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.

NAPABA Supports the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act


For Immediate Release:
 
Date: March 4, 2024 
ContactRahat N. Babar, Deputy Executive Director for Policy 

WASHINGTON – The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) applauds the United States Senate’s reintroduction of the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, a bill that would restore critical protections of the Voting Rights Act. Especially in a critical election year, Congress must ensure that everyone can fully participate in our democracy. This month, we commemorate the 59th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when, on March 7, 1965, in Selma, Alabama, State Troopers attacked hundreds of unarmed protestors, including the civil rights leader John Lewis, who opposed the systematic oppression of Black voters. It led to the ultimate passage of the Voting Rights Act. As those activists knew then, and as we are reminded today, the right to vote is foundational, and as an organization advancing the interests of the AANHPI community, NAPABA realizes the critical importance for our community to have equal access to the ballot.  

“The endeavor to secure equal voting rights requires constant vigilance,” said Anna Mercado Clark, President of NAPABA. “The life and legacy of John Lewis are a powerful reminder of it. NAPABA is grateful to Senators Durbin, Warnock, Schumer, and the sponsors for reintroducing the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. As the Asian American community is the fastest-growing community in the nation, coupled with recent court decisions that have limited the reach of the Voting Rights Act, this bill will go a long way to ensure that our community – and all communities of color – have a fair opportunity to make their voice heard at the ballot box.”

On top of our advocacy, if you wish to learn about ways that you can get involved in your community, connect with our partner APIAVote: https://apiavote.org/get-involved/volunteer/

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The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) represents the interests of over 60,000 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.

Congratulations to the Law Firm of Hugh H. Mo, P.C. for Receiving NAPABA’s APA-Owned Law Firm of the Year Award

The Law Firm of Hugh H. Mo, P.C (Mo Law Firm). is being recognized as APA-Owned Law Firm of the Year by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA). This award is presented annually to an acclaimed law firm that has demonstrated a strong commitment to advocating for the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, while simultaneously upholding the highest ethical and legal standards within the field. This well-deserved recognition not only acknowledges the Firm’s outstanding legal work, but also its staunch commitment to Pro Bono representation of AAPI crime survivors and those facing race-based discrimination. The Mo Law Firm was presented with the award during the Saturday evening Gala at the NAPABA Convention in Indianapolis, on November 11.

The Mo Law Firm, headquartered in New York City, is set apart by its distinguished father-daughter team among its legal staff. As founder and partner, long-time AABANY member Hugh H. Mo, and counsel, Elizabeth L. Mo, were both former prosecutors at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. Their careers embody the American dream and the immigrant ethos of upholding tradition while pursuing professional success. 

The son of one of China’s first female journalists and a law professor killed by the communists for his democratic beliefs, Hugh H. Mo immigrated to America at the age of nine. Growing up in NYC’s Chinatown, Mo witnessed firsthand the discrimination and oppression that the Chinese American community faced. After receiving his J.D. from Boston University School of Law, Hugh was ready to make his mark on the legal landscape of New York. He was the first Asian American appointed as an Assistant District Attorney at the Manhattan DA’s Office, and was also the first Asian American appointed as Deputy Commissioner for the New York City Police Department.

Continuing the legacy of her family’s dedication to the law, Elizabeth L. Mo embarked on her own remarkable journey. After graduating from Boston University School of Law, she became an Assistant District Attorney at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and served in both the Trial and Investigations Divisions. Her unwavering commitment to justice and her passion for advocating on behalf of the marginalized mirrors her father’s dedication. Today, this dynamic father-daughter duo collaborate and combine their wealth of experience and shared values in their pursuit of legal excellence and justice.

When asked about their initial reaction to receiving this prestigious award, both Hugh and Elizabeth expressed their deep gratitude towards AABANY and NABAPA. “Essentially, this recognition stands as a lifetime achievement award, not just for our Firm, but for both Liz and me, acknowledging our unwavering commitment as Asian American lawyers,” remarked Hugh, contemplating his distinguished career. Elizabeth echoed her father’s sentiments, adding: “We are so thankful to AABANY and NAPABA for supporting our careers and our Firm. Only in America could a firm like ours exist and prosper, and this recognition also serves as tribute to all of those that have come before us and people who we hope to inspire.”

With a combined 60 plus years of trial and investigation experiences, the Mo Law Firm has achieved remarkable success for its primarily Chinese clients. However, for this unique firm, legal representation goes beyond the courtroom. The Firm’s mission is tri-fold: vigorously advocating for their clients, mentoring AAPIs and championing the AAPI community’s causes. The firm represents a variety of corporate entities, foreign entrepreneurs, emerging start-ups, and governmental organizations, and individuals, domestic and overseas, delivering innovative legal advice and strategic counsel and problem solving in a variety of practice areas, including federal and state litigation, white collar criminal defense, commercial litigation, compliance and regulatory, business and tax matters.

Beyond that, the firm engages in extensive Pro Bono work, giving back to the community. “A lot of people think of Pro Bono as volunteer work, or being part of an overall effort to do good. I think that as an attorney, Pro Bono should be very much part of an attorney’s practice, career, as well as dedication,” firmly stated Hugh, who has dedicated his life to public service. Adding onto her father’s beliefs, Elizabeth portrayed Pro Bono as an endeavor that should not be marked by ability, but by obligation. “It is not about the ‘we can’s’ or ‘we should’s,’ but rather, by the fact that we must give back to the community,” she stated fervently. 

Elizabeth expanded on the interplay between her Asian American identity and her legal work. “As Asian Americans, we have a very unique cultural and language competency that not everyone has. It’s like being a unicorn— our firm is truly a unicorn in this industry. We would like to dedicate our skills and competencies to Pro Bono resources.” The Mo Law Firm has provided legal representation to victims of Asian hate crimes, individuals targeted by scams, students and healthcare professionals facing discrimination. Additionally, they have advocated for AAPI interests in unprecedented legal challenges, exemplifying their commitment to justice and community advancement over 30 years of legal practice. 

Speaking about memorable Pro Bono cases, Hugh shared an instance where he helped an Asian American high school student suffering from school bullying because of his racial identity navigate unjust felony and misdemeanor charges for making alleged terrorist threats on social media against his tormentors. After a back and forth battle with the District Attorney’s office, Hugh was able to secure a non-criminal disposition for the young man, allowing him to continue his education unfettered by a criminal record. Years later, Hugh learned that the young man not only graduated from college and law school, but was working as an Assistant District Attorney. The young man’s life journey would not have been possible without Hugh’s zealous advocacy on his behalf. “We as lawyers, if we have the capacity to do so, we should step up and do right every day. Lawyers should use our resources— our trade, our experience, our connections— to do good,” Hugh declared. Recalling the case proudly, Hugh believes that this case truly epitomizes the Mo Law Firm’s dedication to its ethos, the pursuit of justice and unwavering commitment advocating for clients beyond the call of duty. 

The Mo Law Firm’s approach to Pro Bono work goes far beyond legal representation, encompassing a holistic perspective. “To us, Pro Bono is not just about representing victims of hate crimes, but also supporting and mentoring the clients and other attorneys. It’s really so embedded in our firm’s culture that we don’t even think of it as Pro Bono,” Elizabeth explained. During his legal career spanning over four decades, Hugh has co-founded numerous APA civil and community organizations including: the Chinatown Health Clinic (predecessor to the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center), NYPD Asian Jade Society, Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) and most recently, the NYPD Asian American Police Executives Council (AAPEX). Most notably, Hugh and Elizabeth have been actively involved and supported AABANY and NAPABA throughout their legal careers, with Hugh serving as a founding member of AABANY and Elizabeth as a former Co-Chair of the Young Lawyers Committee and currently as Co-Chair of NAPABA’s Government Enforcement and Compliance Committee. 

AABANY congratulates Hugh H. Mo and Elizabeth L. Mo for their well-deserved recognition as NAPABA’s APA-Owned Law Firm of the Year. Not only have they demonstrated exceptional legal prowess, their tireless dedication to the principles of justice and equity, especially on behalf of the AAPI community, is a profound testament to their values.

Please join AABANY in congratulating The Law Firm of Hugh H. Mo, PC on this award, along with all the honorees being recognized at the 2023 NAPABA Convention.

NAPABA Indiana Advocacy Update

Dear NAPABA Community,

With 50 days remaining before the start of the 2023 NAPABA Convention in Indianapolis, I wish to update you on NAPABA’s work in Indiana along with our advocacy efforts broadly.

In April 2023, we announced our Indiana Advocacy Action Plan following the decision from the Board of Governors to remain in Indianapolis for the 2023 NAPABA Convention. The Plan’s four-prong strategy aimed to meaningfully engage community stakeholders in Indiana and advance the dignity and interests of the LGBTQ+ and AANHPI communities in the time leading up to and beyond the Convention. Since then, I can report to you on the following actions:

  1. Immediate Investment. NAPABA and Indiana Legal Services, Inc. (ILS), announced a partnership to deliver direct legal support to LGBTQ+ and immigrant communities in Indiana. The partnership will fund law student interns at ILS starting this fall for the 2023-2024 academic year. The legal internships will be housed within the ILS LGBTQ+ Project and Immigrants’ and Language Rights Center. Financial support for these legal internships was generously provided by the NAPABA Law Foundation’s Underserved Communities Fellowship.
  2. Lasting Impact. Starting this October, NAPABA–in partnership with the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Indiana, Alliance for Justice, and Dentons Bingham Greenebaum LLP–will be convening a wide array of community leaders in Indianapolis for our multi-part civic engagement series entitled, “Joining Forces, Building Community and Empowerment.” The workshop is designed for Indiana leaders to build organizational, operational, and advocacy skills in their efforts to advocate and better serve their communities. NAPABA will host additional workshops in the months ahead, including another convening of community leaders on Thursday, November 9, 2023, at the Convention, and culminate in a day of advocacy activities at the Indiana Statehouse in 2024.
  3. Showcasing Our Values. The 2023 NAPABA Convention in Indianapolis is centered on uplifting NAPABA’s values and our community. Our Friday Plenary Luncheon program will focus on “Gender Equality and the Rights of Transgender Athletes,” featuring Justice Sabrina McKenna of the Supreme Court of Hawai`i as the moderator. At our Gala program on Saturday, the keynote speaker will be attorney and civil rights activist Mia Yamamoto, a prominent leader and advocate for human rights and for the rights of the LGBTQ+ and AANHPI communities. During the Convention’s substantive program, we will highlight issues such as AANHPIs and the fight for marriage equality, a reflection on the civil rights movement, how our community can advance the cause for justice, #WhyWomenLeave, and more. 
  4. Beyond Indiana. Though we are focused on Indiana, NAPABA remains at the forefront in our core advocacy work across the nation. 
    • We continue to oppose vigorously alien land laws that would strip the rights of AANHPIs to pursue a livelihood and fair housing. NAPABA and our affiliates are engaged with state and federal policymakers to oppose such laws along with grassroots community leaders and the press. Along with our coalition partners, NAPABA has cautioned Congress to be mindful of its rhetoric and “to consider the impact that proposed legislation could have on AANHPI communities, and to work with AANHPI groups to find ways to address national security concerns while creating an environment that welcomes people who are committed to the success and safety of our country.” We have raised the alarm over a recent amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that, if enacted, would impose restrictions on individuals from certain countries like China to purchase agricultural land. In court, we are supporting, as amicus curiae, litigation challenging Florida’s discriminatory statute.
    • In the aftermath of U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Students for Fair Admissions v. UNC/Harvard, NAPABA has not only presented educational programs to our members about the ruling, but also engaged with partners to explore best avenues to support diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts across the profession. 
    • NAPABA has stood in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community. For example, in the face of federal legislation that targeted the transgender community, NAPABA opposed a bill that would ban transgender and intersex girls and women from participating in school sporting activities that align with their gender identities. Such harmful and discriminatory policies are wholly inconsistent with NAPABA values. Similarly, NAPABA denounced a misguided decision from the U.S. Supreme Court in 303 Creative LLC v. Aubrey Elenis, which held that a website design business–notwithstanding state anti-discrimination laws–may refuse to deliver services to same-sex couples. We called on Congress again to pass the Equality Act, which would amend federal law to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity.
    • NAPABA endorsed the Southeast Asian Deportation Relief Act of 2023, a bill that would deliver relief to Southeast Asian American refugees and create a pathway for the return of nearly 2,000 refugees to the United States who have already been removed to Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. 
    • Recently, in another step toward equity, NAPABA endorsed California Senate Bill 403, which would add caste as a protected characteristic under California’s civil rights laws, and called for a ban on caste discrimination throughout the nation. 
This is only a snapshot of our efforts. Undoubtedly, we are making progress, but we are nowhere near done. As California just recognized when it lifted the ban on publicly funded travel to other states with objectionable laws targeting the LGBTQ+ community, NAPABA believes in the importance and the power of showing up. Our work is only possible because of the strength, energy, and passion of our members, our committees, our affiliates, and our sponsors. So many of you step up each and every day to better our community, often in the shadows of the public eye, with the only hope that the next generation will enjoy the gains that we endeavor to make today. We are incredibly grateful.

I look forward to seeing all of you in Indianapolis.
Warmly,

NAPABA and Fred T. Korematsu Institute Form Pioneering Affiliation to Champion Civil Rights, Combat Anti-Asian Bias, and Promote Civic Empowerment

For Immediate Release: 
Date: August 24, 2023 
NAPABA Contact:
Priya Purandare, Executive Director
Fred T. Korematsu Institute Contact:
Michelle Mitchell, Communications Director

WASHINGTON – The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) and the Fred T. Korematsu Institute, a 501(c)(3) national civil rights education organization based in San Francisco, announced a historic, groundbreaking affiliation formalizing their organizations’ longstanding relationship based on a shared interest in promoting civic participation, racial equity, and civil rights. The affiliation will strengthen the missions of both institutions by increasing resources and understanding and combating anti-Asian discrimination and bias through education and advocacy.

The Korematsu Institute was founded on the legacy of Fred Korematsu, a Japanese American who, in 1942, refused to comply with the World War II Executive Order to forcibly remove and incarcerate American Citizens of Japanese descent in prison camps. After he was arrested and convicted of defying the government’s order, he appealed his case to the United States Supreme Court. In an infamous decision that joins the ranks of Dred Scott v. Sandford and Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court ruled against him, holding that the incarceration was justified due to military necessity. After discovering that the government had withheld evidence and that the Solicitor General lied to the Court, Korematsu’s conviction was overturned in 1983 through a writ of Coram Nobis. In 1998, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, our nation’s highest civilian honor, for his steadfast advocacy.

“My father’s decades-long fight against injustice in the face of discrimination was not only a legal and constitutional achievement, but a story of individual humanity that resonates with so many in this country,” said Dr. Karen Korematsu, Founder and President of the Korematsu Institute. “While law schools teach my father’s case to dissect legal principles, we cannot forget what he and so many other incarcerated Japanese Americans experienced on a human level during that dark period in our nation’s history.”

Founded in 1989, NAPABA is the nation’s largest Asian Pacific American membership organization representing the interests of 60,000 attorneys, judges, law professors, and law students. NAPABA is a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities. Without question, its values align with the spirit of Fred Korematsu’s advocacy and the Institute’s commitment to equality.

“Fred Korematsu’s case, and that of fellow Japanese American detainees such as Minoru Yasui, Gordon Hirabayashi and those of Fred Oyama and Sei Fujii, who challenged alien land laws after their properties were illegally seized, are not just historical precedents — they are the legal framework we use to fight discrimination against Asian Americans, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islanders,” said Sandra Leung, President of NAPABA. “It is important for all Americans to understand the leading role that Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders have played in shaping the civil rights jurisprudence of this nation.”

“Fred Korematsu’s journey, now more than ever, is a seminal, timeless story — especially at a time in our nation and in the world marked by growing ignorance and intolerance, fueled by advances in technology and the swiftness of disinformation,” said Peggy Saika, Board Chair of the Korematsu Institute. “We are confident that between the Institute’s long-standing care of his legacy and NAPABA’s reach in the legal community, we will safeguard the opportunity to continue learning the lessons of Fred Korematsu’s strength for generations to come.”

“This affiliation will amplify the impact of both NAPABA and the Korematsu Institute,” said Priya Purandare, Executive Director of NAPABA and the Korematsu Institute. “With the Institute’s expertise and K-12 educational and public resources, we can collectively bring the stories of Fred Korematsu and other AANHPI civil rights legal icons to inspire future generations of Americans.”

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The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) represents the interests of over 60,000 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.

The Fred T. Korematsu Institute, named after Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Fred Korematsu, is a national education advocacy organization committed to promoting civic participation and education to advance racial equity, social justice, and human rights for all. Through its educational programs, media and exhibits, and speaking engagements, the Korematsu Institute inspires people and organizations to, as Fred said, “stand up for what is right.”

AABANY Congratulates Jennifer H. Wu on Testifying before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on the Federal Response to Anti-Asian Racism

On March 24, 2023, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR) organized a briefing to address the federal government’s response to anti-Asian racism in the United States. Jennifer H. Wu, Co-Chair of the AABANY Women’s Committee and a member of the AABANY Anti-Asian Violence Task Force, provided her testimony during the session. Jennifer highlighted the fact that none of her pro bono clients, who were victims of well-known anti-Asian hate crimes, had ever reported the crimes to federal agencies. “I am here, because I became a civil rights lawyer,” Jennifer declared, “because there has been no federal response to anti-Asian racism.”

During her testimony, Jennifer emphasized the importance of reading AABANY’s reports on anti-Asian violence in 2021 and 2022 to understand “the response from the local community to people in our community dying.” She acknowledged the precipitous rise in anti-Asian hate crimes in New York City and the growing atmosphere among of fear within the AAPI community during the pandemic. Jennifer called for comprehensive support for victims, including providing and advocating for qualified and experienced interpreters in interactions with the police and improved training and education. In addition, “[the] victims need wraparound services [such as] people to help them with [setting up a] Go Fund Me. In order to withdraw funds, you need [a] Social Security number from the United States as well as [a] bank account [in] the United States. They also need [the] ability to apply for U visas if they are undocumented. They need help with healthcare.” Jennifer, herself a daughter of immigrant parents and a mother of three children, expressed her deep “yearn[ing] for a better future.” 

AABANY extends our congratulations and gratitude to Jennifer for her outstanding efforts and advocacy work in support of the AAPI community during a most difficult and challenging time. Her invaluable pro bono work advising and assisting survivors and victims of anti-Asian violence in New York over the past few years were recognized with a Member of the Year Award at AABANY’s 2023 Annual Meeting. We commend her for her dedication and commitment.

To view the full hearing before the USCCR, please click here

To view the highlights of AAPI leaders who testified: 

  • Jo-Ann Yoo, Asian American Federation
  • John Yang, Asian Americans Advancing Justice
  • Cynthia Choi, Chinese for Affirmative Action
  • Jennifer Wu, Asian American Bar Association of New York
  • Manjusha P. Kulkarni, AAPI Equity Alliance

please click here. Thanks to Commissioner Magpantay for sharing the highlight video.

AABANY Files Comments in Response to the March 24, 2023 Public Briefing on the Federal Response to Anti-Asian Racism in the United States

The Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) submitted a letter on April 24, 2023 to the United States Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR) expressing concern about the ongoing issue of anti-Asian hate and violence in the United States, particularly in New York. In the letter, we highlighted the increase in incidents during the COVID-19 pandemic and outlined the efforts of AABANY’s Anti-Asian Violence Task Force (AAVTF) in addressing these issues, including hosting webinars, publishing reports, advocating for legislative changes, and providing resources to support victims. While we appreciate the USCCR for drawing attention to anti-Asian crimes, we believe that there is much more work to be done. AABANY presented three recommendations to combat anti-Asian hate crimes: improved hate crime data reporting, recognition of the community as a victim and investigative partner, and appropriate training for prosecutors and law enforcement. We emphasized the importance of collaboration between the government, law enforcement, and community organizations to ensure the safety of the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) community.

To read AABANY’s public comment in its entirety, please click here. AABANY gratefully acknowledges the efforts of Chris Kwok, Issues Committee Chair, and AABANY Student Leaders Jinny Lim, J.D. candidate, Seton Hall Law School ‘24, and Catherine Tran, J.D. Candidate, Columbia Law School ‘25, in preparing this submission.

2023 NAPABA Lobby Day Wrap-Up

Reflecting on a Day of Advocacy and Engagement

NAPABA’s 12th annual Lobby Day, held on May 22-23, 2023, brought together a diverse group of AANHPI attorneys, law students, and community leaders from across the country to advocate for meaningful policy changes and address key issues affecting our community. Together, we engaged in productive discussions, shared compelling stories, and sought to create lasting connections with lawmakers and their staff. 

Highlights of our Lobby Day achievements include:

Robust Representation: With nearly 90 participants taking part in 52 meetings with congressional offices, NAPABA demonstrated its strength and its commitment to amplifying AANHPI voices in the halls of power.

Advocacy Training: Prior to the meetings, we organized targeted training sessions to equip our participants with the necessary tools and strategies to effectively communicate our policy priorities. 

Policy Priorities: Throughout our meetings, we passionately advocated for key issues at the forefront of our community’s concerns, which included the fair treatment of immigrants, the equal rights of the LGBTQ+ community, and the ability of the AANHPI community to pursue their livelihood. Our collective advocacy efforts ensured that these critical topics received the attention they deserve.

Meaningful Engagements: We met with several influential lawmakers and their staff, fostering meaningful dialogues and building relationships that will continue to be instrumental in advancing our policy objectives. Our Lobby Day participants skillfully articulated our positions, presented compelling arguments, and shared personal stories to humanize the issues we face.

Looking ahead, we will maintain our momentum and continue our advocacy efforts beyond Lobby Day. Learn more about NAPABA’s advocacy at napaba.org/page/advocacy 

Rahat N. Babar Appointed as NAPABA’s Deputy Executive Director for Policy 


For Immediate Release:
 
Date: April 10, 2023 
ContactPriya Purandare, Executive Director

WASHINGTON – The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) has named Rahat N. Babar as its new Deputy Executive Director for Policy. In this role, Rahat will lead strategies and programs that will advance NAPABA’s advocacy, civil rights, and policy priorities.

Rahat brings to the position a long-standing commitment to NAPABA and the Asian American and Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander community, and nearly two decades of high-profile public service. Rahat is a former member of NAPABA’s Board of Governors and a former chair of NAPABA’s Civil Rights Committee. He previously served as President of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Pennsylvania and served on the Board of Directors of the Asian Pacific American Lawyers Association of New Jersey. NAPABA recognized Rahat as one of NAPABA’s Best Under 40 in 2018.

Currently, Rahat serves as a Judge on the Superior Court of New Jersey, the first Bangladeshi American to be a member of the court. Immediately prior to his appointment, Rahat was Special Counsel to Governor Philip D. Murphy, overseeing all high-profile litigation impacting the Governor and the Administration. Previously, he was the Director of Community Engagement at the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, where as part of Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal’s Executive Leadership Team, he led the Attorney General’s efforts to strengthen the office’s relationships with community leaders, faith leaders, and the public. Rahat held several other leadership roles within the Attorney General’s Office, practiced in a boutique corporate law firm, and taught law and public policy at Temple University Beasley School of Law as an Adjunct Professor. 

 “We are so fortunate to have such a legal luminary and NAPABA stalwart lead our policy efforts,” said Priya Purandare, Executive Director of NAPABA. “Rahat is a proven bar leader and policy expert who is uniquely situated to help ensure that our national advocacy vision and civil rights priorities can be carried out across the country by harnessing the passion and collaboration of our members and affiliate bar organizations.” 

Rahat will begin his new role with NAPABA in May 2023. 

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NAPABA Opposes H.R. 734 and Discrimination Against Transgender Persons

For Immediate Release: 
Date: March 9, 2023
Contact:  Priya Purandare, Executive Director

WASHINGTON – March 9. The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) opposes H.R. 734, recently introduced in the House of Representatives as the “Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act of 2023,” which would effectively ban transgender and intersex girls and women from participating in school sporting activities that align with their gender identities.

NAPABA is proud that last month, its Board of Directors ratified a policy resolution sponsored by its LGBTQ+ Network, that affirms the civil, constitutional, and human rights of transgender and non-binary youths, including those within the AAPI community, and recognizes their rights to participate in school sports and to receive the social, educational, developmental, and physical and mental health benefits of athletic participation. NAPABA’s policy resolution also expressly opposes discriminatory legislation that prohibits transgender students from participating in school sports as violative of their rights under Title IX.

Transgender youth experience disproportionately higher instances of bullying, harassment, isolation, family rejection and suicide, and exclusion from the benefits of athletic participation should not be yet another risk they face. H.R. 734 is inconsistent with NAPABA’s values of equality, community, advocacy, relationships, diversity, equity, inclusion, open-mindedness, and the health and wellbeing of our members and the Asian American and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities, and the organization’s commitment to all underserved and underrepresented communities.

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The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), represents the interests of over 60,000 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 APA 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.