“Elaine Chao was complicit in creating a politics of toxicity and cynicism. Her decision can only be seen in that context,” Yoo mentioned. “Her dissent was needed when Trump degraded, ostracized and isolated the Asian American community with his Covid-19 misinformation and outright racism or in any of the instances when Trump sought to hurt immigrants like herself.”
Chao, who mentioned in her resignation assertion that the violence on the Capitol final week had “deeply troubled me in a way that I simply cannot set aside,” beforehand made historical past as the primary Asian American girl to carry a Cabinet place. She hasn’t been afraid of opening up about her immigrant roots and her tough early years in America. Chao, 67, got here to the U.S. from Taiwan when she was 8 years previous, talking no English.
During a naturalization ceremony final yr, she advised new residents on the White House about how her household of 5 lived in a small, one-bedroom residence when she arrived within the nation. Her father, who grew to become the rich head of a delivery firm, labored three jobs to assist the household. Chao mentioned that to be taught English, she would copy all the pieces she noticed on the chalkboard in school right into a pocket book, reviewing the phrases together with her father after he returned residence from work at evening.
“I think you will understand when I say that our initial years in America were very challenging,” Chao, who’s married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., advised the newly naturalized residents. “We didn’t speak English, had no family or friends here, couldn’t get used to the food nor understand the customs here.”
Her rise from her immigrant roots has made her a job mannequin for some Asian American households. In an interview with CNN in 2017, Chao mentioned that these from the neighborhood would present up wherever, from public occasions to the airport, to greet her and that she would really feel an “instant bond.” Activists say her actions have confirmed something however supportive to immigrant communities.
Chao got here beneath fireplace a number of occasions throughout Trump’s tenure for staying silent as he tried to institute hard-line immigration insurance policies. In 2017, a number of Asian American organizations referred to as on Chao to oppose Trump’s termination of the Temporary Protected Status applications for a number of nations, together with Sudan, Nicaragua and Haiti. Temporary Protected Status is often given to nations the place situations forestall nationals from returning.
They additionally demanded that she converse out in opposition to Trump’s makes an attempt to finish the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that yr.
While nearly all of so-called Dreamers hail from Latin America, about 16,000 undocumented Asian youths are protected beneath the act. And Asian Americans are the fastest-growing demographic of undocumented immigrants, their inhabitants tripling from 2000 to 2015. Chao, nonetheless, was mum concerning the topic.
She additionally remained silent about Trump’s public cost rule, which denies immigrants residency if they’re deemed more likely to want public help,