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.
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.
WASHINGTON – Last week, NAPABA submitted written testimony for inclusion in the record before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR) in response to its briefing and inquiry on the Federal Government’s Response to Anti-Asian Racism in the United States. As a bar association, NAPABA recognizes that serving the immediate legal needs of hate crimes and hate incident victims addresses only one critical aspect of the problem and that our community cannot prosecute or litigate our way out of this latest wave of anti-Asian hate.
NAPABA’s testimony advocates for a multi-modal response, and has called for legislation to: 1) strengthen law enforcement’s ability to identify, document, and respond to hate crimes, including by fully implementing provisions of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act; 2) address the mental health crisis that has accompanied the surge in anti-Asian hate with culturally and linguistically appropriate resources; and 3) increase educational resources to combat harmful stereotypes in order to address root causes of anti-Asian sentiment.
Over three decades ago, in a report entitled, “Civil Rights Issues Facing Asian Americans in the 1990s,” the USCCR identified a range of contributory factors underlying anti-Asian bias, including: 1) the model minority myth that Asian Americans are successful and do not suffer the discrimination or disadvantages associated with other minority groups; 2) perpetual foreigner syndrome where Asian Americans—even those born and raised in the United States are viewed as non-Americans and foreign; 3) stereotyping Asian Americans as meek and lacking in communications skills; and 4) limited English proficiency (LEP) within the Asian American population. More than 30 years later, these factors continue to persist and several have been cited by NAPABA in its groundbreaking Portrait Project reports as leading barriers to advancement by APA attorneys in the legal profession.
Given how little has changed just in the past 30 years, it is clear that for generations of AAPIs, these barriers are engrained and systemic and only a holistic, multi-pronged approach that includes raising visibility and belonging through education, providing culturally appropriate mental health resources, and increasing language access, in addition to supporting law enforcement, can address anti-Asian sentiment.