In the News: Judge Pamela K. Chen Rules New York Ban on Nunchucks Unconstitutional

On December 14, 2018, AABANY member Judge Pamela K. Chen, of the U.S District Court for the Eastern District of New York, made news with her decision in Maloney v. Singas. Judge Chen held that a 44 year old New York state law banning nunchucks is unconstitutional. In her ruling, Judge Chen stated that the ban violated both the Second Amendment and State Constitutional right to bear arms.

Judge Chen noted, “The centuries-old history of nunchaku being used as defensive weapons strongly suggests their possession, like the possession of firearms, is at the core of the Second Amendment.”

To read the full New York Times article, go here:

To read the full decision, go here:

NAPABA Files Amicus Brief Supporting the First Legal Challenge to President’s Revised Muslim and Refugee Ban

For Immediate Release

March 13, 2017

For More Information, Contact: 

Brett Schuster, Communications Manager

[email protected], 202-775-9555

WASHINGTON — The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) filed an amicus brief in State of Hawaii v. Trump to support Hawaii’s challenge to President Trump’s March 6, 2017, revised executive order barring individuals from six Muslim-majority countries and refugees from entering the United States.

Filing just before midnight on March 7, Hawaii became the first state to challenge the revised order and the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii agreed to hear the case on an expedited schedule. Judge Derrick K. Watson will hear oral argument on the State’s motion for a temporary restraining order on March 15, the day before the revised order is to take effect.

“I look no further than NAPABA’s mission to underscore the imperative for NAPABA to file its own amicus brief on this very issue. The new executive order is no less invidious than its predecessor,” said NAPABA President Cyndie M. Chang. “Asian Pacific American communities historically have been excluded and restricted in immigration and naturalization policies and have experienced the tragedy of forced incarceration during WWII. We understand first-hand the harms that this kind of discrimination will inflict upon Muslim and refugee communities. We will not forget this particular anti-immigrant history, and we are compelled to share our historically-based legal perspectives with the Court.”

NAPABA’s amicus brief describes decades of statutory exclusion of citizens of Asian and Pacific Island countries under early U.S. immigration law, including the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 — the first federal law to ban a group of people on the basis of their race. The Civil Rights Era marked a dramatic turning point that saw Congress dismantle nationality-based discrimination with the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. The brief explains that presidential discretion in the area of immigration and refugee admission, while broad, is limited by statute. NAPABA argues that President Trump’s revised order, motivated by anti-Muslim purpose, violates the unambiguous prohibition on discrimination established by Congress.

“I thank the many members of the NAPABA legal community who supported NAPABA’s drafting and filing of this expedited brief,” continued Chang. “Particular thanks goes to our pro bono counsel at McDermott Will & Emery LLP and pro bono local counsel at Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing for their leadership on this important brief.“

NAPABA recognizes lead counsel, James W. Kim, a NAPABA member and partner at McDermott Will & Emery LLP, in Washington, D.C., Mr. Kim’s team (Mark Calaguas, David Gacioch, Andrew Genz, Matthew Girgenti, Emre Ilter, Neha Khandhadia, Philip Levine, Riley Orloff, Sara Raaii, Joshua Rogaczewski, Amandeep Sidhu, and Michael Stanek), and NAPABA Amicus Committee chair, Professor Radha Pathak of Whittier Law School, for their leadership drafting the brief, which also involved the efforts of NAPABA staffers. NAPABA is represented by local counsel Pamela W. Bunn and John Rhee, with the support of William Kaneko, of Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Read the amicus brief here.

Read the March 6, 2017, statement of NAPABA and the South Asian Bar Association – North America, joined by 14 affiliates, against the revised executive order.

For more information, the media may contact Brett Schuster, NAPABA communications manager, at202-775-9555 or [email protected].

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 almost 50,000 attorneys and approximately 75 national, state, and local Asian Pacific American bar associations. Its members include solo practitioners, large firm lawyers, corporate counsel, legal services 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 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 color in the legal profession.

To learn more about NAPABA, visit, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter (@NAPABA).

NAPABA and SABA Condemn the President’s Second Attempt to Exclude Refugees and Implement a Muslim Ban

WASHINGTON — The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) and the South Asian Bar Association of North America (SABA) condemn President Trump’s new executive order that includes many of the discriminatory provisions of his earlier order, which also sought to stop refugees from entering the United States and halt immigration from several Muslim-majority countries. These orders, which are based on the misguided idea that certain religious and ethnic populations are more prone to violence, are incompatible with American values, and will not make our communities safer or our nation stronger. Notably, the order, continues to 1) suspend refugee admission for 120 days, 2) reduce and limit the number of refugee admissions, and 3) targets individuals from six Muslim-majority countries, suspending entry of individuals for 90 days, with some exceptions.

“The executive order is a continuation of the same policy that discriminates against and devalues refugees and members of the Muslim community,” said NAPABA President Cyndie Chang. “We must refuse to act out of fear and intolerance. We must not return to the dark chapters of our history where we judged people by the color of their skin, how they prayed, or where their family came from. We must stand up for our values of equity, justice, and opportunity.”

“The President’s Executive Action does nothing more than advance an anti-Muslim agenda espoused during the campaign under the guise of National Security,” said SABA President Vichal Kumar. “A refugee, by definition, is a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster. The supposed justification for this Executive Action punishes this person for the very same war and persecution that is causing them to leave in the first place.”

The new executive order clarifies it is not applicable to certain individuals, such as valid visa holders whose documents were issued on or before Jan. 27, 2017, lawful permanent residents, and dual-national passport holders. The order will take effect on March 16, 2017.

The executive order continues to require regular reports be published on suspected criminal activity committed by foreign nationals and refugees. When combined with reporting requirements under other immigration related executive orders, these reports will generate greater mistrust and fear of immigrant communities.

Both NAPABA and SABA joined litigation against the executive order enacted on Jan. 27, 2017. Our members have been at the airports assisting families, in the field educating communities about their rights, and in the courts supporting local and national pro bono efforts. Read our original statement here.

NAPABA and SABA join our fellow attorneys, the Asian Pacific American community, and Americans of all backgrounds in reiterating our commitment to diversity and justice. We remain committed to ensuring that all are free from discrimination and racial and religious profiling.

For more information, contact:

NAPABA is the national association of Asian Pacific American attorneys, judges, law professors, and law students. NAPABA represents the interests of over 50,000 attorneys and over 75 national, state, and local bar associations. Its members include solo practitioners, large firm lawyers, corporate counsel, legal services and non-profit attorneys, and lawyers serving at all levels of government. NAPABA engages in legislative and policy advocacy, promotes APA political leadership and political appointments, and builds coalitions within the legal profession and the community at large. NAPABA also serves as a resource for government agencies, members of Congress, and public service organizations about APAs in the legal profession, civil rights, and diversity in the courts.

SABA North America (formerly NASABA/North American South Asian Bar Association) is a voluntary bar organization and serves as an umbrella organization to 26 chapters in the United States and Canada. SABA North America is a recognized forum for professional growth and advancement for South Asian attorneys in North America and seeks to protect the rights and liberties of the South Asian community across the continent. Learn more at