Park is the executive director of the Flushing-based service and advocacy organization. Since Trump became president, many of the community members MinKwon serves are fearful of anti-immigrant policies.
“It’s more than just fear,” Park said. “It’s a constant level of very high anxiety.
“Part of it is, we never know what’s going to come down the pipe,” he added. “It just creates this absolute culture and atmosphere where people are afraid to live their lives.”
The climate of fear has taken a toll on the organization’s staff as well.
“We’ve had to do various measures to make sure we’re supporting people’s mental health so we’re not burning out,” he said. “It’s been hard for our community.”
But MinKwon will continue to serve the immigrant population, especially the many Asian-Americans who call Flushing home.
Though the discussion on immigration often centers on Latinos, Park said Asian-Americans are the fastest growing demographic and many are undocumented.
Koreans alone are the sixth highest group of DACA recipients by country of origin.
“It’s so important for us to make sure our stories are included,” Park said.
There are challenges to raising awareness about immigration issues in the Asian-American communities. For starters, there are many Asian languages spoken in Queens alone, making it hard for information to be disseminated easily.
Compare that to Spanish-speaking communities, where information can be delivered in one language.
Park said these issues are also still “stigmatized” in the Asian-American community. They are not “kitchen-table conversations” yet, he said.
Part of the MinKwon Center’s work is now telling their stories to ensure immigration is front and center.
“This affects all of us,” Park said. “This is going to hit us in terms of the fabric of who we are as a country.”