Asian Americans Advancing Justice - LA

Building upon the legacy of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center

This is OUR Community, United in the Struggle

Tuesday, March 15th 2016

By Trina Lei Pasumbal, ASPIRE - LA Organizer

After a long week, we crave Fridays. We yearn for the end of our responsibilities at work and the chance to unwind into the weekend. But on January 22, some of us took a regular Friday evening and turned it into something much more.

At a multicultural event hosted by ASPIRE - Los Angeles and Dream Team Los Angeles, community members gathered to learn about each other’s experiences as migrants. Immigrant families and community members from Mexico, Thailand, the Philippines, Senegal, and France were present to take part in this powerful event, which sought to unite our different communities through our common migrant experiences.

The purpose of this event is to challenge stereotypes associated with immigrants in the United States. Countless times, the media has contributed to an incorrect, one-sided portrayal of immigrants in this country, especially undocumented immigrants. When you hear the media talk about immigrants, we are often portrayed as second-class people, who are taking American jobs, as “illegal”. This rhetoric is false and dehumanizing yet it has also been internalized, not just by those outside of the immigrant community, but also within.

“We must come together to listen, learn from each other, undo the isms that are in us, that are set up between us, so that we may indeed be united in our shared struggles,” said event facilitator Mariella Saba.

During this event, we chose to refute any of these false claims about OUR community, and we took it upon ourselves to learn about each other and gain a better understanding through our own terms.

As the night progressed, language barriers that were initially a challenge, turned into bridges to each other’s identities. Community members participated in storytelling, theatre, and activities that deepened our understanding of our humanity.

“I felt like the event helped our communities grow closer together,” said Madison Villanueva, ASPIRE - LA member.

Through this social and healing event , we were able to create a safe and intersectional space that welcomed the diverse immigrant experience in Los Angeles.

One participant said, “We’re making bridges. I really like how the group is diverse and different, but connected.”

In having these events, our goal is to create a collective space where immigrants can feel safe and reclaim their power, gather strength, and form solidarity amongst other immigrants of all ages, races, and ethnic backgrounds. We will continue to hold events like this to ensure that critical dialogue and understanding between different immigrant groups continues so that we are able to embrace the diversity of the immigrant experience and can better respond to the unique needs of all immigrants.

Keep an eye out for our next event: April 22, Friday 6-9 pm at Advancing Justice - LA (1145 Wilshire Blvd. LA,CA 90017).

Trina Pasumbal is an ASPIRE - LA Organizer at Advancing Justice - LA where she works to build power with the undocumented API youth in Los Angeles. As a former intern with AJILE Movers in the Youth and Parent Leadership Program at Advancing Justice - LA, Trina worked directly with undocumented high school students as part of a program to create a safe space where undocumented students can get the resources and mentorship they need to achieve higher education and to be empowered in their immigrant identity.


Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants (DRAI)
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Monday - Friday

For more information or to apply to DRAI, please call: 

Chinese (Mandarin/Cantonese)  (213) 241-8872
Khmer  (213) 241-8877
Korean  (213) 241-8873
Tagalog  (213) 241-8874
Thai  (213) 241-8875
Vietnamese  (213) 241-8876
English/Other, Non-Spanish  (213) 241-8880
Spanish/English** (CARECEN)  (213) 315-2659
Spanish/English** (CHIRLA)  (213) 201-8700
 (213) 395-9547

*This list will continue to expand.
** Spanish assistance available through CARECEN & CHIRLA.
***We are experiencing heavier call volume than usual. We highly encourage you to call your native language phone line, the wait time may be shorter. 

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.