Immigration and American Values

Committee of 100 Urges Immigration Policy Consistent with American Values

Contact: Holly Chang, Executive Director or 212-371-6565
(New York, NY, January 30, 2017) — The Committee of 100 affirms the greatest ideal of this nation of immigrants: that we welcome all individuals who believe as we do, in freedom and opportunity. As an organization consisting of Chinese Americans, from those who have arrived only recently and then naturalized to join this community, to those whose families came more than a century ago to establish new roots in the new world, we celebrate immigration even as we understand the painful history that affected our ancestors. Chinese Americans in particular, and Asian Americans more generally, have had a defining experience through exclusion and expulsion, before achieving acceptance and equality. Our unique past offers insights for our shared future.

America’s immigrant tradition is not a partisan issue. Many of every political persuasion are themselves proud to be descended from those who came for freedom and liberty. Every nation draws a line between those who are citizens and those who are not. The United States of America, however, does not draw lines based on race or religion. It has extended citizenship over time, regardless of skin color or faith. It has constantly improved itself by doing so. Chinese Americans know this story only too well. We owe it to ourselves to remember the progress we have made.

In 1882, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act. It did so following agitation in California and throughout the country that portrayed Chinese in racial and ethnic terms as “obnoxious” and undesirable. Chinese in America were attacked, including physically, for every vice. They also were attacked for their virtues, said to work so hard as to constitute “unfair competition.” In essence, they were a “yellow peril”, threatening the American way of life. They were turned away and barred from entry.

The Chinese Exclusion Act marked the first time the federal government enacted a ban on a specific community based on their identity. It was later expanded to cover an “Asiatic Barred Zone.” There were only a few exceptions. Even those already here, who had arrived legally, were forbidden from naturalization. They were deemed not to be “free white persons”.

Yet over time, thanks in part to the contributions of the few Chinese immigrants there were, and the alliance between China and the United States, these restrictions were repealed. In 2011 and 2012, the United States Senate and House of Representatives, respectively, passed formal statements of regret for their earlier actions.

They realized that Chinese Americans are patriots. They have succeeded and integrated themselves. In every field of achievement, from science and technology to arts and athletics to business and politics, Chinese Americans are to be found, loyal to this nation, adding to its diversity, and contributing to its distinction. Chinese Americans, like other Americans proud of their ethnic heritage, guarantee America’s paramount position leading and innovating for the world.

Because of that history, we give pause when America considers any public policies akin to the Chinese Exclusion Act to stop immigration from unwelcome countries. We understand the need to protect national security and the ongoing debate about immigration reform. As the nation considers how to define itself, the Committee of 100 urges our leaders to make good on our profound experiment in self-governance that continues to inspire peoples the world over. The best sign of our strength is that others wish to join us. Let us demonstrate that we are the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

HCPSS Student Enrollment Numbers and Trend Over 5 Years

2017 HCPSS Enrollment Trend P1.JPG



With an increased number of students, less students buy lunch at regular price and more students buy lunch at a reduced price.

  1. My first impression is that the lunch is not good and students do not like it. This number could not cheat, right?
  2. My second impression is that we have more and more poor families now. How can we ensure those kids get the right education?

I have been hearing from parents who are complaining the lunch quality over years.  However, when I see the awards HCPSS is receiving for their great lunch program, I am not sure what I should say.

Possible 2018 HCPSS funding crisis

Some parents sent me emails about canceled programs at our public school. While I am sitting at the HCPSS 2018 Operating Budget Review Committee, I feel there is a school funding crisis coming soon. The approved budget from the county for FY 2017 is 562 millions,  however, the proposed FY 2018 request from the county is 622 millions, which is  10.7% increase, a total of 60 million dollars.

I heard the county government will not be able to fund all 60 million extra dollars over FY 2017, probably at most 7-8 million dollars(hope I am wrong here !). Maybe the zero-based budgeting process should be revisited. Or more programs will but cut, the class size keeps growing, etc.

What is a good budget process and reasonable spending growth? I would like to hear your comments. Or it is how it works: you ask for a huge number and expect you will not get all.


CA board meeting summary 2017-1-26

Resident speakout

  1. T.J Blend talked about a need for water retention facility near Lake Elkhorn.
  2. Greg Pipher , near Cradle Circle,  brokenland parkway, traffic noise increased.  Requesting to plant some natural buffer.

IAT funding is discussed. IAT is not requesting 1.5 million dollars from Howard County for Phase II development. Senator Guy Guzzone asked for 250K Bond Bill for IAT, which is primarily for special architectural lighting for Chrysalis.

Councilwomen Mary K. Sigaty (district 4) discussed “Overview of the legislation approving the TIF and Affordable Housing”.

  1. One point Ms. Sigaty made tonight : The county can make changes which the 30-year DRRA should follow for the sake for the health, safety, welfare of Howard County. That is new to me.

2. She regretted to have only 5500 units to be built and felt more could be built. And she feel not enough affordable housing.

CA Ethics codes are discussed.

CA is inviting some other stakeholders for a dinner.




fill out your W9 form

W1:What am I offering? What am I pitching, recommending, trying to sell?

W2: What problem does my idea or offering solve?

W3: Why is it worth trying and buying?

W4: Who is my target audience?

W5: Who am I and what are credentials?

W6: Who are my competitors and how am I different from them?

W7: What resistance or objections will people have to this?

W8: What is the purpose of my pitch?

W9:WHEN, WHERE, AND HOW do I want people to take action?

From the book “POP”, by Sam Horn

EZ Pass problem

EZ pass is eating our money illegally, a little bit by bit. I just don’t have time to sue them for the moment.

However, their system is not reliable and occasionally could not scan the EZ pass. They put the blame on the user and use the video image to charge extra money. Each year, I got several of the video toll tickets ,which charges twice of the original price.

Considering their huge user base, one extra charge from each user will get them extra revenue, huge revenue, probably billions dollars across the country. It is unethical.

CA board work session summary 2017-1-12

Resident speakout:

Joel Hurewitz questioned CA funding of $75,000 to Inner Arbor Trust.

Board meeting

A:The board discussed the 2018 Capital Budget

Million dollar projects:

  1. Columbia Swim Center repair        2.7 millions
  2. Athletic Club Repair                          2.5 millions
  3. Ice Ring repair                                     2.0 millions
  4. Total budget for capital projects:  17 millions
  5. Proposed Total Income :                  72 millions

The board spent some time discussing on funding for IAT.

Proposed FY 18 Net Asset Increase       3.8 millions.

B: Susan Krabbe introduced Dashboard metrics. I really love this.


C: Pond management required 3.8 million dollars in the future. CA tried to give three ponds to county government. They would not take them.

D: Overview of communication and Marketing Plan for Restructure


Joined HCPSS operating budget review committee

I joined the HCPSS operating budget review committee. This committee was picked up again when the new BOE board started their first meeting. The budget book is huge, 601 pages. The budget can be downloaded at

I am sitting in a subcommittee focusing on Fixed Charges, Central Office staff, Diversity and the Freeze Committee with Lisa Markavitz, Corey Andrews and Terry Dennison.

I am looking for your feedback in these areas. Please leave me a message or email me.






An overview on the budget:




Baltimore Sun: Made in Clarksville effort for Ellicott City Flood Recovery

Pointers Run Elementary fourth-grader designs animal T-shirts for Ellicott City flood recovery

I was quoted by the reporter Mr. Andrew Michaels:

Chao Wu, Columbia Association board member and father of two, said he was one of Amanda’s first customers to buy lion T-shirts for his family.

“I think it’s amazing for her, as a young lady, to get some friends and classmates and start this from scratch,” Wu said. “It’s great for little kids because they love animals.”

It is so glad that the kids continue working on this project using their talent. I believe they can develop a small business on this and support not only Ellicott City Flood recovery, but also others. It is always good to grow and learn. That are valuable lessons when they grow up.

Learn Chinese, Earn College Credits

Learn Chinese language at Howard County Chinese School, you can earn College Credits (Howard Community College).  Registration starts Jan. 15, 2017.
Unfortunately, I don’t have the English version notice yet. I will add it later when it is available. But if you need information, please leave me a note.
渐渐你会发现, 孩子们在低年级的时候中文学习的兴趣很大,但随着年龄增长,到了高年级却开始对中文有了抵触情绪。不仅如此,高年级的孩子们还有更多的问题在等着我们来回答: “为什么要学中文?”“ 学了中文有什么用?”…… 十年中文求学路,怎样才能为孩子们的中文学习画上一个圆满的句号?怎样才能让他们认识到中文学习的价值不仅仅是对中国文化的传承,而且在今后的大学学习中也能受益?经过几年探索,哈维中文学校 HCCS)目前已与Howard Community College (HCC) 就中文课程授予大学学分合作项目达成协议。借助这一项目,我们为哈维的学生提供了一个绝好的机会,通过把循序渐进的中文学习和高中阶段时间灵活的特点结合起来,在不额外增加学习负担,只要完成哈维中文学校课程就可以获得大学学分。这样既减轻学生将来在大学的学业重压,节省了时间,同时也减轻家长支付大学学费的经济负担,最终使孩子在步入大学时受益。 协议的主要内容是:
  • HCCS参加这个项目的学生注册HCC中文201/202课程, 缴纳HCC学费,选修HCCS九年级和十年级课程,成绩合格的,即可以得到8个语言类科目大学学分(9,10年级各4个学分)。
  • HCCS提供授课老师, 负责师资和学生管理。HCC提供学籍管理和学分授予。
  • HCC 社区大学学分可以作为大学本科生的基础必修学分(general requirement),被绝大多数的大学认可。(含Harvard University, Cornel University, University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University, University of Maryland College Park, 等等
  • 参加这一项目的同学,将和其他HCC注册学生一样,有机会使用多种HCC学校设施(图书馆、体育馆等)。
该项目将从今年春季开始实施,课程注册自下周(1/15/2017)开始。 本周日(1/8/17 HCC招生办和HCCS将联合举办seminar介绍中文课程授予大学学分合作项目及报名注册的相关事宜,Seminar的地点是 N220阶梯教室。为方便不同时间段的学生和家长,seminar 安排了两个 时间, 分别为 1-2pm 2-3pm 欢迎大家踊跃參加。

A story fron River Hill Immigrant (Frank Hazzard)

The author Frank Hazzard nicely agreed to share this article with me after I contacted him. It is really well written.

A River Hill Immigrant’s Story and Thoughts on the Huddled Masses

By Frank Hazzard

Frank Hazzard, a Columbia native residing in River Hill, has a background in journalism and event promotions. He co-owns Buzzquake Marketing, LLC, and specializes in content marketing that attracts prospects to websites and converts them to customers, buyers, members, sponsors and financial contributors.  You may reach him at

Immigration has emerged as one of America’s preeminent issues.  As such, I have been giving it quite a bit of thought lately, and have concluded that as a natural-born American my opinions might lack perspective.  So, I sought a River Hill resident who might be able to help me understand how immigrants view immigration, especially illegal immigration.  I found a willing participant next door in the person of Prashant Shah. I sat spellbound as Shah, a first-generation American who immigrated from India as a young man, shared an inspiring tale.

An American Story

Born in Gujarat, a small village on the west coast of India, Shah moved to Mumbai at a young age.  He then attended a boarding school beginning at age 10.  Ironically, his boarding school was owned by Zoroastrians, or Parsis, who were descendants of Iranians who settled in India to escape persecution.  For the next eight years, he saw his parents only twice a year on vacations.

He was a good student and went to college to continue his education.  At the time, the only viable, professional career paths for young Indians were medicine and engineering.  Shah’s father was a physician, so he decided to branch out and pursue engineering.

After earning a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Manipal University in India, he started working in Mumbai.  Shah found the work and his life to be painfully mundane and longed for something more exciting.  He dreamed of going to America.

“We had political freedom in India but not economic freedom.  The lure of capitalism is what drives Indian engineers.  They want to get a good education and then they want to go to Silicon Valley and make it big,” said Shah.

A student visa was the only practical means by which he could be admitted to the United States, so Shah took the GRE.  His math score, 750, was high enough that he was accepted by two of the three graduate schools where he applied.

“My dad didn’t show me the acceptance letters until it was only a week and half before I needed to show up for school because he didn’t want me to leave India,” recalled Shah.

Despite his father’s reservations, Shah rushed his paperwork through the U.S. consulate and within just a few days he began a graduate engineering program at Louisiana State University.  He picked LSU partly because the weather in Baton Rouge was like Mumbai’s, and because he knew an acquaintance there.

“I left India at 24 with one suitcase and $4,000 that my father gave me.  It was enough for one year of school.  I landed at Kennedy in New York and had to make a collect call to Baton Rouge.  I had no clue how to use an American pay phone.  It was the first of many things I had to learn,” Shah said.

In hindsight, Shah concedes that he was fearless, “but my fearlessness was due to my age more than a lack of opportunities at home.  I planned for only one year at a time, and I had to keep $1,200 in the bank to be sure that I could always afford to buy a plane ticket home.  My visa permitted me to work, but only on campus.  Each semester I needed to earn enough money to stay in school, and I always managed to do it.”

He completed a master’s degree in industrial engineering and then pursued a second master’s degree in computer science at LSU, mostly to keep his student visa alive.

“I went door to door asking professors for a job.  A crawfish researcher hired me as a graduate assistant to model what crawfish population growth would be,” Shah said with a smile.

A friend who lived in York, Penn., offered to put him up for a summer, so Shah rode a Greyhound bus for 34 hours.  He then sent 10 resumes a week to any jobs that he thought might be a good fit.  A few of the companies called him, including one in Fairfax, Va.  “I took a Greyhound to a nearby hotel the night before, and then in the morning took a taxi to the interview.  I didn’t hear back from them for a while, so I went back to Baton Rouge.”

Eventually the company in Fairfax hired him.

Shah then hired an immigration attorney who helped him convert his visa from F1 to H1, which allowed him to work here temporarily as a technical expert.  The next step was to get a labor certification and then a green card.  Five years later, and 18 years after he first set foot in Kennedy Airport, Shah applied for and was granted U.S. citizenship.

He now owns and operates CloudLeap Technologies, a small business focused on federal IT work, primarily identity and access management.

Along the way Shah met and married a fellow Indian immigrant who had been sponsored by her sister, a dentist in New York.

“I was attending a wedding in Edison, N.J., which is quite a Little India town, and met her,” said Shah.  The couple had two sons and moved to River Hill last year.

Pathways to America

“I disagree with people who have come here illegally,” said Shah.  “Hatred directed toward illegals is wrong, but so is cheating the system.  People are flowing in.  The legal process is not easy.  Those of us who did it the right way are not happy that so many may be allowed to take shortcuts.  If you wait in a long line to buy a ticket for a movie and you get to the window and discover that the manager has been allowing people in for free, you’re not happy about it.”

When asked, Shah admitted to having mixed feelings about policy proposals that would automatically allow foreign students who complete advanced degrees in America to stay here indefinitely.

“I think they should be allowed to stay if they want to.  However, even though it might be good for America to keep the best and brightest students from around the world, it’s also good for America to send them back to their home countries where they can make improvements,” Shah said.  He pointed to Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, principal architect of the Constitution of India. Ambedkar was a prolific student who earned doctorates in economics from both Columbia University and the London School of Economics before returning to India where he helped campaign for and negotiate India’s independence.

Shah would also like to see any immigration reform include a streamlining of the pathway to citizenship.  “The legal process is too long and cumbersome.  It needs to be modified.  People give up and drop out because it takes forever.  If you are hoping to get a green card without being sponsored by a family member, applicants often must prove that they are filling a job that no American can fill.  Proving that can be difficult.”

Attended county council meeting tonight

I attended my first county council meeting tonight. Many Asian Americans who read my blog attended tonight’s meeting because of the CB-9 “Sanctuary Howard” bill. Some of them are supporting the bill and most of them are opposing it.

I am really surprised how the county council meeting is running, which is quite different from Columbia Association’s board meeting. Their agenda is extremely simple and there are no supporting document at all.

So my impression is how a bill is generally handled (like “Sanctuary Howard”):

  1. one or several county council members write a bill and introduce it in the first meeting.
  2. In the second meeting ( two weeks later), they allow public testimony.
  3. In the third meeting( two weeks later), they vote.

The first picture is always shown on Baltimore Sun whenever they report the county government affairs.

The second picture is to honor Atholton High School volleyball team who just won the first state title in 23 years. What an achievement.