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Petitioning Assembly Member Rob Bonta (California District 18)

Add Iu Mien ethnic group to AB 176 to capture true health and educational disparities of underrepresented minorities within Asian American & Pacific Islander community

PURPOSE OF PETITION:

Iu Mien Americans support goal of AB 176 (Bonta)—a California bill that requires collection of disaggregated data in public health and education for specified subgroups in the API community—but are not included in the list of ethnic subgroups supported by the bill. We hereby request Assemblymember Bonta to include Iu Mien as an identifiable group on the bill before it becomes law. Support this movement by signing this petition urging Assemblymember Bonta to include Iu Mien in AB 176!

BACKGROUND:

AB 176 (Bonta) is a bill that requires the California Department of Public Health and the administration of the California Community Colleges, California State University, and University of California to use specified categories for each major Asian and Pacific Islander (API) groups. Collecting disaggregated data is critical to reveal the disparities faced by each ethnic group and will be fundamental for policymakers to use as evidence when advocating for services that would intervene and prevent these disparities from growing. 

Though many API communities face similar challenges, each ethnic group within the API community varies in issues especially as it relates to health and educational disparities.  Many subgroups, Southeast Asians for example, have lower rates of educational attainment and higher rates of psychological and health problems compared to other groups within the API category.  If California relied on aggregated data, these inequalities of all API subgroups will continue to be masked under the harmful and inaccurate “model minority” stereotype that assumes Asian Americans will excel and face no obstacles.  Aggregated data of API communities as a whole misrepresents the needs of each ethnic subpopulation. AB 176 will require the public entities mentioned above to report disaggregated data in the fields of health and education for each of the ethnic groups supported in the bill. Examples of data that would be collected include, but not limited to, graduation rates, enrollment and financial aid rates, disease rates, health insurance coverage, and etc. 

For details about the bill, please see: http://goo.gl/zw7yFV

CALL TO ACTION:

Though AB 176 is an important step towards ensuring that California adequately collects data to support the subgroups within the API communities, it is deeply concerning that the Iu Mien ethnic group (commonly known as Mien) is not included in the list of ethnicities that will be supported by the bill. 

The bill, as currently stated in Section 66027.1, requests data for “(1) Each major Asian group, including, but not limited to, Asian India, Bangladeshi, Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Hmong, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Malaysian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Taiwanese, Thai and Vietnamese.”  Regrettably, the bill does not include the Iu Mien ethnic group despite their growing presence in California and historical involvement as U.S. allies during the Vietnam War; Iu Mien involvement resulted in political refugee status that required families to flee their homes in Laos and Thailand to seek asylum in the U.S. in the late 1970’s-1980’s (see history of Iu Mien below).

Being able to address health disparities is the key to longevity.  Access to higher education is the gateway to information, to knowledge, to opportunities and to advancement. As a marginalized group, to leave out the ability to collect disaggregated data on the Iu Mien in these areas is in direct conflict with the spirit and the essence of the goal of AB 176. Leaving Iu Mien out of AB 176 would further disenfranchise Iu Mien both individually and as a community; these negative effects would also ripple out to greatly impact the larger communities they reside.

Adding Iu Mien to AB176 will serve as a critical and meaningful vehicle to correct a historical pattern of routinely neglecting Iu Mien people from larger conversations, add value to any data collecting initiatives, and increase disparities research and statistical analysis endeavors that would positively impact future policies and services for the Iu Mien. Additionally, any public information as a result of AB 176 would, in part, lay groundwork for Census 2020 efforts to ensure that the next Decennial includes Iu-Mien for the first time. Collection of this data is the necessary first step in addressing inequitable educational and health outcomes affecting the Iu Mien population in the U.S. 

Support this movement by signing this petition urging Assemblymember Bonta to include Iu Mien in AB 176!

WHO ARE THE IU MIEN AND WHY THIS MATTERS:

The Iu Mien are political refugees from Laos who were recruited by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to fight as allies during the “Secret War”, part of the Vietnam War, alongside Royal Lao army, Hmong and other hill tribes, against the Pathet Lao Communists and Viet Cong. Almost forty years has passed since the first Iu Mien family stepped foot on American soil. There are approximately 25,000 Iu Mien Americans in California, an ethnic group significantly smaller when compared to other Asian Pacific Islanders in California. This very fact alone has hindered Iu Mien in many ways and on many levels - particularly when they attempt to seek resources for the development and progress of community related goals. 

Similar to Hmong and other ethnic groups represented in the proposed bill, the issues faced by the Iu Mien include both educational and health disparities (e.g. quality access to health care, quality access to education, etc.).  Being included in the disaggregated data effort will benefit the Iu Mien community tremendously as it will open opportunities for better and more accurate assessments of the types of support the Iu Mien community needs. Not including the Iu Mien will be a public health issue.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF SUPPORT:

We, the undersigned, support AB 176 to expand the list of subgroups supported by the bill to include Iu Mien as an identifiable group within the larger Asian Pacific Islander community. Identifying Iu Mien as a distinct and separate group will serve to recognize the existence of a people, reveal the disparities that need to be addressed, and more importantly, validate the contributions that Iu Mien people have made to the communities in which they reside.  

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact: iumienadvocates@gmail.com.

This petition was delivered to:
  • Assembly Member Rob Bonta (California District 18)


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