Examining the Impact of California State Senator Aisha Wahab's Controversial Bills

Jul 25, 2023 - 10:12
Examining the Impact of California State Senator Aisha Wahab's Controversial Bills

California State Senator Aisha Wahab has been at the forefront of introducing several bills, some
of which have sparked heated debates and controversies. While she advocates for certain issues,
her approach and collaboration with various interest groups have raised concerns among many
Californians. This article aims to provide an overview of some of Senator Wahab's proposed bills
and the reactions they have elicited from different segments of the diaspora community.

SB 403—Caste Bill: A Polarizing Initiative

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One of the most contentious bills introduced by Senator Wahab is SB 403, commonly known as
the "Caste Bill." A Bill that professes an end to caste discrimination, perpetuates discrimination
and profiling of sections of minority communities in USA and is in itself discriminatory. This bill
has drawn criticism from the Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Buddhist American communities, who are
deeply concerned that the bill is not facially neutral and is divisive for the community.
Critics argue that the bill targets Hindu Americans and is allegedly influenced by special interest
groups like Equality Labs and anti-India forces.

Legal counsels in the senate and the assembly have noted the adamant and perplexing focus on
adding caste by Senator Aisha Wahab in particular. The Bill is especially superfluous for two
reasons. One, caste is already covered under existing law and secondly, there are absolutely no
known cases of caste discrimination in California. Then why is Wahab adamant? And why is she
not concerned about the violations in the CISCO case where Sunder Iyer and Ramana Kompella
were targeted only for being Hindu and who were violated of their Equal Protection clause and
first amendment rights? According to Castegate.org and the evidence presented there in, CRD
the civil rights department has displayed high handed behavior and violation of the civil rights of
the two defendants in the CISCO case.

SB 404—Backdoor support for Pedophilia?

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SB 404, commonly referred to as the "Child Marriage Bill" has also been met with skepticism. Contrary to its name, the bill's objective has been misunderstood. Its aim is not to ban child marriage but to regulate it further, which on the surface appears to be supportive of minor rights. Yet this bill appears to provide a back door entry to marrying underage girls. Section 1 of the bill (see slide) excuses pedophilia with punitive damages and even has sanctions to legalize or solemnize it using court orders.

This bill is very concerning for Muslim families and girls especially who are often married off as
minors. AHA foundation, Ayan Hirsi Ali’s website features a testimony of a Muslim girl Sara
Tasneem and her trials and tribulations due to underage marriage to an older man, "where she felt
like a prisoner" Sara Tasneem is running a petition against SB 404.

The bill has moved through the Assembly Judiciary Committee in late June and is now in the
Appropriations Committee.

SB 460—Ban the Box in Background Checks Bill: Safety Concerns

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If Senator Wahab's previous bills at least had a cloak of social justice over their dangerous propositions, SB 460, a bill that was vehemently opposed by many groups was a bill that had no pretenses of safety or social justice. The proposed "Ban the Box in Background Checks Bill" (SB 460) has raised significant safety concerns among housing providers and landlords.

The two checks that people carry out while buying homes or renting it out is credit checks and
background checks. What if it was considered inappropriate to ask your criminal background
when you were supposed to move into the neighborhood?

The bill throws all pretenses and advocates just that! It would have made it illegal and inappropriate to ask people to provide their criminal background. The bill would have required that landlords show compliance with fair housing practices, potentially allowing people with criminal backgrounds to rent homes without thorough background checks. This from Wahab who is the chair of the Public Safety Committee.
This idea has been met with resistance from landlords and community members who prioritize
safety and security. Due to the severe backlash, the bill was eventually tabled and shelved.

SB 573—Anti Staffers Bill: A Struggle for Legislative Staffers

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Another bill introduced by Senator Wahab, SB 573, received criticism for its potential impact on legislative staffers' careers. Opponents argue that the bill could create a stranglehold on staff careers, forcing them to remain in potentially toxic work environments. The nonprofit organization We Said Enough, which advocates against workplace harassment and discrimination, expressed concern over the bill's consequences on staffers' well-being.

This bill which is now shelved, brought about inner details of how Wahab’s high-handed work
style is detested among her staffers and how little respect she commanded among the legislative

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As Chairperson of the Safety Commission, and an influential figure in California's legislative
landscape, Senator Aisha Wahab's proposed bills have sparked passionate debates and

While her intentions may be aligned with specific causes, the implementation and implications of
some bills have been met with resistance and apprehension from various communities and
interest groups.

Aisha Wahab’s introduction of four disastrous bills is a cue to Californians of District 10 to
understand the implications of such laws that can potentially harm the interest of California, its
citizens, residents and businesses. There needs to be deeper research on Wahab’s voting
record to see if she is indeed working for the interest of her constituents and whether her
actions are instead harming the state’s interests.

Follow Caste Files on Twitter @CasteFiles

Abhijit Bagal and Richa Gautam Abhijit Bagal is a legal analyst at Caste Files. He is a Healthcare Analytics technologist at a managed care organization specializing in publicly funded behavioral healthcare. He holds a master's degree in software engineering and an MBA with a specialization in comparative international health. Additionally, Abhijit is a part-time law student with a focus on civil rights, due process, and equal protection of the law. Richa Gautam is Founder of Caste Files and Co-Founder and Executive Director at Cares Global. She has been active in the field of advocacy and human rights for over a decade. She is currently engaged in the field of diversity, inclusiveness, and minority rights as well as decolonial practices with Cares Global and she is a Senior Research Associate at Indus University and a Fellow of the Center of Indic Studies at Ahmedabad.