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AAPI & AMEMSA State Redistricting Collaborative Calls for District Maps to Center Community Priorities

November 22, 2021 News

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AAPI & AMEMSA State Redistricting Collaborative Calls for District Maps to Center Community Priorities

SACRAMENTO — As the California Citizens Redistricting Commission solicits feedback on its draft maps for Congressional, state Assembly, and state Senate districts, the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) & Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian (AMEMSA) State Redistricting Collaborative encourages commissioners to prioritize residents’ feedback, keep communities of interest together, and empower communities of color to elect the candidates that will fight for their needs and aspirations.

Over the past year, dozens of community and civil rights organizations have worked together in the AAPI & AMEMSA State Redistricting Collaborative to capture the diversity and interests of Asian American, Pacific Islander, Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and Sikh communities throughout California and develop district maps that reflect those communities’ priorities. Community members and voting rights advocates participated in over 30 online workshops and coordinated with other statewide organizations, including the Black Census and Redistricting Hub, MALDEF, and the IVE Alliance, led by Advancement Project, to develop map proposals that uplift Asian, Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern, Muslim, Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities, as well as communities enduring the impacts of environmental injustices.

In the past week, members of the AAPI & AMEMSA State Redistricting Collaborative have held a set of meetings with community members across the state and with other statewide partners to discuss the commission’s draft maps and craft their priority recommendations. Collaborative members issued the following statement today:

“As we head into the final stretch of redistricting, we can’t lose sight of what this is really about: making sure that district maps empower communities so that Californians can collectively raise our voices and fight for the policy outcomes we want.

“As an independent, citizen-led body, the state commission has a responsibility to listen to community voices, especially from those who have been most often disenfranchised and underrepresented. To draw maps that empower California’s diverse communities, the commission must prioritize compliance with the federal Voting Rights Act and must strive to keep communities of interest whole, including where communities of interest do not follow city and county boundaries.

“Over the course of several public meetings, commissioners identified places where they are looking for recommendations on how to comply with equal population and Voting Rights Act requirements and respect communities of interest. Our Collaborative, as well as partners like the Black Hub and MALDEF, have offered many proposals that achieve precisely what the commission says it needs.

“As the commission returns to drafting maps later this month, we call on the commissioners to fully and fairly review all of the feedback they have received and center the recommendations of underrepresented communities, who are best positioned to know what they need for equal and equitable representation.”

The Collaborative has also identified its priority recommendations based on the current draft maps:

Northern California:
The commission’s draft Congressional map splits the Pacific Islander community in Santa Rosa. Community members recommend that Santa Rosa be kept whole in a district with Cotati and Rohnert Park.

Sacramento Valley:
While the commission’s draft maps encouragingly keep Elk Grove with a Sacramento-based district at all levels of government, community members recommend that the nearby Vineyard area be kept with Elk Grove in a Sacramento-based district as well, as the draft Congressional map does. The commission has also respected residents’ calls to keep growing Syrian and Afghan refugee communities in Sacramento’s Arden-Arcade and Carmichael neighborhoods together in its draft Congressional and Senate maps. Community members are calling for that same approach in the Assembly map.

Bay Area:
The commission’s draft Congressional map cuts through several communities of interest in Alameda county. Community members recommend that South Asian and Muslim communities in Fremont be kept with South Asian and Muslim communities in Milpitas, Berryessa, and Santa Clara, and that communities living in Irvington and Mission San Jose are kept whole and with Centerville. While the commission’s draft Assembly map also divides working class and Asian immigrant communities in the East Bay, we urge the commission to keep San Leandro, San Lorenzo, Hayward, and Union City together due to shared socioeconomic and cultural interests. On the Peninsula, both the Assembly and Congressional drafts divide lower-income and Pacific Islander communities in Redwood City, North Fair Oaks, Belle Haven, and East Palo Alto. Community members ask that these neighborhoods be united in a San Mateo-based district.

Central Valley:
The commission’s draft maps split up several communities of interest, including Hmong, Punjabi Sikh, and Muslim communities. Community members are calling for keeping the Punjabi Sikh community on both sides of highway 99 together and for Muslim communities near Masjid Badr and Masjid Fresno to be kept whole. The commission has kept Hmong communities largely whole and with Latino communities in its draft Assembly and Senate maps and should do the same in the Congressional map. The Hmong community of interest located in the Sunnyside area: Kings Canyon to the north, Fowler to the east, Jensen to the south, and Chestnut to the west is drawn in between two or three districts. We request that the community is kept whole.

Los Angeles:
At the Congressional level, the commission’s draft map splits up the Asian American community of interest who lives in Monterey Park, Alhambra, Rosemead, and San Gabriel and dilutes the voting strength of the Asian American community by separating Monterey Park, Alhambra, and Rosemead from the rest of the west San Gabriel Valley (SGV). At the state Senate level, the draft also unnecessarily dilutes their voting strength. Community members recommend that these cities are kept together and in a district that includes all of the west SGV. In both the Congressional and Senate draft maps, Koreatown is divided. Koreatown community members are asking that their predominantly renter community be kept whole. The Congressional draft map also divides the Thai Town business corridor. The Thai Town community asks that this important corridor be kept whole and with the rest of Thai Town. In the South Bay region of Los Angeles, the middle class Asian American community that resides in the southern portion of Gardena and the eastern portion of Torrance ask to be drawn out of wealthy coastal districts at the Congressional and Senate level. Both the Congressional and Senate coastal districts include Beverly Hills, and the Senate coastal district extends to Pacific Palisades, Calabasas, and Malibu. The voice of the community in Gardena and Torrance would be drowned out in such a district.

San Diego:
The commission’s draft Congressional map splits the refugee community in City Heights. Community members recommend that this community be kept whole, as it is in the draft Assembly and Senate maps. Community members also recommend that the Filipino American community in the northeast corner of National City be kept with communities in Paradise Hills and Southeast San Diego, even if it means drawing district lines that cross National City’s boundaries.

The AAPI & AMEMSA State Redistricting Collaborative includes Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles, AAPIs for Civic Empowerment Education Fund, Asian Law Alliance, Asian Solidarity Collective, Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council, CAIR California, Empowering Pacific Islander Communities, Hmong Innovating Politics, Jakara Movement, and Orange County Civic Engagement Table.

About Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus

Asian Law Caucus (ALC) was founded in 1972 as the nation’s first legal and civil rights organization focusing on the needs of low-income, immigrant and underserved Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Recognizing that social, economic, political, and racial inequalities continue to exist in the United States, ALC is committed to the pursuit of equality and justice for all sectors of our society.