Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Blog

  • Increasing Participation through Stronger Partnerships

    Members of the RIWG Discuss Worker's Rights Issues

    Members of the RIWG discuss workers’ rights issues during a regional roundtable in Boston, March 18, 2014. (by Roberto Medina)

    Recently, we had the pleasure of organizing the first Regional Interagency Working Group roundtable with members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community in Boston. One of the RIWG's goals is to bring the Federal government to local communities. We had a constructive dialogue about how we could further develop partnerships with the AAPI community in order to tackle the challenges of accessing government services and programs. Speakers from the US Department of Labor, the Department of Health and Human Services, Citizenship and Immigration Services, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Small Business Administration, and the Social Security Administration assembled to not only present their respective agency's work, but to also answer questions from attendees.

    We are proud to report that the inaugural roundtable for Region 1 was a success. Staff from the Federal agencies responded directly to questions about issues surrounding workers' rights, economic development and assistance, and health and social services. The discussions included how limited English proficient individuals not only had difficulty accessing programs for small business and home loans, but also did not know how to access the technical assistance programs designed to assist applicants, due to the language barrier. Issues of language access arose again concerning access to worker protections laws and the importance of providing that information in culturally sensitive and linguistically relevant ways.

    Roundtable attendees also requested there be more opportunities to engage with each individual agency to further strengthen and build new partnerships between their friends and neighbors and the Federal government. Given that Region 1 RIWG members possess decades of experience in the Federal government, we are well-positioned to help open the doors of the government to those who have been left out for too long. But most importantly, we also have the energy and the commitment to continue to confront these and many other issues with the AAPI community in the days and weeks ahead.

    Roberto Medina is the Regional Public Affairs Officer for the Social Security Administration. Kenneth An is the Director of the Boston office for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Both are members of the White House Initiative on AAPIs’ Regional Interagency Working Group, Region 1.

  • White House Engages Filipino American Leaders

    Filipino American Leaders Forum

    175 leaders gather for a White House Briefing for Filipino American Leaders, March 14, 2014. (by White House Office of Public Engagement)

    Last week, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) and the White House Office of Public Engagement brought together 175 Filipino American leaders at the White House to discuss key issues of importance to the community. Participants came from diverse sectors of society – non-profits, businesses, government, and philanthropy – and traveled from the far reaches of the country, including New York, California, and even Hawaii.

    The briefing opened with remarks by the Honorable Lorna Schofield, the first Filipino-American Article III federal judge, who spoke about her journey to becoming a lifetime judge and how her mother encouraged her to reach for her dreams. 

    In the wake of the devastation brought on by Typhoon Haiyan, Nancy Lindborg, Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), discussed her November 2013 visit to Tacloban and her amazement at the resilience of the Filipino people who were impacted by the typhoon. To date, the United States has provided more than $87 million in humanitarian funding to the Philippines for Typhoon Haiyan relief. Gloria Steele, USAID Mission Director for the Philippines and the Pacific Islands, provided a video testimonial on how the most effective way that people can assist relief efforts is by making cash donations to reputable humanitarian organizations.

    Kiran Ahuja, WHIAAPI Executive Director, engaged participants in an interactive dialogue about the Initiative’s cross-cutting priorities and the reports by the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Fund Interagency Working Group. She also highlighted several efforts to better connect the AAPI community with the federal government, including WHIAAPI’s call for ideas to expand opportunities for AAPIs and request for feedback on federal agency plans.  

    Representatives from the White House National Security Council and Domestic Policy Council, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the Small Business Administration shared updates on the President’s planned trip to the Philippines in April, commonsense immigration reform, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the Affordable Care Act, and small business resources. In group breakouts, participants discussed how the Administration can continue to partner with Filipino American leaders and organizations to serve the community’s needs. The briefing closed with remarks by Cris Comerford, the first Filipino American White House Executive Chef, who encouraged participants to continue persevering in their efforts to uplift the community.

    As a proud second-generation Filipino American, I continue to be inspired by community leaders throughout the country who have worked collaboratively to help our kababayan, or fellow countrymen – whether it’s providing humanitarian assistance in the Philippines or spreading awareness about key federal resources throughout the United States. I look forward to continued collaboration, advocacy, and engagement between the Filipino American community and the federal government in the months and years ahead.

    Jason Tengco is a Senior Advisor for the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

  • Watch Our In-Language Google+ Hangouts on the Affordable Care Act

    As a community with some of the highest uninsured rates, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) across the country will benefit from the Affordable Care Act.

    Nearly one in five AAPIs was uninsured prior to passage of the Affordable Care Act. And some of the largest AAPI ethnic communities have uninsured rates higher than the national average, including Korean (one in three), Vietnamese (one in five), and Chinese (one in seven) communities. These communities are also more likely to be limited English proficiency (or LEP), making it especially important to have access to in-language materials to learn about and enroll in the Health Insurance Marketplace.

    Two million AAPIs are projected to become insured thanks to the Affordable Care Act. For AAPIs, the law’s benefits will help reduce disparities in both health care and health outcomes through expanded insurance coverage and better access to high-quality health care services. This week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that eight out of 10 uninsured Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders may be eligible for financial assistance in the Health Insurance Marketplace.

    The importance of educating our communities on the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, the importance of health insurance, and how to enroll through the Health Insurance Marketplaces is invaluable to our communities. That’s why the White House Initiative on Asian American and Pacific Islanders hosted a series of in-language Google+ Hangouts on the Affordable Care Act. This series included Google+ Hangouts in Korean, Vietnamese, and Chinese (Mandarin)

    Check out our Korean Google+ Hangout on the Affordable Care Act:

    Check out our Vietnamese Google+ Hangout on the Affordable Care Act: 

    Check out our Chinese (Mandarin) Google+ Hangout on the Affordable Care Act:

    With working smoothly, more than 5 million Americans have already signed up for health insurance.

    If you or someone you care about is uninsured, it’s not too late to sign up for quality, affordable coverage – but you’ll want to act today and before March 31. If you don’t enroll by March 31, you can’t enroll again until November 2014. Visit or call 1-800-318-2596 today to learn more.

    Kiran Ahuja is Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

    저렴한 케어법(Affordable Care Act) 대한 자국어 구글 행아웃을 시청하세요

    저자: Kiran Ahuja

    비보험률이 가장 높은 커뮤니티들에 속하는 미국 전역의 아시아계 미국인 및 태평양 제도민(AAPI)들은 저렴한 케어법으로 혜택을 받게 됩니다.

    거의 다섯 명중 한 명의 AAPI인이 저렴한 케어법이 통과되기 이전에는 보험에 들지 않았습니다. 최대 규모의 AAPI 인종 그룹 몇 몇은 미국 평균보다 더 높은 비보험률을 가지는데 여기에는 한국인(3명중 1명), 베트남인(5명중 1명), 중국인(7명중 1명) 커뮤니티들이 포함됩니다. 이 커뮤니티들은 또한 영어 능력 한계자(또는 LEP)일 가능성이 많아 건강보험 마켓플레이스에 대해 배우거나 등록하기 위한 자료를 모국어로 접하는 것이 특히 중요합니다.

    2백만명의 AAPI인들이 저렴한 케어법 덕분에 보험에 들 것이라 예상됩니다. AAPI들의 경우, 이 법안은 확대된 보험 적용과 고품질의 헬스케어 서비스 접근의 개선을 통해 건강 보험과 건강 결과에 있어 격차를 줄이는 혜택을 줄 것입니다.  이번 주, 미국 보건 복지부는 10 명 중 8 무보험 아시아계 미국인, 하와이 원주민, 태평양 섬 주민이 건강 보험 마켓 플레이스에서재정지원을 받을수 있다고 발표했다.

    저렴한 케어 법안의 혜택에 관해 커뮤니티 그룹에 교육을 제공하는 중요성, 건강 보험의 중요성 및 건강 보험 시장(Health Insurance Marketplaces)을 통한 등록 방법은 우리 커뮤니티에 아주 소중합니다. 이런 이유로 아시아계 미국인 및 태평양 제도민(AAPI)에 대한 백악관 이니셔티브가 저렴한 케어 법안에 대한 자국어로 진행되는 구글 행아웃 시리즈를 주최하였습니다. 이 구글 행아웃 시리즈는 한국어, 베트남어중국어로  제공됩니다.

    HealthCare.gov가 순조롭게 협력함으로써, 5백만명 이상의 미국인들이 이미 건강 보험에 등록했습니다.

    귀하나 귀하가 아끼는 누군가가 아직 보험에 들지 않았다면, 고품질의 저렴한 보험에 등록하는 것이 아직 늦지 않았습니다. 하지만 지금 당장 아니면 3 31 전까지는 행동을 취해야 합니다. 그렇지 않으면, 2014년 11월까지 다시 기다려야 합니다. 더 자세히 배우려면 HealthCare.gov또는 1-800-318-2596에 전화 를 오늘 방문해 주십시오.

    Kiran Ahuja아시아계 미국인과 태평양 제도에백악관 이니셔티브의 행정 담당관 입니다."

    Hãy xem các buổi trình phát về Đạo Luật Chăm Sóc Sức Khỏe với Bảo Phí Phù Hợp bằng Ngôn ngữ Bản xứ qua Google Hangout

    Do Kiran Ahuja trình bày

    Là một cộng đồng với tỷ lệ người không có bảo hiểm cao nhất, người Mỹ gốc Á và Đảo Thái Bình Dương (AAPI) trong toàn quốc sẽ có lợi từ Đạo Luật Chăm Sóc Sức Khỏe với Bảo Phí Phù Hợp.

    Hầu như một trong năm người AAPI đã không có bảo hiểm trước khi Đạo Luật Chăm Sóc Sức Khỏe với Bảo Phí Phù Hợp được thông qua thành luật. Một vài cộng đồng thuộc sắc dân AAPI có số dân không có bảo hiểm cao hơn mức trung bình toàn quốc, bao gồm các cộng đồng Hàn Quốc (một trong ba), Việt Nam (một trong năm), và Trung Quốc (một trong bảy).  Các cộng đồng này có lẽ cũng có trình độ Tiếng Anh giới hạn (hoặc là LEP), cho nên việc cung cấp được tài liệu bằng ngôn ngữ bản xứ rất quan trọng để tìm hiểu và ghi danh với Thị Trường Bảo Hiểm Sức Khỏe.

    Dự tính là hai triệu người thuộc sắc dân AAPI sẽ có bảo hiểm nhờ Đạo Luật Chăm Sóc Sức Khỏe với Bảo Phí Phù Hợp.  Đối với nhóm người AAPI, đạo luật sẽ có hữu ích để giảm thiểu sự chênh lệch về cả hai lĩnh vực chăm sóc sức khỏe và kết quả sức khỏe do việc nới rộng chương trình bảo hiểm và mức tiếp cận các dịch vụ sức khỏe phẩm chất tốt hơn. Tuần này Bộ Y tế và Dịch vụ Nhân sinh Hoa Kỳ thông báo rằng 8 trong số 10 người Mỹ không có bảo hiểm gốc châu Á, Hawaii bản địa, và đảo Thái Bình Dương có thể hội đủ điều kiện để được hỗ trợ tài chính trong thị trường bảo hiểm y tế.

    Sự quan trọng trong việc giáo dục các cộng đồng của chúng ta về các lợi ích của Đạo Luật Chăm Sóc Sức Khỏe với Bảo Phí Phù Hợp, cùng với tầm quan trọng của bảo hiểm sức khỏe, và cách thức ghi danh qua Thị Trường Bảo Hiểm Sức Khỏe, là vô giá đối với các cộng đồng này.  Đó là lý do tại sao Cơ Quan cố vấn của Tòa Bạch Ốc về Người Á Châu và Đảo Thái Bình Dương đã tổ chức các đợt Google Hangout về Đạo Luật Chăm Sóc Sức Khỏe với Bảo Phí Phù Hợp bằng những ngôn ngữ bản xứ.  Đợt này gồm có các buổi Google Hangout bằng tiếng Đại Hàn, Việt Nam, và Trung Hoa. Hãy nhấn vào link Tiếng Việt để biết thêm chi tiết.                                                                                                

    Hiện nay trang mạng làm việc suông sẽ, và hơn 5 triệu người Mỹ đã ghi danh mua bảo hiểm.

    Nếu quý vị hoặc người thân chưa có bảo hiểm y tế, vẫn không quá muộn để ghi danh mua bảo hiểm phẩm chất với bảo phí phù hợp – tuy nhiên quý vị nên làm ngay trong hôm nay và trước ngày 31 Tháng 3.  Nếu đến ngày 31 Tháng 3, mà không ghi danh, thì quý vị không thể ghi danh cho đến Tháng 11, 2014.   Hãy vào trang mạng hoặc gọi 1-800-318-2596 hôm nay để biết thêm chi tiết.

    Kiran Ahuja là Giám đốc điều hành của Ban Cố Vấn ​​của Nhà Trắng về người Mỹ gốc Á và Đảo Thái Bình Dương.


    撰文:奇兰。阿胡亚(Kiran Ahuja)


    在“平价医疗法案”成为法律之前,亚太裔美国人中有将近五分之一的人口没有医疗保险。而某些最大的亚太裔社区的未投保比例超出了全美的平均水平,其中包括韩国裔(三分之一未投保)、越南裔(五分之一未投保)、以及华裔(七分之一未投保)社区。这些社区也更可能是英语能力有限(LEP)的社区,因而尤其重要的是,他们有机会以母语获得相关资料来了解和参加健康保险市场(Health Insurance Marketplace)




    如果您或您关心的人士尚未参保,那么现在报名参加高品质的、实惠的保险计划还不会太晚 - 但您今天就需要行动,而不要晚于331。如果您未于331之前参保,则下次要等到2014年11月才能参保。请立即访问HealthCare.gov网站,或拨打:1-800-318-2596了解更多信息。

    奇兰。阿胡亚(Kiran Ahuja)现任白宫亚太裔事务处行政主任。


    撰文:  Kiran Ahuja奇蘭。阿胡亞(Kiran Ahuja)


    在“平價醫療法案”成為法律之前,亞太裔美國人中有將近五分之一的人口沒有醫療保險。而某些最大的亞太裔社區的未投保比例超出了全美的平均水平,其中包括韓國裔(三分之一未投保)、越南裔(五分之一未投保)、以及華裔(七分之一未投保)等社區。這些社區也更可能是英語能力有限(LEP)的社區,因而尤​​其重要的是,他們有機會以其母語獲得相關資料來了解和參加健康保險市場(Health Insurance Marketplace)




    如果您或您關心的人士尚未參保,那麼現在報名參加高品質的、實惠的保險計劃還不會太晚- 但您今天就需要行動,而不要晚於331。如果您未於331之前參保,則下次要等到2014年11月才能參保。請立即訪問HealthCare.gov網站或撥打:1-800-318-2596了解更多信息。

    奇蘭。阿胡亞(Kiran Ahuja) 現任白宮亞太裔事務處行政主任。

  • National AAPI Enrollment Week of Action Google+ Hangout

    Please join the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), as well as community leaders from across the country, on Wednesday, March 19, 2014 at 5:00 PM ET for our National AAPI Enrollment Week of Action Google+ Hangout!

    Approximately 1.9 million Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (AANHPIs) are projected to benefit from new options for health insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. With the open enrollment period for coverage in 2014 ending on March 31, many are still unaware of the health coverage options available to them through the Affordable Care Act. 

    We invite you to join Dr. Howard Koh, Assistant Secretary for Health; Meena Seshamani, Deputy Director in the Office of Health Reform; and community leaders as they answer your Affordable Care Act questions. Please join us so you can learn more about the opportunities to improve the health of the AAPI community and find out how to #GetCovered by March 31, 2014.  

    Please submit your Affordable Care Act questions for the Google+ Hangout to the Office of Minority Health at by Tuesday, March 18, 2014, and join the conversation on Wednesday, March 19, 2014 at 5:00 PM ET.

    Gautam Raghavan is an Advisor in the White House Office of Public Engagement.

  • Protecting Employment Rights Across the Country

    The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the nation’s primary employment rights enforcement agency.

    The EEOC enforces federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, or genetic information. It is also illegal to discriminate against a person because he or she complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit. We also work to prevent discrimination before it occurs, through outreach, education, and technical assistance. The EEOC also provides leadership and guidance to federal agencies regarding equal employment opportunity programs.

    The EEOC is headquartered in Washington, D.C. and has 53 field locations across the country. We are very lucky to have many enthusiastic EEOC employees in our field offices participating in the White House Initiative on AAPIs’  Regional Interagency Working Group (RIWG). 

    Over the past year, the EEOC worked to improve federal access and advancement for the AAPI community. Below are several highlights:

    Language Access

    • For the first time, we generated quarterly reports on whether interpretation services (including those in AAPI languages) were requested or utilized by parties during our mediation program. We also completed an assessment of language capacity and needs for district offices.
    • We participated in 240 events geared at AAPI communities, reaching more than 11,700 individuals, which included distributing brochures in Chinese and Vietnamese in Indianapolis; reaching out to the Cambodian community in Lowell, MA; conducting a bilingual workshop in Chuukese to Micronesian residents; distributing information in Chinese and Korean in Mobile, AL; conducting a workshop to Hmong community members and advocates in Fresno, CA; and attending a town hall meeting with the Burmese community in Indianapolis.  

    Data Collection and Dissemination

    • We updated our EEO-5 survey, which collects labor force data on public elementary and secondary school districts, to make it consistent with OMB’s 1997 Revision to the Standards for the Classification of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity. The EEO-5 survey now requires public elementary and secondary school districts to allow an employee to self-identify more than one race, thereby permitting individuals who are Asian and Pacific Islander to identify both of those races.
    • Due largely to five new national origin categories added in FY2012, last year we were able to reduce the number of “Other Asian National Origin” entries by 13%.

    Workforce Diversity

    • We published an online practical guide to common issues faced by AAPIs in the federal workforce in an effort to assist other federal government agencies.
    • We participated in the Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC) Challenge Team Program, a project-oriented, experiential training-based program that develops skills for emerging Federal employee leaders, especially those at the GS-9 to GS-14 levels.
    • We now include Diversity as a critical performance element in performance plans for all EEOC SES (Senior Executive Service), managers, and supervisors.

    Building upon these accomplishments, we are excited to present our agency plan for Fiscal Years 2014-15. The EEOC’s 2014-15 Agency Plan includes goals in the categories of language access, data, and workforce diversity. So far this year, we have already taken steps to achieve these goals, including:

    • Beginning to update our AAPI Fact Sheets, which we plan to post on our website and disseminate to federal government affinity groups, community-based organizations, and Fair Employment Practices Agencies (our state-level partners) by May 1.
    • Beginning to develop a process for forming formal partnerships with AANAPISI’s (Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions).
    • Beginning to develop plans with the Regional Interagency Working Group to schedule AAPI outreach events.

    We are pleased to announce that just this month, the EEOC issued two technical assistance documents that may be important to the AAPI community. These documents, a Question and Answer and a Fact Sheet, address workplace rights and responsibilities on religious dress (e.g., a Muslim hijab, a Sikh turban, or a Christian cross) and grooming (e.g., Sikh uncut hair and beard, Rastafarian dreadlocks, or Jewish peyes), under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  A broad overview of workplace religious accommodation issues can also be found in the “What You Should Know” section of our website. 

    We also encourage you to submit your feedback on EEOC’s agency plan by March 31, 2014.

    Jenny Yang is a Commissioner at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the agency’s Interagency Working Group designee to the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. 

  • The President’s Commitment to Boys and Young Men of Color

    President Obama Delivers Remarks at the Launch of My Brother's Keeper

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks at an event to highlight "My Brother's Keeper," an initiative to expand opportunity for young men and boys of color, in the East Room of the White House. February 27, 2014. (Official White House Photo)

    Last Thursday, I had the distinct privilege to join President Obama at the launch of his My Brother’s Keeper initiative, an effort to expand opportunity for all young men and boys of color. This new initiative is built upon collaboration between leading foundations and businesses, aiming to provide support and pathways for young men and boys of color. 

    As stated by the White House, boys and young men of color — regardless of where they come from — are disproportionately at risk from their youngest years through college and the early stages of their professional lives.  Through disaggregated data, we see Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities who are very much in need.  We are able to see high schools where almost half of Cambodians aren’t earning a diploma, in colleges where only 14.4 percent of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders (NHPIs) graduate, and in communities where the average per capita income of Hmong Americans is lower than any racial group nationwide. Beyond high school, only 12.1 percent of the Laotian population, 14.4 percent of the Hmong population, and 14.5 percent of the Cambodian population have a bachelor’s degree or higher.

    As the President stated, “This is an issue of national importance -- it's as important as any issue that I work on.  It's an issue that goes to the very heart of why I ran for President -- because if America stands for anything, it stands for the idea of opportunity for everybody; the notion that no matter who you are, or where you came from, or the circumstances into which you are born, if you work hard, if you take responsibility, then you can make it in this country.”  By signing a Presidential Memorandum, President Barack Obama established the My Brother's Keeper Task Force that will work across executive departments and agencies to assess and recommend improvements to Federal policies, regulations, and programs that apply to boys and young men of color.

    The Task Force will create an Administration-wide “What Works” online portal to assess and develop recommendations for programs and practices that improve outcomes for boys and young men of color, while promoting incentives for private and public entities to develop and adopt strategies that have been proven to be effective. Additionally, the Task Force will develop a comprehensive public website, to be maintained by the Department of Education, that will assess, on an ongoing basis, critical indicators of life outcomes for boys and young men of color. And the Task Force will recommend to the President means for ensuring this effort is sustained for years to come within government and across public and private sectors.

    With the collective commitment of the President, private philanthropies, businesses, governors, mayors, faith leaders, and nonprofit organizations, we can create strong foundations of opportunity for our young men and boys to help them reach their full potential.  If you are interested in knowing more about My Brother’s Keeper and the AAPI community, please email

    Akil Vohra is Senior Advisor at the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.