LOS ANGELES (May 27, 2016) — Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles (Advancing Justice-LA) launched its 2016 state policy agenda at legislative briefings in Sacramento and Los Angeles earlier this month, attended by state legislators, legislative staff, members of the California Commission on Asian Pacific Islander American Affairs, advocates, and community leaders. The policy agenda is a shared set of priorities with sister affiliate Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus, based in San Francisco.
These briefings come at a key moment for the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) community. As the fastest-growing racial group in the state, AANHPIs will comprise at least 11 percent of the electorate in the upcoming November election. The Golden State is also home to the nation’s largest Asian American and second-largest Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander populations. Over one in seven Californians, or nearly six million residents, are AANHPI.
A growing number of AANHPIs in California live in poverty and many confront issues of wage theft, housing insecurity, language access and racial profiling. Between 2006 and 2010, the number of unemployed AANHPIs in the state grew 196%, the most of any racial group. And the number of AANHPIs living under the poverty line statewide increased by 50%.
“Our communities are diverse economically, linguistically, religiously. We include undocumented workers as well as naturalized citizens and fourth-generation Americans. We speak dozens of languages, and have some of the poorest as well as some of the wealthiest within our community,” said Karin Wang, vice-president of programs and communications for Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA. “As a result, Advancing Justice-LA’s policy priorities address a range of issues, improving access to higher education, limiting local law enforcement entanglement with immigration enforcement, educating against Islamophobia to reduce bullying in schools, and protecting workers’ rights.”
Specifically, Advancing Justice-LA’s 2016 state policy agenda focuses on the following proposed state legislation:
• SB 1050 (De Leon) – California’s future depends on reinvesting in public education and ensuring that every California student has equal opportunity to attend and graduate from the state’s world class public universities. SB 1050 creates a pipeline of educational success by improving the college eligibility and college readiness of our students. SB 1050 “expands the pie” of educational opportunity by expanding University of California (UC) enrollment slots so that more California students of all backgrounds can attend the UC especially students who are low income, English learners, or foster care youth. This bill was passed out of the Senate Appropriations Committee on May 27, 2016, on a 5 – 2 vote.
• AB 2437 (Ting) – the nail salon industry in California is overwhelmingly Asian American. AB 2437 would ensure that both nail salon workers and employers have access to appropriate information about existing wage and hour laws by requiring barbering and cosmetology establishments to post a workplace notice developed by the Labor Commissioner relative to workplace rights. This bill authorizes the Labor Commissioner to consult with the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology in translating the notice in multiple languages. AB 2437 was voted out of the Assembly Floor on May 23, 2016, on a 50 – 27 vote.
• AB 2792 (Bonta) – approximately 13% of California’s undocumented population are Asian Americans. AB 2792, also known as the TRUTH Act, would make it harder to deport undocumented residents in the state by establishing a transparent process, including community engagement, prior to local law enforcement participation in ICE deportation programs. AB 2792 was voted out of the Assembly Floor on May 23, 2016, on a 44 – 29 vote.
• AB 2845 (Williams) – to address the widespread bullying, harassment, and intimidation of our Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, Sikh, and South Asian students, AB 2845 will provide certificated staff serving grades 7-12 with school site and community resources for students who are subject to discrimination and bullying based on actual or perceived religious affiliation. The bill also requires the Superintendent of Public Instruction to post anti-bullying resources related to affiliation or perceived affiliation with any religious group on its website. This bill was voted off of the Assembly Floor on May 27, 2016, on a 63 – 0 vote.
In tandem with our legislative advocacy, we continue to move forward with ensuring inclusive implementation of existing laws such as AB 60 (providing driver’s licenses to immigrants) and SB 75 (providing health coverage to undocumented children).
“With California having the largest undocumented Asian and Pacific Islander population in the nation — an estimated 416,000 residents — our communities have a big stake in ensuring successful and inclusive implementation of programs that work towards integrating all Californians regardless of immigration status,” said Anthony Ng, Advancing Justice-LA’s immigrant rights policy advocate.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles (Advancing Justice-LA) is the nation’s largest legal and civil rights organization for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (NHPI). Through direct services, impact litigation, policy advocacy, leadership development, and capacity building, Advancing Justice-LA focuses on the most vulnerable members of Asian American and NHPI communities while also building a strong voice for civil rights and social justice.