The Filipino population is growing fast, say Census numbers, and that means more possible voters come November.
The most recent Census data reveals that Asians, not Latinos, are the fastest growing population nationally among racial and ethnic groups. In Southern California, that means larger Chinese and Filipino communities.
Activists have recently made efforts to ratchet up the figures of Asian and especially Filipino voters, in the hope that they'll soon match the growing Census numbers.
There are an estimated 3.4 million Filipinos and Filipino-Americans nationwide. On top of that, there are estimates of up to 600,000 more who are here without proper documentation.
It’s difficult to keep track of the immigrant community locally because there is very little data available, but around half a million Filipinos are believed to make Los Angeles home. That’s enough to get small, local organizations like the Filipino American Service Group to notice.
Executive Director Susan Dilkes says she’s most interested in getting older Filipinos to become U.S. citizens and, come November, cast their votes.
“What we’re targeting are those who have been here for a long time and have been delaying or thinking that it’s not a very important thing to become a U.S. citizen," says Dilkes. Now, she adds, "They’re realizing it and coming out and registering to apply for citizenship.”
Dilkes says Asians in general, and Filipinos in particular, need to recognize their political power and that their votes could influence local and national elections. She says most people running for office fail to understand that Filipinos have the same needs as the wider electorate.
“Really, the top issues that affect the Filipino immigrant community affect them personally, and their families. And those are jobs."
Asian-owned businesses are one of the strongest segments of the economy. According to the Census, these immigrant-owned businesses have also grown exponentially in the past decade — twice as fast as the national rate.