Community-Based Services: Advocating for Social Justice

API Legal Outreach continued to play an active role in coalitions and causes on the cutting edge of the struggle for social justice.

Equal Protection Under the Law

API Legal Outreach joined with a number of civil rights and community organizations under the umbrella of Asian Equality to demand equal treatment for gay and lesbian families. API Legal Outreach lent its voices of support at statewide press conferences and community gatherings to denounce the “Defense of Marriage” initiative, which stripped domestic partners of all their rights under the law. API Legal Outreach also led a national coalition of API Legal and community groups in filling an amicus brief before the California Court of Appeals to challenge the denial of marriage to same-sex couples and continues to advocate for equal protection of rights under the law. Further, API legal Outreach advocated for the Uniting American Families Act to allow same sex couples to participate in family based immigration. With the passage of Proposition 8 and the recent Supreme Court ruling striking it down, API Legal Outreach continues to work with its coalition partners to advocate for the rights of the LGBTQ community. For more information, please visit www.APIEquality.org.

Justice For Claire Joyce Tempongko: A Call to End Violence Against Women

In 2000, Claire Joyce Tempongko, a young Filipina mother of two, was stabbed to death by her ex-boyfriend, Tare Nicholas Beltran, in front of her children. The search for Beltran aka Ramirez, ended when he was apprehended in Cancun, Mexico and convicted of second-degree murder in 2008. Although Claire’s family can now be more secure knowing that he is incarcerated, they have continued their work to advocate for better protection and increased services to prevent domestic violence particularly in immigrant communities. As we heard from Clara Tempongko, Claire’s mother, at our 2003 Anniversary dinner, the struggle to end domestic violence and improve access to culturally competent services must continue. For Clara and Claire’s children, their memories will drive their continuing work against domestic violence in the Filipino and API community. API staff continued to provided assistance to not only the family but also the movement to awaken the community, improve city services, and make
services more accessible for the Filipino community.

Last year, Beltran’s attorney was successful in petitioning the California Court of Appeals to review whether the trial court’s jury instruction for manslaughter versus murder conviction was improper. API Legal Outreach on behalf of the family advocated against reopening the case and for the California Supreme Court to uphold the original murder conviction. Earlier this year, the California Supreme court ultimately ruled against Beltran.

Immigration Reform

In opposition to the increasingly popular national anti-immigrant movement, API Legal Outreach and its partners have advocated for fair and just comprehensive immigration
reform. Although now blocked by the Republican controlled U.S. House of Representatives, changes to the nation’s immigration laws will come as part of the Obama Administration’s work in the years to come. The API communities must be ready to advocate for provisions and policies that honor the contributions of immigrants, aid the economy, and bar the racial profiling and scapegoating of all immigrants.