Asian American Civil Rights Groups File Amicus Briefs in Support of Holistic Admissions in Higher Education

August 1, 2022


Michelle Boykins, Advancing Justice – AAJC,

Niketa Kumar, Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, 

Liza Ameen, AJSOCAL,

Kevin Hsia, Advancing Justice – Chicago,

James Woo, Advancing Justice – Atlanta,

Asian American Civil Rights Groups File Amicus Briefs in Support of Holistic Admissions in Higher Education

Washington, D.C. – Today, Asian Americans Advancing Justice (Advancing Justice) filed two amicus briefs before the U.S. Supreme Court in SFFA v. Harvard, affirming our longstanding support for race-conscious admissions in higher education

The five organizations comprising the Advancing Justice affiliation, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Lawyers For Civil Rights, and pro bono counsel Arnold & Porter filed an amicus brief on behalf of a multiracial group of alumni students of color at Harvard who support holistic admissions policies that take into account the entirety of a student’s assets and experiences. 

In their brief, the student and alumni amici attested to how a diverse campus benefits all students, including addressing racial isolation and increasing cross-racial understanding and cultural competency that better prepared them for their professional careers. Asian American amici also affirmed benefiting from race-conscious admissions policies at Harvard, which provided them the opportunity to share their whole story, including their race and ethnicity, background, and diverse experiences.

The Advancing Justice affiliation with pro bono counsel, Ballard Spahr, submitted a separate amicus brief joined by 37 Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) civil rights groups, advocacy organizations, professionals, and student organizations in support of race-conscious admissions programs that improve equal access to educational opportunities for all.

The amicus brief affirms that Harvard and UNC’s race-conscious admissions programs do not discriminate against AAPI students, but rather expand their access to higher education. The brief also highlights the educational benefits of racial diversity for AAPI communities and asserts that eliminating the consideration of race in admissions programs will harm AAPI and other students of color.

“For centuries, communities of color, including Asian Americans, have struggled against racial discrimination and faced systemic barriers to education, employment, and immigration, among other challenges,” said John C. Yang, President and Executive Director of Advancing Justice – AAJC. “Race, ethnicity, and our lived experiences are integral parts of our personal story and collective history. Holistic admissions ensures all students have the opportunity to share their whole story in addition to their academic achievements.”

“Our communities know better than to give into extremist strategist Edward Blum’s years-long mission to deny Black, Latinx, Asian American, and other communities of color equal voting rights and educational opportunities,” said Aarti Kohli, Executive Director of Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus. “As a parent, my children have had more chances to grow and thrive because of affirmative action, diversity, and anti-discrimination programs in our education systems. As a civil rights lawyer, there’s no question these attacks on the constitutionality of race conscious programs are a thinly veiled strategy to limit educational opportunities for all students of color.” 

“For too long, the model minority myth has propagated a false premise that AAPIs don’t benefit from race conscious admissions practices,” said Connie Chung Joe, CEO, Asian Americans Advancing Justice Southern California (AJSOCAL). “The reality is that our communities also face discrimination and barriers to opportunities that race conscious admissions can address. And for AAPI students and other students of color, having a racially diverse student body is not only important to their educational experience, but often necessary to fully articulate the hurdles, achievements, and personal development experiences intrinsic to college admissions evaluations.”

Justice Roberto A. Rivera-Soto, former Justice of the Supreme Court of New Jersey, former partner/now senior counsel at Ballard Spahr LLP, adds, “We are proud to work with Advancing Justice to support holistic admissions policies that have allowed countless numbers of students to attain great heights and contribute to bettering society for us all. We must continue to cultivate the potential of all students — including all who have struggled and continue to struggle against discrimination — to bring us closer to the promise of an equitable society we all deserve.”


About Asian Americans Advancing Justice

Asian Americans Advancing Justice is a national affiliation of five leading organizations advocating for the civil and human rights of Asian Americans and other underserved communities to promote a fair and equitable society for all. The affiliation’s members are: Advancing Justice – AAJC (Washington, DC), Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, Advancing Justice Southern California (AJSOCAL), Advancing Justice – Atlanta, and Advancing Justice – Chicago.

Ballard Spahr

Ballard Spahr is an Am Law 100 law firm with more than 600 lawyers in 15 U.S. offices, serving clients across industry sectors in litigation, transactions, and regulatory compliance. We provide clients—from startups to Fortune 500 companies, governments, and nonprofit organizations—with a comprehensive scope of practice and strong regional market knowledge. Ballard Spahr consistently ranks among the top 50 law firms in the annual Am Law Pro Bono Report and is the recipient of numerous awards and honors for outstanding commitment to pro bono representation.

Read More

Poll Watching Results from June 28 Primary Elections

For Immediate Release


Kevin Hsia, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago


Kimberly Leung, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago


For Immediate Release 

CHICAGO, IL — June 28, 2022 – Illinois voters went to the polls today to pick their party’s nominees for federal, state, and local offices for the Nov. 8 general election. Advancing Justice | Chicago’s team of staff and volunteer poll watchers, in total, visited 119 Chicago precincts and 58 Suburban Cook County precincts between 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.  

The goal of our poll monitoring program is to ensure that all eligible voters can cast their ballots without interference, with a particular focus on historically-disenfranchised communities like Asian Americans and immigrants. Our poll watchers monitor for compliance with language access and other requirements.   

Thanks to our poll watchers we were able to ensure timely resolution for certain issues. For example, at a precinct in Uptown, where Hindi election materials are required, our poll watcher reported no translated signage outside the polling place in the morning. The Chicago Board of Elections responded by placing the appropriate signage by the afternoon. In another instance, our poll watcher stationed at a precinct in Des Plaines discovered that the location did not have any paper ballots in Korean, even though Korean election materials are required under local ordinance. As a result of the poll watcher’s report, the Cook County Clerk’s Office was directed to have those ballots delivered. 

Other more complicated issues, however, do not lend themselves to expedient solutions. In both Chicago and Suburban Cook County, our poll watchers observed serious staffing shortages. Overall, this election cycle saw a common theme of too few bilingual election judges for Section 203 and Cook County VOTE Ordinance-required languages. While most polling places should ideally have five poll workers, many poll watchers today saw only three or four, with one person or no one proficient in the designated Section 203 language. For future election cycles, more recruitment is needed to address staffing shortages.  

In one notable report, one of Advancing Justice | Chicago’s volunteer poll watcher provided interpretation for a voter because the polling place did not have a Cantonese-speaking election judge present. The voter was almost turned away due to confusion during the registration process, in addition to connectivity issues with the Chicago Board of Election’s language hotline. Poll watchers promote transparency and language equity at polling places – sometimes with only their presence alone.  

In the coming months, Advancing Justice | Chicago will publish a report that provides a summary of the issues our poll watchers encountered on Election Day, as well as recommendations for the Chicago and Cook County election authorities. Poll watchers play a vital role in ensuring fair elections. Thank you to our staff and volunteer poll watchers, and our sponsors, the Asian American Bar Association, Chinese American Bar Association, Filipino American Lawyers Association, Korean American Bar Association, and South Asian American Bar Association of Chicago.


Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago builds power through collective advocacy and organizing to achieve racial equity. Learn more at

Read More

Advancing Justice | Chicago: Poll Watching for June 28 Primary Elections

For Immediate Release


Kevin Hsia, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago


Kimberly Leung, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago


CHICAGO, IL — June 27, 2022 – The Illinois Primary Election is tomorrow, Tuesday, June 28. The ballot includes races for governor, congressional seats, state legislative offices, and a variety of local positions. Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago continues its long-running poll watching program. Our poll watchers will be stationed at various polling places across Cook County to monitor for compliance with language access and other requirements. The goal of our poll monitoring program is to ensure that all eligible voters can cast their ballots without interference, with a particular focus on historically-disenfranchised communities like Asian Americans and immigrants. 

Asian Americans are the fastest growing demographic in the city and state. Seventy-seven percent of Asian Americans in Illinois speak a language other than English at home, and of those, more than 38% speak English less than “very well.” Lack of language access is a serious barrier to voting for Asian American communities. On the importance of language access in this month’s elections: “If we’re talking about access to power, the most fundamental right here is the right to vote,” said Kimberly Leung, the voting rights legal fellow at Asian Americans Advancing Justice Chicago.   

Recognizing that citizens with limited English proficiency have been effectively excluded from participating in the electoral process, Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act (“Section 203”) requires certain jurisdictions—including Cook County–to provide translated election materials and in-language assistance.  

Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago’s poll watching program focuses on precincts in Chicago and Suburban Cook County that are covered by Section 203, and therefore are required to have election materials in Chinese, Hindi, or Spanish. The Chicago Board of Election Commissioners have also identified certain precincts where there will be election materials in Korean and Tagalog. Our poll watching program also focuses on those precincts.  

Our poll watching program is also monitoring for compliance with the Cook County Voting Opportunity and Translation Equity (VOTE) Ordinance. The VOTE Ordinance, which was passed in October 2019, extends Section 203 protections in suburban Cook County to eight additional languages: Korean, Tagalog, Polish, Russian, Ukrainian, Arabic, Gujarati and Urdu.  

This Primary, our staff and volunteers will, in total, cover 114 Chicago precincts and 58 precincts in Suburban Cook County.  

When: Tuesday, June 28, 2022  

Where: Chicago and Suburban Cook County  

What: Advancing Justice | Chicago staff and volunteer poll watchers will be stationed at polling places across Chicago and Suburban Cook County to monitor for compliance with language access and other requirements.  In total, our staff and volunteers will cover 114 polling places in Chicago and 58 polling places in Suburban Cook County.  During visits, poll watchers will check for language and disability access and ensure voter harassment and disenfranchisement do not occur.  

Additional info:  

If you have any questions about voting, you can call the Election Protection Hotline. Call 888-API-VOTE (888-274-8683) for assistance in Bengali, Cantonese, English, Hindi, Korean, Mandarin, Tagalog, Urdu and Vietnamese. Call 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682) for assistance in Spanish. For assistance in English, call 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683). 


Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago builds power through collective advocacy and organizing to achieve racial equity. Learn more at

Read More

40 Years after the Murder of Vincent Chin, We Honor Our Community’s Resilience in the Face of Hate

(Photo Credit:, PBS, CAAM)

By John C. Yang, Connie Chung Joe, Grace Pai

Vincent Chin would be 67 today if he hadn’t been killed. Forty years ago, he was brutally beaten to death by two white men in Detroit who had mistook him, a Chinese American, as Japanese and a foreigner. The murderers never served time in jail.

Vincent Chin’s death, and the failure of justice that followed, sparked outcry from our communities across the country, marking a turning point for the Asian American civil rights movement. From organizing rallies to political advocacy, Asian Americans from diverse backgrounds and all walks of life came together as a united front to fight against racist violence and seek justice for Vincent Chin. This momentum led to the birth of many Asian American civil rights organizations we see today, and we are proud to helm three of the leading organizations who dedicate their mission to serving our communities and fighting for our civil rights.

Parallels of Then and Now
The forty-year anniversary meets our community at a dark and difficult time. Anti-Asian hate and violence is a constant threat as our nation reckons with hate and systemic racism that have inflicted lasting harm on all communities of color. The world we live in today parallels the world in 1982 in many ways. Vincent Chin’s murder happened during a time of increasing economic competition with Japan and its growing auto industry, rising inflation, and insecurities about employment that led to increasing xenophobia and racial tensions. Asian Americans were scapegoated and treated as “perpetual foreigners’’ in the country we call home. In the wake of Vincent Chin‘s murder, we rose up in unprecedented numbers for the first time under the umbrella identity “Asian American” to demand justice. We also demanded justice for centuries of discrimination and mistreatment, because despite the rich diversity of history and culture within the Asian American community, we all share the common experience of exclusion and “othering.”

Forty years later, Asian Americans once again are facing the rise of hate and violence targeting our communities. Anti-Asian sentiments have reached a new high in the past two years. We are being wrongly blamed for the COVID-19 pandemic and seeing hate and blame manifested in the form of racial slurs, harassment, and violence against the most vulnerable in our communities. With rising geopolitical tensions on the global stage, we are seeing a resurgence of xenophobic, anti-China rhetoric from politicians who scapegoat our communities for economic woes and challenges beyond our control — further fueling racial bias and emboldening others to target Asian Americans and treat us with suspicion.

Our Resilience Won’t Be Denied
As we remember Vincent Chin’s legacy, we also mourn lives lost in Atlanta, Indianapolis, Buffalo, Uvalde, and too many others to name. Yet in the face of hate, our communities continue to rise in resilience. Countless individuals are taking action to send a message that we will not tolerate hate in this country. We applaud the courage of civil rights advocates, community leaders, allies, and everyday people who continue to speak out and challenge the status quo. We call for our government to take action in combating race-based violence and addressing systemic racism in our country. With midterm elections approaching, Asian Americans and the broader American society must stay vigilant to politicians who attempt to use racial rhetoric to inflame anti-Asian sentiments and stigmatize our communities for their own political gain. We remain determined in this fight against hate in all forms as we advocate for not only our own communities, but also for all marginalized groups who have been harmed and were denied justice.

Forty years ago, people from across racial groups came together to work towards tearing down the walls of discrimination and exclusion. Today, it has never been more important to stay united with our allied communities of color to dismantle white supremacy and fight for racial justice so that all can feel safe, protected, and thrive in the nation we call home.

Click here to read the story


John C. Yang, President and Executive Director of Advancing Justice — AAJC, Grace Pai, Executive Director of Advancing Justice — Chicago, and Connie Chung Joe, Chief Executive Officer of Advancing Justice — LA are part of the Asian Americans Advancing Justice affiliation whose organizations are dedicated to advocating for the civil and human rights of Asian Americans and other underserved communities to promote a fair and equitable society for all.

Read More

JOB POSTING: Development Associate

Development Associate Job Description


Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago builds power through collective advocacy and organizing to achieve racial equity.

For nearly 30 years, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago has worked to bring together the Asian American community and create change in our communities. We are deeply committed to grassroots community organizing and we invest in the leadership of grassroots community members through trainings, community education, civic engagement, and collaborative issue-based campaigns. In order to strengthen our work and transform the inequities in our city, state, and Midwest region, we work with multiracial coalitions that emphasize racial equity, accountability to those most impacted, and an infrastructure of grassroots leadership. Our advocacy work focuses on promoting racial, economic, and immigrant justice, including initiatives in the areas of voting rights, language access, and immigrant rights.

As part of the national Asian Americans Advancing Justice affiliation, Advancing Justice | Chicago is a leader in the nationwide Asian American movement. Regionally, Advancing Justice | Chicago is prioritizing the Midwest, and collaborating with partners across the Midwestern states to tackle common struggles and build power.


Working closely with the Development Manager and development team, the Development Associate will play a key role in donor database management, support external affairs, donor prospecting, cultivation and stewardship, reporting on key metrics, and other projects as needed.

At this critical time in our nation’s history, when the rights of immigrants and other communities have been questioned by our government and white nationalism seeks to destroy communities of color, Advancing Justice | Chicago continues to be a leader in protecting the rights of Asian American and immigrant communities in our city, state, and region. This is also a critical time for our organization, and we are now positioned, both financially and strategically, to grow and build on our past victories.

The Development Associate position is responsible for assisting and supporting fundraising operations for Advancing Justice | Chicago. This person will manage, track, and support the organization and development goals. This position presents a unique opportunity for a flexible, dynamic, detail-oriented, and organized individual to advance this organization’s fundraising commitment to building power through coalition building, base building, and grassroots leadership development.


Reports to: Development Manager

  • Ensure ethical and appropriate financial administration of all contributed income, including
    overseeing the donor and prospect records, processing gifts in an accurate and efficient manner, and donor stewardship;
  • Support annual giving, board giving, major gifts, foundation, corporate, and donor cultivation
  • Implement and manage the use of donor database, maintain a suite of reports and queries to
    provide timely and accurate data to help the development team achieve donor engagement,
    solicitation, and budget goals;
  • Manage donor acknowledgment process, including processing outgoing mail (electronic and
    paper), conducting and assigning thank you calls and texts, and updating the donor database upon completion;
  • Plan, lead, and execute annual end of year campaign;
  • Manage third party fundraisers;
  • Manage logistics and follow up for corporate sponsorships and speaking engagements, including processing honorariums, invoicing, scheduling, following up via email, and meeting with potential partners;
  • Research foundation, corporate, and major donor prospects (using foundation websites or
    donor research databases as necessary);
  • Support site visits with research and preparing materials for meetings;
  • Other duties, such as general administrative support and other responsibilities as assigned.


Read More
Load More Posts