September 13, 2017
This Week's Digest
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Introduction from Executive Director

Welcome to a long overdue update from JACL. As you can see this has been a busy time with responses to actions from the administration and other current events. I am most excited to announce the selection of our 2017-2018 Mineta/Inouye fellows whose bios are included below. We are grateful to Merissa Nakamura who served previously as our fellow and previously ensured these messages went out in a timely fashion. With Elle and Kenzie on board this month, we will seek to serve you better with regular updates on what is happening in Washington, and around the country at our chapters.

In the coming months, I can assure you that we will need to work together to pass the DREAM Act to support our immigrant community. We are disappointed that the administration has repealed the DACA program, but remain encouraged by the bipartisan support coming forth to find a solution to help our immigrant Dreamers.

Thank you for your support as we continue to champion civil and human rights for all.

JACL and The Dream Act

Washington, D.C. -   Following the Trump Administration's  September 5th announcement to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the JACL issued a statement  expressing its deep disappointment. The JACL had previously joined a coalition with other AAPI groups including NCAPA to show solidarity with the DACA Dreamers and immigrant communities. At a press conference in front of the White House on August 31st,  Executive Director David Inoue was among the speakers and made brief remarks. Most recently, JACL joined members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and community members at a press conference to support passage of a clean DREAM Act in Congress for signature by the President on Tuesday, September 12.

As we begin the fight for a legislative solution, it is important that JACL members contact our members of Congress with the message that the DREAM Act should be passed in a clean bill and members of Congress should push their leadership for a vote. Here in Washington, JACL is working with the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus in the Congress and our community partners the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, but what we most need is for you as constituents, to call your members of Congress and express support for the DREAM Act.

Our Issei stories are our immigrant stories. Share your Issei stories and how your family has fulfilled the American Dream. You can refer to JACL's press releases and statements linked above for more general ways to link the Japanese American experience to DREAMers, but your personal stories are always the most powerful.

To reach your member of Congress, you can call the Congressional switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and request to speak to your Senator or Representative. 

If you would like assistance in reaching out to your Congressional representatives, please contact us in the Washington, DC office at (202) 223-1240 or via email at

Be sure to follow the JACL Facebook page or Twitter feed for updates and news on this and other issues.
Supporting Hurricane Harvey Victims 
HarveyHouston, TX  - Members of the Houston JACL Chapter report their safety and gratitude to the JACL community for their support. 

The JACL Houston chapter suggests supporting the three following organization for immediate and local relief efforts. 
Charities and Relief Funds:
  • The Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund has been established by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner for tax-deductible flood relief monetary donations. It will be housed at the nonprofit Greater  Houston Community Foundation.
  • United Way of Greater Houston has set up a relief fund that people can donate to. The  organization said its first priority is shelter and basic needs like food. The organization said it  will also focus on long-term recovery efforts. It also said that it will absorb administrative costs, so 100 percent of every donation goes directly to relief.
  • The Houston Food Bank helps provide meals for hungry neighbors in emergencies and all year round.
As needs evolve, the clean-up process progresses, and more information becomes available, the JACL Harvey Relief page will be updated. 
If your chapter does conduct any fundraisers for Harvey victims, please let us know at so we can share the information with our Houston Chapter.

Introducing 2017-2018 Mineta and Inouye Fellows

Kenzie Hirai 
Norman Y. Mineta Fellow 
Mackenzie Hirai was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. There, she was raised and grew up. After graduating from East High School in 2012 she went on to attend the University of Utah and graduate with a bachelor's degree in sociology in 2017 with an emphasis on criminology and diversity.  While attending school Mackenzie was involved with several volunteer organizations including the Reach for Your Dreams Program and the service organization called Youthlinc. 

Mackenzie is currently in the process of taking the entrance exams for law school and aspires to practice civil rights law as a career. Kenzie is most passionate about being involved in the JACL as well as other communities, music, and spending time with friends and family.

Elle Kurata
Daniel K. Inouye Fellow
Elle Kurata was raised in Colorado Springs and went to college at the University of California, Berkeley. At UC Berkeley, she studied religious studies where her course work brought her to work with Tibetan refugee communities. She also held staff writer and editor positions on a variety of publications including the Daily Californian. 

After graduating in 2016, Elle moved to Japan in order to teach English with the JET Programme at a public high school in Omura, Nagasaki. She is excited to return to the United States and work with the JACL. 

Puyallup75th Remembrance of Puyallup Valley Assembly Center

Puyallup, WA -  On September 2, the Puyallup Chapter in Washington state hosted a 75th remembrance of the Puyallup Detention Center. An estimated 1,500 people attended the event which was prominently featured in the events held during the opening weekend of the Washington State Fair. It served as a somber reminder of the less festive history of many of our state and county fairgrounds on the west coast and their role in the incarceration of Americans of Japanese descent during World War II. 

For a look at one of the ongoing exhibits showing what the life was like, please see this news story on Seattle NBC news affiliate KING channel 5.
JACL Condemns Trump Pardon of Arpaio
Washington, D.C. -  Regarding the presidential pardon of  former Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio the JACL issued a statement featuring comment from Arizona chapter president Donna Cheung.

Arizona chapter president Donna Cheung speaks for the JACL in stating, "A healthy democracy requires an independent judiciary so that justice will be served and not denied by the whims of personal loyalty. After placing faith in the U.S. judicial system, the Arizona Latino community, like the Japanese American community many years ago, has been denied justice. We stand with the Arizona Latino community in solidarity and understanding."

For more information about the Arizona JACL chapter, please go to

Washington, D.C. -  The JACL joined the overwhelming majority of Americans who denounced the racism, bigotry, and violence that resulted in three deaths in Charlottesville, Virginia. The JACL issued a statement August 14th:
Aki Kurose Middle School Beautification Day
From JACL Seattle
Campus grounds clean up volunteers after a morning in the late summer sun all ready for a Kauai Family Restaurant lunch!

The approach of Labor Day weekend in Seattle means the start of the Seattle Public Schools district's academic year is about to begin, and time for the Seattle chapter's community service project, the Aki Kurose Middle School Academy Beautification Day.  

Now in its 19th year and organized by the Kurose family and Seattle chapter board members, four dozen JACLers and community supporters spent a very warm morning,  August 26 cleaning up and beautifying the campus grounds in preparation for welcoming students to a new school year.  The service project concluded with ono-licious catering from the Kauai Family Restaurant.  

Aki Kurose was a beloved Seattle JACL board member, teacher, mother, peace activist and community leader. After her death, the JACL and other community members worked to honor her legacy by having a Seattle school renamed for her by working with the Seattle Public Schools board of directors.  

The Seattle JACL also endowed a scholarship in her name to be awarded to Seattle Public School graduates who show promise to "give back" to the community.

The J ACL Digest will publish an article from a chapter or regional district to highlight JACL's good work around the nation. If your chapter or district would like to participate, please contact your regional director or email the DC office directly to 
upcomingUpcoming News & Announcements
JACLSD Gala on September 16th 

Buy your tickets here

Mile High JACL Habeas Corpus in Wartime Lecture

More information can be found here

Join or Renew Your JACL Membership! 
Join or renew your JACL membership today! Members receive a complimentary subscription to the Pacific Citizen Newspaper, free admission to the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, CA (just show your membership card), valuable discounts, access to special events, and eligibility for over $70,000 in scholarships awarded every year. Most importantly, your membership dues will support the mission of JACL as the oldest and largest Asian American organization dedicated to protecting the civil rights and liberties of all Americans and preserving the Japanese American cultural and historical legacy. 

To join or renew your membership online, please click here! If you would like to join or renew over the phone, please call us at 415-921-5225 (Monday-Friday, 8am-4pm PST).  
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