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Building Connections in the Asian and Pacific Islander and LGBTQ+ Asian and Pacific Islander Communities

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Photo of Victoria Jeon

By 2020 Fellow Victoria Jeon, who is supported by the Paul Rapoport Foundation and hosted at UnLocal, inc.

In legal matters, the needs of the Asian and Pacific Islander (API) community are often overlooked; LGBTQ+ API individuals are overlooked even further, alienated from both Asian and LGBTQ+ communities. I’ve been afforded the opportunity to serve these clients through my Equal Justice Works Fellowship at UnLocal. There, I work with the Queer Immigrant Justice Project, which primarily aids LGBTQ+ asylum seekers in their asylum cases, assists with obtaining Green Cards, and provides various other forms of legal assistance. During my Fellowship, I’ve met and assisted many clients from all over the world, all of whom inspire me with their own strength and resilience.

I’ve met and assisted many clients from all over the world, all of whom inspire me with their own strength and resilience.

Through my work, I also help with connecting UnLocal to local API organizations for partnerships with UnLocal’s education and legal programs. This focus is even more important given the rise in anti-Asian racism in light of COVID-19. The pandemic has emphasized the need to support API and LGBTQ+ API communities and raised new challenges in my line of work. COVID-19 has been devastating for many organizations, especially smaller nonprofits. Although I’ve been able to assist asylum seekers from all over Asia and the Caribbean, where there is a prominent diaspora of Chinese and Indian people and their descendants, the pandemic has compromised the capacity of many API organizations I had hoped to collaborate with. Despite this, I’ve still had the chance to be a liaison, connecting UnLocal to local organizations, like the Caribbean Equality Project, National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, and more.

Victoria Jeon blog
Victoria (left) with a client & his family.

Although UnLocal’s specialty is in immigration law, I had little experience with this specific area before joining the organization as a Fellow. Nonetheless, my supervisors at UnLocal gave me the opportunity to learn, and they effectively guided me so that I could handle some trials on my own. As a result, I was able to contribute significantly to a Ghanaian man’s asylum victory and lead a case that resulted in winning asylum for a Haitian LGBTQ+ ally and political activist and his family. These victories at court and my personal progress are what I’m proudest of during this Fellowship.

After completing my Fellowship, I plan to stay on at UnLocal and help with its Queer Immigrant Justice Project. This work continues to be relevant and crucial, especially given the global political tension, and I am thankful to UnLocal for putting the faith in me as they have until this point.

We’re proud of the work that Victoria is doing to advocate on behalf of LGBTQ+ Asian and Pacific Islanders. To learn more about her Fellowship, visit here.

Learn more about becoming an Equal Justice Works Fellow