Climate for Change: Overhauling a Broken Immigration System

Congratulations, Rio Guerrero, Co-Chair, Immigration and Nationality Law Committee, on being published in the ABA Litigation Section Minority Trial Lawyer! 

The sun set on pragmatic and broad immigration law relief on April 30, 2001, and few could have predicted that a decade would pass before we would see any rays of hope. Indeed, the post-9/11 anti-immigrant rhetoric and vitriol have raged for more than a decade, but in recent years a chorus of voices supporting immigration-law reform has grown louder, achieving piecemeal improvements and calling for a comprehensive solution to our country’s broken immigration system. Today, almost unexpectedly, we finally begin to see meaningful change emerging on the horizon. 

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NEW YORK – March 5, 2013 – The Asian American Bar Association of New York (“AABANY”) welcomes and applauds the confirmation of Pamela K. Chen to serve as a federal district court judge in the Eastern District of New York.  On March 4, 2013, the United States Senate confirmed Pamela Chen by a voice vote to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York.  “AABANY is delighted to learn that Pamela Chen has been confirmed to serve on the Eastern District of New York bench,” said Mike Huang, President of AABANY.  “Ms. Chen is the first Chinese-American female Article III judge outside of California and the second-ever Chinese-American female federal judge in U.S. history, continuing to add to the rich legacy of the Second Circuit and New York State.  AABANY applauds President Obama and Senator Schumer for their continued commitment to diversifying the Federal Judiciary.”

Asian Pacific Americans (“APA”) are significantly under-represented in the Federal Judiciary, including in New York State.  In fact, according to the 2010 Census, approximately 8.3% of the population of New York State and 14.0% of the population of New York City consists of Asian Americans, and the APA percentage continues to grow at a rate that outpaces all other ethnic groups in the State.  In the Eastern District of New York, Ms. Chen joins Judge Kiyo A. Matsumoto as the two Article III judges of APA descent in a district that serves the growing APA communities of Flushing, Queens and Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

“With her confirmation, Ms. Chen joins the growing number of Asian Americans who have been recognized for distinguished service on the federal courts,” said Theodore K. Cheng, Co-chair of AABANY’s Judiciary Committee.  “Although Asian Americans remain under-represented at all levels in the Federal Judiciary, President Obama and Senators Schumer and Gillibrand ought to be commended for their tireless dedication to increasing diversity on the federal bench.”

After spending the first five years of her career in the private sector, Ms. Chen began a dedicated and much longer career in public service, with a distinct focus on civil rights work.  Ms. Chen served as a trial attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.  She then moved to New York City in 1998 and became an Assistant United States Attorney in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York (“USAO EDNY”).  There, she was promoted to Chief of Civil Rights Litigation, Deputy Chief of the Public Integrity Section, and then finally to Chief of the Civil Rights Section.  Ms. Chen held that last position since July 2006 except for a brief period of time in 2008 when she accepted an opportunity to serve as the Deputy Commissioner for Enforcement in the New York State Division of Human Rights.  She soon returned to the USAO EDNY and has remained there ever since.

AABANY thanks President Obama for nominating Ms. Chen and Senator Charles E. Schumer for recommending her to the President.

For more information, please contact Yang Chen, AABANY Executive Director, at (718) 228-7206, or direct any inquiries to [email protected].

The Asian American Bar Association of New York was formed in 1989 as a not-for-profit corporation to represent the interests of New York Asian-American attorneys, judges, law professors, legal professionals, paralegals and law students.  The mission of AABANY is to improve the study and practice of law, and the fair administration of justice for all by ensuring the meaningful participation of Asian-Americans in the legal profession.

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NAPABA Applauds President Barack Obama for Signing Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act Into Law

National Asian Pacific American Bar Association

1612 K Street NW, Suite 1400 
Washington, DC 20006

March 7, 2013

Contact: Azizah Ahmad 
(202) 775-9555


Today, President Barack Obama signed the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA) into law. Advocates, law enforcement officials, tribal leaders, members of Congress, and Vice President Joe Biden, the author of the original VAWA passed in 1994, attended the signing ceremony.

“The Violence Against Women Act will provide much needed protections to some of the most vulnerable members of our society,” said Wendy Shiba, president of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA). “Today marks a historic day because immigrant, Native American, and LGBT victims of violence will finally receive the resources that they so desperately need and deserve. NAPABA commends Congress for reauthorizing the bill and the President for signing it into law.”

VAWA was first enacted into law in 1994 and reauthorized in 2000 and 2005. The bill expired in 2012 and last month, the House and Senate voted to reauthorize VAWA. The 2013 reauthorization includes increased safeguards for immigrant, Native American, and LGBT victims of violence. The law also includes the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which was originally a stand-alone bill that expired in 2011. VAWA will remain in effect until 2018, when it will again be up for reauthorization.

The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) is the national association of Asian Pacific American attorneys, judges, law professors and law students. NAPABA represents the interests of over 40,000 attorneys and 63 local Asian Pacific American bar associations. Its members represent solo practitioners, large firm lawyers, corporate counsel, legal service and non-profit attorneys, and lawyers serving at all levels of government. NAPABA continues to be a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian Pacific American communities. Through its national network of committees and affiliates, NAPABA provides a strong voice for increased diversity of federal and state judiciaries, advocates for equal opportunity in the workplace, works to eliminate hate crimes and anti-immigrant sentiment, and promotes professional development of people of color in the legal profession.