After graduation from Hastings College of the Law, Jacquelyn (Jackie) Maruhashi worked for the Disability Housing Law Center in San Jose representing people with disabilities in cases involving wheelchair access under the Americans with Disabilities Act, discrimination, and eviction defense. Thereafter, Jackie joined the ALA staff in 1987 to represent tenants who were facing eviction and later worked on immigrant eligibility for public benefits and community empowerment projects such as Census, Redistricting and Voting Rights.
In Census 2010, Jackie, together with other community leaders, developed and implemented a successful community outreach plan to maximize an accurate count for Santa Clara County residents. Historically, the Asian Pacific American (APA) community has been undercounted due to many factors including limited English proficiency and fear of government. With limited funds, they achieved a 74% mail back rate for the City of San Jose, among the highest rates in the nation for a city of its size. An accurate Census count is critical for the community since $400 billion in tax dollars are allocated every year based on the Census. Each person counted is estimated to bring in $1,500 per year to fund social services, repair roads, build hospitals and schools, and finance other projects that benefit our community.
In 1992, Jackie successfully advocated to have Santa Clara County provide voluntary bilingual ballots for Vietnamese American voters since the community just missed the threshold for mandated bilingual ballots possibly due to a large undercount of Asian Americans in the 1990 Census. In 1996, for similar reasons, she worked with leaders from the Chinese American community to have Santa Clara County provide voluntary bilingual ballots in Chinese. Under Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act (the Bilingual Assistance provisions) based upon the 2000 Census, both the Chinese and Vietnamese American communities reached the population thresholds and other requirements to mandate that Santa Clara County provide bilingual assistance to both communities.
Jackie has also worked on a number of public benefit cases, and has conducted outreach and education on topics such as health care, the Affordable Care Act, and immigrant eligibility for public benefits. When laws to protect abused immigrants were first enacted, she took to hearing precedential cases to expand CalWorks (the cash assistance program for low-income families with minor children), CalFresh (a federal supplemental nutrition program) and Medi-Cal benefits for T (Trafficking) Visa holders. Similarly, in the General Assistance context, she expanded eligibility for abused immigrants holding VAWA (Violence Against Women Act), U Visa (Victims of Violent Crimes) and sponsored legal permanent residency statuses. In Jacques, et. al vs. County of Santa Clara, Case. No. 112-CV-225923, Jackie together with co-counsel successfully eliminated the General Assistance landlord rent verification requirements for recipients, who through no fault of their own, could not obtain verification to receive the County rental assistance.
Jackie is a member of the APABA-SV, the Health Justice Network, the Public Benefits Task Force which meets quarterly with the Santa Clara County Social Services Agency management, and the Santa Clara County Health Care Reform Stakeholders’ group. She has received distinct honors, including the San Jose Mayor Hammer’s Outstanding Women of Silicon Valley, Santa Clara County Bar Association’s Unsung Heroes Award, and Silicon Valley Asian Pacific American Democratic Club’s Helen Tao Community Activist Award.