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AAPI & AMEMSA Communities Mobilized to Shape New District Maps and Build Electoral Opportunities for the Next 10 Years

December 22, 2021 News

Media Contact: media@advancingjustice-alc.org

AAPI & AMEMSA Communities Mobilized to Shape New District Maps and Build Electoral Opportunities for the Next 10 Years

CA Citizens Redistricting Commission Maps Underscore Need for Deep, Long-term Community Engagement to Empower Disenfranchised Residents

SACRAMENTO — On December 20, 2021, the California Citizens Redistricting Commission voted to approve maps for new Congressional, state Senate, and state Assembly districts, shaping who gets to vote together for elected representatives that will fight for their needs, interests, and aspirations. After record-breaking participation in the Census, Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities and Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian (AMEMSA) residents throughout the state mobilized in greater numbers than the past several redistricting cycles to advocate for their communities and neighborhoods.

Over the past year, dozens of community and civil rights organizations have worked together in the AAPI & AMEMSA State Redistricting Collaborative to capture their communities’ diversity and interests and develop responsive and equitable district maps. 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 the Advancement Project, to develop map proposals that empower communities of color as well as communities enduring the impacts of economic and environmental injustices.

The Collaborative issued the following statement today:


“AAPI and AMEMSA communities represent nearly 20% of California’s population, the fastest growing among all racial and ethnic groups in the state. Through local and statewide organizing, community members affirmed the bedrock importance of an independent redistricting commission: residents have a platform to share what unites their neighbors and communities and learn from each other to identify district lines that empower those most often disenfranchised and underrepresented by partisan mapping.

“As a result of community engagement, California has two majority Asian American districts and 49 majority Latino districts, as well as 16 Asian American influence districts, where Asian Americans make up 30% or more of eligible voters. As the Commission explored big changes to California’s districts, our communities spoke up to make sure they and their neighborhoods were not divided and that they were in districts with communities who have shared interests and priorities.

“Now that the lines have been set, we and our community partners will continue to work for fair and accessible elections and to increase engagement from California’s diverse and growing AAPI and AMEMSA electorate.”

As the Commission finalizes its maps, the AAPI & AMEMSA State Redistricting Collaborative continues to talk with community members about what new district lines mean for their civic power and advocacy. While these discussions continue, Collaborative members have identified several highlights as a result of communities’ engagement in redistricting as well as some areas of concern where the Commission maps split or divided communities.

Sacramento Valley:
Supported by AAPI FORCE and Hmong Innovating Politics, among others, communities of interest in Elk Grove and Vineyard were kept whole and with Sacramento County-based districts at all levels of government. With the support of CAIR-CA, Afghan and Syrian refugee communities in Arden-Arcade and Carmichael were also kept whole at all levels of government, a testament to the importance of listening to community testimony that details where they live as opposed to relying on official neighborhood or city lines.

Bay Area:
AAPI communities of interest in San Francisco, including Chinatown, Japantown, Richmond, Sunset, Excelsior, Visitacion Valley, Portola, and Bayview, were kept whole at all levels of government. Daly City was also kept whole and with nearby Filipino American communities. Pacific Islander communities in south San Mateo County were kept together at all levels of government for the first time. With the support of Asian Law Alliance, Collaborative members advocated for a near-majority Asian American Congressional district made up of Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, Cupertino, Berryessa, Milpitas, and south Fremont. At all levels of government, Centerville, home to a large Afghan community, was kept whole. In San Jose, the Collaborative worked to reduce splits to Little Saigon when a new Latino Voting Rights Act district led to changes to the San Jose Congressional map. AAPI communities and other working class communities in Union City and Hayward were kept together at all levels of government, and with San Leandro at the Assembly level. In Oakland, Korean and Yemeni communities of interest and Asian refugee communities of interest were kept whole at all levels of government.

In the Senate map, community members remain concerned that the Commission has drawn San Leandro into a Contra Costa County-based district and out of an Alameda County-based district. San Leandro is diverse, with many lower-income residents, and should be with other cities along the 880 corridor.

Central Valley:
Hmong Innovating Politics and Hmong residents in Fresno successfully advocated for their communities to be largely kept whole and together within a Latino Voting Rights Act district, as the community wished. Throughout the redistricting process, Hmong community members noted that being together within that district would empower them due to shared interests and characteristics with their Latino neighbors.

Los Angeles:
Community members mobilized in large numbers to advocate for the Asian American community of interest in west San Gabriel Valley. At the Congressional level, the Commission listened to community voices and united west San Gabriel Valley. At the Assembly level, the Commission determined the Voting Rights Act applies to this area and drew a majority Asian district. In metro Los Angeles, Chinatown, Historic Filipinotown, Koreatown, Little Tokyo, and Thai Town are whole at all levels of government, reflecting residents’ definition of their neighborhoods. The Asian American community that spans the southern portion of Gardena and the northeastern portion of Torrance are also together at all levels of government.

Still, while Carson residents, including the Filipino American community, repeatedly called for Carson to be kept whole at all levels of government and the Collaborative offered proposals to balance a wide range of interests, the Commission split Carson and these communities at the Assembly level.

Orange County:
Supported by OCCET’s leadership, community members in Orange County were able to advocate for improvements to their district maps. Cerritos and Artesia were drawn with south Buena Park, La Palma, and Cypress in Orange County-based districts, keeping AMEMSA communities together. The community of Little Saigon in Garden Grove, Westminster, and Fountain Valley is together, and in the assembly and congressional maps, drawn with other inland immigrant communities. The Korean American community in north Buena Park and northwest Fullerton is also kept together at all levels of government, as are the Pacific Islander communities in Garden Grove and immigrant communities in Irvine and Costa Mesa.

San Diego:
City Heights, which is an essential home for immigrants and refugees resettling in the San Diego area, was previously split into multiple districts at all levels of government. The new lines unite the neighborhood into single districts for Assembly and Senate, and bring more of the growing community into the Congressional district with the historic core of the neighborhood. The new Assembly lines also unite Linda Vista with other neighborhoods that form the major Asian community of interest in San Diego, including Clairemont, the Convoy district, Kearny Mesa, and Mira Mesa.

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, AAPI Equity Alliance (formerly the Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council), CAIR California, Empowering Pacific Islander Communities, Hmong Innovating Politics, Jakara Movement, and Orange County Civic Engagement Table (OCCET).