Economic Justice for Workers
Asian immigrant workers are often trapped in low-wage jobs, earning as little as $1.40/hour and no overtime pay. AALDEF litigates wage and hour cases on behalf of Asian immigrant workers and facilitates their organizing efforts in several industries: restaurants, garment factories, hotels, nail salons, construction, and domestic service. In 2008, AALDEF won a $4.6 million judgment on behalf of 36 Chinese take-out delivery workers who were paid below minimum wage at two Saigon Grill restaurants in Manhattan. We also won a $2.67 million judgment for nine Korean and two Latino workers in a wage theft case against Kum Gang San, a popular Korean restaurant with branches in Manhattan and Flushing.
Immigrant Rights and Post 9-11 Civil Liberties
Over 60 percent of the Asian American community is foreign-born, and many of AALDEF's constituents are immigrants. After September 11, South Asian, Arab and Muslim immigrants were the targets of hate crimes, racial and ethnic profiling, and indefinite detention. AALDEF advocates for fair immigration policies that recognize the human rights of undocumented immigrants in the US, promote family reunification, enforce worker protections for all, eliminate racial and ethnic profiling, and end other discriminatory practices that violate due process.
Voting Rights and Civic Participation
By expanding access to the electoral process for Asian Americans, AALDEF helps to improve the quality of democracy for all Americans. In every major election, we monitor polling places to document incidents of anti-Asian voter discrimination. AALDEF's multilingual exit polls provide a unique snapshot about Asian American voting patterns and are cited by mainstream media, community advocates and academics. We have testified in Congress in support of expanding Asian-language assistance under the Voting Rights Act. We have also litigated cases to secure compliance with the Voting Rights Act and to challenge redistricting plans that divide communities of interest.
Educational Equity and Youth Rights
Although Asian American youth are often portrayed as a model minority, this stereotype masks significant differences among Asian American students and prevents policymakers from responding to their educational challenges. AALDEF responds to school dropout and pushout policies, post 9-11 racial and ethnic profiling, the lack of Asian-language assistance, and racial discrimination and harassment in public schools. In 2008, AALDEF published the first analysis of the No Child Left Behind Act and its negative impacts on Asian American students. We represented Chinese and Vietnamese immigrant students at South Philadelphia High School who were physically assaulted because of their race.
Asian women and girls are trafficked by force or fraud into the United States through organized crime networks and employment agencies. Of the estimated 18,000 women and girls trafficked into the U.S. each year, one-half are from Asia and the Pacific Islands. AALDEF provides free legal assistance and representation to trafficked women and youth in the US and educates community groups and policymakers about the connection between human trafficking and the economic exploitation of low-wage workers.
Housing and Environmental Justice
AALDEF's 1986 case in the New York Court of Appeals established the legal precedent that the impacts of new development upon low-income tenants and small businesses must be considered under state environmental laws. AALDEF continues to fight against the displacement of low-income tenants in Asian American neighborhoods and supports community-based land use and planning efforts to generate more affordable housing.
AALDEF supports affirmative action programs in the workplace and in higher education, because they promote equality of opportunity and racial diversity. We filed amicus briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of law school and undergraduate minority admissions programs at the University of Michigan and the University of Texas-Austin and have supported the inclusion of Asian Americans in minority-owned business contracting programs.
Since the racially-motivated killing of Vincent Chin in Detroit in 1982, AALDEF has worked with Asian American communities to stop hate violence and promote racial tolerance. AALDEF provides legal assistance to Asian Americans facing hate violence in the workplace, at school, and in their neighborhoods. We have litigated cases challenging police brutality and the improper collaboration of local police with federal immigration enforcement agents.
Census data is used to allocate billions of dollars for government programs in education, employment, health care, public benefits, transportation and housing. Decennial Census population data is also used to apportion Congressional seats, draw new legislative districts, and monitor compliance with civil rights laws. AALDEF's Twenty10 Project is a comprehensive program of policy advocacy, community education, and organizing to secure a more accurate count of Asian Americans in Census 2010, and we are planning a similar program for Census 2020.