The Korean Resource Center was founded in 1983 with a mission to empower the Korean American and Asian American community through services, education, organizing and advocacy. KRC has three operating offices in Southern California: two in Los Angeles and one in Orange County. Every year, KRC serves more than 11,000 low income families through public health & social services, immigration legal services and housing counseling. KRC is an online hub for community members seeking information with its website attracting an average of 5,000 unique visits a month and its work has been widely covered, generating 400 media hits a year. Here is a breakdown of our highlights from 2017:
- Led campaigns to protect Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) with a 22-day, 24-hr vigil in front of White House, educated Congress on the urgency of passing the Dream Act in Washington DC and in the OC, and identified voters who support commercial property tax reform.
- Played a leadership role in passing the Fullerton Joint Union High School District Sanctuary School Resolution and the linkage fee in the city of LA. The former ensures that all students, regardless of immigration status, would have a safe and supportive learning environment. The latter will charge developers to pay for affordable housing.
- 123 volunteers secured over 5,627 new voter registrations and contacted 10,236 Asian American voters via phone throughout California encouraging them to vote.
- Developed 35 new youth leaders, both high school & college students, as well as 50 grassroots immigrant senior leaders.
- Organized and participated in 30 actions advocating for immigrant rights and health access as well as 9 community gatherings.
Provided pre-consultations to 4,669 community members on Naturalization, DACA, Green Card Renewals and other immigration related legal services and assisted with the completion of 1,225 applications.
Assisted community members and completed 547 Section 8 voucher applications in 10 days. Out of these, 89 vouchers were selected for the affordable housing program.
Provided consultation for 989 low income families and seniors and enrolled 365 individuals into public health insurance programs.
KRC and NAKASEC operate year-round integrated voter engagement programs that seek to educate, mobilize, and develop the leadership of 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 now to build power for the long-term.
Towards one of the most contentious Presidential races in U.S. history, KRC ran one of the largest AAPI statewide voter engagement programs in the country during 2016. Targeting a universe of 92,953 first time and low-propensity Korean American voters, KRC conducted mass phone banking, canvassing, robocalls, text messaging and registered a record 7,602 new voters. Its senior citizen leadership group, Community Health Promoters, held an Early Voting Townhall in October 2016, which attracted over 200 Korean American seniors and educated them on how to vote by mail.
KRC also educated voters about three Californian propositions: Proposition 55 (funding for public education and healthcare), Proposition 56 (tobacco tax for health care), and Proposition 57 (progressive criminal justice reform). All three resolutions passed and it was the first time in decades that citizens of Orange County voted by majority in favor of progressive policy. Additionally, KRC was one of three key groups that participated in an ongoing campaign to change the municipal election system in Fullerton towards District Elections, creating districts that would better ensure the representation of communities of color in Fullerton. Finally, it has been working on the Safe Schools Resolution in Orange County for the Fullerton Joint Union High School District and Fullerton Elementary School District to ensure that 1) ICE cannot come onto school campuses and 2) students’ family information is not shared with federal agents.
Simultaneously NAKASEC affiliates HANA Center (Chicago, IL) and NAKASEC Virginia (Annandale, VA) also led robust civic engagement campaigns, together targeting a universe of 64,679 Asian American voters. HANA Center also secured bilingual election judges to increase immigrant accessibility to the polls, and held two Candidate’s Forums which highlighted the Illinois US Senate race, by which Tammy Duckworth became the state’s first Asian American US Senator. NAKASEC VA organized a Youth Civic Participation Forum which attracted high school and college students to learn more about the importance of voting to building community power.
In partnership with Adoptee Rights Campaign (ARC), NAKASEC is a leading advocate for the Adoptee Citizenship Act. Shockingly, an estimated 35,000 intercountry adoptees do not have citizenship, of which 20,000 are Korean American. Consequently, they are denied public benefits, passports, home loans and are at risk for deportation. In 2016, ARC and NAKASEC were successful in coordinating the Family is More Than DNA campaign to advocate for the Adoptee Citizenship Act, which will confer citizenship to all adoptees. The campaign sent 35,000 postcards from our community to Congress, received support from 75 endorsing organizations, secured bipartisan Congressional cosponsorship and led to the bill’s introduction into the House of Representatives. These efforts were covered widely by Korean and mainstream media outlets. We are currently organizing for the bill’s reintroduction into the current Congress.
ARC and NAKASEC also accompanied Adam Crapser, a Korean adoptee who was detained in February 2016 and deported in November right before Thanksgiving, through his deportation proceedings. Held at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, WA, ARC and NAKASEC assisted Adam in ensuring his legal and health care needs were met and continue to support him as he acclimates to South Korea. We hope to one day bring Adam home.
Upon hearing the news that 10 states would sue the federal government if the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program was not rescinded, NAKASEC’s undocumented youth leaders decided to lead an effort to defend the DACA and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) programs. Launched on August 15th, the 5th anniversary of DACA’s implementation, KRC and NAKASEC coordinated DREAM Action: Our Youth Our Future, a 22-day round-the-clock vigil in front of the White House. The DREAM Action drew national attention and has positioned KRC and NAKASEC as leading Asian American organizations in securing a permanent solution for our young community members.
The DREAM Action, now in its second phase, provides a vehicle for Korean and Asian American communities to fight back, empowering and re-energizing the community, and is fostering stronger relationships between ally organizations. It also is helping change the larger American narrative regarding young immigrants; while we were out in front of the White House we spoke with over 10,000 people, of which 8,000 signed our petition in support of DACA, TPS and the DREAM Act. Although DACA is ending, DREAM Action is building momentum towards the DREAM Act, a legislative solution with a pathway to citizenship for an estimated 2.1 million young Americans.
As organizations founded by low-income, recent immigrant youth who recognize the critical role young people have played in social movements around the world, KRC and NAKASEC intentionally nurture our next generation of leaders. Our organizations boast locally based, robust youth programs that seek to develop and empower young people of color in Los Angeles, Orange County, greater Chicago and northern Virginia through political education, leadership development and ongoing campaigns towards social, economic and racial justice.
Leaders of the New School (LNS) is an eight week program run in Orange County that connects college aged youth and students to various community organizations and civic engagement opportunities, LNS develops and expands on its participants’ understanding and skills in navigating local political spaces. By the end of the program, participants are fully trained to be campaign managers themselves!
Future Organizers Rooted in Empowerment (FOREground) is a year-round social justice program for college-aged youth in Orange County that seeks to educate youth about identity, power, and privilege as they develop their own campaigns and execute field programs.
The Youth Power Academy is a quarterly program targeted at high school students in the greater Los Angeles that combines education, identity, and community service to develop progressive high school youth in Los Angeles.
NAKASEC affiliates provide comprehensive linguistically and culturally competent social services to address the full human needs of the Korean American community with an emphasis on low-income families, recent immigrants, Limited English Proficient, seniors, youth, and women. While meeting the critical needs of our community members, KRC and NAKASEC also are continuously informed of the emerging issues within the community. KRC engages 12,000 clients annually through the following social services: immigration (green card renewals, naturalization, health (Children’s Health Insurance, Covered California, Medicare Part D), student services (K-12 school enrollment for undocumented immigrant students, undocumented student college admissions) housing (affordable housing, foreclosure prevention), access to driver’s licenses, and financial literacy.