On January 4, 2022, City Limits published an article entitled, “As NY Redistricting Forges Forward, Asian American Groups Push for ‘Unity Map’” detailing an independent coalition’s efforts to establish more equitable districts in the state.
As the redistricting process continues in New York, a coalition of three civil rights legal groups—the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Center for Law and Social Justice, and Latino Justice—seek to combat the fragmentation of minority communities. Altogether forming the Unity Map Coalition, the groups’ proposed “Unity Map” recognizes the rapid growth of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community in New York and aims to preserve the political power of communities whose interests have historically been undermined in the redistricting process.
If adopted by Governor Kathy Hochul, the “Unity Map” would replace drafts developed by the state Independent Redistricting Commission, drafts which have been influenced by the coalition’s input but that have failed to fully address issues relayed by community members. Legal groups, such as AABANY, in addition to pro-democracy groups have signed onto a letter requesting another opportunity from state lawmakers to provide public comment before the governor approves draft maps.
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:
Join AALDEF for a performance of “Soft Power,” the new musical by playwright David Henry Hwang, a 1987 AALDEF Justice in Action Award recipient, at the Public Theatre.
For AALDEF ticket holders, David will do a post-show talkback after the performance.
an exploration of America’s current place in the world, told through an
East-West musical from China’s point of view, in which a theater
producer from Shanghai forges
a powerful bond with Hillary Clinton. SOFT POWER is a fever dream of
modern American politics amidst global conversations, asking us all –
why do we love democracy? And should we?” – Public Theatre
“Soft Power is based on a brilliant concept from which intelligent insights into race and culture naturally spring.” – The Hollywood Reporter
Join AALDEF for a special evening at the theater! Tickets are $90 and include the performance and post-show talkback. Call 212-966-5932 Ext. 208 to purchase your tickets today.
On June 27, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the Southern District of New York ’s decision to block the addition of the citizenship question to the 2020 Census in Department of Commerce v. New York (18-966) and remanded the case for further proceedings. The Court agreed that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and the Department of Commerce’s rationale for adding a citizenship question to the census was pretextual stating, “the evidence tells a story that does not match the explanation the Secretary gave for his decision.”
Based on the totality of the evidence, the Court’s decision affirms the lower court’s finding of pretext on the part of the Secretary of Commerce. Agencies must “offer genuine justifications for important decisions.” The Commerce Department’s “sole stated” rationale for including the citizenship question—better Voting Rights Act (VRA) enforcement—is “incongruent with what the record reveals.” Overwhelming evidence about the timeline of the Secretary’s decision to add the citizenship question “reveal[s] a significant mismatch between the decision the Secretary made and the rationale he provided.” Accordingly, although the Court recognized the Secretary’s right to add a citizenship question under the Census Act and Constitution, the reasoning provided is not consistent with the review required by administrative law.
The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) both support the decision of the Court in blocking the Department of Commerce from adding their untested citizenship question. In addition to the evidence of intentional discrimination, NAPABA and AALDEF both hope the lower courts will engage in a careful and deliberate reconsideration of the full record, including the newly discovered evidence.
NAPABA President Daniel Sakaguchi said: “We are pleased that the Court ultimately rejected the Department of Commerce’s argument to include the citizenship question as pretextual and ‘contrived.’ Permitting the question to be added would have resulted in a significant undercount of immigrants and communities of color, leading to discriminatory cutbacks in resources and underrepresentation in Congress, in state houses, and in local government. The courts should continue to discredit the post-hoc reasoning of the Administration in its attempts to stop a fair and accurate count. It is incumbent on community leaders and attorneys to ensure that everyone is counted as part of 2020 Census.”
AALDEF Executive Director Margaret Fung said: “We are glad that the Supreme Court agreed with what AALDEF and NAPABA asserted in our joint amicus brief opposing the census citizenship question: that ‘the VRA enforcement rationale—the sole stated reason—seems to have been contrived.’ The government never intended to better enforce the VRA, as reflected in the fact that this administration has not brought any VRA enforcement actions. Asian Americans are the fastest growing racial group in this country and the largest segment of new immigrants. We will continue the fight to ensure that everyone in our country is properly counted in the 2020 Census and that our community receives its fair share of resources and representation.”
NAPABA and AALDEF led sixty-four Asian American and Pacific Islander organizations in filing an amicus brief outlining the negative impacts the addition of the citizenship question would have on the AAPI community, due to the resulting undercount.
NAPABA and AALDEF are grateful to lead pro bono counsel Albert Giang, 2018 Recipient of the NAPABA Pro Bono Award, NAPABA Amicus Committee Co-Chair, and Partner at Boies Schiller Flexner LLP (BSF) in Los Angeles; Miguel A. Gradilla and Ziwei Hu of BSF; NAPABA Amicus Committee Co-Chair, Radha Pathak of Stris & Maher LLP; Meredith Higashi of the NAPABA Civil Rights Committee; Jerry Vattamala and Patricia Yan of AALDEF; and Navdeep Singh and the NAPABA staff for their joint efforts in this case.
The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund is in need of volunteers to survey Asian American voters and protect their vote. In past elections, Asian Americans have faced a series of barriers in exercising their right to vote. For example, poll workers were hostile and made racist remarks, poll sites had too few interpreters to assist Asian American voters, translated voting materials were missing or hidden from voters, and ballots were mistranslated listing Democratic candidates as Republicans, and vice versa. When the news media reported on election results and the vote by specific groups, Asian Americans were often overlooked.
Since 1988, AALDEF has conducted exit polls of Asian American voters and monitored polls in every major election. Help us continue to resolve these issues at the polls by taking part in AALDEF’s 2018 Asian American Election Protection Program. On Election Day, November 6th, volunteers will document voter problems and the availability of language assistance. They will also conduct a nonpartisan multilingual exit poll to get a snapshot of Asian American candidate preferences, party enrollment, and issues of significance to Asian American voters.
To read AALDEF’s report on the Asian American Vote, click here. Click here to sign up to volunteer. Attendance at one training session is required for all volunteers. All volunteers must be non-partisan and work a 3-hour shift. CLE trainings are 90 minutes, and attorneys can receive 1.5 CLE credits including 0.5 ethics credit. AABANY is the CLE provider for the New York training sessions. If you have volunteered in the past, you do not have to attend another training, but you must register to volunteer again.
For more information, contact AALDEF Democracy Program Director Jerry Vattamala or Voting Rights Organizer Judy Lei at 800-966-5946 or email@example.com.
While Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are the fastest growing minority group in the US, AAPIs lag behind other communities when it comes to voter registration rates. As a result, AAPIs are increasingly left out of the discussions when elected officials make policy decisions on issues important to us and our communities.
Make Sure You, Your Family, and Friends Are Registered to Vote
Did you move or change your name? Do you need to register to vote? Have you checked if your registration is up-to-date for this election? Do you know someone who will be 18 on Election Day or became a citizen and is not registered?
Sign-up as a poll monitor and exit poll assistor with AALDEF as they protect the rights of APA and limited English proficient voters at polling locations across the country. You can get CLE credit for your pro bono work: http://aaldef.net/
Volunteer with the National AAPI Voter Protection Hotline national voter protection hotline led by APIAVote here.
DC • CA • FL • GA • LA • MA • MD • MI • NJ • NM • NV • NY • PA • TX • VA
2018 Asian American Exit Poll and Poll Monitoring
Tuesday, November 6, 2018
In past elections, Asian Americans have faced a series of barriers in exercising their right to vote, including segregated “Asian” voting lines. When the news media reported on election results, Asian Americans were overlooked. In response, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) has conducted a non-partisan survey of Asian American voters to document Asian American voting patterns and document instances of anti-Asian voter disenfranchisement. AALDEF has monitored the elections for compliance with the federal Voting Rights Act, which mandates bilingual ballots and forbids anti-Asian voter discrimination.
We need your help. In 2016, our volunteers surveyed 13,846 Asian American and Arab voters in 11 Asian languages at 55 cities about their voting encounters. Volunteers work in three hour shifts. There will be a one-hour training session for all volunteers in October (90 minutes for CLE credits). All volunteers must be non-partisan during the time that they help. Complete the form at Volunteer Sign-Up Form. Thank you!
For more information, contact: AALDEF Democracy Program Director Jerry Vattamala or Voting Rights Organizer Fiona Zhao at 800-966-5946 or firstname.lastname@example.org.