Pursuing Justice for All: NAKASEC-VA Style

Posted on June 4, 2019 | Miae Bok, NAKASEC VA

Every few weeks, the Weissberg Foundation features a story from one of our Reframing <Washington> Empowerment Fund grantee partners to shine a light on their critical work. Learn more about these powerful organizations by visiting their websites.

NAKASEC-VA (National Korean American Service & Education Consortium – Virginia) organizes Korean and Asian Americans to achieve social, economic, and racial justice; project a progressive voice; and promote the full participation of Korean and Asian Americans within the larger society. Through community organizing, public policy advocacy, civic engagement, and youth leadership development, NAKASEC-VA works to build a future in which low- and middle-income, immigrant, people of color, and marginalized communities are working together as makers of lasting change. This pictorial tells the story of that work by program area over the last 18 months.

#Citizenship4all Campaign

Dream Riders 2018: Journey to Justice The #Citizenship4all campaign is based on NAKASEC’s belief that everyone should have access to all the rights and responsibilities of being American and a world citizen. We launched this campaign with the “Journey to Justice” bike tour where from August to the anniversary of the cancellation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program (Sept. 5th), 12 young immigrants biked 1,784 miles over 36 days. Traveling down the west coast, they held dialogues with over 1,000 everyday Americans about #Citizenshipforall and local issues. Pictured here is one of our Virginia DACAmented staff members taking a break from the road.

Immigrant Rights Advocacy

Victory! Local Policy Change in VAIn August 2018, NAKASEC-VA and allies, led by the Fairfax County NAACP, made several positive changes to the policies around School Resource Officers (SROs) to protect students of color and immigrant students. SROs will handle criminal matters only when a school administrator has a safety concern that cannot be addressed by school security staff. The new memorandum of understanding eliminates and limits the circumstances when student information gets shared with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and clarifies that student information is disclosed ONLY in response to lawfully-issued court orders, subpoenas, and warrants. SROs must also take regular trainings on mental health, crisis intervention, disability awareness, racial bias, restorative justice techniques, and cultural competency, some of which will be conducted jointly with school administrators.

Speaking Up!Steve Yoo, Campaign Coordinator for NAKASEC-VA, testified before State Delegates and Senators whose districts include Fairfax County prior to the start of General Assembly.

2019 VA General AssemblyNAKASEC supported extending driving privileges and in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants, raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour, and securing state outreach funding for Census 2020. Pictured here are Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) community members from across VA who we organized to participate in the annual MLK Day of Action (organized by New Virginia Majority) in Richmond to advocate for these policies. Over the next two months, NAKASEC-VA staff traveled to Richmond with community members to testify at committee hearings and meet with legislators and advocates.

Youth Leadership Development

Summer School of ChangePictured are high school students during the end of the 5-week summer youth program meeting with Fairfax County Board of Supervisor Penelope Gross in July 2018. During this meeting, the students requested her support of the Fairfax for All Ordinance. This ordinance would limit the collaboration between Fairfax County agencies and ICE.

New Leaders CollectiveJanuary 2019 marked the start of our first cohort of a new college-aged leadership program called New Leaders Collective (NLC). Six college aged AAPI leaders explored their identities and learned the theory behind community organizing. In developing their leadership skills, they learned how to canvass, register voters, and plan events. Pictured is a group from the AAPI student listening session held at George Mason University in May 2019. This event was organized by NLC.

Community Service

Promoting CitizenshipA pathway to citizenship provides more access to resources and opportunities Americans have in order to fully engage with society. NAKASEC-VA continues to organize monthly naturalization clinics throughout Northern and Central VA to assist low income AAPIs to complete the N-400 citizenship application. Trained volunteers guide community members through each question. In December 2018, our Community Services Coordinator received partial Department of Justice accreditation, giving us the potential to expand our immigration services.

Civic Engagement

Engaging our Communities 2018From July 2018 to November 2018, we directly spoke with over 1,300 AAPI voters and organized several civic engagement events. Our impact is that AAPI voter turnout increased 98% in 2018 compared to 2014. Statewide, the voter turnout rate for all populations increased 36% in 2018 compared to 2014. The voter turnout rate for Korean Americans (51%) and Vietnamese Americans (54%) in Fairfax County in 2018 jumped to 92% and 69% when engaged with face-to-face conversation.

Canvassing 2019From May 2019 through November 2019, we will knock to educate voters on the November elections and the 2020 census. Pictured is a pair of NLC members on their first day of canvassing in May 2019.

Community Building

Celebrating TraditionPictured is our Lunar New Year celebration on February 9, 2019, where we made dumplings and shared our 2019 resolutions for justice.

Listening to our CommunitiesNAKASEC-VA holds community meetings for folks to share their stories, experiences and issues they see and experience. During our March 2019 meeting, we used art to visualize our motivations to vote in the 2019 General Elections in Virginia.

Exploring our RootsNAKASEC-VA collaborated with the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) Collaborative to host an AAPI Heritage Month Trivia night on May 13th at a popular local food court. Pictured is a group of Filipino American college students from William & Mary home for the summer who heard about the event over social media.

Miae Bok assists with development and community engagement at NAKASEC-VA as the resource organizer. They are a second generation Korean American interested in intersectional justice and the creation of safer spaces for underserved communities. They hold a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Virginia and a M.S.W from Virginia Commonwealth University. Prior to NAKASEC-VA, Miae interned with the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance providing data analysis and research support. When interning at Diversity Richmond, they kickstarted the first Bisexual+ support group at the organization.

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