On February 4, 2017, I set off to spend my second weekend in a row at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). In the wake of the new presidential administration’s January 27 executive order barring noncitizens from seven countries from entering the United States, the organization for whom I work, Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles, a coalition of nonprofit organizations, and volunteer attorneys have provided legal assistance to distraught family members at LAX, waiting anxiously to see if their loved ones would be permitted to enter the United States.
Want to know more about how the Administration's latest Executive Orders affect immigration? We can tell you.
On Sunday morning, I drove to the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX. I had barely slept since President Trump signed an executive order banning immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the country. As an immigration attorney, I had to do something.
Today, California celebrates Korematsu Day, in honor of Japanese American patriot Fred Korematsu. During World War II, Korematsu defied an Executive Order requiring the mass incarceration of over 100,000 innocent Japanese Americans on the grounds that it was unconstitutional. Korematsu was convicted for this act of civil disobedience, but later in life worked to overturn it. He also spoke publicly about his experience and that of his fellow Japanese American internees, in an effort to prevent us from ever returning to such dark times in our nation’s history. He famously lived by the simple but powerful conviction, “If you have the feeling that something is wrong, don’t be afraid to speak up.”
On January 18, 2017, we honored our pro bono attorneys, interns, and other volunteers at our third annual Pro Bono Advisory Council Volunteer Awards Mixer, which drew nearly 150 guests and featured a live performance from activist and artist Jason Chu.
Advancing Justice-LA pledges “100 Days of Resistance” in response to what we expect from President Trump in his first 100 days in office – including an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for undocumented immigrants, the escalation of deportations, the targeting of Muslims for a registry or immigration ban, the undermining of public education, and the positioning of China as an economic “boogeyman.”
This month, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, a national affiliation of civil rights organizations focused on serving the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities, and several prospective AAPI Harvard students joined a diverse group of black, Latino, and Native American students to support Harvard's race-conscious admissions program against attacks that the program intentionally discriminates against Asian American applicants. I am one of those students.
On Wednesday, Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles (Advancing Justice) and Hadsell Stormer & Renick LLP filed a complaint in the Orange County Superior Court on behalf of four Vietnamese nail salon workers formerly employed at Tustin Nail Spa, a popular nail salon in Orange County, California. During their many years as manicurists at the salon, the workers endured some of the most common unlawful wage and hour practices endemic in the industry, including long hours without meal and rest breaks, not receiving minimum wage and overtime compensation, incurring unlawful deductions from wages for using salon equipment and supplies, and being forced to work “off the clock.”
While we continue to offer services in many of the same areas of immigration, the Immigration Project at Advancing Justice-LA will be transitioning away from Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) services and moving towards providing immigration information sessions and know your rights presentations, as well as free legal immigration screenings for those who wish to know if they qualify for other forms of current immigration relief.
Our mission is to advocate for civil rights, provide legal services and education, and build coalitions to positively influence and impact Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders and to create a more equitable and harmonious society.