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The Diverse Face of Asians and Pacific Islanders in California

Monday, March 07, 2005

New Report on Asians and Pacific Islanders Identifies Challenges Facing State's Fastest Growing Community


CONTACTS: Sarita Ahuja, Development and Communications Officer
Asian Law Caucus 415-896-1701 ext. 132

Kimiko Kelly, Research Analyst and Report Co-Author

Asian Pacific American Legal Center 213-977-7500 ext.267

State Assembly Member Judy Chu to speak on report's findings in San Francisco on March 4

San Francisco - Asians and Pacific Islanders (APIs) are often thought of as "model minorities." But a new report, The Diverse Face of Asians and Pacific Islanders in California, reveals that thousands of APIs in California live in poverty, face language barriers, and reside in overcrowded housing. The report was released jointly by the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, the Asian Law Caucus and the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium.

While social and economic indicators often show APIs doing better collectively than Latinos and African Americans, The Diverse Face of Asians and Pacific Islanders in California provides disaggregated data on over 20 individual API ethnic groups revealing that many - especially Southeast Asians and Pacific Islanders - are faring much worse. Hmong, Cambodian and Laotian communities are the poorest in the state, and Asian households have the highest rates of linguistic isolation in the state. "While we've seen progress over the past decade, our community continues to face challenges," said Phil Ting, Executive Director of the Asian Law Caucus. "This research is critical if government and community institutions are to truly understand and help APIs respond to those challenges."

The report's key findings in the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area include:

By the 2000 Census, the Asian and Pacific Islander population in the San Francisco Bay Area had surpassed the Latino population - becoming the second largest racial group in the region after whites. The Bay Area region has the highest percentage (23%) of Asians of any metropolitan region in the continental United States.
Two cities in the Bay Area are now majority Asian: Milpitas and Daly City.
More than one-third of Asians in the Bay Area are limited English proficient (LEP), defined as speaking English less than "very well."
Many Asians in the Bay Area live in poverty. Asians make up the largest number of people in poverty in San Francisco County (27,110), more than any other racial group. A majority of Asians in the city of Oakland live in poverty and are LEP.
While some Asian ethnic groups have the highest rates of educational attainment in the region, other API ethnic groups have the lowest educational attainment rates of all major racial groups. A majority of Hmong, Laotians, and Cambodians have not graduated from high school. Tongans, Fijians and Samoans have the lowest college completion rates among all the major racial groups in the region.
Asians have the highest rates of naturalization among foreign-born people in the region. More than half of foreign-born Asians have become U.S. citizens.
"Many Californians remain unaware that Southeast Asians and Pacific Islanders are among the state's poorest communities," said Kimiko Kelly, a Research Analyst at the Asian Pacific American Legal Center who co-authored the report. "It is particularly important that policy makers, both locally and in Sacramento, understand our community and its needs," added Ting.

On Friday, March 4 in San Francisco, a distinguished panel of speakers featuring State Assembly Member Judy Chu will discuss the report's findings from local, state and national perspectives. Other panelists include Kimiko Kelly of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, Karen Narasaki of the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium, Sandip Roy of New California Media, and Bill Tamayo of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This free event will take place Friday, March 4 from 9am - 12pm at the PG&E Headquarters Auditorium, 77 Beale Street in downtown San Francisco. Research and launch partners include the Chung Ying Tang Foundation, Bank of America, the James Irvine Foundation, the Fannie Mae Foundation, Kaiser Permanente, Sempra Energy, Washington Mutual, Union Bank of California, and Pacific Gas & Electric Company.

Media representatives are encouraged to attend and may request a complimentary advance copy of The Diverse Face of Asians and Pacific Islanders in California. For more information, contact Sarita Ahuja at (415) 896-1701, x132 or sarita@asianlawcaucus.org.

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Founded in 1972, the mission of the Asian Law Caucus is to promote,

advance and represent the legal and civil rights of Asian and Pacific Islander communities.


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