AAPI engagement Strategy

The Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community is a pillar of the Democratic Party. They have been on the frontline in the fight for human dignity and economic inclusion. AAPIs are the fastest growing racial group in America according to the 2010 Census. AAPIs support the Party financially, on the ground and at the ballot box – and the DNC needs to fully engage, support and recognize their importance. AAPIs are also the largest group of new immigrants moving to the United States, as well as one of the fastest growing swing votes in key states and districts across our nation. The AAPI population is expected to double by 2040.

As DNC Chair, Keith Ellison would work vigorously with the AAPI community across the states and in the territories to grow the successes from 2016, including the 87% support for Hillary Clinton, the highest number of AAPI delegates in history, and the most inclusive platform to date, which Keith Ellison helped to shape.

With the leadership and partnership of the AAPI community, Democrats must work to protect the important gains made under President Obama and stand against the unceasing Republican attacks on immigrants and refugees, and fight racial and religious profiling that remains a reality for far too many in the AAPI community. Keith knows the stakes for the AAPI community: over 1.7 million AAPIs still remain separated from their families and unable to reunite with their loved ones due to our broken immigration system. South Asian, Middle Eastern, Hindu, Sikh, and Muslim Americans are still viewed suspiciously and targeted simply for the way they look or the religion they practice. President Trump’s Muslim Ban is abominable. Keith has worked alongside leading local, state and federal AAPIs to ensure they are not overlooked in major policy discussions and are fully engaged in electoral activities. Keith has always fought to address hate crimes and to ensure that one’s race, ethnicity, sex, religion, national origin, language ability, immigration status, or sexual orientation is not cause for profiling and discrimination.

As Chair of the DNC, Keith will be ready to work with the AAPI community to tackle some of the particular challenges that keep potential AAPI voters from the ballot box, including language barriers, low awareness of how to participate in the American democratic process, and fear that their vote won’t count. Additionally, a 2012 survey of Asian American voters nationwide found that 52% of the Asian American voters had not been contact at all by the Democratic Party. The diversity of culture, religion, language and socio-economic status of the AAPI community bring challenges for organizing. Although AAPIs represent the fastest growing share of the US population and electorate, many AAPIs do not participate in the country’s political process. Little over half of eligible AAPIs are registered to vote, and a fewer than half have participated in any Presidential election in the past two decades. Keith Ellison understands that one size does not fit all.

Keith knows how to win elections, and he knows that fully engaging all of our Democratic family is the only way to win. The fact is that the work that AAPI community does could not be more important. Keith knows that Democrats have a serious turnout issue and that we need to do something about it, that we need to act. If Detroit voted like it did in 2012, Democrats would have won Michigan this past election. Same for Milwaukee and Wisconsin. Same for Philadelphia and Pennsylvania.

Keith's Strategy

  • Keith will commit to a fulltime constituency staff-person for the AAPI Caucus. The DNC must support grassroots engagement and training of AAPI Democrats around the country and in the territories.
  • Keith will lead the DNC to ensure state party AAPI Caucuses are active and engaging with each other and the DNC, and that they to share best practices and promote local and state surrogates.
  • Keith will set aggressive goals on the percentage of external vendor contracts and will make sure that the DNC staff represents the diversity of America.
  • Keith will invest in Ethnic Media. The AAPI community is incredibly diverse, composed of over 45 ethnicities that speak over 300 languages and dialects. Language access is essential to empowerment for AAPIs; over a third of the AAPI community is limited English proficient (LEP). AAPIs must have access to in-language resources and be able to communicate in a language they understand. [There should be a DNC staff person responsible to AAPI media].
  • Keith will work to ensure that the DNC includes an AAPI perspective in all modeling, analytics, and polling questions.
  • Keith will lead the DNC in increasing in-language voting assistance and outreach. We must restore the full protections of the Voting Rights Act and ensure that the protections that still exist, including voter assistance and the provision of bilingual voting materials in required jurisdictions, are enforced.
  • Keith will prioritize adding young, diverse AAPIs to the Democratic National Committee and create a pipeline for people from across the AAPI spectrum to better engage at all levels of the party.
  • Keith will ensure AAPI College Democrats and Young Democrats are fully brought into the fold and regularly involved in regional trainings, forums, and in AAPI focused Party activities.
  • Keith will work on growing partnerships from the DNCC 2016 to ensure AAPI owned businesses have access to DNC supply opportunities.
  • Keith will lead the DNC to protect and promote the setting of strong AAPI delegate goals by states for the 2020 Convention.
  • Keith will visit Guam, the Northern Marianas and American Samoa in 2017 and ensure that the Territories participate fully in the State Partnership Program, and have access to needed resources.
  • Keith will work to ensure increased presence and/or participation by the DNC at key AAPI community and leadership gatherings around the country and territories. The huge diversity within the AAPI community also necessitates conducting outreach through culturally specific networks, including religious institutions and language schools.
  • Keith will ensure the creation of a database of AAPI Democratic officials and engage them regularly, and will lead the DNC to promote AAPI Democratic candidates in partnership with the DLCC, DCCC, and DSCC campaign arms using social media, press, and AAPI Party events.