Governor Signs Bill Requiring Accurate Collection Of Information On Asian Americans And Native Hawaiians & Pacific Islanders


Legislation requiring key state agencies to collect and post information about job programs participation and employment and housing discrimination faced by Asian and Pacific Islander ethnicities was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on October 9, 2011.

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

“We are extremely pleased that Governor Brown signed AB 1088 into law,” said Assemblymember Eng.  “Asian Americans, as well as Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders, represent over 30 ethnicities, and each community experiences its own unique challenges.  Because information about these communities is frequently reported under one or two large categories, the experiences of specific ethnicities can be masked, preventing policy-makers, advocates, and elected officials from understanding the real issues that affect our communities.  With this passage, the Governor recognizes the disparities within the Asian American and Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander communities, and the role that the State of California has in addressing these issues.”

Current law already requires the collection and disaggregation of some Asian and Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander groups, such as Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Korean, and Samoan.  However, many emerging ethnic groups are not included in the law, and there are no mechanisms in place to respond to growth in populations.  AB 1088 requires that data collected by the California Department of Industrial Relations and the Department of Fair Employment and Housing be disaggregated using the same categories used by the Census Bureau, including Bangladeshi, Fijian, Hmong, Indonesian, Malaysian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Taiwanese, Thai, and Tongan.  In addition, the data would also be made more accessible online.

“Asian Americans, as well as Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders, make up 15.5 percent in the state of California, and represents the fastest growing racial/ethnic groups in the state, increasing nearly 34 percent since 2000,” said Sefa Aina, a commissioner on the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.  “Our communities overwhelmingly supported this bill.  Over 1,200 individuals and 100 organizations representing AAs, NHOPIs, and the broader California community, signed petitions and submitted letters, urging passage of the bill.  They all understand the need to have more accurate and detailed information about this growing community.”