NAPABA Raises Concerns About the U.S. ICE Guidance to the Student & Exchange Visitor Program

For Immediate Release:
Date: July 10, 2020

Contact: Priya Purandare, Executive Director

Trump Administration Releases Guidelines to Restrict International Students

Over Fifty Percent of International Students are from Asian Countries

WASHINGTON — The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) raises concerns about the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) guidance to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program, which provides matriculated international students in the United States who attend colleges and universities that are online-only this fall will have to transfer to a school that provides in-person classes or leave the country—or else face deportation. The Trump administration is citing the guidance is an effort to push colleges to reopen.

“We are alarmed at the administration’s misguided policy that inflicts great harm on international students during a worldwide pandemic,” said Bonnie Lee Wolf, President of NAPABA. “ICE’s new guidance is not supported by public health considerations and raises flags that it is motivated by animus toward immigrants and non-citizens.”

Asian students will undoubtedly be harmed disproportionately by this policy. In the 2018-19 academic year, there were over 1 million international students and more than 50% came from Asian countries. In 2018, international students also injected nearly $45 billion into our economy. Numerous universities and colleges across the country oppose the new guidance and it threatens to hurt higher education. NAPABA respectfully encourages the administration/ICE to withdraw this guidance immediately, so that international students can continue to fully participate in the educational system.

Over 100 Jurists of Color in New York, Including 6 AABANY Members from Queens, Sign Letter Affirming Equal Justice in Court

On July 8, 2020, over 100 jurists of color across New York, including 13 Queens judges of color, have added their names to a statewide letter affirming their commitment to equal justice and treatment under the law. Of the 13 Queens judges, six are members of the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY): Hon. Karen Gopee, Hon. Wyatt Gibbons, Hon. Phillip Hom, Hon. Dean Kusakabe, Hon. John Lansden, and Hon. Toko Serita.

Led by Syracuse City Court Judge Derrek Thomas, the group formed to address the community in light of George Floyd’s murder and the nationwide protests that followed.

The letter stated: “We reaffirm our commitment to make a positive difference within our respective courts each day and to ensure that those appearing before us are treated equally, with the respect and dignity that both the law and humanity require.”

To read more about the letter, see this Queens Eagle article.

Congratulations to AABANY Recipients of the New York Law Journal’s 2020 Rising Stars Award!

On June 26th, the New York Law Journal announced the winners of the coveted 2020 Rising Stars category. This award recognizes the region’s most promising lawyers who are no older than 40 by the submission date. AABANY is proud to announce that three of the twenty seven recipients are members.

AABANY congratulates Ting S. Chen of Cravath, Swaine, & Moore, Jeffery Mok of Fish & Richardson P.C., and Ji Hye You of Schulte Roth & Zabel for impressive professional achievements and promise they have demonstrated thus far in their careers. Ting leads AABANY’s Corporate Law Committee as Co-Chair and Jeff leads AABANY’s Intellectual Property Committee as Co-Chair.

For further details and to read the official announcement, click here (subscription required).

NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Presents: Get Tested & Combat Anti-Asian Bias

On July 13, 2020, from 12:00-1:30 PM, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) Partner Engagement Unit will be hosting a webinar on the Test & Trace Corps.

The Test & Trace Corps is an initiative to reduce COVID-19 transmission in New York City by providing guidance and assistance to people who have COVID-19 or are identified as having been exposed to the virus.

Speakers from the New York City Human Rights Commission (NYCCHR) and the Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes (OPHC) will also provide resources to Asian Pacific Islander (API) communities to report anti-Asian bias and hate crimes that may occur as NYC continues to reopen.

Panelists will include Dr. Neil Vora from the New York City Health Department, Flora Ferng from NYCCHR, and Eunice Lee from OPHC.

Please send any questions for the panel to engagepartners@health.nyc.gov.

Mandarin and Korean Language interpretation will be available for this event.

Register for the webinar via https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_gUZ2JCDeRCaJ4c-vI0Uvcg.

NYCCHR Presents Human Rights Central Queens Community Forum: The Impact of COVID-19, Protections, and Resources

On July 9, 2020, the New York City Commission on Human Rights (NYCCHR) will be hosting a virtual community forum on the impact of COVID-19, protections, and resources.

The panel will feature representatives from the NYCCHR, NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, NYC Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants, NYC Human Resources Administration, GetFood NYC, and Queens Legal Services.

For more information, see below.

NYCCHR Presents: Combatting Anti-Asian Racism in the Age of the Coronavirus (Mandarin)

On July 9, 2020, the New York City Commission on Human Rights (NYCCHR) will be hosting a virtual panel in Mandarin titled “Combatting Anti-Asian Racism in the Age of the Coronavirus.”

The event is in collaboration with the Chinese-American Family Alliance for Mental Health and the Academy of Medical & Public Health Services.

Panelists include: Flora Ferng, Human Rights Specialist at the NYCCHR; Russel Jeung, PhD, Chair and Professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University; and Kwok Kei Ng, Co-Vice Chair of the Pro Bono and Community Service Committee of the Asian American Bar Association of New York.

For more information, see below.

AABANY Co-Sponsors Panel on the Impact of the NYC Climate Mobilization Act on Real Estate Development and Investment

On June 30, AABANY hosted a CLE program on the New York City Climate Mobilization Act’s Impact on Real Estate, featuring prominent industry leaders. The panel outlined the changes imposed by the recently passed Climate Mobilization Act, specifically Local Law 97, and their effects on both tenants and landlords. Speakers included Margaret Ling, Senior Counsel at Big Apple Abstract Corp. and Co-Chair of the AABANY Real Estate Committee; Amol Pachnanda, Partner at Ingram Yuzek LLP and Co-Chair of the AABANY Real Estate Committee; and Terri Gumula, President of MMDC Group, LLC.

The panel began by discussing the role of ESG (environmental, social, and governance) standards on real estate investments. Public emphasis has grown on corporate social responsibility with legislation and corporate mandates placing legal and social pressure on companies to adopt environmentally conscious practices. Investors are also increasingly looking toward ESG-oriented rating systems such as the GRESG as a holistic, financial benchmark. As such, investors have begun to adopt a variety of approaches to minimize negative environmental impact. Those that wish to adopt low-cost measures have opted for greater emphasis on existing maintenance protocols, cleaner filters, lighting upgrades, among others. High-cost measures include heating and cooling upgrades, boiler conversions, installation of variable speed control drives and solar panels. Generally, the push toward sustainable construction has also increased long-term performance as planning for less carbon emissions mitigates the potential losses incurred as a result of future legislation.

The panel then outlined the specifics of the New York City Climate Mobilization Act. Passed in April 2019, the Climate Mobilization Act was a series of bills and resolutions that included Local Law 97, which had stated a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions (“GHG”) by 80% by 2050 with an interim goal of reducing GHG by 40% by 2030. The new regulations apply to buildings over 25,000 square feet and also provide incentives for green roofs, PACE financing, and wind turbines along with other environmentally friendly building practices. Adjustments to emission limits are very limited but are available on a temporary basis with applications due July 1, 2021. Rationales for adjusting emissions limits include lack of space and financial hardship. If approved, exemptions cannot exceed one to three years, and the application will need to be refiled. Buildings with one or more rent-stabilized units have alternate requirements for the time being. As of now, rent regulated buildings require 35% of their tenants to be rent-stabilized to qualify for prescriptive measures that offer alternate standards.

We thank all the panelists for their valuable time and insights. If you would like to learn more about AABANY’s Real Estate Committee, click here.

AABANY Co-Sponsors Panel on Small Business Navigation of COVID-19

On June 23, the Asian American Bar Association of New York (“AABANY”) presented its Small Business Navigation of COVID-19: A Briefing on Relief and Remedies panel as a part of AABANY’s wider initiative to provide support for those adversely affected by COVID-19. The event highlighted professionals working in a variety of fields and addressed concerns regarding how to safely open up and potential next steps for small businesses. The panel was moderated by Margaret Ling, Senior Counsel at Big Apple Abstract Corp. and Co-Chair of the AABANY Real Estate Committee, and featured Amol Pachnanda, Partner at Ingram Yuzek LLP and Co-Chair of the AABANY Real Estate Committee; William Ng, Shareholder at Littler Mendelson P.C.; Anthony Kammas, Partner at Skyline Risk Management, Inc.; William Hao, Counsel at Alston & Bird LLP and AABANY Treasurer; and Anthony M. Bracco, Partner at Anchin Accountants and Advisors.

Amol Pachnanda began by discussing COVID-19’s effect on the tenant-landlord relationship and best practices for tenants to avoid eviction. Tenants should be familiar with the lease agreement and seek legal counsel in any disputes with the landlord. Communication between tenants and landlords is critical as both parties possess significant incentives to avoid eviction. Tenants should be aware that the Moratorium on Evictions has been extended for an additional 60 days and any rent demands must be nullified if the tenant states that they have been impacted by COVID-19. Additionally, New York State real estate personal guarantees and “Good Guy Guarantees” have been made non-enforceable as tenants are no longer legally bound to vacate within a set timeframe if they are unable to pay their rent.

William Ng addressed how small businesses should reopen and some of the potential legal issues with phase 2 and phase 3 reopening. Business owners must go online and complete the New York Forward safety plan template and keep the plan on the premises at all times. Each business must affirm whether they have submitted a plan or have a plan in place during inspections. Small businesses are also encouraged to maintain a cleaning plan and document daily hygiene and sanitation activities to limit employer liability in the event that an employee does contract COVID-19. If an employee does contract COVID-19, small business owners are responsible for reporting the case to the relevant authorities and putting together a plan that ensures the safety of the other employees. The plan should include contact tracing measures and other appropriate protocols to limit contact and exposure.

Anthony Kammas discussed how small businesses can maintain their insurance coverage while reopening and other ways to mitigate liability. Employers should review their business policies and keep detailed records of their sanitation efforts to make sure they can retain their coverage in the event that individuals claim they contracted COVID-19 on the premises. Moreover, it is critical that employee handbooks are updated to address the challenges currently posed by COVID-19. Employers should also be mindful of the HIPAA liabilities associated with additional employee screenings. If employers contact trace, any information regarding the infected individual must remain confidential. As many policies do not cover the cost of sanitation and cleaning, Anthony Kammas recommends seeking third-party cleaning services to shift liability down away from the business owner and to the cleaning service if an incident were to occur. Small business owners should be more careful when buying new policies as carriers are becoming increasingly narrow in their wording to avoid excessive coverage.

William Hao then explained how Chapter 11 bankruptcy may be a viable option for struggling small businesses. Chapter 11 bankruptcy focuses on restructuring and reorganizing as the business undergoes a court-supervised process by which creditors and debtors come together to discharge bad debts and re-negotiate contracts and formulate a plan moving forward. Filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy provides a business a set of tools and leverages to incentivize creditors to come to the table and establish an agreeable plan for all parties. Businesses are entitled to an automatic stay, which stops any litigation and collection efforts that are burdening them. Businesses can also reject bad contracts during this process. Creditors are incentivized to negotiate with debtors as creditors are aware that any contracts paid out during this time would amount to a smaller fraction of the original debt. In addition, the absolute priority rule is voided, and other regulations and costs that had previously barred small businesses from filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy have been waived.

Lastly, Anthony Bracco discussed how small businesses can still apply for benefits under the Payment Protection Program (“PPP”) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (“EIDL”). Under the PPP, small businesses can apply for up to two and a half months’ worth of employee payroll costs with any new loans having a five-year repayment period. These loans qualify for 100% loan forgiveness if they are spent within 24 weeks and at least 60% is spent on payroll costs. The percentage of loan forgiveness is reduced if employers reduce the compensation of anyone earning $100,000 by 25% or more or reduce full-time equivalents. However, employers are not accountable for restoring full-time equivalent employment if employees are not willing to return to work or due to government shutdown. Small business owners can apply for loan forgiveness any time within the 24 week window if all of the PPP loan is spent. As for the EIDL, small business owners can obtain a loan up to $150,000 with an advance loan of $10,000. Even if the full EIDL loan is not granted, small business owners are entitled up to the $10,000 advance loan. Small business owners can apply for both the PPP and the EIDL but must deduct the $10,000 EIDL advance loan from the PPP loan. Anthony Bracco also described different options available for small business owners to cover employee costs in addition to applying for the PPP. Instead of cutting headcount by a certain percentage, small business owners can reduce employee salaries by the percentage of those that were to be terminated and the Department of Labor will cover a portion of the pay lost.

We would like to thank Margaret Ling for moderating and organizing this informative event and the panelists for their time and dedication to help those adversely affected by COVID-19. To learn more about the Real Estate Committee, click here. To view the recording from the webinar click on the image above.

Pro Bono Committee & AABANY Volunteers Promote New Remote Pro Bono Legal Clinic in Chinatown and Koreatown

On Friday, July 3, 2020, the Pro Bono and Community Service Committee of the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) launched a flyering campaign to promote the new Remote Pro Bono Legal Clinic in Chinatown and Koreatown. The event was organized by William Lee, Associate at Alston & Bird and an active member of the Pro Bono Committee. The goal of the campaign was to ensure that Asian American small businesses had access to the Pro Bono Clinic’s various resources during this time of great need. Many law students from local APALSAs, including Fordham, Cardozo, and Columbia, volunteered at the start of the 4th of July holiday weekend to assist in distributing the flyers to local businesses.

The Chinatown volunteers were led by Dianna Lam and May Wong, frequent volunteers for the Pro Bono Clinic, and those in Koreatown were led by Will Lee. Both campaigns were very successful, and Dianna Lam and May Wong were even interviewed for the “Around the Boroughs” segment of Spectrum News NY1. Dianna and May emphasized the importance of the Remote Pro Bono Legal Clinic, especially for smaller businesses impacted by COVID-19. Both groups ended the day with a volunteer appreciation lunch at the West New Malaysian Restaurant on Bowery Street. The group was able to sit at tables set up outside the restaurant, spaced out so that they could maintain a social distance.

We thank the Pro Bono Committee members, including Will Lee, Dianna Lam, and May Wong, for their leadership during this campaign. We also thank the students and volunteers who took the time to help the Remote Clinic reach more individuals and businesses in need of legal information. The Pro Bono Committee will be organizing similar campaigns in Flushing, Queens and Bay Ridge, so if you are interested in volunteering, please add your name to this document. Read AABANY’s press release about the Remote Pro Bono Clinic here. For more information on the Pro Bono Committee, see https://www.aabany.org/page/117. To find out more about AABANY’s pro bono resources, visit aabany.org/probono.

AABANY’S LGBT Committee Hosts Asian-Black Solidarity Panel

On June 16, 2020, the LGBT Committee of the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) hosted a panel discussion addressing the importance of Asian-Black solidarity. The panel featured: Jennifer Ching, Executive Director at North Star Fund and former Project Director of the Queens Legal Services (LSNYC) and Director of New York Appleseed; Jin Hee Lee, Senior Deputy Director of Litigation at the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund; Jason Wu, Attorney at the Legal Aid Society and Political Chair for GAPIMNY; and Jo-Ann Yoo, Executive Director at the Asian American Federation.

Jennifer Ching began by defining Asian-Black solidarity as acting out of an understanding that Black and Asian American history, current challenges, and futures are completely connected and interdependent. She cited the term “Asian American” as an example of this solidarity, as it was coined in the 1960s by Asian Americans who were inspired by the emerging Black Power Movement. She also acknowledged that solidarity can be deeply uncomfortable and involves the willingness to take risks and give up power. Jennifer Ching concluded by explaining the three M’s of solidarity: Mind, knowing the influence of Black Americans on the Asian American movement; Money, moving one’s money to Black communities to express solidarity; and Mobilization, taking action to change one’s practices and the practices of those around them.

Jo-Ann Yoo explained how the Asian American Federation shows solidarity towards other communities. The organization is fighting against COVID-19 based anti-Asian racism through bystander training, mental health sessions, and collaborating with other peoples of color in order to emphasize the need for solidarity with communities that have experienced similar racism. The Asian American Federation has also addressed the disproportionate effect COVID-19 has had on small businesses owned by people of color through active policy discussion with the Mayor’s office.

Jin Hee Lee discussed how anti-black racism within the Asian American community fueled by misguided acceptance of the model minority myth has perpetuated perceived Asian invisibility. She challenged the zero-sum mentality that pits communities of color against each other and called for Asians to rise above being exploited by conservatives seeking to combat affirmative action programs. By buying into the colorblind myth of meritocracy, Asian Americans have benefitted from the discrimination against Black and Latinx communities. However, with conversations regarding race becoming increasingly normalized, she hopes that this normalization can provide an opportunity for those within our community to “reevaluate their understanding of race and the structural support systems that uphold white supremacy.”

Jason Wu then discussed the intersectionality of Black liberation with other social movements and the necessity for allies to take a unified stance on the wider systemic issues that have marginalized different overlapping communities. By understanding that social prejudices and inequities are a product of ingrained, systemic issues, we can better understand the political and social structures that we work around and within that have perpetuated bias. In particular, with the Asian American and Black communities, the commonality between them is important in understanding the conflict felt by those of mixed Black and Asian heritage and the racialization of South Asians and Muslims in connection with immigration policy.

The panel concluded with a Q&A, most notably addressing the generational differences within the Asian American community that have fueled anti-Black racism. As Jennifer Ching states, it is necessary to build a “vocabulary of shared experiences” that acknowledges the personal trauma of older Asian Americans while shifting the conversation to the systemic racial inequities that have harmed the Asian American and other POC communities. The panel also answered questions regarding the role lawyers play in perpetuating biased power structures. While lawyers may operate within a legal system marred by racial prejudice, understanding the law is critical in recognizing and combating systemic racism. Only by recognizing injustices in the law can we rectify systemic issues embedded into our national identity and begin healthy conversations about race.

We would like to thank the panelists for taking the time to offer their thoughts and begin these difficult conversations and the AABANY LGBT Committee for organizing this event. If you wish to contribute to the fight against racial injustice, please contact John Vang at john.vang@aabany.org. To learn more about the struggles of the Black community for racial justice, take a look at AABANY’s Juneteenth blog for a list of relevant resources.