Wen Ho Lee
Hall of Shame
Census 2000 on California
City and county numbers from Census 2000. http://www2.census.gov/census_2000/datasets/demographic_profile/California/2kh06.pdf
11/21/12 Contra Costa Times: "Survey: Latinos, Asian-Americans have transformed California electorate"
By Matt O'Brien
A report released by The Field Poll this week illustrates the major transformation Latino and
American voters have brought to California's electorate over the past two decades.
California has added 3.5 million voters since 1994, of whom 2 million are Latino and 1 million are
Asian-American, together comprising nearly 86 percent of the total.
The change has coincided with an increasingly liberal electorate's outlook on social issues, the
economy and immigration.
Latinos, Asian-Americans and African-Americans together made up 40 percent of state voters in
the 2012 election and were pivotal in passing the Proposition 30 education tax measure, handing
President Barack Obama a double-digit victory here and sending new lawmakers to Congress.
Turnout among minority voters was also equal this year to the turnout of white, non-Latino voters,
"a first in California election politics," said Field Poll Director Mark
California's registered voters (percent of total)
White: 10.8 million (73)
Latino: 2.2 million (15)
African-American: 900,000 (6)
Asian-American: 750,000 (5)
Other: 124,000 (1)
California's registered voters (percent of total)
White: 11 million (60)
Latino: 4.2 million (23)
African-American: 1 million (6)
Asian-American: 1.8 million (10)
11/20/12 Orange County Register: "Wisckol: O.C. Asian Americans - GOP in name only?
They�re more likely to register as Republican than Democrat, but appear to have supported Obama."
By Martin Wisckol
Orange County's Asian American voters, led by Vietnamese Americans, are more likely to register as Republicans than Democrats. But party allegiance is loose and there are indications the demographic favored Barack Obama over Mitt Romney.
Los Angeles Times: "Op-Ed. CA to GOP: Adios. The demographics of
congressional delegation tell it all: a broad ethnic and racial mix for the
Democrats, and solid white
male for the Republicans."
By Harold Meyerson
There are many ways to illustrate the descent of the
California Republican Party into oblivion.
A starting point is the demographic breakdown of the members of Congress elected
last week in the state.
Assuming the leaders in the few remaining close races hold
their leads, there will be 38 Democrats and
15 Republicans representing California in Congress come January. Of those 38
Democrats, 18 are
women, nine are Latinos, five are Asian Americans, three are African Americans,
four are Jews and at
least one is gay. Just 12 are white men. Of the 15 Republicans, on the other
hand, all are white men �
not a woman, let alone a member of a racial minority or a Jew, among them.
5/14/09 San Jose Mercury News: �Asian, Latino populations continue
to surge in
by Ken McLaughlin and Mike Swift
The numbers of Asians
and Latinos in
to surge from 2007 to 2008 even as the population growth of those two
ethnic groups unexpectedly slowed nationwide.
So what's going on?
's diverse population � with more minorities
than whites � has served as a bellwether for the rest of country. But
suddenly, armed with the latest data released today, the U.S. Census
Bureau is expected to push back the projected date that minorities will
outnumber whites across the country by a decade.
The souring economy and changes in immigration policy have
the growth in minority populations across the country, but
with its high-tech economy, safe neighborhoods and strong public schools
� continues to be a magnet for Asians. Despite predictions that Asian
growth would slow as the worldwide economic slump slammed Silicon
Valley, the new data shows Santa Clara County from 2007 to 2008 added
more new Asian residents than any other county in the nation � nearly
Census estimates show the number of Asians in the county grew
3.4 percent year to year. The number of Latinos in the county grew by
3.2 percent and the number of whites decreased by 0.2 percent, according
to a Mercury News computer analysis of the new data.
According to the latest national data, the percentage growth
slowed from 4.0 percent in 2001 to 3.2 percent last year. That slowed
growth would have been greater if not for a high fertility rate � nearly
births for every death.
, for the first time in modern history, a majority of births are
to Latino mothers, state records show. In the
, births are driving
much of the population growth of both Latinos and Asians. In 2007, more
than 70 percent of all births in
� about 19,000 � were
to either Asian or Latino mothers.
Nationwide, Asians also slowed their population increases
percent in 2001 to about 2.5 percent.
It was just this past August that the Census Bureau projected
children will become the minority in 2023 and the overall white population
will follow in 2042. The agency now says it will recalculate those figures
because they don't fully take into account the current economic crisis and
anti-immigration policies enacted after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The new projections, expected to be released later this year,
back the expected date when the nation becomes a "majority-minority,"
David Waddington, the Census Bureau's chief of projections. "Policies
changed," he said, in explaining why the scientific estimates were no
, which became a majority-minority county a
decade ago, and much of the Bay Area are clearly an exception to the
nationwide trend. Perhaps most surprising was the continued strong growth
of the Asian population, even as some H-1B visa holders return to
job magnet loses strength.
The annual census estimate does not break down whether the
the Asian population is driven by immigration, birthrates or migration
other states. But demographers, scholars � and people of Asian descent
who live here � say the reasons Asians find Silicon Valley a desirable
place to live are no secret.
"When most Americans buy a home, they're looking for
things like a view
and amenities like swimming pools,'' said Ling-Chi Wang, professor
emeritus of Asian-American studies at the University of California-Berkeley.
"For Asian-Americans, though, the first priority is finding the best
and secondary schools they can find. The second consideration is
, with its low crime rates and abundance of good
schools, is a natural fit.
is a great place for families,'' said Hoi-Yung Poon,
a native of
who came to this country at age 14. A consultant to
nonprofits who worked for the Census Bureau during the 2000 census,
Poon is married to an Indo-American chemist. With their 5-year-old son,
they live in West San Jose in the heralded
She said many Asian-Americans love the valley's leafy
manicured parks and open space. "I grew up in
's Chinatown and
, and I don't think I could live in a big city anymore,'' she said.
Another important reason for the valley's increased
popularity for Asians:
"Critical mass,'' said Hans Johnson, a demographer with the Public Policy
Institute of California.
With such a high concentration of Asians, he said, the valley
more of an attraction for new immigrants looking for family, friends and
networks in finding jobs, great Asian restaurants and a nice place to live.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
12/9/08 San Jose Mercury News: �Census shows
have Asian-majority populations,�
by Mike Swift
as the second city in the
where a majority of residents is now Asian, a rare cultural phenomenon that
sets the two communities apart � even in one of the most diverse counties in
Its Chinese population was already well established, but
Cupertino's rapidly growing Indian community has pushed its overall Asian
population to 56 percent of residents, according new census data released today
� making it one of just 18 cities of 20,000 or more people in the country
where Asians are more than half of all residents. All of those cities are in
Asians already were a narrow majority in
in 2000, but with a growing population of Chinese, Indians, Filipinos and
Vietnamese, Asians now make up nearly 60 percent of
What is happening this decade in cities like
, demographers say, is partly the culmination of years of immigration, as
growing immigrant communities act as a powerful magnet, drawing relatives and
others lured by cultural comforts and good schools. The economic downturn after
2007 may well put the brakes on that growth, however.
While Asians are close to being the largest racial group in
several Silicon Valley cities, the real story in the new demographic portrait of
's mid-size cities is that no single group commands the majority, demographers
is one example: Whites, Latinos and Asians were all about 30 percent of the
population for the three-year period of 2005 through 2007, the new census data
are "really the exception. More typically what we have in the state is a
mix," said Hans Johnson, a demographer with the Public Policy Institute of
California. "And it's not the East Coast, white-black mix. It's the West
Coast, Asian-Latino-White, and to a lesser extent black, mix."
Some things in
didn't change. Much of the valley defended its cr�me de la cr�me status in
wealth and education, despite the economic roller-coaster the region has endured
since the Census Bureau last plumbed smaller cities' social and economic status.
Los Altos and Palo Alto, respectively, were among the top
three places among U.S. cities with 20,000 people or more with the highest
median household income and with the largest share of adults with a master's or
Both cities were among a handful of Bay Area cities that saw
their incomes grow faster than inflation through the down-and-up economic cycle
were among the only 19 places in
� all but three in
� where the median-price home was more than $1 million.
There were some surprises in the first new data since the
2000 Census for cities and counties between 20,000 and 65,000 people. Among the
surprises was the city with the fastest-growing white population in
The distinction belongs to East Palo Alto, a once a
predominantly African-American city that is now 55 percent Latino, and includes
a small but growing white and Asian population, as new retail and residential
developments have come to town.
Meanwhile, Palo Alto, historically a city that was
predominantly white and has recently been roiled by racial tension over remarks
by the police chief, had one of the valley's biggest percentage increases in
both its Asian and Latino population.
ranked fifth and
11th in the
among places where Asians made up the largest share of the population,
according to the new census data.
When Taiwanese immigrant Ignatius Ding first moved to
in 1978, he and his family had to travel to
for good Chinese food. But the quality of the city's schools soon became so
well known in
's 95014 ZIP code became common knowledge there, said Bernard P. Wong, an
and the author of "The Chinese in
Now there are so many Chinese restaurants and stores in
that a visitor from
would feel right at home. In the parking lots of some Asian-dominated shopping
areas such as
, "it's almost impossible to find a parking spot at lunch," said
Ding, a retired Hewlett-Packard engineer.
While people from
and Hong Kong were the first Chinese in
, the growth more recently has come from mainland Chinese. Meanwhile, the
Indian population more than doubled since 2000 to nearly 10,000. The main
For Patricia Rod, a 17-year
resident who is white, most of the changes that have come from having
"lovely neighbors" who are Chinese, Indian and Vietnamese have been
positive � including her property values.
Rod, a cardiac sonographer, also feels her kids are "so
much more worldly" because of
's diversity. But while two of her daughters flourished in the increasingly
competitive schools, Rod had to enroll another of her children in private
"It has raised the bar educationally for the kids to the
extent that those kids who are high achievers do very well," Rod said.
"But those kids who cannot achieve that much tend to fall in a class that
is less than desirable, and don't succeed."
2/22/08 Asian Week: "Asian Americans Who Run The City [San Francisco],"
by Angela Pang
Twenty-one percent of citys commissioners are Asian Pacific Americans
Although San Francisco has the worst proportional representation of Asian Americans on the citys governing Board of Supervisors of all cities nationwide (one out of 11), a first-ever look at commission assignments by AsianWeek indicates a slightly brighter picture among the citys commissions though still not up to par with San Franciscos one-third Asian Pacific American population.
AsianWeek has conducted an analysis of Asian Pacific American representation in the citys 42 commissions, whose members are selected by the mayor and Board of Supervisors. Asian Pacific Americans currently hold
21.4 percent of commission positions 74 out of 345 seats as of Feb. 15, which is roughly 12 percent less than their population in S.F.
That number is not bad, but it is not enough, said Fire Commissioner Steve
Out of 42 commissions, 36 currently have at least one APA member on board; six have no Asian Pacific Americans. Those commissions without any APA representation are Entertainment, Environment, Health Service Board, Rent Board, Southeast Community Facility and the War Memorial Board of Trustees.
After Mayor Gavin Newsom asked hundreds of city officials to hand in letters of resignation last fall,
13 commissions saw a change in their APA count. Eight commissions experienced an increase Aging, Health, Human Rights, Immigrant Rights, Municipal Transportation Agency, Relocation Appeals Board, the Status of Women and the Small Business Commission, while five underwent a decline Arts, Elections, Entertainment, Environment and Housing with the remaining 29 commissions experiencing no change.
Some of the APAs that have left those agencies have transferred to other commissions. Alan Mok, for example, departed from the Environment Commission but has joined the Immigrant Rights Commission, while Irene Yee Riley left the Housing Commission for the Small Business Commission.
I know the mayor definitely feels strongly about putting more Asian Pacific Islanders in commission seats thats one of the first things he told me when I met with him to discuss my position, said Jason Chan, who became the mayors first API liaison to commissions, and the person responsible for making recommendations for commission seats, in January.
We do want to reflect the breakdown of the constituents in the city, but it is challenging on our end, Chan said. We dont keep track of commissioners ethnicities, and that isnt a factor when they are appointed. Our main concern is to have the best and brightest in these commission seats.
Planning Commissioner Bill Lee said that the citys commissions should mirror the population of the city, but qualifications and skills are a factor, especially in the more powerful commissions, such as the Board of Permit Appeals, Building Inspection, Civil Service, Police, Planning and Public Utilities commissions, and the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency. Some of these top commissions require commissioners to be appointed both by the mayor and the Board of Supervisors; some have the power to select, appoint and fire management; and some also control the allocation of resources and decide public policies that affect living conditions.
Bill Lee said there is enough representation in these top commissions that truly affects how APAs live and do business in the city.
Its vital to have representation that directly affects what we do and need as Asians, Bill Lee said.
For us to have three APAs out of seven on the Planning Commission and two APAs on the Redevelopment Commission out of seven members, thats good.
Yet Ron Lee, vice president of the Chinese American Democratic Club, said that with such a large Asian population in San Francisco, the Asian and Chinese communities should be totally outraged.
We deserve our fair share, not more, not less, Ron Lee said. How many [APAs] are at the mayors office now? Not enough.
Parks and Recreation Commissioner David Lee believes that theres no lack of APA representation at the top commissions, but said that doesnt extend to other branches of city government. What we should be looking at is the Board of Supervisors, David Lee said. Out of 11 seats, there is only one Asian American Carmen Chu, who was appointed by Mayor Newsom. Thats where we lack representation most.
In terms of API representation, the city can certainly do a lot more, said Ling-chi Wang, associate professor of Asian American studies at U.C.
Fire Commissioner Nakajo said APAs can increase their representation by getting involved in their neighborhoods and communities, and taking leadership roles where they can that is the first source city officials look at for commission candidates.
Juvenile Probation Commissioner Jacqueline Ricci said Asian Americans dont assert themselves in taking leadership roles. We have to step up to the plate,
Ricci said. Asians tend to be humble in putting ourselves first. If youre interested in serving for a commission, you have to go for it and let it be known.
Dennis Normandy, a 14-year Public Utilities commissioner, notes more APAs are now serving on commissions than when he started.
The quantity and quality of APA representation has improved throughout the years, Normandy said. I think its a testament to both the willingness of each mayor to open doors, but also to APA communities, which have grown in number. Now we have much more talent to choose from and push forward.
With Jason Chan as a bridge to the APA community, were on the right track, and I believe the number of APA commissioners will grow. But we cant just be passive and expect each mayors administration to actively look for nominees for commission positions,
Normandy continued. As APA community members and leaders, we have to do our part, by keeping ourselves visible and on the radar screen.
With additional reporting by Melissa Chin. Amy Lin and Rainier Ramirez also contributed to this report.
2/5/08 Dallas Morning News: Candidates court California Asians,
by Christy Hoppe
In the past few days, Asian-American leaders have been stumping the state
for Hillary Rodham Clinton, AsianWeek endorsed Barack Obama and John McCain
announced high-ranking Vietnamese-American supporters.
Beyond the high-visibility pitches for Latino and female
voters, the presidential campaigns have reached out to Asian-Americans, one of
constituencies and a group that could play a big role in who takes home the
Asian-American and Pacific Islanders are 12 percent of
's registered voters and almost evenly split between Republicans and
But because of tight-knit communities, the AAPI, as they are
known, are much more powerful in pockets of the state for instance, they are
30 percent of the Democratic voters in the
"Both the Democratic and Republican presidential
candidates have been courting the AAPI community," said Republican state
Assemblyman Van Tran, who represents a part of
with an Asian-American population of about 450,000.
He said candidates have held fundraisers and met with AAPI
groups beginning months and, in some cases, years ago.
delegates will be determined by the winner in each of the 53 congressional
districts, the AAPI could help award dozens of delegates.
is the big enchilada in terms of delegates," Mr. Tran said. "The AAPI
is going to have impact."
Sunnyvale City Council member Otto Lee, a leader for Mrs.
Clinton's outreach campaign, said the main issues for AAPI Democrats are the
same as others: economy, education and health care.
"The overall trend is that the younger people are still
more excited with Barack Obama. When you talk about the older voter, the idea of
knowledge and strength is what matters, and they tend towards Hillary
Clinton," he said.
Although the AAPI population is equally divided between the
GOP and Democratic Party, Mr. Lee believes that the immigration issue and
open-door policy for independents will probably drive record numbers into
Democratic voting booths today.
Almost a third of Asian-Americans are registered
independents, and the GOP primary in
is open only to registered Republicans.
On immigration, many in the AAPI are concerned that the
tougher Republican stance will prevent family members from being unified, Mr.
Mitt Romney has national Asian-Pacific leaders as advisers
and leaders in his campaign, but his efforts have not been as visible as Mr.
"I've been working closely with him," said Mr.
Tran, adding that the
senator has visited his district numerous times dating to the 2000 presidential
Recently, the campaign has been hit with a revival of a
comment that Mr. McCain made on the 2000 campaign bus, when he used an ethnic
slur for Asians and said: "I will hate them as long as I live."
Mr. McCain later explained that he was referring only to his
sadistic Vietnamese captors, but the quote remains offensive and is something
Mr. Tran has been dealing with lately.
"They're trying to throw everything at him" now
that he's the front-runner, Mr. Tran said, predicting that Mr. McCain will
and the AAPI vote.
"Senator McCain is perceived as a man who is firm with
his conviction and straightforward with his opinion," he said.
12/2/07 San Francisco Chronicle: Asian Americans flex political muscle in
wider Bay Area,
by Vanessa Hua and Matthew B. Stannard
The elderly Chinese American men in dark suits passed through
ornate doors guarded by stone lions, then ambled into a soaring hall lined with
flowers and history.
Holding court inside was Harrison Lim, the outgoing president
of the Chinese Six Companies, the
fraternal organization whose fetes regularly draw such political luminaries as
Mayor Gavin Newsom and Aaron Peskin, president of the Board of Supervisors.
As Lim did the meet-and-greet with a sea of representatives
from Chinese family associations and service organizations, the white faces of
Newsom and Peskin stood out, as did one glaring fact:
In a city that is one-third Asian, the majority Chinese
Americans, there are few prominent politicians of Chinese descent.
Next year, the Chinese American population of
will mark the 160th anniversary of its presence in the city. Gone are the
exclusionary laws that held the populace in check, the policies that curtailed
Chinese immigration and citizenship. Gone is the official discrimination that
kept many in the ghetto.
Yet such progress has not translated into political power. No
Chinese American has held the top office of mayor, and except for a few years in
the late 1990s, they have never been proportionately represented in the city's
top political body, the Board of Supervisors.
"I was dying to be working on the election of a Chinese
American mayor," said Rose Pak, the
wheeler-dealer who has spent decades grooming and supporting candidates for
office. "But now I ... wonder if I'll see it."
The longtime political frustration of Chinese Americans in
has been placed in sharp relief in recent months with the scandal-plagued first
year of Chinese American Supervisor Ed Jew. Yet the political fate of Chinese
will not hinge on the Jew saga.
Instead, the future could rest on what happens in the
, where the Chinese American community's dramatic strides could make San
Francisco a virtual backwater on the Chinese American political landscape:
Kris Wang, an immigrant from
, is mayor of
. Otto Lee, a Hong Kong native with a degree in chemical and nuclear
engineering from UC Berkeley and a law degree from UC Hastings, holds the top
elected office in
's Kansen Chu, who hails from
, is the city's first Chinese American councilman. Evan Low is the first
Chinese American elected to the Campbell City Council.
"The South Bay - in particular Santa Clara County and
the Silicon Valley area - is really kind of leading the charge for Asian
American political incorporation in the continental United States," said
James Lai, associate professor of political science and ethnic studies at Santa
A new generation of Chinese Americans in
hopes to grasp the gold ring, but it won't be easy. In
, Lai says, Asian Americans are "one of many in line, and not necessarily
first in line."
In 1973, Mayor Joseph Alioto appointed George Chinn as the
first Chinese American on
's Board of Supervisors. In 1977, Gordon Lau was appointed and eventually
"Non-Chinese perpetuate the myth that Chinese can and
should take care of their own problems, that nothing is wrong in
," Lau told The Chronicle in 1969. "And I want to dispel that myth,
which results in lack of responsiveness from government agencies and officials.
I want to start people talking, not only about what is wrong, but about what can
Tom Hsieh Sr. -
's third Chinese American supervisor - was appointed in 1986 and was re-elected
twice. A successful architect, Hsieh realized he needed to get involved in
politics or neither he, his family nor his community would advance further. It
seemed then that Hsieh would be followed by politicians like him: professional,
educated, politically aware Chinese Americans.
It didn't happen.
In 1991, the fiscally conservative Hsieh ran for mayor and
got about 10 percent of the vote - the most any Chinese American candidate has
received before or since. But Hsieh ran into the
conundrums that perplex Chinese American politicians to this day, such as the
far greater willingness among Chinese Americans to donate money than to vote.
The result: Chinese Americans lacked the ballot-box power to
push their own into office or even attract the interest of mainstream
politicians outside of fund raising.
The consequences of lacking political power were clear after
the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake damaged the Embarcadero Freeway. City leaders
proposed replacing it with a sunken expressway. Hundreds of
merchants went on strike and closed shops for three hours to attend a Board of
Supervisors hearing on the proposed demolition, saying that business would be
hurt without the important transportation link. But the city moved ahead with
In the late 1990s, some observers heralded a new era of
Chinese American power in
when Chinese American property and business owners successfully demanded a
rebuilding of the Central Freeway. About the same time, three Asian Americans -
Mabel Teng, Leland Yee and Michael Yaki - joined the Board of Supervisors, the
first time the populace was proportionately represented on the board.
It lasted less than five years.
At the dawn of the 21st century, as Chinese Americans' brief
experience with proportionate representation was coming to an end in
, a new generation to the south was finding success - on a startling scale.
In 1980, Kris Wang borrowed $1,000 from a friend and spent
$700 on a plane ticket from
. But where previous generations of immigrants might have arrived with few
connections and gravitated to Chinatown with the help of the Six Companies, Wang
arrived with family on the East Coast and friends in Campbell who let her stay
and stretch her remaining $300 long enough to get a job at a San Jose firm.
Where a previous generation's story might have ended with
finding a job, Wang's was just beginning. In the years that followed, she earned
her MBA, got married, had kids, moved to
for its good schools - and discovered an opportunity in a city in which Apple
Computer was within sight of many Chinese shops.
While volunteering at
's schools, Wang came to the attention of then-Mayor Michael Chang - the city's
first Asian American mayor, elected in 1999 - who suggested she attend
Leadership Community, a city program that introduces people to volunteer and
public service opportunities.
Suddenly, Wang was parks and recreation commissioner, a
position she held until 2003, when Chang left office.
"A lot of people came to me and said, 'Are you ready? We
want you to serve, want you to run,'" Wang recalled. At first, Wang was
uncertain. It was a comment from her youngest son, she said, that made up her
"He said, 'Mom, I want to ask you a question,' "
she recalled. " 'Tell me, if you get elected, do you think because you're a
Chinese American, you'll be an advocate for Chinese Americans? Or are you
serving the whole community?'
"I said, 'Of course, the whole community.' "
"He said, 'Go, mom. Then you go.' "
Wang ran for re-election last month and won.
Ask why Chinese Americans in
have not seen their numbers translate into political power as in the
, and you will get dozens of responses. Chinese American leaders, academics and
observers are far from agreement on the reason - or even on whether it's a
Some say the differences between the two regions come down to
simple demographics: The immigrants moving to San Francisco for much of the past
century were limited to working-class jobs, with limited education, limited
English and little interest in politics.
Those arriving in the 1980s - many of whom, like Wang,
immediately headed south - often came to advance their educations and arrived
with degrees and experience in politics and opening markets. They were joined by
American-born Chinese who had left
after benefiting from the social reforms of the 1960s, which helped them gain
better housing, better jobs, better incomes and educations.
Chinatown remained a jumping-off point for newcomers,
offering cheap housing and a multitude of Chinese groceries, shops and social
services within walking distance. But cities such as
had their own large Asian American populations.
These populations were different from
's: better educated, less likely to be linguistically isolated, and wealthier -
and more likely to vote or run for office.
's Chinese Americans, in turn, became poorer, older and less educated - and
still disinclined to vote.
Some say demographic differences don't tell the whole story.
At the heart of it, they contend, is the lingering connection that many Chinese
Americans, particularly in
, feel to their homelands.
"We have several factions," said Hsieh, the former
supervisor. "One is for mainland
. One is for
. One is for
. And they don't really have that much in common."
The walls of Chinese Six Companies at
843 Stockton St.
still bear framed calligraphy by Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek. When new
leaders are installed at the Six Companies, everyone sings along to a tinny
recording of the national anthems of the
, in accordance with the group's long allegiance to that government.
Today, governments of
still court local Chinese leaders, showering titles and preferential treatment
to win them over. A stroll down
, the main drag of Chinatown in
, reveals competing loyalties: the red flag and yellow stars of
and the white sun in a blue square against a red flag of
"There's still albatrosses around our necks that we
haven't even moved in the last 50 years after the Cold War. Chinese politics!
politics!" roared Pak. "It still comes down to pro-China, anti-China.
, Wang sees the China-Taiwan split as largely irrelevant: "I think we're
all the same citizens, whether you're from
, or if you're African American. I always disagreed with the saying that you
have a number percentage of Asian Americans, the representation should also
match the number percentage. It should all come natural."
leaders bemoan the lack of an infrastructure that could groom and support
up-and-comers, such as the traditional role churches play in many African
In theory, it is a role that could be played by Six
Companies. But a number of observers, including some within the organization,
say it doesn't deliver in those terms and instead eschews much mainstream
"The immigration bill. How come they never discuss
anything about that?" said Thomas Ng, a Six Companies board member.
On top of that is the structure of the Six Companies, in
which a complex formula designed to balance power among the main family groups
requires a new presiding president every two months.
"How can you represent a community still using the Qing
dynasty mentality on the bylaws? They may not like me saying it, but that's the
reality," said Bok Pon, the commander of the
post of the American Legion. "Those associations have become social clubs.
It's not actually doing anything for the community."
On the surface, the association seems important.
Assemblywoman Fiona Ma recently dropped by the Six Companies board meeting to
tout her legislative agenda, and the turnover of the president attracts local
politicos every two months.
But skeptics say the real reason the politicos come is for
coverage in the Chinese-language press.
"Maybe 20 years ago, the Chinese Six Companies was very
powerful," said Lim, a longtime member. "If the Chinese Six Companies
said yes, everybody would support. But now, no. Still has influence, but not as
By contrast, Lai said, several
communities have organized efforts to nurture future Asian American leaders,
's Asian Pacific American Leadership Institute.
"Take a look at the Web sites for all these cities and
look at the commissions," Lai said. "You'll see Asian Americans
serving in key positions."
That doesn't mean there are no political contenders in
today - Eric Mar, a
school board member and Asian American studies professor at
, recently filed to run for supervisor, and Claudine Cheng, president of the
Treasure Island Development Authority, also is considering a bid.
But Chinese American candidates face a fundamental challenge:
They must try to appeal both to their conservative communities and to the city's
That presents a hurdle to leftists like Mar, who some
analysts say might attract Chinese American votes on the basis of his ethnicity,
but may not be able to be re-elected, because of his politics.
"If you stay as conservative as I was, you know you're
wasting your time," Hsieh said. "You have to be 40 percent on the
conservative side, say, and 60 percent on the progressive side. You have to
understand that you are not running for office to serve one community. You
really want to serve the city as a whole, and with an emphasis and reminder that
you are from that community and you want to give them very special
South Bay Chinese Americans have learned that lesson, Lai
argued, and with it has come power.
"They're really giving back to the community, and their
interests are just like everybody else's," he said. "That's why you
see people like Kris Wang being able to cross over, and that has always been the
key to success for Asian American candidates."
To some observers, the obstacles for
's Chinese American candidates seem insurmountable. Some suggest that the
city's Chinese Americans should focus on issues important to them instead of
tilting at windmills with their candidates.
But others see hope in a new generation of immigrants with
its own unique experience that may change the political face of
When they called his name, the man stood and made his way to
the front of the packed, stuffy auditorium of
's Gordon J. Lau Elementary School. He was short and slight, his face youthful
beneath the brim of a small, olive-gray cap. "My name is Zheng Zhao Xin,"
he said. "I'm also a new immigrant. I'm a student at
Seated before Zheng were the members of the college's Board
of Trustees, which was hearing comments on plans to rebuild its rundown
Chinatown campus with a $122 million, 16-story building, one of several
Most of the hundreds in the boisterous audience were Chinese
Americans in favor of the plan. The handful of mostly white opponents worried
about parking and called for a shorter building.
Zheng spoke in Cantonese, but his words were quiet and firm,
and he waited patiently as a translator interpreted his comments.
"Immigrants such as myself, Asian born, who want to get into the mainstream
society of the
, we need to receive a quality education, not only in English but also to
receive job skills and other skills," he said. "So I urge the board as
the decision maker ... you should listen to the voices and the opinions of the
Zheng sat down to applause. It was the second public meeting
he had ever attended. He had been in the
for six months.
Zheng came of age as
developed rapidly - and with wealth came more mobility, a wider perspective and
greater openness. He was learning English at
when he heard about opposition to the proposed new campus. If he didn't get
involved and participate, the building might never be built, he thought. He was
nervous about speaking in public and questioned whether marching or
demonstrating was illegal or might cause him to be deported.
This fall, Zheng helped mobilize students at
in support of the campus - perhaps the first step in a budding political
career. The night he spoke at the hearing,
elder Harrison Lim also was in attendance. The Six Companies leader has strived
to make this an issue for the organization to rally around. The men represent
the past and future Chinese America.
, "what they think is, well, we are just ordinary people. Even if you do
something, it may not change anything at all. So why bother to do it?"
Zheng said. "In the society I live in now, I think if you think this is
right, and you try to do something, there is a chance you may get things
Zheng's diligence paid off: The City College trustees
approved the new campus on Oct. 18. And Zheng was elected to the student
11/21/07 Philippine News:
Rising Harassment of Asian American Students,
-- Civil rights advocates representing broad sectors of communities gathered at
the downtown offices of the Asian Law Caucus (ALC) recently to call attention to
the rising incidence of bias-related harassment of Asian Pacific American youth
s public schools.
Race, ethnicity, religion, disability, and sexual orientation
were cited as the most common factors that instigate harassment, ridicule, and
threat of violence in the schools.
Angela Chan, ALC staff attorney, said she continues to
receive a steady stream of complaints from APA students regarding harassment and
violence perpetrated against them by other students or even employees.
Other minority groups are not spared either.
Senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union
of Northern California, Tamara Lange, reported that in the last six weeks alone
prior to the
press conference, her group reached a settlement with an elementary school
system in Bishop, where Native American children were being harassed and
assaulted by a school resource officer.
Chan said the alarming trend continues despite state laws to
protect students that went into effect seven years ago.
In 2000, the California Student Safety and Violence
Prevention Act, AB 537, was implemented to prohibit discriminatory harassment
and violence in schools.
More recently, California Assembly member Lloyd Levine
authored the Safe Place to Learn Act (AB 394) requiring the states education
department to play an active role in ensuring full and proper implementation of
existing anti-discrimination laws that apply to schools.
This problem of school harassment will not go away without
leadership by the Department of Education, Lange insisted. We look forward
to the implementation of AB 394 and urge the Department to do more than the bare
minimum required by this new law to ensure that all of our children know that
they are entitled to be treated with dignity and respect.
Chan told Philippine News during the open forum While
California may seem ahead of other states in the institution of anti-harassment
laws and policies, it lags behind in implementation and compliance.
Nevertheless, she added, the findings from a recent study ALC
conducted have shown that many school districts do not even have anti-harassment
policies in place.
The survey, conducted just last spring, found that 31 percent
of the 75
school districts surveyed did not have any anti-harassment and anti-violence
policies in place.
Another recent study done by the California Safe Schools
Coalition indicated many students and parents are unaware of nondiscrimination
policies, with 23 percent of students and 29 percent of parents not being
informed of the policies.
Civil rights organizations, therefore, are advocating the
prompt and effective implementation of local and state initiatives, more so in
the light of recent incidents of harassment in schools.
Lance Chih, a recent graduate of Folsom High School,
recounted his experience as the victim of hate crimes at his school. Three
years ago, I experienced a series of hate crimes for being gay, starting with a
death threat, moving on to a physical attack, and ending with sexual harassment
in front of a teacher by two male students, he narrated.
Reports of Muslim American students being harassed by both
students and school employees are also becoming more frequent, according to
Mahrukh Hasan, civil rights coordinator for the Bay Area chapter of the Council
on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
In one recent case handled by CAIR and the ALC, a school
repeatedly demanded that a 13-year-old girl remove her hijab, a headscarf she
wore for religious reasons, in front of a cafeteria full of students, Hasan
At the local level, Jen Gasang, coordinator for the Asian
Pacific Islander Youth Advocacy Network announced the launch of a new system for
reporting incidents anonymously in the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD).
Gasang said, The Safe School Line aims to make our school
community safer by providing three ways for students and parents to anonymously
report to the District incidents of harassment, violence, and intimidation
via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, telephone at (415) 241-2141, and online at www.sfusd.edu.
Christina Wong, director of community initiatives at the
Chinese for Affirmative Action, also discussed a project called the Culturally
Responsive Initiative that will obtain funding and develop training for teachers
in SFUSD to prevent bias-related harassment.
10/10/07 UCLA Today: Asian Americans are
's new 'sleeping giant'
By Paul Ong
In the 1980s and 1990s, Latinos were considered the
"sleeping giant" in
politics because of their growing numbers. New research conducted by the UCLA
Asian American Studies Center, together with the University of California's
Asian American and Pacific Islander Policy Initiative Multi-Campus Research
Program, shows that Asian Americans are now the "sleeping giant" of
The center's research points to several major demographic
trends that began to take shape in the 1990s. First, the Asian-American
population has increased steadily. From 2000 and 2005, the number of
Asian-American residents in
increased from 3.8 million to 4.7 million, accounting for 38% of the 2.2
million overall net gain in
During the same period, the number of Asian Americans in
California eligible to register as voters climbed by more than half a million.
If this growth continues, more than 3 million Asian-American adults will be
eligible to register to vote by the end of the decade, making up about 14% of
all Californians eligible to register.
Asian Americans are also showing an increase in their
citizenship rates. As many as 71% of Asian-American adults are U.S. citizens by
birth or naturalization, illustrating how Asian Americans have gone from being
an "alien" population to one fully integrated into society through
citizenship. In addition, Asian Americans are making a significant impact on
both state and national politics as donors, politicians, state officials and
These demographic trends bring both new opportunities and
challenges for Asian Americans. As they contribute to the nation's cultural
diversity and economic success, the remarkable growth in the number of Asian
Americans means that public services and elected representation will also need
to grow to accommodate the particular needs of the community, as Judy Chu, vice
chair of California's State Board of Equalization has said, echoing an opinion
widely shared by other community leaders.
However, fully transforming their demographic power into
voting power remains a significant challenge for Asian Americans. Recent data
suggest that Asian Americans are less likely to register and vote than
non-Latino whites and African Americans.
The good news, according to leading Asian American scholars,
is that Asian Americans can become an effective voting bloc by formulating a
common political agenda that appeals to the community regardless of its racial,
cultural, linguistic and economic differences.
As sociologist Yen Le Espiritu, a graduate of UCLA's Asian
American Studies program, has noted: "History has shown that Asian
Americans can overcome differences to build viable, pan-Asian, political
coalitions to promote and protect both their individual and their united
Ong is a professor in the
and Asian American studies.
8/9/07 San Jose Mercury News:
adding Asians at nation's
fastest pace; Births, Economy, Immigration Fuel Continuing Rise,
By Mike Swift
For a suburban county smaller than multi-ethnic urban giants
, Miami-Dade and
recorded a notable population milestone last year: It gained more Asians than
any county in the
Population estimates being released today by the
U.S. Census Bureau say Santa Clara County gained nearly 18,000 new Asian
residents in the year ending
July 1, 2006, a 3.3 percent increase from 2005. That was nearly 2,000 more
county with the second-largest growth,
's Asian population has jumped by 20 percent, or
91,000 people, so far this decade, the Census Bureau estimates. The county is
, with more than a century of Asian history, as the county
in the continental
with the largest share of Asians.
's continuing Asian boom is being fueled by
and economic growth, demographers say. In
had more Asian births than
's 8,395 in 2005, according to state Department of Public Health records. And
although Asians for now still make up a
slightly larger share of the population in
, a baby born there is less likely
to be Asian than one born in
The booming Asian population is diversifying the culture,
forcing non-Asians to adapt and spawning business opportunities across ethnic
Loann Tran, a real estate agent with Judy Wang Realtors in
, says an influx of young Asian families buying homes has insulated her from
some of the pain of this year's real estate slowdown.
"Most of the buyers are either from
; they are a majority of those that are still buying," said Tran, whose
clientele is predominantly Asian.
There are now about 40 Asian ethnic media outlets based in
, including multiple newspapers serving South Asians, Vietnamese and Chinese
readers, according to New American Media, a San Francisco-based collaboration of
ethnic media organizations.
Wells Fargo Bank this year began outdoor advertising in
all-Chinese characters in
neighborhoods with large numbers of Chinese speakers. "You're seeing more
of a concerted focus and effort to reach out to customers and those that may be
willing to do business with Wells Fargo in their language of choice," said
Chris Hammond, a Wells Fargo vice president.
To be sure,
's large Asian population is not new. But in informal discussions this week,
residents said the volume of the growth and the persistent evolution of the
's population over the past decade and a half continue to rewrite personal and
business relationships in myriad ways.
"I'm going to a Vietnamese restaurant right now, and I'm
going to order in Vietnamese," said Alex Rodriguez of
, a Mexican-American business developer. He took college courses to learn
Vietnamese because of religious outreach he does as a Jehovah's Witness.
Mike Riggsby, co-owner of West Coast Store Fixtures, a
company that sells everything from store counters to mannequins, said he is
having to learn new ways of bargaining and negotiating on the job. He estimates
half his customers are now Asian, up 50 percent in the past decade.
"I'm learning as I'm going along," Riggsby said.
"It's us understanding them and them understanding our culture, and working
together so we don't offend each other."
Nevertheless, he still has misunderstandings, and it bothers
him sometimes when customers speak to one another in a language he doesn't
A fourth-generation Californian who is ethnically Chinese,
Cindy Colbert of
often felt out of place as a baby boomer growing up in
. She thinks the growth of the Asian population has made people here less likely
"When I was growing up, you needed to blend in - you
needed to be white. If you weren't white, you stuck out like a sore thumb,"
said Colbert, whose great grandfather came to
to work on the railroads.
"I used to walk up to the supermarket checkout and the
clerk would be hostile until I opened my mouth and he saw I was a native
English-speaker," she said. "They are kind of more accepting now
because of the volume of (Asian) people here."
Five of the 10
counties with the largest Asian population growth in the past year were in
counties. Asian immigrants have been somewhat slower than Latinos to spread out
, demographers say.
Asians "are still very heavily attracted to areas which
have been the traditional gateways to the
," said Bill Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution in
From Chinese actresses like Gong Li starring in mainstream
Hollywood movies like "Miami Vice," to the rise of five-star Asian
restaurants and the ubiquity of Pokemon, marketing experts say there is
increasing cross-pollination between Asian and non-Asian cultures across the
country, especially in places like the South Bay.
Conventional wisdom has been that the rapid growth of ethnic
supermarkets like 99 Ranch Market would make them takeover targets for
mainstream supermarket chains, said Saul Gitlin, executive vice president with
Kang & Lee, a
advertising firm that helps organizations from AT&T to the NBA target Asian
consumers. But Gitlin isn't sure that will happen.
"I can't tell you it'll be the mainstream stores that
acquire the Asian stores. It could very well be the reverse," Gitlin said.
Lee's Sandwiches, a chain of Vietnamese eateries
, began in 1983 with a largely Vietnamese clientele, said Jimmy Le, assistant to
the chief executive. Those stores featured an array of traditional Vietnamese
foods and flavors.
But its newer stores are intended to feel more like standard
American fast-food outlets. The chain has now expanded to
and will open in
"No matter what nationality you are, everyone is willing
to try new things," Le said. "Our focus is not just Vietnamese
customers or Asians any more, but any nationality. Just like McDonald's or
-- Jessica Zous parents want her to go to
school, get good grades, find a high-paying job and avoid causing trouble --
like getting into politics.
Culturally, most Asians in my generation are taught to not
cause trouble, that is to say, not stir things up, says Zou, 19, a
junior at the
. I think this is partially because, coming from our parents' generation,
politics can end up in riots, chaos and even death.
After seeing the violence at Tiananmen Square in 1989, Zou
said her parents decided to emigrate from
, where they thought she could live a peaceful life.
But political advocacy organizations are actively trying to
dispel that notion and encourage young Asian Americans like Zou, an intern at
California Assemblyman Ted Lieu's office, to participate in politics.
In recent years, several Asian Americans have risen to
prominent political positions, such as U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao and
former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta. Californians have also
elected several Asian and Pacific Islanders to state legislative office,
including Sen. Leland Yee, Assemblymen Mike Eng and Van Tran, and Assemblywoman
Fiona Ma. But despite increasing leadership in this community, Asian Americans
make up less than 10 percent of the
legislature even though they are 13 percent of the population.
As the Asian American population continues to grow,
organizations are working to inspire young Asian Americans to pursue careers in
public policy and ensure diversity in the states legislature.
Some of these political advocacy efforts in
include the Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus Internship Day at
the Capitol. This year, the event brought together about 50 young Asian and
Pacific Islander youth to meet legislators, students and staff members to get
insight on working with state legislation, said Pam Chueh, consultant to the
We want to create a better understanding of public policy
for these young people and to encourage them to become part of the process,
During the one and a half day program, students posed candid
questions to Asian-American lobbyists, staff members and Senate fellows about
their work at the Capitol.
The low pay of political staffers is an issue that concerns
some young people. Legislative staff members do not make nearly as much as a
doctor, lawyer, engineer or other steady careers that Asian-American parents may
prefer. A California Senate Fellow receives a monthly $1,972 stipend while a
legislative assistant can earn anywhere from $32,500 to $64,200 a year,
according to the Assembly Committee on Rules.
While some acknowledge that their stipend is small, Senate
fellows emphasized the impact their work has on public policy.
Kiyomi Burchill, recent Stanford graduate and Senate fellow,
works with Sen. Darrell Steinberg in researching bills. Because many of the
legislators dont have time to research all the bills, Burchills and other
legislative staffs opinions become important to the Senate members.
Im astounded how much legislators take staffs
comments into consideration, she said.
The political participation of young Asian Americans is
becoming increasingly important, according to Asian Pacific Islander Caucus
Chair Alberto Torrico, because current political issues like immigration,
healthcare and language access will impact them and their families.
Yet many young people arent taking part in public policy
and government issues because there is a general distrust in the government in
youth, he said.
We keep raising their tuition, so how do you expect young
people to trust the government when the consequences of our choices are
affecting them all the time? he said.
The caucus holds several youth outreach programs like
Internship Day at the Capitol. In the past, the caucus sponsored
Asian-American members to speak at schools, created voting programs and created
job shadowing and intern opportunities. But outreach is expensive and labor
intensive, he said.
Overall civic participation in the Asian-American community,
including voting, has been historically low. A study conducted by the Asian
Pacific American Legal Center showed that, overall, 53 percent of registered
voters went to the voting booth in the 2006 primary elections, while only 43
percent of registered Asian and Pacific Islanders voted.
Some young people believe that family viewpoints and
obligations are reasons for the lack of political involvement in Asian-American
Siddharth Kulkarni, a 19-year-old sophomore at
, said the lack of political discussion within Asian-American households also
contribute to a lack diversity in the state legislature.
Im pretty sure that politics isnt the first thing
that many Asian and Pacific Islander families discuss over dinner, he said.
Francais Choi, a 24-year-old senate fellow and graduate of
, believes that the lack of involvement of Asian-American youth also stems from
When there is a lack of political involvement with our
parents, political activity may seem less relevant in our lives, he said.
Yet Kulkarin said he has noticed more families are becoming
involved with politics as more realize the importance of discussing issues that
affect the community.
A lot of people are realizing that it takes more than just
a well-paying job and that we need some way to influence political decisions,
he said. We need to be politically involved.
Assemblyman Torrico said its important that more young
people realize the benefits of becoming involved with public policy and
understand that the government can be a vehicle for positive change --
especially since the Asian-American population nationwide is projected to
increase from 10 million to 30 million by 2050.
"They have a tremendous responsibility to make sure
everyones voices are being heard as the demographics keep changing in
, he said.
5/17/07 Los Angeles Times:
is leading nation in diversity: Minorities make up 57% of the state's
population and one-third of the nation's, data show. The growth is likely to
affect public policy,
by Teresa Watanabe
Deepening the nation's diversity, the minority population of
reached 100.7 million in 2006, led by
as home to the largest numbers of the two fastest-growing racial groups,
Latinos and Asians, the Census Bureau reported today.
Minorities now account for one-third of the nation's 300
residents, with the largest share of them 21% living in
They now constitute 57% of the state's population, including
13.1 million Latinos, 5 million Asians, 2.7 million blacks and 689,000 Native
Americans and Alaska Natives, according to population estimates taken between
July 1, 2005, and July 1, 2006.
Non-Hispanic whites were still
's largest racial group, at 15.7 million, but represented a shrinking
proportion of the state's population.
, so goes the nation," said Marcelo Gaete, senior program director for the
Los Angeles-based National Assn. of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials
Gaete and others said the nation's increasingly diverse
population would probably have a significant effect on politics and public
policy because minorities tend to vote differently than whites.
, minority voters have shown "systematic differences" from whites in
their electoral choices, with more support for more generous immigration
policies, taxation and public investment in schools, according to Dowell Myers,
a USC professor of urban planning and demographics.
He said the difference is partly rooted in the fact that
minorities are younger, with a greater personal stake in public schools, for
Nationally, the median age for Latinos was 27.4, compared
with 30.1 for blacks, 33.5 for Asians and 40.5 for whites.
"There is a schism," Myers said. "Older folks
want older folks' benefits. They don't want to invest in younger folks'
benefits, especially if they're minorities. But these people are the future
workers, taxpayers and homeowners. To not embrace them is putting your
dollar into the wrong end of the life cycle.
"Fundamentally," Myers said, "people have to
realize we all have shared fates. It's necessary to pull together to have one
The Census Bureau's estimates are based on population change
from 2000 using annual data on births, deaths and international migration.
Gaete said the new numbers underscored the importance for
to hold an early presidential primary election in February 2008.
Otherwise, he said, states with largely white populations,
, will end up with oversized influence in narrowing the field for a national
population they do not demographically reflect.
"The country is becoming increasingly diverse,
increasingly colorful, and our political system should reflect that," Gaete
The demographers added what many political experts already
know: that multicultural coalitions are the key to winning a growing number of
Nationally, Latinos accounted for almost half the nation's
population growth of 2.9 million.
Their numbers increased by 3.4% to 44.3 million in 2006,
constituting 14.8% of the nation's population, with the largest numbers in
California, Texas and Florida.
Blacks increased by 1.3% to 40.2 million, making up 13.3% of
the nation's population.
had the largest black populations.
Asians grew by 3.2% to 14.9 million, accounting for 5% of the
The largest numbers were in
The census also counted 4.5 million Native Americans and
Alaska Natives and 1 million native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders. The
total of non-Hispanic whites who indicated no other race grew 0.3% to 198.7
million in 2006.
Minorities now account for one-third of the nation's 300
million residents and make up 57% of
Census Bureau population estimates as of July 1, 2006 (in
White* 15.7 198.7
Latino 13.1 44.3
Asian 5.0 14.9
Black 2.7 40.2
Native American 0.7 4.5
Pacific Islander 0.3 1.0
Total population 36.5 299.4
* Non-Hispanic whites who indicated no other race
Note: Group totals do not add up to the population totals because
members of minority races may be counted in more than one group. Source: Census
is home to 20.7 million members of racial and
ethnic minority groups, 21% of the nation's total.
Source: Census Bureau estimates 2006
11/06 Los Angeles Times: Asian American voters flex muscles:
from a scandal, they see gains in both the electorate and the winners'
by David Pierson
A study released by the Asian American Pacific Legal Center
that showed the Asian American electorate grew by nearly a third in
and more than two-thirds in
in the last few years.
Of 22 million eligible voters in
, about 2.5 million are Asian Americans.
has the nation's largest and most diverse Asian American population.
's study documented dramatic Asian American voter participation gains in
counties but also showed that percentages did not equal the two counties'
overall turnout numbers.
In the 2004 general election, 78% of registered voters in
and 73% of registered voters in
By comparison, 71% of registered Asian American voters in
and 68% of those in
's electorate grew by 11% and
's by 12% between the 2000 and 2004 general elections, the Asian American
grew by 29% and
's grew by 68% in those years.
The survey found that 40% of Asian American voters in
and 37% of Asian American voters in
were deemed to have limited English proficiency. Koreans and Vietnamese voters
struggled the most with English, the survey showed.
The majority of Asian American voters in the two counties
were foreign born. In
, they represented 67% of 271,497 Asian Americans who voted in the 2004 general
, foreign-born voters made up 80% of the 137,583 Asian Americans who voted in
the same election.
Recent years have seen sharp growth in the Asian American electorate in
. The breakdown by ethnic groups:
Asian American voters, 2004 general election
Note: Does not include all
Asian American groups; numbers do not add up to 100%.
11/8/06 Sacramento Bee: California Insider: Exit poll entrails,
Some interesting stuff in the exit poll:
Schwarzenegger made huge strides among minorities. He won 27
percent of the black vote, 39 percent of the Latino vote and 62 percent of the
Bee, p. A4: New faces, but same old voters: State's
diversity grows, but whites account for most going to the polls,
By Aurelio Rojas
The more the face of California changes, the more the state's
the same: older white voters, college graduates and homeowners still account for
the majority of voters, according to a new study.
Seventy-two percent of likely voters are white, 53 percent
are college graduates,
77 percent are homeowners and the majority are age 45 and older, according to
the report by the Public Policy Institute of California.
That profile does not square with the demographics of a state in
majority of the population is nonwhite and under 45 years old, fewer than one in
four adults are college graduates and 57 percent are homeowners.
"We are a state that continues to experience rapid growth and
change overall in terms of our population, said Mark Baldassare, PPIC's research
director. "But we see less growth in the voter rolls and less change in
terms of the
demographics of voters."
's Exclusive Electorate," the report concluded that if nonvoters
made their views known at the ballot box, state policies would dramatically
For example, a large majority of nonvoters -- 66 percent to 26
percent -- prefer
higher taxes with more services to lower taxes with fewer services, according to
the survey, based on 23,000 interviews between May 2005 and May 2006.
Baldassare said voter participation is particularly important in
"because our state brings democracy closer to the people through the
He said greater voting participation, for example, would improve
of the $3 billion affordable housing bond on the November ballot.
Voter participation has been decreasing for years. Baldassare said
million of the 15 million registered voters in the state are expected to vote in
's population has increased by 25 percent, but voter
registration has increased by only about 15 percent.
Only about 56 percent of adults are registered to vote, compared to
a high of
65 percent in 1994. And only a third of those who are registered voted in the
primary, a record low, Baldassare said.
Immigration accounts, in part, for low voter participation, since
voters must be born in the
or be naturalized citizens.
One in three adults in
is foreign-born, but people born in the
account for nine in 10 frequent voters, according to the study.
Still, more than half of the 12 million nonvoters in the state are
eligible to vote,
Baldassare said. He said the most common reason people give in PPIC surveys
for not voting are "interest and time."
"Time is one of those flexible things: If people have the
interest, they find time
to vote," Baldassare said. "(But) we find that many of our nonvoters
don't find the
political process today particularly relevant to their lives."
Baldassare said one of the most startling findings in the report is
that there is
the same number of registered Democrats and Republicans -- about 12 million --
than there were in 1990.
The growth in registration has been in voters who declined to state
"I think the political parties have really failed to
seize the day in
provide a reason for new voters," Baldassare said. "I think it is a
about people's alienation from the two-party system that we haven't seen any
9/7/06 The UCLA Asian American Studies Center: The New Sleeping Giant in
California Politics: The Growth of Asian Americans
by Letisia Marquez
(September 6, 2006) In the 1980s and 1990s, Hispanics were
considered the sleeping giant in
politics because of their growing numbers.
Asian Americans are now the new sleeping giant and are at a point where
were about two decades ago.(1)
They have significantly increased their potential power
at the polls in
, according to an analysis conducted by researchers affiliated
and with the UC AAPI (Asian American
& Pacific Islander) Policy Initiative. The analysis uses data from the 2005
Community Survey (ACS) released on August 15 and 29, 2006 by the U.S. Census
Bureau, along with previously released data from the Census Bureau.(2)
The number of Asian Americans in
eligible to register to vote (citizens who
are 18 and older) climbed by over a half million between 2000 and 2005, from 2
to 2.5 million. The Asian American share of the a proportion of the state's
eligible to register as voters increased from 10% to 12% during this time
Two factors behind the emergence of the new sleeping giant
are the overall increase
in the total Asian American population and the higher rate of citizenship.
and 2005, the number of Asian Americans residing in
s households increased
from 3.8 million to 4.7 million, accounting for 38% of the net gain of 2.2
Along with population growth, Asian Americans experienced an
increase in their
citizenship rate -- 71% of Asian American adults are
citizens by birth or
naturalization, representing an increase from 67% in 2000.(4)
These figures show
that Asian Americans are not an alien population, but a population that has
fully integrated into American society through citizenship.
The growth in the potential Asian American electorate over the last
five years is a
continuation of a pattern that began in the 1990s. In 1990, there were slightly
one million Asian American adult citizens, comprising about 6% of all adult
If recent trends continue, there will be over 3 million Asian American adults
eligible to register to vote by the end of the decade, making up about 14% of
Californians eligible to register.
The growth in the absolute number of Asian Americans and those
eligible to become
voters can have political ramifications. California State Assembly Member Judy
states that the overall growth of the Asian American population will open up new
opportunities and challenges:
"The incredible growth of Asian Americans in
and in the
brings as much opportunity as it does challenges. Asian Americans continue to
contribute to the cultural diversity and economic success of this nation, but
population also means that public services and elected representation will need
grow to accommodate the unique needs of our community."
Community leaders point to the potential impact on a number of
public policy issues.
Vivian Huang, Legislative Advocate of Asian Americans for Civil Rights &
"With increasing population growth, Asian Americans are poised to
escalate their political representation and power in politics and highlight key
important to the community, such as civil rights, immigrant rights, and access
to language assistance."
This opinion is widely shared by other community leaders, including
(Executive Director of the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American
Development), JD Hokoyama (President & CEO of Leadership Education for Asian
Pacifics, Inc.), and Elena Ong (former member, California Commission for Women).
According to Professor Don Nakanishi, a political scientist and
director of UCLAs
Asian American Studies Center,
"This growth has contributed to the increasing number of Asian
American state and
local elected officials in
and nationwide. The Asian American political
infrastructure of voters, donors, politicians, and community groups has also
remarkable growth and maturation, and will likely have an increasingly
impact on state and national politics."
However, there are still barriers to fully translating the
population numbers into voting
power. According to Paul Ong, an economist and professor in UCLAs
, The challenge is to convert the growing numbers of Asian American citizens
into voters. Previous research and data for
from the 2002 and 2004
November Current Population Survey show that Asian American citizens are less
likely to register and vote than non-Hispanic whites and African Americans.(6)
(See Table 3.)
For the upcoming November elections, community activists have
focused on voter
registration and voter-turnout drives. David Lee, Executive Director of the
American Voters Education Committee, notes
"Our bilingual voter registration efforts
are yielding record numbers of Asian American voters in the immigrant community.
Thanks to absentee ballots Asian American voter turnout has been growing
Leading Asian American scholars believe that this group can become
voting bloc by formulating a common political agenda both among Asian Americans
and across racial lines. The Asian American population is culturally,
and economically heterogeneous. Despite these divisions, Professor Yen Le
a sociologist in the department of Ethnic Studies at UC San Diego notes that,
has shown that Asian Americans can overcome differences to build viable
political coalitions to promote and protect both their individual and their
Moreover, Professor Michael Omi, professor of Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley,
predicts, different racial and ethnic groups will increasingly see the
defining areas of common political concern and mobilizing significant voter
wield political power."
The UCLA Asian American Studies Center is the nations leading
in the field of Asian American Studies and houses a
will continue to analyze data from the ACS as they become available.
The UC AAPI Policy Initiative brings together
and community organizations to conduct research focusing on the policy concerns
of the AAPI community. Attachments: Graphs; Tables; Technical Note; Contact
(1) In 1990, Hispanics made up 14% of adult citizens in
. In 2005, Asian
Americans approach that level, with 12% of
s adult citizens.
See Table 2: Percentages of
adults who are eligible to register to vote by
(2) See technical note.
(3) The 2005 American Community Survey covered only
individuals living in
households, that is, it excluded those living in institutions, college
other group quarters. In
, Asian Americans represented over 13.4% of the
total population in 2005, an increase from 11.8% in 2000.
s population grew
by 2.2 million (33 million to 35.2 million), with the Asian American population
by over 850,000 (3.8 million to 4.7 million). Nationally, the Asian American
of the nation's population grew from 4% to 4.8%, an increase of over 3 million
Americans (10.8 million to 13.8 million). The national population increased by
14 million persons, with Asian Americans accounting for more than 20% of this
national population increase.
(4) See Graph 1.
(5) See Graph 2.
(6) The national statistics for Asian American citizens are very
similar, and there
is very little difference in the statistics for
born Asian American citizens and
naturalized Asian Americans.
5/14/05 Pasadena Star News: Asian influence growing at polls:
gains slowly taking hold,
by Cindy Chang, Staff Writer
It has been more than two decades since immigrants from
Hong Kong began their massive influx into the San Gabriel Valley. Yet
have not achieved political power anywhere close to their numerical dominance.
A smattering of Asians
sit on local school boards and city councils. Two of the
area's representatives in the state assembly are Chinese American.
But of the eight area
cities with majority or near-majority Asian populations,
and Walnut have more than one Asian city council member.
, a city with an Asian population of just under
50 percent, elected its
first Asian-American council member in March. Matthew Lin of
Chi Mui of San Gabriel are the first Asians to occupy the city council dais in
those near-majority Asian communities.
"So many Asians I
spoke to when I was campaigning were so happy that they
might get representation," said Gary Yamauchi, the third-generation
American who became
's first Asian council member in November. "I
had a lot of Japanese saying, We're so happy a Japanese American is
in there, starting to get involved in politics.' "
The reasons for the
lag in political representation are many, experts and Asians
say. Some would-be candidates are too busy trying to establish themselves in
new country, or are not confident enough in their English skills, to run for
Those who do run may find it difficult to break into old-boy networks that
operate in some cities. Racism is not as prevalent as it once was, but
Asian politicians say they still encounter subtle forms of discrimination.
At the same time,
Asian candidates are unable to fully tap into their natural
base: Asian voter turnout is substantially lower than the group's share of
But politicians and
academic experts say the seeds for change are in place,
and it is only a matter of time before there are as many Asian faces on
diases as there are in local classrooms. Much progress has been made in
last decade, with the number of Asian officeholders creeping upward and
faces like Yamauchi, Lin and Mui winning breakthrough elections in their cities.
residents) feel more comfortable with me -- they feel we have a
connection," Mui said. "I speak Cantonese and some Mandarin, I can
and write. They feel more comfortable getting involved."
The vital structures
of minority politics -- Asian networking groups and fund-
raising arms, nonprofits specializing in registering Asian immigrant voters --
already functional, if not fully developed. As more Asians rise to positions
power, they will evolve their own systems of patronage, just as their African-
American and Latino predecessors have, political analysts say.
And as the Asian
population continues to grow in both influence and numbers, politicians running
for statewide and national office will begin to pay attention to
the needs of a group that has been labeled a "model minority" but
many members who are limited by poor English skills and are struggling to obtain
citizenship and establish themselves financially.
"For sure, you're
going to see a lot more Asian-American elected officials at
all levels -- the city council, the school board, the assembly, the state senate
sure. The only question is how fast the pace will be," said Paul Zee, an
who in the 1990s became the first Asian to serve on the South Pasadena City
Blueprint for victory
From the outset of his Alhambra City Council campaign,
a cadre of Chinese-American volunteers who were plugged into both the
business establishment and its Chinese-speaking immigrant circles.
In what was shaping up
to be a tooth-and-nail battle between two factions for
control of the city, Yamauchi was backed by
's political establishment.
But he still needed every vote he could get.
He was not sure how
his Japanese ancestry would play. Unlike most of
's Asian residents, he was not a Chinese or Vietnamese immigrant and
could communicate with non-English speakers no better than any other
His main opponent, a young
attorney, had the backing of a powerful,
regionwide Latino political machine.
mapped out a campaign schedule that included stops
at nearly every restaurant opening and awards ceremony where the Chinese-
language media would be in attendance. He won endorsements from Asian
like the Chinese American Business Association, emphasizing the need for
Asian representative who would have a natural sympathy with immigrant
's got a very good opportunity, because at least he's Asian and he'll get
little bit more coverage in the Asian papers," said Stephen Sham, a
campaign aide who is contemplating his own City Council run in two years.
Yamauchi's candidacy was featured in publications like Sing Tao
and the Chinese Daily News, primary sources of information for
whose poor English keeps them from accessing the mainstream media.
But any advantage
conferred on Yamauchi by his Asian ancestry was
diminished by a simple calculus: Many of the city's immigrant voters are not
citizens, and many of those who have made it through the lengthy
process are not registered to vote.
In the November 2000
elections, which like 2004 included a presidential
contest and city council and school board contests,
's Asian voters cast
38 percent of the city's ballots, according to a study of U.S. Census and
voting data by the
That constitutes a
sizable voting bloc but one that is still much smaller than
Asian residents' 48.6-percent share of the population.
Getting immigrants to
The voting gap begins with citizenship. Only 49 percent of
citizens, according to the APALC study.
Those who are citizens
are registered to vote at rates much lower than the
population at large. Between 55 and 60 percent of the county's eligible
are registered to vote, compared with 82 percent of the general population.
, only about 45 percent of eligible Chinese were registered. In
, the figure was about 38 percent for Chinese voters.
Those Asians who are registered to vote generally turn out at lower rates
the rest of the population, though there are exceptions.
Race-specific data for
the 2004 elections is not yet available.
"They say they're too busy. They're afraid it'll mean
jury duty. They say they
don't speak English or they can't take off from work,"said Sandra Chen,
executive director of the Center for Asian Americans United for Self
Empowerment, or CAUSE, a Pasadena-based group that registers Asian-
Experts cite a variety
of reasons for low voting rates among Asians, most
centered on the immigrant population's continuing adjustment to life in the
whether it is poor English, burdensome work schedules or unfamiliarity
democratic institutions. The same factors, the experts say, have likely limited
pool of qualified Asians running for office.
Local observers credit
CAUSE with registering many new Asian voters and
guiding them through the voting process. But CAUSE, the only group in the
that focuses on Asian voters, operates with four full-time employees
and can only do so much to reach the tens of thousands of Asian citizens
Some of the slack is
taken up by Asian candidates looking to give themselves
an edge by narrowing the gap between the population figures and turnout
Those candidates describe running into the same obstacles as their
labor-intensive, my God. You have to take them by the hand," said
Joaquin Lim, a
immigrant who is in his second term on the Walnut City Council. "If
they're newly registered, that doesn't mean they'll vote. You have to call
them, remind them there's an election coming up."
Americans and Latinos lean heavily Democratic, Asians split
about evenly between the two major political parties and register Independent
a rate twice that of other ethnic groups, according to a study by the Public
Institute of California.
In part because of the
difficulty of crafting a message for such a diverse
audience, most candidates for statewide office have done little to reach out
Asian voters, even though they constitute 12 percent of the population and
percent of registered voters statewide.
A community that is
already culturally and linguistically diverse is becoming
even more fragmented as it grows in numerical and political strength, some
observers say, making it harder for Asian politicians to establish a base.
leaders often struggle to find common ground between different Asian-American
groups. That can mean divisions along ethnic lines, religious
lines, gender lines or generational lines," said Janelle Wong, a professor
political science at USC. "I don't think people realize how difficult it is
the Asian-American community together to vote as a bloc."
Becoming one of
With the influence of a core constituency diminished, Asian
rely exclusively on the Asian vote, even in majority or near-majority Asian
The need to capture mainstream votes may be one reason why Asian political
representation has lagged.
minority group growing through immigration, you always have a lag.
There's a chunk not eligible to vote, and the population is a little higher than
voting power. Gradually they'll gain power and do it in their own way,"
Register, a Pasadena-based political consultant who worked on the
campaign of Assemblywoman Carol Liu, D-Pasadena.
Some Asian candidates
run "outsider" campaigns or live in one of the few
cities where they can afford to draw support mainly from Asian
Others, like Yamauchi and Zee of South Pasadena, were supported by mostly
white establishments -- still the most feasible route to power in many
Barriers at community service organizations like the Rotary
Club and the
YMCA, where local politicians traditionally cut their teeth, have fallen,
many Asians now serving as board members.
you haven't been able to elect an Asian because of the old boys
-- a small group of old-timers that controls the city. Not one of them is
said David Lang, who has worked as a campaign consultant to
former Los Angeles City Councilman Michael Woo and heads the
Indochinese American Political Action Committee. "To overcome that,
are no shortcuts. You have to develop relationships with these people,
one of them."
That is just what
Yamauchi did, serving as Rotary Club and Chamber of
Commerce president before running for City Council with the support of the
Alhambra business establishment -- a path that would have been unlikely
an Asian American a generation ago.
immigrant who helped Yamauchi with his campaign,
has followed in Yamauchi's footsteps, holding many of the same offices and
cultivating relationships with both mainstream power brokers and the
community as he eyes a City Council run in two years.
"I'm 60. Guys 50,
60, 70 are truly lucky to be where we're at because of our
parents opening doors. They went through the bigotry and the
not us," said Yamauchi, who was born in 1944 shortly after his parents
released from an internment camp for Japanese Americans in
We've come eons'
Even as some old barriers remain and the numbers show that
there is still a
long way to go, the progress made by Asian-American politicians in the
decade is tangible.
While Asians in
are just getting started,
elected a majority Asian City Council for the first time. In a city with an
population of over 60 percent, residents typically have a long list of Asian-
surnamed candidates to choose from.
A group called Chinese
Elected Officials has about 25 members who
currently hold office in
and another 10 or so who are
former officeholders. That's a long way from its beginnings in the 1980s
Monterey Park Councilman David Lau and just a handful of others, including
Judy Chu -- then a
councilwoman and now a state
assemblywoman -- held meetings at a local restaurant.
, who started her political career during a time
when white residents were pushing for "English only" signage and an
versus-them mentality prevailed, is finishing her third and final term in
State Assembly, a beneficiary of a redistricting map that was expressly
drawn to favor an Asian candidate. There are eight Asian-American
assemblymembers, up from zero a little over a decade ago.
The overtly racial
issues that marked
's days on the Monterey Park
City Council have been replaced by more pedestrian concerns like balanced
budgets and traffic.
"We've come eons,
I think. It's almost like a whole new world today,"
said. "In those days, people said the most insensitive things and did
expect the Asian-American community to push back. But today, people are
more careful to say such things. Today, we also have people in the Asian
community who are more involved in the political process, so they are
to catch things before they get to such a polarized point."
Just a matter of time?
All indications point to a continued influx of Asian
immigrants into the
the coming decades. Asians, like Latinos, will have to contend
with the eternal uphill battle of registering new immigrants to vote.
undertaken to some extent by political candidates themselves, the task is
left mostly to under-funded nonprofit groups like CAUSE.
But as immigrants who
arrived in prior decades put down roots in the
San Gabriel Valley and a native-born second generation comes of age, the
Asian political presence is almost certain to grow, local politicians and
analysts predict. The
institutions like the
are churning out
policy papers, and networking groups like Chinese Elected Officials are
showing neophyte politicians the ropes.
are moving beyond the local level and will use both
their name recognition and their backroom credentials to lay the
for successors to be elected.
"I think that as
Asian Americans recognize how important politics is, they'll
recognize that they have to get involved, that if they want their interests to
reflected in politics, that Asian Americans have to be there," said
Saito, a USC professor and the author of a 1998 book on racial politics in
3/24/05 Los Angeles Times: Nearly Half of Blacks, Latinos Drop Out,
School Study Shows
by Duke Helfand
Nearly half of the Latino and African American students who
high schools in 2002 failed to complete their
education, according to a
report released Wednesday.
, the situation was even worse,
with just 39% of Latinos and 47% of African Americans graduating,
compared with 67% of whites and 77% of Asians.
The report concluded
that the public remains largely unaware of the true
extent of the problem because the state uses "misleading and
methods to report dropout and graduation rates.
The California Department of Education reported that 87% of
graduated in 2002, but researchers pegged the rate at just 71%.
about 68% of students graduate on time, according to the analysis.
graduation rates are most alarming in minority communities,
where students are more likely to attend what researchers call
The exodus of tens of
thousands of students before 12th grade is exacting
significant social and economic costs through higher unemployment,
crime and billions of dollars in lost revenue, according to the report by
researchers from Harvard, Johns Hopkins, UCLA and UC Santa Barbara,
"A diploma is a
passport to economic success. If our high schools can't get
students the education they need, that will be an economic and social
problem moving forward into the next generation," said researcher
Swanson of the nonprofit Urban Institute in Washington, which produced
for the report released by Harvard's Civil Rights Project.
Statewide, just 57% of
African Americans and 60% of Latinos graduated in
2002, compared with 78% of whites and 84% of Asians, the report said.
Using enrollment data,
researchers produced what they believe are the
most definitive graduation rates for
and its largest school systems.
They cast aside the
state's method, which even California Education
Department officials acknowledge is flawed. The state officials say they
forced by the federal government to use a formula that relies on
dropout data from schools.
The Harvard report
found that African Americans and Latinos in the state
were far less likely to graduate than their white and Asian peers, reflecting an
achievement gap that first appears in elementary schools.
researchers noticed one troubling pattern in Los Angeles Unified:
Most students who leave high school do so between ninth and 10th grades.
high schools, UCLA researcher Julie Mendoza found
that less than one-third of ninth-graders graduated on time.
Principals at two of
those high schools Jefferson and Manual Arts
said students leave for a number of reasons but that their schools are
steps to boost graduation rates.
Jefferson High School
Principal Norm Morrow attributed his school's
graduation rate pegged by UCLA at 31% partly to a transient
population and overcrowding that leave little opportunity for personal
He said that gangs,
drugs and students working to support their families also
figured into high dropout numbers.
serves large numbers of students
from immigrant Latino families.
To retain more
students at the
South Los Angeles
campus, Morrow said, he
has been working on dividing the school of 3,800 students into smaller
Asian Americans Count in
mayoral race, four voter blocs are almost
always When people talk about the discussed: African Americans,
Latinos, Jews, and Republicans. Yet one
of the largest groups in the city is rarely mentioned: Asian Americans.
The 2000 census revealed that Asian Americans represent about
10% of the
city's population. When it takes as little as 25% of the vote for a mayoral
to make a runoff, 10% matters.
Additionally, Asian American voters in
are increasingly showing a
partisan orientation, moving into the Democratic column. From the late 1990s
the present, national and statewide Democratic candidates have been beating
Republicans among Asian Americans by a 2-to-1 margin. Even in nonpartisan
mayoral races, Asian Americans picked favorites, supporting Mike Woo in
1993 and James K. Hahn in 2001.
So, if they have the numbers and are showing signs of group
voting, why aren't
they more prominent in the power equations of city politics?
Citizenship and voting rates among Asian Americans are part
of the problem.
They may represent 10% of the population, but Asian Americans make up only
around 6% of the city electorate. But that cannot be the whole answer,
even a 6% bloc that makes a clear choice in big races should be a factor.
One reason for their low political profile is that, district
by district, Asian
lack opportunities to win elective office or to control who
does win. And yet this is the level where leverage is created and issues that
build a constituency get articulated.
election districts are simply too big and
Asian Americans are too scattered to get a foothold.
There are 15 City Council districts in
, each with about 230,000
residents. Latinos account for a significant share of the population in half a
dozen districts; African Americans hold voting majorities in three; Jewish
voters are concentrated in several Westside and Valley districts; and
numerous in the northwest and eastern Valley.
By contrast, Asian Americans are numerous everywhere, but
Even Koreatown has a majority Latino population. And because neighborhoods
lots of Asian Americans are divided geographically from each other, they cannot
easily combined into one or two council districts. That means Asian
candidates are most likely to emerge in heterogeneous districts. Mike Woo
elected to the City Council from the old 13th District, including
, where no
blocs dominated. Woo had a quality that Asian Americans must cultivate to
their clout crossover appeal.
The role of demographic concentration can be seen in
comparing Asian American political prospects at the state level with the
. There are eight Asian Americans in the state Assembly, five Democrats and
three Republicans. Most
of them represent districts with higher shares of the Asian American population
, such as
, and they are more likely to represent suburban than urban areas. Of course,
even in these races
Asian American candidates must build crossover coalitions.
One way to jump-start Asian American electoral success in
would be to
create smaller City Council districts or separate boroughs, with their own
elected councils, but such ideas may never materialize. More immediately, the
city's new neighborhood councils provide leadership opportunities with a real
and these positions could supplement current Asian American civic participation
as public employees, community activists and members of city boards and
The more Asian Americans who get elected, the more the
population will have a political focus. With that may come even more voting and
wider citizenship efforts in a reinforcing cycle that can make Asian Americans a
major force to be reckoned with in
Among whites, the
bachelor's degree rate was 32% for young adults born in
2/23/05 Los Angeles Times: California Natives Trail in Finishing College:
rates than for rest of U.S. stem from poor public schools, families' income,
By Stuart Silverstein, Times Staff Writer
Young adult whites, Asian Americans and Latinos born in
earned bachelor's degrees at moderately lower rates than their counterparts
other states, according to a study being released today.
The findings indicate weakness in college achievement among
Californians that is often overlooked because so many people who move to
state hold bachelor's degrees.
According to the report from the Public Policy Institute of
California, even the highest-achieving group it tracked young adult Asian
lagged somewhat in educational performance.
Based on figures from the 2000 census, the institute found
that 67% of young
adult Asian Americans born in other states had earned bachelor's degrees,
compared with 62% of those born in
. The young adult category in the
study consists of those ages 25 through 29.
other states, compared with 31% for those from
. For Latinos, the rate
among young adults from other states was 15%, compared with 13% for their
Deborah Reed, the
study's author, attributed the weaker college achievement
natives to low public spending on preschools and K-12
education, along with low family incomes and other factors.
end up with these differences in who gets a college degree,
but the problem really starts way back in the beginning, before students go to
kindergarten," Reed said.
However, she noted
that so many people moving to the state have graduated
from college that 30% of all young adult
residents hold bachelor's
degrees. The overall figure for the 49 other states is 28%.
Joni Finney of the
for Public Policy and Higher
said the state's heavy reliance on its community colleges
may also hurt. Students at those two-year schools often face difficulties
transferring to four-year colleges, she said.
Reed acknowledged that
some of the "born in
" young adults included
in her figures undoubtedly left the state as young children. However, she said
was no more precise gauge for determining from census figures the
degree attainment of California-educated students.
To test her findings,
Reed looked at young adults born in
in the state as of 1995. She found that the percentage of bachelor's
recipients in that group was even lower, albeit only slightly.
Among some demographic
groups, there were exceptions to the general
pattern. For young adult blacks, the percentage earning bachelor's degrees
15% around the nation and for the California-born.
The study also showed
that Californians of all racial and ethnic groups, like
their counterparts across the country, increasingly earned bachelor's degrees
the 1990s. Among the California-born, the rate climbed from 21% in 1990 to
college achievement gap widened between higher-
performing whites and Asians and lower-performing Latinos and blacks.
The report found that
among the California-born, the percentage earning
bachelor's degrees jumped over the decade from 53% to 62% for Asians, and
from 23% to 31% for whites. By contrast, the figures rose from 10% to 13%
Latinos, and from 11% to 15% for blacks.
She said a possible
reason for the widening gap could be the ban
imposed on affirmative action in public college admissions during the 1990s.
William G. Tierney of
USC's Center for Higher Education Policy Analysis noted
that large numbers of Latinos are concentrated in poor-performing public
. He said the inability of urban public schools to prepare
students for rigorous college courses "is a chronic problem that is moving
2/3/05 San Gabriel Valley Tribune: Asians
lacking in areas of report: Health
insurance, home buying cited,
Korean Americans have the lowest percentage of
health-insurance coverage in the state, despite a median income on par with
Chinese and Japanese residents, according to a report released Thursday on Asian
Koreans also have the lowest percentage of home ownership,
falling below African Americans, Latinos and whites, according to the
"In contrast to popular opinions that Asians are doing well,
the reality is that we're facing many challenges in different areas,' said
Kimiko Kelly, an analyst with the center and co-author of the report.
"Health-care coverage for the Asian population as a whole is average, but
40 percent of Koreans don't have insurance.'
Legislators, educators, business representatives and
nonprofit groups gathered in
on Thursday at the
for the release of the report analyzing the fastest- growing minority in
Despite the myth that Asians and Pacific Islanders are a
"model minority,' the report found they fell below the mark for per capita
income, home ownership and college graduates.
The 4.5 million Asians in
also have a higher percentage of crowded households, with three or more family
members working and receiving public assistance.
The disparities are more sharply evident in Pacific Islanders.
Cambodian, Hmong, Laotian, Samoan and Tongan residents have the highest poverty
"I think the biggest issue is to get the Hmong, Cambodian and
other Pacific Islander groups together,' Monterey Park Mayor Mike Eng said.
"They really need to bring them to the table they lack funding, visibility
and nonprofit groups.'
has the highest Asian concentration in Southern
California at 64 percent, and is one of six cities in the
with an Asian majority.
Thirty-nine percent of Asians in the state have limited
English proficiency, according to the report.
The language barrier is the biggest challenge educators,
legislators and healthcare officials face in helping the Asian-American
community, said the center's Executive Director Stewart Kwoh.
"People need to be able to communicate, so they can go to
hospitals and other places for help. We need to train more people to engage in
the community,' Kwoh said. "It's also a two-sided responsibility. More
Asian Americans need to get involved.'
has developed linguistic and cultural outreach
programs for new immigrants and seniors, Eng said.
also employs multilingual home school coordinators, said Quoc Tran, the
district's English language development coordinator.
"We have 20,000 students in the district, and about 40
percent have limited- English proficiency,' Tran said. "We have 26
different languages other than English.'
The report is based on 2000 U.S. Census data, and includes San
Francisco Bay Area figures for the first time. The
plans to release a national report on Asian Americans next year with
projections for 2010.
10/12/04 Sacramento Bee: Elections
still province of white voters,
outcome of several races and measures on the Nov. 2
ballot is uncertain, but experts say one thing is sure: Three in four likely
voters are white.
the Census Bureau announced in 2000 that white residents had slipped below half
the state's population, many people assumed a political power shift was
white voters will dominate the electoral process for decades because voting is
highly correlated with education and income, according to the nonpartisan Public
Policy Institute of California.
In "The Ties that Bind: Changing Demographics and Civic
," PPIC researchers warn that the imbalance between the populace and
policy decision-makers could aggravate the chasm between the haves and have-nots
in the state.
is headed into unchartered waters - the most diverse population in American
history, voting rates lower than those in the rest of the nation and
disproportionately low rates of voting," PPIC President David Lyon wrote,
summarizing the findings of authors S. Karthick Ramakrishnan and Mark Baldassare.
Using data from numerous statewide surveys, the PPIC found
only 13 percent of likely voters are Latino, 7 percent African American and 5
percent Asian. White residents make up three-quarters of likely voters.
A list of counties with the highest and lowest voter turnout
in the 2000 general election and 2004 primary election is telling.
At the upper end, affluent counties such as Marin and Placer
are clustered with overwhelmingly rural, white counties such as Amador, Alpine,
Plumas and Sierra.
Holding down the rear are largely agricultural counties with high
percentage of Latinos and low personal incomes - places such as Imperial,
and Stanislaus counties.
A third of the state is Latino, the lowest per-capita income group
. Many Latinos are too young to vote, not citizens or illegal immigrants.
Others who can vote don't; Latinos account for a majority (57 percent) of adults
who are not registered to vote, according to the PPIC.
Marin and Imperial counties represent the polar extremes of wealth
and political participation in
A whopping 84 percent of registered voters cast ballots in
in the last presidential election; little more than half did in
Statewide, turnout was more than 70 percent. First and last among
counties in participation, Marin and Imperial are sums of their parts.
Marin is largely white (84 percent) with a median household income
of $71,306, according to the 2000
census. Only one in five residents is below the voting age.
"Folks here pay attention to what's on the ballot, the
connection between candidates and measures, and what that means not only to
their community but their household," said Registrar Michael Smith.
Imperial is agricultural and poor, with a median household income
of $31,870. Abutting the U.S.-Mexico border, it is predominantly Latino (72
percent) - nearly a third of whom are too young to vote.
"Because of our agricultural community, a lot of people work
hours that exceed the hours the polls are open," said Registrar Dolores
counties have been receiving record
numbers of applications for absentee ballots because of a 2002 law that allows
anyone - not just the elderly and the homebound - to permanently vote absentee.
But only 13 percent of registered voters in
have requested absentee ballots compared to 40 percent in
Counties depend largely on local funding to operate their
elections office and conduct registration drives. A recent infusion of federal
and state money is mostly earmarked for replacing voting machines.
"We don't have a person go out and promote voter registration
drives because we're so limited here," said Provencio, who has only three
, by comparison, has a full-time
staff of 10 people to serve a larger population - 246,000 to 149,000 - and far
more eligible voters.
"While the office does not have a lot of people in it,
there's a community that we call on at election time," including 20
part-time workers and 700 volunteers, Smith said. "They get engaged,
involved and, as such, get the vote out."
Voter registration is largely the responsibility of political
parties. Democrats have a big edge on Republicans in registration in
: 44 percent to 37 percent, according to the PPIC.
But lack of political engagement has made recruiting minority
voters a low priority.
Ramakrishnan said money that could have been spent in
this presidential year by the parties was diverted to more competitive states.
"Another thing that's happened to discourage spending is a large increase
in independent voters," Ramakrishnan said. "The parties like to know
who they're targeting."
In the past decade, the number of "decline to state" or
independent voters in
has increased from 1.5 million to 2.5 million even as turnout has declined.
In the 2002 primary,
slipped below the national voter turnout average for the first time in a
Some analysts blamed the record low 34 percent participation of
registered voters on lackluster support for Democratic Gov. Gray Davis and his
Turnout jumped to 61 percent in the historic 2003 recall that
swept Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger into office - but receded to 39
percent in this year's primary.
In an effort to bolster voter participation, Schwarzenegger
recently signed legislation ending
's experiment with March primaries and returning the elections to June.
' election in 1998, which ended 16
years of GOP governors, was widely attributed to a rapid increase in minority
voters, especially Latinos.
They were said to have become permanently politically energized by
anger at Republican Gov. Pete Wilson's endorsement in 1994 of Proposition 187.
The voter-approved measure to deny public benefits to illegal immigrants was
overturned by the courts in 1994.
But the minority share of the
electorate dropped from 36 percent in 1998 to 24 percent in 2002, according to
exit polls. The white share rose from 64 percent to 76 percent.
The margin continued in this year's primary. In
, where 40 percent of the state's Latino voters reside, only 37 percent of
registered voters turned out.
Turnout has been above the state average in recent years in
Sacramento County - 72 percent in the 2000 presidential election, 66 percent
for the gubernatorial recall and 50 percent in this year's primary.
The county has a lower Latino voting population than other urban
areas in the state. It did not pass the 5 percent federal threshold requiring
the printing of Spanish-language ballots until after the 2000 census.
Fewer than 2,000 Spanish-language ballots have been requested this
"We still don't have the numbers some other counties
have," said Registrar Jill LaVine. "This is something we're going to
have to build on."
registrar, laments other residents of the state are not as politically engaged
as the people he serves.
"People who don't vote, don't have a political voice,"
he said. "If they want to be heard, they darn well better get
5/10/04 Asian Pacific Islander
American Heritage Month Celebrated at State
Capitol - Honoring Past Asian American Legislators
Sacramento - The California State Assembly observed May as
Islander American (APIA) Heritage Month today with the unanimous passage of
Assembly Concurrent Resolution (ACR) 227 and a special Floor ceremony.
ACR 227 commends California's Asian and Pacific Islanders for
their notable accomplishments and outstanding service to the State. It is
authored by the seven
Asian American Members of the Assembly: Assemblymembers Judy Chu
(D-Monterey Park), Wilma Chan (D-Oakland), Shirley Horton (R- Chula
Carol Liu (D- La Canada Flintridge), George Nakano (D- Torrance), Alan
(R-Lodi), and Leland Yee (D-San Francisco).
"This is truly a historic day for the API community. Ten
of the fourteen Asian
Americans that have served in the Legislature are here today to mark the
significant progress we have made in California politics." said
Assemblywoman Judy Chu,
Chair of the Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, "Today's ceremony
us of the challenges that faced the legislators who came before us."
The annual commemoration of APIA Heritage Month at the State
taken on increased significance as the number of Asian American Legislators has
dramatically increased in the last few years. When George Nakano, the most
of the current Asian American Members, was elected to the Assembly in 1998,
was only one other Asian American serving at the time, then Assemblymember Mike
There are now seven Asian Americans serving and two more
likely to join them
after the Fall elections. There is also an Asian Pacific Islander Legislative
for the first time in history. Before this, it was not difficult to keep track
of the API Members. At any given time, there were perhaps one, two or none
serving in the Legislature.
In 1962, Al Song became the first Asian American elected to
the State Assembly.
Four years later, March Fong Eu became the first Asian American woman and
Chinese American elected to the Assembly in 1966, the same year Al Song
elected to the Senate. In 1968, Tom Hom became the first Chinese American
to serve in the Assembly. Paul Bannai, the first Japanese American to serve,
elected in 1972, followed two years later by Floyd Mori. A decade then
before another Asian American was elected to the Legislature, Nao Takasugi
Four of these past Asian American Legislators participated in
at the Capitol. March Fong Eu, Paul Bannai, Floyd Mori, and Nao Takasugi
honored with Resolutions from the seven current Asian American Members as
pioneers who have helped to pave the way for today's Asian Pacific Islander
The Floor ceremony also featured a sword demonstration by Assemblymember
George Nakano, who is a fifth degree black belt in Kendo.
Los Angeles Times: Asian Population
Surges in County: At
least half the residents of seven cities are Asian Americans, study finds.
report released Wednesday found that for the first time, Asian Americans now
constitute at least half the population of seven
In 1990, only
had an Asian majority. But according to the study by the
, Asians now make up 61% of the population in
, 58% in Walnut, 52% in Rowland Heights and 50% in
2/8/04 Asian Americans for Civil Rights and Equality and API Legislative
- In California, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders together comprise 13% of
state population, reflecting a growth of 54% in just one decade.
- From 1990 to 2000, the Asian American and Pacific Islander population of
California was the fastest growing major demographic group in the state.
- Despite a perception that all Asian Americans have done well, 12.8% of
API population lives in poverty.
2/1/04 Los Angeles
Times.com: "Chinese Americans Emerge as a Political Power in
San Francisco The day after Gavin Newsom squeaked to
victory in a runoff election here, the mayor-elect scheduled only one stop: the
narrow streets of Chinatown.
Shortly before his swearing in last month, Newsom went to thank the
community that had helped hoist him into the city's power seat.
"There is one reason I won a very close election," Newsom
told 600 supporters in one of Chinatown's oldest banquet halls, after lion
dancers and cymbals welcomed him. "And that is the support of the Asian
community, and the Chinese community in particular. I could not have done it
San Francisco's Chinese population has long been large in number.
But now, as voter participation increases, it is also gaining political clout.
Newsom's campaign concedes that he probably lost the white vote
which tends to be liberal here to Board of Supervisors President and Green
Party member Matt Gonzalez and says he prevailed largely because of support from
Asian and African Americans. He also lost to Gonzalez among voters who went to
the polls Dec. 9, pulling off his narrow victory with a solid lead from early
About 22% of those who voted by mail were Chinese American,
according to an analysis of surnames by the nonprofit Chinese American Voters
Education Committee. That is striking, considering that only 18% of the city's
registered voters are Asian American up from 13% a decade ago, said David
Lee, the group's executive director. Overall, Newsom carried precincts with
large Chinese American populations with a consistently higher margin of victory
than in the city as a whole.
"It can't be understated," Newsom said of the community's
importance. "I think what we're seeing is the future of San
The first political candidate to pay attention to San Francisco's
Chinese community was the late Phillip Burton, in 1956. Although their voting
numbers were small, Burton brother of state Sen. President Pro Tem John
Burton (D-San Francisco) needed them to beat Republican Assemblyman Tom
Maloney, said Lee, who recently completed a master's thesis on the Chinese
Burton spoke out against mass subpoenas that had been served on the
city's Chinese family associations in a heavy-handed crackdown on immigration
fraud, and he earned the community's backing. But by the 1960s, a new movement
was afoot as younger Chinese American liberals, empowered by the civil rights
movement and financed by government grant money, formed nonprofits.
Finding a Voice
The birth of the advocacy movement in Chinatown gave voice to poor
tenants and the elderly who lacked decent housing, and they allied closely with
Democratic Party leaders affiliated with the Burtons.
At the helm was Rose Pak, who has worked tirelessly from the
offices of Chinatown organizations for 35 years, securing a master plan for the
neighborhood and working to preserve low-income housing. Pak had the ear of many
politicians, including Willie Brown. When he swept into office eight years ago,
she was at his side.
Brown appointed more Chinese Americans to commissions and city
staff positions than any other mayor, bringing them ahead of parity with their
population for the first time in city history.
Brown also campaigned heavily in Chinatown and visited often for
events and ribbon-cuttings. Newsom's election, however, saw a larger percentage
of Chinese American voters turn out. Further, his narrow margin of victory gives
his Chinese American supporters even greater significance.
As with many minority groups flexing new political muscle, San
Francisco's Chinese are emerging not as one community, but many rife with
infighting and varied political agendas. Still, even archenemies here agree that
the surge in voter participation can only be healthy for a community relegated
to the political sidelines for decades.
The implications are striking. In a city where Asians comprise 32%
of the population most of them Chinese a surge in participation could
tilt the political scales away from San Francisco's notorious liberalism.
A younger generation of Chinese Americans is eager to promote a
progressive agenda, but, overall, a more moderate ethos prevails. Chinese here
are more likely to own homes and small businesses and have children in city
schools than residents as a whole.
While 60% of San Franciscans approved a November ballot initiative
that outlaws aggressive panhandling and was decried by liberals as anti-poor
fully 72% of Chinese Americans supported it, according to exit polls
conducted for the Chinese American Voters Education Committee.
"Who's having more kids? Asians," Lee said. "Who's
got kids in public schools? Asians. Who owns their own homes? Asians. These are
the things that define middle class and they make for more moderate
Newsom's moderate politics aligned well with the values of many of
San Francisco's Chinese Americans. But in a first for this city, even Newsom's
more progressive opponent catered to the Chinese American vote in the December
election, opening a Chinatown office, campaigning aggressively with literature
in Mandarin and Cantonese.
Between 1970 and 2000, San Francisco's Chinese population more than
doubled from 8% to nearly 20%, U.S. census figures show. Many of those arrivals
settled in a relatively conservative geographical area that curls around the
city's more liberal core of the Mission, Tenderloin, Haight and Noe Valley
neighborhoods. Chinese students now account for 31% of the San Francisco Unified
School District's enrollment.
A demographic shift in the community opened the door to new
participation, forcing Pak to share the stage with Julie Lee. She arrived from
Hong Kong 35 years ago with her husband, raised four children and established a
Sunset District real estate business before co-founding the San Francisco
Neighbors Assn. In the late 1980s, she recalled, her group rallied 3,000 mostly
Chinese homeowners to a Planning Commission hearing to fight zoning
restrictions. But politicians didn't listen.
A friend bluntly explained why: "Because you don't vote."
The breakthrough came in 1997, when Julie Lee's group fought for
reconstruction of a freeway destroyed in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. City
leaders opposed the rebuilding. To their surprise, the Neighbors' Assn. gathered
30,000 signatures within three weeks to place the issue on the ballot. Then they
mobilized the votes and won.
That startling victory was later overturned by a different ballot
initiative, but the Chinese community had been seen and heard.
Lee said her group turned dry-cleaning proprietors across the city
into block captains who gathered signatures from a stream of customers. And Lee
took to the airwaves on her Cantonese-language radio program to urge
"Every night I start the show by telling people, 'If you don't
come out to vote, the politicians are not going to care about your community,'
" Lee said.
Lee had lashed out at Brown for years, offended in part by his
close relationship with Pak. (Lee called Pak "evil," while Pak
dismissed Lee and her allies as "morons.") But Lee supported Brown in
1999. In exchange, Brown appointed her to the city's Housing Authority
Commission, where she is now president.
Lee's affiliation with Brown caused her own group to fracture, but
the organization remains important. Today, it claims 4,000 members, mostly
Chinese homeowners on the city's wealthier Westside.
As San Francisco's Chinese population has blossomed, so has parent
activism: Last fall, a group of Westside parents kept their children out of
school for six weeks to protest a school district integration policy that
compels many Chinese children near high-performing schools to travel great
distances by public bus to inferior schools with fewer Asians. The protest ended
when the superintendent offered charter school slots to the kids.
Meanwhile, the city's three Chinese language newspapers have
boosted their coverage of local politics. And in recent years the city's big
businesses, eager for a moderate swing vote, began financing voter registration
efforts, said David Lee, whose organization has benefited from the investment.
His group registered 10,000 new Asian absentee voters last fall, he
said, and it paid off: December voter participation in predominantly Chinese
precincts was about double that of the 1999 runoff, he said.
When Newsom entered the mayor's race, Julie Lee was quick to back
him, organizing phone banks and precinct walks and advocating for him nightly on
her radio show. She hosted the second of the dual Chinatown celebrations Newsom
attended shortly before his inauguration.
On a recent morning, her cellphone rang in her Sunset District
office the sixth call she had received from a Chinese American interested in
running for election to the Board of Supervisors this November. The candidates
were seeking her organization's backing, she said.
Whether she can deliver votes remains to be seen. She was unable to
do so for her son, who lost a 2002 bid for a seat on the Board of Supervisors.
But in four of the seven districts where seats on the 11-member board are up for
grabs in November, Asians make up more than 45% of the population.
With strong voter turnout, political analysts say, Chinese
candidates stand a good chance in those districts, as will any candidate who
shares Newsom's centrist views.
Rose Pak, meanwhile, opted not to endorse anyone in the recent
election. She scoffs at the notion that the Chinese community should somehow
unite as one. "We have redneck Republicans just like the community at
large," she said, "We have very liberal people. We have pro-business
and anti-business. I look at it as a very healthy sign."
But regardless of ideology, most observers agree that a new chapter
of Chinese political history is unfolding in the city.
"Here you have a new mayor who's 36 years old. You look at his
constituency and the Chinese are front and center as a key part of his
partnership," said David Lee.
"The Chinese basically built this city. All the sewer tunnels
were dug by the Chinese. Now you're seeing a new political house being built,
and the Chinese are at the ground floor. The question now is whether they get to
live in the house. But they're in the door."
Gabriel Valley Tribune: "Fewer whites leaving
Asians eclipse whites in flight from state,"
The so- called 'white flight' out of Los Angeles has become a
lot less white.
A report issued today shows that 35
percent of people who moved out of
the Los Angeles metropolitan region in the late 1990s were white, compared
with 78 percent a decade earlier.
The Brookings Institution study
highlights the latest evidence in a growing
trend: immigrants, like other Americans before them, are leaving expensive
and crowded states like California for better jobs and cheaper housing in
"It's more of a middle-class
flight,' said William Frey, a University of
Michigan demographer and author of the report, "Metropolitan Magnets
International and Domestic Migrants.'
"What's happening in Los
Angeles and a lot of California is an
affordability issue,' Frey said. "Whites are still leaving, but they're now
joined by the multigenerational Hispanic and Asian families.'
Overall, the study found that about
as many people who arrive in Los
Angeles from other parts of the country also move out mostly to Sun Belt
areas like Phoenix and Las Vegas.
Southern California continues to
grow rapidly because of high birth rates
and immigration from abroad, but - compared with other urban centers -
it also experienced the second-largest loss of population due to people
moving to other parts of the state or nation.
The five-county Los Angeles region
gained nearly 700,000 immigrants
between 1995 and 2000, while losing 550,000 residents.
Breaking it down, for every 14
people who moved to Southern California,
11 others moved out. Only the New York metropolitan area outranked
Southern California in net domestic migration losses.
As an immigrant gateway, Southern
California attracted 983,659
foreigners, while also losing 874,028 people to other states.
Among the study's other findings:
The number of people leaving the
Los Angeles region has tripled since
the 1980s, while the number of people leaving San Francisco doubled.
Demographers said the trend reflects the broader migration out of
People moving to Los Angeles and
San Francisco are more likely to
be better educated than those moving to other states. According to the
study, about 5 percent of the foreign immigrants who came to Los
Angeles between 1995 and 2000 were college graduates.
Blake noted that the cities offer
more opportunities for specialized
workers the ones who also can better afford the higher-cost city living.
Not a single California county
ranks among the top 20 places for
large domestic migration growth. Phoenix, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Dallas
and Austin, Texas, saw the greatest population gains from domestic
migration between 1995 and 2000.
Los Angeles continues to be a
magnet for immigrants. About
699,573 foreigners came to Southern California between 1995 and
2000 while 549,951 people already in the region left for other states.
"California will always
continue to be No. 1 at attracting immigrants,
and right there with Los Angeles at the top,' Frey said.
9/24/03 Associated Press: "Asian, Hispanic
American Dream Changing Face of L.A. County: New Census Figures
Show Asians Leading Growth in Unexpected Places Nationwide"
Temple City, CA -- Waves of dream chasers, who have
transform several cities like this one into booming Asian-American
suburbs, have made Los Angeles County one of the most diverse
areas in the United States.
California's most populous county
now has the fastest growing
population of Asians and Hispanics, as well as the largest population
of American Indians and Alaskan natives found anywhere in the United
States, according to census figures from 2000 released Thursday.
The increase in the two years
tracked since the last national census
gave Los Angeles County 1.3 million Asians, 47,000 more than
reported in 2000, according to the Census Bureau.
Other parts of California also
showed steady increases in their
Asian populations, according to census officials, although their
overall numbers do not match those found in Los Angeles County.
San Diego County's Asian
population, for example, increased to
274,469 from 245,659 in 2000. Alameda County, in the San Francisco
Bay area, saw its numbers rise from 301,225 to 327,017 during the
same period. Orange County, with a burgeoning Vietnamese
population, saw its number of Asians increase from 393,689 to
In Los Angeles County, the Asian
immigration wave, which
includes Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean and other ethnic groups,
has been building quietly for decades.
It first gained national attention
when Monterey Park, located just
over a hillside from downtown Los Angeles and not far from that city's
Chinatown, became America's first Asian-majority city in the 1980s.
The suburb of about 60,000 people,
which was transformed during
that time from a collection of blue-collar homes to an area known as
Little Taipei, and later as the Chinese Beverly Hills, is now more than
60 percent Asian.
Many then fanned out east across
the county's San Gabriel Valley,
transforming suburbs like Temple City, Rosemead, San Gabriel,
Alhambra, Diamond Bar and Arcadia into bustling areas of Asian-
Radio and cable TV stations now
carry programs in various Asian
languages and main streets are lined with Asian-run businesses,
many hawking Asian-language newspapers.
``Asians come here for three
reasons,'' said Steve Lee, a Korean-
American who manages the repair shop at a gas station in Arcadia,
a city of about 53,000 whose Asian population nearly doubled to
about 45 percent during the previous decade.
``There are lots of jobs. You can
get a job as a cook or in a cleaners
here right away. Then you can save and open a small business and
have a better life,'' he said. ``And the third reason Asian people come
here is for the schools.''
Other immigrants cited different
reasons for settling and staying in
Los Angeles County. Among them, the word that Asians are more
welcome in metropolitan areas like New York and Los Angeles than
the rest of the country and that, when all else is equal, Los Angeles wins
out for better weather.
9/18/03 San Jose Mercury News:
"Whites no longer majority in region: Whites slipped from 51 percent to
49 percent of the region's population
Census Estimate Shows Percentage of Latinos, Asians is on the Rise
in Greater Bay Area,"
Whites are no longer the majority in the Greater Bay Area,
a widespread shift that has already taken place statewide and in some
local counties, according to census estimates released today.
from July 2000 to July 2002, as a result of foreign immigration and the
high birthrates among some ethnic groups. In contrast, the percentage
of Asians and Latinos each rose from 20 to 21 percent, while the
African-American population remained at 8 percent.
``It's a milestone that has big
implications in some areas like providing
police services in different languages, but few immediate implications for
some things like political power,'' said Hans Johnson, the demographer
for the Public Policy Institute of California, a San Francisco-based think
While the cultural and political
influence of Asians and Latinos is
growing, whites continue to retain a disproportionate amount of political
power statewide. That's in large part, Johnson said, because more
whites are citizens and registered to vote.
In Santa Clara County, which became
a plurality in 1999, the white
share of the population continued to drop, to 42 percent in 2002. The
county now has about 1.7 million people, 29 percent of whom are Asian,
25 percent Latino and 3 percent black.
``The changing demographics of the
10-county region is a positive
force for the economy, the arts and politics,'' said Richard Hobbs, Santa
Clara County's citizenship director. ``In 1996, about one-quarter of all
high-tech companies in Silicon Valley were founded by an immigrant,
and those companies contributed $28 billion in revenue and 67,000 in
The shift is not universal in the
10-county region, which includes
about 7.1 million people who live in Santa Cruz County and the nine
counties that touch the San Francisco Bay. Half of the counties still have
a majority of white residents, including Contra Costa and Marin
counties. Alameda County has the lowest proportion of whites --
According to the census estimates,
Solano County has the biggest
percentage of blacks -- 16 percent -- in the Bay Area, followed by
Alameda County, with 15 percent. San Francisco, long a destination
for immigrants, continues to have the largest proportion of Asians --
34 percent. Agricultural Santa Cruz County, meanwhile, has the highest
share of Latinos -- 28 percent.
9/8/03 Los Angeles Times: "Candidates
Skirt Immigration Issue: Growth
in the numbers and voting clout of the foreign-born, especially Latinos
and Asians, has altered the tone of political debate,"
By Teresa Watanabe, LA Times Staff Writer
Nine years ago, California politics
featured a raging debate over
excluding illegal immigrants from public schools and hospitals. Today,
the divisive question is whether to give them driver's licenses.
The gap between the two issues
underlines a central fact of the state's
politics: Immigration and its consequences remain topics of intense
debate, but the ground has moved.
The shift illustrates how sweeping
demographic changes have altered
the state and its politics: immigrants, mostly Latino and Asian, now
comprise more than a quarter of California's population, the highest
proportion in the nation and up substantially from a decade earlier.
Latinos and Asians differ about the
proper mix of policies toward
immigration - both legal and illegal. But the increased number of
immigrants in the population, and even more so the increased number
who have registered to vote, has had a strong impact on the state's
"Politicians of both parties
are terrified of this issue for fear of
alienating the Latino community," said Kevin Spillane, a Republican
political consultant in Sacramento. "It's not politically correct to
about illegal immigration."
Those who advocate more restrictive
policies say the majority
continues to support their side of the debate - a contention backed by
at least some polling data - but they concede that politicians of both
parties now consider the issue a loser.
"What has changed is that both
political parties have decided that
they simply will not discuss the issue and will go along with extending
kinds of benefits to illegal aliens, despite the fact that the state has
money," said Ira Mehlman, Los Angeles spokesman for the Federation
for American Immigration Reform.
Indeed, while Arnold Schwarzenegger
has said he opposes the bill
to give driver's licenses to some 2 million illegal immigrants, which Gov.
Gray Davis signed into law Friday, the Republican candidate has not
emphasized the issue. Instead, he plays up his immigrant background.
His reticence stands in sharp
contrast to the actions of former
Republican Gov. Pete Wilson, who in 1994 made support for Proposition
187 - the measure to cut off most public services to illegal immigrants -
a major focus of his campaign for reelection.
Demographic trends of the last
decade help explain the political
queasiness. In the last decade, more than a million non-Latino whites
moved out of California, according to a study of Census data by Hans
Johnson, a demographer with the San Francisco-based Public Policy
Institute of California.
At the same time, the population of
Latino and Asian immigrants and
their children grew rapidly. California's Latino numbers, which doubled
between 1980 and 2000, now stand at 11 million people, or 32.4% of the
population. The number of Asians also doubled, to 3.6 million people, or
10.8% of the total.
Those trends are expected to
intensify in the future: More than two-thirds
of Californians older than 65 are non-Latino whites, while more than half
of those younger than 18 are Latino and Asian, according to William Frey,
a demographer at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.
"The message going out is, if
you want to be left out of the future, attack
immigrants," said Gabriel Buelna, an immigrant-rights advocate in
Public concern about illegal
immigration has not disappeared.
Nationwide, the proportion of people who said controlling illegal
was a "very important" foreign policy goal has remained high: 72% in
and 70% in 2002, according to data gathered by the Roper Center for Public
Opinion Research at the University of Connecticut.
Moreover, the Sept. 11terrorist
attacks helped reawaken efforts to control
illegal immigration and, for a time, sidetracked proposals like the
license measure. Last year, Davis vetoed a similar bill, citing the
11 fears of terrorism. At the time, a Times poll showed voters supporting
veto by a 2-1 margin.
But at least in California, the
debate over illegal immigration appears to
have lost some of its intensity. In 1994, a Times poll showed Californians
ranking illegal immigration as the third most important issue facing the
after crime and unemployment; a Times poll this year showed illegal
immigration ranking ninth.
"People really got out of that feverish pitch,"
said Buelna, executive director
of Proyecto Pastoral at Dolores Mission, a nonprofit organization that
social services to residents of East Los Angeles.
"Now, they may think it, but
there's no vehicle for them to act on it."
The issue still stirs passions,
In Monrovia's Old Town over the
weekend, retired engineer Joel Zneimer,
76, declared himself "totally against" the new driver's license law.
backed restrictions on public services for illegal immigrants.
"Why should you give benefits
to people who have broken the law?"
Zneimer asked as he ate ice cream with a friend. "I pay enough taxes
having to support half of Mexico."
Down the Pasadena Freeway at
Alhambra Park, where Latino families
picnicked with carne asada and mariachi music, Xavier Flores, a loan
executive in Los Angeles, said he supported the driver's license law and
resented those who blamed Latinos for the state's problems with illegal
"Anytime a knucklehead says,
'Send 'em back to Mexico,' I say: 'This is
Mexico!' " said Flores, a sixth-generation American of Mexican descent.
ancestors arrived in the Southwest before the United States conquered what
was then Mexican territory, he said, asking, "Why doesn't anyone ever
'Send 'em back to Canada?' It's racist."
But both Flores and his neighbor,
Gabriel Gomez, said they also supported
curbs on illegal immigration. Gomez, a Los Angeles plumber and third-
generation Mexican American, said his business has suffered from the cut-
rate competition of illegal immigrants.
"When you get illegals doing
the job at half the price, you can't compete,"
Gomez said, adding that if their numbers were reduced, "it would give
opportunities for those of us who really deserve them."
In addition to the state's
demographic shifts, several other differences help
account for the changed political mood, analysts say.
A decade ago, Californians faced
their worst recession since the Great
Depression, fanning resentment toward illegal immigrants who were
perceived as low-cost labor competition. Today's economic downturn is less
severe and centered more on parts of the economy not regarded as havens
for illegal immigrants, such as high-tech, according to Johnson.
Georges Vernez of the Rand Corp. in
Santa Monica speculated that
immigration reform had lost some steam because of the court decisions that
invalidated most of Proposition 187.
The 1996 federal welfare reform law
also "quieted the resentment of
taking away services from the native-born," Vernez said.
So did successful California
initiatives to eliminate bilingual education
and affirmation action, other analysts said.
But the biggest factor, many say,
is a new political reluctance to take on
the issue of illegal immigration.
When Proposition 187 came to the
fore, some Republican strategists
opposed it, arguing that it would spark a backlash from the state's
numbers of Latino and immigrant voters.
In the years since, the
proposition, along with moves by Congress to
restrict the welfare benefits that legal immigrants could obtain, became
rallying points that helped increase the political participation of both
From 1994 to 2000, nearly half a
million Mexican immigrants became
U.S. citizens, and about that many during the same rough period registered
to vote, according to Rosalind Gold of the National Assn. of Latino
and Appointed Officials.
"These were voters with a
mission: They wanted to send a message that
they would fight discrimination against immigrants, and that they would
Republicans responsible for the tone and tenor of the discussions in
California about immigration," Gold said.
Increased numbers of immigrant
voters were not the only factor that
helped turn California into a state politically dominated by Democrats.
Republicans repeatedly have
nominated candidates who are more
conservative than the majority of state voters.
Most analysts agree, however, that
the perception of Republicans being
anti-immigrant - a charge that Wilson and his supporters have steadily
denied - took a toll.
Democrats, who lost control of the
Assembly in 1994, regained it in
1996 and recaptured the governor's office in 1998.
From 1996 to 2000, Republican
Assembly seats dropped from 41 to
30 as candidates lost in virtually every district with more than 15%
voter registration, said Allan Hoffenblum, a GOP political consultant who
opposed Proposition 187. The key exceptions were Latino Republican
candidates, he said.
"You had a major political
party in power 10 years ago that has been
marginalized in part because of losing the vote of Latinos and what is the
largest group of new [voter] registrants: immigrants of all
"Now people are so
shellshocked that it's difficult to even discuss this
12/5/02 San Diego Union Tribune:
"By 2040, whites may still
remain in voter control: New analysis cites low minority rates"
Minority voting rates in
California are so low that even by 2040, when
nonwhites will be two-thirds of the state's population, whites could still
represent a majority of voters, according to a new analysis of ballot box
The analysis reinforces past
findings that black and Hispanic voter
rates are stunted by lower socioeconomic status and citizenship rates -
but participation among Asians, who tend to be relatively well-off, is
If trends hold - and they may not
- white voters in California will wield
disproportionate control over the political process, according to the
study released today by the Public Policy Institute of California.
This "electoral gap" is
of lasting consequence for everything from
social policy to spending priorities.
While the white proportion of the population falls steadily,
keeping a healthy share of the electorate.
Non-Hispanic whites were 51% of California's voting-age
in 2000, but were 70% of those who said they voted, according to the
A decade earlier, whites were 63%
of the over-18 population and
80% of those who said they voted, according to the study.
Study authors Benjamin Highton, a
political science professor at the
University of California Davis, and UC Berkeley professor Jack Citrin
wrote that if participation and citizenship rates hold steady, by 2040
whites will make up about 31% of the population, but about 53% of
voters; Hispanics will make up 48% of the population, but 26% of voters;
Asians, 16% of the population, but 12% of voters; and blacks, 6% of the
population, but 8% of voters.
To gauge more accurately each
group's tendency to participate, the
study leveled both socioeconomic and citizenship differences among
All else being equal, whites,
blacks and Hispanics vote at about the
same rates - but Asians are significantly less inclined to participate.
Citrin said there's no one
explanation for the "Asian anomaly."
Among the possibilities: unlike blacks and Latinos, Asians
had one issue galvanize them into mass participation; they're a diverse
group that is hard to rally with one voice; generally well-off, they may
depend less on the government and thus perceive they have a lesser
stake in who governs; and there may be lingering cultural barriers to
A poll conducted by the Southern
California-based Asian Pacific
Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2002 AsianWeek.com:
"Exit Polls Show APA Dems and
GOPs Equal in Southern California,"
The number of Asian Pacific Americans in the San Francisco
and Southern California who identified themselves as Democrats increased
this election year, according to preliminary results from exit polls.
American Legal Center (APALC) found that APA voters supported
candidates based on their experience and stance on issues that affected
them locally, such as education and the economy, rather than party
Dan Ichinose, project director for
the Demographic Research Unit at
APALC, said that APA voters were more like blacks and Latinos than
whites in reporting that a andidate's stance on health care and civil
played a significant role in their decision to support that candidate.
In Los Angeles County, 47.3% of
APAs affiliated themselves with the
Democratic Party, compared to 31.4% with the Republican Party,
according to the APALC poll. In Orange County, a difference of less than
one percent separated those that affiliated with the two parties.
In a poll conducted by the Chinese
American Voter Education
Committee (CAVEC), 46% of the Chinese surveyed in San Francisco said
they were registered Democrats opposed to 7% being Republican and 45%
The APA populations of Los Angeles
County and Orange County
represent around 14% of the national APA population.
According to the Los Angeles
Times exit poll, about 6% of voters
surveyed statewide were APA. Ichinose said if those 6% actually went out
and voted, then more than 450,000 APAs voted on November 5. However,
that is a decline from the 8% surveyed in November 1998. While turnout
among voters statewide fell from 58% in 1998 to 48% in 2002, Ichinose
said that decline disproportionately occurred among voters from minority
communities, including APAs.
"Sixty-four percent of voters
in November 1998 were white, compared with
76% this November," he said. "This could suggest that minority
including APAs, were more likely than whites to be turned off by
in this year's governor's race and simply chose not to vote."
APALC has conducted poll monitoring
and administers the largest and
most comprehensive exit polls of APA voters in Southern California. It
the findings to improve bilingual services to APA voters, in accordance
the federal requirements of the Voting Rights Act.
8/28/02 Contra Costa Times :
"Non-white electorate holds clout: However, the
growing ethnic groups have yet to solidify political muscle"
From 1992 to 2000, the Latino and Asian portion of the
electorate grew from
14% to 20%, while the white share shrank from 79% to 71%. The black
inched up from 6% to 7%.
In response, the state's major
political parties have sent their top candidates
on missions to better connect with immigrant communities.
Polls indicate 71% of Asians and
78% of Latinos said immigrants benefited
the state compared to 47% of whites and 55% of blacks giving the same answer.
Asian voters in the East Bay care
most about immigration, government aid
for seniors and civil rights issues such as racial profiling, said Albert
director of the East Bay Asian Voter Education Consortium.
Despite the formidable size of the
Asian and Latino population -- they
comprise 43% of the state -- their voter participation rates are abysmal.
about 15% of that population voted in 2000, compared to more than half of
In the last presidential election,
Asians just about evenly split their votes
between Gore and Bush.
5/9/02 Washington Times: "GOP finds
party a tough sell to minorities,"
Although Asians went by a
55-31 percent margin for the elder George Bush
in 1992 and by 48-43 percent for Bob Dole over Bill Clinton in 1996, they
reversed party allegiance in 2000, voting 54-41 percent for Mr. Gore over
"Republicans are at
their nadir with Asians," Gary South, chief strategist for Democratic Gov.
Gray Davis of California, told The Washington Times.
Asians are the
second-fastest growing segment of the electorate after
Hispanics. Yet, as Mr. South noted, "Democrats now have a 65-35
split with [Asian voters], not in registration but in voting behavior. In 1992,
were registered 4-1 Republican. Right now, that constituency is half
and half Republican" in California.
4/8/2002 San Francisco Examiner: "Asians
gear up for redistricting,"
By Nick Driver
The City's redistricting
deadline is April 15.
Estimated as high as 40% of San Francisco's population, Asian
has been slowly changing neighborhoods across San Francisco, from District
11's Crocker Amazon to District 7's Golden Gate Heights.
Though the U.S. Census Bureau says officially that Asian
residents make up
32.5% of the population, some demographers -- as well as independent
researchers with the California Department of Finance -- believe the numbers
One of the main mandates for the nine-person Redistricting
Task Force is to
keep minority communities together.
One of the jobs will be to channel the rising
demographic and political power of
growing Asian population so it can potentially elect more Asian supervisors,
without slighting other minority groups, such as African Americans and Latinos.
A broad group of minorities has come together and put
aside their differences.
They have put forward a proposal that keeps District 10
-- including both
Potrero Hill and Bayview -- as a safe African-American seat, now occupied
Sophi Maxwell, and it has unified the Mission in District 9, to better elect a
or Latina once Tom Ammiano is termed out.
For the Asian Law Caucus and Chinese for Affirmative
Action, both members
of the coalition, the incentive is to move Russian Hill out of District 3,
David Lee, executive director of the Chinese American
Committee, is much more focused on what Chinese want, not what the broader
ethnic coalition has compromised on. And the changing demographics have
enabled him and his Chinese voter activists at the committee to make their
dreams come through.
Lee's dream? To capture seats not just in the Richmond,
Chinatown districts, but to expand their base to high-growth areas such as
Visitacion Valley and the Oceanview-Merced Heights-Ingleside neighborhoods
in the southern part of The City.
Competing minority interests want to move the mountain
redoubts of Potrero
Hill, Russian Hill and Golden Gate Heights into or out of districts with a
Golden Gate Heights is part of the central Sunset that
now sits in Tony Hall's
District 7. Once mostly white, some of the precincts are 75% or more Asian,
include three of the most prominent Asian women in The City: Judges Lillian
and Julie Tang, and assessor candidate Mabel Teng. Their inclination is to
into the Asian-dominated District 4.
Potrero Hill, now in Maxwell's District 10, still has a
majority white population in
most precincts. Lee's CAVEC wants Potrero Hill stripped out and placed in
Daly's District 6, so it can move part of the growing Asian population into
10 and help elect an Asian.
But a coalition of African-American, Asian and Latino
activists wants to keep
Potrero Hill in District 10 to increase the chances of a black safe seat for the
Mostly white Russian Hill residents, now split between
Districts 2 and 3, want to
unify in Gavin Newsom's District 2, a notion shared by Lee and CAVEC. But
District 3's Aaron Peskin wants the Russian Hillers to stay with him and help
win re-election in 2004.
In the long run Asians are changing the face of San
Francisco, and translating
it into greater Asian political power.
E-mail Nick Driver at email@example.com
2/28/02 Contra Costa Times: "Candidates
looking to minorities:
Although the state's immigrants do not make up a majority of the vote, they
do have influence,
Asians made up 6% of the electorate in 2000, yet made up 11%
of California's population.
Latinos constituted just 14% of the electorate in 2000, while
a third of the state's population, according to the Field Poll.
Altogether, nonwhite residents were 53% of the state's
Voter participation rates within ethnic groups are abysmal,
census numbers show.
In 2000, only about a quarter of Asian and Latino adults
statewide cast a
vote, compared to about half of all adults in the state.
The immigrant vote is growing, but slowly.
The Asian portion of the electorate grew from 4% to 6% from
1990 to 2000,
according to the Field Poll.
42% of Asian-Americans are registered as Democrats and 36%
That mirrors the linguistic and cultural divisions among
Asians also are dispersed more widely across the state, diluting their
power in any particular district.
One consequence of those divisions could be the lack of
Asians serving in
the state Legislature, where they make up 2.5% of the body, while Asians
constitute 10.8% of the state population.
In 1990, Latinos made up 11% of the electorate, a figure that
percentage points during the following decade, a recent Field Poll found.
The percentage of Latinos in the total state population rose from 26% to
from 1990 to 2000, census numbers show.
Field Poll numbers show that Latinos statewide are not just
an average block
of 1.5 million voters but a block that claims 60% Democratic registration.
21% of Latinos are registered as Republicans. about the same percentage as
those registered for a minor party or as independents.
Latinos make up nearly a quarter of the Legislature and 32%
of the state.
Only African-Americans are more united, with 78% registered
a trend that has held for decades.
Statewide, 63% of Asian adults and about half of Latino
adults are citizens,
census figures show.
Immigrant communities also suffer from the endemic political
Census data show voter registration rates among naturalized
well below those of the total population, about 54% of eligible Asians and
Latinos compared with 66% for all eligible adults.
Francisco Chronicle: "Asians lose a voice in new districts:
Reapportionment divides and conquers," by
columnist Mark Simon
This time, it was Asian voters who got stiffed by reapportionment.
to say, voters of Asian descent, or Pacific Islanders, or anyone from any place
west of here.
But reapportionment -- the redrawing of legislative district lines
years after the census discloses changes in population -- is truly the baldest
efforts to keep power in the hands of those who already have it at the expense
anyone or any group of people who might really deserve it.
And that's just what happened to Asian voters. They got stiffed,
here in the Bay Area.
In order to protect the current political establishment of San
not coincidentally, of Santa Clara County, Asian populations were divided up so
that their impact would be diluted.
Reapportionment often ends up being about race, but it's not all
Unless we're part of a group of political leaders whose main
divide and dominate, all of us get stiffed.
The answer to getting stiffed is a political one -- we simply have
to do our
own politics better than they do theirs. That means we have to understand our
own commonality of interests and how that can lead to political clout.
Reapportionment is fraught with examples of divide and dominate.
But what happened with the Bay Area Assembly districts is a good
San Francisco, which has an Asian population of 31%, is divided
newly redrawn districts -- the 12th and the 13th.
The 13th Assembly District, located entirely within the city, is
only 23% Asian.
The 12th Assembly District, which takes in the western half of San
and half of Daly City, is 42% Asian.
The number of Asians in the 12th is boosted significantly by the
half of Daly City, which is itself 50% Asian.
By dividing San Francisco and Daly City, the new districts dilute
of Asian voters in San Francisco.
At the same time, the Daly City residents of the 12th District are
disenfranchised politically. The person who represents the district is likely to
come from San Francisco and concern himself or herself exclusively with
San Francisco issues, personalities and problems, leaving Daly City residents
on the outs.
Divide and dominate.
As I said, reapportionment often ends up being about race, but all
of us get
The 2000 Census puts San Francisco's population at 776,000, while
County's is 707,000.
Each of the state's 80 Assembly districts should have about 423,000 people.
Yet, San Francisco ended up as the dominant portion of two Assembly
at the expense of San Mateo County. Meanwhile, San Mateo County is the
dominant portion of only one Assembly district, the 19th.
Through reapportionment, San Francisco was allowed to cling to its
political importance in a region that is rapidly overshadowing what was once
the dominant city.
It will be an interesting day when San Mateo County surpasses San
That's already happened in Santa Clara County, where the population
million. All or a major portion of six Assembly districts are located in Santa
That raises the question of why Santa Clara County fails to have
in the Assembly than San Francisco.
The answer is a political one.
The fact is that San Francisco is a Bay Area anomaly -- a dense,
surrounded by suburban areas that have become regions in their own right. They
are regions with their own economies, their own social structures and their own
Daly City has more in common with San Jose than it does with San
San Mateo County has more in common with Santa Clara County.
The communities from Daly City to San Jose have a commonality of
interests - -
similar concerns about housing, traffic, schools, and the increasing dominance
the high-tech economy.
Those interests transcend traditional politics as exemplified by
Those interests also transcend traditional Bay Area politics that
Francisco at the center.
Here's where we have to do politics better.
The Peninsula and the South Bay should start seeing themselves as a
Combine San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, and you have a
2.3 million, and eight or nine Assembly seats -- more than enough to draw some
clout in Sacramento and to override the puny two seats San Francisco managed
to wring out of the new census data.
The same can be done anywhere in the Bay Area by defining large
communities of interest that have in common the same economic and social
It's time we stopped letting reapportionment define our politics
for us. It's time
our politics were smart enough to reflect what we've become.
Mark Simon can be reached at (650) 299-8071, by fax at (650)
e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Write him c/o The Chronicle, Press Room,
400 County Center, Redwood City, CA 94063.
Angeles Times: "Asian Americans Flex Growing Political Muscle:
Once a negligible force, the group's clout has grown with election wins in the
state and nation"
Enough shovels of earth--a mountain.
Enough pails of water--a river.
That Chinese proverb as much as anything explains the growing
empowerment of Asian Americans across California and particularly in the San
Gabriel Valley. Election by election, and without fanfare, the ranks of Asian
American elected officials statewide have swelled from 106 in 1980 to 503 in
1998. That figure, compiled by the Public Policy Institute of California and the
most recent available, does not include some recent gains. Two longtime San
Gabriel Valley city councilwomen have joined the Assembly: Carol Liu of La
Canada Flintridge, elected in November, and Judy Chu of Monterey Park, who
took office this summer.
With two other Asian American Democrats in the Assembly--Wilma Chan
Oakland and George Nakano of Torrance--they form the Legislature's largest
Asian American caucus ever. It may be only four members strong, but the
Capitol's black caucus has only seven. In fact, the institute found that Asian
American officeholders outnumber African American officials in California by
2 to 1.
It's been a gradual progression, driven by demographics,
politics and the changing attitudes of Asian Americans and others toward
electing people of Asian descent.
"Ten or 15 years ago, a meeting of Asian American elected
have been held around the kitchen table. Now we're talking a small banquet
said Joaquin Lim, a city councilman in Walnut. Lim heads the 33-member
organization of Chinese American Elected Officials, which includes current and
former officeholders and trains potential candidates.
The San Gabriel Valley--a 300-square-mile "ethnoburbia"
east of Los Angeles
with 29 cities and about 1.7 million people--has proved to be fertile ground for
ethnic politics before. Inside its city halls and on its school boards, Latinos
showed they could flex their political muscle a decade ago.
The number of city council and school board members and other
officials of Asian descent in the valley has climbed in a decade from six to 17.
There have been as many as 20, but three stepped down to seek even higher
"What we're seeing in the San Gabriel Valley reflects a larger
trend of Asian
Americans becoming more involved in politics," said Don T. Nakanishi, head
the Asian-American Studies Center at UCLA. And even if they aren't winning,
more Asian Americans are getting their names on the ballot.
"The number of Asian American candidates is exploding,"
said David Lang, a
political consultant. "Chinese Americans running for office used to be news
San Gabriel Valley. Now we're talking 10 to 15 candidates every election
At a candidates forum in Monterey Park on Aug. 31, five of seven
contenders were Asian American.
"When I was A little girl, my mother told me those who are
contribute to the community," candidate Lisa Yang told the crowd.
Packing the council chambers for the event was a virtual who's who
American politics, including West Covina Mayor Benjamin Wong, Monterey Park
Councilman David T. Lau and state Board of Equalization member John Chiang.
Hosting the event was a growing collection of Asian American
organizations, including the Chinese-American Elected Officials, the Indo-
Chinese American Political Action Committee and CAUSE/Vision 21.
CAUSE/Vision 21, created by the merger last year of two Asian
political groups, was formed to register voters and help train Asian American
candidates. The Chinese Americans United for Self-Empowerment, founded
in 1993 and known as CAUSE, teamed with Vision 21, founded in 1998. With
an eye toward the future, they arrange internships in Sacramento for young Asian
In July, more than 250 people attended a CAUSE/Vision 21 political
in Alhambra, including Secretary of State Bill Jones and Matt Fong, a former
The number of Asian American officeholders remains small: 6%
The number of Asian Americans among registered voters in California has
climbed to 6%--up from 3% a decade ago--but is still the lowest rate of any
ethnic group. But once registered, they are frequent voters and they have logged
successes at the polls.
San Francisco's Chinese community, which dates to the Gold Rush,
as many as three county supervisorial seats there. Elsewhere in the Bay Area,
Oakland has two Chinese American City Council members, as well as
Assemblywoman Chan. And San Jose is home to Rep. Mike Honda. Pockets of
Asian American electoral power can be found in Cerritos, where those of Asian
descent are the majority, and Gardena, where four of five City Council members
are of Asian decent.
Nationwide, the number of elected and appointed officials in the
American political roster is 2,200, up from 700 two decades ago.
Population growth is helping to fuel some of these gains. Asian
account for 13% of California's population and are the state's fastest-growing
minority group. It is a population that has doubled every decade since
immigration restrictions were eased in 1965.
Nowhere is this growth more evident than in the San Gabriel Valley,
Asians outnumber all others in Monterey Park, Rowland Heights and Walnut.
But political growth has taken more than bodies, it has required
Americans and others to change their minds about electing those of Asian
Some Say Asians Don't Vote
The cost of noninvolvement has been high, said Paul Zee, 50, a
Pasadena mayor and a recent Republican state Senate candidate.
"I overheard two politicians talking. One said, 'But what
about the Asian
response?' The other guy just looked at him and said, 'I don't have to worry
the Asian response, do I? They don't vote,' " Zee said.
The treatment of Taiwan-born scientist Wen Ho Lee, who became
in allegations of passing nuclear secrets to China, underscored the need for
activism, said Marian Tse, a former member of the State Board of Education.
Much as Proposition 187 galvanized the Latino community in 1994,
battle drew slices of America's diverse Chinese American population into
that had long ignored it, she said.
Lee's experience resonated so deeply, said Tse, because he was
as a foreigner--a familiar stereotype. The Lee case echoed the controversy over
political contributions by Asian Americans during the Clinton administration.
Hsi Lai Temple in Hacienda Heights became a symbol of the controversy after
Vice President Al Gore attended a fund-raiser there in 1996.
"Now is time for politics," said Tse, a Taiwan-born
Monterey Park resident.
"New immigrants initially had to take care of the family, their business.
are looking to contribute to the community."
In Zee's view, the rise of Latino politicians serves as a model for
"We need a machine like the one Richard Polanco built for
Latinos in Southern
California," he said. Assemblyman Polanco (D-Los Angeles) spent years
cultivating candidates and positioning Latinos to run outside traditional Latino
strongholds. Thanks partly to openings created by term limits, Latinos now hold
20 seats in the Assembly, contrasting with just four in 1991.
Latinos also made gains through redistricting and, for the first
time, Asians are
playing a serious role in California's redistricting debate. Last week, Asian
leaders testifying in Sacramento demanded that the Legislature abandon a
redistricting plan that they said would undermine growing Asian American
And the new Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans for Fair
lobbying for Assembly districts that could help elect Asian Americans in as many
as 10 seats.
"Asian Pacific Islanders wouldn't be in the majority but a
plurality that, together
with other groups, could form coalitions," said Kathay Feng, an attorney
Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern California. "Judy Chu in
49th District and George Nakano in Torrance were elected this way."
"You have to be a candidate for all the people," said Chu,
a 13-year Monterey
Park councilwoman whose Assembly district is a cultural mix, with nearly half
population Latino and more than a quarter Asian. For Chu and others, one key is
to campaign on quality-of-life issues, such as promoting parks or opposing
In April, Annie Yuen became the first minority person elected to
board in Arcadia, ousting a four-term incumbent. Yuen built a reputation as a
parent activist, helping create Mandarin-language parenting classes but also
leading that most American of institutions--the PTA.
Some Resented the Asian Influx
"People now look beyond skin color," said Arcadia
Councilman Sheng Chang,
the city's first elected Asian American. "A few years ago they
Still, the influx of people of Asian descent into the San Gabriel
tested the attitudes of some non-Asians.
A decade ago, Walnut had a fledgling Anglo-American Assn., created
response to the growing Asian presence. Today, two council members are Asian
"People used to say an Asian couldn't get elected in
Walnut," said Councilman
Lim. "Well, I smashed that glass ceiling and the glass is cracking
In that respect, the San Gabriel Valley, with its multiracial quilt
might be ahead of the country, analysts say. A nationwide survey this year found
that although Americans admire many qualities of Chinese Americans, one in
four held negative attitudes toward those of Chinese ancestry and a third
questioned their loyalty to the country.
Issues still exist. The Asian Pacific American Legal Center alleges
the presidential election in November, some poll workers in San Marino often
asked Asian American voters for proof of citizenship--questions they did not ask
non-Asian voters. The county registrar-recorder is investigating.
Four months later, Matthew Lin, an orthopedic surgeon, was elected
to the San
Marino City Council, becoming the first minority to join that body.
9/2/01 Sacramento Bee:
"Japanese American population fading: The reasons
include intermarriage, a low birthrate and aging."
Sacramento's Japanese American community is disappearing due
intermarriage, low birthrate, aging, and only a trickle of immigration.
"About 80 percent of us marry 'out.' How more integrated
can a group be? That
means that the number of people with some Japanese DNA is not really
decreasing, but the direct lineage to the old country is stretched pretty
Dr. Richard Ikeda, president of Sacramento's Japanese American Citizens
The 2000 census reports 7,175 people of Japanese descent in the
Sacramento, including 533 who said they were part Japanese. In 1990, when
people were allowed to check only one race, the city's Japanese American
population was 8,103.
During the same period, Sacramento's overall Asian population --
immigration from China and Southeast Asia -- grew 28%.
This pattern is repeated across California and the nation, says
a demographer with the nonprofit Public Policy Institute of California.
"In 1970, Japanese were the largest Asian group in
California," Johnson said.
"By 1990, they were not even in the top three."
One explanation for the decline is shrinking family size. In his
recent study on
fertility rates, Johnson found that California's American-born Asians have one
of the world's lowest birth rates: only 1.2 children per woman.
"Among those (American-born) Asians, Japanese women have the
birth rate of all," Johnson said.
California's statewide birth rate is 2.25 children per woman; a
rate of 2.1 is
necessary to keep population levels steady.
Death rate -- due to the graying of the Japanese American community
also a factor, said Larry Shinagawa, a professor of multicultural studies at
Sonoma State University who studies the Japanese American community.
"The Japanese Americans of the Nisei (second) generation are
Shinagawa said. "You have to look at our history here to understand the
Immigrants are typically young, but most Japanese immigration occurred
Japanese immigration peaked between 1900 and 1920, when 213,000
to the United States, far more than from any other Asian nation.
Times have changed. In 1998, according to the Immigration and
Service, 41,000 immigrants arrived from China, 34,000 from India, and 33,000
from the Philippines -- but just 5,600 people emigrated from Japan.
At the same time Japanese American numbers dwindle, Shinagawa said
intermarriage has played a role in diluting the group's distinctive identity.
"About two-thirds of Japanese American females tend to marry
professor said. "The question is how do you incorporate their children into
(Japanese) community and give them identity?
"Ethnicity is keyed to community, to concentration in terms of
numbers, and to
physiognomy -- what you look like. If any one of those three are missing, you
tend to identify with the ethnicity."
The situation grieves Shinagawa.
"These are tough, tough issues," he said. "Japanese
disappearing -- literally. I feel sad about that. They're becoming white. I
to see our Japanese American heritage lost. There's a bond of attachment that
gives meaning to one's life. But how do you preserve it?"
Reverence for old traditions cannot be forced on children,
said Terry Teruko
Makisima, 74, who grew up in then-rural Florin's large Japanese American farm
community. She was interned with her family in Colorado, but after the war she
returned to the Sacramento area, where she raised four sons.
"Some children are interested in the culture, some are
not," she said. "There's
not much you can do if they're not.
"There are so many dynamics to this community," said Rev.
Bob Oshita of the
Sacramento Buddhist temple. "Consider World War II, the relocation, being a
visible minority, dealing with resentment and negative sentiment. When people
came out of the internment camps, they really pushed their children to
Americanize. The third generation -- the Sansei -- were encouraged to
to speak English well, to succeed as Americans.
8/12/01 Associated Press: "APA Coalition Seeks
Redistricting To Unify Ethnic
Communities: Although Making up 13% of California in Census 2000, Asians
Hold Only 3% - 4 of 120 of the States Legislative Seats"
In an attempt to unify its
different ethnic communities, Asian-American groups
unveiled a statewide redistricting plan that they hope will give them more
The plan released Thursday is an
unprecedented move for California's many
Asian ethnicities, which are increasingly joining forces to make their voices
They will have to compete for attention with Latino organizations that drew
own map, but both groups say their proposals are similar.
At press conferences in Los Angeles
and Oakland, members of the coalition of
Asian Pacific Americans for Fair Redistricting said Asian-Americans have lost
political power because Assembly boundaries drawn a decade ago split their
communities into two and sometimes three pieces.
``Because we are divided, finding
legislative support and building community
unity is difficult,'' said Diane Poon, executive director of the Chinatown
Center, representing a Los Angeles community that is split into two Assembly
The coalition's proposal would
bring together divided ethnic communities
including Chinatown, Koreatown and Filipinotown in Los Angeles and Orange
County's Little Saigon and Koreatown. In other areas, including Sacramento, San
Diego and San Francisco, the proposal would organize several Assembly districts
around ethnic areas with common needs and concerns.
Kwoh said the coalition prepared
its map with months of cooperation with Latino,
black, gay and lesbian and other groups, as well as legislative officials.
The plan increases the number of
districts with at least 30% Asian, Latino or
black populations. It also would increase the number of ``safe'' Assembly
-- ones in which one major party has at least a 10% advantage over the other --
from 42 to 46 for Democrats and from 13 to 14 for Republicans.
The Asian population in California
rose nearly 54% over the last decade, to
nearly 4.4 million. But although they made up about 13% of the state in the 2000
Census, Asians hold only 3% -- four of 120 -- of the state's legislative seats.
Communities united by common
interests ``should not be divided, should not
be fractured, and their votes should not be diluted,'' said Stewart Kwoh,
and executive director of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern
``If we don't say anything, they
will definitely divide our communities again,
because they don't even know where are communities of interest are most of the
time,'' Kwoh said.
Two Hispanic advocacy groups -- the
Mexican American Legal Defense and
Educational Fund and the William C. Velasquez Institute -- released their own
last month, but Asian and Latino activists said the two plans have much in
``Logistically it's very difficult
to do, because you have to work with so many
different groups,'' said Zachary Gonzalez, redistricting coordinator for the
Institute. ``But as far as minority communities concerned, we're all working
the goal of fair and equal representation.''
Thursday's proposal reflects the
growing power Asian-American groups are
wielding in California politics, said Karin Mac Donald, director of the
Database at the University of California, Berkeley, which collects and analyzes
data used in redistricting.
As rising numbers of
Asian-Americans put more money and effort into political
efforts, they could see ``a little bit of the squeaky wheel syndrome,'' Mac
said. ``They didn't have the funding or organization to do that before.''
In working with the coalition,
officials in Sacramento ``have said they're amazed
by the level of participation in the Asian-American community,'' Kwoh said.
the crucial question is whether they'll listen.''
The coalition will submit its
proposal to the Legislature by Wednesday.
8/12/01 Associated Press: "Race, Ethnicity Crimes
Slightly Up In California, Says Report,"
Hate crimes motivated by race and ethnicity rose slightly last year
but crimes driven by religion or sexual orientation fell,
according to state statistics released Friday.
Overall, the number of hate crimes reported -- about 1,960 -- was
same as in 1999, although the number of total victims fell from 2,436
in 1999 to
Attorney General Bill Lockyer, who released the 2000 figures, said
it is difficult to pick out trends from the numbers, there were
two reasons for optimism: Hate crimes remained 4.7% fewer than they were at
their 1996 peak, and more law enforcement agencies than ever -- 252 -- were
involved in reporting such acts.
On Aug. 10, 1999, Buford O. Furrow fired more than 70 bullets into
community center, wounding five people, and later killed
carrier Joseph Ileto in a San Fernando Valley
neighborhood. Furrow was
sentenced in March to two life sentences without the
possibility of parole.
``Every time we hear about another hate crime it brings us back to
happened to our brother,'' said Ileto's sister, Deena Ileto. She said hate
probably are underreported, ``especially among Asian-Americans and other
ethnic groups, because they're afraid of retaliation or causing trouble.''
Blacks were the most common single target for hate crimes, with 31%
offenses directed at them. About 20% of hate crimes were directed at
12% against Jews, 10% against Hispanics, 7% against whites and 5%
Race and ethnicity were the motivating factor in 1,234 reported
cases, a 5%
drop from 1999. Religion was a factor in about 300 cases -- an 11%
drop -- and
there were 7% fewer reported cases involving sexual orientation.
In a press conference, Lockyer singled out the city of Los Angeles
County as areas with ``disappointing'' hate-crime prosecution
Of the 65 hate-crime cases referred to the city attorney, only 11
were filed by prosecutors. Overall, filings were made in nearly 77% of the cases
referred to the 58 county and six city attorneys in the report.
Orange County's record of just three cases prosecuted as hate
11 referred ``suggests that Orange County has a lot to do to catch
up with the world,'' Lockyer said.
Officials in the offices of Los Angeles Mayor Jim Hahn -- who was
last year -- and Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas
said many of
the cases they received simply didn't rise to the level of a hate
``If I'm walking down the street and somebody calls me a derogatory
while not a great thing to do, it's not a crime,'' said Julie Wong,
``Our office takes this seriously,'' said Mike Fell, the Orange
deputy district attorney who oversees hate-crime prosecution. ``If
about tolerance ... I'll be satisfied if the numbers someday go
down to zero.''
7/6/01 Los Angeles Times: "Asian Indians Remake Silicon Valley: As
their numbers surge, high-tech skills ease the transition for many,"
The high-tech boom drew an
ethnic melange of the skilled and educated from around the world, immigrants
with college degrees, middle-class incomes and children who have often raised
the academic bar in public schools.
study published in 1999 by the California Public Policy Institute found that
nearly a quarter of the Silicon Valley's high-tech companies were headed by
Chinese or Indian immigrants.
In Santa Clara County, the heart of the Silicon Valley,
no ethnic group has grown as dramatically as Asian Indians, whose numbers have
more than tripled in the last decade, effectively moving their California
capital from Los Angeles County to the Silicon Valley.
the number of Indian residents nearly doubled over the decade to 314,819,
keeping California the national leader. U.S. census figures show that of the
Asian subgroups in the state, the Indian population shot up the fastest during
They find a high-tech meritocracy that helps
blunt the jarring sense of dislocation that can accompany a move from one
society to another.
At Fremont's Mission San Jose High School, the
student body is 61% minority, much of it Asian, and comes from families working
in high-tech or other professional fields.
As the demographics have changed, so have the
academics. The curriculum has become more advanced, because that is what the
parents and students want. Out of a student body of 2,000, a third are
identified as gifted.
At Ardenwood Elementary in Fremont, where 73% of
the students are nonwhite, roughly half the children come from homes in which a
second language is spoken -- ranging from Spanish to Arabic to Hindi.
At San Jose State University, the white enrollment
is 47% and dropping.
Angeles Times: "An Upside Seen for Latinos,
Despite Villaraigosa's Loss,"
L.A. Voters in Mayoral Races
* There was no June runoff in 1997. Source:
Los Angeles Times exit polls
6/3/01 San Francisco Chronicle: "Race
card emerges in L.A. mayor contest," According to the 2000 Census,
3,694,820 people live in Los Angeles -- 47% Hispanic, 30% white, 11% black and
10% Asian. However, the electorate -- 1,538,229 voters as of January -- is
55% white, 22% Latino, 12%, 10% "other" and 1% Asian.
5/23/01 Los Angeles Times: "State's
Asian Population Climbs 35%,"
Overall, the number of Asian residents rose 35.2%, to almost
3.7 million (not counting the about half a million people who identified
themselves as multiracial and part Asian).
The 2000 census reflects the continued suburban diaspora of
Chinese Americans, who neared the 1-million mark in pushing past Filipinos to
become the state's largest Asian group. Though the Chinese population dropped 6%
in the city of Los Angeles, it grew more than 34% in the county and strongly
throughout the rest of the region.
Mirroring a national trend, California's Japanese American
population fell almost 8% in the 1990s, affected by intermarriage and a low
birth rate. Regionally, the sharpest drop occurred in the city of Los Angeles,
where the number of Japanese fell 18.5% to under 37,000.
The new economy fueled a 97% advance for Asian Indians,
particularly in Northern California, where the technology industry needed
computer programmers and engineers.
Southern California's Vietnamese population grew sharply in
the 1990s to 230,000, including 135,548 in Orange County, where the Vietnamese
American community surged almost 89%.
After the 1980s, when the state's Vietnamese population more
than quadrupled, international immigration largely dried up, shrinking in Orange
County from 10,510 in 1992 to 1,017 in 1998, INS records show. But a wave of
domestic migration appears to have taken up the slack somewhat. The Southern
California Vietnamese community's hub is still Westminster--known as Little
Saigon--where the population grew 138% to exceed 27,000, and the adjoining city
of Garden Grove, where the group gained 136% and reached 35,406. But the 2000
census also showed Vietnamese extending into historically white cities such as
Huntington Beach (a 53% increase), Fountain Valley (152%) and Tustin
After astronomical growth in the 1980s, California's Chinese
American community in the 1990s jumped 39% to 980,642. Driven by both
immigration and native births, the number of Chinese in California has more than
tripled since the 1980 census. Since the mid-1970s, the Chinese population has
become increasingly suburban, dispersing into the San Gabriel Valley and
elsewhere. In the 1990s, the Chinese community shot up almost 136% in Walnut and
more than 42% in Cerritos, helping to establish Asian majorities in those
cities. In Monterey Park, the first Chinese suburb and the only other Southern
California city with an Asian majority, the group grew by almost 13%. Chinese
suburban newcomers are gradually translating population into political heft. In
the 1990s, Chinese Americans won seats on the Walnut and Diamond Bar city
councils, as well as on several San Gabriel Valley school boards.
Like Chinese, Korean Americans moved steadily into the
suburbs in the '90s, while increasing their numbers by one-third statewide to
345,882. Orange County's Korean population grew about twice as fast as that of
Los Angeles County, which slightly outpaced its urban core, including Koreatown.
The Filipino population rose by 25.6% statewide, to 918,678,
and 27% in Southern California, to 371,421, experiencing especially large
increases in Orange County and the Inland Empire, but it fell well short of
predictions. Demographers and community leaders suggested that improving
economic conditions in the Philippines may have drawn some older Filipinos back
where their dollars go further.
By contrast, economic opportunity attracted Asian
Indians--those who identified themselves as such or as Bengalese, Bharat,
Dravidian, East Indian or Goanese--to the state in unprecedented numbers. Many
came to the United States on special high-tech visas, settling in communities in
the South Bay and East Bay. The number of Asian Indians rose 31% in Santa Clara
County and 180% in Alameda County. Southern California experienced a milder
version of the same trend: The Asian Indian population grew by more than 70% in
Orange, Riverside and Ventura counties and made solid gains elsewhere.
The 2000 figures for Central California's breadbasket showed
the stilling of a trend from the 1980s, when thousands of Southeast Asian
refugees settled in the San Joaquin Valley. Fresno became home to more Hmong
than any other U.S. city. But when the agricultural sector took especially long
to recover from the early '90s recession, thousands of Hmong started migrating
east to Minnesota and Wisconsin. The 2000 census provides the best evidence yet
of their secondary movement: Numbers of what the census calls "other"
Asians -- which includes Hmong, Laotians, Cambodians and Thais--rose just 2.6%
in San Joaquin County and 4.5% in Fresno after posting hefty gains a decade ago.
In Stockton, the Asian population inched up 2.4% after skyrocketing 225% in the
VIETNAMESE GROWTH SINCE 1990
Southern Calif.: 57.6%
L.A. County: 24.8%
Orange County: 88.7%
Ventura County: 33.1%
Asian Indian: 6%
Source: 2000 Census
Asians in city of L.A., 2000
Asian Indian: 6.7%
Asian in L.A. County, 2000
Asian Indian: 5.3%
States With the Largest Vietnamese Populations
1. California: 447,032
2. Texas: 134,961
3. Washington: 46,149
4. Virginia: 37,309
5. Florida: 33,190
7. New York: 23,818
Source: 2000 census Note: Some figures may not total 100% because of rounding.
5/22/01 Sacramento Bee: "Asian
Americans flex political muscle," Judy Chu was sworn in as Assemblywoman
from the 49th Assembly District. The historically Latino seat includes East Los
Angeles where Latino voters outnumber Asian Americans 44% to 25%. People of
Asian and Pacific islander ancestry are California's fastest-growing group. From
1990 to 2000, their numbers increased from more than 2.8 million to nearly 4.4
million. They now make up nearly 13% of the state's population. Four Asian
Americans, all Democrats, now hold seats in the Legislature. Three Chinese
Americans have been elected since November: Wilma Chan of Oakland, Carol Liu of
South Pasadena and Judy Chu. Assemblyman George Nakano, elected in 1998, was a
beneficiary of a decision made by the state Supreme Court a decade ago that kept
intact his hometown, Torrance, and its sizable Japanese American population.
Kathay Feng, project director for the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, said
a coalition of Asian Americans has identified nine geographic areas of interest,
three times more than in 1991, including the Bay Area, where activists want to
keep intact Daly City with its large Filipino American population, and the
"Little Saigon" area of Orange County, from Westminster into Garden
Grove. When Don Nakanishi, director of the Asian American Studies Center at
UCLA, began putting together the National
Asian Pacific American Political Almanac in 1976, it was a small list, confined
to Western states. Now, there are 2,200 elected or appointed officials in 34
states, including hundreds in California.
May 4-10, 2001 AsianWeek.com,
"Asian Assembly District Possible in the City,"
The 2000 census verified that San Francisco's 12th state
assembly district is the most Asian-American in California. According to a
Chinese American Voters Education Committee (CAVEC) analysis, the 12th district
reaches into the western half and three-quarters of the southern parts of San
Francisco including heavily Asian American neighborhoods such as the
Richmond, Sunset, Excelsior and Visitacion Valley. The current district crosses
the San Mateo County line to incorporate the northern sliver of Daly City, and
has a population of 406,243, which is 43.5% Asian American. Non-Latino whites
went from 49.8 percent of the district to 36.3 percent in 10 years.
The 13th District, which has
399,116 people, covers primarily the northeast and eastern sectors with Bayview/Hunters
Point in the southeast. The districts 22.6% Asian Pacific Islanders come from
Chinese, Filipino and Japanese population bases in Chinatown, Japantown, SOMA
and parts of Visitacion Valley.
The state legislature is
reallocating Californias 33-million population into 80 assembly districts.
Because Californias overall population has grown at a higher rate than San
Franciscos, the citys two districts have to add population from beyond its
limits thus creating the possibility for the most Asian American district in
Any district lines have to be
passed by the California legislature and the governor by September 2001. There
are also possible court challenges by Republicans, unhappy with the districts
drawn by a Democratic majority legislature. Voting rights groups concerned about
possible gerrymandering or dilution of political minorities may also go to
The outcome of such lines could
also impact the outcome of the March 2002 Assembly race, especially with
Supervisor Leland Yee, former Supervisor Mabel Teng, and BART Director and AsianWeek
President James Fang expressing interest in the seat.
12/24/00 Los Angeles Times (www.latimes.com)
"Vietnamese Jumping GOP's Ship. Politics: Party registration now
almost even in Orange County's formerly conservative immigrant community," http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/natpol/20001224/t000122637.html
The GOP, which once enjoyed a 4-1 registration margin over
Democrats in Little Saigon, has seen its lead steadily shrink over the last
eight years. Republicans can now claim the allegiance of 39% of all
Vietnamese voters, compared with 33% for Democrats, according to an analysis of
official election records. Eight years ago, the Republicans had 58%.
Experts and community leaders suggest that the Vietnamese in
Little Saigon--and especially older residents--are becoming more concerned about
issues such as Medicare, Social Security and programs for the poor.
GOP officials are hopeful that they will soon be able
to shore up party support among the Vietnamese American community's 55,000
voters; they assert that the recent decline in registration has less to do with
ideology than the effect of a two-term Democratic president who visited
California 50 times.
The movement in party allegiance during the Clinton
administration has been steady. When he was elected in 1992, Vietnamese
American Republicans outnumbered their Democratic counterparts nearly 3 to 1
(18,327 to 6,833). Today the numbers stand at 21,570 Republicans and 18,064
Democrats--a spread of only 3,506. An additional 15,347 Vietnamese Americans are
registered as independents.
During the 1970s and 1980s, Little Saigon was considered a
bastion of conservative Republicanism. The area of Westminster and Garden Grove
became a settling ground for emigrants from communist Vietnam, and many
residents embraced right-wing politicians such as former Rep. Robert K. Dornan
(R-Garden Grove), who represented the district for years.
Experts say the boost in Democratic fortunes is due in part
to the grass-roots activism of Mai Cong, the founder of the Vietnamese Community
of Orange County. She stunned many in the nation's largest Vietnamese emigrant
community by co-chairing a 1992 Clinton-Gore committee in Little Saigon.
Mai and her husband, Dinh Le, a former Vietnamese Army
officer who founded the Vietnamese-American Phoenix Democratic Club, can chuckle
today over the community's shock when they began actively campaigning for the
Democratic presidential ticket. They said they even endured death threats from
extremists in the community back in 1992.
"Since then, the Vietnamese community has changed, and
changed drastically, from being almost 90-something percent Republican to the
point where today we [Democrats and Republicans] are almost even," she
said. "And if you consider the independents, most of them are people who
used to be Republican and are now moving more to the center."
Mai's organization operates a low-cost health clinic, a
senior center, and several counseling programs for Vietnamese immigrants and
refugees in offices it has built in Santa Ana, Westminster and Garden Grove.
In the three months leading up to this year's election, the
group launched a get-out-the-vote campaign in Little Saigon, and also
distributed about 4,000 voter registration cards. Because of the organization's
nonprofit status, it does not urge registrants to join
one party or another.
Dinh believes that many immigrants first questioned their
allegiance to the Republicans in 1995, when the GOP-controlled House proposed a
law denying benefits to all immigrants until they had been in the country at
least five years.
"[That] literally drove some people here in the
Vietnamese community to become Democrats," Dinh said. "That was [a]
real watershed event."
He said the proposal happened to coincide with the arrival of
the first wave of political detainees, the former South Vietnamese military
officers and government officials who had been imprisoned in labor camps since
the war's end more than 15 years earlier.
"The refugees who were just
then coming, they needed help. Without some help from the government, from
American taxpayers, it would have been disastrous. They couldn't have
survived," Dinh said.
The law was eventually softened during negotiations over the
Balanced Budget Act, clearing the way for the former detainees to
receive temporary financial aid.
3/10/00 Los Angeles Times: "Poll Says Democrats Gained Among Asian Americans.
Politics: Analysis shows 45% of the ethnic group identified
themselves as such, up from 36% in '96 presidential election. Backlash over fund-raising
scandal is cited"
In the first California presidential primary after the 1996
Democratic fund-raising scandal, which tarnished the image of the Asian American
community, a significant percentage of Republican Asian Americans in Los Angeles and
Orange counties crossed over and voted Democratic, according to an exit poll released
The Asian Pacific American Legal Center's survey of 3,000
voters--1,200 of them Asian Americans--in heavily Asian areas in the two counties showed
that 45% of Asians identified themselves as Democrats in Tuesday's election, compared to
36% in the 1996 presidential election.
Four years ago, 40% of Asian voters labeled themselves
Republicans and 36% Democrats and 24% others.
The snapshot of Asian American voting patterns in 14 cities
was conducted in six languages -- Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Spanish and
Tagalog. It took in 41 precincts in Los Angeles, Alhambra, Monterey Park, Rosemead, San
Gabriel, San Marino, South Pasadena, Torrance, Gardena, Carson, Long Beach and nine poll
sites in Garden Grove, Santa Ana and Westminster.
Veteran election watchers attributed the change
smearing of the entire Asian American community because
of the fund-raising actions of a few, an unfair targeting of nuclear scientist Wen Ho Lee
as a spy, and use of the word "gook" by Republic presidential candidate John
prominent Chinese Americans, former Delaware Lt. Gov. S.B. Woo and former UC Chancellor
Chang-lin Tien, founded the "80-20" initiative last year to promote Chinese
American participation in the 2000 presidential election.
The two-county survey found that in the presidential race,
Asian American voters favored Vice President Al Gore by 43% to Gov. George W. Bush's 30%,
with 19% of the voters choosing Sen. John McCain (D-Ariz.) and 7% former Sen. Bill
By ethnicity, Gore received the highest percentage of votes
from Koreans, 54%, followed by Filipinos 50%, Chinese 46%, Vietnamese 31% and Japanese
About 50% of Asian American Independents voted for Gore.
have, to some degree, mirrored what happened to Latino voters," said
Stewart Kwoh, president of the legal center. "The perception of Republicans
as anti-immigrant has struck a chord in a number of Asian American communities.
Kwoh said the welfare reform law too has helped galvanize
In the senatorial race, Dianne Feinstein garnered 58.6% of
the Asian voters to 16.7% for Republican challenger Rep. Tom Campbell and 13.3% for Linh
Dao, a Republican from Fremont. By ethnicity, Feinstein received 70% of Filipino votes, 68%
of Korean votes, 63% of the Japanese, 56% of Chinese and 39% of Vietnamese votes.
The exit poll also showed that more than 13% of the Asian
voters went to the polls for the first time. Asians also had the highest percentage of
voters who said they were more likely to vote with bilingual assistance.
* * *
In exit polls, 1,200 Asian Americans in 14 cities with
heavily Asian populations in Los Angeles and Orange counties were among 3,000 people asked
how they voted and whether bilingual help would benefit them
Asian Voter's Choice for U.S. President in Primary
McCain: 19% Bradley: 7%
* * *
Asian Voter's Choice for U.S. Senator in Primary
Feinstein: 59% Campbell: 17%
* * *
Voters More Likely to Vote With Bilingual Help
Source: Asian Pacific American Legal Center