Asian Americans Advancing Justice Denounces  Supreme Court Decision on Affirmative Action


Media Contact: 

Michelle Boykins, Advancing Justice – AAJC, 
Niketa Kumar, Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus,
Liana Liang, AJSOCAL,
James Woo, Advancing Justice – Atlanta,
Grace Pai, Advancing Justice | Chicago, 

Asian Americans Advancing Justice Denounces Supreme Court Decision on Affirmative Action

Washington, D.C. – June 29, 2023 – In response to the Supreme Court’s decision today in SFFA v. Harvard and SFFA v. UNC striking down the race-conscious admissions policies at both schools, Asian Americans Advancing Justice (Advancing Justice) denounced the decision as an attack on civil rights and called for an increased commitment from universities and policymakers to ensure equitable opportunities for all students and diversity in higher education. 

Advancing Justice, an affiliation of five independent Asian American civil rights organizations across the nation, has long advocated for race-conscious admissions policies as an essential tool to provide equal opportunities for students of color, including Asian Americans. 

In its decision, the Supreme Court’s hyper-partisan majority struck a deep blow to students and racial equity in education by holding that Harvard and UNC’s affirmative action programs violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The ruling does not address race-conscious policies in any other contexts, such as in K-12 education, in the workplace, in government contracts, in philanthropic giving, or elsewhere. 

“We are outraged that the Supreme Court has chosen to ignore long-standing legal precedent in favor of supporting racial inequity that harms all people of color, including Asian Americans,” said John C. Yang, President and Executive Director of Advancing Justice – AAJC. “But we are more committed than ever to ensuring equal opportunity for our children – and for all children in this country. We will not let this court decision keep us from pushing colleges and universities, Congress, and others to keep today’s ruling from undermining the progress made toward educating future multiracial, talented leaders who deserve every opportunity to reach their highest potential on campuses that reflect the diversity of America.”

“In today’s ruling, the Supreme Court’s majority ignores our long history and present reality of systematically denying people of color, particularly Black Americans, equal access to education,” said Aarti Kohli, Executive Director of Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus. “Racism and anti-Blackness are inescapable in our country, and race-conscious admissions are a crucial tool in expanding opportunities for students of color that reckons with those realities. For Asian Americans, this ruling will particularly harm Pacific Islander, Native Hawaiian, and Southeast Asian communities who continue to face significant barriers to higher education. At a moment when our country is increasingly segregated and there are significant gaps in resources for majority minority schools, we call on Congress, our local elected leaders, and universities to do everything in their power to implement solutions we really need for economic equity and racial justice in our nation.”

“For Asian American students and all others, racially diverse student bodies both enhance their learning and foster understanding of each student’s lived experience,” said Connie Chung Joe, CEO of Asian Americans Advancing Justice Southern California. “In our ever-changing global economy and platform, we must continue to give all students the opportunity to fulfill their potential and shape a future built strong on our biggest asset – our diversity.” 

“We unequivocally condemn the ruling by the Supreme Court to reverse these affirmative action policies, thus ensuring that systemic racism continues to be embedded in higher education,” said Grace Pai, Executive Director of Advancing Justice – Chicago. “As Asian Americans, we will not allow our communities to be used as a prop by the conservative movement to advance a white supremacist agenda.”

“Declaring these race conscious policies unconstitutional is a barely disguised tool to once again remove students of color from our nation’s campuses and perpetuate the historical legacy of institutionalized racism in education that continues, especially in the south,” said Phi Nguyen, Executive Director of Advancing Justice – Atlanta. “We will continue to fight for racial justice and ensure that everyone has access to a quality education.”

Last August, Advancing Justice filed two amicus briefs in SFFA v. Harvard — one of which was joined by 37 Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) civil rights groups, advocacy organizations, professionals, and student organizations — demonstrating how AAPI communities both benefit from and support affirmative action, and detailing how the elimination of race consideration in admissions programs will harm Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, and other students of color. 

Although the ruling impacts race-conscious admissions in higher education, colleges and universities have a responsibility to promote and embrace diversity, including cultivating affinity groups, increasing meaningful outreach to communities of color, expanding financial assistance, and dismantling legacy admissions programs. Advancing Justice calls for them to urgently prioritize these actions. It also calls for policymakers and other leaders to use this moment to set a comprehensive agenda for achieving equity in education long before students apply to college, including expanding access in K-12 schools, which are more segregated today than they were 50 years ago. 

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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.

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AAPI Heritage Month

This May’s Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we will be kicking off a celebration of all the cultures that make up our diverse community. Advancing Justice | Chicago is partnering with individuals and local businesses to bring awareness to our mission and help give back by supporting our work in different ways.


We are thrilled to be partnering with restaurants, bars, and businesses for #doughsomething once again.

Name Item Website
Apologue Liqueurs Proceeds from case of liqueurs
Chef’s Special $1 of specialty cocktail
Cherry Circle Room $4 of milk bread
Community Tavern Specialty cocktail proceeds
Dan Dan Restaurant Dumpling proceeds
Galit $1 from every parsnip cake
Long Room Percentage of bar sales from Do Good Brunch
Luella’s Southern Kitchen Szechuan soft shell crab bao proceeds
Moneygun Specialty cocktail proceeds
Parachute $1 of haemul pajeon pancake
Perilla Specialty cocktail proceeds
Publican Quality Bread $1 of bun
Saigon Sisters Soup
Splitrail $1 of specialty cocktail
The Dandy Crown $1 of specialty cocktail
West32 Soju Proceeds from case of soju
Wherewithall Specialty cocktail and pizza proceeds

Heritage Month In-Kind Donors

as of May 1, 2023


April 21 – May 14
The Porch on Windy Hill at Northlight Theatre
Reserve Tickets Here

Northlight Theatre
9501 Skokie Boulevard
Skokie, IL 60077

A new play featuring bluegrass favorites and the fines of America’s roots music. 20% of ticket sales and of the cast album will be donated to Advancing Justice | Chicago. For a special 20% discount of ticket purchases, use discount code MIR20 at online or phone checkout.

April 29
Culture Makers Panel following 2:30 Performance
Learn More Here

April 30
Frequency Series Presents: Shi-An Costello Plays the Orient
Reserve Tickets Here

3111 N Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60618

Composer and pianist, Shi-An Costello will perform an original five-movement composition inspired by the themes of moments from Asian American history from the 19th century to the contemporary moment; the performance will be followed by a brief discussion with the artist facilitated by Advancing Justice | Chicago. Proceeds from tickets and sales of the original score will be donated to Advancing Justice | Chicago.


May 3

Lunch & Learn Series: Election Analysis & Voting Rights in Asian American Communities
12-1PM via Zoom

Attendees will learn about the Asian American electorate in Chicago, current voting rights laws and issues, and Advancing Justice | Chicago’s role in securing and protecting voting rights for all.

May 3
Stir Friday Night 

Reserve Tickets Here

Classic Cinema Tivoli Theater
5021 Highland Park Avenue
Downers Grove, IL 60515

Celebrate AAPI month with Asian Real Estate Association of America’s Stir Friday Night comedy show that includes an evening of heavy appetizers, a cash bar, and celebratory laughs. Proceeds from this event will be donated to Advancing Justice | Chicago.

May 7
Do Good Brunch

11AM – 3PM

Long Room
1612 W Irving Park Rd
Chicago, IL

Celebrate AAPI month with the Long Room and Do Good Brunch on Sunday, May 7. A portion of bar sales will support Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago.

May 9
Asian American Action Day

Springfield, IL

May 12 – 14
Defiant Silk Festival: AAPI Speakeasy Spectacular


Newport Theater
956 W Newport Ave
Chicago, IL 60657

In celebration of AAPI Heritage Month, The Newport Theater hosts a full three-day festival of fringe arts from Chicago’s Asian American and Pacific Islander community. It’s a jam-packed weekend of burlesque, bellydancing, cultural dance, circus, drag, & more! A portion of the proceeds support Advancing Justice | Chicago.

May 16

Lunch & Learn Series: TEAACHing Our History: K-12 Asian American Education Advocacy
12 – 1PM via Zoom

Advancing Justice | Chicago passed the 2021 Teaching Asian American Community History (TEAACH) Act and ensuring strong implementation across the state. As part of our vision for education equity, the TEAACH Act requires Asian American history to be taught in all public schools and creates critical bridges to empathy and understanding for all students. Attendees will learn about the requirements of the TEAACH Act, frequently overlooked Asian American stories, and how to support implementation efforts in their local communities.

May 22
A Just Chi Giving Project Hosts:
Tropic Like It’s Hot – Electric Boba-loo 



BITES Asian Kitchen + Bar
3313 North Clark Street
Chicago, L 60657

Save the date! A Just Chi Giving Project will be hosting their Heritage Month happy hour fundraiser with great drinks, community, and “bites” at BITES Asian Kitchen + Bar in Lakeview. Proceeds from food and drink sales, as well as from live raffle and merchandise sales will be donated to Advancing Justice | Chicago.

May 24
Lunch & Learn Series: Policy Change: How Good Ideas Become Laws
12 – 1PM via Zoom

This presentation will share the building blocks of successful advocacy campaigns, highlighting Advancing Justice | Chicago’s past and current policy work on language access, economic justice, voting rights, and more.

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Asian Americans Advancing Justice affiliation express strong support for the confirmation of Julie Su


CONTACT: Grace Pai (Executive Director) (224) 289-5291

CHICAGO, IL — April 10, 2023. On behalf of Asian Americans Advancing Justice and the 56 undersigned organizations representing Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, we write to express our strong support for the confirmation of Julie Su to serve as the next U.S. Secretary of Labor to Chair Sanders and Ranking Member Cassidy.

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, AJSOCAL (Southern California), Advancing Justice – Atlanta, and Advancing Justice – Chicago.

Two years ago, Advancing Justice first supported Ms. Su’s candidacy to be Secretary of Labor, as well as her nomination for her current role as the Deputy Secretary of Labor. If confirmed to be the U.S. Secretary of Labor, Ms. Su would become the only Asian American head of a federal department.

In her current role, Ms. Su has been an indispensable leader within DOL, working across government for a more inclusive economy. This has included working closely with Secretary Walsh to avert a nationwide railroad strike, improving labor standards enforcement to protect the most vulnerable workers, and modernizing workforce development programs. Ms. Su has not only built strong working relationships among federal government leaders to accomplish this progress, but has also built trust with labor unions, worker organizations, and business groups across the country.

Since her confirmation as the Deputy Secretary at the DOL in 2021, she has served as the de facto Chief Operating Officer managing over 16,000 federal employees and a budget of over $14 billion. Now, with this and past experience, she is uniquely qualified and positioned to further deliver on labor, workforce, and employment goals for the nation.

Previously serving as Secretary for the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency, Ms. Su led the largest state labor department in the United States, managing a governmental agency of over 11,000 employees for the most populous state in the nation. In the face of the devastating economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, she was a clear leader in protecting the health and safety of workers and promoting sound economic policy to support small businesses and their workers. Prior to this position, Ms. Su’s work as the California Labor Commissioner for nearly a decade brought praise from both workers’ advocates and the business community for her effectiveness in governance and enforcement, promoting fairness for both workers and employers.

Before her service in government, Ms. Su fought for human rights and worked to protect the rights of the most vulnerable. Ms. Su began her career litigating workers’ rights cases at Asian Americans Advancing Justice Southern California (AJSOCAL), formerly known as Asian Pacific American Legal Center, exposing the atrocities in sweatshops in El Monte, California where Thai garment workers were trafficked into the United States and forced to sew garments behind barbed wire and under armed guard. Her effectiveness as a litigator brought forth a multimillion-dollar settlement and protected the rights of the most vulnerable workers in our country as well as paving the way for protections for immigrant human trafficking survivors.

Decades later, Ms. Su is a nationally recognized expert on labor policy and workers’ rights, dedicating her over 25-year career to the advancement of workers’ rights, fair labor practices, and advancing equity and opportunities for workers.

Ms. Su’s career demonstrates how uniquely positioned she is to successfully lead the U.S. Department of Labor. Furthermore, her lived experience as a daughter of immigrants, a woman of color, and an Asian American makes her uniquely qualified to lead the Department charged with the immense task of protecting the livelihoods of all Americans in our vibrant and inclusive democracy. We urge the Senate to swiftly confirm Julie Su as U.S. Secretary of Labor.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC
Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AJSOCAL
Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Asian Law Caucus
Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Atlanta
Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago
Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum
Asian American Civic Association
Asian American Coalition of Ohio
Asian American Federation
Asian American Leadership Council
Asian American Voices United
Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote)
Asian Community Development Corporation
Asian Community Development Council
Asian Counseling and Referral Service
Asian Law Alliance
Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS)
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO
Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy and Leadership (APPEAL)
Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA)
Asian Services in Action (ASIA)
Association of Asian American Investment Managers
Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO)
Center for Southeast Asians
Chinatown Service Center
Chinese American Citizens Alliance
Chinese Community Center
Council of Korean Americans
Empowering Pacific Islander Communities
Filipino Advocates for Justice
Hamkae Center
Hmong National Development, Inc.
Island Liaison, Inc.
Japanese American Citizens League
Japanese American Citizens League, Arizona Chapter
Laotian American National Alliance
LEAP (Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics)
Main Line Chinese Culture Center, Inc.
Missouri Asian American Youth Foundation
National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA)
National Asian Pacific American Families Against Substance Abuse
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF)
National Asian Pacific Center on Aging (NAPCA)
National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA)
National Federation of Filipino American Associations
National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC)
National Tongan American Society, The
New Mexico Asian Family Center
OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates
OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates Greater Houston Chapter
Ohio Chinese American Association (OCAA)
Pacific Asian Counseling Services
Self-Help for the Elderly
Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF)
South Asian American Policy and Research Institute (SAAPRI)
South Asian Public Health Association
Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC)
Cc: Members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions


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

Asian Americans Advancing Justiceis 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 (San Francisco), Advancing Justice Southern California (AJSOCAL), Advancing Justice – Atlanta, and Advancing Justice – Chicago.

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Asian American voters see improved language access at the polls on Election Day


CONTACT: Grace Pai (Executive Director) (224) 289-5291

Asian American voters see improved language access at the polls on Election Day

CHICAGO, IL — April 4, 2023. Every vote matters. This is especially true during competitive elections like the April 4th run-off in Chicago. Leading up to Election Day, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago and our partner organizations have been hard at work to ensure that this and future elections are accessible to all.

On Election Day, Advancing Justice | Chicago dispatched a team of staff and volunteer poll watchers to 107 precincts and eight vote centers in Chicago. Due to the higher concentration of Asian and limited English proficient (LEP) voters in these precincts, their respective polling places and vote centers are designated as locations with “Limited English Proficient Assistance” for the following languages or language groups: Chinese, South Asian (Hindi, Urdu, Gujarati), Korean, and Tagalog. This designation means that the polling place has translated signs and ballots as well as bilingual poll workers to assist LEP voters.

Poll watchers play a vital role in ensuring fair elections. Advancing Justice | Chicago’s poll watching program aims to ensure that all eligible voters can cast their ballots without interference, with a particular focus on historically-disenfranchised communities like Asian Americans. Our poll watchers are trained to monitor for compliance with language access laws and best practices. For example, they check to see whether polling places have in-language election materials as required by Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act. Where translated materials appear missing, our poll watchers work collaboratively with election judges to locate the missing materials or otherwise request delivery of the materials through proper channels.

Overall, Advancing Justice | Chicago observed improvements in bilingual election judge staffing and the availability of translated election materials, as compared to our observations from the November 8, 2022 midterm election. These improvements can be traced to ongoing collaboration between the Chicago Board of Elections (CBOE) and community organizations, which have been meeting nearly every other week for the past three months.

In addition, CBOE worked with Advancing Justice and other community organizations to expand polling places with LEP assistance. After a change in state law required CBOE to reduce voting precincts, there were fewer precincts with LEP assistance during the November 8, 2022 midterm election. Since then, CBOE has worked with community organizations to identify precincts with significant LEP voters. As a result, CBOE increased the number of Chinese precincts by 4, South Asian precincts by 5, Korean precincts by 2, and Tagalog precincts by 10.

Advancing Justice | Chicago noted many positive interactions between poll workers and LEP voters on Election Day. In the 11th ward, for example, our poll watchers observed Chinese-speaking voters getting assistance from bilingual election judges. “It felt really good to see voters engaged and getting the in-language assistance they need and deserve,” said volunteer poll watcher Valerie Chu. The 2023 municipal election marks the first aldermanic election since the 11th ward became the first Asian American majority ward in the city.

Beyond having language assistance at the polls, there is a need, especially among LEP voters and naturalized voters, for outreach and education. “Oftentimes voters who experience language barriers are not aware that they can get assistance at the polls,” said Kimberly Leung, Voting Rights Legal Fellow at Advancing Justice | Chicago“That is why outreach and education is so important.” The Chicago Board of Elections has full-time bilingual staff who conduct language-specific outreach and community education in the lead up to each election. This in-house capacity is critical to effectively implementing Section 203.

Advancing Justice | Chicago would like to thank HANA Center, South Asian American Policy and Research Institute, Indo-American Center, Alliance of Filipinos for Immigrant Rights and Empowerment, Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community, and the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights for their assistance in ensuring voter accessibility for all. We look forward to continued collaboration with CBOE.


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

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Fourth Nonpartisan Mayoral Candidate Forum


CONTACT: Grace Pai (Executive Director) (224) 289-5291

Over 300 Asian American community members gather to hear mayoral candidates discuss community issues

Photos here (credit: Ray Rivera)

February 6, 2023, CHICAGO – Hundreds of Asian American community members gathered at tonight’s Mayoral Candidate Forum hosted by the Pan Asian Voter Empowerment (PAVE) Coalition and Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago. Leading up to the first mayoral election since the Atlanta spa shootings and huge spike in anti-Asian violence throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, seven out of nine candidates for mayor attended: State Representative Kam Buckner, Congressman Jesús ‘Chuy’ García, Ja’Mal Green, Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson, Alderman Roderick Sawyer, Paul Vallas, and Willie Wilson. Alderwoman Sophia King had confirmed but was unable to join due to illness and Mayor Lori Lightfoot was invited but was not able to attend.

Grace Pai, Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago and one of the moderators of the forum, said, “Asian Americans are the fastest growing racial and ethnic group in Chicago and the entire country, and we make up 7% of Chicago’s population. Tonight’s forum was about elevating Asian American voices and the issues that are important to our communities.”

Community members and leaders from the PAVE Coalition shared personal testimonies and asked candidates to answer questions about six policy priorities: public safety, language access, senior services, affordable housing, immigrant rights, and education equity.

Lilly Le, a community organizer with the Vietnamese Association of Illinois, shared a testimony about housing at the forum before asking the candidates their position on rent control and how they would increase affordable housing. She said, “Safe and affordable housing is a human right. Many elderly immigrant seniors live on a fixed income and feel isolated due to language barriers and lack of family in Chicago. Their isolation worsens when they struggle to apply for and find affordable housing. Many seniors and unhoused folks have told me that they have been on the Chicago Housing Authority waitlist for over a year.”

“My school is one of the most diverse high schools in Chicago,” shared Waniya Zahid, a youth leader with the Indo-American Center. “78% of Mather High School is low income, 22% is Asian, and 28% are English language learners. Despite our diverse needs, we don’t have enough resources. For example, last week my teacher was yelled at for using more paper than their 500 sheet limit, when they are teaching multiple classes of 20 to 30 students per day and we go to school for 176 days.” Waniya asked the candidates how they would address Chicago Public Schools’ anticipated deficit and about their long-term vision for school funding.

Tonight’s event was the fourth Mayoral Forum organized by the PAVE Coalition and Advancing Justice | Chicago in an ongoing effort to increase civic engagement among, and improve the lives of, diverse Asian American communities across Chicagoland. The program was simultaneously interpreted into six different languages: Cantonese, Hindi/Urdu (which are spoken similarly, but written differently), Khmer, Korean, Tagalog, and Vietnamese. All candidates recognized the importance of issues facing Asian Americans in Chicago and committed to meet with the PAVE Coalition if elected.


Founded in 2011, the Pan Asian Voter Empowerment (PAVE) Coalition consists of 16 Asian American direct service and advocacy organizations in the Chicagoland area. The PAVE Coalition is committed to creating a space for meaningful collaboration across the diverse Asian American community, improving the lives of Asian Americans through advocacy, power-building, and policy change, increasing voter turnout and civic participation among Asian Americans in Illinois, and serving as a progressive voice for Asian American communities including in rapid response and crisis moments.


PAVE Coalition Members:

Alliance of Filipinos for Immigrant Rights and Empowerment, Apna Ghar, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago, Cambodian Association of Illinois, Chinese American Service League, Chinese Mutual Aid Association, Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community, Hamdard Health Center, HANA Center, Indo-American Center, Japanese American Citizens League – Chicago, Japanese American Service Committee, Lao American Organization of Elgin, Muslim Civic Coalition, South Asian American Policy and Research Institute, Vietnamese Association of Illinois


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

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