Presidential hopeful U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., held a national conference call April 5 to discuss the candidate's leadership on several important issues facing Asian Americans.
Among the issues discussed with leaders from throughout the country were universal healthcare, income inequality, affordable higher education and racial injustice.
"What I have seen on the ground from volunteers and leaders of this campaign eclipses what happened in 2008,” said Brad Jenkins, who worked on Barack Obama’s presidential campaign and served as the White House associate director of public engagement for Obama, according to a Sanders campaign news release. “It is truly a testament to people power and inspiring young people in particular in taking their democracy back."
Added Dr. Paul Song, an oncologist and co-chair of California-based progressive organization Courage Campaign, "Just this past year, there were over 1.4 million medical related bankruptcies in the United States, of which 75 percent had insurance. It’s estimated 44 percent of all adults have delayed seeking care because co-pays and deductibles are too high.”
Song added that, if Sanders gets elected president, he is confident that the Asian American community will have the healthcare they deserve.
Human rights attorney Chaumtoli Huq, in reference to detainees in the U.S., some of whom are from Bangladesh and Sikh Americans of Indian origin, said they are seeking asylum but are in jail.
Huq added that Sanders has spoken out in support of the detainees "to potentially provide temporary protective status so they are not returned to their home countries.”
"I think that the senator's background being from an immigrant family is particularly sensitive to these issues, especially towards immigrants who are fleeing political violence," Huq added.
Many other leaders throughout the country spoke on the call, issuing support for Sanders, who is hoping to oust Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton for the nomination.
At its conclusion, the leaders on the call issued a call to action asking participants to sign up to volunteer in their communities, according to the statement.
In addition to the conference call, Sanders' campaign team was in New York April 9 to hold an organizing rally with Muslim and Asian American activists.
The event, held at the Jackson Heights Jewish Center and set up in collaboration with the Bangladeshi American Advocacy Group and the Muslim Democratic Club of New York, trained Sanders supporters on how to reach undecided voters prior to New York’s April 19 Democratic primary.
The training was led by Huq, Bangladeshi American Advocacy Group chairman of the board Kamal Bhuiyan, comedian and writer Amer Zaher, Muslim Democratic Club of New York co-founder Ali Najmi, and Muslim outreach coordinator for the Sanders campaign Aisha Naseem.
“This is the first presidential candidate in all of my years working in the AAPI communities in NYC that is speaking directly to our needs and concerns," Huq said at the event, according to a Sanders campaign release. “Bernie has shown that he is genuinely interested in the issues of the Bangladeshi and other communities around the country. This is a campaign that is being built from the grassroots, and that's why I support Bernie."