This year marks the 40th year anniversary of the Southeast Asian American experience in the U.S., when our nation welcomed over 1.3 million refugees from war-torn Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, the largest resettlement of refugees in U.S. history.
Veto on Data Disaggregation Bill (AB176) Condones Systemic Concealment of Struggles & Denies Community-Led Solutions
Our communities now number over 2 million nationwide, with over 900,000 Southeast Asian Americans residing in California. Yet, 40 years after having made this country our home, many within our communities are drowning within a system that does not acknowledge our struggles and actively disempowers our communities.
Southeast Asian Americans are systemically rendered invisible in our country’s outdated data systems that haven’t caught up with the reality of our richly diverse community, where we are lumped under the “Asian” umbrella, which consist of more than 48 different groups.
Our students have a high school dropout rate of 40 percent, compared to 12 percent for Asian Pacific Islander American students overall. Additionally, a recently released report by The Campaign for College Opportunity revealed that while 44 percent of Asian Americans communities hold a Bachelor’s Degree, this is true for only 29 percent of Vietnamese, 16 percent of Cambodians, 13 percent of Hmong, and 10 percent of Laotian American communities. Further, Hmong and Cambodian Americans experience the highest poverty rates in California with 42 percent for Hmong, and 33 percent for Cambodian communities. In addition, despite high levels of eligibility for health insurance, enrollment for Southeast Asian American families in Covered California was particularly low this year.
AB176‘s passage would have been instrumental in revealing chronic disparities with both higher education and healthcare access for our communities. AB176 would have provided California with the opportunity to blaze trails in serving communities that have been rendered invisible through outdated data systems throughout the United States.
The Governor’s surprising veto of AB176, after being passed in both chambers of the California legislature with bipartisan support, disempowers our students and communities, and perpetuates the struggles of our students and families lost within our public education and public health systems. The veto of AB176 condones the systemic concealment of our community’s struggles and the failure to adequately address the serious education and health disparities we experience daily.
California is home to the largest community of Southeast Asian Americans in this nation. We will not be silenced by this veto. We see opportunities to build voice, power, and progress towards equity. We will continue to call on the Governor to pass community-led solutions that acknowledges the true lived realities of the communities that call California home.
To support a sign-on letter to the Governor expressing our community’s concerns with this veto, please click here.