Immigrant Rights and Advocacy Nonprofits Receive Total of $200,000 from San Francisco-based MTYKL Foundation

SAN FRANCISCO (Feb. 7, 2017) – Ten Bay Area and Washington, DC. nonprofit organizations have received a total of $200,000 to date from the MTYKL Foundation, which was founded by five San Francisco lawyers in 2014.

The grants are part of the foundation’s Immigrant Rights Initiative and support programs aimed at women and children detainees; immigrant rights fellowships; research on implicit bias; labor trafficking; and education, legislation, and media campaigns to change hearts and minds and reform policy.

The following organizations each received $20,000 from the MTYKL Foundation’s Immigrant Rights Initiative:

In 2014, five partners at boutique firm Minami Tamaki LLP — Minette Kwok, Dale Minami, Donald Tamaki, Jack W. Lee, and Brad Yamauchi — pooled together $1 million from their personal funds to start the MTYKL Foundation to support progressive causes.

This extraordinary commitment was spurred by the attorneys’ increasing concern about the rising volume of anti-immigrant messages from political candidates. Their concern was justified in the wake of Donald Trump’s election.

“We anticipated the real possibility of mass deportations, the wholesale elimination of DACA, an uptick in workplace raids, special registration for Muslims, and a relentless targeting of immigrants,” says Minette Kwok, MTYKL Foundation board member. “We’re dealing with an administration steeped in xenophobia and anti-immigrant racism.”

“Our Foundation hopes that other legal community leaders and funders will explore similar ways to support and defend our country’s disenfranchised,” said Tamaki.

Many of the foundation’s grantees are on the frontlines of efforts to counter the Trump administration’s discriminatory policies. Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus is holding a series of emergency informational sessions in the community to address concerns and questions about upcoming travel and the impact of the “Muslim Ban.” The American Immigration Council filed a nationwide, class action lawsuit challenging the travel ban. The Equal Justice Society released a report on how implicit bias, racial anxiety, and misuse of stereotypes factor contribute to anti-immigrant racism and xenophobia.

The MTYKL Foundation has also provided a special grant to the Fred T. Korematsu Institute, which is aimed at educating and advancing racial equity, social justice and human rights. Its namesake is civil rights hero Fred Korematsu who refused to comply with Executive Order 9066, signed in 1942 by President Franklin Roosevelt, which authorized the U.S. military to forcibly remove 120,000 people of Japanese descent, including U.S. citizens, and put them in prison camps. After he was arrested and convicted of defying the order, he appealed his case to the Supreme Court, which ruled against him. Korematsu’s conviction wasn’t overturned until 1983. Dale Minami and Donald Tamaki were part of Korematsu’s legal team on his case.

About the MTYKL Foundation Immigrant Rights Initiative

The Immigrant Rights Initiative (http://immigrantrights.co) of the MTYKL Foundation supports organizations advancing and protecting the rights of our vulnerable immigrant communities as well as existing efforts to re-shape the national debate on issues such as DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), family detention, new statewide legislation, and human trafficking.

About the MTYKL Foundation

Dale Minami, Donald Tamaki, Brad Yamauchi, Minette A. Kwok, and Jack W. Lee formed the Minami Tamaki Yamauchi Kwok & Lee Foundation to combine their philanthropy into a charitable nonprofit that can grow to be greater than the sum of their individual giving.

Minette A. Kwok is a partner at Minami Tamaki LLP and leads the firm’s immigration practice. A leader in the immigration bar, she currently serves on the national Board of Trustees of the American Immigration Council, on the Advisory Board for the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies at the University of California at Hastings School of Law, and on the board of Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach (APILO).

Dale Minami is a partner at Minami Tamaki LLP and leads the firm’s personal injury practice and is recognized as one of the top personal injury lawyers in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has been involved in significant litigation involving the civil rights of Asian Pacific Americans and other minorities, such as Korematsu v. United States.

Don Tamaki is a partner at Minami Tamaki LLP and leads the firm’s corporate and nonprofit practice. He served on the legal team that reopened the landmark Supreme Court case of Korematsu v. the United States. Mr. Tamaki is President of the board of directors of the San Francisco Japantown Foundation.

Brad Yamauchi is a former partner at Minami Tamaki LLP. He’s served on the boards of organizations such as the National Employment Lawyers Association, California Employment Lawyers Association, Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California, and the National Asian Pacific Bar Association.

Jack W. Lee is a partner at Minami Tamaki LLP and leads the firm’s consumer and employee rights practice.  He is a former Chair of the Judicial Advisory Committee for U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, a committee that recommends nominees for federal judgeships in California.

Contact: Minette Kwok, minette@mtykl.org.

CGRS Testimony to Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

Eunice Lee, Co-Legal Director at Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, testified on Dec. 9, 2016, before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Eunice highlighted systemic issues in the immigration courts such as “asylum free zones,” where as few as one to two percent of claims are granted.

Center for Gender & Refugee Studies is a grantee of the MTYKL Foundation.