Asian & Pacific Islander Dreams Can’t Wait

Oct. 24, 2012 / By

When Anthony Ng migrated with his family to the U.S. from the Philippines at the age of 12, he had high hopes. Three years later, at the age 15, he found out he was undocumented. This did not phase him until he became junior in high school and began to apply to college and financial aid.

Unable to apply for government aid, Ng looked for scholarships. But because most were only available to undocumented Latinos, he was facing serious financial burden.

Of the country’s estimated 11.2 million undocumented residents, 11 percent are from Asia and the Pacific Islands. Because the vast majority of those undocumented are Latino, the API undocumented narrative faces invisibility, causing a lack of resources and outlets to discuss their experiences.

“I decided to share my story at this event to create visibility for API undocumented folks because in the larger media you don’t really see us being represented,” Ng said. “This ties with model minority myth that we lead a very successful life so personally, for someone  who’s experienced the hardship of being undocumented and going to school, I came to support the pursuit for higher education, to create visual resistance within society and just to create more presence.”

A coalition of API community groups gathered together in Long Beach on Oct. 16 to highlight those often invisible API voices and to raise scholarship funds for 5 to 10 undocumented API students.

Check out the videos below to hear voices from the event, called “Night of Power and Love: API Undocumented Cultural Show” held at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.

Shiu Ming Cheers and Preeti Sharma, Khmer Girls in Action board members speak about Long Beach and the API invisibility in the undocumented movement.

Kayla De Los Reyes, Long Beach resident and community organizer, speaks about the API queer undocumented experience in Long Beach.

Michelle Zenarosa

Michelle Zenarosa is a media-maker committed to building alternative and vibrant community media platforms. She has worked as a journalist for over a decade at various media outlets that include local newspapers, news wires and industry trade magazines, as well as non-profits like the Asian Pacific American Legal Center. Growing up in the diverse Southern California area, she is dedicated to grassroots community-based journalism at the local and hyperlocal level, where she believes it has some of the most direct impact. She has been a facilitator for storytelling by youth in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and Palestine. Michelle received her bachelors in Journalism and Peace Studies at Cal State Long Beach and masters in Public Affairs Journalism at the University of Maryland, College Park. Her work has also been featured in independent magazines like Left Turn, $pread, Make/Shift and MaximumRocknRoll as well in the PBS docu-series "America By The Numbers."