AABANY Members Visit Capitol Hill During NAPABA Lobby Day

AABANY members pose in front of the U.S. Capitol at NAPABA Lobby Day 2024.

On May 22, 2024, AABANY members met with the staff of New York Senate and Congressional representatives in Washinton, D.C. at this year’s NAPABA Lobby Day. Each year, members of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) travel from across the United States to Washington D.C. and advocate on critical issues facing the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) community.

NAPABA and local bar association members discussed a number of issues with Congressional offices including legislation to address Anti-Asian Hate, Civil Rights, Immigration, and to support the confirmation of AANHPI judicial and executive nominees.

Wen Xue discusses alien land laws with Rebecca Lee, Legislative Assistant for Congresswoman Grace Meng.

Wen Xue, Associate at Greenberg Traurig, LLP, discussed state bills barring Chinese nationals from owning real property and a federal bill to preempt those laws.  She shared, “Lobby Day is a great opportunity to meet and connect with people. I enjoyed the opportunity to see my fellow NAPABA colleagues in action, hear their words, and be inspired.”

Sandy Chiu, intellectual property attorney at Greenberg Traurig, LLP, stated, “Lobby Day continues to inspire and reengage me in the civic process, reminding me of our power as a collective NAPABA voice in shaping policy.”

Michelle Lee, Counsel for Stand with Asian Americans which advocates against workplace discrimination, discussed legislation to ensure AANHPI history is taught as part of American history. She stated, “As a first-time attendee of Lobby Day, I experienced a sense of empowerment and relevance as we advocated on behalf of our AANHPI community directly with our Senators’ and Representatives’ offices. Every lawyer should take advantage of this privilege especially when NAPABA makes the experience so seamless and collaborative.”

Nandar Win Kerr, Human Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Consultant and Co-Chair of AABANY’s Professional Development Committee, stated, “For the past three years, I have participated in NAPABA Lobby Day, transitioning from grassroots activism to high-level policy advocacy, a journey that seemed intimidating at first…. Engaging in NAPABA Lobby Day has enriched my sense of community and empowered me to contribute to collective advocacy efforts. Together, we strive to foster a peaceful, equitable, inclusive, and sustainable democratic society where everyone feels they belong.”

Rachel Lee discusses civil rights legislation with Bre Sonnier-Thompson, Legislative Correspondent for New York Senator Chuck Schumer.

Rachel Lee, Associate at A&O Shearman, stated, “Lobby Day 2024 was another incredibly rewarding experience. Marching through the hallways of the House and Senate buildings with a team of like-minded AANHPI attorneys was a reminder that our democratic process requires hard work and advocacy and gave me hope that as a team we can serve as a voice on issues important to our often-forgotten community. Whether it’s an important election year or not, with or without prior lobbying experience, I strongly encourage our members to take part in this amazing program.”

NAPABA is the largest AANHPI grassroots membership association, representing the interests of over 80,000 lawyers, judges, law students and other legal professionals around the country. Approximately 90 local bar associations are affiliated with NAPABA.

Anna Mercado Clark, Partner at Phillips Lytle LLP, currently serves as President of NAPABA. She stated, “Lobby Day is the premier advocacy event for NAPABA and one of the most visible ways that we celebrate Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. We are proud to have gathered 150 members for a Congressional reception and 50 meetings with legislators from both sides of the aisle. It is so powerful to see so many AANHPIs roaming the halls of Congress. It sends the message that we are here, we matter, and we will not tire of pursuing issues of importance to our communities. Thank you, AABANY, for joining NAPABA and all you are doing to advocate for our communities and strengthen democracy. This work is more important now than ever.”

NAPABA President Anna Mercado Clark and Nandar Win Kerr attending the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Congressional Reception.
Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA), Senator Mazie Hirono (HI), and Director of Domestic Policy Counsel Neera Tanden speak at the AANHPI Congressional Reception.

NAPABA Lobby Day coincides with the annual Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Congressional Reception. Several AANHPI congressional and administration officials spoke including Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA), Senator Mazie Hirono (HI), and White House Director of the Domestic Policy Counsel Neera Tanden.

Thanks to all the AABANY members who participated in Lobby Day this year, especially Vishal Chander, Issues Committee Co-Chair and Board Director, who submitted this report.

AABANY Members Support CUNY Citizenship Now Pro Bono Naturalization Clinic

Vishal Chander, Co-Chair of the AABANY Issues Committee, and Jaehee Yoo, AABANY member, volunteer at CUNY Citizenship Now naturalization assistance event.

Vishal Chander, AABANY Board Director and Issues Committee Co-Chair, and AABANY member Jaehee Yoo provided pro bono services at the CUNY Citizenship Now naturalization clinic. The event took place at John Jay College of Criminal Justice on May 18, 2024. The event was covered by Univision New York.

CUNY Citizenship Now! is a project of the City University of New York and is the nation’s largest university-based legal assistance program. The May 18 Spring Drive event is Citizenship Now’s largest. The event provides free application support to New Yorkers who would like to apply to become U.S. citizens.  The May 18 event assisted over 300 people.

Vishal Chander and Jaehee Yoo are members of both AABANY and the New York Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA New York). Vishal Chander, who is co-chair of AABANY’s Issues Committee and co-chair of the AILA New York’s Public Interest Committee, helped to organize AILA involvement. Vishal Chander stated, “Providing pro bono services is a deeply fulfilling part of our role as practicing attorneys.” This is the second year that Vishal Chander has helped to coordinate AILA New York’s involvement with the CUNY Citizenship Now Spring Drive event. Thanks to Vishal and Jaehee for supporting the CUNY Citizenshop Now event.

NAPABA Applauds the Confirmation of Judge Dena M. Coggins to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California

For Immediate Release: 
Date: May 22, 2024 
ContactRahat N. Babar, Deputy Executive Director

WASHINGTON – Today, the United States Senate confirmed Judge Dena M. Coggins to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. 

“NAPABA congratulates Judge Dena M. Coggins on her confirmation to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California,” said Anna Mercado Clark, President of NAPABA. “We are pleased to have supported Judge Coggins’ nomination, and we are thrilled that she has been confirmed during our annual NAPABA Lobby Day, where our members are in Washington, DC to demonstrate not only the strength of our community but also to advance the critical issues facing the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander community with leaders on Capitol Hill.”

Judge Dena Michaela Coggins is the Presiding Judge of the Juvenile Court of the Superior Court of California, County of Sacramento, having served in that position since 2023 and as a Superior Court judge since 2021. Judge Coggins was previously an Administrative Law Judge with the State of California’s Office of Administrative Hearings, in the General Jurisdiction Division from 2018 to 2021 and the Special Education Division from 2015 to 2017. Between her positions as an Administrative Law Judge, Judge Coggins served as a supervising attorney and hearing officer at the State of California Victim Compensation Board from 2017 to 2018. From 2013 to 2015, she served as a Deputy Legal Affairs Secretary for the Governor of California. Prior to her state government service, Judge Coggins worked as an associate at Downey Brand L.L.P. from 2012 to 2013 and at Morrison & Foerster L.L.P. from 2007 to 2012. Judge Coggins received her J.D. from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 2006, and her B.S. from California State University, Sacramento in 2003.

“This is the second judge from our community to be confirmed during Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this year,” said Priya Purandare, Executive Director of NAPABA. “President Biden’s record-breaking 36 AANHPI judges confirmed include 23 AANHPI women, the most women. We thank President Biden for nominating Judge Coggins and Senators Padilla and Butler for supporting her nomination.”

The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) represents the interests of over 80,000 Asian Pacific American (APA) legal professionals and nearly 90 national, state, and local APA bar associations. NAPABA is a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities. Through its national network, NAPABA provides a strong voice for increased diversity of the federal and state judiciaries, advocates for equal opportunity in the workplace, works to eliminate hate crimes and anti-immigrant sentiment, and promotes the professional development of people of all backgrounds in the legal profession.