Queer Heroes NW 2021:
Michael Hsu

Michael Hsu was born in Taiwan. At the age of 9, his mother moved to the US where he later rejoined her. Life was a challenge because they had no residency documentation.

Michael persevered and graduated from the University of California, Irvine, then
Lewis and Clark Law School under a scholarship. As a law student, he resided in a 250-square-foot studio and lived on ramen. A scholarship from the Oregon State Bar (OSB) helped him pay for the Bar exam, but when he disclosed his undocumented status, OSB withdrew that funding.

Michael studied for the exam without a formal prep course but managed to pass it. However, the bar would not swear him in because it was conducting a character and fitness investigation due to his immigration status. The OSB did admit him in 2012, and he became likely one of the first undocumented lawyers in the US.

That same year, Metropolitan Public Defenders hired him. He finally obtained his Green Card in 2017 after living as an undocumented immigrant for 22 years.

Michael has been openly gay throughout his career. He is a former treasurer of OGALLA: The LGBT Bar Association of Oregon.

Governor Kate Brown appointed him in 2017 to the Oregon Board of Parole where he now serves as Chairperson. In that role, Michael has taken steps to make the criminal law system fairer and more effective. Community service, drug treatment, and mental health treatment are often used in place of incarceration.

Under Michael’s direction, the Board of Parole is more responsive for LGBTQ people. For instance, they employ psychologists who understand LGBTQ issues better to help people identify the services they will need to be successful while on supervision.


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