At the national level, NAKASEC & Affiliates organized for a clean DREAM Act for undocumented young people and launched a Citizenship For All campaign. As part of this campaign, community leaders completed a 1,784 mile Journey to Justice bike tour from border to border, engaging over 1,000 people in a conversation about citizenship for all.
We also co-launched the Value Our Families coalition, which seeks to protect and strengthen the family-based immigration system, and convened Woori Ujima, which means “Our collective work and responsibility” in Korean and Swahili. Together with the UndocuBlack Network, we convened 90 community members from the Asian and Black immigrant communities in Gardena, CA, for three days to learn about each other, build community and strengthen joint work towards common values and goals.
We also co-launched Adoptees for Justice, an intercountry adoptee led organization that is working towards citizenship for all adoptees. Finally, NAKASEC VA rapidly grew its social service, immigrant justice organizing and civic engagement programs in a state that now has the 5th largest Korean American and 9th largest Asian American population in the country.
National Immigration Integration Conference
Along with our partner CASA, NAKASEC was proud to co-host the NIIC, a conference organized annually by the National Partnership for New Americans. This marked the first time an Asian American organization co-hosted the NIIC in its 11 year history. In addition, NAKASEC led a successful youth track of four workshops, led by undocumented young people, geared towards dismantling the good vs bad immigrant narrative and towards collective organizing. Nine Asian American leaders spoke on the NIIC’s mainstage throughout the conference, sharing their analysis, work and calls to action. NAKASEC also co-planned the Women’s Plenary, the first of its kind in NIIC history. The inaugural Women’s Plenary was so successful that the NIIC included it again in their recent conference!
Bow-tie & Friends
Chicago and Texas - From January 2019 to April 2019, community leaders with NAKASEC embarked on the “Bow-tie & Friends” travelling art show centered on the undocumented Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) experience. Inspired by the art of tarot cards, Bo Thai, an undocumented young artist, combined compelling handrawn visuals with the real human stories of the undocumented AAPIs he interviewed for this project. These interviews coupled with visual art culminated into the “Bow-tie & Friends” art project which strives to uplift the diverse experiences of undocumented immigrants. Through this art project, NAKASEC leveraged art as a powerful tool to engage young people in the Chicago area in conversations about immigration and a vision of #Citizenship4All. We also brought the “Bow-tie & Friends” travelling art show to colleges, universities and community spaces in Texas, Virginia and Maryland, where we engaged over 1,000 people and were able to build relationships in the local area.
Value our Families
As a co-convener of the Value Our Families coalition, NAKASEC co-organized two Days of Action in Washington DC timed with the introduction of the “The Reuniting Families Act. This legislation reduces the family and employment visa backlogs that are currently preventing thousands of family members from being reunited with their loved ones, expanded sponsorship for LGTBQ families and includes a Diversity Visa allotment. As a way to garner support for the bill and humanize the issue, Simon Chung,a senior citizen community leader with HANA Center (NAKASEC’s Chicago Affiliate), shared his story of how family reunification helped ensure the success of his small business in his local community in Illinois. The bill now has 60 co-sponsors in the House and serves as an important organizing tool to defend family-based immigration.
LGBT Equality Act
After adopting the LGBT Equality Act into its Citizenship for All platform, NAKASEC co-led a petition drive with the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) to educate and engage our community. We also translated the petition into Korean. We have been encouraging our senators from CA, IL and VA to reach out to other legislators for more senate support. We understand that we cannot support our entire Asian community without also uplifting those within our community who are queer and trans!
Adoptees for Justice
This November marks the first anniversary of Adoptees for Justice, a group led by intercountry adoptees working to educate, empower, and organize transracial and transnational adoptee communities to achieve a just and humane adoption, immigration, and restorative justice systems. Co-convened by NAKASEC and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta, Adoptees for Justice has grown to an organization of over 40 members across the country and supported the introduction of the Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2019 into both chambers of Congress, an bill that would grant citizenship to all intercountry adoptees. A sister organization in Korea, Adoptees for Justice Korea, has also been established.
This past year, NAKASEC joined the #DefendHate Campaign which calls on the federal government to divest our taxpayer dollars from harmful immigration enforcement measures and invest in what communities really need, such as education and health care. NAKASEC & Affiliates educated 16 members of Congress about this issue during the August recess.
Base Building in Texas and Philadelphia
To grow progressive power at a national level and build with in new places where our community is rapidly growing, NAKASEC has been meeting with community members in Dallas, Houston and the greater Philadelphia area. We conducted Know Your Rights trainings in all three cities, distributed our bilingual immigration hotline number and distributed informational posters in local community businesses. In greater Philadelphia, we worked with a new coalition, Korean Americans for Civic Participation, to support their efforts towards the 2019 state elections.
Home is Here campaign
NAKASEC is excited that our undocumented young leaders are leading the #HomeIsHere: March for DACA & TPS. Launched on October 26, 2019 in NYC, our leaders will march 230 miles over 18 days to the steps of the Supreme Court to defend the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) programs. They will arrive on November 12 in time for the opening hearing on the DACA case. Our goal is to draw national attention and support to the programs and motivate thousands of Americans to call on the Supreme Court to rule on the right side of history. We also will be encouraging our community members to vote in 2020 and fight for citizenship for all!
In California, KRC provided high quality social services including Immigration Legal Services, Citizenship Services, Senior Services, Health Care access, and DACA renewals. We provide critical in-language Know Your Rights information and staffed a bilingual Korean/English immigration hotline.
KRC’s senior citizen organizing group played a key role in organizing for language access and restoring the Medi-Cal program dental component. With coalition partners, we fought for Sanctuary Cities in Orange County. Although it was controversial, we boldly spoke out in support of the homeless community in Koreatown and advocated for the building of transitional housing for this population.
Our Orange County Youth Organizing Program trained 79 interns who learned about community organizing, advocacy and civic engagement, and put their new skills into action. We further developed the next generation of Asian American leaders by partnering with Cal State Fullerton to develop a curriculum for students that focuses on social issues. We played a pivotal role in the 2018 mid-term elections, registering 7,939 voters, directly contacting 44,528 via phone bank and canvassing 8,451.
Gwangju People’s Uprising
Gwangju People’s Uprising freedom fighter Myung Sook Cha met with 67 Korean American, Asian American and Latinx community members at KRC on May 24 for a special Uprising 39th anniversary talk on the theme of “Gwangju People’s Uprising: Women’s Stories”.
Back in 1980, during the uprising in the city of Gwangju, Cha led street announcements atop another activist’s car from May 19th to 21st, exposing crimes against humanity perpetrated by South Korean government soldiers. Cha said “someone had to tell the citizens that people were being killed by the soldiers. Whenever we got our hands on speakers and a microphone, we organized street announcements.”
At this event, commemorating the 39th anniversary of the uprising, and also the 36th anniversary of KRC’s founding, four students were awarded with a $1,500 scholarship.
KRC organizes a group of Korean American seniors who meet monthly to learn about health, community issues, and to take action and bring change to the community. The group discussed actions to address the housing crisis and the ongoing attack on immigrants.
Health for All
KRC worked in the community to bring health for everyone - expanding the Medi-Cal program to all regardless of immigration status. We met with over 30 immigrant parents to introduce the campaign and brainstorm together ways to make our voices heard in the health care debate.
KRC joined the Immigrant Day of Actions in Sacramento with over 30 youth members, including 2 parents took time off to come join us to share their personal stories with the legislators’ offices. The action emphasized the drive towards a California that works for all individuals and families, with a forward-thinking agenda that recognized the contributions of California’s immigrants while advancing community health, greater economic prosperity, and racial justice.
Supporting migrant families
KRC joined a multi-faith delegation in the San Diego/Tijuana border in December for a solidarity civil disobedience action demanding a just process for asylum seekers gathered near the U.S.-Mexico border. KRC connected with local organizations in Tijuana to deliver clothes and hygiene supplies to 250 migrant families as they awaited their asylum processing.
Summer interns of KRC’s Leaders of the New School hosted a community forum on climate change on July 13, where 50 people participated. Participants of the Orange County Youth Organizing Program, jointly led by KRC, VietRISE and ROC, organized a block party on August 3 at El Centro Cultural de Mexico in Santa Ana that educated the community on the need to fund quality education for all. The event also raised over $2,800 in contributions and membership fees. Youth asked local elected officials to denounce Trump’s racist immigrant policies.
Through KRC’s weekly youth program FOReground, youth shared social issues, learning about privilege, race, immigration, allyship, and identity.
KRC collaborated with Cal State Fullerton to run a 10-week Service Learning class where 17 students learned what it meant to be part of a community and move campaigns forward.