UCLA Asian American Studies Center Press

New Issue of AAPI Nexus Features Research on Impact of Welfare Reform on Asian Americans


February 5, 2008
Melany Dela Cruz-Viesca, melanyd@ucla.edu
For Immediate Use
(310) 206-7738


"A Commitment to Building Bridges"


AAPI Nexus Features Research on Impact of Welfare Reform on Asian Americans

UCLA Asian American Studies Center-As a group, Asian Americans are often lauded for their academic and economic success. This stereotype, however, obscures how this population's needs and interests continue to remain unaddressed in public policy, both at local and state levels. The current issue of AAPI Nexus (5:2) features research on how Asian American communities are affected by and respond to policies related to welfare reform, healthcare, education, and art/cultural institutions.

The passage of the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act dramatically transformed public assistance into a welfare-to-work program, with time limits on benefits. Julian Chow et al., in their article "Welfare Reform and the Delivery of Welfare-to-Work Programs to AAPIs," investigated the welfare timed-out rates among AAPIs in California. The authors thus recommend that strategies like job programs and comprehensive, family-focused services will help AAPIs address the numerous cultural and linguistic barriers they face in transitioning to work. "Engaging the communities and families in which AAPI welfare recipients belong," state the authors, "is an effective way to encourage participation and on-going communication."

Evelyn Blumenberg et al.'s article, "Surveying Southeast Asian Welfare Recipients," further notes the challenge of collecting survey data on AAPIs, due to inadequate funding, the lack of survey materials in Asian languages, and the additional administrative costs. The authors hope that these strategies "will contribute to a better understanding of the welfare dynamics of Southeast Asians and to the development of policies and programs to engender economic self-sufficiency among this disadvantaged population group."

Other articles in this issue also delve into AAPI responses to issues in their community. Linda Vo, in "Whose School District Is This," discusses the Orange County Vietnamese American community's efforts to reinstate a job offer to Dr. KimOanh Nguyen-Lam as the school supervisor in a district with a large Latino and Vietnamese population. Nguyen-Lam noted that this diversity results in opportunities "to learn from and work with professionals and activists from diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds. . .who share a similar passion and commitment to social justice." This campaign highlighted the need to build coalitions within the Vietnamese community and create multiracial alliances with the Latino community, ones that the article states are crucial to sustaining momentum in such mobilization efforts.

Like schools, cultural institutions such as museums can reflect the development of a region's pan-ethnic Asian Pacific American identity. In "From Merging Histories to Emerging Identities: An 'Asian' Museum as a Site of Pan-ethnic Identity Promotion," Chong-suk Han and Edward Echtle explore how the Wing Luke Asian Museum (WLAM) in Seattle, Washington acts as a site where pan-ethnic Asian American identity can be promoted. The authors note that the WLAM provides a setting in the Pacific Northwest "for persons of diverse Asian backgrounds to establish social ties and to discuss their common problems and experiences."

Community-based organizations could also play an important role in state efforts to cope with emerging health threats such as SARS and AIDS, say Lois M. Takahashi and Michelle G. Magalong in their article "Building Community Capacity for Rapid Response to State Health Crises." They find significant gaps in rapid and effective communication with the state's large and growing immigrant population. The authors recommend that AAPI organizations could be incorporated into state health emergency planning and program implementation to ensure that "health emergency planning and program implementation will ensure that hard-to-reach individuals, households, and communities will be informed and educated in a timely manner."

According to outgoing Senior Editor Paul Ong, a common thread among these articles is the commitment to building bridges between the university, AAPI communities, and the larger society. Ong will step down as Nexus Senior Editor with this issue, to assume the directorship of the AAPI Policy Multi-Campus Research Program (MRP) within the University of California. Starting 2008, Professor Marjorie Kagawa-Singer will serve as the new Nexus senior editor.

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UCLA Asian American Studies Center Press,
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