Then They Came for Us: APA Immigration Law and Policy

September 23, 2017
4:00 PM  -  5:30 PM

Hosted by the Government Service and Public Interest Committee

NY CLE: 1.0 Credits in Areas of Professional Practice, 0.5 Credits in Ethics and Professionalism, Transitional/Non-Transitional

Program Chairs:
 Kevin Hsi, Co-chair, AABANY Government Service and Public Interest Committee; Karen Kithan Yau


Annie Wang, Staff Attorney, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund

Hasan Shafiqullah, Deputy Attorney-in-Charge, The Legal Aid Society

Lee Wang, Staff Attorney, Immigrant Defense Project

Steven Choi, Executive Director, New York Immigration Coalition

Moderator: Karen Kithan Yau, Director of Membership and Capacity Building, New York Immigration Coalition

“This is the Trump era,” declared U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on April 11, 2017 as he stood by the U.S.-Mexico border. How has federal immigration law been altered under the Trump Administration without Congressional legislative measures?

How should past immigration policies and treatment of Asian Pacific Americans (APAs) inform the current debate and understanding? How did lawyers and non-lawyers alike work together and offer insights to defeat past anti-immigration measures (i.e., Proposition 187 in California (1994); H.R. 4437 (Sensenbrenner bill) in 2006)?

What are the most pressing changes affecting immigrants, documented and otherwise? Why should APAs, immigrant and otherwise, be concerned with enhanced enforcement of immigration laws and “extreme vetting”? What are the biggest challenges facing immigration lawyers and advocates?

These questions evoke complex responses. And yet the voices of APAs have often been ignored in the current immigration debate, although APAs comprise the fastest growing racial group in New York State and the U.S. Nearly 1 in every 10 New Yorkers and 1 in 4 NYC residents is an APA, and more than 8% of all of the undocumented immigrants in NYS alone are Chinese. With the Chinese Exclusion Act and the internment of Japanese Americans – immigrants and citizens alike – in our collective history, APAs have a particular interest in, and deep insights into, today’s immigration debate. This panel will seek to answer these complex and challenging questions.  

Moreover, this panel highlights the work of APA lawyers who are at the forefront of intersectional advocacy for, and organizing of, all immigrant groups. They will offer insights into how AABANY members can get involved in assisting immigrants and address ethical concerns for lawyers and law students when they represent or assist immigrants.

Written materials: Then They Came for Us