Hear a panel on Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Asian Pacific Americans for Progress

There are more than 15 million Asian Americans residing in the United States—the majority of whom are foreign born. The current immigration system is broken and there are more than 1.2 million undocumented Asian Americans in the United States today. Asian American Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) have a clear stake in Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR). In this panel, we hope to address some of the different immigration issues in our communities and increase visibility of AAPIs in the larger immigration debate. This event will serve to debrief the March for America demonstration on 3/21 and provide a forum for Congressional members to address the political landscape for CIR. We hope this event will galvanize the national AAPI community to ensure CIR for our families.

Confirmed Panelists:
Karen Narasaki – Executive Director, Asian American Justice Center (AAJC) – moderator

Prerna Lal – DREAMActivist.org founder, Change.org Blogger
Doua Thor – Executive Director, Southeast Asian Resource Action Center (SEARAC)
Hemi Kim – DC Director, National Korean American Service and Education Consortium (NAKASEC)
Ben de Guzman – Policy Director, KAYA – Filipino Americans for Progress; Co-Programs Director, National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA), National Coordinator, National Alliance for Filipino Veterans Equity (NAFVE)

Keynote address
Congressman Mike Honda – Chair of Congressional Asian Pacifc American Caucus (APAC)

Congresswoman Judy Chu – Member of House Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law

Campus Progress
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
South Asians for Opportunity (SAFO)
National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC)
Asian American Justice Center (AAJC)
National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA)
National Alliance for Filipino Veterans Equity (NAFVE)

Special Thank Yous:
Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC)
Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC)

Date: March 24th

Time: 6:00pm – 7:15pm

Location: Cannon House Office Building Room 121

Potential Keynote speakers:

Congressman Mike Honda
Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) Chair

Since 2001, Mike Honda has represented the 15th Congressional District of California in the U.S. House of Representatives. His district includes Silicon Valley, the birthplace of technology innovation and the leading region for the development of the technologies of tomorrow. Mike has been a public servant for decades during which he has been lauded for his work on education, transportation, civil rights, national service, the environment, and high-tech issues.

Mike was born in California, but spent his early childhood with his family in an internment camp in Colorado during World War II. After a decade living in Chicago, his family returned to California in 1953, becoming strawberry sharecroppers in San José’s Blossom Valley. In 1965, Mike interrupted his college studies to answer President John F. Kennedy’s call for volunteer service. He served in the Peace Corps for two years in El Salvador, returning with a passion for teaching and fluent in Spanish.

Mike earned Bachelor’s degrees in Biological Sciences and Spanish, and a Master’s degree in Education from San José State University. In his career as an educator, Mike was a science teacher, served as a principal at two public schools, and conducted educational research at Stanford University.

In 1971, Mike was appointed by then-Mayor Norm Mineta to San Jose’s Planning Commission. In 1981, Mike won his first election, gaining a seat on the San José Unified School Board. In 1990, Mike was elected to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, where he led efforts to acquire and preserve open space in the county.

Mike served in the California State Assembly from 1996 to 2000. In 2000, Mike was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and serves on the Appropriations Committee, with postings on that body’s Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, Commerce, Justice, and Science, and Legislative Branch Subcommittees. As an appropriator, Mike focuses on directing funding to critical areas such as: access to affordable healthcare; worker training; port and border security; law enforcement and the safety of our neighborhoods; health care for our veterans; recovery from natural disasters, particularly Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Ike.

Mike is serving his sixth year as Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), coordinating with his colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucuses to champion the causes of under-represented communities by promoting social justice, racial tolerance, and civil rights.

CAPAC has supported CIR-ASAP.

Congresswoman Judy Chu

Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) Member and House Subcommittee on Immigration Member

Congresswoman Chu is a co-sponsor of Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity Act of 2009 (CIR ASAP).

Dr. Judy Chu was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as a Representative of California’s 32nd District in July 2009. She immediately got to work representing the interests of her constituents, voting on several environmental bills and working through the night on her first day in office, during a marathon debate on important healthcare reform legislation as part of her first assignment on the House Education and Labor Committee. Rep. Chu has also been assigned to the House Judiciary and Government Oversight Committees.

Previously, she  was elected to the California State Board of Equalization in November 2006. In January 2009, Dr. Chu was unanimously elected Vice Chair of the Board of Equalization. She previously served as BOE Chair in 2008. She also serves as Chair of the BOE Legislative Committee.

Before joining the State Board of Equalization, Dr. Chu served three terms as a State Assembly Member for the 49th District in the West San Gabriel Valley from 2001 to 2006. She was Chair of the Assembly Appropriations Committee, which oversees all legislation that has a fiscal impact on the state.

In addition, Dr. Chu served as Chair of the California Asian and Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, Assembly Select Committee on Hate Crimes, and Assembly Subcommittee on Health and Human Services. She was also a member of the Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee, Labor and Employment Committee, and Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee.

In 2004, Dr. Chu authored a landmark tax amnesty bill which was estimated to bring in $300 million but actually brought in $4.8 billion in revenue for the state budget without raising taxes. Several states offered tax amnesty that year, and California’s was the most successful tax amnesty program in the nation.

Prior to the State Assembly, Dr. Chu served on the Monterey Park City Council for thirteen years from 1988 to 2001, and served as Mayor three times. She began her career in public service as a Board Member of the Garvey School District from 1985 to 1988. Dr. Chu has been dedicated to education for decades, and was a community college professor of psychology for 20 years. She holds a Ph.D. in psychology and a B.A. in mathematics.

Prerna Lal  – United We Dream Coalition

Prerna Lal was brought to the United States from Fiji when she was 14 but due to immigration services teetering with their “aging out” (CSPA) regulations, she aged out on their visa petition after turning 21. Her American dreams were deferred but she fought back this illegal injustice by helping create the largest new media network of immigrant students in the United States called DreamActivist. Today, she has a Masters degree in International Relations, serves as an Editor of The Sanctuary, as an Immigration blogger at Change.org, and currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area where she has trained immigrant youth in social media and helped bridge the gap between the LGBT and immigrant rights movement(s).

It is safe to say that without her, the national online migrant youth movement would probably not exist. Every online community Lal touches seems to grow, a direct reflection of the courage and energy with which she fights to better her own situation and the situations of everyone and anyone around her that is in need of help.

Other Potential Speakers:
Karen Narasaki – Executive Director – Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), a Campaign to Reform Immigration for America (RI4A) partner

Karen K. Narasaki is the President and Executive Director of the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), one of the nation’s leading voices advocating for the rights and interests of Asian Americans. Based in Washington, D.C., AAJC is a proven expert on issues of direct importance to Asian Americans of all ethnic groups in communities across the country.

Ms. Narasaki serves in a number of leadership positions in the civil rights and immigrant rights communities. She is vice chairwoman of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the nation’s oldest and broadest civil rights coalition. She heads the Rights Working Group, a coalition of human rights, civil rights, civil liberties and immigrant rights groups working to address the erosion of civil liberties and basic rights of immigrants since 9/11. In addition, she is a member of the Federal Communications Commission’s Advisory Committee on Diversity for Communications in the Digital Age.

Ms. Narasaki also serves on the board of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and is a past-board member of the Independent Sector. She also serves on the National Commission on Adult Literacy, a project of the Council for Advancement of Adult Literacy which promotes adult literacy across the country.

As chairwoman of the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition, Ms. Narasaki is a widely renowned leader in the Asian American community. She has also served as the immediate past chairwoman of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans.

She is also a member of the Asian Pacific American Advisory Council, a group of nearly a dozen community, civic and business leaders who advise Nielsen Media Research, an international provider of television audience measurement and advertising information services. The Council advises Nielsen on a range of issues involving the sampling of Asian Americans for television audience measurement while assisting Nielsen to reaching out to Asian American communities.

Through her work, Ms. Narasaki is a nationally respected expert on immigrant rights, voting rights, affirmative action and civil rights issues. A regular guest on News & Notes with Ed Gordon, Ms. Narasaki has also appeared on ABC and CBS News, Fox News, PBS’s NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews, America with Dennis Wholey and National Public Radio shows including Talk of the Nation and Powerpoint. She has also been quoted by national newspapers including: The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Chicago Tribune, The Houston Chronicle, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer and The Los Angeles Times.

Recognized by Washingtonian Magazine as one of the “100 most powerful women in Washington” in 2001, 2006 and 2009, Ms. Narasaki has received numerous awards and accolades. She was the 2005 recipient of the American Bar Association Spirit of Excellence Award, and has received the Congressional Black Caucus Chair’s Award, International Channel We the People Award, and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Asian Americans of the Decade” by A Magazine.

Ms. Narasaki is a graduate, magna cum laude, of Yale University and Order of the Coif, of the UCLA School of Law.

Deepa Iyer – Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a Campaign to Reform Immigration for America (RI4A) partner

SAALT is the only staffed, national, non-profit organization dedicated to fostering civic and political engagement by South Asian communities in the United States. Ms. Iyer has overseen SAALT’s growth and visibility since 2004, and has spearheaded effective programs and strong partnerships around the country. In her tenure at SAALT, Ms. Iyer facilitated the development of a National Coalition of South Asian Organizations, a network of 35 community-based groups that have come together to articulate shared strategies for progressive policy change.  She has also testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Immigration Subcommittee (2007), and was one of two representatives of the Asian American community invited to provide testimony before the Democratic Party’s Platform Drafting Committee (2008).

An attorney by training, Ms. Iyer has served as Trial Attorney at the Office of Special Counsel for Unfair Immigration-Related Employment Practices within the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, where she investigated, litigated and settled employment discrimination complaints, and worked on policy matters related to racial profiling and immigration enforcement. In the wake of September 11, 2001, Ms. Iyer was one of four attorneys who spearheaded the Division’s Initiative to Combat Post 9/11 Discriminatory Backlash. Ms. Iyer has also worked as a Staff Attorney at the Asian American Justice Center and as Legal Director at the Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center.

Ms. Iyer is regarded as an expert on the impact of post 9/11 policies, especially as they intersect with civil liberties and immigration.  She has published articles about the effect of such policies on South Asian communities, and is the Executive Producer of a 26-minute documentary about bias and hate crimes before and after 9/11. In addition, Ms. Iyer has served as adjunct faculty at Columbia University, Hunter College and the University of Maryland. She has been quoted in the Washington Post, National Public Radio, and in ethnic media.

Ms. Iyer is an immigrant who moved to the United States from India when she was twelve years old.  She lives with her husband, also a public interest attorney, in Takoma Park, Maryland. Ms. Iyer is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame Law School (1997) and Vanderbilt University (1994).

On the issues: Family members are separated from each other due to visa backlogs. Skilled workers wait lengthy periods of time for green cards and laid-off H-1B workers fear losing their ability to stay in the country legally. Low-wage workers encounter exploitation because of their status. Hard-working tax-paying undocumented community members face the threat of detention and deportation.

Ben de Guzman – Policy Director, KAYA – Filipino Americans for Progress, a Campaign to Reform Immigration for America (RI4A) partner.  Co-Programs Director of National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) and  National Coordinator, National Alliance for Filipino Veterans Equity (NAFVE).

Ben has been part of at least two historical milestones in AAPI history in 2009. In February 2009, he ran the campaign that resulted in restoration of military recognition of the service of Filipino WWII veterans by the U.S. government. For two years, he ran the day-to-day operations of the campaign that brought out unprecedented mobilization from Filipino and AAPI communities. In August 2009, he led the team that put on what may be the first national, pan-AAPI, multigender LGBT conference when the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance held its inaugural conference, “Transgress, Transform, Transcend.” Additionally, as the Policy Director for Kaya: Filipino Americans for Progress, he helped run policy work and programming for this new organization as well, including a slate of events during the 2009 Presidential Inauguration.  He is also an active member of the DC Cal Alumni Club, the California Alumni Association’s 2009 Chapter of the Year in Washington, DC.

For over 10 years, Ben’s commitment to AAPI communities generally, and Filipino American and LGBT constituencies specifically, has been unquestionable.  Since beginning his career in back in 1997, he has been an active member of a number of local organizations in both Washington, DC and Los Angeles, including API Queers United for Action, Filipino American Youth Dialogue, APAs for Progress, and API Equality – Los Angeles.  At the national level, he has led national advocacy and public education and leadership programs for organizations such as the Asian American Justice Center, Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics (LEAP), the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) and the National Alliance for Filipino Veterans Equity (NAFVE).

On the issues: One key item of immigration legislation for the Filipino American community will exempt the children of Filipino WWII veterans from annual numerical limitations and allow for quicker processing of petitions. The Filipino WWII Veterans Family Reunification Act is part of the broader Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity Act of 2009 (CIR ASAP Act of 2009), which was introduced by Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-IL). It has become one of the first pieces of legislation in the comprehensive immigration reform debate, and KAYA will continue to monitor developments and make sure that Filipino Americans are included in the discussion.

Doua Thor the Executive Director of Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC).

Ms. Thor has worked with national and grassroots Southeast Asian American organizations as well as other diverse refugee organizations for many years, formerly as a New Voices Fellow with Hmong National Development, Inc. (HND). Currently, she serves on the board of the Asian Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF), and is a member of the Nielsen Media Research Asian Pacific American Advisory Council.

Ms. Thor is Hmong American. She and her family immigrated from Laos to Detroit, Michigan in 1979. They were one of hundreds of thousands of Hmong families who became refugees after supporting and fighting on the side of the United States during the Vietnam War. She holds a graduate degree from the University of Michigan’s School of Social Work with a concentration in social policy and evaluation.


Pre-Rally for Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Contingency

Sunday, 3/21 March for America

1PM Meet at L’Enfant Plaza (Maryland Ave Exit) (event ends at 2PM)


Interfaith Service

Sunday, 3/21

1PM National Mall

March for America

Sunday, 3/21

2-5PM National Mall

Wednesday, 3/24 March and Rally in San Francisco – 4-6PM

4PM Gather Justin Herman Plaza at Embarcadero BART

4:30 march up Market Street to Senator Feinstein office at One Post St. Near Montgomery BART

5PM Rally at Senator Feinstein’s Office

See attached flyer for more details. Asian Law Caucus is also a co-sponsor.


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