded, “Where do the places that do the pollution exist? It is in places where poor people live, where people of color live, where immigrants live. We have got to be in this together. I have seven beautiful grandchildren and I want them to live on a planet that is healthy, beautiful, and habitable. To do that we are going to need a forceful and well-organized effort to take on the fossil fuel industry. They cannot continue to destroy this planet.”
Another panelist mentioned that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders make up the fastest growing racial demographic in the United States. On immigration, Senator Sanders responded, “I will tell you something that I believe from the bottom of my heart, that what makes this country extraordinary is in fact our diversity, the fact that we have people coming from all parts of the world…Now [the presumptive Republican nominee] may not understand, but diversity is strength and something we should be proud of. The function of our immigration policy should be to unite families not to divide them.”
An audience member asked about the lack of affordable housing for seniors and people with low-incomes, especially in California. Senator Sanders responded, “In California but across the country, the crisis of affordable housing is getting more and more acute…if you don’t have a lot of money and you are spending 40, 50, or 60 percent on housing, how do you have enough money to buy the food, and the medicine, and the healthcare, and the transportation, and the insurance that you need? So we have an absolute crisis in affordable housing.” Sanders outlined his plan to combat gentrification and increase opportunities for housing for Americans.
One of the attendees was Zenei Cortez, a member of the National Nurses United union and a Bernie Sanders delegate for California Congressional District 14. She said, “We [National Nurses United] are for Bernie because Bernie is for the real people, the 99%. We don’t easily give up, and at this point in the campaign, we won’t give up on Bernie. Bernie shares the same values as the nurses. We are all about caring, compassion, and community, just like what Bernie is doing. He advocates for every person in America. He is the real deal.”
Bernie Sanders enters the California Democratic Primary with 46% of the pledged delegates so far and is just 2 points behind Hillary Clinton in California in the latest NBC/WSJ poll. Sanders also held a rally in Palo Alto and Davis yesterday and will hold rallies in Modesto, Chico, Fairfield, and Cloverdale just days before the California Democratic Primary next Tuesday.
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