Sa U.S.:Rob Bonta appointed California’s first Filipino American attorney general


“The honor of a lifetime,” says son of civil rights activists

Teodoro Alcuitas

Editor, PhilippineCanadianNews.Com (PCN.Com)

The son of farm worker activists has made history as the first Filipino American to be appointed Attorney General for California.

Rob Bonta, an assemblyman, was nominated to be the state’s top cop by California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on March 24. 

Born in the Philippines, he moved to California with his parents when he was two months old. His parents, Cynthia and Warren Bonta, worked as organizers for United Farm Workers of America and founder César Chávez, giving him a close-up view of agricultural workers’ fight for visibility. He grew up in the Central Valley and the family eventually moved to the Sacramento area.

The 48-year old Bonta is a graduate of Yale University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in history and his law degree. He and his wife, Mia Bonta, who is president of the Alameda Unified School District board, met there. They have three children and live in the East Bay. 

A former San Francisco deputy city attorney, Mr. Bonta served briefly on the Alameda City Council before running for the State Assembly.

Mr. Bonta called the job “the honor of a lifetime,” in a statement.

“I became a lawyer because I saw the law as the best way to make a positive difference for the most people,” he said.

The job of Attorney General could be a springboard to higher office — alumni include Vice President Kamala Harris and former Gov. Jerry Brown — the job is broad. And the attorney general has wide latitude to set his or her own agenda.

Bonta worked  with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to adopt new rules to prevent racial profiling by the California Highway Patrol.

Approximately one-third of Asian Americans live in California, making up 16% of the population,” according to the state’s 2020 census. More than 22 million people make up the Asian Pacific (API) community nationwide.

In 2012 Bonta won the election to the California Assembly, representing Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro. 

According to the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA),  Bonta is “a champion for immigrant rights, women’s rights, environmental protections, health care access, and language access to voting.”  He also advocated for California school curriculum to include the role that Filipino Americans played in the California Labor Movement. 

“Rob Bonta has been front and center on issues across the spectrum,” Newsom said at a press conference announcing his appointmenet. “He’s a remarkable person … A person of character. A person of honor. A person of justice.”

Bonta’s nomination is subject to confirmation by the state’s Assembly and Senate within 90 days.


Asian American Congress members

Data: Brookings Institution, U.S. House and Senate; Note: Data does not include non-voting members. Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

The number of Asian Americans elected to Congress has increased significantly through the years and is currently at a record high, but the total representation still only amounts to about 3% of the membership, according to Axios.

Why it matters: Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.), chairperson of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, has made it her mission to increase Asian American and Pacific Islander representation across the spectrum of government.

  • CAPAC has had meetings with the White House and throughout the administration to hold President Biden to his promise of building a federal branch reflecting the diversity of the country, a caucus aide told Axios.
  • There are several members of the community represented at the highest levels of Biden’s administration, including Vice President Kamala Harris. She made history as the first South Asian American elected to that office.
  • On Wednesday, the Senate also confirmed Katherine Tai, the daughter of Chinese immigrants, to serve as U.S. trade representative, making her the first woman of color to serve in the role.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top