History

Click here to see a timeline and photographs of AALDEF's achievements, milestones and precedent-setting cases over the past 35 years.

In 1974, a small group of lawyers, activists, and students in Lower Manhattan came together to create the Asian Americans Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF). Inspired by the civil rights and antiwar movements of the 1960s, they believed that the law should be used as a tool for social justice, and that lawyers should serve the needs of the people.

The Asian American population has grown ten-fold since AALDEF opened its doors thirty-five years ago, from just over 1.5 million to 15 million Asian Americans nationwide. From Chinese take-out delivery workers in New York and Nepalese domestic workers in New Jersey, to Vietnamese American youth in Louisiana and Bangladeshi voters in Michigan, AALDEF brings its commitment and expertise to address the legal needs of diverse Asian American groups.

We have litigated precedent-setting cases and won millions of dollars in back wages and overtime pay for Asian immigrant workers in the restaurant, garment, hotel, construction and domestic service industries. By working in multiracial coalitions, we have brought Asian American perspectives to policy debates and have organized campaigns to stop hate violence, police misconduct and human trafficking. After the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, AALDEF defended the civil liberties of South Asians, Arabs and Muslims who were the targets of racial and ethnic profiling. From educational equity issues to voting rights and civic participation, AALDEF has worked with grassroots groups to ensure that Asian Americans have a greater voice in the political process and the governmental decisions affecting their daily lives. We have trained hundreds of young lawyers and students through our internship programs, encouraging them to use their legal skills to serve the community.

AALDEF's staff of lawyers, policy advocates and community organizers are assisted by pro bono attorneys from major law firms, legal services offices, law school clinics and other volunteers. Together, we have won major legal victories, fighting uphill battles to secure human rights for all.


12.4.17

2017 AALDEF exit poll: 2,538 Asian American voters polled in 4 states: VA, NJ, NY, MA

11.9.17

Nov. 15-16: AALDEF calls on Asian Americans to mobilize in DC for a clean DREAM Act

11.6.17

AALDEF to conduct exit poll & monitor poll sites in NJ, VA, NYC, & Boston on Election Day

10.30.17

Feb. 15, 2018: AALDEF lunar new year gala honoring Preet Bharara, Linda Greenhouse, and Chan Lee

10.8.17

Oct. 24: AALDEF "M. Butterfly" theater party and talkback with playwright David Henry Hwang

9.24.17

Oct. 1: DACA renewal clinic at Flushing Library

9.5.17

AALDEF denounces ending of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals; new DACA fact sheet

8.23.17

Federal appeals court upholds ruling in AALDEF case that Texas election law violates Voting Rights Act

8.7.17

AALDEF denounces introduction of RAISE Act to restrict legal imigration

7.17.17

AALDEF exit poll presentations in Miami, Las Vegas, Atlanta & San Diego

5.11.17

AALDEF statement on the president's voter fraud commission

5.9.17

Screening of new PBS film "Chinese Exclusion Act" and Q&A with Ric Burns and Li-shin Yu on May 23

4.18.17

New AALDEF report: The Asian American Vote in 2016

3.15.17

AALDEF joins amicus brief in State of Hawaii's challenge to revised Trump travel ban

3.6.17

AALDEF condemns Trump Administration's revamped anti-immigrant travel ban

2.17.17

AALDEF joins Korematsu Center amicus brief in challenge to Trump travel ban in Brooklyn federal court