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A new look at Asian immigrants

November 23, 2008
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A new survey by the University of Massachusetts at Boston's Institute for Asian American Studies attempts to fill what the authors say is a gaping hole in the research on immigrants.

"There's been a lot of attention paid to immigration rights and policy," said the institute's director, Paul Watanabe, at the survey's unveiling last month. "But the fact is, there is virtually no [statistical data] based upon Asian immigrants and the Asian community."

The institute's study, "Interest and Action: Findings from a Survey of Asian American Attitudes on Immigrants, Immigration, and Activism," found that 80 percent of the 412 Asian-Americans surveyed pay either a great deal of attention or some attention to immigration issues.

It also found that 58 percent said they were very sympathetic or somewhat sympathetic to the Latino community's stance on immigration issues, and 52 percent support a legalization process for undocumented immigrants.

The survey also asked respondents about their likelihood of participating in activities supporting greater rights for immigrants. While 33 percent said they were very likely to sign a petition, only about 9 percent said they were very likely to work with others in an organization, or to participate in a march or demonstration.

Edwin Argueta, an organizer for Massachusetts Jobs with Justice, was present at the survey's unveiling to discuss the implications of its findings. He said it is important for more politically active communities, specifically Latinos, to connect with immigrants from other countries to create a multilayered immigrant narrative and a stronger political force.

"It's not going to be done by Latinos only," Argueta said at the event. "It has to be done by the Asian community and the African community. We need to be a little more inclusive."

KIMBERLY SANFELIZ

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