Advancing Justice-California’s 2019 legislative priorities to protect, resist, and advance

Advancing Justice-California is a joint project of two independent non-profits, Advancing Justice — Asian Law Caucus and Advancing Justice — Los Angeles.

California is home to the nation’s largest Asian American population, with approximately a third of all Asian Americans — about 5.6 million — living in the Golden State. Asian Americans, comprising nearly 15% of California’s population, are the fastest growing racial group in the state. Nearly 7 million Asian Americans and more than 300,000 Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (NHPIs) live in California. Our communities are also the fastest growing in the country: the nation’s Asian American and NHPI populations grew 25.5% and 17.3% respectively between 2010 and 2017, with most of that growth attributable to immigration.

Despite falling into one broad population category, Asian American communities are diverse. Nearly 1.7 million Asian Americans in California are limited English proficient (LEP), and poverty rates for these communities grew 196% between 2006 and 2010. Additionally, while some ethnic groups may have relatively high per capita incomes, others such as Hmong, Mongolian, Cambodian, and Laotian Americans have high poverty rates and large proportions who are low-income.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice — California’s (Advancing Justice-CA’s) policy priorities for 2019 reflect the diversity, dynamism, and growing strength of Asian Americans as well as the issues, needs, and concerns that are among the most critical for our communities.

Legislative Priorities

Sponsored by Advancing Justice-CA, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, and Freedom for Immigrants
AB 1282 prohibits the state prison system, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), from facilitating or allowing private security guards to detain, take custody of or arrest individuals for immigration enforcement purposes. In recent years, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has increasingly relied on private contractors to carry out its extensive enforcement operations in California state prisons. In particular, ICE contracts with G4S Wackenhut to transport immigration detainees. G4S is involved in transporting immigrants for ICE, and is the subject of numerous complaints of physical abuse, excessive force, and sexual abuse against immigrants, youth, and other detainees. ICE’s use of private contractors to execute immigration arrest warrants in prisons violates the federal Immigration and Nationality Act because private contractors do not have authority to conduct immigration arrests.

The practice of G4S private security guards arresting individuals in state prisons for immigration enforcement purposes has been particularly harmful to Southeast Asian refugees. Decades ago, Southeast Asian refugees fled war and genocide in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, and were resettled in the U.S. in low-income neighborhoods. After serving extensive time in prison, a number of Southeast Asian refugees have demonstrated that they have rehabilitated and earned their release through a grant of parole.However, rather than being allowed to reunite with their families and communities, G4S private security guards have showed up in state prisons to arrest them and transport them to immigration detention in violation of federal law and regulations.

Sponsored by Advancing Justice-CA and Mi Familia Vota
California’s Asian American and Latino populations have continued to see rapid population growth and yet remain dramatically underrepresented in California’s electorate — voter participation gaps actually worsened from 2014 to 2018. Language barriers are only one aspect of the problem; data shows that millions of limited-English proficient (LEP) voters actually have access to translated voting materials but do not request them. California is home to 1.2 million LEP Asian American voters and 1.5 million LEP Latino voters. Yet, only 630,000 voter registrations in California’s statewide database have a language preference for something other than English identified. Over three-quarters of California’s LEP voter population is not using existing language assistance to which it is entitled. AB 1391 provides LEP voters more opportunities to identify a language preference for something other than English and thus request translated voting materials. Raising the visibility of language assistance ensures that California’s diverse Asian American and Latino populations are able to participate fully in our democracy.

Sponsored by California Common Cause, Advancing Justice-CA, California League of United Latin American Citizens, League of Women Voters of California, and Mi Familia Vota
Modeled off the requirements already in place for State redistricting, this bill creates standardized, fair redistricting criteria that prioritizes keeping neighborhoods and diverse communities intact and that prohibits partisan gerrymandering, requires local governments to engage communities in the redistricting process by holding a minimum of 4 public hearings and doing public outreach, including to non-English-speaking communities, and better aligns the timing of local redistricting with recent changes to state law (including the moving up of the State Primary) to allow more opportunities for public participation.

Redistricting is incredibly important: it can determine, for the next decade, whether a community feels represented at the local level. However, under current law, the whole process can be done after one public hearing that can be slipped into an already crowded agenda. Worse, there is no requirement to educate the public about the importance of redistricting and engaging them. When communities aren’t at the table, they are more likely to not have their interests reflected in the redistricting process. Participating in redistricting, without education and outreach, is particularly difficult for non-English-speaking communities, who are less likely to be aware this process is going on. AB 849 demonstrates our State’s commitment that representative and inclusive democracy matters at all levels of government, including local.

Sponsored by California Immigrant Policy Center and Health Access, supported by the Health4All Coalition
These bills would provide full-scope Medi-Cal to income-eligible adults by removing immigration status as an eligibility exclusion. It is critical that our state take action now to protect the health of all low-income Californians, regardless of where they were born. Undocumented adults have contributed to our economy and social fabric for decades. Lack of access to health coverage harms immigrant communities and our health care system. Health insurance protects individuals from financial distress and excessive out-of-pocket spending, encourages earlier diagnosis of chronic conditions, improves use of preventive services, and reduces preventable mortality. No one in our state should have to wait until an emergency to be able to access health care.

While the federal government attempts to increase health disparities based on race and immigration status, California can fight to defend our progress and ensure no Californian goes without life-saving health coverage, by removing immigration status as an eligibility barrier to Medi-Cal.

Budget Priorities

Sponsored by the College 4 All Coalition and University of California Student Association
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. The CRBG “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. CRBG also creates a pipeline of educational opportunity and success from K-12 through graduation from the UC by: supporting the college readiness and eligibility of low income, high-need students (low income, English learners, foster youth); giving these qualified students of all backgrounds a fair shot at attending the UC; and providing resources and support to promote student success and graduation from college.

We are requesting ongoing funding:
- $200 million for K-12 LEAs for college readiness and competitiveness support;
- $20 million for the UC to promote student sucess and retention;
- and 2,500 additional UC enrollment slots

Sponsored by California Immigrant Policy Center and Health Access, supported by the Health4All Coalition
Undocumented Californians are deeply rooted in our state and provide significant economic, familial, and cultural contributions to our communities. It is time that California addresses the financial costs to entire communities and the state due to the health care access exclusions for undocumented Californians. The single largest population within California’s remaining uninsured are undocumented adults who shape our state and who call California home. Undocumented Californians make up 1 in 10 workers across various sectors and industries, and contribute an estimated $3 billion in state and local taxes every year. Their inability to access routine and preventative treatment threatens economic disruption for immigrant households and productivity losses for our economy. Undocumented adults also face substantially high medical bills when they do seek care, leading to an increased risk of medical debt that disrupts their financial well-being and that of their families. California’s health care system is stronger and more cost-effective when we detect and treat preventable conditions early. Ensuring that all Californians can count on routine and preventive medical care is vital to the well-being and long term sustainability of our state.

Sponsored by Chinese for Affirmative Action and Advancing Justice-CA
Census 2020 is the most critical survey of the American demographic. California is home to many diverse communities of color, each representing its own challenges with awareness and access to the decennial Census due to factors such as limited-English proficiency, small population size, and use of non-written languages. If California is to have a full and accurate count, it must successfully overcome the language access challenges in light of many deficiencies by the Federal Census Bureau, including the restriction of paper surveys to English and Spanish, excluding critical California languages such as Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Russian, Arabic, Tagalog, Polish, French, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, and Japanese.

For Census 2020 to be successful, the State’s Census 2020 language access plan must be robust and detailed, it must identify language gaps and articulate clearly how these gaps will be filled, it must demonstrate an understanding of California’s unique linguistic communities — both large and small — and the unique and culturally competent approaches for how to reach those communities, and it must be an operational plan with accountability measures.

Our Coalitions and Public Positions

Advancing Justice-CA is a partner in several statewide coalitions, including the ICE Out of CA Coalition, Health 4 All Coalition, College 4 All Coalition, Pardons and Commutations Reform Coalition, Census Policy and Advocacy Network Coalition, End the Death Penalty in CA Coalition, Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian (AMEMSA) Coalition, and Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Coalition. Our leadership and coordination with these coalitions have led to the passage of SB 54 (“The CA Values Act”), the formation of the College Readiness Block Grant, and AB 2845 (“Safe Place to Learn Act”).

Advancing Justice–CA is leading a statewide coalition of groups to challenge state and local agencies who have accepted funds from the Trump Administration to develop and implement Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) programs, a rebranded version of the discredited Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) programs. PVE and CVE are national security programs developed and funded by the federal government to target Muslims and other “suspect” communities of color. The California Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) has received over $600,000 in PVE funds, which it has sub-granted to groups across the state. Asian Americans Advancing Justice — Los Angeles, together with our partners at Council on American Islamic Relations — Los Angeles (“CAIR-LA”), have issued a Public Records Act request to Cal OES to impose transparency on its PVE program as well as engaged in advocacy.

Advancing Justice–CA unequivocally rejects all PVE and CVE programs that target Muslims and communities of color, including those funded in whole or in part by federal funds like the Cal OES PVE program.

Learn More

Download a copy of our 2019 legislative priorities here. For more information, contact Liza Chu, California Policy Manager, at (209) 981–6157 or Lchu@advancingjustice-ca.org.

Advancing Justice-LA is the nation's largest legal aid and civil rights organization serving the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander community