403. Protecting Civil Rights in the Trump Era

DATE: Saturday, July 22, 2017      TIME: 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM
LOCATION: City Hall, Committee Room 119

The Trump administration has taken steps to ban Muslims from entering the country, increase deportations, and undermine accountability for police killings. These actions have lead to a marked increase in hate incidents towards minority groups. As attorneys we must step up to protect civil rights that are continually under attack under the Trump administration. Join the discussion with esteemed elected officials leading the fight for the rights of their constituents including Congresswoman for the U.S. House of Representatives, Zoe Lofgren and California State Assemblymember, Ash Kalra along with attorneys on the front lines defending the civil rights of the Muslim American community.

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Christine Pham

President, VABANC Law Foundation

Christine M. Pham currently serves as the president for the VABANC Law Foundation. Prior to this role, Christine has been a long time member of the VABANC board, serving on the Community Service committee where she organized the free monthly legal clinics for Vietnamese speakers. She has been involved in different organizations aimed at promoting social justice and cultural competencies, such as the Santa Clara County Commission for the Status of Women, Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Silicon Valley, Vietnamese American Professional Women of Silicon Valley, Bay Area Asian Pacific American Legislative Staffers, and the Vietnamese American Roundtable.  Christine received her B.S. and J.D. from Santa Clara University School of Law.


Ash Kalra

Assemblyman, 27th District, California State Assembly


Ash Kalra was elected to represent the 27th Assembly District in November 2016 and is the first Indian American elected to the State Legislature.  The district encompasses eastern portions of the city of San Jose. A resident of that city for most of his life, Ash previously represented the 2nd District on the San Jose City Council.

Before serving on the city council, Ash spent 11 years as an attorney in the Santa Clara Public Defender’s Office. Previously, he taught at San Jose State University and at high schools in Washington DC. During his tenure on the city council, he was a law professor at Lincoln Law School of San Jose.

Among the many non-profit boards that he has served include the Santa Clara County Bar Association, the Asian Law Alliance, Somos Mayfair, and the South Asian Bar Association. He is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he has a degree in communications and has a law degree from Georgetown University.



Zoe Lofgren

Congresswoman, California, 19th District, U.S. House of Representatives


U.S. Representative Zoe Lofgren has been a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives since 1995.  She represents the 19th District of California, based in the “Capital of Silicon Valley,” San Jose.  

As the former chair and the highest ranking Democrat serving on the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, as well as a past immigration attorney and law professor, Zoe is a champion of comprehensive immigration reform and a national leader in immigration policy.  In 2011 and in 2016, Zoe led a bicameral group that introduced the Refugee Protection Act, a bill to ensure U.S. protection for refugees and asylum seekers fleeing persecution in their home countries. In response to the current global refugee crisis, Zoe called for the United States to admit 200,000 refugees in the coming fiscal year, with 100,000 reserved for Syrian refugees. In the 114th Congress she led opposition to Republican bills that would have shut down Syrian refugee processing and crippled the U.S. Refugee Affairs Program.  Additionally, she has advocated for and introduced legislation to create a Western Hemisphere refugee-centric approach to addressing the violence and persecution facing women and children in the Northern Triangle countries (El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala) of Central America.

Zoe is Chair of the California Democratic Congressional Delegation, consisting of 39 Democratic members of the House of Representatives from California.  It is the most diverse delegation in the House and outnumbers all other state House delegations. 

Brittney Rezaei

Civil Rights Attorney, CAIR-SFBA

Brittney Rezaei is a civil rights attorney for the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). In this capacity, she represents clients who have faced religious discrimination. Some of the issues she handles include law enforcement targeting, school bullying, employment discrimination and hate incidents. Brittney has provided Know Your Rights presentations and direct services to dozens of people affected by the discriminatory Muslim ban.

Brittney graduated from UC Davis with degrees in Middle East/South Asia Studies and International Relations. Brittney earned her J.D. from Santa Clara University School of Law (SCU). At SCU, she was active in the International Human Rights Clinic and Katherine & George Alexander Community Law Center's immigration program. During and after law school, Brittney worked on the legal team at Google handling law enforcement matters.

Elica Vafaie

National Security & Civil Rights Attorney, Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus

Elica Vafaie is a Staff Attorney & Co Program Manager in the National Security& Civil Rights Program and Advancing Justice- Asian Law Caucus where her work focuses on Arab, Middle Easter, Muslim and South Asian (AMEMSA) communities. Prior to ALC Elica worked as the Supervising Attorney at the University of California Undocumented Legal Services Center setting up a new program to provide free legal services and 'Know Your Rights' to undocumented UC students and their families. Elica is Iranian-American and on the board of the Iranian-American Bar Association Northern California Chapter.