Asian-American Small Business Owners Hope Marketplace Fairness Act Helps

Dozens of Asian-American small business owners got the chance to speak out on two big issues Friday: Immigration reform and fairness in the marketplace.

Vicki Tu is not afraid of hard work.

"I love my job,” she said. “I think I feel good when I do my job."

That means putting in at least six days a week at the jewelry shop she owns, but in the past two years, sales have been down about 20 percent. Part of the problem is competition from big online retailers.

"This is a community that's very heavily brick-and-mortar retailers, and they're affected by sales tax and often have to compete against online retailers who aren't," said Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va.

The Marketplace Fairness Act may help balance things out, Kaine said. It would force major online companies to pay sales tax.

He explained the legislation to Asian-American small business owners in Falls Church, and also touched on immigration reform, another big issue for this group.

"The Asian-American community is the fastest growing immigrant community in the United States," he said.

That's why community leader and Vietnamese radio host Linh Hoang wants the Asian-American voice to be heard before any immigration policy is finalized.

"When we talk about immigration reform, we need to be very sensitive and be inclusive of all people, and a lot of those folks are Asian Americans," Hoang said.

The problem as immigrants like Tu see it is the lengthy wait time to legally come to this country. She hopes reform at the federal level will change that.

In the meantime, she just presses forward, like many others in the community.

"For me, I try to do my best every day," she said.

Next week, the Senate is expected to pass the Marketplace Fairness Act. The bipartisan bill would permit states to require out-of-state sellers -- mainly online retailers -- to collect sales tax.

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