PICO California and our partners have played a strategic role that has helped bring forth many victories that have been life changing for those most impacted by the pain of racist and economic oppression in California.  Occasionally, our work has included lobbying around particular legislative or policy vehicles.  In these instances, PICO California and local federations use unrestricted funding to support costs associated with these direct lobbying efforts.  

Addressing Racial & Identity Profiling

PICO California and our partners celebrated the historicsigning of AB 953 into law—one of the strongest bills to address racial and identity profiling in the country. AB 953 (The Racial & Identity Profiling Act of 2015—by Assemblymember Dr. Shirley Weber) helps to eliminate the repressive and ineffective practice of racial and identity profiling, and improves law enforcement transparency and accountability.  PICO California organizations (a founding member of the Communities United Coalition) worked tirelessly to educate policymakers about the need to end racial and identity profiling, and to expose the -abuses of law enforcement authority, holdingdozens of meetings and trainings across the state and leading a powerful action at the Capitol. Our due diligence paid off and on September 2, 2015, nearly 1,000 people from all over California traveled to Sacramento toraise awareness among legislators and the Governor of the consequences of racial and identify profiling by law enforcement and of the dire need for new policy to address it . PICO California’s organizing efforts included, a week-long around the clock vigil at the Capitol;, a large number of meetings and phone calls to legislators and the Governor, organizational letters, letters from interfaith-clergy and 190 law professors, 22,000 signed petitions, a multi-legged pilgrimage, 3000 signed prayer cards, 1,100 online prayer petition signatures, and several die-ins.

Governor Brown signed AB 953 on Saturday, October 3, 2015 just two days before an impending hunger strike led by members of the Communities United Coalition was set to begin. 

Download our full report to learn more about PICO California’s extensive organizing efforts to end racial and identity profiling.

Key partners include: Communities United for Fair Policing Coalition founding members ACLU of California, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Dignity & Power Now, PICO California, Reform California, and Youth Justice Coalition. Other grassroots groups and advocacy organizations such as the Courage Campaign, Incite Insight, and Amplify supported the effort.

Proposition 47, the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act

California made history on November 4, 2014, when 59.6 percent of the electorate voted Yes on Proposition 47. The initiative, the first of its kind in the nation, reclassifies six nonviolent felonies as misdemeanors and represents an important step forward in our work to dismantle and reverse the damage caused by mass incarceration in our state and country. Proposition 47 is a groundbreaking initiative that goes further than any ballot initiative in history to undo some of the worst excesses of the war on drugs (and its severely disproportionate impact on communities of color). Thousands of people now behind bars will be eligible for release and thousands fewer will be incarcerated annually.

Through the PICO Action Fund, PICO California’s 19 local community-organizing groups played a pivotal role in the passage of Proposition 47. Working in partnership with Californians for Safe Neighborhoods and Schools and the California Calls Action Fund, we built a powerful grassroots civic engagement program focused on new and infrequent voters, primarily of color, who exercised their voting power to pass this historic measure.

PICO California developed and executed our voter engagement program for the 2014 mid-term election, which leveraged 22,000 hours of volunteer time, resulting in 250,000 conversations with new and infrequent voters, particularly voters of color and young people, and the identification of 105,163 “yes” voters to pass Proposition 47.

Read more about PICO California’s extensive organizing efforts around Prop 47 here

Key partners include: Californians for Safe Neighborhoods and Schools and the California Calls Action Fund

Immigrant Integration & Inclusion

PICO California and our immigration partners have played significant roles in the strategic efforts to increase understanding of the need for new state policies that expand the rights and protection of undocumented immigrants.  Our volunteer leaders have provided countless testimonies about the impact that policies like Secure Communities have had on families, and have worked closely with our allies to lift up the need for policy that protects undocumented residents from detention and deportation.

With our coalition partners, wecapitalized on the momentum to shape the public debate around federal immigration reform, helping to create a political opportunity for California to lead on immigrant rights. The state of California took a bold step when Governor Brown signed AB 4, the Trust Act, which limits local law enforcement cooperation with the Secure Communities program and protects undocumented residents from detention and deportation.

Driver’s License

PICO California volunteer leaders have a long   history of work to advance immigrant rights, including    driver’s licenses for undocumented residents. In the past, we worked with Senator Gil Cedillo (the originalchampion of driver’s licenses for undocumented residents), including holding town halls around the state in 2004 to build public awareness.. After more than a decade,, PICO California and immigration rights advocates celebrated the signing of AB60, which allows any eligible California resident to receive a driver’s license, regardless of immigration status. In 2013, Estefania Hermosillo, a PICO California leader from the Central Valley, was among a group of clergy and lay leaders who met with Governor Brown about our budget and policy priorities. In that meeting, she shared her story and that of her family’s need to drive — with or without a license. While she expressed her appreciation for his signing of the driver’s license for DACA youth, shealso lifted up the need to extend the privilege to all immigrants in the state, regardless of their documentation status. Estefania Hermosillo was later invited to introduce Governor Brown at the signing ceremony in Fresno. PICO California federations are currently working on implementation by hosting forums to raise awareness and supporting efforts to prepare immigrants for the application process.

Partners include: The Center for Immigrant Policy (CIPC), Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), and Coalition for Human Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA).

Economic Dignity

Through our long-term commitment to increase opportunity for formerly incarcerated community members, PICO California has advanced various campaigns to ensure economic dignity.    In 2013, PICO California co-sponsored with partners AB 218, which requires state and local government agencies to remove questions about prior convictions from their job applications.  As part of our work to advance efforts to “Ban the Box,” we supported the firstresearch day led by formerly incarcerated individuals, testified at hearings, and hosted forums and trainings in local communities. With the passage of this  state legislation, which built on our local work and victories in cities like Richmond, AB 218 opened up the opportunity for government jobs to nearly seven million formerly incarcerated individuals.

Bill sponsors include: All of Us or None, National Employment Law Project (NELP), and Legal Services for Prisoners with Children.

Local Control Funding Formula and Education Equity

In June 2013, Governor Jerry Brown signed Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), marking a radical shift in K-12 education funding to drive billions of dollars to schools and districts serving California’s most at-risk students: English language learners, low-income students, and foster youth. Our work on equitable funding spans more than a decade, including releasing a report with partners in 2008, called “Now That We Have the Facts,” detailing the results of a statewide survey of parents and students calling for an equitable funding system to support all students graduating college and career ready.

We were part of the coalition that worked over many years to raise awareness among policy makers of the need fora more equitable funding system. Our work with partners on Prop 30 raised the revenue necessary to fund it. Since the passage of LCFF, PICO California leaders have been working locally and at the state level to make sure this historic civil rights win is implemented with fidelity and truly begins to address historic inequities in educational opportunities and academic outcomes. Our work has included co-authoring a best practices guide for engaging parents in LCFF, organizing in 10 districts around the state, and PICO California leaders and clergy testifying at State Board of Education hearings about LCAP regulations and LCFF implementation.

Key partners include: Children Now, ACLU, Ed Trust West, Public Advocates, Campaign for Quality Education, and Californians for Justice.