by Joyce Yin, NAKASEC program associate
On Saturday, December 17th, 14 undocumented Asian American youth leaders and allies from California, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, Georgia and Washington, DC gathered in Montgomery, Alabama, to join community members and organizers from across the country to oppose HB 56, the state’s harsh anti-immigrant law, and strategize ways to engage Asian American communities in the movement for immigrant rights and the DREAM Act.
Organized by NAKASEC and affiliates KRC and KRCC, they were provided a space to bond, talk about issues they are dealing with in their respective home states, participate in skills-building training and build leadership. At the end of the two days, they not only came away with better engagement tactics for Asian American undocumented youth and their families and also a feeling of deeper connection and bond with each other.
As a NAKASEC staffer, I feel fortunate to have been able to be in that space and have the opportunity to help facilitate dialogue on organizing in Asian American communities but also to listen and exchange what were some, truth be told, incredibly intimate stories with one another. When I left everyone to head to the airport to return to Washington, DC, to be perfectly honest, I felt a slight pang. I was missing everyone already! The moments of seeing ideas unfold into concrete action plans, of feeling comfortable with everyone even though I’d only known most of them in a face-to-face capacity for a few days, of witnessing the birth of a much-needed community safe space, were all things that I am incredibly grateful to have been able to partake in.
This Asian American youth network is still in its infant stages and there is still a lot of work to be done but after these last two days, I feel more confident than ever that this collective of passionate youth leaders are on their way towards building something extraordinarily powerful. As Carla, one of our youth leaders and organizer at KRCC, said, ‘this is only the beginning!’