Jin Y. Hwang | President
NAPABA Lawyer — Summer/Election Edition
It has been an invigorating few months since our record-breaking 2016 Lobby Day in Washington, D.C. I would like to share some successes directly related to our Lobby Day efforts. We advocated for increased diversity on the federal bench, and were able to push the Senate to hold Senate Judiciary Committee hearings (despite stagnation over Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick Garland) for Jennifer Choe Groves, Judge Florence Pan, and Judge Lucy Koh. In fact, Jennifer Choe Groves was confirmed as the first Asian Pacific American on the U.S. Court of International Trade. Another achievement was the Senate’s unanimous passage to bestow Filipino World War II veterans with the Congressional Gold Medal for their sacrifice and military service. The House still has yet to obtain the requisite number of co-sponsors necessary to call for a vote. Thus, I thank you again for joining us this year; urge you to reach out to your Congressperson to enlist their support so we can appropriately honor these veterans who helped to secure the freedoms we currently enjoy; and strongly encourage your friends to join us for 2017 Lobby Day as you can see the tangible impacts.
As president, I continue the crucial tradition of attending our fellow national affinity bars’ annual conventions to enhance our partnerships. I write to you from the National Bar Association (NBA)’s 91st Convention in St. Louis, Missouri, contemplating race relations since the death of Michael Brown in 2013 and ensuing unrest in nearby Ferguson and across the country. I was privileged to attend a very moving NBA program, Mothers of the Movement, where mothers of several unarmed African American men who were shot by law enforcement demonstrated their courage and empowerment to help others, and to meet Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton. Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr., led us in prayer at the location where Michael Brown was shot. These incidents also made me recall Sureshbahi Patel, the Indian grandfather who was paralyzed by law enforcement’s actions in Alabama. What more can we do?
So much of the violence occurring in our country is rooted in fear and distrust. NAPABA, our affiliates and national associates, and our members can play a crucial role in helping to build and strengthen intercommunity relationships. This is one of the reasons why NAPABA has been vocal against the hate and violence against Muslims and those perceived to be Muslims in a post-9/11 world. NAPABA has also strongly opposed racial profiling through our advocacy efforts including co-authoring a letter to the Department of Justice regarding the targeting of Chinese American scientists for investigations based on race, ethnicity, or national origin and coordinating with our Missouri affiliate to denounce attack ads that promote anti-Asian and anti-Muslim sentiment in the state attorney general race. We must work together to eradicate the hateful rhetoric and physical violence on behalf of our members and in solidarity with other organizations. Our battle against racial and ethnic violence, and the fight for LGBTQ equality, are two issues that affect the entire diverse community and sorely need our collective support and mobilization.
One program to foster collaboration and partnership among the national affinity bars, and thus, strengthen bridges with our respective communities when tragedies occur, is the Collaborative Bar Leadership Academy (CBLA). For the fourth annual CBLA, NAPABA was a leader on the Steering Committee and had the highest rate of participation among attendees. We had stellar speakers including Seattle Seahawks’ General Counsel Ed Goines and Microsoft’s Vice President and General Counsel Hossein Nowbar, ABA President Paulette Brown, ABA President-Elect Linda Klein, and our own Policy Director Navdeep Singh, who gave a powerful presentation on how we can collaborate to respond to hate crimes using the recent Orlando nightclub attack as an example.
This is our NAPABA elections newsletter issue. It is critical we all vote in this year’s election for the best qualified candidates. This is also a momentous time for our country’s elections, especially at the national level. NAPABA has been partnering with numerous Asian Pacific American organizations on a variety of programs, including APIAVote, for its upcoming Presidential Town Hall and train-the-trainer workshops in Las Vegas on Aug. 12-13, to increase voter registration, engagement, and rights protection. To help our affiliates and national associates, we have created an extensive resources website at http://www.napaba.org/page/VoterProtection under the Programs tab. I strongly encourage affiliates to apply for the NAPABA Affiliate Grant Program to help fund these non-partisan voter registration and engagement workshops.
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Very truly yours,
Jin Y. Hwang