ALA | Programs | Legal Services | Community
Organizing and Impact Work | Future of ALA | Staff | Location | How You Can Help
In 1975, several of the founding members of the ALA began to investigate the possibility of starting a community law office similar to the Asian Law Caucus which had been founded in Oakland in 1972. Our main challenge was convincing people that there was a significant Asian/Pacific Islander community in need of legal services. Two roadblocks stood in our way. The first was the dearth of research statistics to prove that an identifiable Asian/Pacific community existed. The second was the popular stereotype that Asian-Americans were a "model minority" who did not need social assistance.
We determined that we had to gather evidence to support the contention that the "model minority" stereotype had overshadowed the existence of a sizable Asian Pacific population that did not have access to the legal system. As volunteers, we conducted extensive outreach by speaking with many community leaders, human service providers, and members of the Asian American community itself who needed our services. Staffing the Information and Referral Project that had just been initiated by the San Jose Japanese American Citizens League provided us with a base from which to conduct our research.
We quickly discovered that a silently growing Asian Pacific American community had been developing in several areas of Santa Clara county. Overcrowded conditions in San Francisco and Oakland and the lure of job opportunities in Silicon Valley had brought Asian families and immigrants to the South Bay. Working through the Information and Referral Services of the Japanese American Citizens League, we soon encountered a whole range of legal needs that were not being addressed in this newly growing Asian Pacific American community.
With this evidence in hand, a consensus
was quickly reached among the founding members that it
was necessary to establish a community law office to
provide individual legal assistance, community legal
education, and community advocacy. Office space was
donated by the San Jose JACL and with the help of two
young attorneys, Brad Yamauchi and Don Tamaki, the Asian
Law Alliance began taking its own cases in January 1977.
Over the past 25 years as a nonprofit corporation, the Asian Law Alliance has helped tens of thousands of people in obtaining decent housing, justice in the immigration process, and access to basic human and legal rights.
Today, Asian/Pacific Islanders continue to be denied fundamental rights. ALA continues to keep its doors open for those individuals who are limited in English, who do not understand the legal system, who cannot afford legal fees and who face the reality of discrimination.
ALA programs are designed to make legal services accessible to Asian/Pacific Islanders and low-income people in several ways:
* Delivering services in Asian/Pacific
Services are provided by staff attorneys, support staff, and volunteers who are multilingual in various Asian languages.
In the past 25 years, ALA has addressed a number of significant issues through its community organizing and educational programs, including:
As we look to the future, we will continue to provide quality legal services for the Asian/Pacific Islander community of Santa Clara County. We realize that the diversifying population which we serve and the technologically flourishing environment in which we operate offer numerous challenges.