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Three issues of concern to Asian Americans in early 2020 are the travel ban, including its 2019 modified extension; hate crimes; and increasing anti-Asian discrimination associated with the coronavirus health crisis.
The 2017 travel ban that the president instituted to exclude people of six countries, most with predominantly Muslim populations, was modified in late 2019 to include three Asian countries: North Korea, Kyrgyzstan, and Myanmar. This ban is harmful to Asian Americans because of its divisive effects. Family members who are U.S. residents face long-term separation from relatives barred from entry. China has been added due to health reasons related to coronavirus.
Anti-Muslim discrimination is often provided as a reason that bigots commit hate crimes against people of Asian heritage. Men of the Sikh faith, who wear turbans, are frequently targeted. Anti-immigrant bias more generally may factor into perpetrators’s rationalization for targeting Asians and Asian Americans.
As the coronavirus that apparently originated in Wuhan, China has spread around the world, numerous instances of discrimination against people whom their accusers and attackers believe resemble Chinese people have been reported worldwide. A few such cases in California alone include anti-Asian posts by a university student, bullying of school children whom their classmates accused of having the virus, and a University of California-Berkeley health services post stating that xenophobia was “normal.” In New York state, after hearing numerous reports of verbal and physical assaults, state representative Ron Kim established the Asian American Health Advisory Council.