We bring together and move youth and seniors, immigrants and second generation, long-time community activists and budding leaders alike into action in order to realize a just, humane and equitable America. This unity is particularly important during an election year when now, more than ever, families are hurting –from the loss of jobs, healthcare, or homes, to the ongoing struggle to attain the basic rights to immigrant and minority families. All year long we have striven to ensure that all parts of our community are activated on the issues that impact them and we will continue to bring this energy to the polls on November 6.
We are also marking a tremendous victory. After 10 years of organizing and advocating for the rights of undocumented students, on June 15, 2012 the Department of Homeland Security announced a new policy called “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.” This policy is a huge step for undocumented youth to finally dream of a future in this country and an example of the power of our community coming together for social change. There is a longer road ahead to fully realize the potential of these youth and bring the same opportunity to their parents, but tonight let us join in celebrating this moment and re-committing to the work ahead.
Julie Kurumada, NAKASEC Board Chair
Zu Kim, KRC Board Chair
For the California Primary elections in June, KRC reached out to and contacted over 20,000 voters in Southern California area, working with over 35 volunteers including seniors, college students who volunteered for weeks every day. KRC registered 1,458 voters, made 3,196 calls to get out the vote and provided assistance to over 240 voters through KRC’s voter hotline on Election Day. For the 2012 November elections, NAKASEC, KRC & KRCC are building upon its many years of civic enagement experience to increase the participation of Korean American & Asian American families and communities throughout California, Illinois, and Virginia. NAKASEC & affiliates also launched the Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) Families Campaign to engage voters on key issues that impact families and the nation as a whole including immigration reform, ensuring affordable education for all, affordable housing, and protecting vital social services.
NAKASEC & KRC work closely with our youth, families and seniors in efforts to educate, organize and empower the Korean American & Asian American community.
AAPI Undocumented Youth Network - In December 2011, 14undocumented Asian American youth leaders and allies from California, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, Georgia and Washington, DC gathered in Montgomery, Alabama, to join community members and organizers from across the country to oppose HB 56, the state’s harsh anti-immigrant law, and strategize ways to engage Asian American communities in the movement for immigrant rights and the DREAM Act. Youth were provided a space to bond, talk about issues they are dealing with in their respective home states, participate in skills-building training and build leadership.
New Organizing Project (NOP) - Launched in September 2010, NOP is in its 3rd generation with three youth from California, Georgia and Virginia. The project seeks to train online activists to engage new audiences and empower youth to build their leadership skills to tell their story and use the power of social media to share their experiences across the world.
Social Justice Camp & Maryland Dream Summer - In July 2012, NAKASEC held its first ever Social Justice Camp to train young AAPI leaders on organizing skills. Ten youth from California, Illinois, and Virginia arrived in Washington DC, used their skills to reach out to and educate the Korean American and Asian American community on the Maryland Dream Act. During one week, 1981 voters were called, over 100 community members were educated on the issue, and the youth went door to door to 213 homes.
“Getting other people to join in and help support the Maryland Dream Act was the hardest thing. At least give them a chance to have a great future. College/university is one of the most important things people need to have a successful career.” - Amanda Du, Social Justice Camp participant.
AKASIA - The Alliance of Korean American Students in Action (AKASIA) is a college group based out of KRC that educates and organizes Korean American undergraduate and graduate students around issues that impact our community. This year, AKASIA members assisted over 800 students seeking advice about A.B. 540, California’s in-state tuition policy. AKASIA hosts bi-monthly meetings where undocumented students have a safe space to share their experiences, learn about pressing issues in the community, and are empowered to take action.
Summer Youth Empowerment Program - KRC’s Summer Youth Empowerment Program (SYEP) this year comprised of 9 high school youth from the Los Angeles area. Over six weeks, SYEP explored their identities as Korean American youth, and learned about immigrant rights, access to education, racism, and sexism. This summer, both the SYEP youth and high school volunteers outreached at several local Korean churches and markets, gathering hundreds of petition signatures and photos for the AAPI Families Campaign.
Dream Scholarship Fund - 2012 marks the 5th year NAKASEC, KRC and KRCC of the Dream Scholarship Fund. This program awards scholarships to immigrant students across the country to help pay for school costs. Fundraising efforts are driven by youth for other youth. This year 12 youth were awarded $1,000 scholarships from California, Illinois, Virginia, and Massachusetts.
CHP is a group of 30 Korean American seniors who actively meet to discuss issues of health, well-being, economic security, and civil rights of America’s seniors. This past year, seniors have been working hard organizing around access to affordable housing options and have reached out to churches and senior apartments about this issue.
Korean American seniors experience a wait of up to 8-10 years to obtain affordable senior housing. Since October 2005, KRC has partnered with Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC) in an effort to construct 67 units of affordable senior housing apartments in Koreatown, Los Angeles. As of today, KRC and LTSC have received $3.1 million in grants from L.A. Community Redevelopment Agency and are continuing to work on obtaining additional grants to continue building more affordable housing.
As a part of a larger goal of ensuring economic security among low-income Korean Americans, NAKASEC & KRC have been working with families on counseling and education on improving credit, preventing foreclosure and skills on financial empowerment. Foreclosure Prevention: Since 2010, KRC has been a HUD-certified Local Housing Counseling Agency. This year, KRC served120 clients undergoing housing foreclosures through one-on-one consultations and educational workshops. In March 2012 KRC had was recognized as a “Champion of Change” by the White House for its foreclosure consultation work. Hee Joo Yoon, program director, received the award and met with President Barack Obama in April to discuss policy solutions for struggling homeowners.
The Immigrant Rights Project is a signature program at NAKASEC and KRC focusing on immigration reform and immigrant integration. This year, we ensured that the voices of Korean American and Asian Americans were heard against hateful anti-immigrants laws at the state level that have prompted national outcries.
Standing Against Arizona’s S.B. 1070 - NAKASEC mobilized over 22 Asian American individuals in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington DC to stand against Arizona’s S.B. 1070 on the day of its hearing.
Put the Brakes on Hate - NAKASEC Board member & KRC Executive Director Dae Joong Yoon traveled to Seoul, South Korea with other civil rights leaders, Service Employees International Union and the Leadership Council on Civil and Human Rights, to urge Hyundai shareholders to stand up against hate and voice their opposition to Alabama’s HB56, the “show me your papers” law. Hyundai is a major investor in the state and has yet to take a position on the issue. These leaders were joined in solidarity by the Korean Metal Workers Union and others.
“As an immigrant, I know that immigration is about families seeking to be together and live a better life…. HB56 that erodes the fundamental rights of immigrants, strikes fear in young children, and promotes racial profiling.” - Dae Joong Yoon, NAKASEC Board Member
Selma to Montgomery March - In March, representatives of NAKASEC and KRCC joined thousands of labor and civil rights leaders in Alabama for the re-enactment of the 1965 Voting Rights March from Selma to Montgomery against Alabama’s anti-immigrant legislation, HB56. Also joining were 10 members of AJA, Georgia’s all women’s pungmul troupe who provided the rhythm to the march.
Deferred Action - On June 15, 2012 the Department of Homeland Security announced a tremendous step to ensuring that undocumented young people are protected from deportation and will be able to work and contribute to this country. Through Deferred Action, undocumented students have been able to come out of the shadows and envision a realizable future. This announcement is the culmination of more than 10 years of work to build undocumented student movement. Since that time NAKASEC, KRC, and KRCC have been working to educate the community and assist young people with their applications on a pro-bono basis. Some highlights of our work:
- NAKASEC & affiliates organized a Telephonic Briefing for individuals on July 5 with over 150 joining from California, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Virginia and other states.
- NAKASEC & affiliates organized education workshops, and consulted applicants for approximately 120 individuals in the Virginia, Maryland and Illinois areas.
Since August 3, KRC has:
- Received over 5,000 calls from potential applicants and parents;
- Assisted 512 applicants through workshops;
- Provided consultations to 250 walk-in clients;and
- Worked with 85 volunteers who have been trained, including pro-bono attorneys.
KRC provides critical social service for the Korean American community including low income tax assistance, free consultations for families, seniors and children on accessing to federal or state government sponsored health care programs which include Medi-Cal for children and seniors and Medicare assistance.
- Assisted over 541 seniors in enrolling and renewing Medicare Part D plans & Medi-CAL.
- 326 low income families were assisted in low income tax filing
- 64 families and children were enrolled for public health benefits
- 323 individuals were counseled for A.B. 540, California’s in-state tuition law
- Assisted 336 legal permanent residents apply for citizenship, consulted over 1200 Korean Americans interested in naturalization, and prepared 28 individuals for citizenship exams
KRC holds regular Korean drumming classes for 13 adults and 13 youth, who are apart of the Han Nuri Cultural Troupe and Baram Sori Youth Cultural Troupe. Han Nuri, Jang Koo Hak Dang and Baram Sori promote Korean cultural traditions and support the social justice and immigrant rights movement through street performances at rallies and marches .