Our Legal Victory to End Harms of Muslim Ban: Read the news

Towards a Just, Fair, & Compassionate California: 2023 End-of-Session Recap

October 19, 2023 News

In 2023, ALC co-sponsored three statewide bills towards increasing inclusion and transparency in California’s democracy and making our state safer for immigrant families. At the same time, we’ve grown our staff capacity to advocate for policies and state budgets that help low-income Asian, Pacific Islander, Arab, and Middle Eastern Californians make ends meet, live more safely, and protect their basic freedoms and rights.

ALC now has a full-time policy director. We’re building relationships with more state Senators and Assemblymembers, and also helping partners and community members advocate directly with their representatives. In August, for example, we organized a briefing for state legislators with Uber and Lyft drivers, Rideshare Drivers United, and PolicyLink. The briefing shared findings from our statewide survey of 800+ app-based drivers and urged legislators to support drivers’ calls for due process, protections from harassment, and overall job security.

Read on for updates on 2023 sponsored statewide bills.

AB 764: Fair and Transparent Redistricting

Every 10 years, ALC works with low-income Asian, Pacific Islander, Arab, Middle Eastern, Black, Latine, and Indigenous communities organizing to ensure congressional, state, and local redistricting processes reflect California’s growing diversity and respond to nonpartisan community input.

In an important victory for California’s multiracial democracy, Governor Newsom signed AB 764 this session. Authored by Assemblymember Isaac Bryan, AB 764 prohibits incumbent-protection gerrymandering, requires more transparent decision-making, and elevates the importance of community feedback in local redistricting. We’re proud to co-sponsor AB 764 alongside Common Cause CA, the League of Women Voters of CA, and ACLU California Action.

In the last local redistricting cycle, community groups across California often felt frustrated by opaque, poorly implemented, or overtly-political redistricting processes. Alongside other civil rights and civic engagement organizations, we documented these challenges in a recently published report, The Promise of Fair Maps. By enacting AB 764, California is taking vital steps to address these community concerns and build a more inclusive, transparent democracy.

AB 884: Language Access in Elections Materials

Our democracy is stronger when all voters can cast their ballot and have confidence in our elections. Californians use more languages than residents of any other state, and we take pride in that diversity.

Yet, for years, our state and federal laws have not kept up with California’s growing multiracial and multilingual electorate. As a result, many eligible California voters cannot fairly and equally cast their ballot.

In 2024, with Common Cause CA and Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans (PANA), we’ll be back in Sacramento advocating for AB 884. Co-authored by Assemblymembers Evan Low and Sabrina Cervantes, AB 884 would help more California voters receive votable ballots and registration forms in the languages they use and prefer.

In just the last several months, there’s growing evidence that Californians are eager for these changes.

A new report by ALC and a broad coalition of civil rights and community groups laid out recommendations to help California become a multilingual, inclusive democracy. Our analysis was informed by a series of listening sessions with people who use Arabic, Chinese, Khmer, Somali, and Spanish about what they need to be active, informed, and confident voters. A Berkeley Institute of Governmental Affairs poll also found that 66% of Californians agree the state government has a responsibility to encourage voter participation among underrepresented groups.

The Assembly Elections Committee already passed AB 884, and it returns to the Assembly Appropriations Committee in January.

AB 1306: Harmonizing Our Measures for Equality (HOME) Act

Across all of our work, we believe our state’s laws should be driven by the best of our values: equality, fairness, and common humanity. San Francisco, the Bay Area, and California are enriched every day by the diversity of our communities. Immigrant Californians are beloved members of our families, neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, places of worship and faith, sports teams, and so much more.

We close the 2023 legislative session deeply disappointed and outraged by Governor Newsom’s decision to veto AB 1306, also known as the HOME Act. Authored by Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo, AB 1306 took common sense steps to make California’s prison system no longer exclude immigrants and refugees from broadly-supported criminal justice reforms. The HOME Act passed the Senate and Assembly with supermajority votes and no law enforcement opposition. Governor Newsom’s veto flies in the face of our values and our state’s embrace of all residents, no matter where we were born.

As the legislative session progressed, our clients and beloved community members like Sandra Castaneda, Tin Nguyen, Maria Luna, An Nguyen, and Marisela Andrade shared how they are rebuilding their lives and helping create safer communities because they are home. Their stories inspired more people to take action and lend their support to the HOME Act. In August, a shocking report from ALC, the ACLU of Northern California, Asian Prisoner Support Committee, and Root & Rebound that shared previously unseen emails and exposed how CA prisons choose to transfer Californians who have completed their sentences to ICE detention. Legislators across the state were horrified to learn what happens behind CA prisons’ closed doors and how this public agency systematically and illegally discriminates against immigrants, refugees, and anyone who prison officials assume was born outside the U.S.

When immigrant Californians are treated differently under unjust policies, our communities are devastated and families are ripped apart. We will never stop fighting for a California that reunites families and helps more people build safe, thriving lives.

As we look to next year, we’re hiring a policy manager to lead ALC’s Bay Area policy and budget advocacy efforts. In 2024, we’ll be back with updates on our legislative priorities for the new session.