We publish original public policy analyses and know-your-rights education focused on our key issue areas of immigration, education and voting rights. We translate most of our education and policy pieces into Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese, the top three Asian languages used in our region.
Our work is rooted in the South, either stemming from regional policy concerns or prompted by issues identified by our local community.
English-Only Legislation. English-only driver license bills have been defeated four legislative sessions led by the work of Advancing Justice – Atlanta and members of the Pan Asian Action Network. In 2009 the first English-only driver license bill was proposed in Georgia to prohibit immigrant citizens and residents from taking the permanent driver license exam in a language other than English. The exam is provided in 12 languages and about 60,000 individuals take the exam in a non-English language each year. In 2009 the majority of Georgians were either unaware of this bill or had heard it would expedite English language proficiency and enhance public safety. Helen Ho, our Founding Executive Director, began speaking one on one with individual Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Filipino and Indonesian leaders to explain how the bill would impact a large number of Asian citizens from driving on the road, how it violated constitutional and federal national origin protections, and was based on racial bias. As understanding and momentum built, these one-on-one meetings led to larger group meetings which led to the genesis of a Asian-grassroots coalition that worked in concert to defeat this bill. The bill went from being seen as an ‘easy sell’ to particular constituents to one both parties would rather avoid.
HB 87 / Arizona copycat bill. In 2011 when the Georgia legislature passed an anti-immigrant, Arizona copycat law (formerly House Bill 87), Advancing Justice – Atlanta was the first nonprofit group to publish easy-to-understand informational briefs to help local immigrants and refugees understand the law and their rights. These documents were translated into Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, Indonesian and (through our partnership with the Latin American Association) Spanish and presented at an educational event in June of that year. More than 800 community members joined us.
Cyberbullying. Our anti-cyberbullying campaign was catalyzed by calls we received from two Laotian mothers in Georgia seeking help for their daughters who had each been severely cyberbullied, causing them to skip school, fear physical harm and consider suicide. This prompted us to do research which revealed that Asian schoolchildren were the most frequently cyberbullied of all kids in the US, and that Georgia’s bullying law did not provide protections against the most traditional forms of cyberbullying. After two years of grassroots legal education, and policy advocacy work both inside and outside the Georgia Capitol, in 2015 an anti-cyberbully bill was passed in Georgia.