Report: Islander Population Wields Surging Political, Economic Influence
LOS ANGELES (CBS) — From business and government to Hollywood and the voting booth, the influence of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans (APIA) is growing in Los Angeles and throughout the state, according to a city report released Friday.
The latest census data from 2010 shows the APIA community is now the third-largest population in the city at 11.4 percent, trailing only behind Hispanic/Latinos (44.5 percent) and non-Hispanic whites (32.9 percent).
The city report’s release was timed to coincide with a celebration outside City Hall to kick off Asian and Pacific Islander American Month.
“Asian Pacific Islanders are part of the fabric of Los Angeles, so this is our chance to honor them, a way to tell their stories,” City Council President Eric Garcetti said.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa honored three APIA leaders during a presentation in city council: Judge Jacqueline Nguyen, the first Vietnamese American judge nominated to the federal bench; World War II internment camp survivor and social justice advocate Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga; and actress, model, and Grammy award winner Tia Carrere.
“I’m particularly delighted to be included among such beautiful, inspirational and talented women such as my co-honorees,” Nguyen said.
“Across Los Angeles County, there are countless Asian Pacific Americans who with their hard work, their dedication, their sacrifice, their perseverance, truly represent the spirit, the dream, as well as the hope of Los Angeles.”
The report, compiled by the Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Committee, highlights recent APIA successes in city and state government, including Gov. Jerry Brown’s appointment of Julie Su as state Labor Commissioner.
Asian and Pacific Islander Americans make up about 11 percent of the 326 city commissioners appointed by the mayor and about 15 percent of all city employees.
The report found that businesses owned by Asian and Pacific Islander Americans ranked second nationwide behind white-owned businesses in payroll dollars — about $84 billion to nearly 3 million employees.
There are 112,305 registered Asian and Pacific Islander American voters, making up about 8 percent of the city’s electorate, the report found.
“Our research shows that Asian and Pacific Islander Americans in the city of Los Angeles have turned dramatic population growth into real power at the ballot box,” said Dan Ichinose, director of demographic research at the Asian Pacific American Legal Center. “We have arrived as a political force.”
Garcetti, whose district includes Historic Filipino Town and Thai Town and borders Koreatown, said he has noticed the community’s growing political strength.
“If you look around City Hall, general managers, staffers, deputy mayors, and hopefully soon more elected representatives … this community is critical to the political, economic and cultural life of this city,” he said.
Mike Woo, city councilman from 1985-1993, was the last elected official from the APIA community. He now serves on the city Planning Commission.
The report will come before the full city council later this month and raise some pressing issues, including the APIA community’s involvement in city redistricting.
“Quite often the API community gets bypassed because they’re either spread out or too small for folks to pay attention to them and that’s a really important issue for representation,” Garcetti said.
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