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SOLID VOTING BLOCK OR SWING VOTE: Asian Americans could decide presidential race

by Momar Visaya/AJPress

NEW YORK – Asian American voters prefer Sen. Barack Obama, 41 percent to 24 percent nationally, over Sen. John McCain, according to a new national survey on Asian Americans released Monday, Oct. 6.

But that’s not the entire story.

According to the study, a high portion, or 34 percent of those surveyed, remains undecided. For the researchers, this is a key finding and a development that could set the stage for Asian Americans to play a pivotal role in the outcome of the November election.

The numbers could make a difference especially in battleground states where there is a growing Asian American population. Among the general population, national polls conducted since the major party conventions show that undecided voters are approximately 8 percent of the electorate.

The study shows that Filipino American voters support Obama, 35 percent over McCain, 29 percent. 34 percent remains undecided.

“A very large number of Asian Americans are non-partisan. The Asian American vote is very much up for grabs: Non-partisans who see either the Democratic or Republican party as closer to them on issues that matter to them are much likelier to vote for that party’s candidate,” UC Berkeley associate professor of political science Taeku Lee explained.

Karthick Ramakrishnan, an associate professor of political science at UC Riverside, agreed that with such a high proportion of undecided voters, “Asian Americans are a critical source of potential votes for either candidate in the final weeks of the campaign”

This groundbreaking study, released at a Washington, DC, press conference last October 6, was conducted by researchers from four leading universities: Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey; University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley); University of California, Riverside (UC Riverside); and University of Southern California (USC).

The researchers’ 2008 National Asian American Survey (NAAS) shows that 41 percent of Asian Americans are likely to favor Obama, while 24 percent support John McCain. In battleground states, where either candidate could win on Election Day, Obama leads with 43 percent of Asian Americans supporting him and 22 percent favoring McCain.

The multi-ethnic, multi-lingual survey of more than 4,000 Asian Americans likely to vote in the election was conducted from Aug. 18 to Sept. 26. It is the most comprehensive survey to date of the political views of Asian Americans, with interviews conducted in English, Cantonese, Mandarin, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Tagalog and Vietnamese.

“Most national polls cannot report the preferences of these likely voters because they do not interview in multiple languages, and the number of interviews they conduct among Asian Americans is very small,” said Janelle Wong, an associate professor of political science at USC.

By drawing on the knowledge of political scientists with expertise in survey research and ethnic politics, and with support from several foundations, the NAAS data provide insight about Asian Americans as a whole, the researchers say, as well as about their six largest ethnic subgroups: Asian Indians, Chinese, Filipinos, Japanese, Koreans and Vietnamese.


Asian Americans make up a significant proportion of the total population in states such as Hawaii (56 percent), California (13 percent), New Jersey (8 percent), Washington (8 percent), and New York (7 percent).

The population is also growing rapidly beyond the “traditional gateways.”  Between the 1990 and 2000 censuses, the Asian American population has more than doubled in 19 states. In fact, the electoral battleground states of Nevada, New Hampshire, Florida, and Georgia are home to some of the fastest growing Asian American populations in the country.

The study also shows that more Asian Americans identify as Democrats than as Republicans by a wide margin of 32 percent to 14 percent and a significant proportion identify as Independents, 19 percent.

Of the Filipinos surveyed, 35 percent identified themselves as Democrats while 19 percent responded Republicans. 28 percent said they were non-partisan and 18 percent said they were Independent.

Among the communities surveyed, Asian Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Filipinos have more Democrats than Republicans. Vietnamese Americans identify with the Republican Party over the Democratic Party by nearly a two-to-one ratio

The issues

About 80 percent of likely voters surveyed list the economy as one of the most important problems the nation faces, followed by the war in Iraq. On both issues, there are strongly divided opinions between Obama and McCain supporters.

“Even as the Iraq war has receded from the headlines as concerns about the economy have become more prominent, the war still plays a powerful role in the Asian American choice for president” says Jane Junn, an associate professor of political science at Rutgers.

Respondents also said that oil prices, job/unemployment and immigration are among the issues that they think are the most important problems facing the United States today.

Next to Latinos, Asian Americans are the fastest growing community on the US today. Currently, they comprise 5 percent of the population and, according to the researchers, will likely play a significant role in battleground states such as Virginia, Nevada and Washington, where they account for 5 percent or more of the population.

Even in states such as Colorado, Ohio and Florida, where they are less numerous, Asian Americans may provide the margin of victory, the researchers added.

Home country politics

There are some media accounts and scholarly articles that suggest that Asian Americans are less likely to participate in American politics because of their focus on the politics of their home countries.  The survey included questions on whether respondents send money to their countries of origin, whether they have been in contact with friends and family, and whether they have participated in the politics of that country.

Nearly three quarters (74 percent) of respondents have been in contact with friends and family and one third (33 percent) have sent money to people in their home country.  However, only 4 percent have participated in the politics of their home country.  The figures are similar when looking only at adult citizens in our survey: 69 percent have been in contact with friends and family, 31 percent have sent money to people, and only 4 percent have been involved in the politics of their countries of origin.

“Most importantly, those who participate in the politics of their home countries are actually more likely to vote in the United States than those who do not (73 percent versus 67 percent). Thus, participation in home country politics is not a deterrent to participation in the United States,” the report said.


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Pacquiao, De La Hoya wrap up promo tour in LA

by Joseph Pimentel/AJPress

EAST LOS ANGELES – The final leg of the Manny Pacquiao and Oscar De La Hoya publicity tour started with a shot and a big chug.

A Tequila Cazadores official kicked off the press conference by opening a large bottle of tequila, poured himself a shot and downed the alcoholic beverage in front of a large pro-Mexican crowd in East Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, Mexican-American comedian George Lopez, who served as the emcee, grabbed the bottle and downed it akin to a scene in the Animal House.

After going around on a six city tour of the US for the past week-in-a-half, many members of the De La Hoya and Pacquiao camps needed a drink to relieve them of all their travels.

“All I can say is that it’s good to finally be back home,” said Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer.

“I was glad to see all the Filipinos from everywhere,” added Pacquiao. “It makes me feel good knowing that all those Filipinos I met are all supporting me.”

“I am home,” said De La Hoya. “This is where it all started for me.”

“We visited all the historic monuments across the US —the Statue of Liberty in New York, the Sears Tower in Chicago, the Space Needle in Houston, the Alamo in San Antonio, and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco but here, East LA, this is our monument,” added De La Hoya to the pro-Mexican crowd.
On a sweltering hot day, Mexicans and a small number of Filipino fans gathered underneath the Whittier Arch, the gateway to East LA, to watch two of the most popular stars in boxing announce their upcoming match on December 6 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

The fight titled The Dream Match is expected to be one of the highest grossing fights in the history of boxing, possibly even surpassing last year’s multi-million dollar mega match between De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Cheerleaders from Oscar De La Hoya Charter High School waved their blue and yellow pom-poms, a red-suited mariachi band blasted its traditional music, and people were literally on the roof and climbed up windowsills trying to catch a glimpse of boxing’s pound-4-pound great Pacquiao and boxing’s biggest box office draw De La Hoya.

Filipino Jeff Sacro of Carson arrived to the press conference early.

“I’m here to support Manny,” said Sacro, who was flanked by jeering Mexican fans. “I’m always there for all of his fights in Las Vegas.”

FilAm Jason V., who did not want to use his last name because he skipped work to attend the event, said he’s also here to support Pacquiao.

“He’s No. 1,” said Jason.

Sacro said that Pacquiao’s match against De La Hoya would be his toughest because of the Mexican’s long reach advantage.

“I just want Manny to fight until the end,” said Sacro, who originally hails from Cavite, Philippines. “Don’t quit. De La Hoya is big but Manny’s quick. We love Manny.”

Biggest fight of career

Roach said that he’s happy that the publicity tour is over because it’s time for him and Pacquiao to go back to work at the Wildcard Boxing Club.

Roach admits this is the biggest fight of not only Pacquiao’s career but his as well.

“After this, no more small fights,” said Roach. “All mega fights from here on out – Ricky Hatton or even Floyd Mayweather Jr. if he comes back.”

The Hall of Fame boxing trainer said that Pacquiao’s like a son to him. He wants to make sure Pacquiao is prepared and gives maximum effort.

“I’m 90 percent sure that Pacquiao will win this fight,” said Roach to the Asian Journal. “I don’t think Oscar can stay with Manny’s pace. Manny’s too fast for him.”

To combat Pacquiao’s speed, De La Hoya has hired Pacquiao’s nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez’s trainer Ignacio Beristain to help prepare for this fight.

Beristain has already warned De La Hoya of Pacquiao’s ring speed.

“He told to me watch out for Pacquiao and prepare for 12-rounds of boxing,” said De La Hoya. “He’s fast but he has to look for my right hand.”

Pacquiao, who has been plagued with distractions in several of his fights, said that this fight he’s more focused and determined.

“This time I’m really focused,” he said. “No more visitors at house. I’m just going to stay in the gym and head home. This fight won’t have any distractions.”

This fight is also of importance to Pacquiao not because he’s facing the Golden Boy but that this might be one of his last fights.

“I think maybe one or two more fights after this,” he said.   (

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CHP writes thousands of tickets for hands-free driving law violations

by Malou Liwanag-Aguilar/AJPress

SAN BRUNO, CA — “They still don’t get it,” says California Highway Patrol spokesman Tom Marshall.  He was, of course, referring to the more than 20,000 tickets CHP has issued over the past three months to drivers breaking the by using a hands-free cell phone law.

The California driving law imposes as fine of $20 for a first-time offense and a $50 fine for each additional offense.  Exceptions however are allowed, like calls to law enforcement agencies for emergency purposes or emergency services personnel while operating an authorized emergency vehicle.

According to a Harvard study in 2002, 5 percent of all traffic accidents are caused by distracted cell phone users.  CHP statistics also show that cell phone use is the top cause of accidents triggered by distracted drivers going all the way back to 2001.  (

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20,000 affordable homes to be built in LA

by Cynthia de Castro/AJPress

LOS ANGELES –  is the second largest city in the United States, with an estimated population of 3.8 million. Though thousands migrate to Los Angeles yearly, housing in Los Angeles remains unaffordable and out of reach for too many middle class families. In 2007, more than 5,200 LA families lost their homes to foreclosure – and that number is expected to rise to 10,000 by the end of 2008. At the same time, parents are spending more than half of their incomes on housing. Only 11 percent of the area’s households can afford a median-priced home and approximately 40,000 people sleep on the streets of the City each night.

As part of his effort to put a roof over the head of all City residents, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa recently unveiled Housing That Works- a five-year, $5 billion plan to build 20,000 affordable housing units and make Los Angeles a more affordable place of middle-class families to live and work.

“This City’s economic success and vitality depend on our ability to plan for a future of sustainability and stability in our housing market,” Mayor Villaraigosa said. “This plan lays the building blocks of housing our middle class can afford and takes the first steps

toward building “housing that works” for all Angelenos.”

Housing That Works represents the first time that all housing and planning departments are coming together in a coordinated effort, with one strategy to invest in affordable housing. This coordinated effort will bring a new level of transparency and stability to the City’s housing investment strategy, which will allow it to leverage $1 billion in public funds into a $5 billion investment in affordable housing throughout local neighborhoods.

The Mayor’s Office will coordinate resources from different departments and develop public/private partnerships to reach the 5 billion dollar goal. The $700 million investment from Enterprise Community Partners is a testament to this new strategy.

“Enterprise is pleased to step forward as an early and major partner in this effort to create fit, affordable and sustainable homes for all residents of the City,” said Doris Koo, president and CEO of Enterprise Community Partners. “Our pledge of $700 million dollars reflects our commitment to focus Enterprise’s energy and resources into making the City of Los Angeles a vibrant and thriving community,” Koo continued.

Using the funding from this capital campaign, Mayor Villaraigosa’s plan pledges to build and preserve 20,000 affordable homes – double the number of units constructed since the beginning of the Mayor’s time in office. This includes implementing a mixed-income housing ordinance that requires the City’s largest developers to offer units at prices LA’s workforce can afford.

In addition, this initiative will create 20 sustainable transit communities focusing new development in the areas where it makes the most sense – along public transit corridors and close to job centers.

Another key component of Housing That Works involves shifting the City’s strategy from managing homelessness to moving people out of it. The plan funds 2,200 permanent supportive housing units – where homeless men and women are connected to social services – and expands Section 8 voucher programs for the chronically homeless. It also puts the pieces in place to complete the redevelopment of Jordan Downs and transform

LA’s public housing sites into vibrant, mixed-income communities.

The final part of Mayor Villaraigosa’s plan will protect LA’s homes and neighborhoods by addressing the foreclosure crisis through the Neighborhood Stabilization Initiative; preserving the affordability of 14,000 rental units; and educating Angelenos about their rights as landlords and tenants.

Housing That Works takes the first steps in the City’s effort to address these challenges, reverse the negative trends of recent years, and bridge the ever-growing gap between the housing LA produces and the housing it needs.

The city departments and agencies included in Housing That Works are: the LA Housing Department, the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, the Community Redevelopment Agency, the LA Homelessness Services Authority, and the Planning Department.   (

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Mass celebrates Filipino migrants around the world

by Momar Visaya/AJPress

NEW YORK — St. Patrick’s Cathedral, in the heart of midtown Manhattan, played host to hundreds of Filipino Americans who trooped to the city to hear the Filipino Apostolate Mass in honor of the feast day of San Lorenzo Ruiz on Sunday, Sept. 23.

“We are gathered here today to celebrate the life of the first Filipino saint, and all Filipino migrants all over the world,” Fr. Erno Diaz, director of the Chapel of San Lorenzo Ruiz said as he welcomed everyone.

Rev. Onesimo Gordoncillo, archbishop of Capiz, was the principal celebrant and he was joined by about 20 pastors and priests who concelebrated the mass. Ambassador Hilario Davide and his wife Virginia and Deputy Consul General Millie Thomeczek led the list of officials representing the Philippines in the event.

The feast’s theme, “Celebrating Filipino Migrants Around the World” focused on the Filipino diaspora and how Lorenzo Ruiz, himself a migrant, is considered the patron saint of Filipino migrants and Overseas Filipino Workers.

Fr. Diaz also announced the launching of The San Lorenzo Ruiz Global Hour which means bringing the Holy Mass, complete with bilingual hymns in Tagalog and English via The Filipino Channel (TFC). “This is our way of bringing the mass to our brothers and sisters here and elsewhere who otherwise would not be able to attend mass and listen to the word of God,” Fr. Diaz added.

Various Filipino parish groups from different parts of New York and New Jersey joined in the processional march dressed in their Filipiniana best as the liturgical celebration went underway.

Ambassador Davide led the congregation in reading the prayer to San Lorenzo Ruiz.

“You, who died in a foreign land and left a family in our dear motherland / Take special care of all Filipinos living and working here in the United States and in other parts of the world / And of their loved ones left behind in the Philippines / Inspire them, as well, to serve as envoys of our Faith and of Filipino family values,” the prayer read.

Lorenzo Ruiz was beatified by Pope John Paul II on February 15, 1981 and was canonized along w ith four Spaniards, nine Japanese and one Italian on October 18, 1987.   (

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Pacquiao, De La Hoya take Lady Liberty by storm

by Momar Visaya/AJPress

NEW YORK – In a historic first, boxing superstars Manny Pacquiao and Oscar de la Hoya took the city by storm and appeared at the Statue of Liberty Wednesday, October 1, to promote their mega-fight: The Dream Match-De La Hoya Vs Pacquiao.

The press conference was the first of a series of events that organizers have planned to promote the epic match. The unprecedented presscon is the first ever staged on the historic Liberty Island, home to the iconic Statue of Liberty, America’s most famous landmark.

Pacquiao and De La Hoya are two of the biggest attractions in the world of boxing and their much-awaited match-up is something that aficionados have been waiting for. De La Hoya, the Olympic gold medalist and 10-time world champion will meet Ring Magazine’s current No. 1-ranked pound for pound champion, Manny Pacquiao on Saturday, December 6 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The fight, touted as the grand finale of the 2008 boxing calendar year, sold out in hours and established a live gate of nearly $17 million, making it the second largest grossing gate in boxing history after the De La Hoya vs. Floyd Mayweather fight held in May 2007 which featured a record-breaking $19 million gate.

“This is the biggest fight of my career and I am looking forward to this match because I know that De La Hoya is also an exciting player. I will do my best to bring honor and glory to my country, the Philippines and my fellow Filipinos around the world,” Pacquiao said after the presscon, as he signed autographs on shirts, boxing gloves, tickets to Liberty Island, even press Ids and posters.

For De La Hoya, it is not just about regaining old glory, it is about fighting the best and winning. “Manny Pacquiao is considered as the best fighter in boxing today and I always want to fight the best. They say I am old and I can’t fight him. I am challenged by that. I am 35 but that is not old,” De La Hoya told the Asian Journal on the way back to Manhattan via a ferry to Liberty.

Pacquiao, who won world titles at flyweight (112 lbs), super-bantam (122 lbs), super-feather (130 lbs) and lightweight (135 lbs) will be fighting for the first time at welterweight (147 lbs). Some consider him as the underdog because at 5’10.5″, De La Hoya is four inches taller than Pacquiao and his reach is 72 inches against Pacquiao‘s 67.

Though not a title fight, a welterweight victory over De La Hoya in the same year he held his previous titles would be equivalent to Henry Armstrong’s historic year of 1938 when he simultaneously held the featherweight, lightweight and welterweight titles.

“We all know about the battle between David and Goliath and who won in the end, right?” Bob Arum, Top Rank’s top man said, much to the cheers and screams of the predominantly Filipino fans who trooped to the Statue of Liberty to see the presscon. Pacquiao said that he gets inspired by the support of fans wherever he goes.

“When I take that walk to the ring to fight Oscar, I will carry all the people of the Philippines on my shoulders. I promise I will fight with all my heart and that I will give everything I have. Like my trainer Freddie Roach says, I have what it takes to win the biggest fight of my life,” he said. For De La Hoya, he shared that he is excited and can’t wait for December 6 to arrive. “I am glad that we were able to make this fight happen because while Pacquiao is at the pinnacle of his success and has defeated all of the top fighters he has faced, I am going to show the world that it stops with me,” he said.

Team Pacquiao and Team De La Hoya, together with their promoters, Top Rank, Inc. and Golden Boy Promotions will also travel to Chicago, Houston, San Antonio, San Francisco and Los Angeles to promote the match. The last stop will be where the Golden Boy grew up—Whittier Boulevard Arch in East LA on October 7.


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Over 400 people in NorCal captured in ICE raids

by  Malou Liwanag-Aguilar/AJPress

SAN FRANCISCO – The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) recently reported that about one in every five undocumented immigrants now facing deportation captured in raids in Northern California have criminal records.

More than 1,150 people were taken into custody over the last three weeks, with the detainment and pending deportation of more than 430. Less than half of the detainees from Northern California are considered fugitives for failing to show up at earlier immigration hearings.

According to Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Julie Myers, ICE is committed to enforcing these deportation orders. ICE raids have been strongly criticized by immigrants’ advocates, stating that the approach hurts families.

In a report by the Associated Press, those arrested were from 34 countries. The raids ended last Saturday, September 27. Aside from the more than 430 arrests in NorCal, ICE also made 420 arrests in the Los Angeles area and 301 in the San Diego area.

Immigration officials have increased enforcement at factories, offices and homes in recent year, targeting illegal immigrants who have ignored and avoided deportations orders.  (

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