The Korean Resource Center engages the community through a holistic empowerment model that combines social service, education, and culture with advocacy and organizing. This past year KRC assisted over 12,000 individuals through health care access, immigration, and affordable housing services.
We strongly believe in an informed and active citizenry, and as a result of our organizing and advocacy campaigns, the Asian American and Pacific Islander community has contributed to significant policy and systematic changes that have benefited low-income families and immigrants in California. This year, over 40 young people received training on how to become effective campaign managers through our Leaders of the New School program and they registered over 5,400 voters across 11 campuses in Southern California.
2018 has been an incredibly challenging year for immigrants, people of color, women, LGBTQ, and other marginalized communities. A small but vocal minority is working hard to spread a culture of hate, fear and anxiety. Despite these hard times, KRC has seen the people we are honoring tonight and thousands of community members across the country resist, fight back, and organize towards positive change for all. The courage we see from everyday people continues to inspire us, and we are emboldened as we look ahead knowing that all of you are with us.
David K Song, KRC Board Chair
KRC operates multiple year-round integrated voter engagement programs that seek to educate, mobilize, and develop the leadership of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community members. As the fastest growing minority group in the country, it is critical to build a culture of civic participation in our communities to build power for the long-term. These programs include Leaders of the New School for college aged-youth and high school students, the Immigrant Parents Group, SUPP for undocumented AAPI youth, and the Seniors Group. This has been an especially ground breaking year for Leaders of the New School as it had 43 participants compared to last year’s 18.
In preparation for the historical 2018 Midterm Election, KRC ran one of the largest AAPI statewide voter engagement programs in the country. Targeting a universe of AAPI first time and low-propensity voters in California, KRC conducted mass phone banking, canvassing, text messaging, peer-to-peer voter engagement and registered 7,939 new voters. These efforts were led by the Seniors Group and the Immigrant Parents Group, and Leaders of the New School participants and other youth leaders.
Its leaders and volunteers educated voters about civic participation as well as two Californian propositions: Proposition 5, property tax transfer, and Proposition 10, which would have expanded rights to pass local rent control. KRC successfully advocated against Proposition 5, a policy that would have resulted in the loss in revenue of over $2 billion for schools and social services. KRC contacted a total of 33,604 voters through phone banking and 85,933 through text messaging.
Dream Riders: Journey to Justice Bike Tour
The idea for the “Citizenship for All: Journey to Justice” was spearheaded and developed by young organizers from the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium (NAKASEC) and affiliates, KRC and HANA Center. NAKASEC & Affiliates have worked furiously since the election of President Trump as he executed much of his anti-immigrant agenda such as rescinding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), enhancing interior enforcement and continuously creating a toxic atmosphere for immigrant communities among others. Last year, their young leaders led a round the clock 22-day DREAM Action in front of the White House as well as numerous local and national actions to pass a permanent solution for undocumented youth and families.
The Dream Riders and other participants rode from Seattle, Washington to San Diego, California over the course of 37 days to advocate for a pathway to citizenship for all non-citizens in this country. This includes all 11 million undocumented immigrants and 35,000 intercountry adoptees.
Our campaign for #Citizenship4All has only just begun. We will continue organizing, mobilizing our base, and amplifying our message for a pathway to citizenship and basic human rights for all non-citizens.
For 36 years, as immigrant communities were under attack or were underserviced with the lack of access to in-language and culturally relevant services, KRC provided services, education and organizing with community members in need.
Immigration Legal Services focuses on providing quality full-scope legal services to low-income and hard to reach populations. Our priority is to serve survivors of domestic violence, other crimes, and child abuse/neglect by providing assistance in the following areas: deportation defense, affirmative filings (VAWA, U Visa, T Visa, SIJS, Military PIP, Hardship Waivers). We also prioritize complex Naturalization cases, DACA renewals, and family-based immigration options.
Community Education & Outreach We provide in-language community education on topics such as Know Your Rights, Access to Education (AB 540 & CA DREAM ACT), Public Charge, Financial Literacy, and other issues that affect our members.
- Assisted students renew their DACA applications and provided immigration screenings
- Increased staff capacity: Fully trained and accredited staff (1 to 4); Experienced Immigration Attorneys (1 to 2)
- On average, handled 400 calls per month through our legal service hotline
- Assisted 4,227 low-income community members file for naturalization, green card, and DACA renewals
- Assisted 430 members with family petitions and 7 U.S. Military families petition for undocumented family members through parole-in-place.
- Provided support for 25 survivors of domestic violence and child abuse/neglect
- KRC provided 702 units of service on Medi-Cal, Medicare Part D, My Health Los Angeles, and Cal Medi-Connect. Also, we provided low-income housing assistance to low-income and senior community members. Our drive behind this work rose from the common needs in our community, which is health care and housing.
- 614 Naturalization
- 702 Health Access
- 471 DACA Renewals
- 517 Affordable Housing
Immigrant rights organizing
The Orange County Board of Supervisors and 16 cities in the county expressed opposition to the California Values Act (SB 54) and to make it easier for ICE to continue deporting members of our immigrant community. In response, KRC was involved in a countywide effort to pressure all city councils that opposed SB54 to not join the federal government’s lawsuit against the state of California. In partnership with 13 organizations across Orange County, including Resilience OC and VietRISE formed the #ICEOUTofOC coalition, KRC was able to successfully blocked three cities (Fullerton and Brea) from joining former Attorney General Jeff Session’s lawsuit against the state of California, building the necessary momentum to defeat the lawsuit and keeping intact SB54 in the state of California.
KRC organizes a group of 60 Korean American seniors (previously known as Community Health Promoters) who meet monthly to learn about health, community issues, and to take action and bring change to the community. Seniors had a big role in fighting back against the anti-immigrant wave of “Welfare Reform” of 1996, and took a lead in demanding fully fledged language interpretation and translation in government programs like Medicare Part D and Medi-Cal. Seniors also stood for the community in stopping budget cuts on services serving low-income community members, expanding affordable housing opportunities in Koreatown, restoring the dental benefits component of the Medi-Cal program, and the DREAM Act and immigration reform.
KRC organizes a group of 10 Korean American immigrant parents who meet monthly to share updates on the immigration debate, changes to the DACA and CA Dream Act programs, and to get involved in community actions.
College-level Asian American civic engagement course
KRC partnered with Cal State Fullerton’s Asian American Studies Department to establish an Asian American Civic Engagement Course that can be established in any California State University. In turn, KRC introduced 20 students in its pilot class to KRC’s mission, campaigns, and political education that would directly impact young students of color across Southern California.. This course consists of a curriculum that focuses on leadership development, social issues within communities, and how to mobilize a community to address these issues. It also offers onsite learning within the KRC office alongside classroom learning closely partnering with Dr. Jennifer Yee.
Building off of KRC’s grassroots organizing model, KRC covered topics such as: how to build a campaign, turning a problem into an issue, and how to mobilize people around immigrant justice, economic justice, and racial justice. In addition, students learned field strategies such as voter registration, phone banking, and text banking.
In addition, KRC retains 20% of enrolled students for long-term organizational engagement. KRC’s goal is to implement the model at CSU Los Angeles and CSU Long Beach, with an interest to expand the model to the University of California system within the next few years. 20% of enrolled students are engaged for the long term.
Orange County Youth Organizing Program
KRC transitioned its summer campaign school, Leaders of the New school (LNS) to a collaborative partner program, Orange County Youth Organizing Program (OCYOP), in order to be able to meet the quality, scale and effectiveness of multi-cultural / multi-ethnic youth organizing anchoring the civic participation and engagement of young people across the county. 2018 was especially an important year due to the upcoming midterm elections. As a result, a 14-intern program (LNS) turned into a 79-intern program (OCYOP) in collaboration with VietRISE and Resilience OC.
During the summer internship, interns were taught the fundamentals of organizing, the political landscape of Orange County, and how to integrate the teachings into live campaigns through active learning. They also learned of campaigns such as housing justice, law enforcement accountability, and KRC’s latest platform, Citizenship for All.
In turn, KRC was able to lead a campaign where KRC had 8,683 voters pledge support to Proposition 10. KRC registered 18,660 voters since 2016. KRC’s civic engagement campaigns have grown 63% since 2016 in voter registration and built networks with 17 campuses at Colleges and High Schools across Los Angeles and Orange County.
KRC participated in statewide efforts led by multiple coalitions including the Million Voters Project, AAPIs for Civic Empowerment, and Power California to stop Proposition 5, Property Tax Transfers, which could have resulted in 1 billion dollars of revenue deficit for local governments, needed to fund education and social services. Through KRC’s education efforts, 7,253 voters pledged to vote against Proposition 5. The measure was defeated by 59.8% in the November 2018 elections.
As KRC engaged in the creation a broad base of support towards affordable housing that would ramp up support for policy proposals that would repeal the Costa-Hawkins restriction on rent control, we found the community suddenly engulfed in a reactionary response to solutions to homelessness in Los Angeles. A 3-year homeless housing project was proposed in Koreatown as part of a city-wide multi-pronged effort by the City of Los Angeles to assist the unhoused. As a response to this resolution, Korean American media galvanized opposition against the much needed development, writing misleading portrayals of homeless people in their news stories over the span of 3 months.
KRC responded by organizing community leaders, connecting and collaborating with KIWA and Ktown for All, providing testimony to city council members, and provided public education around the need and impact around transition housing in Koreatown. KRC achieved the following:
- Had over 10 interviews with Korean and English media and had an opinion editorial published around the issue;
- Educated 280 members and clients, reached over 12,000 people by newsletters and emails;
- Researched and produced educational materials in English, Korean and Spanish, and made it available through the newsletters, website, and workshops. The website registered a cumulative total of 5,000 visits;
- Turned out 20 community members to the second city council meeting where the item was discussed, where supporters of the housing project packed the room.
As a result of KRC's work, community members were educated on the root causes impacting this issue, and the community at large realized that there was a progressive alternative inside the community to the racist backlash against homelessness. The city launched the development of the shelter and the site is expected to complete construction in 2019.
As a response to the housing crisis, there are ongoing conversations to expand rent control at the legislature level as well as through election ballot measures. In November of 2018, Proposition 10, which would have created the opportunity for cities to expand rent control, failed to pass with 59% of the voters voting against. However, KRC had 7,531 Korean american voters (88% of the 8,574 voters we contacted) pledge support for the measure, and will carry the energy from the campaign forward into the future. We are exploring new avenues to pursue ways to address the housing crisis in 2019.