Asian Law Caucus to Celebrate 39 Years of Defending Civil Rights

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SAN FRANCISCO – On Friday, April 29, the Asian Law Caucus will hold its 39th anniversary dinner at the Marriott Marquis in San Francisco, celebrating nearly four decades of direct legal services; community outreach; and impact litigation and policy advocacy.

With a pressing need to protect the civil rights of low-income, immigrant Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders now more than ever, the event will bring together over 700 leading members of the legal community and others to highlight a shared commitment to social justice.

Jan Yanehiro, renowned broadcast journalist, will emcee the event, and Assemblymember Warren Furutani of California’s 55th District will serve as the keynote speaker.

In 2008, Furutani authored Assembly Bill 37, which granted honorary college degrees to Japanese Americans whose education was disrupted due to their wrongful incarceration during World War II. This past year, he authored Assembly Bill 1775, which establishes Jan. 30 as Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution.

Furutani has also initiated reviewing the implementation of bilingual services to ensure access to state services for limited-English-proficient residents.

This year, the Asian Law Caucus is honored to be unveiling new names for the annual awards.

The Community Activist Award will be named after the late Bill Sorro, a former ALC board member and extraordinary labor and community activist.

The Lifetime Achievement Award will be named after Yuri Kochiyama, a civil rights leader whose advocacy has bridged so many communities of color and social justice struggles across several decades.

The Pro Bono Award recipient is Reed Smith LLP, which has served as ALC’s pro bono counsel on a project to safeguard the First Amendment rights of all San Franciscans.  The Reed Smith team contributed hundreds of hours to this effort to make a policy changes regarding racial and religious profiling among the San Francisco Police Commission. Earlier this year, the firm co-authored an amicus brief in the matter of United States of America vs. Mahmoud Reza Banki on behalf of the ALC and other organizations who promote constitutional rights.

Reed Smith previously played a pivotal role in the development of the building that has become ALC’s home in Chinatown.  Reed Smith again spent hundreds of pro bono hours on this complicated transaction, ensuring the success of this pioneering project.

This year’s Bill Sorro Community Activist Award recipients are the community organizers of the Bring Steve Li Home Campaign for their work in organizing for the release of Li, an undocumented 20-year-old nursing student who was detained by Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE)

After learning of LI’s situation, his friends and teachers came together to launch a grassroots campaign calling for his immediate release. They organized press conferences, set up online petitions, and passed resolutions with the City College Board of Trustees, San Francisco Board of Education, and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors within three weeks. Through their advocacy, the Bring Steve Li Home Campaign compelled U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein to sponsor a private bill on his behalf, releasing him immediately from detention.

Lastly, ALC is honoring Nabila Mango, the Yuri Kochiyama Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, who has dedicated her life to building bridges between the U.S. and the Arab world.  For several years, she served as a mental health therapist in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco, counseling immigrants, domestic violence survivors, and others coping with mental impairments.

Mango also helps direct an Arabic choir, Aswat, that performs in the San Francisco Bay Area and will also perform at the anniversary dinner. Additionally, she was featured in ALC’s “Returning Home” report about how the U.S. government undermines civil rights at the border. While battling stage four cancer, she has also raised thousands of dollars for children with cancer and for children living in refugee colonies.

To learn more about the dinner and the ALC, visit http://asianlawcaucus.org.

The ALC was founded in 1972 as the nation’s first legal and civil rights Asian American organization. Recognizing that social, economic, political and racial inequalities continue to exist in the U.S., ALC is committed to the pursuit of equality and justice for all sectors of society, with a specific focus directed toward addressing the needs of low-income, immigrant and underserved Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. ALC is a member of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice.

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