Dae Joong Yoon

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Dae Joong Yoon


Dae Joong Yoon was part of the founding of NAKASEC in 1994 and helped lead successful campaigns in its early years, including 1995 “Justice for Immigrants” Washington Post ad campaign opposing anti-immigrant legislation, the Restoration of SSI, and the national Fix 96’ campaign, a multi-faceted campaign in 1996 that promoted civic participation and electoral organizing. Prior to joining NAKASEC, DJ was the executive director of the Korean Resource Center (KRC), was a founding board member of the Korean American Resource and Cultural Center (KRCC) in Chicago, and served as the national president of Young Koreans United (YKU). He currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors for Strategic Concept in Organizing and Policy Education (SCOPE), the Community Advisory Board for the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Social Services, and the Advisory Board for the City of Los Angeles Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. [1]

Radicalization

Dae Joong Yoon was radicalized through the Korean American Cultural Center in Chicago;[2]

I was 18 years old when my family immigrated to the United States. As a teenager in a different, new land, I was particularly lost. I remember being frustrated by the laughter from classmates at my “broken English” and “funny” accent and told to “Go back to your country!” by customers at the drop-off laundromat where I helped my mother on weekends. My older brother was too old to immigrate and my father left us within a year of arrival. Unexpectedly, I was burdened with the additional responsibility of supporting my mother in our new homeland.

During this time, I was introduced to the Korean American Cultural Center in Chicago. I remember vividly the first time I entered the Center. Eight young people were playing traditional Korean drums in the basement. The sound was loud like thunder and I had never heard it before. My heart was shaking as if I was awakening from a deep sleep. From that moment, I participated in many of the cultural and educational workshops. On hot summer night in Chicago in 1990, I sat in on a workshop on the civil rights movement. We watched a documentary called “Eyes on the Prize.” As I watched the young African Americans refusing to leave the restaurant’s whites-only section in spite of being beaten by the police, my blood boiled and tears touched my soul. At that moment, I felt the power of an organized people and the excitement that comes from struggling to make a better society.

Asian American Racial Justice Toolkit

This toolkit is a project of love from the grassroots, from and by Asian American communities.

As Asian Americans, we believe that our liberation is tied to Black liberation and we continue to dream about a world where all of our people will be free. The toolkit would not have been possible without the following organizations and individuals:

Project Coordinators

Writing Consultants

We thank Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, Rosenberg Foundation, Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation, The California Endowment, The California Wellness Foundation, Unbound Philanthropy for their generous support of this project.

Special thanks to the Friends Doing Good giving circle, National CAPACD and Cathy Cha.

Thank you to the following racial justice organizers and fighters at the grassroots who have made this toolkit possible:

Alex T. Tom, Aiden Pham, Alvina Wong, Ashley Uyeda, Cathy Dang, Chhaya Chhoum, Christopher Cara, Dae Joong Yoon, Fahd Ahmed, InHe Choi, Joshua Fisher Lee, Kabzuag Vaj, Khamarin Nhann, Lai Wa Wu, Lillian Galedo, Mia-lia Kiernan, Minh Thanh Nguyen, Nancy Nguyen, Naved Husain, Rachel Aceberos, Rishi Singh, Sarath Suong, Steven Dy, Naroen Chhin, Sandy Saeteurn.[3]

Fighting for Illegal Immigration Rally January 16 2018

Pramila Jayapal with DACA activists

On January 17 2018, Pramila Jayapal protested with DACA activists from NAKASEC (Dae Joong Yoon Co-Director, Sam Yu Communications Coordinator), Tony Choi, Rob Bonta, Kevin de Leon, UndocuBlack Network, Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC), African Communities Together leader and Local 23 President Bert Bayou and others.[4]

From the Facebook Live Video:

"Community members from the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC), the UndocuBlack Network (UBN), Asian Americans Advancing Justice - AAJC, The New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), African Communities Together and UNITE HERE Local 23 will host a timely press conference denouncing President Trump’s racist statements in his meeting with U.S. Senators last week and call for a DREAM Act that leaves family sponsorship and diversity visa programs intact by January 19th, the deadline for the upcoming Continuing Resolution (CR). In addition to impacted community members and community leaders, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) Chair Congresswoman Judy Chu, CAPAC Immigration Subcommittee Chair Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, California State Senate President pro tempore Kevin de Leon and California Assemblymember and Chair of the California Asian & Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus Rob Bonta will participate."

SPEAKERS

NAKASEC Facebook Live Video January 16 2018

The speakers in the order in which they appeared:

Meeting with Obama

President Obama meets with Dae Joong Yoon, executive director of the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC) in May 2013 to discuss immigration reform
"In this critical time for immigration reform, NAKASEC is continuing to represent the Korean American community as a driving force. On May 8, 2013 along with 14 other national Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) organizational leaders, Yoon met with President Barack Obama in a historic meeting to discuss immigration reform, health care and civil rights. This was the first time that the president met with AAPI leaders, demonstrating the growing electorate clout of the communities they represent.
“We had a productive meeting with President Obama,” Yoon said, “ We addressed various issues that affect AAPI communities and immigration was one of the key issues. The President made a strong commitment to pass comprehensive immigration reform this year and also mentioned that after the implementation of the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program, he was very surprised that so many Korean American youth applied. President Obama specifically expressed his appreciation to the Korean American community and their support for DACA.”[7]

NAKASEC staff

NAKASEC staff members as of January 2018 included Dae Joong Yoon, co director.[8]

Hunger strike

Cristian Avila, Dae Joong Yoon, Eliseo Medina

December 4, 2013, saying their 22-day "fast for families" to demand Congress approve comprehensive immigration reform had gotten worldwide attention, former Service Employees Secretary-Treasurer Eliseo Medina and his fasting colleagues ended their D.C. vigil by handing off the fast to a group of successors.

The fast drew continued attention to the issue, and support from Democrats all the way up to President Obama, who visited the fasters in their tent at the foot of Capitol Hill on Dec. 1. But it did not budge the decision-makers it targeted: the anti-immigrant, anti-Hispanic GOP majority in the U.S. House.

Medina "handed over" his fast to Rep. Joe Kennedy III, D-Mass., and the Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners. In a joint statement, Medina and his fellow fasters said "we fasted in the shadow of the Capitol to call attention to the human suffering caused by our broken immigration system. We believe we have raised awareness about families being ripped apart by deportations, immigrants dying in the desert and millions of people living in fear every day.

Medina and the other fasters, supported and escorted by their friends and colleagues - including SEIU President Mary Kay Henry - weakly walked to the center carpet behind the mike and sat patiently waiting for the symbolic end of their fast: Bread and liquids offered by two Catholic prelates, including Cardinal Emeritus Theodore McCarrick of D.C. They then left, with their escorts, for a medical checkup.

Cristian Avila of Mi Familia Vota, and Dae Joong Yoon, with NAKASEC (National Korean American Service and Education Consortium) also struck.[9]

Launch of 'Fast for Families'

Dae Joong Yoon, right, executive director of the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium, speaks at the launch of the 'Fast for Families: A Call for Immigration Reform and Citizenship' November 2013

Other fasters included Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; Lucy Tzunun, member of Make the Road New York; and Jong Sang Hyung, member of NAKASEC.

“We’re fasting in the spirit of hope,” said the Rev. Barbara Williams Skinner, co-chair of the National African American Clergy Network. [10]

NAKASEC "Fast for Families" hangout

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NAKASEC "Fast for families" Google hangout, march 14, 2014.

Waters award

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Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), was awarded the “Standing Up for Justice” recognition by the Korean Resource Center (KRC) and the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium for her commitment to women, children, people of color, and low-income communities during their 34th Annual Gala, October 19, 2017, in Los Angeles.

“It is such a tremendous honor to be recognized by the Korean Resource Center and the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium for my efforts to advocate for minority communities in greater Los Angeles,” said Congresswoman Maxine Waters. “These two organizations have fought tirelessly on behalf of immigrants and people of color, particularly Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. Their efforts have strengthened our democracy, and I am so pleased to join with them to celebrate all they have accomplished over the past 34 years.”

During her acceptance speech, Congresswoman Waters discussed recent actions by the Trump Administration that have targeted immigrant communities, most notably the decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) which could impact more than 800,00 young people -- 200,000 of which live in California -- and upend the stability of nearly 50,000 school-age children living in Los Angeles County that will become eligible for DACA in future years.

“To all those who have been affected by Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant actions, I want you to know I have your back and so do my Democratic colleagues in the House and Senate,” said Congresswoman Waters. “We are fighting every day to hold Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans accountable, and we will continue to push for a bipartisan solution for DACA before the clock runs out.”

KRC is the California affiliate of NAKASEC. Together, the organizations advocate for “just and humane comprehensive immigration reform.”

"The Korean Resource Center and the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium were thrilled to honor Congresswoman Maxine Waters at their Building a Movement for Change Annual Gala on October 19th. Her powerful words were inspiring and clearly moved the audience to want to take action. It was one of the best speeches we have had at our gala in over 34 years," said Becky Belcore, NAKASEC Co-Director.

"Congresswoman Maxine Waters is a fierce advocate for the DREAM Act, immigrant rights and all marginalized communities. Her speech energized us for the fight ahead and we are so proud to have her as our Congresswoman and ally," said Dae Joong Yoon, Korean Resource Center President.[11]

Echoing Connolly

President Trump’s decision to cancel DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) would have a devastating impact on Virginia’s economy.

It would cost Virginia taxpayers more than $711.4 million annually in lost GDP, reports the Legal Aid Justice Center (LAJC), an immigrant rights organization with offices in Falls Church.

The 800,000 Dreamers in the United States contribute $460.3 billion to the nation’s GDP and $24.6 billion to Social Security and Medicare, said Rep. Gerry Connolly, who represents Northern Virginia in Congress.

“It is self-defeating to disrupt their economic contributions. This is ugly and un-American,” Connolly said. “Dreamers are Americans. They’re not pawns, they’re not aliens. They embrace the best of America. To uproot them violates our own values.”

Connolly announced plans to offer an amendment to the government funding bill that would prohibit the Department of Homeland Security from using sensitive information submitted through the DACA program for deportation proceedings. To apply for DACA status, immigrants had to submit personal information that now puts their whole family at risk.

“It is cruel and un-American to ruin the lives of young people who stepped forward in good faith to participate in a program that has proven to be successful. They trusted the government,” said Dae Joong Yoon, co-director of the NAKASEC, an immigrant advocacy organization with offices in Annandale.[12]

AAPI Immigrant Rights Organizing Table

Close to 150 immigrants and advocates from Black and Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities came together in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 5 2017, for a day of action on immigration. Together, the two groups, often unheard in the debate about immigration policy, joined forces to call for a clean DREAM Act and a permanent solution for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders.

Led by UndocuBlack Network and the AAPI Immigrant Rights Organizing Table, the day featured a news conference with House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, Rep. Judy Chu, (D-Calif.), Jan Schakowsky, (D-Ill.), and Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.)

“As an undocumented immigrant, woman of color, and a DREAMer, I can attest to the fact that this bill will determine the future of 11 million human lives,” said Angie Kim, who participated in the news conference on behalf of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum. “This bill is not just a policy. This bill is not an amnesty. This bill is about true American value, American history, humanity, and justice.”

“DACA changed my life. It allowed me to go to and finish school, get a good job and support my family. A clean DREAM Act must pass before Christmas,” said Jung Woo Kim speaking on behalf of the Korean Resource Center and NAKASEC. “We, young immigrant Americans, are an important part of the future of this nation. What kind of government would throw away its young people?”[13]

References