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California Assembly passes bill to address disparities on date collection

06-03-2011 17:24 BJT

LOS ANGELES, June 2 (Xinhua) -- The California State Assembly passed a bill on Thursday to address disparities caused by the method of demographic data collection on Asian Americans.

The bill, introduced by Assemblyman Mike Eng, will improve the collection and accessibility of demographic data for the Asian American and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) population across the state and will ensure consistency with current federal Census data collection.

"Without the numbers, we don't get the resources...It means we're not getting the services we need ... Disaggregated data is essential to illustrate the state and welfare of this growing group, so we as policymakers know how well the residents of California are faring in our great state," Eng said.

The bill seeks to address those disparities by expanding the number of ethnic groups, adding Bangladeshi, Hmong, Indonesian, Malaysian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Thai, Fijian and Tongan to California demographic data, which already contains Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Korean, Vietnamese, Asian Indian, Hawaiian, Guamanian (also known as Chamorro), Samoan, Laotian and Cambodian.

The latest 2010 Census numbers makes the passage of this bill more compelling for California. According to the census, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders comprise 15.5 percent of California's population and represent the fastest growing racial/ethnic group in the state, increasing nearly 34 percent since 2000.

"The AANHPI population is extremely diverse, so when our communities are grouped together into one category, it can mask the real problems that exist for specific AANHPI ethnicities," said An Le, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) statewide network manager and a former statewide census manager.

"This bill would enable us to identify the disparities in health, employment and housing that are prevalent for specific AANHPI ethnic communities so we can all work together to develop programs that address social issues in an effective and efficient way," Le added.

"It's a significant bill because it moves us away from being grouped as a homogeneous population and moves us toward greater recognition that each of our populations is distinct and unique," said Tana Lepule, director of Empowering Pacific Islander Communities.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 28 cities in California where the AANHPI population became the majority. Among them, eight cities have the AANHPI population rate as high as over 60 percent. Most of the cities are in Southern California.

The bill will now head to the Senate in California for consideration.

Editor:Wang Xiaomei |Source: Xinhua

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