Press Releases

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  • 19 Sep 2017 3:14 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    September 19, 2017

    The Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA) joined its affiliated national bar, the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), and 61 national and local Asian Pacific American bar associations in filing an amicus brief in the consolidated cases, Trump v. State of Hawai`i and Trump v. International Refugee Assistance Project, before the U.S. Supreme Court. Together these Asian Pacific American bar associations urged the Court to support the injunction of President Trump’s March 6, 2017, revised executive order barring refugees and individuals from six Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.

    “The significant number of national, local, and state Asian Pacific American bar associations from around the country that joined our brief is a testament to the consensus in the legal community that the order is discriminatory and unlawful. The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association stands by its mission and policy resolutions and is proud to have challenged the revised executive order from the initial lawsuit brought in Hawai`i all the way to the Supreme Court,” said NAPABA President Cyndie M. Chang. “We are a diverse legal community that values inclusion. As a community, we have experienced the harms of exclusionary laws and we will continue to oppose this anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant order. We urge the Supreme Court to strike it down.”

    “AABA stands as one with NAPABA and its fellow APA Bar Associations in this amicus brief in the Supreme Court,” said AABA President Miriam Kim.  “The executive order, with its renewed ban on refugees and individuals from six Muslim-majority countries, bears a painful resemblance to historical bans on Asian immigration. We will continue to work to do everything we can to ensure that the order is permanently struck down. We stand with the immigrants, refugees, and families impacted by the order.”  

    The Trump Administration’s appeal arises from two challenges to the revised executive order. Both the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in a per curiam ruling, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in a 10-3 en banc ruling, maintained respective lower courts’ blocks on the revised executive order. NAPABA filed amicus briefs, endorsed by 43 Asian Pacific American bar associations, including AABA, in both circuits urging them to uphold the lower court injunctions.

    The Supreme Court 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 and AABA argue that President Trump’s revised order, with its anti-Muslim underpinnings, violates the unambiguous prohibition on discrimination established by Congress.

    The Supreme Court will hear the case on October 10, 2017, in Washington D.C.

    Read the amicus brief here.

  • 19 Sep 2017 10:25 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    September 19, 2017

    San Francisco — The Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA) congratulates Bay Area attorneys Suhi Koizumi, Rita Lin, David Mesa, Vilaska Nguyen, Vineet Shahani, and Christine Start on being selected for the 2017 Best Lawyers Under 40 (BU40) Award by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA).  The BU40 Award recognizes talented individuals in the Asian Pacific American legal community who are under the age of 40 and who have achieved prominence and distinction in their respective fields, while demonstrating a strong commitment to the Asian Pacific American community at relatively early stages in their careers.  The BU40 Award will be presented on November 2, 2017, at the NAPABA Convention in Washington D.C.

    "This year's BU40 class represents the best and brightest in our community," said Miriam Kim, President of AABA. "The six Bay Area honorees include a federal prosecutor, two deputy public defenders, an in-house lawyer, and small firm and big firm lawyers. In addition to excelling in their respective areas of law, Suhi, Rita, David, Vilaska, Vineet, and Christine have worked tirelessly to support the Asian Pacific American community."

    Only 18 attorneys across the country were recognized with the BU40 Award this year.  Below is the full list of recipients of the 2017 BU40 Award: 

    • Reena R. Bajowala | Jenner & Block LLP
    • Kelly Chen | Munck Wilson Mandala LLP
    • Betty Chen | Fish & Richadson PC
    • Jung Choi | Bristol-Myers Squibb Company
    • Nicole Ong Colyer | Arizona Department of Administration
    • Dale Ho | American Civil Liberties Union
    • Dong Joo Lee | United States Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corp
    • Sylvia Kim | Asian Americans Advancing Justice — Orange County
    • Suhi Koizumi | Minami Tamaki LLP
    • John Solano Laney | Stoel Rives LLP
    • Rita Lin | U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of California
    • David Mesa | Sedgwick LLP
    • Vilaska Nguyen | Office of the San Francisco Public Defender
    • Vineet Shahani | Nest Labs Inc.
    • Amandeep S. Sidhu | McDermott Will & Emery LLP
    • Christine Mari Palma Start | Solano County (CA) Alternate Public Defender’s Office
    • Jennifer H. Wu | Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP
    • Tony Yu | DSG Wealth & Trust Law

    Please join us once again in congratulating Suhi Koizumi, Rita Lin, David Mesa, Vilaska Nguyen, Vineet Shahani, and Christine  on receiving NAPABA’s BU40 Award.  AABA looks forward to their future successes.  

  • 11 Sep 2017 9:07 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    September 11, 2017

    The Asian American Bar Association (AABA) denounces the Trump Administration’s decision to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in March 2018 unless Congress passes legislation to extend or replace the program. DACA provided temporary relief from deportation and issued work permits for hundreds of thousands of undocumented youth. Approximately 800,000 “Dreamers,” including over 30,000 Asian Pacific Americans, benefitted from the program. As of September 5, 2017, no new DACA applications will be processed.  Those who currently have DACA can reapply for a renewal by October 5, 2017, after which no renewals will be processed. AABA joins the American individuals and entities calling upon Congress to continue DACA as long as necessary to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

    Although Attorney General Jeff Sessions cited the threat of litigation questioning the legality of DACA as a basis for ending the program, over 100 immigration law professors and scholars signed an extensive letter finding that, based on the U.S. Constitution, immigration law and statutes, and case law, the executive branch has the authority to implement DACA and “DACA 2012 is a lawful exercise of prosecutorial discretion.”

    Ending this program will have negative effects that will be felt by all Americans. In a letter to the president, more than 400 U.S. business leaders reaffirmed the vital role Dreamers play in the economy. The CATO Institute estimates that this decision will cost $280 billion in economic growth over the next 10 years. Notably, ending DACA will impact undocumented law students and pre-law students who could have meaningfully contributed to the legal profession, but will now live in fear of deportation and be unable to work lawfully.

    AABA joins their fellow national and local bar associations, including the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, the American Bar Association, and numerous other minority bar associations, in denouncing this repeal of DACA. We stand with the immigrant families and young people whose lives have been thrown into chaos and uncertainty after this decision.

    About AABA

    The Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA) is one of the largest local Asian American bar associations in the country. Its members include lawyers, judges, law students, and community leaders representing the entire spectrum of political, social, and legal concerns in the San Francisco Bay Area. Since its founding in 1976, AABA has had a long history of active involvement in civil rights issues and community service, and is dedicated to empowering and promoting Asian Pacific Americans to advance to the highest leadership positions in the legal profession. 

    To learn more about AABA, visit www.aaba-bay.com or like us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.


  • 06 Sep 2017 12:47 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    September 6, 2017 

    The Asian American Bar Association (AABA) is dismayed by President Trump’s pardon of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.  In July, Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt by Judge Susan Bolton of the U.S. District Court of Arizona, which ruled that Arpaio “demonstrated a persistent disregard for the orders of the Court, as well as an intention to violate and manipulate the laws and policies regulating their conduct . . . .”  In violation of a December 2011 federal court order, Arpaio continued to engage in illegal racial profiling and targeting of immigrants.  The criminal contempt charges arose from a civil rights lawsuit, Ortega Melendres, et al. v. Arpaio, et al., filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.

    AABA believes that President Trump’s pardon improperly absolves Arpaio of his disrespect for the rule of law and his pattern and practice of targeting vulnerable communities of color, in particular immigrant families and children. “While we respect the President’s power to issue certain pardons, we are shocked by the expedited pardon of a law enforcement officer who has blatantly violated a federal court order by continuing to engage in racially discriminatory actions,” said AABA President Miriam Kim. “This action sets a dangerous precedent and weakens the public’s trust in the authority of the judiciary.”

    AABA joins its fellow national and local bar associations, including the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association and the American Bar Association, in expressing disapproval of the pardon. AABA and its members continue to stand up for justice, equity, and inclusion.

    About AABA

    The Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA) is one of the largest local Asian American bar associations in the country. Its members include lawyers, judges, law students, and community leaders representing the entire spectrum of political, social, and legal concerns in the San Francisco Bay Area. Since its founding in 1976, AABA has had a long history of active involvement in civil rights issues and community service, and is dedicated to empowering and promoting Asian Pacific Americans to advance to the highest leadership positions in the legal profession. 

    To learn more about AABA, visit www.aaba-bay.com or like us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.


  • 14 Aug 2017 8:31 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    August 14, 2017

    The Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (“AABA”) is deeply concerned regarding media reports that the Department of Justice (DOJ) plans to investigate and potentially sue colleges and universities over race-based or affirmative action admissions policies.  The Civil Rights Division of the DOJ recently issued an internal announcement recruiting lawyers to work on “investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions.”  On August 2, the DOJ stated that the posting sought volunteers “to investigate one administrative complaint filed by a coalition of 64 Asian-American associations in May 2015 that the prior Administration left unresolved.”  That complaint, which was dismissed by the Obama administration as similar to a pending lawsuit, alleges racial discrimination against Asian Americans in the college admissions process at Harvard University.  While the nature and scope of the DOJ’s plans are unclear, AABA is significantly concerned that the DOJ announcement demonstrates an intent to target lawful race-conscious admissions programs, and that any such efforts will sow divisiveness in our communities rather than increase access to higher education for all Americans.

    From its inception, AABA has been actively involved in supporting affirmative action in higher education.  AABA members filed an amicus brief in the landmark University of California v. Bakke (1978) case.  In Fisher v. University of Texas, 133 S.Ct. 2411 (2013) (Fisher I) and Fisher v. University of Texas, 136 S.Ct. 2198 (2016) (Fisher II), AABA joined amicus briefs urging the Supreme Court to uphold the University of Texas at Austin’s admissions program, which, like Harvard’s, aims to admit a diverse class in many ways and considers race as one factor in a holistic evaluation of each candidate.

    AABA supports the use of affirmative action programs that consider race and ethnicity as part of an individualized, holistic review process in higher education. Historically, race-conscious admissions programs played a critical role in opening the doors of public and private universities to many Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) in the 1960s and 1970s. Today, certain AAPI subgroups continue to benefit from such programs, and all AAPI students benefit from more racially diverse college campuses.

    Well-established U.S. Supreme Court precedent permits the use of race as one factor in the evaluation of an applicant and affirms that race-conscious admissions programs may be used as a means of obtaining ‘the educational benefits that flow from student body diversity.”  Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306, 330 (2003).  As the Supreme Court has recognized, “enrolling a diverse student body ‘promotes cross-racial understanding, helps to break down racial stereotypes, and enables students to better understand persons of different races.’” Fisher II, 136 S. Ct. at 2210 (quoting Grutter, 539 U.S. at 330).

    “We will not be used as a wedge to engender divisions between communities of color,” says AABA President Miriam Kim.  “We acknowledge that affirmative action is an issue that divides the AAPI community, and we condemn illegal racial quotas and racial discrimination.  However, we believe that there continues to be a compelling interest in achieving diversity in education, and we support the use of race-conscious admissions programs in higher education.” 

  • 13 Aug 2017 9:04 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    August 14, 2017

    The Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area denounces white supremacy, neo-Nazis, and racism. We are horrified by the hatred, bigotry, and violence demonstrated at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville. AABA calls upon President Trump to condemn the hate groups in unequivocal terms.

    We grieve with the families of Heather Heyer and all other victims of this domestic act of terrorism. We applaud the DOJ Civil Rights Division for opening an investigation and urge federal and state authorities to prosecute this hate crime to the fullest extent of the law.

  • 27 Jul 2017 5:54 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    July 27, 2017

    On July 26, 2017, President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that his administration “will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military,” claiming that the military “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”  That position contradicts the current policy of the U.S. Department of Defense, which over the past year has supported open service of transgender people in the U.S. armed forces.

    The Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (“AABA”) condemns this decision as a blatant act of prejudice.  AABA President-Elect David Tsai explained, “This announcement not only disregards the valor and tremendous sacrifice of already enlisted transgender service members (estimated to be as many as 15,500 in 2014), but also reinforces the dangerous notion that transgender and gender nonconforming people are inherently different from, and pose a threat to, cisgender people.”

    AABA notes that ethnic minorities, including over 30,000 Japanese Americans who served in the U.S. armed forces during World War II, were historically required to serve in segregated units based on the same purported concerns about “disruption” and unit cohesion that President Trump cited yesterday.  AABA also expresses concern that President Trump’s tweet advances a message that has long been used to justify ongoing violence against transgender individuals in our community that conflicts with our nation’s core values of equality.

    Also on July 26, the Department of Justice filed an amicus brief in Zarda v. Altitude Express arguing that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not cover employment “discrimination based on sexual orientation.”  The Justice Department’s decision ignores both the letter and spirit of Title VII, which is designed to protect employees from discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.  Together with President Trump’s announcement regarding transgender individuals serving in the military, the Justice Department’s position appears to be part of a broader campaign against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights.  “An attack on the LGBTQ community is an attack on all Americans who have suffered discrimination, historically and in the present day,” AABA President-Elect Tsai stated.  “As such, AABA condemns both actions by President Trump and members of his administration.”

  • 18 Jul 2017 10:14 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    July 18, 2017
    San Francisco

    Asian Americans have been the fastest-growing minority group in the legal profession for the past three decades, but they have made only limited progress in reaching the top ranks of the profession, according to a new report released today by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association and Yale Law School.

    The report, titled A Portrait of Asian Americans in the Law, is the first-ever comprehensive study of Asian Americans in the legal profession.

    According to the study, there are over 50,000 Asian American lawyers today, compared to 10,000 in 1990. Asian Americans comprise almost 5 percent of lawyers in America and roughly 7 percent of law school enrollment. But Asian American first-year enrollment is declining, and the number of Asian Americans who started law school in 2016 was at its lowest in more than 20 years.

    For nearly 20 years, Asian Americans have been the largest minority group in major law firms, but they have the highest attrition rates and the lowest ratio of partners to associates.

    Asian Americans comprise 3 percent of federal judges and 2 percent of state judges, compared to nearly 6 percent of the U.S. population. Only three out of 94 U.S. Attorneys in 2016 were Asian American, and only four out of 2,437 elected district attorneys nationwide in 2014 were Asian American.

    The two-year study — authored by California Supreme Court Justice Goodwin H. Liu, recent Yale law graduates Eric Chung, Xiaonan April Hu and Christine Kwon, and Yale law postgraduate associate Samuel Dong — included a dozen focus groups and a national survey of over 600 Asian American lawyers.

    The survey revealed that Asian American lawyers identify lack of access to mentors and contacts as a primary barrier to career advancement. They also report being perceived as careful and hard-working, but not assertive or creative. “Whereas Asian Americans are regarded as having the ‘hard skills’ required for lawyerly competence, they are regarded as lacking many important ‘soft skills,’” the study found. More than half of the Asian American lawyers surveyed said they “sometimes” or “often” experience implicit discrimination in the workplace. Women were more likely than men to report experiencing discrimination on the basis of race and barriers to career advancement.

    “Our study shows that Asian Americans have a foot in the door in every sector the legal profession,” said Justice Liu. “The question now is how wide the door will swing open. Despite much progress, Asian Americans still face significant obstacles to reaching the leadership ranks.”

    “This important and timely study uncovers the facts behind implicit biases, stereotypes, and other challenges faced by Asian American lawyers,” said Miriam Kim, president of the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA) and partner at Munger, Tolles & Olson. “By understanding the obstacles Asian Americans have overcome to gain a foothold as law practitioners, we are reminded that our work is not yet finished. The report will serve as a tremendously helpful guide as we continue to empower Asian American lawyers to attain positions of leadership in the legal profession.”

    “This is the first comprehensive and a long overdue report with some surprising conclusions about the API American attorney world,” said Dale Minami, a partner with Minami Tamaki in San Francisco. It is “both a clear description on the current state of API attorneys and a call to action to achieve parity.”

    “This is a groundbreaking study of Asian Americans in the legal profession,” said Eumi K. Lee, Clinical Professor of Law at University of California Hastings College of Law. “No other study has tracked Asian American lawyers across the various sectors and examined their development over the course of this many years. This study will provide an empirical framework as we seek to find solutions for the advancement of Asian American lawyers and law students.”

    “This report is incredibly eye-opening and confirms what we have been feeling,” said John W. Kuo, Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for Varian Medical Systems.  “This phenomenon is also present in the corporate world, as evidenced by the fact that only a small and under-represented percentage of the F500/1000 companies have Asian American General Counsels/Chief Legal Officers at the helm of their legal functions.”

    Justice Liu will present the findings of The Portrait Project at the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association Western Regional Conference on Friday, July 21, 2017 in San Jose, California.

    For more information, the media may contact Miriam Kim, AABA President, 415-512-4041, president@aaba-bay.com. Questions about the study may be sent to portraitprojectresearch@gmail.com.

    About AABA

    The Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA) is one of the largest local Asian American bar associations in the country. Its members include lawyers, judges, law students, and community leaders representing the entire spectrum of political, social, and legal concerns in the San Francisco Bay Area. Since its founding in 1976, AABA has had a long history of active involvement in civil rights issues and community service, and is dedicated to empowering and promoting Asian Pacific Americans to advance to the highest leadership positions in the legal profession.

    To learn more about AABA, visit www.aaba-bay.com or like us on Facebook.


  • 03 Jul 2017 3:18 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    July 3, 2017

    On Monday, the Supreme Court partially lifted the stay of Executive Order 13780 (also known as the “Muslim ban”).  The Court is allowing the Trump Administration to suspend entry of nationals from six majority-Muslim countries while the Court prepares to hear appeals from rulings that largely blocked enforcement of the order. 

    Travel visas will be denied to foreign nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, for 90 days, with an exception for foreign nationals “who have a credible claim of bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”  The U.S. refugee program will similarly be suspended for 120 days to those who do not have a “bona fide relationship with a person or entity” in the United States. 

    These travel restrictions are nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to block Muslims from entering the country.  We live in a country that thrives on the contributions of millions of Muslim Americans, immigrants and their families. As the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals remarked, the executive order “speaks with vague words of national security but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination.” 

    AABA President Miriam Kim stated, “The discriminatory call for ‘additional scrutiny’ of foreign nationals—under the false pretense of supporting ‘national security’—is divisive and indefensible.  President Trump’s Muslim ban is a reminder of the Chinese Exclusion Act, a stain on American history.”

    AABA also condemns less publicized aspects of President Trump’s immigration policies, including its plan for “extreme vetting.”  The administration’s “extreme vetting” proposal would allow the Department of State to collect an unprecedented amount of highly personal information from U.S. visa applicants, including information from all social media platforms and identifiers during the last five years and detailed information about all domestic and internal travel during the last fifteen years.  “AABA has serious concerns that this type of unfettered discretion and invasion into the personal lives of any visa applicant may lead to increased religious and racial profiling,” AABA President Kim stated.

    Travelers needing assistance in California should contact OneJustice at airports@one-justice.org.

  • 06 Jun 2017 10:39 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    June 6, 2017

    The Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA) grieves with the families of Ricky John Best and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, who were stabbed to death on May 26, 2017 while defending two teenage women aboard a train in Portland, Oregon. According to news sources, Mr. Best and Mr. Namkai-Meche intervened when Jeremy Joseph Christian, a known white supremacist, shouted racist epithets at Destinee Mangum, a 16-year old, and her Muslim friend who was wearing a hijab. 

    We stand in solidarity with the victims' families and the two brave teenagers who were subjected to this senseless act of hate. And we honor the heroism of Mr. Best and Mr. Namkai-Meche who stood up to blatant racism and xenophobia.

    AABA urges federal authorities to prosecute this violent act as a hate crime. “We are alarmed by the growing number of incidents of hate crimes and bias-motivated violence towards Muslims and persons suspected of being Muslim,” said AABA President Miriam Kim. “When hate and intolerance escalate to murder, it must be punished to the greatest extent of the law.” As a bar association founded over 40 years ago to serve the interests of Asian Pacific American (APA) attorneys and the broader community, AABA calls on all elected officials and its members to condemn all forms of hate crimes, bigotry, and xenophobia as irreconcilable with this country's values of equality and justice.

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