Founded in 1975, Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach (formerly Nihonmachi Legal Outreach) is a community-based, social justice organization serving the Asian and Pacific Islander, and other communities of the Greater Bay Area. With offices in Oakland and San Francisco, our work is focused in the areas of violence against women/family law, immigration and immigrant rights, senior law and elder abuse prevention, the rights of those with disabilities, anti-human trafficking, youth violence prevention, affordable housing preservation and tenants’ rights, and other social justice issues.
Our mission is to provide culturally competent and linguistically appropriate legal representation, social services, and advocacy for the most marginalized segments of the community including low-income women, seniors, recent immigrants, and youth. Our diverse staff provides holistic legal, social, and educational services in more than a dozen languages including Cantonese, Chiu-Chow, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Punjabi, Spanish, Tagalog, Taiwanese, and Vietnamese.
The legal system has failed to provide fair and just treatment for our communities based historically on such factors as economic status, gender, age, ethnicity, sexual preference, race, religion, nationality, and language. API Legal Outreach, directed by its community-based model, works to level long-standing barriers that have denied Asians and Pacific Islanders equal justice and equal access to our legal system.
Immigrant Rights Project: Advocating for Immigrant Communities
API Legal Outreach’s commitment to advancing the rights of immigrants is rooted in providing needed legal services for the diverse immigrant communities of the Greater Bay Area. API Legal Outreach has long been committed to immigrants’ rights and remains one of the few agencies providing direct legal services to immigrant victims of crime and their families. Our communities need more than just information about their rights: they need the expert legal representation that is critical to making those rights a reality. In 2013 alone, API Legal Outreach staff attorneys and panel of pro bono attorneys represented and counseled thousands of immigrants and their loved ones in immigration court, naturalization and adjustment hearings, and complex motions for relief for immigrants who had been abused by their citizen spouses, subjugated by human traffickers, or victimized by violent criminal activity such as attempted murder and rape.
API Legal Outreach has long focused on utilizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) to assist immigrant survivors of crime and domestic violence. In addition to allowing battered spouses petition to remain in the United States without their abusers’ sponsorship, VAWA, along with the TVPA, created legal remedies such as U-visas and T-visas to assist immigrant victims of crime. Prior to VAWA, immigrant battered spouses had to either remain with their abuser in the U.S. or leave the abuser and risk deportation. Many had left everything in their home country behind—careers, schools, friends and family—to marry. For them, the trip was one way. Returning was not an option, so often they stayed, enduring horrific abuse and in many cases, fearing separation from their children should they leave.