The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of APAICS.
Fellow: Wardah Khalid
Member: Representative Judy Chu (CA-27)
Tasks in Member’s Office
It has been three months since I started my APAICS Congressional fellowship in Congresswoman Chu’s DC office. Working in government has been a longtime dream of mine, and I’m so grateful to APAICS and Rep. Chu’s office for making it a reality. Though I worked in D.C. for three and a half years before starting this fellowship, it was always on the advocacy side of things. My role was to urge policy makers to make better decisions on issues such as refugee resettlement, immigration, and the Middle East conflicts. It has been exciting to reverse roles and now get an inside look into the policy making process on Capitol Hill.
Congresswoman Chu’s office has hosted APAICS Fellows for years and welcomed me into their office. I work closely with her staff to assist with issues in my portfolio, including civil rights, foreign policy, immigration, and homeland security. One area that I have been researching in depth has been the detention and force feeding of South Asian asylum seekers at the border. Force feeding of detainees was an issue I studied in my Human Rights Skills & Advocacy class in graduate school, so working on it on the Hill has really brought things full circle. (It was also nice to see the pieces come together, since I left a career in corporate tax to pursue policy and advocacy).
Since Rep. Chu serves as the Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), part of my work involves assisting with issues important to people of AAPI backgrounds. These include language access to government housing applications, the 2020 Census, and deportations of Southeast Asians.
Favorite memories on the Hill
Capitol Hill is an exciting place, and there is always something fun and interesting happening (if you know where to look)! Some highlights: A briefing by the Crazy Rich Asians cast and crew on protecting the rights of the creative community, celebrating Movie & TV Magic Day with props from the Marvel movies and a Spiderman virtual reality experience simulating a tightrope walk between sky scrapers, riding the underground train to the Capitol and Senate side, sitting in on the first ever Congressional hearing on the Muslim travel ban, and joining a lunch lecture on the future of U.S. policy toward Afghanistan (taught by a professor from the graduate school I attended).
Morning: I usually get in around 9 a.m. to read up on the latest news articles and see what I have on my calendar for the day. Sometimes I head straight to a hearing or briefing on an immigration or foreign policy issue or training with the Congressional Research Service (there is so much to learn on the legislative process!).
Afternoon: Throughout the day, I’ll take meetings with advocacy groups, prepare questions for the Congresswoman to ask at a hearing or memos for her background knowledge, research an issue area and brainstorm potential solutions to problems, attend caucus and staff meetings, meet colleagues for coffee, and send lots and lots of emails.
Evening: My evenings are quite busy with receptions on the Hill, meeting friends for coffee or dinner, or hitting the gym. I work on outside projects as well, as I sit on the board of the non-profit I started, Poligon Education Fund, and write/speak on Islam in America, national security, and foreign policy issues. On weekends, I enjoy hiking the many trails in the area.