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NAKASEC Policy Update [August 7, 2009]

By August 7, 2009No Comments

If you should have any questions, feel free to contact NAKASEC at 323.937.3703 or 202.339.9318.


Please commit to act for health & immigration reform. Next week, you can join members of our rapid response network calling the Senate Finance Committee to support health reform, by addressing equitable treatment of all taxfilers, regardless of immigration status. Equitable health reform enables states to achieve economic gains, so that money earned in your state is reinvested into its people and health systems.

On Tuesday, July 14, the chairs and subcommittee chairs of three major committees in the House of Representatives introduced the America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 (HR 3200), a 1000+ page bill that will be soon marked up in committee. The bill passed two out of three committees, and is waiting to be “marked up” in the Energy & Commerce committee. As early as next week, The Senate Finance Committee is estimated to pass its version of the health reform bill.

NAKASEC is working to ensure quality, affordable health reform that ensures equitable access to subsidies for all taxfilers, the repeal of the five-year bar in Medicaid, and that ensures that all children and pregnant women have healthcare. Some of these provisions are in the Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2009 (HR 3090) but a preliminary analysis suggests that they are not in the House Tri-Committee bill (HR 3200).

The Obama Administration – New Appointments & Nominations

Office of Citizenship: On July 6, Rebecca S. Carson was appointed as the Chief of the Office of Citizenship at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Ms. Carson is a licensed attorney in Illinois, and has worked as the Deputy Campaign Manager for Senator Patty Murray in 2004 and as the National Field Director at the Democratic National Committee, as well as a number of other national and state-wide campaigns. Ms. Carson graduated from DePaul University College of Law with a Public Interest Law Certificate, was awarded the prestigious Public Interest Law Initiative grant and clerked for the National Immigrant Justice Center in Chicago, Illinois.

United States Supreme Court: The Senate confirmation hearings for President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor began on Monday July 13. Senate Leadership remains confident that Sotomayor will be confirmed. A minor group of opponents have raised questions concerning Judge Sotomayor’s judicial impartiality, bench demeanor, and objectivity. Sotomayor, the first Latina and the third woman to be nominated for appointment to the Supreme Court, has stated that she has always, and will continue to, loyally observe “the impartiality of our justice system” during her opening statements. Judge Sotomayor and Senators dedicated the first day of hearings to opening statements, and the questioning portion of the hearings began on Tuesday July 14. Sotomayor has served on the federal judicial bench for 17 years and brings more federal judicial experience to the Supreme Court than any justice in 100 years, and more overall judicial experience than anyone confirmed for the Court in the past 70 years.

United States Census Bureau: On July 13, Dr. Robert Groves was confirmed as the new Director of the U.S. Census Bureau. Dr. Groves has previously served as the associate director of the U.S. Census Bureau from 1990-1992, and has since served as the director of the University of Michigan’s Survey Research Center. NAKASEC applauds the selection of Dr. Groves as the Director of the U.S. Census Bureau; Dr. Groves has a strong track record and commitment to ensuring that traditionally undercounted communities, such as the Korean American community, will be accounted for in the 2010 Census efforts.

Office of the Surgeon General: On July 13, Dr. Regina Benjamin was nominated for the position of U.S. Surgeon General. Dr. Benjamin is Founder and CEO of Bayou La Batre Health Clinic in Bayou La Batre, Alabama, and has previously served as the Chair of the Federation of State Medical Boards of the United States and Associate Dean for Rural Health at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and as the President of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama, becoming the first African American woman President of a State Medical Society in the United States. Dr. Benjamin is well-known along the Gulf Coast for her work for underserved communities. She is a recipient of the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights, the MacArthur Genius Award, and the 2000 Caring Award. In 1995, Dr. Benjamin was elected to the American Medical Association Board of Trustees, becoming the youngest ever and first African American woman to be elected to the Board of Trustees. Dr. Benjamin will bring years of experience serving the most vulnerable members of our society to the Office of the Surgeon General.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Background: The broken immigration system affects the Korean American community: 1 in 5 Korean Americans are undocumented, thousands of bright youth cannot fulfill their dreams, countless others are separated because of the immigration backlogs, and there are those languishing and dying in detention centers. In recent years, attempts to pass legislative reform have been stymied by a vocal minority. Instead, families have been torn apart and communities have been devastated by the ramping up of raids and other enforcement activities by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). State and local governments also took matters into their own hands and passed anti-immigrant measures.

Solution: For more than a decade, Korean American communities have been engaged in national efforts to realize long-term systemic change. In doing so, we have reached a level of consensus that any legislative proposal must contain the following components:
1) Bring millions of hard working undocumented immigrants and their children out of the shadows and provide them a path to citizenship.
2) Keep families together by preserving the family immigration system, eliminating the immigration backlogs, stopping mandatory & indefinite detentions and cruel deportations for minor infractions
3) Protect all workers regardless of their immigration status.
4) Allow students to reach their full potential through access to college.
5) Protect and restore basic rights and liberties, including allowing every person to have their day in court.
6) Promote the social, economic, and political integration of immigrants.

White House Policy Announcements: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) stated that on July 8 that the Obama Administration supports the expansion of the E-Verify system to all federal contractors and subcontractors, including those currently funded and those that received funds earlier this year through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. At the same time, the Obama Administration rescinded the Social Security Administration (SSA) no-match rule. Introduced in August 2007 under the Bush Administration, the SSA no-match rule, which has never been implemented because of legal challenges, sought the mandated use of an error-ridden database for immigration enforcement by requiring employers to fire workers who are unable to resolve discrepancies in their Social Security records.

While NAKASEC supports the decision to overturn the “no-sense” SSA no-match rule, NAKASEC and other community groups are strongly concerned that many of the similar consequences of profiling and unjust termination will increase with the expanded E-Verify program. In multiple Congressional hearings, substantial evidence from community, advocates, business, and government agencies document the flaws and inaccuracies of the E-Verify program.

Immigrant Rights Related Amendments in Senate DHS Appropriations Bill: On July 9, the Senate passed the DHS Appropriations bill by a vote of 84 to 6. Three notably negative amendments and one positive amendment passed. All four are now heading into conference committee to reconcile this bill with a funding measure previously passed by the House which contains none of the Senate immigration amendments.

SSA No-Match Amendment, S. AMDT 1375: Unfortunately this amendment introduced by Senator David Vitter (R-LA) prevents the rescinding of the SSA no-match rule (see above article) by prohibiting the administration from spending any funds to implement to change the regulation. This amendment was adopted by a voice vote, therefore there is no record of the vote.

Border Fence Amendment, S. AMDT 1399: Introduced by Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC), this amendment requires the completion of at least 700 miles of reinforced fencing along the southwest border of the United States by December 31, 2010. The tremendous costs to taxpayers and human life of continuing an essentially ineffective practice have been well documented. While the apprehension figures show a downward trend, the number of deaths has not dropped accordingly. Even with the escalation of fencing, patrols, and other barriers, the risk of dying is 1.5 times higher today compared with five years ago according to Arizona’s border-death database. This amendment was agreed to in the Senate by a vote of 54-44 in favor of passage. Click here to see how your Senator voted.

E-Verify Amendment, S. ADMT 1371: Introduced by Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), this amendment would expand and make permanent the E-Verify program. E-Verify is an internet-based system operated by DHS in partnership with the SSA that allows employers to compare information from I-9 forms against federal databases. A wide range of sectors, from community organizations to businesses, have expressed strong opposition to E-Verify implementation including the burdensome cost for businesses to implement, the high error rates of the federal databases, and the increased vulnerability of immigrant workers to unjust discrimination, targeting, and termination. This amendment was agreed to in the Senate by a voice vote.

Widows and Orphans, Doctors, and Religious Workers Amendment, S. ADMT 1428: Introduced by Senator Orrin G. Hatch (R-UT) and Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), this amendment will allow the spouses and children of U.S. citizens or permanent residents to apply for immigration status even if their spouse or parents have passed away before the process of obtaining their immigration status is completed. In addition, this amendment extends a special visa program for foreign doctors who work in rural or inner-city areas, called the “Conrad State 30 J-1 Visa Waiver” and expands a visa program for non-minister religious workers to September 30, 2012. This amendment provides relief for widows and widowers of U.S. citizens who would have had their visa applications interrupted upon death of the petitioner.

Similar to one of the provisions of the Reuniting Families Act, earlier introduced in the House and Senate, the need for such a fix is highlighted through the story of Hang Youk from Texas, whose entire family’s hopes and dreams for a stable life and permanent residence in the United States disappeared in a split second. On the night of June 2, 2000, his father, Tae Youk, was murdered on the floor of a convenience store in Ranchester, Texas. His family was no longer eligible for the green cards that they were months away from receiving through sponsorship from his father. Tae first came to the United States from South Korea to earn a doctorate degree in Theology at the Houston Graduate School of Theology. He decided to settle in the U.S. when a church offered him a job and a green card for him and the rest of his family. They came in 1998, during which time Hang enrolled at the University of Houston and studied accounting. Without even sufficient time to mourn the loss of his father, they were immediately faced with the grave uncertainty and fear of unstable status in the United States.

Expansion of 287(g): On July 10, DHS announced the expansion of the problematic 287(g) program, adding 11 new agreements (or Memorandums of Agreements – MOAs) with state and local enforcement agencies nationwide. These agreements authorize local and state law enforcement agencies to enforce federal immigration law. While DHS states that the reformed provisions of the MOAs will reduce human rights violations and racial profiling, as nationally reported in cities like Maricopa County, Arizona, there is actually little substantive difference between the new and old MOAs. Further, while the new MOAs sets “priority levels” of suspected violators, there does not exist corresponding measures to ensure that local cities and counties will focus their activities on policing serious crimes. Vocal opposition to the 287(g) program has already been lodged by The Police Foundation, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Major Chiefs Association citing that deputizing local law enforcement officers undermines the trust of immigrant communities, stretches already thin police resources, and overall reduces public safety.Click here for a side-by-side comparison of previous MOA and current MOA.

Access to Education

Background: Each year, 65,000 undocumented immigrant students graduate from U.S. high schools unable to realize their full potential. These students are U.S.-raised children of immigrants who are denied the opportunity to build a future in America, the country that they call home. As undocumented students, they face difficulty pursuing higher education because they are denied financial aid, scholarships, loans, and in-state tuition rates in most states. Those that have the resources to graduate are unlikely to work in the field of their choice or study. And more tragically, they live daily with the fear of being deported to a country that they barely know.

DREAM Act: On March 26, 2009, the DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act was introduced by Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL), Richard Lugar (R-IN), Russell Feingold (D-WI), Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Joe Lieberman (I- CT), Mel Martinez (R-FL), and Harry Reid (D-NV) in the Senate as S. 729 and Representatives Howard Berman (D-CA), Joseph Cao (R-LA), John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Devin Nunes (R-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) in the House as H.R. 1751.

Recent Developments: After the national day of action for the DREAM Act on June 23, 2009 a record 11 new co-sponsors joined the growing movement to achieve equal access to higher education. To date, a total of 87 Representatives and 23 Senators have signed on as co-sponsors of the DREAM Act. For more than eight years, young people have been in the forefront organizing their peers, community leaders, and other allies for the student legalization and equal access to higher education movement. Until these students are afforded the same treatment as their native born peers, NAKASEC will continue to educate and organize the Korean American community.

In-State Tuition Challenge in California: The California Supreme Court is currently considering a case, Martinez v. Regents of the University of California, which challenges the legality of AB 540, a state law that allows undocumented immigrant students to pay in-state tuition rates at California’s public universities and colleges. The outcome of this decision is critical to Korean American and AAPI communities. While statewide statistics are not available, records show that 60% of undocumented AAPI students in the University of California system are Korean American. There have been recent gains to increase access to education; on June 29, Wisconsin became the 11th state to provide in-state tuition to certain eligible undocumented immigrant students. Consequently, communities across the country are closely following the case.

NAKASEC, along with its Los Angeles affiliate, the Korean Resource Center (KRC), have joined other community groups to support an amicus brief filing to support the University of California’s efforts to defend the AB 540 program and allow undocumented immigrant students access to higher education.

Civil Rights

Hate Crimes Bill: On April 29, the Local Law Enforcement Protection Act H.R. 1913 (otherwise known as the Matthew Shepard Bill) passed in the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 249-175. The bill expands the coverage of existing hate crime laws to include bias-motivated crimes based on the victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability. Current law covers crimes based on race, color, religion, and national origin. It also provides the federal government jurisdiction to prosecute hate crimes in states where current law or local law enforcement action is inadequate. The bill is now in the Senate and a vote is expected any day. NAKASEC urges the Senate to swiftly vote to pass the Matthew Shepard Bill and calls for educational programs and resources to promote tolerance and multi-ethnic harmony locally and nationally.

Employment Discrimination: Last year, the City of New Haven had deemed a test given to firefighters to receive job promotions as unconstitutional based on evidence that no African American firefighters and only 1 Latino firefighter had ever passed the test. Their decision was upheld by the judges of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (one of which was Judge Sonia Sotomayor). On June 29 however, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that there was not enough evidence to prove discrimination, consequently enacting a new standard of employment equality. NAKASEC is deeply disappointed in the Supreme Court’s decision because it will lead to tests being certified that do not comply with federal guidelines, specifically Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that bars racial discrimination in employment. NAKASEC calls upon President Obama’s leadership to work with Congress in outlining clear guidelines to combat discrimination and ensure equal opportunity in the workplace.

English Language Learners Programs: On June 25, the Supreme Court decided 5-4 in favor of English Language Learner (ELL) programs; they stated that a state’s compliance to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 does not automatically translate to protection of ELLs’ civil rights under the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974 (EEOA). The Supreme Court referred to lower federal courts, which must review additional factors to consider lifting a 2000 mandate for sufficient state funding to ELLs programs in Nogales, Arizona. In March of this year, NAKASEC joined other civil rights and AAPI organizations in filing a friend of the court brief in support of Miriam Flores and ELL students. Quality ELL education is vital in giving immigrant students the tools to succeed academically and become full civic participants in society. Therefore, NAKASEC applauds the Court’s decision and hopes that the lower federal courts will uphold the Supreme Court’s ruling.


1. Participate in NAKASEC’s upcoming Citizenship Day mobilization – “Unity In Movement” – for health reform and immigration reform in Washington, D.C. Click here for more information about this three-day national gathering that uplifts the values of social responsibility and making your community better, hallmarks of what it truly means to be a citizen. Registration deadline is August 7, 2009.

2. Forward this email to your friends and encourage them to sign up on our listserv.

3. Become a member in 2009. Your membership dollars support NAKASEC’s mission to project a national progressive voice on major civil rights and immigrant rights issues and promote the full participation of Korean Americans. Reduced rates are available for students and low-income community members.

About NAKASEC – National Korean American Service & Education Consortium

The National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC) was founded in 1994 by local community centers to project a national progressive voice and promote the full participation of Korean Americans as a part of a greater goal of building a national movement for social change. NAKASEC maintains its national office in Los Angeles and an office in Washington, D.C. NAKASEC also has affiliates in Los Angeles (The Korean Resource Center) and Chicago (The Korean American Resource & Cultural Center). NAKASEC is a member of the APIA Vote, Campaign for Community Values, Detention Watch Network, Fair Immigration Reform Movement/Immigrant Organizing Committee, Health Care for America Now, Health Rights Organizing Project, National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, National Gender and Equity Campaign, Reform Immigration FOR America Campaign, Rights Working Group, and the We Are America Alliance.

For more information and resources, visit or call 323.937.3703 / 202.339.9318.


900 S. Crenshaw Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90019
Tel: 323.937.3703 Fax: 323.937.3753 www.

D. C. Office

1536 U Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
Tel: 202-339-9318 Fax: 202-387-4893

Korean Resource Center (founded in 1983)

900 S. Crenshaw Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90019
Tel: 323.937.3718 Fax: 323.937.3526

Korean American Resource & Cultural Center (founded in 1995)

6146 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60659
Tel: 773.588.9158 Fax: 773.588.9159