News

<< First  < Prev   1   2   Next >  Last >> 
  • 20 Feb 2017 3:28 PM | APABA-DC (Administrator)

    For Immediate Release

    The Asian Pacific American Bar Association of the Greater Washington, DC Area (APABA-DC) is deeply troubled by President Donald Trump’s January 27, 2017 executive order (13769) regarding immigration, which arbitrarily blocked nationals from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States, indefinitely halted the admission of Syrian refugees, temporarily barred the admission of refugees from all countries, and prioritized non-Muslim refugees.  

    As a non-partisan organization representing the interests of Asian Pacific American attorneys in the Washington, DC area, we represent a diversity of backgrounds and religious faiths, including individuals and families who have come to this country as refugees and immigrants.  Our communities have historically viewed the United States as enabling the pursuit of a better life and as a beacon of hope for those fleeing humanitarian crises.  Immigrants make enormous contributions to our country and add to the richness of our culture.  

    Experience from our communities has taught us that blanket discriminatory policies do not achieve the goals of national security and public safety.  We have firsthand experience with the harmful legacy of exclusionary immigration laws and national security programs that targeted our communities on the basis of ethnicity, country of origin, and religion.  The series of laws excluding persons of Chinese descent from immigration and naturalization between 1875 and 1943, the Immigration Acts of 1917 and 1924 prohibiting the admission of individuals from Asia, and the forced incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, all expressly discriminated against communities we represent.  Today, these laws and programs are considered shameful mistakes.  

    Refugees, who are persons fleeing their home countries due to persecution on the basis of race, religion, nationality, or other factors,[1] already face a rigorous vetting process that can take up to two years and includes multiple layers of background checks, fingerprint screenings, and interviews with the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security.[2]  Despite this vetting, President Trump’s executive order targets refugees on the basis that they pose a serious risk to the safety and security of the United States.  Further, the executive order singles out nationals—immigrants, non-immigrant visaholders, and legal permanent residents alike—of the predominantly Muslim countries of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, citing the same rationale.  However, the Administration has provided no evidence about the risks posed by these individuals.[3]      

    This lack of evidence makes the immigration ban a direct parallel to the unjustified incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.  That event, too, was based on an executive order, signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1942.  When Fred Korematsu, a Japanese American who had been convicted of violating the order, challenged the order in the Supreme Court, the Court upheld the order on the basis that military authorities had determined that internment was necessary to prevent “the gravest imminent danger to the public safety,” including espionage and sabotage.[4]  It was not until four decades later that Korematsu’s conviction was nullified because evidence had surfaced showing that the government’s true justification for internment was racial prejudice and fear rather than evidence of disloyalty by Japanese Americans.[5]

    Based on the experience of our communities, APABA-DC is deeply wary of immigration policies that discriminate on the basis of national origin, ethnicity, or religion, and policies predicated on prejudice and fear.  By embodying these policies, President Trump’s executive order risks intensifying intolerance against communities integral to our identity as a diverse American nation.   

    For these reasons, APABA-DC joins the chorus of institutions[6] and elected officials from both parties[7] who have expressed concern about the executive order.  APABA-DC commends the attorneys who provided pro bono aid to travelers at Dulles International Airport, and is deeply troubled by reports that detained travelers were not allowed to meet with counsel, in violation of a court order permitting such access.  APABA-DC stands ready to serve as a resource and facilitator of pro bono efforts through its programming and membership.  APABA-DC reaffirms its solidarity with communities in the greater Washington, DC area who oppose anti-Muslim xenophobia and celebrate a diverse America.[8]   


    The views expressed in this statement do not necessarily reflect the views of each member or officer of APABA-DC, its Advisory Board, or the general membership.

    [1] Immigration and Nationality Act §101(a)(42).

    [2] Refugees Entering the U.S. Already Face a Rigorous Vetting Process, New York Times (Jan. 29, 2017).

    [3] State of Washington v. Trump, No. 17-35105, slip. op. at 26-27 (9th Cir. Feb. 9, 2017) (per curiam).

    [4] Korematsu v. United States, 323 U.S. 214, 218 (1944).

    [5] See Korematsu v. United States, 584 F. Supp. 1406, 1420 (N.D. Cal. 1984) (vacating Korematsu’s conviction due to “substantial support in the record that the government deliberately omitted relevant information and provided misleading information in papers before the [Supreme] Court. The information was critical to the Court's determination” of military necessity).

    [6] See, e.g., American Bar Association, Resolution 10C (Feb. 6, 2017); Letter from Sally Yates, Acting Attorney General, Department of Justice (Jan. 30, 2017).  Several federal courts, including the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the Central District of California, the Eastern District of New York, the Eastern District of Virginia, and the Western District of Washington have blocked part or all of the order.

    [7] As of January 30, 2017, 24 Republican Members of Congress publicly opposed the executive order, 38 more expressed reservations, and most Democrats have criticized it.

    [8] APABA-DC, Organizational Statement Against Anti-Muslim Hate, Bigotry, and Xenophobia (Feb. 2, 2016).


  • 2 Feb 2016 3:45 PM | APABA-DC (Administrator)


    WHEREAS, the Asian American population has resided in the Chinatown neighborhood in the District of Columbia (between G Street NW and Massachusetts Avenue NW, and between 9th Street NW and 5th Street NW) since the 1930s; and

    WHEREAS, the District of Columbia’s immigrant residents who identify as Asian American are predominately Limited English Proficient/No English Proficient (LEP/NEP) and classified as low-income; and

    WHEREAS, the District of Columbia Language Access Act of 2004 requires that District agencies issue translated notices in Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and any other Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) languages likely to be spoken by at least 3 percent of the LEP/NEP population in the District, and provide interpreters and/or bilingual individuals in any language spoken by building residents; and

    WHEREAS, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires that any landlord who receives funds from Housing and Urban Development provide language services to serve their residents in accordance with the law; and

    WHEREAS, low-income Asian American families who contribute to the cultural diversity of the District as a whole have been, and continue to be, displaced involuntarily from their homes in Chinatown.  In 2008, for example, the Temple Courts low-income housing complex at 33 K Street NW was demolished to make way for mixed-income housing, even though Federal guidelines mandate affordable housing at that address.  Moreover, low-income Asian American families who currently reside in affordable housing properties in the District of Columbia, including, for example, Museum Square Apartments located at 401 K Street NW and Wah Luck House located at 800 6th Street NW, continue to face (or may face in the future) challenges from building owners and developers who seek to displace them from their homes. 

    WHEREAS, residents of affordable housing properties in the District of Columbia have a lawful right under the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) to purchase the building in which they reside at a price and terms that represent a bona fide offer of sale;  

    THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT:

    1.            The Asian/Pacific American Bar Association of the Greater Washington, DC Area (APABA-DC) supports measures to protect against the displacement of low-income Asian American and other minority tenants from affordable housing units in the District of Columbia. 

    2.            APABA-DC supports the “TOPA Bona Fide Offer of Sale Clarification Amendment Act of 2015,” which was enacted, in part, to protect low-income tenants and provide further clarity to the TOPA.  Among the protections this legislation offers, the TOPA Bona Fide Offer of Sale Clarification Amendment Act of 2015 would allow tenants seeking to purchase a property that would otherwise be demolished or converted to non-residential use to request that an independent appraisal be conducted to determine the market price of the property; and

    3.            APABA-DC supports the use of the District Opportunity to Purchase Act to preserve adequate affordable housing in the District of Columbia by allowing the District to purchase buildings to preserve affordable housing under certain circumstances; and

    4.            APABA-DC supports legislation to trigger TOPA when a building’s Section 8 contract expires; and

    5.            APABA-DC supports the District of Columbia’s efforts to preserve Chinatown by, for example, implementing measures to ensure that AAPI families (including low-income minority residents) can continue to reside in Chinatown and receive subsidies toward leasing costs; and

    6.            APABA-DC supports appropriate actions, including penalties, against any person or entity who unlawfully intimidates, displaces or attempts to displace tenants residing in affordable housing in the District of Columbia;

    7.            APABA-DC supports organizations that provide assistance to low-income residents of the District of Columbia, including, for example, the Housing Production Trust Fund, which allows District of Columbia residents who choose to exercise their rights under TOPA to have access to resources to subsidize the final cost of the building they intend to purchase) and ; and

    8.            APABA-DC supports tenant assistance groups and organizations, including, for example, Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center, Housing Counseling Services, and Latino Economic Development Center, and the Housing Production Trust Fund (which allows District of Columbia residents who choose to exercise their rights under TOPA to have access to resources to subsidize the final cost of the building they intend to purchase); and

    9.            APABA-DC supports the enforcement of the District of Columbia Language Access Act of 2004 requiring that specified agencies issue translated notices in Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and any other languages likely to be spoken in the Chinatown neighborhood, and provide interpreters and/or bilingual individuals to interact with building residents; the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requiring landlords that receive funds from Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to issue translated form letters to tenants informing them of their rights; fines and issuance of Correction Actions in the instance that these laws are not followed by building owners in the District that receive District or Federal funding; and residents’ legal right to organize and receive accurate information, including voucher forms, in their preferred language. 

    THERFORE BE IT RESOLVED that APABA-DC supports this resolution as a policy priority until it is withdrawn or modified by subsequent resolution.

    # # # # #

               D.C. Code § 42-3404.01 et seq.


  • 2 Feb 2016 3:29 PM | APABA-DC (Administrator)

    For Immediate Release

    The Asian Pacific American Bar Association of the Greater Washington, D.C. Area, Inc. (APABA-DC) stands with its members and in solidarity with all Arab, Muslim, Sikh, and South Asian American communities in the greater Washington, D.C. area to oppose anti-Muslim hate, bigotry, and xenophobia. 

    In recent months, hate crimes committed against Muslim Americans and those perceived to be Muslim have increased at an alarming rate.  Recently, the New York Times reported that there have been nearly 50 documented attacks against Muslims and Muslim houses of worship since the attacks in Paris. 

    Moreover, xenophobic and divisive rhetoric from political candidates, elected officials, and other public figures have promoted an environment of fear, suspicion, and hatred of Arab, Muslim, Sikh, and South Asian American communities in the greater Washington, D.C. area and throughout the country.  This fear and suspicion has led to unfounded and unfair targeting of Muslims and individuals perceived to be Muslim simply for, by way of example, speaking Arabic at an airport, wearing a turban to a football game, or merely having black or brown skin.    

    In light of recent terror attacks throughout the world, we call on our communities to guard against violence or prejudice directed at the Arab, Muslim, Sikh, and South Asian Americans.  We must refuse to be guided by stereotypes, fear, and mistrust. We must stand up against anti-Muslim hate, bigotry, and xenophobia and help make the greater Washington, D.C. area a better and safer place for everyone. 

    _____

               1          See nyti.ms/1m5gcz1.


  • 20 Nov 2014 3:30 PM | APABA-DC (Administrator)

    For Immediate Release

    On December 16, 2014, the United States Senate confirmed Amit Mehta to be the first judge of Asian descent to serve on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.  President Obama nominated Amit for this position on July 31, 2014, and the Senate Judiciary Committee approved his nomination on November 20, 2014.  APABA-DC proudly endorsed Amit and pledged its full support to him through the confirmation process. 

    APABA-DC applauds the historic confirmation of Amit Mehta and we look forward to his ascension to the federal bench.  His impeccable credentials, strong ties to the District of Columbia, commitment to public service, and substantial expertise made him an ideal candidate to support and an exciting addition to the bench,” said Smeeta Ramarathnam, president of APABA-DC.

    Amit is currently a partner at Zuckerman Spaeder LLP and was previously an attorney at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia.  Amit graduated from Georgetown University and the University of Virginia School of Law.  Following law school, he clerked for the Honorable Susan Graber of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  APABA-DC commends President Obama for nominating Amit to the bench and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton of the District of Columbia for her support of Amit’s nomination."


<< First  < Prev   1   2   Next >  Last >> 
APABA-DC is an affiliate of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association

APABA-DC

P.O. Box 27223

Washington, DC 20038

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software