4th annual Asian American action day draws 400 to Springfield to rally against budget cuts

May 22, 2015

Steve Moon

Fourth annual Asian American action day draws 400 to Springfield

Community members rally in Capitol rotunda against state budget cuts

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Over 400 Asian Americans from across Illinois gathered in Springfield on Thursday to call on Governor Bruce Rauner to restore state funding for essential social service programs, and advocate for the passage of the TRUST Act, which seeks to restore trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. Imminent budget cuts that threaten the livelihood of immigrant families across the state added urgency to the third annual Asian American Action Day.

“May is Asian American Heritage Month, and this rally is a celebration of a part of the community that doesn’t always get highlighted: our proud culture of civic engagement,” Advancing Justice | Chicago Executive Director Tuyet Le told the crowd gathered in the Capitol rotunda. “This year we are down here to make sure that we pass an equitable budget that preserves services for immigrants, seniors, children, and teens.”

“We are here to make it clear that the Pan-Asian American and immigrant communities will not be used as a political bargaining chip while our people’s safety, health, and wellness are at risk as a result of budget cuts,” said Lawrence Benito, Executive Director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. “Our coalition supports a revenue solution, and we will continue this fight not only as Asian Americans and immigrants, but in solidarity with all communities who are and will be devastated by the Governor’s actions.”

Radhika Sharma Gordon, staff member at Apna Ghar and Advancing Justice | Chicago board member spoke at the rally in support of the TRUST Act, “because nobody should be afraid to call 9-1-1 when they are the victim of a crime.” If passed, the TRUST Act would prohibit law enforcement from honoring unconstitutional immigration detainers, and would establish statewide policies on law enforcement’s response to crime victims’ visa requests.

At the conclusion of the rally, community members wearing shirts that spelled out “WE ARE ESSENTIAL” led chants and marched upstairs to Governor Rauner’s office. Executive directors of Pan-Asian Voter Empowerment (PAVE) Coalition member organizations followed before heading inside for a meeting with the governor.

“This is the first time a group of PAVE Executive Directors have met with the Governor of Illinois, which is a testament to the organizing work done within our community,” said Le. “Governor Rauner heard our message, and we will continue to push the Governor and all legislators to pass a budget that meets our values as a state.”

Legislators including Rep. Greg Harris, Sen. Dan Biss, Rep. Jamie Andrade, Rep. Elaine Nekritz, Rep. Laura Fine, Rep. Lou Lang, Rep. Lisa Hernandez, Sen. Martin Sandoval, Sen. Iris Martinez, and House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (on behalf of House Speaker Michael Madigan) spoke at the rally to declare their support for essential human services.



Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago is the leading pan-Asian, multi-issue organization in the Midwest dedicated to empowering the Asian American community through advocacy by utilizing education, research, and coalition-building. Established in 1992, Advancing Justice | Chicago (formerly the Asian American Institute) was founded by a group of visionary Chicago community activists, academicians, and business leaders in response to the growing need to build a pan-Asian policy agenda among Chicago’s diverse Asian American communities. Advancing Justice | Chicago projects a united voice on the most pressing issues of concern to Asian Americans in metropolitan Chicago.

Advancing Justice | Chicago is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. It is a member of the Asian Americans Advancing Justice national affiliation, with partner affiliates in Atlanta, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington D.C.