On July 2nd 2012, a special guest visited the KACE for Community (Koream American Civic Empowerment) office in Hackensack, New Jersey.

Bill Pascrell, the incumbent Congressman of the current 8th Congressional District in New Jersey has been voted as the Democratic candidate in the newly re-apportioned 9th Congressional District during the June Primaries. He visited the KACE for Community office to outreach to the Koreans residing in Bergen County. This is his first visit to the Korean community in Bergen County and he also met with 20 high school interns of KACE for Community who will be the future leaders of the Korean community.

Congressman Pascrell always emphasized that he is the son of Italian immigrants and spoke of what identity and values children of immigrants should have. Since Congressman Pascrell grew up in a diverse place such as Paterson, New Jersey, he mentioned that he was able to easily accept them. He also stated that leaving nationalities aside, immigrants were a strong force in the United States. He then went on to say that the United States is known as a melting pot of many different ethnicities and discussed good parts of this diversity.

He compared the United States to a table waiting for “new guests” and emphasized that there are chairs for everyone but forces that block the new guests will always exist and criticized the immigration system in the United States. Despite this, he emphasized that language barriers or stereotypes should not experience obstacles in obtaining necessary services and encouraged the interns by saying that the works of KACE for Community such as voter rights advocacy and voter registration drives are very important activities.

After Congressman Pascrell finished speaking, KACE for Community interns asked questions regarding important issues regarding the Korean community. First, intern Sang Woo Park asked what Congressman Pascrell had done for the Korean community in the past. To this question, Pascrell responded “Whichever ways there are to improve US-Korea relations, I support them and am part of that camp and I am working hard for an open visa policy between the US and Korea.”

Intern Se Hoon Park asked what is the most important issue affecting the Korean community. Congressman Pascrell responded “Jobs. We have to make sure everyone will be able to have a job. We cannot have an uncertain future due to budget issues.”

In the next question, intern Kyung Min Do asked what Congressman Pascrell thought about illegal Korean immigrants who were placed in danger for purchasing fake driver’s licenses from illegal brokers. Congressman Pascrell responded “We can change the laws relating to immigration and make the American Dream come to life for these people. If they have not committed crimes here in the United States, there is no reason why they should not be able to obtain citizenship here. Many people use the immigrations laws to their own profit. I think it is right to correct these points and create new immigration laws to make the United States safer.” The intern coordinator of KACE for community, Sun Hwak Kwon asked about where Congressmna Pascrell’s current position is regarding the two letters he signed supporting the name change of the “Sea of Japan”. Congressman Pascrell responded “I can sign those letters again today. To be honest, it is not in my top five priorities, but my position on this did not change. I do not think that this will spread to become an international issue. I feel more of an attachment to Koreans than I do for the Japanese. But this is an issue that must be resolved between Korea and Japan.”

Lastly, Intern Dong Min Kim asked Congressman Pascrell if he had the intention to formally submit a letter regarding the comfort women and if he is willing to stand before the United Nations to ask the Government of Japan to formally apologize to Korea on this issue. Congressman Pascrell responded, “I think the first thing is raising awareness. This is a matter of recognition. If I must write a letter to the United Nations or any other international institution, I would be happy to write the letter. I still stand on the same position as I did two months ago.”

After the interns completed asking questions, Intern Ji Sung Kim formally invited Congressman Pascrell to an event commemorating the 5th Anniversary of the Passing of House Resolution 121 on July 24, 2012. This meeting was concluded with the hope that all involved in the passing of the House Resolution 121 will be able to attend the event.


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