Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus engages in litigation and campaigns that advance our strategic priorities in the areas of immigrant justice, racial equity, and immigrant justice. Our goals are to create lasting systemic change through litigation cases or through advocacy campaigns. Below you can see our current work.
Challenging Immigration Detention: Preap v. Johnson
We are currently litigating a California statewide class action lawsuit demanding the opportunity for release on bond for immigrants with old criminal convictions who had returned to their communities before later being arrested by ICE. The case is currently pending before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Read Northern District Court Judge Gonzalez’ decision here.
An immigrant from Macau, Daniel was arrested in an immigration home raid because of a robbery conviction from two decades before. Months of campaigning by Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus led to Daniel’s release. Read more here.
Two-thirds of incarcerated women are survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence. Rajeshree, a survivor of both, has spent nearly half of her life incarcerated. A successful campaign highlighting the incarceration of survivors led to Rajeshree’s release. Read more here.
Criminal Justice Reform
Disentangling Local Law Enforcement from Immigration Deportation System
Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus represented Martin Del Agua in filing suit against Sacramento County for violating the California TRUST Act, a law passed in 2013 establishing clear boundaries between California law enforcement and federal immigration authorities. Surveillance video from February 2014 showed that sheriff’s deputies unlawfully arrested Mr. Del Agua at his home. He was then held in jail for three days on an immigration hold request in violation of the TRUST Act. Sacramento County agreed to pay Mr. Del Agua $25,000 and to implement policy changes to settle his case. Read more here.
Promoting Language Access and Challenging Wrongful Arrest
Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus is representing a domestic violence survivor who was wrongfully arrested by the San Francisco Police Department after officers failed to provide her with language access and failed to properly investigate that she was the victim of domestic violence. Her arrest caused her separation from her children. In collaboration with a network of domestic violence survivor organizations, Advancing Justice-ALC is working to improve language access by the San Francisco Police Department. Read more here.
Challenging San Francisco Police-ICE Collaboration
Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus is representing Pedro Figueroa Zarceno, who was wrongfully arrested by the San Francisco Police Department after going to the police station to recover his stolen car. In violation of city policy, SFPD notified ICE about Mr. Figueroa Zarceno and detained Mr. Figueroa Zarceno, before releasing him to ICE agents. Mr. Figueroa Zarceno was separated from his family for two months while he was kept in immigration detention as a result of SFPD’s actions.
ICE Out of CA
Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus analyzes trends in collaboration between local law enforcement and ICE, so community organizers and advocates can strategically push ICE out of California. While President Obama’s newly released immigration enforcement guidelines disbanded the deeply controversial Secure Communities Program (“S-Comm”), its successor, the Priority Enforcement Program (“PEP-Comm”) is largely expected to uphold the same problematic practices that tear families and communities apart. Because of this, communities across California are collectively organizing to stop PEP-Comm and other connections between local law enforcement agencies and ICE. As we continue to separate local law enforcement from ICE, we can further strengthen our communities and restore trust between the community and local law enforcement. See the ICE Out of CA website for more information: http://www.iceoutofca.org/
Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus is co-sponsoring a California state bill known as the Transparent Review of Unjust Transfers and Holds Act, or the TRUTH Act (AB 2792-Bonta). The TRUTH Act creates a transparent process, including community engagement, before local law enforcement can participate in controversial ICE deportation programs. Local law enforcement must then reach an agreement with their city council or county supervisors that sets the terms and conditions of any participation in such programs and ensures compliance with California’s TRUST Act. Read more here.
Bringing Transparency to Immigration Deportation System: FOIA on Priority Enforcement Program (PEP)
Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, along with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network and the Immigration Justice Clinic at the Cardozo School of Law, filed a lawsuit against several federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, under the Freedom of Information Act to uncover the truth about this new federal deportation program, the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP). For more information please click here.
San Francisco Immigrant Rights and Criminal Justice Reform Coalition
Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus is a member of the Free SF, a coalition comprised of immigrant rights and criminal justice reform organizations. Free SF advocates for community safety, transformative justice, immigrant rights, and self-determination. Click here for more information about Free SF.
Fighting Against Sweatshops on Wheels
Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus represented 6 airport shuttle drivers in San Francisco with their wage and hour claims against the shuttle company, American Airporter, and its individual owner. Under the false guise of being independent contractors, the drivers were unlawfully being made to pay for use of company vans, gas, vehicle maintenance, and airport entry fees, even though the van companies they worked for control the fares, customers, routes, schedule, and airport access. Earlier this month, the drivers won an administrative decision upholding the agency’s Bureau of Field Enforcement citations for over $212,000 in unpaid minimum wages, overtime, and meal break premiums payable to six affected drivers, plus penalties. Additional claims are still pending. The decision that calls into question the modus operandi of airport shuttle van companies throughout the state. Read more here.
Fresno Caregivers Win Over $200,000 in Labor Law Violations
Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus represented 11 residential caregivers in Fresno with their wage and hour claims against their former employer Stephanie Costa and her company Bedford Care Group, Inc. The caregivers had worked around the clock caring for elderly and disabled patients without being properly paid the minimum wage, overtime, or provided the requisite breaks. ALC filed their claims with the California State Labor Commissioner. In December 2014, the workers won an administrative decision upholding the agency’s Bureau of Field Enforcement’s citations for the unpaid wages against both the corporate and individual defendants. The parties later reached a global settlement for over $200k in unpaid wages and attorneys fees for the workers. The settlement left undistributed a useful piece of the administrative decision which applied a three year statute of limitations for unpaid wages under California Labor Code 558, instead of the one year asserted by employers. Read more here.
Advocating for a Filipina Domestic Worker
In November 2015, Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus and the Women’s Employment Rights Clinic at GGU Law, filed a complaint in San Francisco Superior Court on behalf of Julieta Yang against her former employers, a high profile couple in San Francisco. Yang worked for the family as a live-in nanny and housekeeper. The complaint alleged that the family failed to pay her minimum wage and overtime for all the hours she worked, and failed to provide her with the proper meal breaks. The complaint also alleged that the husband of the family sexually harassed Yang in violation of both the employment and housing provisions of the state Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Yang was supported by worker centers, Migrante and the Filipino Community Center, who built a public campaign around Yang’s case in order to highlight the rights of domestic workers and the underreported and serious problem of sexual harassment for domestic workers who are isolated in private homes. The case resolved at the end of the year. Read more here.
Immigrant Workers Win Landmark $4 Million Settlement – Award-Winning Yank Sing Restaurant Commits to Lead Industry Change in Workplace Standards
On November 19, 2014, ALC announced a landmark settlement for over $4 million in back pay owed to over 280 current and former workers at Yank Sing, an award-winning high-end restaurant in San Francisco. The settlement was won through a transformative workplace campaign led by a group of nearly 100 cooks, dishwashers, and wait staff at the restaurant. Despite economic vulnerability and fears of retaliation often faced by low-wage immigrant workers, campaign leaders organized their coworkers to demand workplace changes, with the support of the Chinese Progressive Association and legal representation from ALC. Because of the strength of the campaign, workers were not only able to win the $4 million in back pay owed to affected workers, but also model employer workplace changes above and beyond what the law requires, including wage increases above the minimum wage, holiday pay, vacation pay, paid health insurance, protected leave to visit family, a workers’ compliance committee, workers’ rights training during paid time, and more.These terms were all agreed to by Yank Sing, who laudably turned its practices around and made the commitment to be a model employer for the industry.The backpay component of the settlement was also made possible with the help and involvement of the California Labor Commissioner’s office and the San Francisco Office of Labor Standards Enforcement.
Court Grants Final Approval of Class Action Settlement for Nail Salon Workers – Popular San Mateo County Nail Salon Agrees to Pay Workers $750,000
On June 26, 2013, San Mateo Superior Court Judge Marie S. Weiner entered an order granting preliminary approval of a class action settlement reached between current and former employees of the popular San Mateo County based nail salon chain, Natalie Salon, and the owners and operators of the chain. The Asian Law Caucus filed the suit on behalf of a class of approximately 125 current and former salon employees. Davis Cowell & Bowe, LLP and the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center co-counseled the case with ALC. The complaint alleged that the chain failed to properly pay its employees minimum and overtime wages, took portions of employees’ credit card tips, failed to provide adequate meal breaks, failed to keep proper time and pay records, and unlawfully discriminated against employees by prohibiting them from speaking Vietnamese in the workplace. After the case was filed, Natalie Salon made positive changes to its employment practices and engaged in good-faith efforts to reach a fair resolution of the case. In addition to paying the $750,000 settlement amount and adjusting its employment practices, the salon has instructed their employees that they may speak Vietnamese at work and will continue to post notices advising employees of their federal and state workplace rights.
Immigrant Workers Recover Over $316,000 In Wage Theft Settlement
On February 15, 2012, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, Chinese Progressive Association, and Progressive Workers Alliance announced the $316,000 settlement of a major wage theft case in San Francisco, which resolves claims for unpaid wages, tips, meal and rest break premiums filed by eight immigrant workers from a popular restaurant in the Richmond District. This settlement was achieved through a collaborative effort between workers, the state labor commissioner’s office, and legal and community advocates.
Bringing Transparency to FBI Activities in Northern California: ACLU of Northern California, Asian Law Caucus, and SF Bay Guardian v. FBI
Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, the ACLU of Northern California and the Bay Guardian filed a Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) request in 2010, followed with a lawsuit to enforce the FOIA in 2011, which produced over 50,000 pages of documents concerning surveillance and discrimination by federal law enforcement of AAMEMSA communities. Read more here.
Challenging Suspicious Activity Reports: Gill v. U.S. Department of Justice
Along with the ACLU and law firm counsel, Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus represents five individuals who were the subject of Suspicious Activity Reports that were then placed in federal databases. Without a proper predicate of criminal activity these individuals were placed in a federal database suggesting linkage to terrorist activity. Plaintiffs are seeking to require that before such reports are kept that they have a proper link to wrongful activity. Read more here.
Defending the First Amendment and Civic Engagement by AMEMSA Communities
Since 9/11, AMEMSA communities have been subjected to coordinated attacks by government agencies and private actors meant to discourage exercise of constitutional freedoms guaranteed under the First Amendment. Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus works to resist this chilling effect by supporting the First Amendment rights of young AMEMSA community members on university campuses and the community more broadly. This work includes direct engagement with university administrators and federal government agencies to ensure respect for the First Amendment, and to ensure that AMEMSA communities are not unfairly targeted or deprived of their First Amendment freedoms.
Protecting the Freedom to Travel
Since mid-2013, Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus has been working with civil rights and community organizations around the country to document and respond to a pattern of passport confiscations affecting the Yemeni-American community and depriving it of an essential characteristic of citizenship – the freedom to travel. Please visit http://myembassyrights.us/ for more information or for assistance with this issue.
California Voting For All Act
Advancing Justice – California is sponsoring the California Voting for All Act, state legislation that would make California a nationwide leader on ensuring language access in the voting process for limited-English immigrant voters. The bill is carried by Assemblymember Rob Bonta, head of the legislature’s API Caucus. As the state with the most immigrant voters and the most limited-English voters in the nation, we believe California must be on the cutting edge of making translated ballots and bilingual poll workers available. The California Voting for All Act is a key part of building an accessible, inclusive, and diverse democracy in our state. Read more here.