by Heidi M. Pascual
|A tribute to my foster parents:
Paul & Atsuko Kusuda
Below is a piece written by Paul Kusuda in January 2010, about 11
years ago. Paul is gone…as well as Atsuko…but their memories
linger on. Paul was Asian Wisconzine’s top supporter since its
beginning (as columnist and financial backer), a well-known
community activist whose ideas on various issues are still very
relevant today, and a loving “father” to me regardless of where I
was. Atsuko never tired of serving the Madison area community as
volunteer even after her retirement. Both truly deserve my love and
This piece is followed by a Christmas letter and wedding photo I
received from their daughter, Missy Kusuda. I found them very
touching and worth sharing to our community which the Kusudas
loved and served.
Naturalization: A privilege needing extension to
By Paul H. Kusuda
It’s year 2010, a decade past Y2K — the year computer programmers
dreaded because of inadequate pre-planning. It’s 2010, five years
since the first issue of Asian Wisconzine. What a long. long difficult
trail for Editor/Publisher Heidi Pascual! Her valiant efforts to keep the
publication going, including improvements over initial issues,
deserve commendation. I hope readers will let her know of their
appreciation. Positive feedback gives heart to editors, especially
someone like Heidi who works so hard to see that Asians are not lost
in the news shuffle. I understand that her website gets many, many
hits. My friend in North Carolina is among those who read Asian
Wisconzine on the web.
The New Year is a time to look backward for inspiration and forward
to plan for the future. So, that explains my backward look for five
years. Hopes for the future are not as easy to see. Fruitions depend
on others. My efforts to effect change have not always been
successful. One hope I’ve had is that naturalization procedures be
extended to many of those who are on the outside looking in on an
unattainable prize: American citizenship.
Unfortunately, that requires much prodding of people in the U.S.
Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives, and the President.
President Barack Obama is favorably inclined to expanding
naturalization processes to many who are now excluded, such as the
millions of undocumented immigrants. However, though he could
suggest and encourage change, he cannot change laws. And that is
how it should be. Our form of government is comprised of three
distinct, but closely related branches – Legislative, Judicial, and
Executive. Each has a role. Thus, we have a democracy, not a
monarchy or a dictatorship. So even though the process might appear
to be too slow for some of us to accept, in the long run, the sometime-
tortuous path is preferable to the quick action that could take place
under a dictator, benevolent or not.
If enough people made their demands for fair play known to their
legislative representative, they will be heard, and action will be
possible. Each of us has two U.S. Senators (in Wisconsin, they’re
Russ Feingold and Herb Kohl) and one of the eight Congress
Representatives from Wisconsin (mine is Tammy Baldwin). All three
are responsive to constituent contacts. Your congressional
representative is identified by the district in which you live. Both
senators and your representative should be known to you and should
be contacted periodically to assure that he or she is aware of your
Last month, I mentioned how my parents had to wait for several
decades before they could even apply for U.S. citizenship. They were
so glad to be able to enter the process which was denied them
because of their country of birth, Japan. They were so proud that so
many years after they came to the U.S., their wish came true. They
became bonafide U.S. Citizens in 1952. The same opportunity should
be made available to many of the residents who are eager to start
meeting the myriad of naturalization requirements that will take years
of effort and many dollars.
The Immigration Act of October 3, 1965, ended the strongly biased
national origin method of discriminating against Asians who wanted
to come to the United States. Before the Act, most of the immigrants
came from Europe. After the change, most came from Mexico, South
and Central America, and Asia. The complexion of America began to
change. The Southeast Asians who came to the U.S. as refugees
faced many obstacles: language, customs, laws, climate, etc.
Through hard work and tremendous effort, they are making a
positive impact on American society. Many have run the gauntlet of
naturalization processes and have become U.S. Citizens.
Next month, I shall review some of the problems faced by persons
who came into the U.S. through the visa process to study, work in
occupations requiring special talents, etc., or through the non-legal
entry to become known as illegal immigrants, undocumented aliens,
etc. Should naturalization be made available to them? My answer is
“YES!” My perspective on both groups of U.S. residents will be
Editor’s note: Thank you so much for your unwavering support Paul,
and your loving wife, Atsuko. You inspired me to continue doing our
magazine for several years now. The economic hardship that the
publishing industry has been facing nowadays, however, could force
me to suspend its printing and perhaps just continue the online
magazine while waiting for better days. Anyway, you and Atsuko have
always been there for me and Asian Wisconzine. I want you to know
that I appreciate both of you with all my heart. May you be blessed for
your kindness and generosity.
Christmas 2020 : A time of reflection
From Missy Kusuda
My parents were married in 1950. The beautiful dress that my Mom
wore was made by her sister-in-law, Marge. The photographer was
her brother, Sam. The reception food was prepared by her sister,
Rinko, and one of my Dad’s friends lent his car so my folks could
drive away from the wedding in a nice car.
Yet, on their wedding day, they had joy and optimism. They had true love, and their marriage
would last 67 years until my Dad’s passing. He bought flowers for our Mom the day before
he passed away.
My Dad spent his career as a social worker trying to better the lives of the less fortunate,
including Wisconsin penitentiary inmates. My Mom stayed home to raise their 3 children
then got her Master’s degree to become a school librarian, helping kids with their
education. As retirees, they both were exceptionally active. Dad volunteered on so many
boards and progressive committees, he was almost as busy as when he was working. And
he loved it. It kept him engaged and alive. My Mom mostly focused on helping kids in our
local elementary school improve their reading, which was natural to her, given her love of
books. She was the heart and soul of the family.
What an amazing gift to have had these two as parents. They’re both gone from this life
now, but their love carries on.
May we all make the best of our blessings, and may we have peace in the New Year.
They had been raised in day-to-day poverty as children, my Mom in the country and Dad in the city. Then as young adults, they suffered racist persecution during World
War II, when they were unjustly removed from their homes and kept in internment camps in total violation of their civil rights. Archived documents of my Dad’s time
in Manzanar are very interesting, just go to archive.org and sear for Paul Kusuda.