Every resident of California should be equally protected by the law and fully included in our society. In the Assembly, I will work tirelessly to:
- Strengthen our immigrant sanctuary laws to prevent state contracts with private contractors who collaborate with ICE or participate in building the border wall.
- Increase funding and capacity for California's civil rights agency to protect all Californians from discrimination based on race, sexual orientation, gender, and other social identities by employers, landlords, public services, or care providers.
- Expand the right to vote in state and local elections to include all California residents over 18, including immigrant residents with state-issued identification.
- Guarantee legal counsel, with state funding support, for immigrant California residents navigating the federal immigration process.
- Include all California residents, regardless of federal immigration status, in Medicare for All, affordable housing, and free public pre-K and college programs.
Federal politicians and their corporate donors work to intimidate and divide working people because they know they can profit by pitting us against each other. But working people know we are strong when we stand together united in the face of these attacks. Fifty years after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination, the struggle for civil rights continues. California has taken worthwhile steps to protect our LGBT and immigrant community members but we need to go much further to fully protect all the states' residents' civil rights and inclusion in public society.
During my time as an elected leader in Richmond I passionately sought to protect and expand residents' civil rights. During my first term I was subjected to discriminatory insults and abuse by other City Councilmembers, as a black, Latina immigrant and the proud partner of my wife. These attacks pained and saddened me but I held my ground, focused on improving the lives of Richmond's working people, and was vindicated by an outpouring of public support at Council meetings and resounding re-election in 2014.
I worked to provide funding for our city's Human Rights Commission to enable it more fully to investigate and protect against discrimination by employers, landlords, public services, and private companies. My experiences in public office, particularly in working successfully to raise the minimum wage and win rent control, have shaped my commitment to work at the state level to unite working people and gain reforms that benefit us all.
Fully Include Immigrants in California Society
California and the East Bay are home to thousands of immigrants, many of whom are undocumented. I too am an immigrant, having come to the United States from Panama as a child. Immigrants are neighbors, coworkers, students, and active members of our community, and like everyone, we all deserve lives free from persecution and social exclusion. I wholeheartedly support the California sanctuary state law and will do everything I can to protect the rights of immigrants.
In order to fully protect these rights, we must go further than the current law which leaves open the loophole that government contractors can collaborate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). ICE is a federal agency notorious for its brutal, discriminatory persecution of immigrants. I advocate extending sanctuary legislation to prevent state contractors from collaborating with ICE.
In Sacramento, I will work for state legislation to protect all workers from intimidation and blackmail based on their immigration status. Too often, employers abuse and exploit immigrant workers knowing employees will not hold them accountable for fear of deportation. We can and should use our power at the state level to end such intimidation.
The state could provide direct support to immigrant community members navigating the federal immigration system, keeping communities and families together in the process. I support guaranteed legal counsel for residents of California facing immigration proceedings, with state funding for those who need it. People claiming refugee status must have top priority for this guaranteed counsel. Every Californian has a constitutional right to a public defender and our immigrant community members deserve no less when they face the cruel, discriminatory federal immigration system.
We should fully include immigrants in our society and our politics. Under our state and federal Constitution, we can extend the right to vote in state and local elections to all residents of California, regardless of their federal immigration status. I will push for full enfranchisement in state and local elections for all adult residents of California with state-issued identification. California leads the country by providing drivers' licenses and identification cards to Californians who are federally undocumented. With these identification systems we can expand the right to vote to all Californians, including federally undocumented immigrants, and ensure that every member of our community has the voice they deserve in state and local elections.
I'm glad that California covers many of our undocumented state residents with Medi-Cal low-income health insurance. We should expand this important step. As we win Medicare for All, Housing for All, free public college, and other universal social programs, these must be truly universal, including all California residents regardless of federal immigration status. Full inclusion of immigrant residents in strong education, healthcare, and housing is the crucial foundation for full inclusion in all of California society.
State Action for Strong Civil Rights
Californians should live free from discrimination by employers, landlords, public programs, and care providers based on race, sexual orientation, gender, or disability. Wage inequity and housing discrimination are rampant. Our state has a civil rights agency, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which has been too poorly funded to adequately investigate and prevent discrimination. I support expanding our civil rights agency funding and capacity so it can fully serve its anti-discrimination goals.
We must make California safe for all of us, especially for people of color and LGBTQ people unfairly targeted by law enforcement. I share in the deep public outrage over systemic injustices that have taken the lives of Sandra Bland, Oscar Grant, Stephon Clark, and far too many others. I will support state measures to demilitarize law enforcement, to prevent racial profiling, and to limit the use of lethal force. We should abolish cash bail. Our overburdened public defender system must be strengthened to support equal justice in our court system as swiftly as possible.
With every power available at the state level, I will support House Resolution 2282, to amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include sexual orientation and gender identity as identifying protected classes.
I will promote legislation condemning bullying and hate crimes against LGBTQ people. I advocate training to help teachers identify and assist LGBTQ students who need support.
In the Assembly, I will press for stronger protections against discrimination that affects LGBTQ and HIV positive seniors in long-term facilities, and will oppose religious exemptions that permit discrimination against LGBTQ people by private businesses and care providers.
Medicare for All must provide coverage for transgender health care, abortion, and training for care providers to serve all community members with sensitivity and respect. Incarcerated transgender people must have equal access to the healthcare they need.
California's minimum wage affects women more than men. Women make up two-thirds of all minimum wage workers. In Sacramento, I will build on my experience in the successful effort to raise Richmond's minimum wage, and will work to increase the minimum wage to $20 an hour.
I will work to provide excellent childcare and pre-K education for all Californians, regardless of income for healthy childhood development, and to expand women's access to education and workforce participation.