immigrants and New York City Council elections
In 2009, Ying Teng came from China to New York to study. Today, she considers this city her home and is ready to solve its problems, which is why she is running for the city council from the 43rd district, an area where many immigrants live. Ying Teng spoke in an interview with ForumDaily about what prompted her to enter politics and how exactly she was going to solve the most pressing problems of New York.
Bringing back a sense of security to New Yorkers
In America, Ying Teng got married and gave birth to two children. Like any mother, she worries about their safety. The main problem that, according to Ying Teng, requires immediate action is the increase in crime. She believes that this situation in New York has developed for two reasons: deteriorating attitudes towards police officers and new legislation that is too lenient towards criminals.
“For example, if someone has committed a crime for the first time, then they are released without bail. That is, even if he is arrested, he will soon be free again. This gives rise to a colossal sense of impunity, which leads to new crimes,” says Ying.
According to her, the problem of underfunding of the police is no less acute. About three thousand officers have resigned in recent years due to budget cuts. The next measure, in addition to increasing police funding, Ying calls the return of “conditional immunity” from prosecution to law enforcement officers and the expansion of their powers.
“Suppose today the police cannot detain some violators, and are obliged to call other authorities and ask them to take measures within their competence. Naturally, in practice, with this approach it is simply impossible to detain the criminal,” Ying Teng is indignant.
According to her, during the meetings, many voters complained that they were afraid to ride the subway in the evenings or simply return home in the dark, because the city was overrun with criminals.
“I also plan to create a community neighborhood patrol to keep everyday citizens and small business owners safe. Statistics show that at the moment, even with a decrease in the total number of offenses, the number of serious crimes and especially robberies is growing,” explains Ying.
“Lottery instead of knowledge”
Education is another priority item on the immigrant politician’s agenda.
Ying recalls: having arrived from China, she was amazed at the opportunities that opened up for her in the United States after receiving citizenship.
“It is amazing how people from different cultures and backgrounds have equal rights and opportunities, including those that I never had in China. Here I immediately felt more freedom and opportunities for self-realization,” she says.
But a lot has changed since then. And now, according to Ying Teng, education in New York is not going smoothly. In 2018, under the influence of new trends, the city’s educational system was radically changed, and not for the better, says In.
“Instead of the traditional assessment system, which is based on exam results, a child’s admission to school or college now depends on his race and background. If previously a child had to score a certain number of points on the SAT or SAC, now all his efforts and merits do not matter,” Ying Teng laments.
Proponents of the change justify it by saying that children from poor families (and these are often representatives of communities of color) do not have the opportunity to hire tutors and achieve the necessary level of knowledge. However, Ying Teng assures that the city has enough accessible educational programs for children. The candidate for the city council especially criticizes the method of admission based on a lottery, when the child’s future depends on simple luck.
“There can be no talk of any equal opportunities with this approach. If previously all children had the opportunity to prepare for the exam, now their future is made dependent on completely different factors, which they, moreover, do not control,” she explains.
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Together with other parents, Ying Teng began to go to protests, and then decided that she should get involved in politics – this way she would have more leverage. The next thing that influenced her decision to run for City Council was the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, during which attacks on Asian immigrants intensified in New York.
“At the same time, attacks began on people who share conservative views. Then I created the Asian Republican Club, where people could freely meet and share their thoughts. Gradually we began to volunteer at election headquarters. Over time, I realized that we don’t have many Republican candidates from immigrant backgrounds, and maybe this is a chance for me to change what is happening in New York right now,” Ying shares.
Become a bridge between the country and diasporas
According to Ying Teng, the 43rd district, from which she is running for the City Council, is predominantly inhabited by immigrants from Asia. This makes it much easier for her to work with the local population – there is no language barrier and no problems understanding the mentality of voters.
“We have a lot of first-generation Chinese immigrants in particular, and I have personally helped older immigrants in my district. It can be difficult for those who came to America as an adult, and even more so at an advanced age, to understand the texts of official letters, and I had to do translations for them. One of the reasons I want to run in this district is because I believe that I can be a person who can represent the majority of the Asian community and be a bridge between this community and the United States,” Ying hopes.
In addition, Ying Teng communicates closely with representatives of the Russian, Israeli, Palestinian and other diasporas and is convinced that they have many common features and problems.
“People often have no idea where they can get help, they don’t know the language or American laws, and their mentality is significantly different from the local one,” she says.
According to her, without the financial, media and volunteer resources that the Democratic Party has in New York, Republican candidates are forced to literally go door to door to their future voters.
“I was recently in the Russian region, where they told me that I was the only candidate who personally visited people,” she recalls.
The immigrant believes in her victory and calls not to ignore the elections – every vote matters.
“Some people believe that there is no point in voting at all, much less for a non-ruling party. They are sure that their vote will not change anything. This is especially true for people who come from authoritarian countries – they, in principle, do not believe in the reality of elections, and many are completely afraid to talk about politics. However, I try to convince them that no one but themselves can change the situation in their city,” Ying Teng is sure.