Press Release

AALDEF and SABA Foundation launch legal fellowship focused on justice for South Asian communities

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NEW YORK CITY— The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) and the South Asian Bar Association of North America (SABA) Foundation proudly kick off the historic South Asian Legal Impact Fellowship, welcoming our inaugural two-year fellow Erum Kidwai.

“This partnership with the SABA Foundation builds on the longstanding work AALDEF has done in collaboration with South Asian American communities across the country,” said Razeen Zaman, Staff Attorney, Immigrant Rights Program at AALDEF. “Immigration is increasingly becoming enmeshed with the criminal legal system and national security apparatus, which continues to distinctly devastate South Asian communities. We are so pleased to welcome Erum, who brings great passion and commitment to racial justice and public interest work at large and will provide critical capacity to our immigration work.”

“I'm thrilled to be working with AALDEF as their South Asian Legal Impact Fellow. During law school, I worked with movement lawyering organizations, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to apply those skills to serve my own South Asian community,” said Erum Kidwai, South Asian Legal Impact Fellow with AALDEF. “Thank you to everyone at the SABA Foundation and AALDEF involved in developing this fellowship, I cannot wait to connect with and take guidance from the community.”

Erum Kidwai was most recently a staff attorney with the Legal Aid Society, where she represented low-income people who faced revocation of parole. She is a graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center, where she earned her JD, and the University of Miami, where she graduated with a BA in Political Science and Government. Kidwai is Pakistani American and speaks Urdu fluently.

"The SABA Foundation is proud to begin meeting the longstanding need for advocacy that centers and focuses on the diversity of South Asian communities in the United States," said Ritu Singh, SABA Foundation President. "We look forward to partnering with Erum and AALDEF to improve access to justice and address the critical civil rights violations facing our communities."

For nearly five decades, AALDEF has fought to protect and promote the civil rights of all Asian Americans regardless of citizenship status and national origin. Here are a few highlights capturing the impact of our work with South Asian American communities:

  • In the 1980s, we represented South Asians in New Jersey targeted by a hate group called the “Dotbusters.”
  • In the aftermath of 9/11, we represented thousands of South Asian, Sikh, and Muslim Americans targeted by hate violence and religious profiling.
  • In 2011, we represented Indian workers in an action against their former employer, Signal International, and its labor recruiters and attorneys for human trafficking, involuntary servitude, discrimination, and civil RICO violations.
  • In 2013, we sued the NYC Board of Elections for failing to provide Bengali ballots in Queens County, forcing NYC to hold its first elections with Bengali language election materials. In 2021, we sued the city of Hamtramck, Michigan, and again successfully secured access to Bengali language ballots, election information and oral language assistance for the city’s Bangladeshi American community.

We at AALDEF and the SABA Foundation give our sincerest thanks to all individuals and organizations who donated to fund this monumental fellowship.


For additional information, contact:

Stuart J. Sia
Communications Director
212.966.5932 x203

Ritu Singh
SABA Foundation