Asian Americans call for redistribution
Posted on Monday, November 8, 2021 | 13:42
Updated 33 minutes ago
CARSON CITY, Nevada (AP) – From Hamtramck, Mich. To Las Vegas, Nevada, campaigners are pushing states to ensure that growing communities of Asians and Pacific Islanders can be equally represented in government during the decade-long redistribution process.
Asian Americans are the fastest growing racial or ethnic group in the United States and now make up over 10% of the population in Hawaii, California, New Jersey, Washington, and Nevada.
The demographic – although politically, linguistically and economically diverse – has grown into a powerful electoral bloc in these states and elsewhere. They have primarily supported Democratic presidential candidates since 2000, and in Nevada were a key constituency candidates courted in the 2020 presidential primary.
For nearly two years, the anti-Asian discrimination and violence sparked by the pandemic has politically engaged and united the community, activists and academics said.
“If we all identify with our ethnicity per se, it is not large enough in numbers to negotiate, build power or become centered,” said Eric Jeng of the Nevada Asian Community Development Council. “Our community shares concerns about immigration, health care and education. And when anti-Asian hatred mounted, they didn’t ask where you came from. People who looked Asian were attacked.
Nevada has more than 400,000 residents who identify as Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders or Native Hawaiians, according to census data. The majority live in the Las Vegas area and are of Filipino, Chinese, Japanese or Vietnamese descent.
Fueled by the growth of Spring Valley and southwest Las Vegas, the population has grown by 47.3% over the past decade, more than three times the overall population.
The growth illustrates the competing interests that arise in the redistribution of legislative constituencies in Congress and states.
Questions as to whether to prioritize designing compact districts, protecting incumbents, or designing Asian and American majority districts will inevitably confront the Democrat-controlled Nevada legislature with tough decisions when it comes to it. will meet to redistribute.
At least four Nevada lawmakers identify themselves as Asian Americans, but none represent the areas of southwest Las Vegas where the population is most concentrated.
In the Assembly, Speaker Jason Frierson, Deputy Majority Whip Sandra Jauregui and Pro Tempore President Steve Yeager represent neighboring districts where the population is 28-30% Asian, Hawaiian or Islander Americans. of the Pacific.
In the state Senate, the neighboring districts of Democrats Dallas Harris and Melanie Scheible are 31% and 27% of Asian, Hawaiian and Pacific Islander descent.
Groups like the Asian Community Development Council and the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada want the Democratic-controlled legislature to design AAPI majority districts to encourage political participation and ensure that the voting power of the population does not exist. is not diluted or manipulated.
Jeng said non-Asian politicians who represent districts with large Asian American populations often enjoy broad support and advocate for issues that matter to the community, but he wants the districts to be drawn in a way that ensures that Asian American applicants are not discouraged from running.
“When people who look like them represent them, then the community gets more involved. When they don’t see people who look like them, they don’t really participate, ”said Jeng, noting Michelle Wu and Aftab Pureval wins in municipal elections last week in Boston and Cincinnati.
The communities that fall under “AAPI” – which stands for Asian-American and Pacific Islander – are diverse, but survey data shows the group is relatively united on some political issues, said Janelle Wong, professor at the University of Maryland.
“There is so much talk about Asian-American diversity,” said Wong, who also works as co-director of AAPI Data. “But one of the most critical and amazing characteristics of the Asian American community is that, despite this enormous diversity, there is in fact a remarkable level of consensus around particular issues.
Asian American Republicans are more likely to support the Affordable Care Act than other Republicans, and Asian Americans with incomes over $ 250,000 per year are more likely than others with similar incomes to support raising taxes on the rich, Wong said.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada is lobbying lawmakers to draw at least one district in which a majority of residents are Asian or Pacific Islander Americans to ensure that the group’s voting power growing is not diluted.
“We are concerned that if the Legislature put forward cards that are relatively the same as they are today, it would result in a dilution of voting power in Nevada’s growing AAPI community which has and continues to be woefully under- represented statewide, “Athar Haseebullah, the group’s executive director told lawmakers at a committee hearing in October.
Metz is a member of the Associated Press / Report for America Statehouse News Initiative body. Report for America is a national, nonprofit service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to cover undercover issues.