Decades of Work in Orange County
Since the 1990s, Advancing Justice-LA has worked on key legal and civil rights issues affecting Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in Orange County. Our work has included legal services, advocacy campaigns and impact lawsuits – particularly for hate crime victims and those challenging race discrimination – as well as civic engagement, from citizenship assistance to voter protection and voter engagement.
We have provided free legal services to low-income, limited English speaking Orange County residents, including the country’s largest Vietnamese population.
For years, we have provided free legal assistance to low-income, limited English speaking Orange County residents. Working with volunteer law students and lawyers, we host legal clinics on citizenship, immigration (including deferred action and deportation), elder law and housing. Because Orange County is home to the largest Vietnamese population in the U.S. (190,000), we have a Vietnamese-speaking immigration attorney based in Orange County and also operate the only Vietnamese legal intake line in Southern California. (We also operate intake lines in six other Asian languages.) In addition, we helped to launch the nation’s first Vietnamese-language self-help court project, in collaboration with the Orange County Superior Court, which is now officially part of the Superior Court’s services.
We have advocated on behalf of victims and family members of anti-Asian hate crimes. Below is a sampling of our cases in Orange County:
January 1996 - Advancing Justice worked with the family of Thien Minh Ly to successfully push a hate crimes prosecution after Ly, a 24-year old Vietnamese American, was killed near his Tustin home by two white supremacists.
September 1996 - Advancing Justice worked with the U.S. Attorney, successfully advocating for hate crime charges after 60 Asian American students at UC Irvine received hate emails. This led to the first government prosecution and conviction of a federal hate crime in cyberspace.
July 2001 - Advancing Justice worked with the Chiu family and then-state Assemblymember Judy Chu to pass “Kenny’s Law”, increasing protections for hate crime victims and their family, after Kenny Chiu, a 17-year old in Laguna Hills was stabbed to death by his white supremacist neighbor.
September 2001 - On the heels of the 9/11 attacks, Advancing Justice advocated with local law enforcement to ensure a hate crime prosecution after Sundeep, an Indian American man and his family were assaulted and subjected to racial slurs.
We have brought litigation on behalf of the rights of Orange County residents seeking to change racially discriminatory practices, challenge exploitative conditions or defend civil rights. Below is a sampling of our cases in Orange County:
2003-2004 - We filed a class action lawsuit with MALDEF, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and Bill Lann Lee (former U.S. Attorney General for Civil Rights) against Abercrombie & Fitch over racially discriminatory employment practices against Asian American, Latino and African American applicants and employees which resulted in significant payment to the plaintiffs and changes in the company’s operations and marketing practices.
2006 - With pro bono assistance from Mayer Brown, we sued an Orange County beauty salon and won a default judgment on behalf of a Vietnamese American woman after the salon falsely advertised free “beauty school classes” in order to obtain cheap labor.
2014 - With Public Counsel, we helped 200 elderly, Asian immigrant seniors living in a low-income apartment complex in Anaheim avoid homelessness by advocating with the building owner and the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development that allowed the residents to stay in their home after their rents skyrocketed.
2015-2016 - We sued the city of Fullerton, challenging its “at large” elections which have made it very difficult for Asian Americans to get elected, despite comprising nearly 25% of the city’s population. We co-counseled the case with the ACLU of Southern California and the pro bono assistance of Sidley Austin.
We have led policy advocacy campaigns and conducted education on key issues affecting AANHPIs in Orange County.
Advancing Justice-LA has also advocated and led campaigns on key issues affecting AANHPIs in Orange County, often working closely with local groups like the Orange County Asian Pacific Community Alliance (OCAPICA). We have advocated at the state and local levels on hate crimes (“Kenny’s Law”) and language accessibility at the polls. We have led major education campaigns targeting AANHPIs in Orange County, e.g., the Census, redistricting, health care reform – and we have published several versions of our demographic report on AANHPIs in Orange County. Since the mid-1990s, we have led or supported voter registration, poll monitoring, exit polling and non-partisan “get out the vote” efforts in Orange County.
Our First 10 Years in Garden Grove
In 2006, Advancing Justice-LA opened an office in Garden Grove to more directly serve and connect with AANHPIs living in Orange County, particularly those who are low-income or recent immigrants. During the past decade, we have greatly expanded our legal services in Orange County, aiding thousands of clients and callers. Many have been amongst the most vulnerable in our community, such as domestic violence survivors, undocumented immigrant seeking deferred action status, and immigrants in the process of being deported.
As we enter the second decade of our Orange County office, we recognize the need for a stronger advocacy voice and presence for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. Thus we are launching a new effort to engage with existing community groups, leaders, elected officials, media, etc. in Orange County, including the hiring of our first Orange County Regional Director and the creation of two advisory councils. With the support of key corporations, law firms, bar associations and foundations based in Orange County, we are re-envisioning our role in Orange County and building a coalition of diverse AANHPI community leaders, organizers and advocates who can work with us to address unmet needs, civically engage our communities, and advocate for racial and economic justice.