The Pro Bono Spotlight honors Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles' attorney volunteers and the important work they do to help us fulfill our mission. With this Spotlight, we recognize Cheryl Kang, associate at Holland & Knight and a member of the firm’s International and Cross-Border Transactions Practice in the Los Angeles office. Beginning in the summer of 2014, Cheryl began regularly volunteering at Advancing Justice’s Deferred Action Clinics, and has now volunteered dozens of hours at both onsite and offsite clinics.*
How did you learn about Advancing Justice - LA?
I learned about Advancing Justice through Stacey Wang, an attorney at my firm, Holland & Knight.
What prompted you to get involved?
I attended a MCLE course on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applications, taught by DACA Legal Advocates Tiffany Panlilio and Michelle Saucedo at Advancing Justice - LA. After learning about DACA through the MCLE course, I decided I wanted to get involved with Advancing Justice’s DACA workshops.
What have you learned or how have you been personally affected by your experience as an Advancing Justice - LA volunteer?
I am very impressed by Michelle and Tiffany’s client interviewing skills. I learned that interviews with DACA clients often deal with sensitive subjects, and that it is important to understand what questions to ask and how to ask them. Watching Tiffany and Michelle interview clients has inspired me to become an interviewer who can be friendly, neutral, and understanding of nuances.
Do you have an inspirational story you can briefly tell about your experience volunteering?
I had the chance to assist a Korean client with her DACA application. She visited the workshop with her father who was more comfortable communicating in Korean. I had the chance to utilize my Korean language skills to walk the client and her father through the DACA application process. Aside from helping the client with her DACA application, Tiffany and I also got the chance to inquire into the client’s father’s visa issues and we considered ways in which Advancing Justice might help his case in the future. I was glad to know that through communicating in Korean, we were able to explore ways to help not only the client, but also her family. I felt empowered knowing that my Korean background can be used as a tool to become a better attorney.
What advice would you give other attorneys who want to participate in pro bono work?
If you are considering volunteering for a DACA workshop, I highly recommend participating in a DACA training course. It is helpful to understand the background and history of DACA to contextualize the importance of the program for clients.
For more information about DACA or Administrative Relief, please contact our DACA Legal Advocates:
For more information about upcoming opportunities to volunteer at DACA clinics and Administrative Relief clinics and workshops, please contact our Pro Bono Director:
Christina Yang - (213) 977-7500 x 850 - [email protected]
*About DACA: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a federal administrative program that provides temporary protection from deportation, also known as removal, proceedings for eligible undocumented youth and young adults who came to the United States as children. While it does not provide a pathway to legal status for these individuals, it does make them eligible for employment authorization.
About Administrative Relief: In late November 2014, President Obama announced executive actions that will expand on the existing DACA program, and potentially provide nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants (including approximately 400,000 Asian and Pacific Islander immigrants), with temporary relief from deportation (popularly known as administrative relief). Key provisions of the President's executive action include deferred action for parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents (Deferred Action for Parental Accountability, or DAPA), expansion of DACA, and certain streamlined legal immigration provisions (for example, reducing family separation for those waiting to obtain legal permanent resident status).
Advancing Justice has begun volunteer and pro bono recruitment efforts in connection with administrative relief. As a first step, Advancing Justice is holding a series of Administrative Relief Eligibility Workshops for community members. The first workshop took place in early December 2014, and the workshops will continue in the new year. Because there is no application for administrative relief available yet, these initial workshops focus on one-on-one screening of individuals for their eligibility for deferred action and other available immigration relief (in other words, existing remedies not connected to the President’s recent executive action). The workshops also educate eligible community members on the details of the President's announcement, as well as the need to start gathering documents and evidence in support of their applications now.
Advancing Justice-LA welcomes not just attorneys, but also paralegals, law students, or others interested in assisting. And Advancing Justice-LA would certainly appreciate bilingual volunteers, but also welcomes all volunteers, regardless of language capacity. And please note that 1.5 to 2-hour shifts are available, so volunteers need not stay for the entire workshop. Attorneys may receive 1 hour of general MCLE credit for attending training from Advancing Justice-LA, a State Bar approved MCLE provider.
To sign up for any workshops/opportunities or with any questions, please contact Christina Yang, Advancing Justice-LA's Pro Bono Director, at [email protected].
DACA and DAPA Workshops
Saturday, January 24, from 10 am - 1 pm: Expanded DACA/DAPA Eligibility Workshop in the San Gabriel Valley in collaboration with Congresswoman Judy Chu and the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA)
- Location: Alhambra High School, 101 South 2nd Street, Alhambra, CA 91801
- Languages Needed: Volunteers who speak Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean, and Chinese are especially appreciated
- Training: Please arrive at 9 am on 1/24 before the workshop begins.
In February, Advancing Justice-LA will start holding regular Expanded DACA/DAPA Eligibility Workshops on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of the month, at Advancing Justice-LA's downtown LA offices (1145 Wilshire Blvd., 2nd Fl., Los Angeles, CA 90017). These dates are:
- Thursday, February 12, from 4-7 pm
- Thursday, February 26, from 4-7 pm
Volunteers will screen individuals for their eligibility for expanded deferred action, as well as other available immigration relief, and will also educate eligible individuals on how to start gathering documents and evidence to support their applications. Training will be scheduled based on what is convenient for most participants.
Other DACA/DAPA events in February include:
Saturday, February 21, from 10 am to 1 pm: Expanded DACA/DAPA Eligibility Workshop in the San Gabriel Valley
- Location: First Baptist Church, 101 South Atlantic Boulevard, Alhambra, CA 91801
- Languages Needed: Because the venue is a predominantly Chinese church, Mandarin- and Cantonese-speaking volunteers are especially needed
- Training: Please arrive at 9 am on 2/21 before the workshop begins.
Saturday, February 28, from 10 am to 1 pm (tentative): Expanded DACA/DAPA Eligibility Workshop in Orange County
- Location: TBD
- Languages Needed: We are likely partnering with the Korean Service Center for this workshop, which means Korean-speaking volunteers would be appreciated to assist Korean-speaking clients
- Training: Please arrive at 9 am on 2/28 before the workshop begins.
Advancing Justice is also seeking volunteer and pro bono assistance in the following areas, in connection with administrative relief:
- Help translate written materials about administrative relief into Asian or Pacific Islander languages and Spanish, so that these factsheets can be distributed in our communities.
- Join Advancing Justice’s roster of volunteers to directly help eligible individuals apply for relief in administrative relief clinics and workshops once implementation of administrative relief takes place in the coming months.
Advancing Justice also seeks:
- Attorneys who specialize in immigration law or tax law to provide further assistance to community members and/or provide expert advice to volunteers during administrative relief application workshops
- Attorneys interested in being trained to leading presentations and trainings in-language, so Advancing Justice can expand its volunteer network.
For additional information or to sign up for these administrative relief opportunities, please email Christina Yang at [email protected].
To date, Advancing Justice - LA has assisted more than 2,000 applicants for DACA through free regular legal workshops. Advancing Justice will continue to do this work with committed volunteer attorneys like Cheryl, who assist our clients pro bono. Advancing Justice - LA looks forward to continuing to partner with volunteers, in order to serve all individuals seeking to apply for administrative relief.