Some argue that this political progress started with the Obama years. The rise of the Asian American grassroots progressive movement began before the 2010s but shaped much of the organizing during the decade, says Karthick Ramakrishnan, director of AAPI Data, which collects and publishes demographic data on the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.

Ramakrishnan says Barack Obama's presidency was a watershed for Asian American progressive organizing, adding that outside the administration, Asian American progressives — building off a history of anti-war, pro-immigrant rights activism — lobbied the White House and elected officials to keep Obama's campaign promises on immigration rights and the end of mass deportations. They and other immigration rights groups helped to provide legal services for immigrants who continued to face deportation during the Obama administration.