Congratulations Zahra Billoo, 2017 Public Interest Achievement Awardee

 We congratulate Zahra Billoo, civil rights attorney and Executive Director of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).

At the onset of 2017, Zahra joined the speaker lineup at the Women’s March on Washington and sued Donald Trump to challenge his “Muslim Ban” Executive Orders. In the course of her work at CAIR, Zahra is frequently seen at mosques and universities facilitating trainings and workshops as a part of CAIR’s grassroots efforts to empower the American Muslim community and build bridges with allies on civil rights issues. She also provides direct legal services for victims of law enforcement targeting and Islamophobia. Her work has been highlighted in local and national media outlets including the Christian Science Monitor, KTVU, MSNBC, NPR, and the San Jose Mercury News.

Among her awards and recognitions, Zahra has received the 2017 Human Rights Award from the Society of American Law Teachers, the 2014 Unsung Hero Award from the Nationals Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter, and the 2013 Trailblazer Award from the South Asian Bar Association of Northern California.

We are excited that she will be able to share her knowledge as a part of the Combatting Hate Crimes in Changing Times panel. There has been a tremendous increase in hate crimes in the past year against Muslims (and those perceived to be Muslims), South Asians, Arabs, Sikhs, Hindus, and Middle Eastern Americans. The current political climate, as well as the emergence of far right groups have contributed to this disturbing trend. The panelists will discuss the problem of hate crimes underreporting, the federal and state laws that are utilized to prosecute those suspected of perpetrating such crimes, applicable laws to pursue civil remedies against the alleged [...]

AABA Chicago, CABA Chicago, FALA Chicago, KABA Chicago and SABA Chicago Support Local Civil Rights Leader and Organization, Recent Victims of a Hate Crime

AABA Chicago, CABA Chicago, FALA Chicago, KABA Chicago and SABA Chicago Support Local Civil Rights Leader and Organization, Recent Victims of a Hate Crime

CHICAGO – A coalition of Asian American bar associations support Sufyan Sohel (Sohel), Deputy Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Chicago (CAIR Chicago), and CAIR-Chicago, recent victims of a hate crime.

On May 16, 2017, Sohel, received the threatening voicemail on his office phone, from Marvin Meyer (Meyer). Meyer stated, “Hey. Guess what? This is America calling. You are not welcome here…We will kill you.” His message also insulted Allah and Democrats, and Meyers also asked, “Do I seem afraid of you?” This is one of four calls left at CAIR-Chicago that morning, all with a similar message.

Meyer admitted to calling Deputy Director Sohel. He has been charged with a felony count of a hate crime and a misdemeanor count of a telephone threat.

Sohel, past president of the South Asian Bar Association of Chicago, is an American-born attorney whose parents came to this country from India. As Deputy Director at CAIR Chicago, Sohel oversees the organization’s legal strategy and is a frequent speaker on social justice and civil rights issues.  CAIR-Chicago is a non-profit organization that defends the civil rights or Muslim Americans through outreach, advocacy and litigation.

AABA Chicago, CABA Chicago, FALA Chicago, KABA Chicago and SABA Chicago (the Chicago Asian-American Bar Associations) condemn not only the actions of Meyer, but the rising hate witnessed around the globe against Muslim, South Asian, and other minority populations The Chicago Asian-American Bar Associations praise the Cook County State’s Attorney Office and the Chicago Police Department for fully investigating the specific allegations raised by the voicemail and taking appropriate action to ensure that [...]

SABA’s Inaugural Lobby Day

We’re excited to announce SABA’s inaugural Lobby Day at this year’s Convention!

Lobby Day is an opportunity for legislators and their senior staff to hear directly from us. It allows you to educate your elected members about the issues that affect our careers and unite your efforts with those of other SABA members.

If you are interested in participating, please sign up here by June 12 and plan to be in Washington, D.C. in time for 6 p.m. training on Wednesday, July 12. We will reconvene on the morning of Thursday, July 13, to go over last minute details regarding the offices you will visit. If you are interested in attending the Lobby Day, but have a conflict on Wednesday, please reach out to Lobby Day Coordinator K.J. Bagchi directly at kj@sabanorthamerica.com ASAP.

Space for the Lobby Day is limited, and preference will be given to SABA members who are registered for the Convention. If you have not done so already, you can register here. While you’re filling out forms, make sure to book your room! The Convention rate expires on June 15, so proactivity pays!

Rep. Pramila Jayapal to Keynote at 2017 Convention Gala

SABA is proud to announce that Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, the first South Asian woman in the House of Representatives, will be the Keynote speaker at our 14th Annual Convention Gala in Washington, D.C.! Congresswoman Jayapal represents Washington’s 7th District, which encompasses most of Seattle and surrounding areas.

Congresswoman Jayapal is committed to ensuring that every resident of the district has economic opportunity; fairness and equity; and safe and healthy communities. She is proud of the district’s role in leading the country on issues like the minimum wage, racial equity and innovation, and will work to support that work and lift it up as a model for the rest of the country.
Her focus is on ensuring income equality; access to education, from early learning to higher education, including debt-free college; expanding Social Security and Medicare; protecting our environment for our next generation; and ensuring immigrant, civil and human rights for all.

Jayapal has spent the last twenty years working internationally and domestically as a leading national advocate for women’s, immigrant, civil, and human rights. She came to the United States by herself at the age of 16 to attend college at Georgetown University and later received her MBA from Northwestern University. She has worked in a number of industries in both the public and private sector.

Thapar Confirmed to 6th U.S. Circuit Court

For Immediate Release, May 25, 2017

The South Asian Bar Association of North America (SABA) congratulates the Judge Amul Thapar on his confirmation to the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Today’s 52-44 vote means that the first South Asian Article III judge will become only the second South Asian judge to be on a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He ascended to the bench in 2008, after being nominated by President George W. Bush for the United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Kentucky by President George W. Bush.

“On behalf of SABA, I congratulate Judge Thapar who is a proven asset to the federal judiciary, the people of the commonwealth of Kentucky whom he’s served for almost a decade, and the South Asian legal community,” said President Vichal Kumar. “Judge Thapar’s confirmation further cements his legacy as a pioneer, esteemed jurist and dedicated public servant. We anticipate that Judge Thapar’s renowned dedication to his craft and commendable judicial temperament will serve him well in this integral position.”

Prior to joining the bench, Judge Thapar served as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky from 2006-2007.  There, too, he was one of the first U.S. Attorneys of South Asian descent.  During that period, Judge Thapar was appointed to the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee (“AGAC”) and chaired the AGAC’s Controlled Substances and Asset Forfeiture subcommittee.  He also served on the Terrorism and National Security subcommittee, the Violent Crime subcommittee, and Child Exploitation working group.

Judge Thapar has also worked for the law firms of Williams & Connolly in Washington, D.C., and Squire, Sanders & Dempsey (now Squire Patton Boggs) in Cincinnati, Ohio, and served as an Assistant U.S.  Attorney in both the Southern District [...]

By |May 25th, 2017|Awards and Nominations, Blog, Judicial Appointees/Endorsees, Law, Legal News, People, Press Release, SABA Leadership, U.S. News|Comments Off on Thapar Confirmed to 6th U.S. Circuit Court|

SABA Letter in Support of Judge Thapar

In advance of Judge Amul Thapar’s confirmation hearing today, we sent a letter to the Judiciary Committee expressing our support of his nomination. The full text of the letter is below.

April 25, 2017

The Honorable Charles E. Grassley, Chairman
Committee on the Judiciary
United States Senate
224 Dirksen Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Via Email: Ted_Lehman@judiciary-rep.senate.gov

The Honorable Dianne Feinstein, Ranking Member
Committee on the Judiciary
United States Senate
331 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Via Email: paige_herwig@Judiciary-dem.senate.gov

Re:  Nomination of Amul R. Thapar to be United States Circuit Judge for the Sixth Circuit

Dear Chairman Grassley and Ranking Member Feinstein:

The South Asian Bar Association of North America (SABA North America) proudly supports Judge Amul R. Thapar’s nomination to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Our organization serves as the umbrella for 26 regional SABAs throughout the United States and Canada. The rapidly growing South Asian American legal community in the U.S. makes significant contributions in public service, private practice and academia. Our members represent the spectrum of attorneys, from law firm partners and in-house counsel to public interest attorneys and those serving local and federal government.

Judge Thapar has been a groundbreaker throughout his legal career. He was one of the first South Asian U.S. Attorneys ever appointed. He went on to be the first South Asian Article III judge in United States history, at which time he was also the youngest judge.  If confirmed, Judge Thapar would only be the second United States Court of Appeals judge of South Asian descent. SABA North America recognized the ground-breaking nature of Judge Thapar’s career by awarding him our Pioneer Award in 2007.

Judge Thapar has distinguished himself as a leading jurist in the federal judiciary. He is well-known for [...]

By |April 26th, 2017|Blog, Judicial Appointees/Endorsees, Legal News, People, SABA Leadership, U.S. News|Comments Off on SABA Letter in Support of Judge Thapar|

SABA joins Korematsu Center in 9th Circuit Filing on Executive Order

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 21, 2017

SABA joins Korematsu Center in filing Ninth Circuit amicus brief in State of Hawai`i and Ismail Elshikh v. Trump et al.

NEW YORK – SABA North America joined the Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality (Korematsu Center), the children of litigants in the Japanese relocation and incarceration cases from World War II, civil rights organizations, and national bar associations of color in filing an amicus brief on April 21, 2017 in State of Hawai`i and Ismail Elshikh v. Trump et al., pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The brief supports a legal challenge to the Trump administration’s Executive Order 13780 (March 6, 2017), entitled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States”, which replaces Executive Order 13769 (January 27, 2017), of the same title.

The district court below held that the challengers had met their burden of establishing a strong likelihood of success on the merits that the Executive Order violates the First Amendment, that they would suffer irreparable injury if the restraining order was not granted, and the balance of equities and public interest was in their favor. On appeal, the federal government argues that the court should defer wholly to the executive branch because the Executive Order concerns immigration and courts have historically deferred to the executive branch on immigration issues and that the plaintiffs’ claims are not justiciable.

In their amicus brief, the Korematsu Center and joining amici assert that courts can and should review executive branch action on immigration. The “plenary power doctrine”—arguably conferring a blank check to the executive branch—is based on a string of overtly racist and outdated cases. During World War II, the federal government used arguments [...]

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SABA Joins Korematsu Center Brief in IRAP v. Trump et al.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 19, 2017

SABA North America joins Korematsu Center in filing Fourth Circuit amicus brief in International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump et al.

NEW YORK – SABA North America joined the Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality (Korematsu Center), the children of litigants in the Japanese relocation and incarceration cases from World War II, civil rights organizations, and national bar associations of color in filing an amicus brief on April 19, 2017 in International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump et al., pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. The brief supports a legal challenge to the Trump administration’s Executive Order 13780 (March 6, 2017), entitled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States”, which replaces Executive Order 13769 (January 27, 2017), of the same title.

The district court below held that the challengers had met their burden of establishing a strong likelihood of success on the merits that the Executive Order violates the First Amendment, that they would suffer irreparable injury if the restraining order was not granted, and the balance of equities and public interest was in their favor. On appeal, the federal government argues that the court should defer wholly to the executive branch because the Executive Order concerns immigration and courts have historically deferred to the executive branch on immigration issues and that the plaintiffs’ claims are not justiciable.

In their amicus brief, the Korematsu Center and joining amici assert that courts can and should review executive branch action on immigration. The “plenary power doctrine”—arguably conferring a blank check to the executive branch—is based on a string of overtly racist and outdated cases. During World War II, the federal government used arguments similar to [...]

By |April 20th, 2017|Blog, Law, Legal News, Press Release, U.S. News|Comments Off on SABA Joins Korematsu Center Brief in IRAP v. Trump et al.|

Judge Amul Thapar Nominated to 6th Circuit Court of Appeals

For Immediate Release, March 20, 2017

The South Asian Bar Association of North America (SABA) applauds the nomination of Judge Amul Thapar to the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Thapar became the first South Asian Article III judge when he was appointed as a United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Kentucky by President George W. Bush.

The 2010 winner of SABA’s Pioneer Award continues to traverse frontiers with this nomination to the appellate court.

“Judge Thapar is a respected and thoughtful jurist who has long served as role model for the South Asian and greater legal community,” said Vichal Kumar, President of SABA. “Despite being among the youngest judges in the federal judiciary, Judge Thapar quickly established a reputation as a top legal scholar among his peers. His nomination furthers SABA’s mission of ensuring a judiciary that reflects the diversity of our country and we anticipate that his eminent qualifications will earn him a swift confirmation.”

Prior to joining the bench, Judge Thapar served as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky from 2006-2007.  There, too, he was one of the first U.S. Attorneys of South Asian descent.  During that period, Judge Thapar was appointed to the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee (“AGAC”) and chaired the AGAC’s Controlled Substances and Asset Forfeiture subcommittee.  He also served on the Terrorism and National Security subcommittee, the Violent Crime subcommittee, and Child Exploitation working group.

Judge Thapar has also worked for the law firms of Williams & Connolly in Washington, D.C., and Squire, Sanders & Dempsey in Cincinnati, Ohio, and served as an Assistant U.S.  Attorney in both the Southern District of Ohio and the District of Columbia. Between 1994 and 1997, Judge Thapar served as [...]

By |March 20th, 2017|Awards and Nominations, Blog, Judicial Appointees/Endorsees, Legal News, People, Press Release, SABA Leadership, U.S. News|Comments Off on Judge Amul Thapar Nominated to 6th Circuit Court of Appeals|

SABA DISAPPOINTED IN TERMINATION OF PREET BHARARA

For Immediate Release, March 11, 2017

President Donald J. Trump has fired Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New
York. This comes on the heels of Bharara stating that he would not comply with Attorney General Jeff Sessions demand yesterday that 46 U.S. Attorneys resign from their positions. Last year, then President-Elect Trump had specifically asked Bharara to remain in his position.

“Following previous reports that Mr. Bharara was asked to remain in his role as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, the South Asian Bar Association of North America is disappointed in the President’s decision to terminate him this morning,” said President Vichal Kumar. “A member, supporter and friend of SABA, Mr. Bharara’s legacy is one that South Asian legal professionals and the greater legal community can only hope to emulate. His dedication to public service throughout his career is exemplified by his devotion to protecting the rights of all communities and not shying away from the toughest challenges. We are proud of his accomplishments and wish him the best of luck.”

By |March 11th, 2017|Blog, Legal News, People, Press Release, SABA Leadership, U.S. News|Comments Off on SABA DISAPPOINTED IN TERMINATION OF PREET BHARARA|