Please join AABANY in congratulating Military & Veterans Affairs Committee Co-Chair Dong Joo Lee on his recent selection to be promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander in the US Navy Reserves. He will be one of ten Asian-Americans in the entire Navy JAG Corps to be at this rank.
Dong was on active duty for almost seven years, serving in various duty stations including Guantanamo Bay, Korea, and the Pentagon. Upon leaving active duty, Dong remained in the JAG Corps as a part-time reservist and currently drills out of Washington Navy Yard. As a civilian, he worked as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, clerked at the Eastern District of New York for Judges Dora L. Irizarry and Roslynn R. Mauskopf, and is now a law clerk at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
Dong has been, and continues to be, a great Co-Chair for the MVA Committee and an active supporter of AABANY and other sister bar associations. Congratulations, Dong!
Former AABANY Treasurer and longtime community advocate Sandra Ung has announced her candidacy for New York City Council for the upcoming 2021 election. Sandra, who has dedicated her life to serving the Queens community, hopes to use her extensive experience in and passion for law and public service to best support and represent the Flushing community.
Growing up, Sandra always knew she wanted to be a lawyer. “I’ve always believed that it’s important to advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves,” she said in a recent interview. Sandra, who is ethnically Chinese, fled Cambodia during the genocide and immigrated to the United States when she was just seven years old. Soon after, she moved to Flushing, where she has called home ever since. But growing up as an immigrant presented many challenges.
“It’s not easy when you come to a country where you don’t know the language and have to start over,” she said. “But I quickly realized that we were not the only family on this path.” With this passion for community justice in mind, Sandra attended New York City public schools until graduating from Hunter College and then going to Columbia Law School to get her J.D. in 2001. She then worked at a law firm, where she learned detail-oriented writing and organizational skills that allowed her to really understand how to be a professional.
She then worked for Sanctuary For Families, a New York non-profit focused on helping victims of domestic violence and related forms of gender violence. Domestic violence is not regularly or openly talked about in the Asian American community, and survivors often find it difficult to talk to counselors and attorneys, especially when they look nothing like them. When working with organizations like Sanctuary for Families and the Korean American Family Service Center, Sandra saw her Asian American clients slowly open up to her, and she realized how important it is to have a support system that truly understands you and, therefore, your needs.
Now, one of Sandra’s platforms is to provide greater assistance for domestic violence victims. The pandemic has revealed what people in the field already know: domestic violence is a real, pressing issue in every community, and it is not addressed well enough. Therefore, true domestic violence advocacy requires not only highlighting and funding service providers, but also providing ways for survivors of domestic violence to physically move-out, with better housing solutions, and become financially independent from their abusers.
Sandra has worked for the New York State Assembly as a Special Assistant to the NYS Commissioner on Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation; a Legislative Assistant to former New York City Comptrollers Bill Thompson and John Liu; and Chief of Staff to former New York State Assemblyman Jimmy Meng. Currently, she is the Special Assistant to Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-Queens), leading the congresswoman’s re-election campaigns and running Grace’s At the Table PAC, a political action committee dedicated to expanding women and minority representation in politics. As the eyes and ears on the ground while the congresswoman is in D.C., Sandra is proud to represent the immigrant community and support them through the same challenges she faced growing up. She especially enjoys running free workshops that teach public speaking and career-based skills to young women who lack access to this knowledge, like she did when she was also growing up in an immigrant family. “We really understand that if you want to have a seat at the table, you need the basic skill set to get you to that table in the first place,” she said.
While serving as AABANY’s Treasurer, Sandra felt empowered by the inclusivity that AABANY created for its community. Due to the breadth and diversity of its members and leaders, AABANY showed Sandra the importance of having strong representation of Asian Americans in leading legal, public interest, and government positions, where they will truly advocate for the communities they serve.
Therefore, after over a decade working for New York state and years of working on other people’s campaigns, Sandra feels ready to tackle and win her own. “The recent national and local elections have shown that we are more divided than ever,” she said. “So, in campaigning, it is especially important to me to set a positive tone.” She hopes to focus on creating unity within the Flushing community, building a broad coalition as strong as their neighborhood.
Now more than ever, Sandra looks up to her mother, who was born in Cambodia and forced to leave her family during the genocide. While working in a laundromat all her life, Sandra’s mother taught her about perseverance and hard work; her parents continue to inspire her to give back to the country that gave them everything they have.
“The people around me have given me the courage to try and do this,” she said. “I believe in my community, I believe in myself, and I believe that I will be the best person for this job.”
To learn more about Sandra’s campaign and find out how you can get involved, please visit sandrafornewyork.com.
To hear more about the campaign from Sandra herself, please watch the video below.
Small business owners, like many New Yorkers, have endured difficult pandemic months this year, both personally and financially.
As NYC’s restaurants start serving customers again, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs wants to make sure that businesses in your community, particularly in immigrant communities, have access to an important resource now being offered by the city.
The Design Corps: Small Business Reopening Network is a new program to help restaurants improve their dining space through assistance by design professionals. Local restaurants across NYC can register atnycxdesign.com/design-corps and connect with a professional designer or architect, free of charge.
Services include applying for the City’s Open Restaurant Program, ensuring compliance safety guidelines, or improving efficiency of space. If you are interested in signing up or learning more about how you can receive this free service, visit nycxdesign.com/design-corps.
On September 26, 2020, as part of the second day of the 2020 Fall Conference, AABANY hosted a program discussing Anti-Asian Violence and Hate Arising from the COVID-19 Pandemic, which focused on trends and newly compiled statistics related to this discrimination. The panel included:
Joe Gim, Deputy Chief of the County Court Trial Bureau in Nassau County
Russell Jeung, Professor of Asian American studies at San Francisco State University and Member of the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council
Stewart Loo, Deputy Inspector of the NYPD Asian Hate Crime Task Force
John C. Yang, President and Executive Director at Asian Americans Advancing Justice
Jo-Ann Yoo, Executive Director at the Asian American Federation
First, Professor Jeung introduced “Stop AAPI Hate,” an online reporting center organized by the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council. Since March 19, 2020, the reporting center has been tracking and responding to incidents of hate, violence, harassment, discrimination, shunning, and child bullying against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in California and where possible throughout the United States. In California, there have been over 300,000 reported incidents over the eight month period. There was a major uptick in March when President Trump started calling COVID-19 the “Chinese virus” and in late June when Trump started using the term “Kung Flu.” Although most of the reported incidents have been verbal, there have been an alarming number of incidents where Asian Pacific Americans (APA) were coughed or spat on.
Jo-Ann Yoo then discussed the situation in New York and emphasized that reporting is only as good as its outreach. Joe Gim specified that legally, a hate crime in New York must both involve a person selected to have a crime against them because of their identity and have that factor be a substantial part of the crime.
Next, Stewart Loo introduced the NYPD Asian Hate Crime Task Force, which gets involved with incidents of hate and discrimination when they become crimes. The task force assists victims who cannot speak English but want to report an incident. Due to cultural differences and the length and complexity of reporting a crime to the NYPD, the criminal process can be very daunting. Yoo added that many people are shy or afraid to report, regardless of a language barrier, especially to the media. John Yang then discussed the importance of media pieces in humanizing the statistics and building community strength.
Professor Jeung and John Yang also discussed how APA social status has historically been very conditional. As many APA individuals still toggle between being part of a Model Minority or a Yellow Peril, they are seen as perpetual foreigners, which adds to the rising anti-Asian hate.
The panel concluded with talking about the rise in APA youth supporting Black Lives Matter. In order to be heard on a nationwide scale, everyday citizens must fight for the respect that their communities do not already receive, whether by serving as a poll worker, speaking up in organizations, or simply voting. The panel ended with discussing how APA culture is stereotypically seen as quiet, but in order to see change now, people need to speak up and speak out.
Thank you to the panelists, Joe Gim, Russell Jeung, Stewart Loo, John C. Yang, and Jo-Ann Yoo, and moderator Karen King for leading such an inspiring and important discussion on anti-Asian violence and hate during the pandemic. And thank you to the AABANY Pro Bono and Community Service, and Government Service and Public Interest Committees for hosting the event.
Click here to access the Stop AAPI Hate website. Click here to access AAF’s COVID-19 Safety Resources.
To view a recording of this program, please click on the video image at the top of this blog post.
On September 26, 2020, as part of the second day of the 2020 Fall Conference, AABANY hosted Enforcement in a Fragmented World, a panel on unique challenges currently facing attorneys representing clients in white collar and enforcement matters. On the panel were:
Edward Y. Kim, Co-Founder of Krieger Kim & Lewin LLP (Moderator)
Charu Chandrasekhar, Assistant Regional Director of the Division of Enforcement of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
Una Dean, Partner at Fried Frank LLP
Joon H. Kim, Partner at Cleary Gottlieb (and former Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York)
Leo R. Tsao, Chief of the Bank Integrity Unit at the U.S. Department of Justice
The discussion started with the panelists talking about how their work has been affected by the pandemic. They discussed how a lot of the work they do — interviewing witnesses, talking and negotiating with the authorities, and gathering information — relied on in-person work. However, they agreed that justice delayed is justice denied, especially for the people and companies they are investigating. With statutes of limitations and fading memories, enforcement attorneys have been interviewing people over video and phone calls. Despite many successful interviews, they still have the obstacle of building relationships and rapport with potential cooperators over the phone. All in all, they agreed that enforcement has been very active recently and will continue to be for years to come.
Then, each of the attorneys discussed their personal experiences in enforcement. Although the attorneys each had different career paths, they agreed that they all loved their jobs because they are able to focus on doing justice, not winning cases. They discussed how their job is also an incredible honor and responsibility to be able to serve their community and country.
Next, the speakers talked about challenges they have encountered as Asian Pacific American (APA) practitioners. While dealing with drastic underrepresentation in their fields, as well as the ever persistent Model Minority Myth and the Perpetual Foreigner stereotype, the attorneys often faced overt and subtle racism in their work. However, they see a strong trend in many organizations towards actively diversifying the workplace to create a base of attorneys who actually reflect the communities they serve. Additionally, Chandrasekhar and Dean discussed the added challenges of being female APA practitioners. They discussed how government work can actually be a great equalizer. Although there are still many difficulties that come with many sacrifices and compromises, women in government service are taught to stand up and speak out in court about their cases, which builds confidence.
The panel concluded with some of the attorneys discussing the importance of separating the system from the service. They agreed that there are many serious injustices and inequities in the justice system, and the justice system must be reformed and improved by educating people within the justice system. The speakers acknowledged that many of the people working and handling individual cases within the system are genuinely passionate about upholding justice. And these attorneys will continue to do so proudly for the rest of their careers.
In these uncertain times, it is incredibly inspiring to hear from leading practitioners and enforcers in the field of white collar enforcement. Thank you to the panelists Charu Chandrasekhar, Una Dean, Joon H. Kim, and Leo R. Tsao and moderator Edward Y. Kim for sharing their experience and insights in the field of justice.
To view a recording of this program, please click on the video image at the top of this blog post.
If you have limited income and resources (things you own), Supplemental Security Income (SSI) may be able to help. SSI financing comes from general revenues, not Social Security taxes.
SSI makes monthly payments to people who are age 65 or older or who are blind or disabled. They don’t count some of your income and some of your resources when they decide whether you’re eligible for SSI. Your house and your car, for example, usually don’t count as resources.
You can also call them toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 to set up a telephone appointment with a representative from your local Social Security office. To contact your local Social Security office directly, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/locator, select Locate An Office By Zip, enter your five digit ZIP Code, and select Locate. Your local Social Security office’s local toll-free number will be displayed.
To register for any of the events, please click on the registration link (you will need to create a free account if you are not a city bar member) or email Customer Relations at firstname.lastname@example.org. The series is free for everyone.
Glenn D. Magpantay, a long-time civil rights attorney, advocate, and leader for Asian Pacific American (APA) and LGBTQ rights, is a 2020 recipient of the Daniel K. Inouye Trailblazer Award, NAPABA’s highest honor. Each year, outstanding lawyers are awarded for their exceptional leadership in paving the way for the advancement of other APA attorneys and creating lasting, substantial contributions in the broader APA community.
Glenn’s inspiring commitment to public service and activism started in college and continued after graduation when he was a lobbyist for higher education in the early 1990s. As one of the few Asian people working in the State Capitols at the time, Glenn learned the importance of APA and LGBTQ representation in law.
As a civil rights attorney at the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), he quickly became an authority on the federal Voting Rights Act and expert on Asian American political participation. He fought for the right of Asian Americans to vote in their native language, to put in place translated registration forms and language interpreters at poll sites, and to challenge unconstitutional voter ID requirements in many cities.
At the cornerstone of Glenn’s incredible legal work and advocacy is intersectionality. In addition to working with several law firms on pro bono projects, he has recently led two challenges that reached the U.S. Supreme Court: Hawaii v. Trump (2018), which challenged President Trump’s anti-Muslim travel ban, and DHS v. Regents of the University of California (2020), which challenged President Trump’s proposed cancellation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
In a recent interview, Glenn reflected on how LGBTQ Asian attorneys have to navigate through a very traditional work environment where they often cannot express who they really are. In response to this, he has worked for over a decade to create a network for LGBTQ Asian attorneys to find peer support and thrive and advance in their careers. As Executive Director of the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA), Glenn highlighted the often overlooked stories of LGBTQ Asians, trained a new generation of LGBTQ activists, and cultivated a more diverse face of the LGBTQ movement. And above all, Glenn knows that he could not have done this work without AABANY.
“Ever since I went to my first AABANY event in 1988, they have given me the trust and ability to create these spaces for LGBTQ APA attorneys,” Glenn said. “AABANY is my home because I’ve always felt valued, not just as a public interest lawyer, but also — and especially — as a colorful, openly gay attorney working in the name of Asian American civil rights.”
In addition to the many doors that AABANY has opened for Glenn, he also is incredibly thankful for the support he received from several law firms, such as Weil, Gotshal & Manges, Shearman & Sterling, and Skadden Arps. “I would not have been able to uphold and protect the Voting Rights Act without some of the biggest law firms in New York helping me with issue-spotting, fact-to-rule application, and their commitment to intersectional diversity and inclusion. And I would not have been able to sue New York City for bilingual voting rights without the help of six hundred lawyers from the New York Asian American bar in monitoring polling sites and recording anti-Asian voter disenfranchisement. ”
Glenn continues to teach and inspire legal minds by teaching legal studies and Asian American studies at Hunter College, Brooklyn Law School, and Columbia University, and his work is far from over.
“The goal was never for me to get an award; it was to change the profession to be more diverse and inclusive where we can achieve our fullest potential,” Glenn said. “It’s a lifetime achievement award, but I’m not ready to retire. We have come a long way, but we have not yet come far enough.”
Please join AABANY in congratulating Glenn on this well-deserved honor and recognition. NAPABA has announced on its website that the Award Ceremony will be held in December 2020. Additionally, NAPABA is honoring its awardees by featuring them on their social media accounts. To access the video on Glenn’s life and achievements, please visit the link below:
On September 8th, Seton Hall Law School hosted a webinar entitled “Asian Americans at a Crossroads: COVID-19, #BLM, Discrimination, and Allyship,” which AABANY co-sponsored. The event, moderated by Professor Marina Lao, was a virtual conversation with Professor Frank H. Wu, President at Queens College, CUNY, who discussed the problems facing the Asian and Asian-American communities, the importance of allyship and building bridges across communities of color, and the history that surrounds both.
Professor Wu began the discussion by talking about how he got interested in studying Asian American history in college, when he wanted to write a paper on Asian American issues and civil rights and found not a single book written on the subject. He then realized that United States racial history was taught in a black and white paradigm: it treated everyone as falling into these two supposedly “opposite” categories. In doing so, history has taught Asian Americans that they have three options: they must aspire to be “honorary white people,” fall into the supposedly “lesser” category as people of color, or accept that they will never fit into the body politic.
He then recounted his upbringing in Detroit, where people assumed that he belonged halfway around the world and bullied him with racist slurs. They ingrained in him a perpetual foreigner syndrome, which has recently become more common and intensified with the association of all Asians with COVID-19. Only after the murder of Vincent Chin did Professor Wu realize that these weren’t just harmless jokes. In 1982 Detroit, Chin, a working class Chinese citizen, was harassed with racial slurs and bludgeoned to death by two automobile workers; they saw Chin as a foreigner, as someone who stole their jobs and thus must be punished. The killers got a fine and probation for three years, which Professor Wu revisited in 2012 when he co-wrote the AABANY Trial Reenactment of the Murder of Vincent Chin.
During this horrific incident in 1982, Professor Wu first learned the importance of bridge building and forming coalitions. He realized that in America, all Asians have to come together to form one Asian-American culture in order to emphasize that they are Americans. He then realized he needed to better understand the Black struggle. He followed the path of W.E.B. DuBois, who situated the fight for Black liberation in the importance of cooperation and coalition.
He concluded by discussing the importance of Asian Americans supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. He discussed the dangers of the model minority myth, and how it was designed to enforce anti-Black/Latinx racism. He explained how in this moment, Asian Americans have to try to understand other people’s sufferings, which can be more severe than ours. Asian Americans are at a crossroads: do we aspire to the silent norms and enforce them? Or do we proudly affirm our status as people of color and stand in solidarity and fight for the liberation of other races? The lives of Asian Americans can only be truly secure and protected when people who look different also feel that their place is secure too.
Professor Wu’s conversation highlights some of the many unique changes and challenges that Asian Americans are experiencing this year. Now more than ever, it is incredibly important to not only understand Asian American history and its ties to Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and other racial and ethnic histories, but also — and more importantly — learn from those triumphs and mistakes of the past. In order to create a history we are proud of, we must look behind us and strive forward, together.
Thank you to the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association (APALSA) at Seton Hall Law School for hosting and organizing the event. To view the full recording of the conversation on YouTube, click the link above.
Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit (CAU), Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA), Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants (MOPT) and Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit (PEU) will host a Tenant Protection Training in English, Mandarin and Cantonese and share anti-eviction and tenant protection tools on Tuesday, 10/20/2020 at 3pm.
Participants will be able to learn about tenant rights, tenant protection resources, and referral processes.