Pro-immigration group launches ad targeting Trump’s ‘attacks against Asian Americans’

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A progressive pro-immigration group is launching an ad targeting Asian American voters in battleground states by highlighting President Trump’s controversial rhetoric about the coronavirus. 

The group, Immigrants’ List Civic Action, will air the ad featuring what the group calls Trump’s “attacks against Asian Americans” digitally and on connected television in the key states of Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. 

The 60-second ad intersperses clips of Trump calling the virus the “Chinese flu,” “Chinese virus” and “kung flu,” along with reports of rises in anti-Asian discrimination, according to a copy of the ad shared with The Hill.

The text on the screen of the ad urges the public to “tell Donald Trump words matter.”

“Trump has denigrated people in the Asian American community by the language he has used, and it has effects, and that’s why we called [the ad] ‘Words Matter,’ ” said Ira Kurzban, an immigration lawyer and founder of the group.

“[It’s] not just the hostile things he’s said, it’s the outcomes as a result of that — the anti-Asian discriminatory attitude that it creates … and allows those people who are racially biased to begin with to feel free,” he added. “Because they see the president of the country doing it, they may feel free to go out and not only say horrible things but to actually do things and some of this has already had consequences.”

The ad is one of a series the group plans to release in an effort to educate voters in the Latino, Asian American, Arab American and other communities in battleground states. Kurzban said the group chose to begin with an ad targeting Asian American voters because it’s a portion of the electorate he said has long been overlooked, especially in battleground states. 

“These are in states obviously where the election was very, very close,” Kurzban said, referring to the 2016 election. 

The group is aiming to sway the growing Pacific Islander registered voter population in the swing states to vote against Trump in November, in an effort to elect Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. In Florida, there are nearly 300,000 registered Pacific Islander voters, in Pennsylvania, there are nearly 130,000, in Wisconsin there’s roughly 30,700 and in Michigan there’s about 91,300, according to information shared by the group. 

“This is the beginning of a campaign we intend to engage in over the next three months leading up to the election,” Kurzban said. “And we hope people will go out and vote in their own interest.”

The group also awarded Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) last year on her work on immigration reform and congratulated her earlier this month when the senator was named as Biden’s running mate. If elected, Harris, of Jamaican and Indian descent, would become the first woman, first Black and first Asian American vice president.

Asked about the group’s assessment of Trump’s “attacks against Asian Americans,” the Trump campaign defended the president’s comments regarding the coronavirus. 

“President Trump is not afraid to call out China, and he also strongly stated that we must protect Asian Americans because they bear no responsibility whatsoever for the Chinese virus,” campaign spokesman Matt Wolking said in a statement. “The fault lies with China alone, and when Chinese officials tried to blame American troops for the virus, President Trump fought back against their disinformation campaign by making it very clear where the virus originated.”

The campaign highlighted comments from one of the president’s White House briefings in April where he stated that “it’s very important that we totally protect our Asian American community in the United States and all around the world. They’re amazing people, and the spreading of the virus is not their fault in any way, shape, or form.”

— This report was updated on August 24 at 7:52 a.m.

Tags anti-Asian prejudice coroanvirus COVID-19 Discrimination Donald Trump Immigrants List Civic Action Inc. Joe Biden Racism
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