Asian Wisconzine Section/Heidi M. Pascual

Heidi Pascual

Asian American News and Features

(From OCA-Asian American Advocates/By Aryani Ong, Michael Nguyen, and Andrew Peng)


Meet Civil Rights Icon

Dale Minami



Dale Minami - Photo courtesy of the Rebellious Lawyering Institute


Dale Minami is a nationally recognized attorney and Asian American civil rights vanguard who represented Fred Korematsu in a case challenging a World War II conviction under Executive Order 9066.

  • Minami served as lead attorney defending Korematsu before the S. District Court for the Northern District of California in 1984, seeking to overturn Korematsu’s conviction for defying an order to report to an incarceration camp.
  • Context: Over 120,000 Japanese Americans—two-thirds of them U.S. citizens—were incarcerated during World War II based on their ethnic background alone by the U.S. government.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court, which heard Korematsu’s case in 1944, upheld the convictionin a landmark court ruling that has since been denounced.Minami also represented Korematsu’s descendants with the filing of an amicus brief in the high court’s review of the government’s Muslim travel ban.Last month, he participated in a webinar called “Asian Americans and Loyalty: What Can We Learn from the Japanese American Incarceration Experience?”


    “Our government institutions are fragile. We need to fight to keep our civil rights. They not gifts… It’s our duty to dissent because that’s what the Constitution demands.”

    — DALE MINAMI on March 30, 2022 


An exclusion order directing the removal of persons of Japanese ancestry is posted in San Francisco, California on April 11, 1942. Photo courtesy of the National Archives

How Toxic Stereotypes Harm Asian Americans in Government


Thousands participate in a community rally against anti-Asian hate crimes in San Jose, California in March 2021. Photo courtesy of Jason Leung via Unsplash


According to Stop AAPI Hate, 10,905 hate incidents targeting Asian Americans were reported between March 2020 and the end of 2021. Many of these incidents were delivered with the familiar centuries old “Go Back to China” exhortation, regardless of the target’s background.

At the same time, Asian Americans find themselves confronted with this stereotype across the federal government...

  • As diplomats, they have difficulty getting hired, promoted, or assigned to diplomatic postsin countries from where their families immigrated.
  • As employees, they are scrutinized more closelyand lose their jobs.
  • As scholarship winners, they are told to pay back their tuition.
  • As contractors, they are denied contracts at higher rates.
  • As military service personnel, they are pulled off assignments or denied ranks.
  • And as grantees, they are placed under investigationfor international collaborations.

 To the 71% of Asian Americans who are foreign born, foreign connections include family abroad, travel, businesses, inherited property, cultural interests and activities. To the government, such connections are viewed as national security risks.


They’ve been named the “Yellow Peril” (Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882), the “Fifth Column” accused of signaling enemy forces to shore (Japanese American incarceration), the “Red Scare” (Chinatown Files), terrorists (post 9/11 profiling and surveillance, and Muslim bans), and spies (see the Dr. Wen Ho Lee case and China Initiative probes).

  • A closed culture, the federal government is not a place where people can easily speak out.Some Asian American tell their stories, but incognito. Asian Americans whom we talk to fear losing their security clearances, jobs, careers. Data is scarce. Yet, the impact is no less traumatizing. The affected parties need support from the community—stories, funds, advocacy.

Advocates within AAFEN and OCA have spoken out to challenge the disloyalty myth. We’ve listened to stories by the people impacted. We’ve organized community events. And we’ve engaged high level officials in the federal government. But more needs to be done. We need to interrupt this cycle of discrimination.

To do this, we need allies. Together, let’s reimagine national security: a time where people of all backgrounds, particularly immigrants, are not automatically regarded as threats, but as assets. Where Asian Americans are at the table when sweeping decisions are being made that affect our community. Where we challenge the exclusion of loyal Americans based on the majority’s perception of “foreignness.” Where we can strengthen America from within.