PRESS RELEASE: ASIAN AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION OF NEW YORK TO EXPAND FREE LEGAL CLINIC TO QUEENS IN PARTNERSHIP WITH NEW YORK STATE COMMITTEEWOMAN SANDRA UNG

NEW YORK – March 5, 2020 – On the heels of its success in Manhattan and Brooklyn, the Asian American Bar Association of New York (“AABANY”) is getting ready to expand its Pro Bono Legal Clinic to Queens. 

According to the 2010 Census, of the over one million people identified as Asian American in New York City, nearly half live in Queens.  Located in the heart of Flushing, the Queens Clinic will be available every third week of the month with a specific focus each month on housing, immigration, elder law, or family and matrimonial law. Interpreters in Chinese (including Mandarin, Cantonese, Taiwanese), Korean, Japanese, and other languages will be available during the one-on-one consultation with a volunteer attorney. Karen Lin will be volunteering her time to serve as Coordinator of the Queens Clinic.

The Clinic will be held in collaboration with New York State Committeewoman Sandra Ung, a longtime resident of Queens and leading community advocate. Ms. Ung stated: “Having a free legal clinic in Queens, where there will be translators, gives an opportunity for those who simply do not know where to turn when encountering a legal problem, a place where their concerns can be heard.   This Pro Bono Legal Clinic in Queens is the first step in helping our community better understand their legal rights. Thank you to AABANY for this partnership and making this clinic available to our Flushing community.” 

“As members of the legal profession, our members have achieved their career goals through the struggles of their immigrant parents and grandparents,” states AABANY President Brian Song. “Now it’s time to give back. Many people in our neighborhoods do not have access to reliable information and assistance about legal processes and available legal resources. We can provide assistance in a culturally and linguistically appropriate manner, so that the community understands their rights and remedies. Thank you to our committed volunteers.” 

AABANY’s Pro Bono Legal Clinic opened in 2015 to serve members of the Asian Pacific American community who have limited English proficiency (“LEP”) so that they can have meaningful access to justice. Mobilizing the skills and experience of AABANY’s diverse membership, the Pro Bono and Community Service Committee has spearheaded the Clinic’s effort in helping nearly 2,000 LEP individuals in the vast yet underserved Asian American community in New York through its Clinics in Manhattan’s Chinatown and Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge neighborhoods.   The Manhattan Clinic takes place on the second Wednesday of each month at the Community Room, 33 Bowery Street. The Brooklyn Clinic takes place on the fourth Thursday of every other month at A+ Academy, 6802 8th Avenue. (If a community member is interested in attending these Clinics, please contact judy.lee@aabany.org to double-check their dates and for any additional updates.)

The New York State Bar Association recently awarded the Pro Bono Legal Clinic with its prestigious New York State Bar Association Bar Leaders Innovation Award, in recognition of the impactful work done to provide legal assistance, community education programs, and outreach. AABANY’s theme for its upcoming fiscal year, “Stronger Together: Unity in Diversity,” is especially fitting as the Pro Bono Clinic expands to Queens, the most ethnically and diverse county in the United States, with 138 languages spoken throughout the borough.

The first Queens Clinic will be held on March 17 at the office of the New York State Committeewoman located at 135-15 40th Road, Flushing, New York 11354, on the topic of Housing Law. Subsequent Clinics will be held on the third Tuesday of each month, and the subsequent clinics already scheduled are on April 15 (Immigration Law); May 20 (Elder Law and Public Benefits); and June 17, 2020 (Family, Matrimonial, and Education Law). Community members seeking legal assistance must call to make an appointment at (347) 391-6463 (English and Chinese speakers), (516) 690-7724 (Korean language speakers), or (845) 450-0726 (Japanese language speakers). Appointments will be made based on availability.  Please note that walk-ins will not be permitted at the Queens Clinic.

For more information, please contact Yang Chen, AABANY Executive Director, at (646) 653-2168, or direct any inquiries to main@aabany.org.

The Asian American Bar Association of New York is a professional membership organization of attorneys concerned with issues affecting the Asian Pacific American community. Incorporated in 1989, AABANY seeks not only to encourage the professional growth of its members but also to advocate for the Asian Pacific American community as a whole. AABANY is a New York regional affiliate of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA).

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ASSEMBLYMAN RON KIM CALLS FOR UNITY BETWEEN BLACK AND ASIAN COMMUNITIES

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MEDIA CONTACT:
Tony Cao, Office of Assemblyman Ron Kim
618-559-9672 | tony@ronkim.com

Flushing, New York –
On Monday, March 28, 2016, Assemblyman Ron Kim joined community leaders
at the NYC Bar Association to participate at a forum to bring the Asian
and Black communities together. Instead of just watching the recent
Peter Liang case pit communities of color against each other,
Assemblyman Ron Kim helped organize Monday’s forum to steer the Black
and Asian communities toward collaboration based on shared values.

Here is Assemblyman Ron Kim’s full speech:

“My
job as a public servant allows me to interact with hundreds of
constituents, sometimes thousands every week. The district I represent
is predominantly Asian, and as a result I have a deep understanding of
the hardships and obstacles that many Asian Americans face, whether they
are recent immigrants or natural born citizens.

I’m
participating today at this forum because I want to dispel a couple of
Asian stereotypes that are a result of racism, but more importantly,
further compound and promulgate institutional racism in the form of
applying double standards to, and scapegoating of Asian Americans by our
government and judicial systems.

First,
there is no such thing as ‘Asian privilege’ in this country. Asians do
not have it easier than other minority groups. We are denied access to
opportunities, face obstacles for upward mobility, encounter blatant and
covert prejudices, and often times denied justice due to the color of
our skin, same as every other man and women of color in this country.

Second,
Asian Americans are not foreigners. We are as American as every group
of immigrants who have settled on this land seeking life, liberty and
the pursuit of happiness. But often we are overlooked in the context of
American diversity. Despite how hard we pledge our allegiance to our
country, we continue to be asked, ‘where are you really from?’

As
a legislator, I’ve seen the detrimental impact of these stereotypes on
policies even today, in the 21st century, 135 years after the Chinese
Exclusion Act, and 74 years after the internment of Japanese Americans
in 1942.

Almost every day I experience
explicit racism and microagression. From comments like, ‘Go back to your
country, you c—k’ to ‘Hey, you look like my dry cleaner’, I deal with
it all. If an elected member of the state legislature who grew up in New
York can be treated as a foreigner and be subjected to racial taunting,
imagine what a recent Asian American immigrant, with language barriers,
goes through.

It is critically
important that we dispel the stereotype that Asians have an advantage
over other minorities in this country and that Asians are foreign. When
our fellow citizens have these perceptions of us, they tend to look away
and not see injustice to Asian Americans as an injustice to all
Americans.

Many have looked away when
powerful politicians, like the Governor of New York, decided to pick on
Asian small business owners and make examples out of them for quick
political points. When Governor Cuomo wanted to prove that he can go
after bad business owners, which group did he pick on? Asians.

Under
the guise of protecting workers, the Governor ordered his agencies to
target predominantly Asian American-owned nail salons even when
absolutely no data exists to suggest these businesses commit a higher
level of wage theft or worker mistreatment compared to other segments of
the beauty enhancement industry, or for that matter, any other
industry.

In response to my criticism of
such targeted and selective enforcement of the law, internally, the
Governor’s office said they had to start somewhere. And somehow, that
response was acceptable, even to some advocates of immigrant rights. But
this is the same response that past Governors and Mayors have given to
the black and hispanic communities when defending the Rockefeller Drug
Laws and Stop & Frisk policies: ‘You have to start somewhere…’ The
blatant discrimination obviously lies in ‘where.’

Just
last week, Governor Cuomo announced a Diversity and Inclusion Advisory
Council to promote the hiring of more minorities in this state. Even
though Asian Americans are the least represented in the state workforce
and obviously in the state legislature, he didn’t appoint one Asian to
this council.

The targeting of Asian
small businesses and exclusion of Asians on a diversity panel are just
two of many examples where our government validates society’s prevailing
sentiments that Asians are somehow more privileged than other
minorities, and that we are perhaps less deserving of protection because
after all, ‘we’re not really Americans’.

When
New York State’s top politician validates these stereotypes through his
actions and policies, it results in more racism, microagressions, and
even hate toward Asian Americans:

A
local member of the City Council recently questioned why Asian Americans
are applying for NYCHA housing at a public oversight hearing. That City
Councilmember either couldn’t fathom why Asians could live below
poverty or why foreigners could qualify for government assisted housing.

Asian
cab drivers and food delivery workers are frequently abused verbally
and violently. Asians tend to under report crimes, some have language
barriers, and many are reluctant to believe that the justice system
works for them. As a result, they are perceived to be easy targets. Yet
crimes of opportunity against Asians are not considered hate crimes.

Now,
today’s forum is about the Peter Liang case and there are many in the
audience who may be wondering, ‘How is all this related to Liang?’

Every
Asian who participated in demonstrations across the country to support
Peter Liang, signed a petition, or shared an article or a sentiment on
social media understands the Peter Liang case is not just about Peter
Liang. It’s about the prevalent mistreatment of Asian Americans that
stem from the dangerous stereotypes held by our fellow citizens, and
promulgated by the highest levels of this city’s, state’s and nation’s
governing bodies.

They are not asking
for Asian privilege. They are not asking for white privilege. They are
standing up to finally say, ‘We are not going to take it anymore. We are
Americans. We refuse to remain silent, we refused to be scapegoated, we
refused to be subjected to double standards.’

The
sentencing and guilty conviction of Peter Liang symbolizes the ultimate
double standard against Asian Americans. To us, this was about the
system making an example out of an Asian for the system’s injustices
against young blacks and hispanics in this country. This was about the
system pitting communities of color against each other instead of making
sure justice is equally served for all communities.

I
believe there are two main challenges for the Black and Asian
communities to overcome in order to unite in the fight against unjust
double standards that all minority communities bear the crushing burden
of.

First, I believe the African
American community must let go of any notion that Asians have it easy
and that they are foreigners in this country.

Second,
Asians must overcome our own mindset that sometimes contributes to the
model minority myth. Instead of striving to gain better access or what
society often refers to as ‘white privilege’, we must work toward ways
to rewrite the rules to ensure fairness and equal opportunity for all.
That means getting more involved with local community work and politics.
That means empathizing with other minority communities and forging
long-term partnerships based on shared values.

There
are number of issues we can identity that both communities must work
together to overcome: Better public schools, more affordable housing,
long-term transportation investment for the outer-boroughs, more funding
for senior centers, etc.

However, the
first step, I believe, is to have open and honest conversations at
forums like this to dispel theses stereotypes or misperceptions that
lead to more hatred than collaborations.

I
thank the main organizers, 100 Black Men Inc and Asian American
Business Development Center, for bringing us all together. I also want
to thank the NYC Bar Association for hosting this historic event to
promote our shared values.”