MinKwon has actively engaged Korean American voters through phone-banking and door knocking activities to encourage voter participation in the primary elections held on September 13th. MinKwon's “Vote2012: Your Voice Your Vote" campaign resulted in 4,334 phone calls and 1,027 door-knocking visits, and also 4,500 voter guides mailed to potential voters. On election day, MinKwon Center gathered statistics on Korean American voter turnout and released them to the Korean media on the 24th. The purpose of these statistics was to analyze Korean voters' interest and election preconceptions. Approximately 240 Korean American voters were surveyed; 36% believed their votes made a difference in community enhancement, while 22% believed that their votes some what mattered. Also, the statistics showed that 74% of those polled knew at least one of the candidates running in Assembly District 40 in Flushing, while 26% did not. MinKwon will continue to encourage voter participation, and pursue polling surveys for the general election in November.
On September 9th, the Minkwon Center and eight other Asian American organizations held a press conference announcing their combined efforts to create a new coalition to encourage voter registration, education, and participation for the upcoming 2012 elections. Minkwon and the coalition have created voter guides that contain information on procedures and policies in English, Korean, Chinese, and Bangali, and five thousand Korean voter guides will be mailed to Korean households. Minkwon is calling four thousand Korean households and visiting another 1,000 households in preparation for preliminary elections on September 13th to encourage voter participation and get sign-ons for a "Vote Your Values" pledge asking for community support on critical issues.
On August 29th, Minkwon and the Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater New York (KALAGNY) held a press conference to announce the two organizations’ partnership to increase "deferred action" services. Minkwon and KALAGNY will offer a paid fellowship in which the recipient will dedicate his/her time to scheduling joint clinics, recruiting volunteer lawyers and overseeing "deferred action" application filings. KALAGNY will also provide pro-bono lawyers to help with MinKwon’s free "deferred action" clinics.
Starting from September 1st, Minkwon will hold a free legal clinic every Saturday from 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM at Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York (KCS) (35-56, 159 Street, Flushing, NY 11358 until clients are fully provided with legal intakes and consultations.
For inquires please call Minkwon Center at (718-460-5600).
On August 28th, the Minkwon Center, Queens Housing Coalition (QHC), and other tenants’ rights advocacy groups participated in a New York State Homes and Community Renewal’s (HCR) public hearing and a rally and press conference in front of the HCR office urging the state government to better protect tenants’ rights. The advocacy groups also expressed the need for greater accountability from HCR and prevent landlords from abusing "major capital improvement" regulations to collect higher rents from tenants. The groups also pushed for HCR to actively protect tenants by preventing landlords from unreasonably raising rents, and evicting surviving family members of deceased primary leaseholders.
Gi-Jung Kim, a Jackson Heights resident and a member of Minkwon’s Tenants’ Rights Committee, testified before HCR and sharied his difficulties due to his landlord’s abuse, including unjust rent hikes and refusal to make repairs. Mr. Kim said that current housing laws need to be reformed so that tenants can also have equal rights with landlords.
On August 25th, Minkwon hosted a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) legal clinic at Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York (KCS), with help from the Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater New York (KALAGNY) and the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY). About 120 applicants received free legal consultations and guidance on collecting necessary documents, and made follow-up appointments for application filings. Since the DACA application has been made available, the Minkwon Center has actively worked to provide assistance where needed, and on August 24th Minkwon’s DACA Team held a DACA workshop at Heaven’s Will Church in New Jersey.
Starting on September 1st, Minkwon will expand its DACA services by holding information sessions and legal clinics every Saturday at the KCS offices at 35-56 159th Street, Flushing, NY 11358 and offer additional consultations from Tuesday through Friday at the Minkwon Center offices. For more information, call Minkwon at 718-460-5600 x. 212, and to volunteer click here.
On August 24th, Minkwon and its Summer Youth Program participants celebrated the conclusion of the summer program. From July 6th to August 24th, MinKwon Youth Program participants were engaged in either the Dream Act campaign or with our Vote 2012: Your Voice, Your Vote campaign. The DREAM Act campaign team worked on DREAM Act issues by submitting op-ed pieces to various publications, participating in various DREAM Coalition events, and engaging in street outreach and petition drives. The Civic Engagement team participated in voter registration, helped create a voter guide, played a key role in setting up a State Assembly Candidate Forum, and even testified as citizens of Flushing at the Districting Commission's public hearing. The youth also engaged in weekly education sessions where they learned about Korean folk drumming, public speaking, prose writing, and various social issues.
The MinKwon Center will start the Fall session of the Youth Program starting on September 12th. For inquires about the program, please contact Emily Park at 718-460-5600.
On August 20th, Minkwon’s Civic Participation Coordinator James Hong attended an open hearing hosted by the Board of Election’s Language Assistance Commission, where he presented on the difficulties that Korean voters faced. Korean voters continue to face a number of challenges, such as problems with the Board of Elections’ information hotline and mislabeled voter notices. On August 24th, Minkwon submitted an official letter detailing its concerns, and urged the body to develop solutions to these problems.
On August 21st, MinKwon joined several City redistricting events at the Flushing Library, the stage for the New York City Redistricting Commission’s public hearing to hear feedback for the City Council's new electoral districts, which will be redrawn in advance of the 2013 elections.
Before the hearing, Minkwon and ACCORD held a press conference in front of the Library expressing the need to protect Asian American "communities of interest" in the upcoming redistricting process. MinKwon and ACCORD then followed this press conference with testimony at the hearing, including MinKwon's Executive Director Steven Choi and Kanupriya Pandey, a Minkwon Youth member.
After this series of hearings, the Commission will announce its initial draft of the redistricting plans. Minkwon and ACCORD will continue to push forward for a just districting plan that properly represents Asian American communities, which make up nearly 14% of New York City’s population.
On August 16th, the Minkwon Center coordinated a Candidate Forum for New York State Assembly District 40. Co-sponsored by other immigrant, minority and Asian American organizations, the event drew a crowd of more than 200 people. With the exclusion of Martha Flores-Vasquez, the 6 other officially registered candidates - 4 Democrats and 2 Republicans - participated in a discussion moderated by Minkwon’s Executive Director, Steven Choi. The Forum also featured a panel with Common Cause’s Executive Director, Susan Lerner; NAACP Metropolitan Council Regional Director Ken Cohen; and YWCA of Queens’s Executive Director, Rhoeme Kim. Mr. Choi and the panel took turns asking candidates pointed questions regarding immigration, state government budget, and campaign funding law reform. The audience also had the opportunity to ask questions to the candidates as well.
MinKwon will engage in the next phase of the "Vote 2012: Your Voice, Your Vote" campaign by reaching thousands of voters through door knocking and phone-banking to encourage them to vote in the upcoming September 13th election. Volunteers are NEEDED, and any persons interested in empowering our Korean and Asian American voters can register HERE.
Korea Times: http://ny.koreatimes.com/
On August 18th, MinKwon Center held a workshop on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). About 70 people participated in this workshop, during which MinKwon staff explained DACA, how to apply, which necessary documents were necessary, and what to do in cases of criminal misdemeanors. MinKwon Center will host another workshop on August 24th at Heavens Will Church in New Jersey and an Open Clinic on August 25th with the Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater New York, the Asian American Bar Association of New York, and Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York.
You can find our FAQ on DACA here (in Korean).
Korea Times: http://ny.koreatimes.com/article/746936