An Asian voter in San Francisco's 2018 election.
An Asian American voter filling out their ballot in the San Francisco 2018 midterm elections

As COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease and the unemployment rates fall, we remember that change is possible. In the next few weeks, noncitizen parents in San Francisco will cast a vote in the school board elections – many for the first time – providing a growing voice for immigrant families throughout the Bay Area. 

While we celebrate the wins, we also recognize the challenges facing the communities we serve two years into the pandemic. Across the country, immigrants continue to feel the chilling effects of Trump-era policies, and Asian American and Pacific Islanders continue to grapple with waves of racism and xenophobia. 

Thanks for joining us in the work ahead. Continue reading for more information about what our team has been up to. 

CAA activates noncitizen voters ahead of February elections

This marks the first election since the permanent extension of noncitizen voting rights for San Francisco parents in Board of Education elections. 

Last fall, the Board of Supervisors passed a permanent extension to noncitizen voting laws, which authorize all parents and guardians in San Francisco to vote in school board elections regardless of their immigration status. CAA and the Immigrant Parent Voting Collaborative (IPVC), of which CAA is a founding member, were critical in making this possible. 

On January 27, 2022, we joined the IPVC in holding a virtual press conference to bring attention to our communities’ newfound voting rights ahead of the SFUSD special elections on February 15. The event brought together dozens of parents and educators, as well as immigrant advocates and public officials, to recognize this important moment in immigrant justice. 

“Our voices are not being heard, because we don’t get a choice to vote in federal or state elections,” said Amos Lim, CAA’s program manager and a noncitizen voter in San Francisco. “As a parent, I would like to have a say in who gets appointed to the SFUSD Board and education policies that impact my child.” 

Still, our work is not over. With just one week left before the special election, CAA and IPVC continue to conduct in-language outreach to ensure that all eligible voters return their ballots. So far, registration is  high — with four times the number of registrants as in previous years — and we are hopeful that the collective voice of our immigrant communities will be heard this time. 

Responding to the U.S. Supreme Court case on affirmative action 

CAA joins education advocates in dispelling the prevailing myths surrounding race-conscious admissions that pit Asian Americans against other students of color. 

As a longtime advocate for education equity, CAA was frustrated by the Supreme Court’s decision to review two lawsuits — Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) v. Harvard and SFFA v. University of North Carolina — that challenge the role of race conscious admissions in higher education. 

We know these cases well. In fact, since 2020, CAA and 32 other Asian American organizations have served as signatories on the amicus brief supporting race-conscious admissions at Harvard and the University of North Carolina. 

This brief dispels the prevailing myths that pit Asian Americans against other students of color; indicates the growing support for affirmative action among Asian Americans; and exposes the racism behind SFFA’s attempt to roll back a law that has been settled for decades now. It also praises the benefits of affirmative action policies, which are shown to diversify our student population and the U.S. workforce. 

The Court will hear oral arguments later this fall. Until then, click here to read our public statement, and learn more about CAA’s decades-long fight for fair and equitable access to public education.

Remembering Vicha Ratanapakdee 

CAA calls for civil rights protections, community investments in victim and survivor wraparound services, and other localized solutions to anti-Asian hate. 

On January 28, 2021, a little over a year ago, 87-year-old Vicha Ratanapakdee was killed in a brutal attack that sent shockwaves across AAPI communities in San Francisco and throughout the U.S. In recognition of this tragic anniversary, two CAA coalitions — the Coalition for Community Safety and Justice (CCSJ) and Stop AAPI Hate — published statements of support for his loved ones and other families who have experienced harm.

CCSJ called for increased investments in victim wraparound services, community outreach, ambassador programs and language access to protect and serve our most vulnerable communities. And Stop AAPI Hate asserted the role of education and civil rights enforcement in addressing the rise of hate, violence, and xenophobia.

With the pain and hardship that anti-Asian hate has brought to victims and survivors, CAA insists that our calls for action be answered by all sectors of society, and with local, state, and federal resources to help our communities thrive.

Click here to read the CCSJ statement or here to read the Stop AAPI Hate statement

Keeping immigrants informed 

CAA advocates for new regulations, to prevent the return of the “public charge rule” and other anti-immigrant policies. 

Between the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting recession, many immigrant communities struggle to make ends meet. Even with a new president in office, the Trump-era expansion of the “public charge” rule, which punished immigrants for drawing upon food, healthcare, and housing assistance, some households still feel reluctant to access the public benefits to which they are entitled.  

In response to applied pressure from immigrant advocates like us, the Biden administration rescinded the public charge rule last spring, and directed the Department of State to introduce new regulations to prevent future administrations from advancing similar anti-immigrant policies. In a public comment submitted late last month, CAA called for a clear and compassionate ruling that brings peace of mind to immigrant households; restores confidence in public benefits; and treats immigrants with fairness and humanity.

While a decision is made, CAA’s immigrant rights team is moving ahead with accreditation from the U.S. Department of Justice to provide an even wider range of immigration services, including naturalization and green card renewals, and general consultations on shifting immigration policies like the public charge rule. Click here to learn more about CAA’s services and programs in support of immigrant communities.