California state Treasurer John Chiang, speaking to the California delegation on Monday July 25, 2016 at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, said California's diversity makes the state a nightmare for Republican nominee Donald Trump. Hector Amezcua The Sacramento Bee
California state Treasurer John Chiang, speaking to the California delegation on Monday July 25, 2016 at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, said California's diversity makes the state a nightmare for Republican nominee Donald Trump. Hector Amezcua The Sacramento Bee

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John Chiang writes to Trump: We know what it’s like to be labeled ‘other’

By Christopher Cadelago

ccadelago@sacbee.com

February 01, 2017 10:40 AM

California Treasurer John Chiang and more than two dozen Asian American and Pacific Islanders expressed their outrage to President Donald Trump on Wednesday, accusing the Republican of issuing a refugee and travel ban they say forsakes American core values – “equality, fair play, and the shimmering promise that the United States is a welcoming place for those ‘yearning to be free.’”

Chiang, a Democratic candidate for governor in 2018, said Trump’s executive order banning travel for citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries is unconstitutional and “drips with cruel irony.”

“As Americans, we have been taught to take pride in our diversity and our constitutional right to religious freedom. As Asian Pacific Islander Americans, we will not stand idly by as you attempt to pervert this nation’s melting pot into a boiling cauldron of intolerance, hate, and division,” Chiang and the others wrote in the pointed and personal letter. “We also know what it is like to be labeled ‘other,’ to become victims of state-sponsored racism, bigotry, and xenophobia.”

Trump’s election and first 11 days in office have brought daily opportunities for rising Democrats, including fellow gubernatorial candidates and legislative leaders, to channel their fears and anger at his decisions. Last weekend, Chiang, the son of immigrants from Taiwan, was among the politicians to join the throngs of Californians clustered at airports around the state to voice their disapproval with Trump’s executive order, which has been temporarily halted by judges.

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Chiang called for cancellation of the order, recalling historical black marks touching California like the Chinese Exclusion Act and Japanese internment.

“We wrongly believed these shameful ill-begotten episodes had been consigned to the junk pile of American history – and that the sins of our past, seared into our social memory, would forever inform and guide our better future,” they wrote.

“Yet, here we are. It is happening again – in 2017 – leaving us shocked, angry, and forced to wear the shroud of indignity you have tossed so casually over the nation. Our Muslim brethren are being mistreated because of their faith, dress, and customs. This is un-American.”

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago