♪ ♪ CANDY: I grew up with the American dream.
ERIKA: But all Asian immigrants were denied the right of naturalized citizenship and with the Exclusion Act, the Chinese became the first undocumented immigrants.
CANDY: The American Dream is a lovely dream to have and so people continue to aspire; enduring whatever it is that they've got to do as immigrants.
HELEN: Japanese Americans fought on the side the United States, while the rest of their family was incarcerated.
ERIKA: Legal challenges were so important because they did not have political power.
And as much as tragedy is a part of our heritage here, so is possibility.
MAN: Asian voices are coming out.
ALEX: You've got these young people fighting to make change happen.
ALISA: They had to assert their rights.
NOBUKO: It was like a giant genie coming out of the bottle.
You couldn't put us back in.
THAHN: These were stories about what it meant to be human.
What it meant to be resilient.
VIET: To transform the system into something more just for everyone, that's the hope from which the Asian American movement was born.
♪ ♪ HARI: The country's changing and people are freaking out about it.
I keep hearing about the year 2042 on the news.
For those of you who don't know, 2042 according to census figures is the year when white people will be the minority in this country.
They'll be 49% and white people are freaking out about it.
Don't freak out white people!
You were the minority when you came to this country.
Things seem to have worked out for you.
I first wanted to do standup comedy when I saw Margaret Cho do standup on television.
She was a Korean American woman, but as an Indian kid that was as close as we were going to get at that point.
MARGARET: I was in Mobile, Alabama.
I was walking down the street and this man actually calls me a chink.
I mean actually called me a chink.
I was so mad.
I just looked at him and said chink.
Chinks are Chinese.
I'm a gook.
Get like a redneck to English dictionary.
HARI: That fearlessness.
She stood out and it made me believe there was a chance that I could perform in front of people and be accepted.
The future that people in this country seem to be afraid of.
Where there's many different cultures, where whites are the minority.
I grew up in the future.
I was always surrounded by diversity like if anything, I was sheltered in diversity, I just assumed the whole country was like Queens, New York.
NARRATOR: When Hari's parents came to the United States, they were part of a historic wave of new immigrants who would change America.
Today Asians in America are making their presence felt, as the country's fastest growing racial group.
In a time where we find ourselves increasingly polarized, Asian Americans are playing an essential role in the future of America.
In the late 1970s refugees are escaping war-torn Southeast Asia, and coming to the United States.
They settle in the big cities, but they also move to small towns across the country.
MEE: Growing up, I always identify as being Hmong, not even Hmong-American.
My family came to the United States in 1978.
We were refugees in the aftermath of the Vietnam War.
I grew up in the Midwest.
And I remember walking my brothers and sisters to school and we would have cars go by.
People would throw their ashtrays out the window at us, you know, give us the finger.
They would say, you know, "Chink, gook, go back to your own country."
I didn't grow up with a consciousness that actually there were other Asian Americans experiencing similar things.
It felt very isolating.
Uh, and it felt like we just had to suck it up.
NARRATOR: Mee Moua's perspective would be drastically transformed by an event that will rock the Asian American community.
It happens in Detroit on a summer night in 1982.
REPORTER: Was Vincent Chin beaten to death with a baseball bat because he was Oriental?
The brutal slaying has outraged the Chinese community in Detroit, and across the nation.
HELEN: I had gone to Detroit in the mid-seventies to be involved in community organizing and to learn about the Heartland of America.
I actually arrived in Detroit when the auto industry was still booming and I got hired in as a large press operator in a Chrysler corporation stamping plant.
These were well paid jobs with full benefits.
The city had millions of people whose livelihoods for generations have been based on a manufacturing economy.
Then the bottom fell out.
NARRATOR: In 1979 Detroit's automakers are devastated by an international oil crisis.
Gas prices skyrocket.
Consumers start buying fuel efficient foreign cars and sales of American-made cars plummet.
By 1982 one in five Detroit residents are unemployed.
HELEN: People lost their futures and their children's futures.
Pretty soon the finger of blame ended up on Japan.
All of this hatred.
You could feel it.
It was palpable.
REPORTER: Detroiters were invited for 50 cents a smash to take out their anger on Japanese cars.
HELEN: It was in that climate of intense hatred that a 27 year old Chinese American was getting ready for his all American bachelor party.
NARRATOR: Vincent Chin is the only child of a Chinese immigrant couple, who adopted him because they couldn't have children of their own.
As a teenager he was a football player with a wide circle of friends.
By the summer of 1982, he's all set for a June wedding to his long-time girlfriend, Vicky.
HELEN: A week before his wedding, he was out with his buddies at a bar in Detroit.
REPORTER: Inside the bar, 43 year old Ronald Ebens, a foreman at a Chrysler auto plant, and his 23 year old stepson Michael Nitz taunted Chin, mistaking him for Japanese and accusing him for the economic downfall of the US auto industry.
NARRATOR: The fight ends up outside where the assailants hunt down Chin and his friends.
REPORTER: According to witnesses, Ebens took this bat out of the trunk of his car and repeatedly used it to hammer and crush Chin's skull.
As his friends held him, his last words were, "It isn't fair.
It isn't fair."
NARRATOR: Vincent's killers plead guilty to manslaughter and face 15 years in prison.
But Judge Charles Kaufman sentences them to three years' probation and a $3,000 fine.
He says, "These aren't the kind of men you send to prison"" VIET: I think the Vincent Chin murder was shocking to a lot of Asian Americans.
Not because it represented something new, but that it actually represented something old.
It reminded Asian-Americans that progress hadn't really been made.
HELEN: In 1882 you could kill a quote China man and get off paying $1.
In 1982 you can kill an Asian American and get off paying $3,000.
This was not justice, but there wasn't an organization that existed to stand up and say, this is wrong.
What began out of that was meetings that started with four people, 10 people, 20 people, 100 people, and people were talking about what can we do?
What can we do?
What can we do?
I raised my hand and I said, the world wants to know how the Asian American community feels about this.
CROWD: We want justice.
We want justice.
REPORTER: In death.
Vincent Chin inspired protest marches, rallies, dinners, banquets.
GROUP: Justice for Vincent Chin!
HELEN: The killing of Vincent Chin is probably the most tragic example of the kind of violence that's being committed against Asians.
JEFF: For Asian Americans, Vincent Chin's murder symbolized an extreme example of the kind of discrimination that they'd face.
It becomes a rallying point for Asian Americans to be able to say, "That's me too."
MEE: I was a freshman in college when I heard about Vincent Chin and the impact on the Asian American community.
And it was the first time that I felt like my experience as a Hmong refugee, as a Southeast Asian was connected to the experience of other Asian Americans.
I am finally a piece of the puzzle that completes the picture and it was so liberating.
HELEN: Civil rights organizations of every kind came forward as well as individuals.
JESSE: We have been drawn together by death, an unplanned family reunion, our hearts are made heavy by a mother who sits here with us whose son was brutally killed just because he was, what can we do in the aftermath?
Those who live, we must redefine America, So that everybody knows everybody fits in the rainbow somewhere.
HELEN: Mrs. Chin was the inspirational and spiritual leader of this movement.
Many of the ways that she's been seen is to remember her as a grieving mother, but to know her, she was a strong, outspoken woman.
LILY: You know how they killed my son?
Killed my son.
Like they kill an animal.
DONAHUE: Like they kill an animal.
LILY: This made me very angry.
DONAHUE: Yes ma'am.
HELEN: Lilly Chin's husband had just died six months before Vincent was attacked and killed.
Her son had already been shopping and looking for a house that would have a room for his mother to live in and there was nothing more that Mrs. Chin wanted than to have grandchildren.
Even through her pain.
She was standing up, speaking up, organizing.
LILY: I don't want any other mother to suffer like me.
HELEN: We began to look at the different civil rights laws.
There were constitutional law professors who came out and said, "Civil rights laws are only meant to protect African Americans."
We had to talk to them and say, no, that's not true.
As an Asian American, he was being isolated and targeted and scapegoated because of his race in this climate of hate.
So of course, civil rights laws should apply.
NARRATOR: Under mounting pressure, the Justice Department agrees to bring charges.
This is the first hate-crime prosecution involving an Asian American.
Ronald Ebens is found guilty of violating Vincent's civil rights and is sentenced to 25 years in prison.
But his conviction is overturned on appeal.
Neither he nor his stepson will ever serve a day in prison for Vincent's murder.
LILY: I wanted justice for my son, this is not fair... MEE: All the things that went wrong didn't give justice to Vincent's mom, but what it did do was it invited Asian Americans to search our voices and demand that we are seeing beyond being the perpetual foreigner, but that we actually belong.
This is our country.
HELEN: Vincent Chin's case has a legacy that affects all Americans.
Even to this day.
MEE: A hate crime now is not just an act committed on somebody because of who they are, but because of who the perpetrator perceived them to be.
That's one of the concrete legacies of the Vincent Chin case.
NARRATOR: Mee Moa's activism led her to a career as the first Hmong politician in the U.S.
Though she came to this country as a refugee, she was elected to the Minnesota senate in 2002, where she will serve for 8 years.
The early 1980s is a tipping point: the Asian American population flips from majority US-born to largely foreign-born.
New neighborhoods pop up all over the United States.
One of the biggest is in the heart of Los Angeles, an enclave that comes to be known as Koreatown.
ANGELA: Koreatown was a physical space where you could migrate here and never have to encounter the mainstream.
We had our grocery stores, our restaurants, watch repair stores, wig shops, you name it.
You could transact daily life without breaking into English.
ALEX: When I think about Koreatown, I really think about the Sundays with my family.
It would be like a whole day, we'd like go there in the morning, go to church service.
And then after that we'd go and have like a family meal together and my parents would go to the video store.
For our family and many families a store was like a second home.
We had birthday parties there and I know a lot of Korean American store owners had a little cot in the back or someplace where people ate meals.
(singing in Korean) NARRATOR: Korean immigrants like Alex's parents look for opportunities where the cost of business is affordable.
For many, this means looking beyond the borders of Koreatown in places like South Los Angeles.
These neighborhoods are predominantly black and Latinx, with their own identities and histories.
BRENDA: Many people of color and African Americans in particular were disappointed, frustrated, um, agitated about, um, social conditions, about the lack of jobs, about policing in Los Angeles.
And so you have an African American community that in some ways is like an immigrant community because we've never been completely integrated within the society.
NARRATOR: In March of 1991, the world watches as Los Angeles police officers beat a 26 year old African American man named Rodney King.
ANGELA: Back then in the 90s, I was just a lawyer when a number of us who practiced in that area saw that video.
Our reaction was, well, it's about time the rest of the world see what happens on the streets of South LA.
MAN: We are not going to take this racist police brutality in our streets.
HELEN: Unfortunately in our Asian American community, many of the newer immigrants who come have no idea of the civil rights history in America.
ANGELA: The civil rights laws that came into effect in the 60s were the product of huge fights, mostly led by African Americans.
Sacrifices that were made by African Americans.
None of this was appreciated by the majority of new immigrants who came after the fact.
ALEX: You know, my parents didn't have any understanding that there was the civil rights movement or the history of racial equality in this country.
They didn't know anything about that.
ANGELA: In South L.A. you had a region that was historically an established African American community being transformed into a Latinx community.
There's competition for jobs.
There's competition for housing.
BRENDA: Close to 70% of businesses were owned by Korean Americans.
There was a notion that the shop owners had been disrespectful, had been dismissive.
MAN: Yeah, prices are high.
Their attitude is wrong and they just don't seem to have any respect for the black community.
ANGELA: In the Korean community, there's an anxiety because there was a lot of news about assaults, robberies, shootings that were being reported in, in language news, but if you read the LA times Metro section, all you read about when it came to Koreans was how rude they were, how racist they were.
JEFF: What we see is a lot of media trying to play up Asian and black tensions.
ALEX: I'm sure that's a much easier narrative to build and write than something about the hundreds of years of racial inequality and social inequality in America.
BRENDA: Latasha Harlins was a 15 year old African American girl who lived in South Central Los Angeles.
She went into a grocery slash liquor store in her neighborhood on March 16th, 1991 to purchase a bottle of orange juice for $1.79.
The proprietress Mrs.
Soon Ja Du accuses her of stealing, pulls her across the counter.
Latasha responds by punching her, a fight ensues.
Latasha bends down to pick up the orange juice and Mrs. Du has stood up with a gun in her hand.
Latasha turns to walk out of the store and she shot in the back of the head.
JEFF: This particular incident comes to represent all these grievances that have been building up.
REPORTER: A jury convicted Du of voluntary manslaughter.
A pre-sentence report recommended the maximum 16 years, but judge Joyce Karlin imposed probation, a $500 fine, no jail time.
JEFF: This is literally 10 years after the killing of Vincent Chin.
Wasn't the equivalent to Vincent Chin, Latasha Harlins?
But in this case, certain Asian-Americans organized to support Soon Ja Du.
HELEN: And instead of being seen as a part of the multiracial coalition, suddenly Korean Americans were seen as just like those racist LA cops who beat up Rodney King.
MAN: Go home CROWD: Go home!
MAN: Go home CROWD: Go home!
HELEN: People on the ground within the Korean American and African American communities were trying to signal this could be a problem.
Then all hell broke loose.
REPORTER: The verdict stunned almost everyone except the four officers acquitted of beating Rodney King.
Sheriff's deputies escorted them from the courthouse to face a hostile crowd.
ANGELA: We had five days of looting, burning, arson, chaos really in the city of L.A.
CROWD: No justice, no peace.
No justice, no peace.
ANGELA: The fire department, they felt unsafe rolling out.
So the city burned.
I mean I counted at one point 19 fires going simultaneously.
ALEX: I remember the whole scene playing out on TV.
Much as the first Gulf War played out on TV that it was kind of, I don't know, infotainment in a way.
REPORTER: Though the riots were sparked by the verdicts in the Rodney King case.
They were fueled by growing hostilities between blacks and Koreans.
ALEX: I remember my father said, he knew that this wasn't good.
That this media narrative that Koreans and black people were in this conflict.
BRENDA: As people left South central and went up to Koreatown, Latasha's name was heard on the streets.
You know, "This is for Latasha.
This is for Latasha."
ANGELA: The police were not coming to protect any of these stores.
Most of them owned by immigrant families from Korea.
The Korean community itself went over the airwaves and they were calling for people to show up wherever they could with arms.
A lot of the men in the community, first generation immigrants had served in the military 'cause it's mandatory in Korea.
So they had firearms, they knew how to use firearms and they started defending their own stores.
ALEX: The strongest memory I have, the one that goes deepest is I had a conversation with my father, we sat on the couch in our living room.
He came and sat down next to me.
He said that the violence and looting in Koreatown was getting really bad and that he had to go and defend the store, that he had obtained a gun and that he was going to go down there.
Even now it's a very painful memory that, um, basically he may not come back.
NARRATOR: Alex's parents' store is destroyed along with more than 2,000 other Korean owned businesses.
WOMAN: This is America.
We have to stand our pride.
Where is your human dignity?
We are human beings, we have to have dignity.
We don't do things like this.
JEFF: I mean it was, it was one of those moments that actually really changed my life because it was like war had broken out and I knew people that I deeply loved on both sides.
And for me, you know, I had come up really deeply believing in this third world strike ideal and this idea of, of a rainbow coalition, it was like, not just people whose lives were at stake, but also our revolutionary dreams are kind of going up in smoke.
NARRATOR: As a result of the unrest in Los Angeles, 63 people lose their lives, with damages estimated at $1 billion.
ALEX: Because the rioting had destroyed their businesses, my family's financial situation changed drastically, had to move from where we were living.
They were under tremendous stress to figure out what they're going to do to, like feed me and my brother.
That trauma stayed with them, like marked them as people.
I made a documentary about my family's experience with the riots.
ALEX: After the riots, my parents and I barely discussed it, so the film was a way for me and my parents to like engage about it.
ALEX: I think about when I should tell my daughter about riots.
Like when is she old enough for me to explain the riots are part of her family's journey here in this country.
I wouldn't be able to speak of our experiences in this country, our immigrant story, without talking about that.
I recognize now the reason that Koreatown burned down.
That was a neighborhood that was brought up, established, populated by people who are themselves marginalized.
If those businesses were in the well-heeled parts of this town, do you think that the mayor would let that burn down?
They would go down themselves to protect those places.
There's no way that they would let that happen.
So, you know, we were victims as well, of this system.
(inaudible chanting) CROWD: We want justice.
We want justice.
ANGELA: There was a consciousness that woke out of the fire and the chaos and the crisis that hit LA.
Korean America was born in 1992.
NARRATOR: On May 2nd as the violence subsides, 30,000 people gather in Koreatown for a peace rally.
ANGELA: It was a huge March that took us down Olympic Boulevard.
That kind of diversity that you would expect to see in LA.
There were African Americans, there were Latinos, there were Koreans, there were whites.
Everyone was present.
We wanted to send a message that we also want justice and we also want peace.
BRENDA: We had emerging now these new leaders within the Korean American community and this leadership has been working with African American leadership to move forward.
MAN: We have a dream as late Martin Luther King had a dream.
That we together will be able to establish a nation of justice and peace and we are here to stay.
VIET: My parents were shopkeepers.
And I think it would take a little bit of time for me to think through what all these things meant.
Like every population, Asian Americans have choices to make.
They can dwell on their own victimization which is a choice that is there for every so-called minority and for the majority.
They can choose to side with power or to be complicit with power.
And to be perpetrators or to at least enjoy the profits of being aligned with perpetrators.
Or they could refuse these kinds of choices and instead seek to transform the system into something more just, more equitable for everyone.
That's the hope of activism, that's the hope of solidarity.
That's the hope of alliance, that's the hope and the conviction from which something like the Asian American movement was born.
MOM: Margaret, do you know why I encourage your brother to become a cardiologist?
MOM: Because I always knew that one day you give me a heart attack, what are you wearing!
RANDALL: In 1994 I remember "All-American Girl" coming out and it being a big deal because it was uh, an Asian family on TV.
MARGARET: I'm American, Eric is American, even Stuart is American.
RANDALL: And I remember there being criticisms of the show and even from within like, the community, but I remember watching it and just thinking it was like so great to see this and normalizing, HARI: Well there was a whole group of films in like the late 90s all about like a middle class Indian life.
MAN: Leaving the house is leaving the house no matter where you go.
And just be a good boy and let her do a poojah.
HARI: And they were terrible.
But that's, you know, we had to create art for, for us to represent our stories 'cause they weren't being told.
WOMAN: Okay, looks nice, now smile naturally mom.
MOM: I always do... WOMAN 2: You look younger all the time, how is that?
MOM 2: I give you my good skin, you will look like me when... VIET: I went to a local bookstore and came across Amy Tan's "The Joy Luck Club", which had just come out.
I had never seen a book before written by an Asian-American about Asian-Americans.
And even if it wasn't about Vietnamese people, it was close enough.
I was like, wow, this is an amazing book.
And I can't believe the story is being told and in such a powerful way.
JERRY: The kinds of stories I heard from my grandmother who escaped to mainland China in 1949 by herself with five kids.
For my kids' generation, it's like fairy tale.
It's hard to believe that war was 60 years ago.
You know, in some ways she hated the country she came from because the Communists tortured her.
She never looked back.
But her mission in life was to make sure her kids and then her grandkids had it better.
NARRATOR: Jerry Yang was born in Taiwan, and was 2 years old when his father died.
His widowed mother decided to emigrate the family to America.
When he arrived he only knew one word of English, shoe.
JERRY: My mom was a single mother and I was the first born, so I was expected to go to college, get a job, make money so my mom doesn't have to pay for us anymore.
NARRATOR: Jerry is accepted to Stanford University.
There, he forms a partnership with fellow student David Filo.
The two of them create a business that changes the way that Americans engage with the world.
MAN: Do you, uh, Yahoo?
JERRY: When the worldwide web started in 1989 we had this explosion of content that you'd never had before.
David and I said, Hey, maybe we can try to keep track of all these websites that are coming online.
We had no idea that it would be a business.
For the longest time it was called Jerry's Guide to the Worldwide Web.
By the end of the 1994 we were one of the largest websites in the world.
You're literally laying down the train tracks as the train is running.
And you just got to stay ahead of it.
OANH: I was a young reporter in Silicon Valley, started at the Mercury News in 1998.
It was a really exciting time because, you know, the tech boom was in full mode.
You really felt this was at the center of where things were going to happen that was going to change the world.
ANNALEE: In the early 90s supplies of white and native born talent really dried up and you started to see the influx in large numbers of highly skilled Asian immigrants.
Close to 40% of the new startups were from Asian entrepreneurs.
OANH: You know, Asian-Americans have been a very important part of the rise of big industries.
You know in the 1860s you had the Chinese who were so integral to building the transcontinental railroad.
Going into the 21st century there were Asian Americans who were becoming founders with fantastic visions.
If you were lucky enough to have gone to American schools and get a US education, Silicon Valley and that boom was fantastic for them.
There were a lot of people who had to do the hard work of actually manufacturing the guts of what goes into computers at the time.
And those people, unfortunately though they were immigrants from China, immigrants from Vietnam, most of them didn't have the college education that these other engineers did.
They basically would be putting transistors on circuit boards and getting paid by the piece.
For every printed circuit board that you finished.
And that's why it's called piece work.
Some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley were using Asian immigrant workers to do piece work at home.
We ended up doing a nine month investigation into piece work in Silicon Valley.
We were looking at violations that included child labor, minimum wage violations.
So you do have kind of this barbell division, right, where you have Asian Americans at the very top who are doing really well, who are the model minorities.
And at the very bottom you also have a different flavoring of Asian Americans who are really struggling.
A lot of them were refugees like myself and my family.
You know, there weren't too many people in the "San Jose Mercury" newsroom who can go into the Vietnamese American community to ask them about piece work.
You know, in the aftermath, I just realized that as a journalist of color, I need to be able to tell the stories of my community.
NARRATOR: Jerry Yang draws from his own bicultural experience as an immigrant to become a maverick of the internet revolution.
JERRY: During the starting of the internet craze, and starting Yahoo!
I still identified as Asian American.
There was no question.
But especially when I went back to Asia to do business, my identity really helped.
ANNALEE: Immigrants were part of opening up India.
Apple wouldn't be in China without the help of Asian immigrants.
You wouldn't have manufacturing in Taiwan.
Many pieces of the global economy are fueled by the contributions of the Asian immigrants in Silicon Valley.
JERRY: If you look at our children, they live in a more global world today than we did 30 years ago, but in many ways more divided.
And for me, making sure they know who they are, the history of the places that they come from, first and foremost, America.
You want to prepare them to be the most impactful citizens of their community that they can be.
In many ways, that's what my mom did for us by moving to the US.
When people's backs are against the wall and there's nowhere else to go, you go forward.
♪ ♪ TEREZA: I started playing piano when I was seven years old.
We couldn't afford lessons, but my dad made me practice three hours a day every day.
My parents are from South Korea.
They fled the aftermath of the Korean War to South America.
I was born in Brazil and when I was two years old, we came to the United States.
Soon after my little brother was born.
When I was seven years old, my dad sat the whole family around in the living room and he said, "I have a very serious secret to tell you and that is that, we are undocumented."
My dad said that if anyone found out we were undocumented, my parents would be sent to the South Korea and I would be sent to Brazil.
My brother, who was born in Chicago, sent to some foster care because he's a US born citizen.
That made us become muted.
The fear of separation is real.
We grew up having nightmares of the police storming up our stairs and breaking our doors down and taking our family away.
NARRATOR: The piano is Tereza's sanctuary.
She gets a scholarship at a music school in Chicago.
The artistic director Ann Monaco takes Tereza under her wing.
TEREZA: She proceeded to print out 10 college applications for me and she said, fill them out and bring them back to me as soon as you can.
She saw that my social security number was blank.
She saw that my birthplace was Brazil and she looked at me and said, you were born in Brazil?
I burst into tears and begged her to not turn me into the police.
She said, "Tereza, do you trust me?"
NARRATOR: Ann Monaco makes a plea on Tereza's behalf to their Senator, Dick Durbin.
DICK: Tereza Lee, under the eyes of the law in the United States was undocumented.
She was in the United States illegally.
The law said the only thing Tereza could do was leave the United States for 10 years and apply to come back.
Uh, I thought that was a terrible outcome.
NARRATOR: Senator Durbin drafts an immigration bill specifically for Tereza that puts her on a path to citizenship and college, but in the process, he hears from more students facing the same dilemma.
DICK: We realized she was not alone.
There were thousands just like her.
TEREZA: He needed to redraft the whole thing into a larger bill and that became known as the "DREAM Act."
NARRATOR: The "DREAM Act" would open a path to citizenship for undocumented children who are brought to the country as minors.
To qualify, they must either join the military or attend college.
They become known as dreamers.
DICK: The first dreamer was Tereza Lee.
My mother was an immigrant to this country.
She didn't become a citizen until she was in her mid-20s, a mother with two children.
If you're here through no fault of your own, you ought to have a chance to prove yourself and be part of America's future.
NARRATOR: The DREAM Act is cosponsored by Republican Senator Orrin Hatch.
The bill attracts overwhelming support on both sides of the aisle.
TEREZA: 2001 we had a hearing set, 62 votes were lined up and president Bush was ready to sign it into law.
I was set to perform a little concert for the senators.
I was ready to fly to DC and the subways were closed.
There were no cabs available.
Everyone was talking about this attack.
BRYANT: It's 8:52 here in New York.
I'm Bryant Gumbel.
We understand that there has been a plane crash on the southern tip of Manhattan.
You're looking at the World Trade Center.
HARI: 9/11 happened when I was in college, so I was so far from home.
My brother went to Stuyvesant High School, which is not that far from where the Twin Towers were, so that day was horrible for everybody 'cause my city was attacked.
I don't know where my brother is.
I'm very far away.
I feel very alone.
REPORTER: The terrorist attacks have united much of America, but some Arab Americans are feeling left out.
Fearful they could become the next target of misguided anger.
Since Tuesday's attacks, the FBI reports 40 hate crimes, suspected retaliation.
HARI: You had a lot of people being beaten up because they were brown skin, because they were Muslim, because they were Sikh.
REPORTER: In Mesa, Arizona, a man from India was killed at his convenience store because he looked Middle Eastern.
HARI: One of the weird parts about being a Brown person in that post 9/11 era is you get victimized twice.
Like on one hand you're afraid of terrorism as much as anybody else is at that point, like that's all you're hearing from the media.
And then your country hates you.
They don't, they don't say it openly, but when people are yelling things to you, telling you to go back to countries you're not even from cause you're from America.
WOMAN: Go home.
You don't like America.
Leave this country.
We're proud to be Americans.
HARI: You start to get the hint.
NORM: On Thursday, September 13 there was a cabinet meeting with the House and Senate, Democratic and Republican leadership.
Congressmen from Detroit, Michigan said, Mr. President, we have a large population of Middle Easterners and Muslims and they're very concerned about all the rhetoric.
President said, you're absolutely correct.
We don't want to have happen today what happened to Norm in 1942.
MAN: Before arrival at their new quarters, the evacuees voluntarily registered.
What this means for the Japs, nobody knows.
What it means to us, everybody knows.
HARI: And it didn't happen again in the same way.
REPORTER: The Bush administration has been conducting a top secret surveillance program without warrants in Muslim communities.
JEFF: What happens after 9/11 is immigration policy moves from trying to create pathways to citizenship, to being wholly about closing the door and deporting people.
TEREZA: Any immigrant friendly legislation was out of the question.
The DREAM Act was canceled and that meant that the undocumented immigrants were at risk.
HARI: It wasn't so public, let's round them up, put them into camps.
But it was like, quietly and quickly, deport people, arrest people.
Like the Ansar Mahmoud case.
ANSAR: My name is Ansar Mahmoud.
I'm here for the something happening after 9/11.
That's the reason I'm here.
NARRATOR: Born in Pakistan, Ansar Mahmoud moved to New York's Hudson Valley in 2000 after his dream came true: he won a green card from the immigration lottery.
ANSAR: I liked the quiet life, you know, tried to relax.
Not too many people over there, not too much noise.
All old houses.
I can see lots of mountains.
There's a nice river.
NARRATOR: One evening in October 2001, Ansar was taking photos of the Hudson Valley landscape to send home to his family.
He ducks behind a fence to get a better view, not realizing he has stumbled onto the grounds of a water treatment facility.
REPORTER: DPW crews saw him and they did report to the police.
Hudson PD then called the FBI who contacted INS and the state police.
HARI: And even after they cleared him, even after they said, "Oh yea, this is just some harmless guy taking a picture," they wanted to get rid of him.
REPORTER: In searching his apartment, federal authorities found he had co-signed a lease for a Pakistani couple who had overstayed their visa.
HARI: It was fear.
Fear drove all of it.
REPORTER: One big source of comfort for Mahmood is a group of people in Hudson deeply concerned about his case.
They are searching for a way to keep him here.
CROWD: Free Ansar, free Ansar!
ANSAR: These people, they make my spirit high and high hope.
I still believe this country is good.
You can live here, you can work.
MAN: Even after all that's happened?
ANSAR: Even after all that's happened.
DICK: I rise today to speak about an issue which is timely and controversial.
It's the issue of immigration.
NARRATOR: After September 11th, the DREAM Act is reintroduced a number of times in the Senate, but never achieves enough votes to become law.
TEREZA: In 2012, Dreamers started organizing.
(inaudible chanting) CROWD: Now!
TEREZA: For the first time we started seeing an immigration movement, not just undocumented immigrants, but other Americans coming out to support.
HELEN: On the one hand, communities are now under intense investigation.
On the other hand, it's also brought communities together.
HARI: 9/11 happens.
I go from someone who's sheltered in diversity and fairly apolitical to a politicized being.
I was an immigrant rights organizer.
I worked with victims of hate crimes, people being detained and deported, and I wanted my standup, my art form to reflect what I believed.
I hate how immigrants are talked about in this country.
I was watching CNN, which was my mistake, and they were interviewing this woman in Arizona who is against immigration, right?
And she said, look, we're just trying to bring this country back to the way it used to be.
The way it used to be!
Lady, you're in Arizona.
It used to be Mexico.
Growing up I always felt like I had access to the world.
People from all over the world.
Different races, religions, people with status, without status.
Like I felt, looking back on it now, I feel like I was trained for the future.
NARRATOR: They were seen as outsiders... Dreamers who could never become American.
But they were always American.
By arriving on these shores, by seeking a better destiny, by giving their all, by building up the nation rail by rail.
By claiming their space.
By striving for justice.
By struggling for the rights of all people, not just their own.
They have always been American.
HELEN: History has a way of moving in cycles, and if we can learn from history even a little bit, we can avoid repeating it.
But even better than that, we can find the things that have moved civilization forward and have led to greater progress.
And if we learned from that, we can really move ahead.
JEFF: The idea of being Asian American originated in part as a will to power.
As a way to be able to say we've been stepped on, we've been excluded, we've been erased.
And you need to recognize us now.
Because we're here and we're not going away.
VIET: The very idea of the Asian American contains within itself an endless range of possibilities... Is a part of who we are!
CONNIE: We honor the courage, fortitude and sacrifice of Chinese railroad workers and their legacy in America which belongs to all of us!
ERICA: The Asian American story is such a quintessential American story because we, as Asian Americans, have represented the polar extremes of the American experience.
The most downtrodden and discriminated against, to rising to positions of power and privilege.
To being singled out for exclusion, to being explicitly welcomed, and included, and held up, of the very best of America.
That is the story of America, and that is the story of Asian America.
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