Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Filipino Night Market returns to the Filipino Cultural Heritage District in SF

Some of the food of 5A BBQ will be among the culinary offerings at the night market.

SAN FRANCISCO'S Filipino American night market won't be like Manila's Divisoria or Legazpi markets but it will have the same spirit, good eats and joyful entertainment of those traditional markets with a Filipino American spin. And the food -- oh -- the food!

The second season of the wildly popular night market will begin Saturday, July 21 and returns every third Saturday through October.

The primary model was never the palengke night markets that you can find all over Manila, but rather some combination of Off the Grid, Outsidelands, and the Renegade Craft Fair, according to Desi Danganan, executive director of Cultivate Labs, the nonprofit that runs the market along with Undiscovered SF.

The food is what Danganan calls the “third wave” of Filipino cuisine in America—not steam-table joints (the first wave) or Frenchy fine dining (the second), but next-generation Filipino American chefs “flipping Filipino food in a hundred different directions,” whether that be via lumpia that tastes like a cheeseburger or a Filipino-Mexican burrito stuffed with pork sisig.

There will be at least a dozen food purveyors, including the popular Senor Sigsig, Jeepney Guy, Sarap Shop and Bombzies BBQ.

Last year's wildly popular inaugural season drew 35,000 and was held indoors at the historic San Francisco Mint building. This year, the night market will be even more reminiscent of Manila's markets by relocating it outdoors in the alley ways of the South of Market neighborhood where thousands of Filipino Americans reside.

“We are creating an experience around what the Filipino-American community in the Bay Area feels like, looks like, sounds like, and tastes like," said Gina Mariko Rosales, event producer and co-founder of Undiscovered SF.

"Last year, we were limited by capacity in the SF Mint, so this year we’re excited to move fully outdoors into open public space for everyone to enjoy," she said.

Last year's night markets attracted 35,000 people.
Marketgoers will be able to buy books, hats, unique, deisgner clothes, arts and crafts from the 50 retailers present. 

Since its a Filipino event, music will play a big part of it. Besides the expected Karaoke, kicking off the festival on July 21 are the legendary DJs Qbert and Shortkut of the Invisbl Skratch Piklz, 
playing a rare collaborative set together on 4 turntables; alongside new school tastemaker Kronika of Soulection.

"Filipino American DJs Qbert and Shortkut are considered the pioneers of Turntablism and rank up there with Hip-Hop's elite. They also happen to be from the Bay Area, and we’re thrilled to showcase two local legends who paved the way for an entire generation of DJs, including myself," said Marky Enriquez, Music Curator/DJ.

RSVP:​ http://undiscoveredsf.com

IF YOU GO: The entrance is at 401 Fifth Street (Behind the San Francisco Chronicle building), 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

COST: This is the best part. It's totally FREE!.


Sunday, July 15, 2018

Green card holders vulnerable to deportation under new fedreal guidelines

IN DONALD TRUMP'S ever-widening war against immigrants, the federal government is going way beyond deporting criminal gangs or undocumented immigrants. Under new guidelines green card holders will get a closer look and are even more vulnerable to being deported.

New guidelines implemented last week by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) say that immigrants who abuse “any program related to the reception of public benefits” will be summoned to appear before an immigration court.

The main public benefits that immigrants with legal residence permits, known as Green Cards, can receive are: Medicaid for people with low income or disabilities; Temporary Assistance for Needy Families; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; Supplemental Security Income; and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Receiving assistance from those programs could even harm an immigrant’s application for a Green Card under a proposal by the Homeland Security Department designed to block documented immigrants from obtaining residence if they or their children receive public benefits, including food stamps and early childhood education programs.

“An alien’s receipt of public benefits comes at taxpayer expense and availability of public benefits may provide an incentive for aliens to immigrate to the United States,” the DHS draft argued.

After going after the low-hanging fruit at the borders and successfully passing a Muslim travel ban, the federal government will expand their efforts to go after those immigrants who are here legally. Some have been living and working in the U.S. for years, bought homes, becoming productive members of the community.

Green card holders will also open themselves up for deportation if they break the law or if their application for citizenship is denied if they are not considered of good and moral character. Those foreign nationals who wish to change their visas -- from student visa to an H-1B visa for example, will receive extra scrutiny by USCIS employees.

Mobile medical clinic praises Filipino American volunteers

Volunteers from the Filipino American Association in Maury County (Tennessee).
A Remote Area Medical clinic pops up in rural Tennessee once every two years or so, providing free health, vision and dental care to the area’s under-served patients.

In Columbia, a town located in the heart of Tennessee where the median household income is $35,879, the clinic is met with open arms by a group of Filipino American locals.

“[The Filipino-American Association in Maury County] are the best group of volunteers I have ever seen … anywhere,” said the clinic coordinator Poppy Green.

The Remote Area Medical clinic works with over 120,000 volunteers around the world, and has treated over a million patients since its founding in 1985.

“The Columbia volunteers are the finest I have worked with,” Green told The Daily Herald yesterday, after treating 330 patients at a local middle school. “I am giving highest praise because I believe it’s true. In community involvement, from multiple levels, what the Filipino group here has done for us in Maury County is unmatched.”

Courtesy of RAM Facebook
A RAM staffer checks a patient's blood pressure.
The Filipino-American association not only recruits volunteers for the pop-up clinic, but also cooks meals and finds homestays for the visiting health workers. This year, they helped transform the middle school into a makeshift hospital and hosted a welcome dinner for RAM, attended by Columbia mayor Dean Dickey.

“The welcoming party we had Friday night included traditional Filipino dancing, food and togetherness,” Green said. 

“The ceremony speaks to the strong bonds they have with RAM and the love they have for their community as Filipino Americans. They want to give back, and they have done it in this case with hard work.”

"All of our group members have been blessed living here and have pretty good jobs,” said Filipino-American President Fidel Pinote, a 36-year General Motors employee.. “We have access to health care. We would like everyone to have it.”

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Manny Pacquiao looked like the fighter of old in scoring first TKO in 9 years

In the fifth round, Manny Pacquiao lands a punch forcing his opponent to take a knee.

MANNY PACQUIAO did something that no other senator in the Phlippines -- or the U.S. -- has ever done. He knocked out his opponent.

Even though boxing has become secondary to his day job as a senator in the Philippines Senate, the 39-year old Pacquiao showed that he still has what it takes by knocking out Argentinian Lucas Matthysse in the 7th round of their match in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

In scoring his 60th fight victory with his first knocckout in nine years, the Filipino icon also captured Matthysse's WBA regular welterweight title. It is Pacquiao's 11th world title in a legendary career that has made him a national hero in his native Philippines.

Talk about Pacquiao's demise proved premature. Unlike his last fight when he lost to Jeff Horn, the Filipino boxer looked focused and physically prepared.

Prior to his 7th round TKO, scorekeepers had Pacquiao winning all the rounds that included two other knockdowns. The 35-year old Matthysse looked sluggish and unable to keep up with Pacquiao's speed. The Argentnian's reputation as a power puncher failed to materialize.

Referee Kenny Bayless called off the fight in the seventh round when Matthysse buckled following another stiff uppercut and spat out his mouthguard as he was being counted.

Despite the loss, Matthysse made it clear he was not considering retirement.

"Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose," Matthysse said. "Today was my turn to lose and I lost to a great fighter and a great legend in Manny Pacquiao."

Pacquiao also refused to entertain retirement. "We are planned to fight again in 2018," he said.

Correction: July 15, 12:20 p.m. Manny Pacquiao's correct age.

Why isn't 'Into the Badlands' extraordinary fight scenes getting any respect?

Daniel Wu plays a rarely seen Asian American action hero in 'Into the Bandlands.'

HOLLYWOOD TALKS a good game about diversity on television, but when it comes to acting on widening the white worldview of the industry -- well, let's just say -- it's a long, slow process.

So when a show actually delivers on diversity, gives women prominent nonstereotypical roles, and week after week entertains us with the most thrilling action scenes on TV, we should be celebrating that show.

Daniel Wu, star of Into the Badlands -- Yes! He's a genuine Asian American action star -- let off a lot of steam over the weekend at what he perceives is an industry snub of his show. 

Here is the #Emmy list of nominees for Outstanding Stunt Coordination for a Drama Series, Limited Series or Movie 2018. I started to write a long detailed post about this but decided to see what your responses are first. I understand we are a genre show but we should OWN this category!!!Why do you think this happened? Why do you think we get no love within the industry? Action Coordination is the obvious one but what about Costume Design? Set Design? Cinematography? #snubbed 

He followed up with more tweets:

He's definitely got a point there. Into the Badlands employs one of the best fight choreographers in the world, Huan-Chiu Ku, who trained with the legendary Yuen Woo-ping (“The Matrix”) and has worked on the “Kill Bill” films, “Once Upon a Time in China II,” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”

Before shooting starts for the new season, the actors are required to go through a boot camp of sorts so they can do the complicated fight scenes convincingly and without doubles.

The actors do most their own fight stunts without any camera coverups of fast-cuts, hard to see scenes in the dark or cutaways. It's like watching a long dance sequence where every maneurver, every step, kick, punch, block or sword swipe is meticulously timed and choreographed. If the timing is off or the action is sloppy, it could result in injury to the actors and stunt people.

The show's fight scenes are as good as, or better, than any fight scenes in the movies, when they have more time to rehearse. If you want to watch some breathtaking action, watch Season 1 fights below:

Wu wants a little respect for the show that he brought over from Hong Kong where the California-born actor gained fame in martial arts and romance movies.

Besides the action scenes, he believes Into the Badlands should have received nomiinations in costume and set design as well.

The show's premise takes place in a dystopian America where guns don't work. That allows the characters to become masters in swordplay and martial arts to settle disputes in this fantasy world.

Interestingly enough, Badlands gets very little promotion by its network, AMC, the same network that has the Walking Dead series and its spinoff Fear The Walking Dead

There is no merchandise associated with Badlands and the actors hardly ever go on tour or appear on other shows to promote the Badlands.

What's worst than an Emmy snub? Badlands is the sixth most watched show on the AMC network. Four of the five shows ahead of it have already been renewed. The other exception is Fear the Walking Dead. As of today (July 14), there's been no word about Into the Badlands' season four. 

Stream past episodes of Into the Badlands at the AMC website.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Director Hiro Murai joins Criss and Oh as an Emmy nominee; AAPI still need more representation


SANDRA OH isn't the only Asian to make history with her Emmy nomination as Lead Actress in a Drama Series.

Japanese-born Hiro Murai can add his name to the Asian American history books with his nomination in the category for Directing for a Comedy Series. He is the second first Asian American to receive that nomination honor. 

It speaks to the lack of Asian American representation among TV talent that every nomination can still be deemed historic. Cary Fukunaga won an Emmy for directing True Detective in 2014.

The specific episode that Murai directed that's drawn the attention of the Television Academy is the utterly unforgettable claustrophobic "Teddy Perkins" episode of Atlanta.

Murai's directing star rose considerably this Spring when Donald Glover's music video as Childish Gambino was released. The shocking "This is America" music video was just the latest collaboration Murai has had with Glover. Besides directing several music videos for Glover, he also has directed multiple episodes for the Atlanta series.

Ironically, one of the other nominated directors is Glover, who won the directing Emmy last year -- the first African American to win that award.

Murai "helped make Atlanta the most acclaimed comedy series on television, greatly contributing to its signature style and tone and becoming an integral part of the creative team led by Donald Glover, said Nick Grad, original programming president for FX Networks and FX Productions.

The scarcity of Asian Americans on the nomination list  is not lost on Murai. “When we were in the room for the Golden Globes, I look around and it’s just me and Alan Yang,” he told GQ. “And obviously that’s very odd." 

Besides Oh and Murai, Filipino American actor Darren Criss was also nominated for portrayal of Andrew Cunanan, in American Crime Story's The Assassination of Gianni Versace.

“Regardless of awards season, this is an opportunity that I have worked and waited for my entire life. Actors are really only as good as the parts they can get, and the people that believe in them, and the complexity of the characters that they’re playing,” said Criss.

Criss points out the reason there aren't more Asian American actors, directors and writers receiving Emmy nominations. It is not a question of talent, it is the lack of opportunities to display that talent.

One recent study, "Tokens on the Small Screen," shows that despite the emergence of Fresh Off the Boat, Master of None and Into the Badlands, among the handful of shows featuring Asian Americans in lead roles, Asian Americans are still almost invisible on television and mostly relegated to what the study calls "token" roles -- or the only Asian in a show's cast.

Oh and Criss are the rare exceptions as Asian American actors playing complicated, three-dimensional characters.

When asked about the significance of her Emmy nomination, the Canadian-born Oh told the New York Times:

"Let’s celebrate it, man. I’m serious, just [expletive] celebrate it. It’s like, we’ve got to start somewhere. And I’m happy to get that ball rolling, because what I hope happens is that next year and the next year and the next year, we will have presence. And the presence will grow not only to Asian Americans, you know, from yellow to brown, but to all our other sisters and brothers. Our First Nations sisters and brothers. Our sisters and brothers of different sizes and different shapes. If I can be a part of that change, like [expletive], yeah, let’s celebrate it."

CORRECTED July 14 ,10 a.m. to include Cary Fukunaga's Emmy win in 2014.

Study: South Asian Americans have high tisk of heart fisease


A RECENT MEDICAL STUDY finds a high risk of heart disease among South Asians living in the U.S due to genetics, reports NBC News. The study also highlights the importance of living a healthier lifestyle.

Anabelle Santos Volgman, the lead author of the report and medical director of the Rush Heart Center for Woman at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, said that several factors had contributed to the increased risk of heart disease, including the fact that the South Asians are prone to bad cholesterol and diabetes.

“We don’t have an answer to why South Asians have a higher risk of diabetes, but there are many genetic theories that have not been substantiated,” she said, adding that the study published by the medical Journal Circulation of the American Heart Association was made to investigate the risk factors of heart disease.

South Asians in the states come from many countries including Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, the Maldives and Sri Lanka. The study found they have a higher death and hospitalization rate due to heart disease than others in the U.S.

According to Jwatch.com, the Associate Editor of NEJM Journal Watch Cardiology, Karol E. Watson, reviewed the study and said that dietary factors may contribute to the increased risk as many South Asians consume a high percentage of carbohydrates and saturated fats.

The study provides recommendations for South Asians to eat traditional whole grains and to have more physical exercise to decrease the level of cholesterol, blood pressure and the risk of early diabetes.

“The lifestyle changes can make a big impact,” said Volgman. “What we need to emphasize is that they need to take heart disease seriously and seek help to determine if they are at high risk.”

South Asians immigrated to the United States in three waves beginning in the late 18th century. The first wave occurred from the 1890’s to the 1920’s. The second wave started after the establishment of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act sending a total of 20,000 skilled professionals and 25,000 physicians to the states.

A third wave of immigration in the mid 1980’s included extended family members and parents of thousands of professionals and physicians.

Data from the U.S Census Bureau shows that most of the South Asians in the states are originally from India followed by Bhutan and Nepal. Many reside in urban metropolitan areas in California, New York, New Jersey, Texas, and Illinois.

Report: Income inequalitiy greatest among Asian Americans

The model minority myth overlooks lower income Asian Americans.

INCOME INEQUALITY -- the gap in incomes between the rich and poor --in the U.S. is now greatest among Asians, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center that was released Thursday (July 12).

In the simplest terms, among Asian Americans, the rich got richer and the poor - not so much. 

In 2016, the latest year for which data are available, Asians near the top 10%  had incomes 10.7 times greater than the incomes of Asians in the bottom 10%. Asians at the 90th percentile had an income of $133,529 in 2016, compared with $12,478 for those at the 10th percentile. Thus, in 2016, the ratio of these two incomes – the 90/10 ratio – stood at 10.7 for Asians.

The income inequality among Asians was greater than any other racial and ethnic groups. The distribution of income among Asians transformed from being one of the most equal to being the most unequal.

The report should provide more ammunition against the model minority stereotype that haunts Asian Americans. Yes, the report confirms that Asian Americans fared better than other demographic groups in earnings, but that is not a characteristic that can't be applied to the community as a whole. Asian Americans at the bottom of the economic ladder, often overlooked by the myth, did worse than their counterparts in other groups.

In 2016, the median annual income for Asian adults was $51,288, compared with $47,958 for whites, $31,082 for blacks and $30,400 for Hispanics. 

However, lower-income Asians did not keep pace. Asians at the 10th percentile earned 8% more than whites in 1970, but in 2016 they earned 17% less.

To view the complete report, click here.

TGIF Feature: Helen Hoang 'saying it with love story,'


The Kiss Quotient, the debut novel of Helen Hoang, has received critical acclaim and appreciation among the literary community.

Since the novel’s release, The Kiss Quotient has garnered over 7,000 positive reviews on Goodreads, a 4.7-star rating on Amazon, and has already been printed four times.

Despite its major literary success, The Kiss Quotient is a story that is deeply personal to Hoang — a reflection of her own experience coming to terms with her Autism.

Growing up, Hoang experienced intense social anxiety that hindered her ability to make friends. Escaping from the trials and tribulations of relationship building, Hoang found refuge in romance novels — entranced by the deep emotions she felt reading them. “It was like I found a pure, undiluted drug,” she said to the New York Times.

It was only until she was in her 30s – as a wife and a mother of two kids – when she realized that her inability to build relationships during her youth was a result of autism; a neurodevelopmental condition that makes socializing and understanding emotional cues difficult.

Hoang modeled Stella, the heroine of the novel, after herself as a way to confront her diagnosis and to help her understand how autism has affected her life. Her idiosyncrasies are channeled into Stella.

“I would tap my fingers when I was little, but I do have a pattern that I used to tap in, then I started tapping with my teeth because you can’t see it, and that’s something that Stella does throughout the book”, Hoang explained to NBC news. “I gave her my mannerisms, my tendency to be logical and literal, and my social anxiety.”

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Hoang further explains how writing Stella as a resemblance of herself helped her reconcile with the insecurities she had.

“Those are the things that have always plagued me as unhappy things I have to live with and hide or try to cover up” she states. “Writing them intentionally felt healthy”.

Hoang also believes that Stella is an important character because there is a lack of autistic representation across the spectrum in the media.

Further explained to NBC news, Hoang states that “Two stereotypes I’ve seen is that autistic people are geniuses. Some autistic people have average intelligence and I don’t think that’s right to say they all are because those who aren’t might feel disappointed. Another is that autistic people lack empathy or heartless”.

While The Kiss Quotient showcases a personal, nuanced perspective of what it means to experience romance as an autistic woman, Hoang’s heart-warming story is one that any fan of romance novels can enjoy.

“I wanted to share the perspective of an autistic woman because I don’t think that’s a perspective you see very much,” she tells the NY Times. “Why can’t you make an impact with romance? It seems like the perfect place to do it.”


Thursday, July 12, 2018

Sandra Oh, Darren Criss nominated for Emmy's

Sandra Oh is the first Asian American actress nominated for an Emmy as lead actress in a dramatic TV series.

IN A HISTORIC DOUBLE WHAMMY, two Asian actors made history when they were both nominated for Emmy's this morning (July 12), the first time AAPI actors were -- at the same time -- received nominations for lead roles in male and female categories.

Sandra Oh was nominated in the category of Lead Actress in a Drama series for her role as British MI5 agent Eve Polastri  in Killing Eve, a BBC America production. It was the first time that an Asian actress has been nominated for a lead role.

Darren Criss received a nomination in the category of Lead Actor in a Limited Series for his unsympathetic portrayal of the killer, Andrew Cunanan, in The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.

They are the first actors of Asian descent to receive nominations in the same year for their work in lead roles in the 70-year history of the Emmy awards, which are given for outstanding performances on American television.

The Canadian-raised actress Oh previously received five nominations for her supporting role as Dr. Christina Yang (the best friend stereotype) in ABC's Grey's Anatomy, which she left after 10 years. Despite the acknowledgement of her noteworthy performances, she never won the coveted award.

Since the departure of Dr. Yang from Grey's Anatomy, which takes place in a Seattle hospital, the series has been noteworthy for its lack of an Asian or Asian American medical staff in any prominent roles, in contrast to real-life urban medical settings where AAPI doctors, nurses and medical technicians are seemingly all over the place.

The lack of meaty roles for actors of Asian descent is something that Oh thinks about.

“I’ve really been learning a lot about the responsibility of that leadership role,” said Oh to the Los Angeles Times. 

“For me, I know I want to make the best of it —be as truthful as possible and also stretch the limits of what we see. We haven’t really seen a character like Eve or someone like myself — an Asian person — play this kind of role before. I take that deeply into consideration. Because if that cuts through, it will have ripple effects. My greatest hope is that it will ripple through and demonstrate that there is a whole world of people who are storytellers and who can be storytellers. It doesn’t have to always remain in the white realm. That’s one of the things I know I represent.”

Previously, the only other time an Asian woman won an Emmy was when Archie Panjabi won the award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series in 2010 for her role as Kalinda Sharma on CBS's The Good Wife.

Darren Criss, noted for light-hearted roles, played against type in portraying killer Andrew Cunanan in 'American Crime Story's The Assassination of Gianni Versace.'

Filipino American actor Criss took a giant risk and completely played against type when he took on the role of the Filipino American Cunanan, who went on a murder rampage in the 1980s that included famous fashion designer Versace. Previously, Criss was best known for his upbeat role in the musical high school drama Glee.

San Francisco native Criss was so effective in portraying Cunanan that voters might find it difficult to vote for such a unlikeable character that drew no sympathy from audiences. But, that is what makes Criss' performance so noteworthy, he managed to show the Cunanan's character flaws while resisting an actor's temptation to draw on emotive heartstrings on behalf of the despicable human being.

British actor Riz Ahmed made history last year as the first actor of Asian descent to win  in this same acting category for his performance in HBO's The Night Of.

The 2018 Emmy Awards show will air live on Monday, Sept. 17, on NBC. For the complete list of Emmy nominees, click here.

(Updated, July 12, 5 p.m. to correct Sandra Oh's citizenship and for clarity.)

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Chinese American judge rules against indefinite detention of immigrant children


DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE attorneys didn't know what hit them when the diminutive judge resolutely rejected the Trump administration’s efforts to detain immigrant families in long-term facilities.

At first glance, one wouldn't think the diminutive and bespectacled Chinese American woman, Judge Dolly Gee could wield such power over the assembled team of lawyers from the DOJ, who trying to undo the 1997 Flores agreement limiting the detention time for children.

On Monday (July 9) Gee described the government’s request as a “cynical attempt” to foist responsibility on her for the president’s “ill-considered” action and Congress’ failure to address the issue for over 20 years. She said it was “procedurally improper and wholly without merit.” 

Under the Flores settlement agreement, migrant families are only allowed to be detained for 20 days while they await trial, before they must be released. The alternatives to this option are family separation or releasing the family together. The Trump administration is pushing to alter the ruling so that families can remain in custody together, but for an indefinite period of time longer than the 20 days.

Defendants seek to overturn the Flores Agreement and asked Gee to upend the parties’ agreement by judicial fiat, wrote Gee, an appointee of President Barack Obama. "It is apparent that Defendants’ Application is a cynical attempt...to shift responsibility to the Judiciary for over 20 years of Congressional inaction and ill-considered Executive action that have led to the current stalemate.

While Gee‘s order allows for parents to agree to be detained with their children, she emphasizes in the ruling that an indefinite placement of a child in an unlicensed detention facility “would constitute a fundamental and material breach“ of the Flores agreement.

Since the Trump-initiated zero-tolerance policy towards asylum seekers that started in April, government attorneys been hammered for the emotional issue of separating children from their parents, Trump's executive order negating that policy and have been trying to navigate between Gee's ruling and that of San Diego judge who gave until July 26 before all detained children be reunited with their families.

The government asserted in its Flores filing that the San Diego ruling would necessitate longer-term detention of children, since that would be the only way to both reunite them with their parents and keep the parents incarcerated during their immigration proceedings.

Gee rejected that argument.

“Defendants advance a tortured interpretation of the Flores Agreement in an attempt to show that the … injunction permits them to suspend the Flores release and licensure provisions,” she wrote.

Gee said she was often underestimated early in her career because she looked much younger than she was and stood only 4-foot-11 (150 centimeters).

As a daughter of immigrants herself, Gee has spent her career advocating for the underdog, 

Gee comes from a family that has directly experienced the effects of immigration restriction. In an interview with the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), she explained that her family has a long history with moving to America. Her great-great-grandfather immigrated to the United States to work on the Trans-Continental Railroad in the 1800's, but was later forced to return to China as a result of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act. Decades later, her father moved to America, learned English at the age of 15, and enrolled in the United States Navy to fight in World War II.

Gee joked that her mother was her first pro bono client because she had to translate for her at medical appointments and help her apply for jobs as a seamstress when she was just a girl.

“She in many ways inspired my desire to go to law school,” Gee said in a video produced by NAPABA. “I saw firsthand the difficulties she encountered as a non-English speaker and also as a garment worker. And I saw many of the abuses that take place in the workplace, and I decided at a fairly early age that I wanted to do some type of work that would address some of the inequities I saw as a child."

Trump's Supreme Court nominee faces rough road ahead, say Asian American senators

From left: Senators Tammy Duckworth, Kamala Harris and Mazie Hirono.

DONALD TRUMP'S NOMINATION of U.S. Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court drew strong reactions from the three Asian American senators who will ultimately vote on the nominee.

The conservative PR machine have been working overtime trying to paint Kavanaugh as a moderate but his record shows he may be a wolf in sheep's clothing.

Trump picked him out of a list vetted by the Federalist Society, an ultra-conservative legal organization,and the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank largely funded by the billionaire Koch brothers and their affiliates. 

Picking Kavanaugh off of this list is like putting an oil industry lobbyist in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency ... oh, wait!

Uh ... picking Kavanaugh off of this list is akin to putting an pro-charter school lobbyist in charge of the Department of Education ... oh, wait!

Uh, let's try ... picking Kavanaugh is comparable to putting a pharmaceutical executive  in charge of controlling drug prices and the Affordable Care Act as Secretary of Health & Human Services ... oh, hell! I give up!

Allowing special interest organizations line up Supreme Court nominees for the chief executive is highly unusual. In fact, no other president has depended on outside lobbyists for recommendations for judicial appointments.

Three of the senators who will cast votes on the nomination to the Supreme Court are Democrat Asian American senators Kamala Harris, Mazie Hirono and Tammy Duckworth.

California's Sen. Kamala Harris, who is also a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has made it clear that she will oppose the Kavanaugh's nomination.  “During the 2016 presidential campaign, President Trump made clear that he had a litmus test for Supreme Court Justices—overturn Roe v. Wade and oppose a woman’s constitutionally-protected right to make her own health care decisions. The President then released a list of nominees who had been vetted to meet that test. Judge Kavanaugh is on that list," said Harris in a statement.

“Judge Kavanaugh has consistently proven to be a conservative ideologue instead of a mainstream jurist. As recently as last year, he disregarded Supreme Court precedent and opposed the health care rights of a vulnerable young woman. That ruling was overturned by a sitting of all the judges on his court. In 2015, Kavanaugh wrote that an employer, based on their personal beliefs, can deny their employee access to birth control coverage."

Likewise, Hawaii Sen. Hirono, also a judiciary committee member, expressed her misgivings on Kavanaugh's so-called moderate image.  “Judge Kavanaugh has not earned the benefit of the doubt. He has the burden of proof to demonstrate his ability to be independent of the President and exercise unbiased and independent judgment," said Hirono. 

“Significantly, Judge Kavanaugh has advocated that Congress legislate to exempt U.S. presidents from civil and criminal actions while in office. This is of deep concern at a time when Donald Trump is a defendant in numerous civil lawsuits and is the subject of a significant criminal investigation," she said.

To Illinois Sen. Duckworth, Kavanaugh's apparent position on the Affordable Care Act is a personal issue.

“The newfound urgency to fill Justice Kennedy’s Supreme Court seat from many of the same people who refused to even consider President Obama’s nominee is transparent opportunism that represents everything Americans hate most about politics today," said Duckworth, who lost both her legs when her helicopter was shot down while she was flying combat missions in Iraq.

"We can’t ignore the reality that Donald Trump wants to take us back to a time when insurers could refuse coverage to people with pre-existing conditions or that he promised to only nominate Justices who would put the government back in between women and their doctors.

“If he succeeds, it won’t only affect people like me who could be prevented from having children through IVF (invitro fertilization); the impacts will be felt by everyone. Whoever replaces Justice Kennedy will play a critical role in the lives of all women and every single American. Moving forward, I will thoroughly review Judge Kavanaugh’s rulings, evaluate his qualifications and look for him to make it clear to the American public that he would be independent, not simply a rubber stamp for Donald Trump’s whims, if he hopes to earn my support.”

Judge Brett Kavanaugh was named by Donald Trump as his nominee for SCOTUS.

The chances of the Democrats blocking Kavanaugh's nomination are razor thin. Democrats are working to turn Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, both of whom support Roe v. Wate, against Kavanaugh. However, Democrats only have 49 senators and some of those are wavering.

Democrats also hope to forestall the nomination process until after the November elections when they might regain the majority. However, Republican leader Mitch McConnel will likely  do everything he can to speed up the hearings and push for a vote before the elections.

Justice Kennedy, who announced his retirement at the end of the court's 2017-2018 session last month, was seen as a swing vote on many important social issues that came before the court. He cast the deciding vote in Fisher v. University of Texas that upheld affirmative action by allowing the use of race as a factor in school admissions; but on the other hand, he also voted with other conservatives in Citizens United v. FEC, that paved the way for an unprecedented influx of outside money in electoral politics, such as in super PACs by ruling that corporations have the same rights as individuals to contribute to political campaigns.

If Kavanaugh is confirmed for the lifetime position on the highest court in the land, the 53-year-old federal judge would give conservative justices a 5-4 majority and lead the court in a solidly conservative direction for decades to come, likely affecting decisions on abortion, gerrymandering, affirmative action, LGBTQ rights and immigration, not to mention the possibility of waving off any attempts to indict a sitting president.

“The Supreme Court has a profound impact on the rights—and lives—of all Americans," said Sen. Harris, who is among those who might be running against Trump in 2020.  

"When at its best, it has advanced the meaning of those words above its doors, ‘Equal Justice Under Law.’ At its worst, the Supreme Court has upheld racial segregation, enabled voter suppression, and equated corporations with people," she said. "Whether or a not the Supreme Court enforces the spirit of those words, ‘Equal Justice Under Law,’ is determined by the individuals who sit on that Court."