Asian Reporter web extra, November 8, 2021
People rally at a "Stop Asian Hate" event at Chinatown Plaza Las
Vegas on April 1, 2021. Lawmakers redrawing Nevada’s political maps will
be required to consider how to ensure the state’s growing Asian-American
population is represented in state government for the next decade. The
community’s growth in Las Vegas’ southwest suburbs exemplifies how
competing interests arise as states throughout the country redistrict. (K.M.
Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)
Asian Americans push for representation via
By Sam Metz
The Associated Press
CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — From Hamtramck, Michigan, to Las Vegas,
Nevada, activists are pushing states to ensure growing Asian American
and Pacific Islander communities can be equally represented in
government during the once-in-a-decade redistricting process.
Asian Americans are the fastest growing racial or ethnic group in the
United States and now make up more than 10% of the population in
Hawai‘i, California, New Jersey, Washington, and Nevada.
The demographic group — though diverse politically, linguistically
and economically — has become a powerful voting bloc in these states and
elsewhere. Though Republicans made gains in 2020, Asian American and
Pacific Islander voters have mostly supported Democratic presidential
candidates since 2000. In Nevada, they were a key constituency that
candidates courted in the last presidential primary.
For nearly two years, anti-Asian discrimination and violence prompted
by the pandemic has politically engaged and unified the community,
activists and academics said.
Historically, the Asian-American community hasn’t been large or
unified enough to challenge political maps in court. But data showing
political cohesion among different subsets of the demographic group has
amplified calls to consider it a community of interest in redistricting.
"If we all just identify as our ethnicity in itself, it’s not
significant enough in numbers to negotiate, to build power or to become
centered," said Eric Jeng of Nevada’s Asian Community Development
Council. "Our community shares concerns on immigration, healthcare, and
education. And when anti-Asian hate was rising, they weren’t asking for
where you’re from. People who looked Asian got attacked."
Nevada has more than 400,000 residents who identify as Asian
American, Pacific Islander, or Native Hawaiian, according to census
data. The majority live in the Las Vegas area and are of Filipino,
Chinese, Japanese, or Vietnamese descent.
The population increased by 47.3% over the past decade — more than
three times as much as the overall population — largely in areas like
Spring Valley and southwest Las Vegas.
But the growth also exemplifies the competing interests that arise
during the redrawing of congressional and state legislative districts.
Questions over whether to prioritize drawing compact districts,
protecting incumbents, or drawing majority Asian-American statehouse
districts will inevitably confront Nevada’s Democratic-controlled
legislature with difficult decisions when they meet to conduct
At least four Nevada lawmakers identify as Asian American but none
represent the areas of southwest Las Vegas where the population is most
In the assembly, speaker Jason Frierson, assistant majority whip
Sandra Jauregui, and speaker pro tempore Steve Yeager represent
neighboring districts where the population is 28% to 30% Asian American,
Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander.
In the state senate, Democrats Dallas Harris and Melanie Scheible’s
abutting districts are 31% and 27% Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and
Groups like the Asian Community Development Council and the American
Civil Liberties Union of Nevada want the Democratic-controlled
legislature to draw AAPI-majority districts to encourage political
participation and ensure the demographic’s voting power isn’t diluted or
Jeng said non-Asian politicians who represent districts with large
Asian-American populations often enjoy broad support and champion issues
that matter to the community, but he wants districts to be drawn in a
way that ensures Asian-American candidates won’t be deterred from
"When people that look like them represent them, then the community
gets involved more. When they don’t see people representing them who
look like them, they don’t really participate," Jeng said, noting
Michelle Wu and Aftab Pureval’s victories in mayoral elections last week
in Boston and Cincinnati.
The communities that fall under the umbrella "AAPI" — which stands
for Asian American and Pacific Islander — are diverse, but survey data
shows the group is relatively united about certain political issues,
said University of Maryland professor Janelle Wong.
"There’s so much discussion about Asian-American diversity," said
Wong, who also works as co-director of AAPI Data. "But one of the most
critical and astounding features of the Asian-American community is
that, despite this tremendous diversity, there’s actually a remarkable
level of consensus around particular issues."
Asian-American Republicans are more likely to support the Affordable
Care Act than other Republicans and, across income brackets, they’re
similarly likely to support increasing taxes on the rich, with those who
make more than $250,000 annually almost as supportive as those who make
less, 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
American or Pacific Islander to ensure the growing group’s voting power
"We’re concerned that, if the legislature were to advance maps that
are relatively the same as they stand today, it would result in the
dilution of voting power in Nevada’s growing AAPI community that has and
continues to be woefully underrepresented statewide," Athar Haseebullah,
the group’s executive director, told lawmakers at an October committee
Metz is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America
Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national
service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on
Asian Americans are the fastest-growing racial or
ethnic group in the U.S.
By Abby Budiman and Neil G. Ruiz
April 9, 2021
Convergence Across Difference: Understanding the
Political Ties That Bind with the 2016 National Asian American Survey
Janelle Wong, Sono Shah
RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social
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