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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

January 20, 2007

Written by C.N.

Anti-Immigration in Yellowface

Asian Americans and other non-Hispanic minorities tend to be inconspicuous in the immigration debate, but that may not be sitting well with some whites who vociferously campaign for stringent immigration control. Some of these individuals who take a hard stance on immigration are not waiting for non-Hispanic minorities to weigh-in; they are taking the preemptive step of engineering ethnic anti-immigration groups. This unsettling trend is captured in a story about a political group named Vietnamese for Fair Immigration (VFI), featured on the Oakland Tribune, December 5, 2006.

The VFI drew the newspaper’s attention with a billboard it posted in Berkley stating “No Racist Amnesty.” This group gives the impression that non-Hispanic minorities are just as adamant about illegal immigration, as mainstream (predominantly white) groups. However, an investigation by reporter Michele R. Marcucci revealed that this ostensible Vietnamese group is actually the handiwork of a white man from Lompoc, CA; a man named Tim Brummer (a.k.a. Tim Binh), who fancies himself as “half-Vietnamese.”

According to the article, Brummer maintains that the frustration felt by many Vietnamese in trying to bring their relatives legally into the United States, is what drove them into creating the VFI. The main argument is that illegal immigration and amnesty are delaying the process of legal immigration for Vietnamese and other non-Latino applicants. The VFI also alleges that the system is biased in favor of Hispanic immigrants, since they are here in greater numbers. Despite these claims, the group’s credibility is called into question as the article exposes inconsistencies and non sequiturs.

Pro-immigrant advocacy organizations say Vietnamese for Fair Immigration may be one of an increasing number of groups that appear to be nonwhites gathering to ask for greater immigration controls, but are actually groups started with help from whites or from major, mostly white anti-immigrant groups that are seeking greater legitimacy for their views.

“Because the (immigration control) movement is overwhelmingly white, there’s a great desire to throw off the accusation of racism,” said Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala. ,…“And the easier way to do that is to have groups that are not white. I think that is what is going on in many, many cases.”

Web searches listed LeQuan Hoang, a refugee from Vietnam and Brummer’s wife, as the group’s director, and Brummer as member of its board of directors.
Brummer and Hoang have aired their views in letters to a handful of newspapers and on several Web sites whose creators advocate stricter immigration controls, including VDare, which recently ran an article on “the black-white IQ gap.”

When asked why she posted to the VDare Web site, she said she wasn’t familiar with the site’s content. “If you disagree with somebody’s point of view, they say you’re racist,” Hoang said.

While there are some legitimate grievances articulated by the VFI, the cloud of racism will not easily dissipate, given their choice of associates. Coalitions between Asian Americans and socially conservative whites, raises questions about ulterior motives; especially when the latter has a history of hostility towards policies of minority enfranchisement. If the ultimate goal of the VFI is to facilitate and expedite Vietnamese immigration to the United States, why would they involve themselves with VDare, a neo-conservative blog reputed for its anti-immigration stance and selection criteria favoring Europeans?

If the few minority-based immigration control groups are so indebted to conservative whites, one can logically infer that opposition to amnesty among Asian Americans is tenuous at best. Even Brummer’s wife admitted that illegal immigration probably does not “affect [sic] the legal process for Vietnamese and others to come here [to the United States].” Furthermore, her lack of knowledge about VDare underscores naiveté or denial on the part of minorities who make common cause with conservative whites.

The trouble with such cynical alliances is that they often fail to benefit Asian Americans in a substantive way. This is comparable to Asians who joined conservative whites in opposing Affirmative Action in schools. The number of Asians attending prestigious schools did not increase significantly, only the number of whites at the expense of blacks and Latinos. There are no assurances that Asians will be able to immigrate in greater numbers if groups like the VFI succeed. The only foreseeable result from a crack down on immigration is a broad suspension of any kind of immigration, especially for non-Europeans.

One can only speculate if the real Vietnamese supporters of the VFI ever contemplate about the transparency of their white political allies. Maybe they are aware of the different agendas, and still choose to set against other minorities in exchange for personal gain, be it admission into Berkley or bringing their relatives to the United States. Either way the portrait is unflattering: it suggests that some Asian Americans are politically illiterate and easily manipulated by whites; or it implies indifference to the plight of other minorities and unabashed complicity in ventriloquizing white supremacy.


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Copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Anti-Immigration in Yellowface" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2007/01/anti-immigration-in-yellowface/> ().

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