Texas rep apologizes for remarks on Asian names

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A Texas lawmaker under fire for saying that Asian American voters should adopt names that are “easier for Americans” has apologized for her remarks.

State Rep. Betty Brown, a Republican, issued an apology on April 9 for the comments made during a House Elections Committee hearing on April 7.

Brown said the remark came during a conversation on the difficulty of translating names and that she was referring to transliteration issues when she asked a representative of the Organization of Chinese Americans whether Asian Americans could adopt names that “we could deal with more readily here.”

Ramey Ko, the representative, had testified that people of Asian descent have problems voting because they sometimes list legal names that had been transliterated in addition to common English names on their driver’s licenses or other identification.
Brown said she was not asking Ko to change his name.

New York City Councilman John C. Liu, who along with the Texas Democratic party had called on Brown to apologize, said in a statement that the apology was “a fair first step” but did not go far enough. Liu said Brown’s comments during the exchange with Ko went beyond the concept of transliteration.

Brown said in her apology that she understands the “diversity of Texas” and the “enrichment” that Asian Americans have brought to the state.

Her spokesperson, Jordan Berry, told The Associated Press on April 11 that Brown’s comment was being used by opponents of voter identification laws to obscure the real issues involved.

“Ninety percent of Texans — Republicans and Democrats — want the voter ID legislation,” he said, referring to a bill recently passed by the state Senate that would require photo identification to vote. “Let’s move forward.”

Critics say that requiring photo identification would depress turnout among the poor, elderly, and minorities, who may not have government-issued documentation like driver licenses or passports. (end)

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