Press Releases

June 20, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

KABA-DC Extends Its Heartfelt Sympathies to Otto Warmbier’s Family

The Korean American Bar Association for the Washington D.C. area extends its heartfelt sympathies to Otto Warmbier’s family on the loss of their son.

A short time after most of his classmates graduated from the University of Virginia, Otto slipped away from life after his barbaric 17 months of captivity in North Korea.

While no words may lessen the pain of losing a loved one, we hope Otto’s family can find strength and peace. In the words of A.E. Housman, this intelligent, inquisitive young man is sadly now a “townsman of a stiller town.”

Three Americans remain hostages in North Korea: Dong-chul Kim, Hak-song Kim, and Sang-duk (Tony) Kim. As it happens, these three are Korean Americans. We support our Government’s efforts to bring these three home as well.


January 31, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

KABA-DC CONDEMNS PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP’S REFUGEE AND TRAVEL BANS

[Washington, D.C.]  The Korean American Bar Association of Washington D.C. (“KABA-DC”) condemns in the strongest terms President Donald J. Trump’s executive order banning citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for 90 days (the “Travel Ban”), and suspending the United States’ refugee system for 120 days (the “Refugee Ban”).  The Travel Ban and the Refugee Ban are a flagrant disregard for the founding values of the United States while serving no discernible interest in national security. As members of the bar who swore to uphold the law, and as a bar association primarily composed of recent immigrants and their descendants, as well as U.S. military veterans, KABA-DC find it our duty to denounce these measures, which represent an attack on the rule of law as well as on lawful immigrants.

The Refugee Ban is not simply a violation of humanitarian values; it is also a violation of the treaty obligations of the United States. The United States is a signatory of the United Nations Convention on Refugees, which forbids nations from returning refugees to countries where it is more likely than not that their lives would be in danger on account of their nationality. The United States is also a signatory to the U.N. Convention Against Torture, which forbids nations from returning any person arriving at their border to a country where they will be tortured. There is no exception to these obligations.

Even more troubling is the Travel Ban, which attacks lawful immigrants and valid visa holders. According to CNN, the White House specifically overruled the attorneys from the Department of Homeland Security who had advised that the Travel Ban could not apply to lawful permanent residents, commonly known as green card holders. Following the White House directive, lawful permanent residents were detained for hours in the airport or sent back on the first day of the Travel Ban’s implementation. Although the Trump administration now appears to be backtracking on the Travel Ban’s applicability to lawful permanent residents after having been buffeted by numerous court orders, this administration’s targeted attack against the most protected class among all legal immigrants, not to mention the continued application of the Travel Ban against other types of valid visa holders, is a cause for alarm.

The enforcement of the Travel Ban by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) agents at Washington Dulles International Airport (“Dulles Airport”) has been particularly reprehensible, as they committed the most egregious instance of abuse thus far reported in relation to the Travel Ban. The CBP agents at Dulles Airport detained two young Yemeni brothers, who hold green cards based on their father’s status as a U.S. citizen. When the Yemeni brothers arrived, the CBP agents at Dulles Airport handcuffed them, denied them access to counsel, and made them sign a form surrendering their green cards—before they were put on a plane bound for Ethiopia. At the time of this press release, an unknown number of lawful permanent residents are still being detained at Dulles Airport. Although Judge Leonie Brinkema of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ordered the CBP to allow all lawful permanent residents detained at the airport to speak with a lawyer, the CBP agents at Dulles Airport refused to give attorneys access to detainees, even after five members of Congress and three U.S. Senators  personally visited the airport to ensure that the CBP agents complied with the court order. As a bar association based in Washington D.C., KABA-DC condemns this blatant disregard for the rule of law perpetrated by CBP agents at Dulles Airport, and demands that all lawful permanent residents detained at Dulles Airport be released immediately.

Finally, KABA-DC cautions those who are affected by the Refugee Ban and the Travel Ban to not sign any form without first consulting an attorney. If you are detained, you should demand to speak with an attorney. Practitioners counseling travelers who are being asked to relinquish their permanent residency status or are otherwise impacted by the Refugee Ban or the Travel Ban can visit the website for American Immigration Lawyers Association (www.aila.org) for practice alerts, such as:

  • Green card holders returning to the United States should not automatically surrender their green cards, even if asked to do so by CBP.

  • Form I-407, the form that surrenders the lawful permanent residency status, must be signed voluntarily. Refusing to sign Form I-407 is not a grounds for detention.

  • A green card holder who refuses to sign Form I-407 must be issued a Notice to Appear (NTA) so that he/she can appear before an immigration judge who makes a final determination about the individual’s status.

As the issues and implementation of the executive order are developing rapidly, those affected are encouraged to consult with an experienced immigration attorney or reach out to one of the many organizations working on the ground, such as:

ACLU: www.aclu.org

CAIR Coalition: www.caircoalition.org

Amnesty International–USA: www.amnestyusa.org

We wish to remind our fellow members of the bar that lawyers make a difference, and encourage attorneys to volunteer to make that difference. Sign up and make that difference. The sign-up for IRAP Emergency Legal Response Team Survey is available at the link.

Contact us for more information and access to resources:  Vice President of Communications for KABA-DC at kabadc2009@gmail.com.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 25, 2016

Contact:  Pierce Lee (202-415-3069)

KABA-DC Congratulates Judge Lucy Koh on Her Nomination to the Ninth Circuit

Washington, DC:  The Korean American Bar Association of Washington, D.C. (KABA-DC) congratulates U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh on her nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

As the first woman, Korean American Article III judge appointed to the federal judiciary, Judge Koh has been a historic figure for the Korean-American bar, and active with numerous community and law-related organizations.  She was also the first Asian Pacific American Article III judge appointed in the San Francisco/Silicon Valley area.  If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Judge Koh would be the first female, Korean American judge on a federal circuit court.

KABA-DC was established in 2009 to be the voice for Korean Americans in the legal profession in the Greater Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.  KABA-DC’s main goal is to promote and improve the common professional and business interests of Korean American lawyers and others in the legal profession.  KABA-DC also fosters professional development, legal scholarship, advocacy and community involvement.


April 21, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 JOINT STATEMENT ON COMFORT WOMEN ISSUE

The Korean American Bar Association of Washington, D.C. (KABA-DC), Filipino American Lawyers Association of New York (FALANY), Pan Asian Lawyers of San Diego (PALSD),the Asian Pacific American Lawyers Association of New Jersey (APALA-NJ), Orange County Korean American Bar Association (OC KABA), Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater New York (KALAGNY), Korean American Bar Association of Chicago (KABA-Chicago), Korean American Bar Association of Georgia (KABA-GA), Korean Community Lawyers Association (KCLA), Korean American Bar Association of San Diego (KABA-SD), Korean American Bar Association of Northern California (KABANC), Korean American Civic Action Committee, and the Council of Korean Americans (CKA) are deeply appreciative of the Glendale City Council’s support for and approval of a public monument in memory of the more than 200,000 Asian and Dutch women who were coerced into sexual slavery by Imperial Armed Forces of Japan between 1932 and 1945 (the “Comfort Women Monument”).  These women suffered unimaginable violence and brutality.  Many have died; many near the end of their lives.  It is important to remember what happened to them.  They were victims, along with many others, of Japanese militarism and colonialism.

The suffering of these women, sometimes called “comfort women” after a Japanese euphemism for them, is a historical fact. As the U.S. House of Representatives said in H.R. 121:  “[T]he Government of Japan, during its colonial and wartime occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands from the 1930s through the duration of World War II, officially commissioned the acquisition of young women for the sole purpose of sexual servitude to its Imperial Armed Forces.”  These women “suffered gang rape, forced abortions, humiliation, and sexual violence resulting in mutilation, death, or eventual suicide in one of the largest cases of human trafficking in the 20th
century.”   This resolution, which was adopted unanimously by the House of Representatives, was written and sponsored by Congressman Mike Honda of California.

We deplore the filing of a lawsuit in Federal district court that seeks the removal of the Comfort Women Monument.  We are especially saddened by the representation of the plaintiffs in that lawsuit by Mayer Brown, a well-respected international law firm.  The Complaint written by Mayer Brown lawyers refers to the comfort women as women “who were recruited, employed, and/or otherwise acted as sexual partners” of Japanese soldiers, without any acknowledgement of the violence committed against them.  The Complaint goes on to argue that the actions of the Glendale City Council violate the United States Constitution.  We cannot see how it could responsibly be argued that the approval of a memorial to the victims of wartime sex trafficking could be an unconstitutional act.

We also condemn those who would use the comfort women issue as an excuse to attack the Japanese American community.  It is irresponsible to blame Japanese people generally, and especially irresponsible to blame Japanese Americans, for what happened during the World War II era.  The actions at issue were taken 80 years ago by officials of the Japanese government.

George Santayana noted that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  We applaud the Glendale City Council’s act of remembrance.  We hope that by facing historical truths we can avoid the tragic mistakes of the past and strive for a more just and humane world.  Please contact Yule Kim of KABA-DC at ylkim30@gmail.com for more information.