Formed in 1986, the Chinese American Bar Association of Greater Chicago is the first local bar association for attorneys of Asian descent in the Chicago area. As an organization of attorneys descended from immigrants or immigrants themselves, CABA has experienced firsthand the history of American exclusionary immigration laws and the detrimental impact therefrom.
In this respect, CABA continues to celebrate diversity and work against discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity and national origin. As I look to this year’s Law Day theme of “Free Speech, Free Press, Free Society,” I am proud to say that over the last year, CABA members have exercised these individual liberties to uphold CABA’s values.
In March 2018, CABA joined the amicus brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court by its national affiliate, the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, in the case Hawaii v. Trump, challenging President Donald Trump’s third revised executive order barring individuals from particular countries and refugees from entering the United States.
Also in March 2018, CABA, in conjunction with Loyola University Chicago School of Law, enlisted the assistance of sitting federal and state judges, law students and practicing attorneys, and presented a re-enactment of Chy Lung v. Freeman.
Notably, not only was this the first U.S. Supreme Court case involving a Chinese litigant, but the court also ruled in favor of the litigant during a period of time when resentment against the Chinese and immigration was on the rise.
In May 2018, CABA members joined NAPABA in Washington, D.C., for its annual Lobby Day, where CABA members visited House and Senate offices to discuss issues important to the legal profession and the Asian Pacific American community.
Among other things, CABA members focused their support on the Chinese-American WWII Veterans Congressional Gold Medal bill.
Shortly after Lobby Day 2018, multiple representatives signed onto the Chinese-American WWII Veterans Congressional Gold Medal bill, which was subsequently passed unanimously in both chambers and ultimately signed into law by President Trump in December.
As a result, approximately 20,000 Chinese-American veterans of WWII will be awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, which recognizes the Chinese-Americans who volunteered or were drafted into the war while the Chinese Exclusion Act was still in place.
In December 2018, CABA issued comments in strong opposition to the Department of Homeland Security’s proposed rule to expand the criteria that will be considered to determine whether an immigrant is likely to become a “public charge.”
Looking at this year’s theme, I am reminded how fortunate we are to have these cornerstones of representative government. In this coming year, CABA will continue to use its voice and ensure “the[se] blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity.”