Building a Better Democracy


It’s been a busy year. At Advancing Justice — California, we’ve been hard at work fighting back against an administration that continues to demonize our immigrant communities and threaten the security of millions of Californians on a daily basis. Despite these challenges, we’re proud of all that we’ve accomplished over the past year, including the passage of two key bills and a major budget investment that exemplify our California values and continued efforts to ensure our state is welcoming and inclusive for all of its residents, regardless of citizenship status. While the next year is sure to prove just as challenging as this one, we’re taking a moment to celebrate our accomplishments from 2018.

Creating an inclusive campus climate — AB 2291 (Chiu)
Signed into law and effective January 1, 2019

Co-Sponsors: Advancing Justice — California, Advancement Project California, Council on American Islamic Relations — California, Equality California

Every student should have the right to learn in a school environment free from bullying and harassment. A 2016 student survey by the Council on American-Islamic Relations found that Muslim students reported significantly higher rates of discrimination and bullying compared to others, with 53% of respondents — more than twice the national average — describing instances of harassment for being Muslim. AB 2291, introduced by Assemblymember David Chiu and signed into law by Governor Brown on September 18, 2018, works to address bullying in California schools by providing necessary online tools to school employees and requiring local education agencies to develop bullying prevention plans.

Learn more about AB 2291 by watching Advancing Justice — Los Angeles’ Facebook Live Chat describing the impact of the bill on our schools and communities.

Reform the pardon & commutation process — AB 2845 (Bonta)
Signed into law and effective January 1, 2019

Co-Sponsors: Advancing Justice — California, Asian Prisoner Support Committee, California Coalition for Women Prisoners, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, PICO California, Root and Rebound, and Youth Justice Coalition

While individuals with convictions may spend years rehabilitating and giving back to their communities, immigrants in these circumstances face the constant threat of being sent back to countries where they have few or no ties. With immigration arrests on the rise under the Trump administration, more and more of our community members are forced to seek pardons as a means of potentially avoiding deportation. Unfortunately, the process to apply for a pardon in California has historically lacked the transparency and accountability that its residents deserve. AB 2845, introduced by Assemblymember Rob Bonta and signed into law by Governor Brown on September 27, 2018, improves the pardon and commutation process by requiring notifications of application status to petitioners, clarifying that immigration status doesn’t bar individuals from obtaining a pardon, and expanding employment protections from the 2017 “Ban the Box” law to include pardoned individuals.

Learn more about AB 2845 and the impact of pardons in our community by watching Advancing Justice — Asian Law Caucus’ press conference advocating for pardons for Southeast Asian refugees facing deportation.

Census planning & outreach funding
2018–2019 California State Budget invests $90.3 million for census planning & outreach

Partners: Census Policy Advocacy Network (CPAN)

The U.S. Census, in addition to painting a portrait of our nation, is critical to determining how funds and resources are allocated over the next ten years. This makes it all the more essential to ensure that our communities are included in the count, and that those who are historically undercounted fully participate in the 2020 Census, including one-fifth of Asian Americans and one-third of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders who live in hard-to-count census tracts. Advancing Justice — California, along with a diverse group of community-based organizations, worked to secure $90.3 million for Census Planning and Outreach in the 2018–2019 California State Budget in order to ensure all of our communities are counted. With the recent proposal to include a citizenship question on the 2020 Census, which would create widespread fear and a severe undercount in immigrant communities, we’re continuing to push for a fairer and more inclusive census. For more information regarding state funding allocations, you can access the funding page at the California Complete Count Committee.

Health & economic security — Health For All
2018–2019 California State Budget did not include vital investment for expanded Medi-Cal

Partners: Health for All Coalition

It is a tragic reality that millions of Californians lack access to vital health services because of their citizenship status. This injustice is particularly acute for older residents who simply want to live with dignity, but who too often must choose between medical treatment and insurmountable debt. Throughout the budget cycle, Advancing Justice — California worked with a coalition of health and immigrant rights advocates to push for the expansion of full-scope Medi-Cal to eligible low-income undocumented adults. While the State Senate and Assembly included expanded Medi-Cal for undocumented elders and young adults, respectively, in their budget proposals, the final budget did not invest the budget surplus in expanded coverage. Nevertheless, our efforts advanced a challenging and long overdue debate, and we will continue to push for Medi-Cal to cover all low-income undocumented Californians in future legislative cycles.

We’re proud of all that we accomplished with your support in 2018 and inspired to continue advocating for justice in California and across the country. While we know that there are challenging fights ahead, we also know that we can turn this into an opportunity to not only defend, but also to advance protections and opportunities for our communities. Together, we can and will build a better future for the diverse and resilient communities that we serve.

Advancing Justice — CA is a partnership between Asian Americans Advancing Justice — Los Angeles (Advancing Justice-LA)and Asian Americans Advancing Justice — Asian Law Caucus (Advancing Justice-ALC) in San Francisco



Advancing Justice Southern California (AJSOCAL)

AJSOCAL is the nation's largest legal aid and civil rights organization serving the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander community