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.


11.7.18

Preliminary results of AALDEF exit poll of more than 7,600 Asian American voters in midterm elections

11.6.18

AALDEF to conduct Asian American Exit Poll and monitor poll sites in 14 states

10.30.18

AALDEF criticizes Trump's intention to end birthright citizenship by executive order

10.29.18

AALDEF stands in solidarity with Pittsburgh and Louisville

10.6.18

Volunteers needed for AALDEF Asian American Exit Poll and to monitor polling places in 2018 elections

9.28.18

AALDEF denounces White House plan to redefine "public charge" for immigrants seeking green cards

9.10.18

Sept. 12: AALDEF legal director Ken Kimerling receives 2018 New York County Lawyers Association Public Service Award

8.30.18

35 Asian American groups and higher ed faculty file amicus brief in support of race-conscious admissions at Harvard

7.10.18

AALDEF statement on Judge Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court

6.26.18

AALDEF deplores the Supreme Court's decision upholding the Muslim ban

4.23.18

Korean and Latino workers at Kum Gang San restaurants win enforcement of $2.7 million wage theft judgment

3.27.18

AALDEF opposes Trump administration's politicization of Census 2020 by adding citizenship question

12.4.17

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

8.23.17

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