Legislature Passes Bill to Improve Data Collection for Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders

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SACRAMENTO — A bill that would require key state agencies to improve data collection for Asian American (AA) as well as Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander (NHOPI) ethnicities passed the California State Legislature on Sept. 9, moving one step closer to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk for consideration.

Assembly Bill (AB) 1088, introduced by Assemblymember Mike Eng (D-Monterey Park) and co-sponsored by the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC), a member of Asian American Center for Advancing Justice; Asian Americans for Civil Rights and Equality (AACRE); and Asian and Pacific Islanders California Action Network (APIsCAN), would require two key state agencies to include the full spectrum of Asian American, as well as Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander ethnicities in their data collection, consistent with those groups reported by the U.S. Census.

In addition, those agencies, the Department of Industrial Relations and Department of Fair Employment and Housing, would need to make this information available to the public by posting it on their respective websites to ensure a level of transparency and accountability.

“Most of the state’s agencies currently collect data on Asian Americans and Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders as a whole, without recognizing the distinctions and differences within those communities,” said Eng. “This bill is necessary to show not only the ethnic diversity that exists within those racial groups, but also to inform policy-makers and advocates how to better tailor programs to work more effectively for those who need them.”

“We applaud the California State Senate for their overwhelming, bipartisan support for disaggregation of AA and NHOPI data,” said An Le, APALC statewide network manager. “AA and NHOPI ethnic communities experience different challenges in accessing employment development programs and in dealing with discrimination in where they live and where they work. With this bill, we will be able to access the data to develop a greater understanding of the distinct needs of our diverse communities.”

“With 15.5 percent of the state’s population, California is home to the largest and most diverse Asian American as well as Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander populations in the country,” said Alisi Tulua, program manager of Tongan Community Service Center. “When we are grouped together as homogenous groups without distinguishing between ethnicities, we cannot begin to understand the true needs of our communities.

“We are excited that our state is taking one major step towards acknowledging the real differences that exist for our ethnic groups. We hope Gov. Brown will also recognize the growing diversity and needs in the state of California and sign this bill into law.”

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