LOS ANGELES (JUNE 30, 2011) – The Asian Pacific American Legal Center, a member of Asian American Center for Advancing Justice, announced Thursday the completion of a joint mapping proposal prepared by three leading voices in the California redistricting process – APALC and the Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans for Fair Redistricting, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and the African American Redistricting Collaborative.
The proposal represents a unified vision of new districts that provide fair representation for Asian American and Pacific Islander, Latino and African American communities.
The “unity” plan was submitted to the California Citizens Redistricting Commission on June 28 at the commission’s hearing in Sacramento. APALC staff testified at the hearing on behalf of CAPAFR, a statewide network of AAPI community members that APALC anchors. Representatives of MALDEF and AARC also testified at the hearing.
The unity proposal is a response to draft maps released by the commission on June 10, representing the commission’s first attempt to redraw legislative and congressional districts based on Census 2010 data. Incorporating the feedback of AAPI, Latino and African American community members on the commission’s drafts, the unity proposal provides a collective rebuttal to proposed boundaries that split communities while retaining district configurations that do a reasonable job of keeping communities intact.
CAPAFR, MALDEF and AARC’s joint proposal includes a statewide plan for State Assembly districts. CAPAFR, MALDEF and AARC also developed a common set of State Senate districts for Southern California that CAPAFR included in its overall statewide Senate plan submitted on June 28.
The plans illustrate how the commission can draw districts that comply with the requirements of the federal Voting Rights Act. This includes the drawing of new Asian American-majority and Latino-majority districts that provide voters with an opportunity to elect preferred candidates in the face of racially polarized voting patterns that persist even today.
The plans also avoid the dismantling of districts that currently provide African Americans with an effective opportunity to elect preferred candidates, and maintain these opportunities by preserving traditional levels of African American population in those districts.
“Importantly, the unity plans are intended to help the commission meet the difficult challenge of balancing testimony from thousands of Californians about their neighborhoods and communities of interest. AAPIs are part of these neighborhoods and communities of interest, some of which are kept together in the commission’s draft, and some of which are fragmented into multiple districts.
The plans provide the commission with options for how to revise its draft districts to better respect the interests of AAPI and other underserved communities while also accommodating the interests of all Californians,” stated Eugene Lee, APALC’s voting rights project director, during his testimony before the commission.
The unity Assembly plan is available at www.capafr.org/mapping-proposals, along with CAPAFR’s Senate plan which includes the unity districts for Southern California.
Over the next several weeks, the commission will revise its draft maps and is expected to release a second round of drafts on July 14. Final maps are expected to be adopted by mid-August. The commission’s maps will be posted on its website, www.wedrawthelines.ca.gov.
Founded in 1983, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advocating for civil rights, providing legal services and education, and building coalitions to positively influence and impact Asian Pacific Americans and to create a more equitable and harmonious society. APALC is a member of Asian American Center for Advancing Justice, which also includes Asian American Institute (Chicago, IL), Asian American Justice Center (Washington, DC) and Asian Law Caucus (San Francisco, CA).