Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Blog
- Posted byon February 11, 2013 at 1:17 PM EST
Today, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) released Fiscal Year 2013 federal agency plans and a report entitled “Continuing Progress for the Asian American and Pacific Islander Community, Federal Agency Accomplishments”. The report showcases the accomplishments made by the federal government to address the needs and improve the quality of life of AAPIs across the country.
The Initiative has partnered with 23 federal departments and agencies to develop and implement specific plans that will increase the participation of AAPIs in federal programs and services. Some notable accomplishments include:
- The Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration published a new health and safety guide for nail salon workers. Given that approximately 40% of nail salon workers in this country are AAPI, the guide has also been translated into Vietnamese and Korean.
- The Department of Agriculture (USDA) conducted outreach and provided education materials to Hmong communities about the nutritional benefits of USDA programs in California, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.
- The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission expanded its ability to collect demographic information from individuals filing a charge of discrimination from five Asian national origin categories to twelve.
The agency plans establish program goals that relate to several overarching themes: expanding data disaggregation systems to help us better understand the needs of the AAPI community; ensuring that individuals with limited English proficiency have access to federal programs and services; expanding workforce diversity programs; and utilizing existing federal grant programs to help support AAPI communities.
The Initiative will collaborate with federal agencies to continue to provide for the 16 million AAPIs living in the U.S.
Courtney Chappell is a senior advisor at the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
- Posted byon January 31, 2013 at 6:34 PM EST
Last week, President Barack Obama delivered remarks in Las Vegas about creating a fair and effective immigration system that lives up to our heritage as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.
"I’m here because most Americans agree that it’s time to fix a system that’s been broken for way too long." President Obama said. "I’m here because business leaders, faith leaders, labor leaders, law enforcement, and leaders from both parties are coming together to say now is the time to find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as the land of opportunity.”
President Obama's proposal for immigration reform has four parts. First, continue to strengthen our borders. Second, crack down on companies that hire undocumented workers. Third, hold undocumented immigrants accountable before they can earn their citizenship; this means requiring undocumented workers to pay their taxes and a penalty, move to the back of the line, learn English, and pass background checks. Fourth, streamline the legal immigration system for families, workers, and employers.
In response to the President’s remarks, a number of organizations that advocate for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities across the nation issued statements applauding the President for his leadership. Here are a few of those statements:
“Today, API Equality-LA, a grassroots coalition advancing LGBT civil rights in Asian and Pacific Islander communities, applauds President Obama’s newly released principles on comprehensive immigration reform that include a pathway to citizenship for the country’s 11 million undocumented immigrants and enhanced family reunification provisions, including eliminating existing backlogs in the family-sponsored immigration system, raising annual country caps, and giving binational couples the ability to apply for permanent residency.”
“The Asian American Institute, a member of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice welcomes President Obama's urgent remarks on comprehensive immigration reform, and looks forward to seeing the specific details of the proposal and unfolding debate.”
“AAI is especially pleased to hear the President address family reunification and protection for a legal pathway to citizenship in his remarks as key issues in reform, because both represent some of the most pressing concerns around immigration for the Asian American community. The bipartisan Senate framework, along with the president’s remarks, represents important first steps in continuing this conversation.”
“Today President Barack Obama unveiled his plan for commonsense immigration reform. In reiterating his commitment to fix our broken immigration system, he outlined four general themes: update our antiquated immigration system to keep families together, strengthen border security, hold employers accountable for unfair practices and create a roadmap for citizenship.
The president's plan reflects the American values of fairness, diversity and opportunity, which he extolled in his inauguration speech. The Asian American Justice Center, a member of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice, applauds the president's announcement.”
“Today, President Obama endorsed several provisions of comprehensive "common-sense" immigration reform offered yesterday by a bipartisan group of eight senators. We commend the President and members of the Senate for taking action to fix our broken immigration system.
The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) supports immigration reforms that strengthen family reunification, provide a clear path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in the United States, and protect the rights of all workers.”
“The Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO thanks President Obama for making immigration a priority in his 2nd term. Today marked another step forward with the President’s re-affirmed commitment to an issue that impacts the Asian Pacific American community. A viable pathway to citizenship not tied to increased enforcement, better protection for workers, reuniting all families, and ending discrimination against same-sex bi-national couples are important to our country’s progress.”
“The Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC), a member of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice, is pleased with this week’s announcements by President Barack Obama and a bipartisan group of senators known as the “Gang of 8” proclaiming that immigration reform is a national policy priority. The commitment of our nation’s leadership to fixing the broken U.S. immigration system is heartening for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) – a community that is approximately 60% immigrant and the fastest growing racial group in the United States.”
"APIAHF applauds President Obama for taking a strong stance to overhaul our broken immigration system. For far too long, our immigration laws have been a black eye on the values we hold dear in America—equality and justice.
President Obama’s renewed push for commonsense immigration policies and the Senate’s bipartisan framework are an important step in the right direction. Now the door is open for Congress to make the necessary changes to our immigration laws that unite families, provide a pathway to citizenship for aspiring citizens and promote full integration.”
“The Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO) applauds President Obama’s remarks today to fix the nation’s immigration system.
We are pleased that the administration and Congress are taking positive first steps to tackle a crucial issue affecting many of our country’s new American immigrants. We know that essential details still need to be fleshed out, but we are encouraged by this bipartisan move toward an immigration system that creates a path to citizenship for aspiring new Americans already contributing to the growth and prosperity of this country.”
“In light of the frameworks set forth by President Obama today and the bi-partisan group of Senators yesterday, the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), a coalition of 30 national Asian Pacific American organizations, welcomes a robust dialogue on immigration policy reform.
The statements from President Obama and the bi-partisan group of Senators this week give us hope that immigration policy reform will soon become a reality. Our community members are deeply affected by every facet of our nation's immigration laws and enforcement practices. Our communities also have sent the message that changes in immigration policy are critical in uniting families, accessing employment, education and health care, and living without fear of detention and deportation.”
“We applaud President Obama for stepping up to show leadership on immigration and taking such a strong stance for the rights of all immigrants and future of our country. We have been fighting to ensure that families do not have to live in fear of constant separation for close to a decade and that families have a way to reunite with loved ones. We know that there is much to do and many details to sort through and we are hopeful with the comments made by the President on the path to legalization and family backlogs. 2013 is the year to pass immigration reform legislation.”
“The Japanese American Citizens League applauds President Obama's plan for comprehensive immigration reform.
This is an issue that hits close to home. In many ways the current state of immigration is not that dissimilar to the barriers that were in place a century ago that enforced xenophobic policies. The President's initiative benefits residents that are already good Americans in every way -- all they lack is citizenship. I commend the President for standing up for a common sense approach to immigration and citizenship.”
“Yesterday, a bipartisan group of Senators released their immigration principles that include many of the proposals the President outlined. This development signals that the Senate stands ready to resolve the issue of immigration reform thoughtfully and with input from a wide variety of stakeholders, breaking through the gridlock that has affected the legislative process. We commend the President and leaders in the Senate for working to fix our immigration system.
KAYA continues to be supportive of immigration reform that strengthens Filipino American families and communities and will closely monitor any future developments on this issue.”
“The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) applauds the positive steps that both the President of the United States and the Senate are taking to prioritize immigration policy reform. The time is now to fix our broken immigration policies.”
“NAPAWF is eager and prepared – as we have been over the years leading up to this moment– to engage in upcoming dialogues with our leaders in Congress as well as the White House.”
“The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) commends the Senate and the President on taking this initial first, bipartisan step. Immigrants’ rights and the need for comprehensive immigration reform is a top priority for Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander (AAPI) lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) immigrant communities.”
“This week’s announcements from lawmakers and President Obama have given us hope for the future of South Asian Americans and all immigrants in our nation. We urge the Administration and Congress to continue to work together and pass immigration policy reform that unites our families, provides us with options towards obtaining visas and citizenship, and ends unjust enforcement measures that have affected so many of our community members, especially in the past decade. Only then will we have a system that is just and humane for South Asian Americans, all immigrants, and society as a whole.”
For more information:
- Posted byon January 28, 2013 at 4:07 PM EST
As the Regional Administrator of the Atlantic region for the U.S. Small Business Administration, it is important to continually develop relationships with and engage our different small business communities throughout the region, and really understand the issues that small business owners and entrepreneurs face that are specific to their communities and to let them know how we can help.
Part of this engagement not only includes visiting small businesses and organizations throughout our region, but also recognizing them through programs like this year’s National Small Business Week where we honor some of the greatest contributors to the small business community as well as champions within the veteran, minority, and women’s business communities. The deadline for the program is fast approaching, with applications due by Jan. 31, 2013.
- Posted byon January 3, 2013 at 11:55 AM EST
The disruption of the seafood industry caused by the BP Oil Spill in 2010 continues to have a significant impact on the livelihood of an estimated 80% of Southeast Asian American families in the Gulf Coast Region. Last month, we traveled to New Orleans, LA, and Biloxi, MS, to meet with AAPI community members, fishermen, business leaders, and government officials and learn more about the economic opportunities and challenges facing the community.
Throughout these conversations, common themes and issues emerged, specifically around barriers to language access, financial products to re-start small businesses, health care, delays with accessing BP claims, disaster preparedness and recovery, and technical assistance in applying for federal grants. While some fishermen are transitioning to different jobs in the areas of welding, pipe fitting, and sustainable agriculture, others are focused on restoring the fishing industry. Despite the barriers or difficulties in transitioning to other jobs, the AAPI community in the Gulf Coast remains resilient and vibrant.
We look forward to continuing to partner with local community groups and working together to create opportunities for economic and community development in the months ahead.
Adil Kabani is the Economic Policy Advisor and Courtney Chappell is the Senior Policy Advisor with the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
Statement from Daphne Kwok, Chair of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, on the Passing of Senator Daniel InouyePosted byon December 18, 2012 at 5:50 PM EST
On behalf of the President's Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, we extend our deepest sympathies and prayers to the family of Senator Daniel K. Inouye.
Senator Inouye has been an inspiration for the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. From his service in the legendary 442nd Regimental Combat Team and his unparalleled heroism demonstrated in a battle that earned him the Medal of Honor, the highest military honor, to 50 years of leadership and exemplary service in the Senate as the highest-ranking AAPI politician, Senator Inouye demonstrated to all of us that anything is achievable in the United States of America. As Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, he was a tireless advocate for AAPI issues and concerns, including protecting the rights of Filipino World War II Veterans and the sovereign rights of Native Hawaiians.
Senator Inouye dedicated his life to public service, and exemplified patriotism and citizenship. May we all follow his example of service to our country.
Daphne Kwok is the Chair of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders
- Posted byon December 10, 2012 at 12:59 PM EST
For the past three years, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders has gone across the country to hear from communities and to learn how we can make the federal government work better for AAPIs. And we’ve learned that, many times, it takes government, communities, philanthropic organizations and corporations working together to create solutions.
As part of our recent community engagement efforts, I had the honor of attending the Nonprofit Congress in Guam to meet with leaders representing the “Blue Continent,” the unifying name given to the Pacific Islands by their residents. The leaders discussed how the Islands’ location and low population density often are barriers to attracting and retaining health care workers and accessing educational and training opportunities. Ensuring that American Pacific Islanders have a voice in the federal arena – something most Americans take for granted – has been a challenge.
After the Nonprofit Congress ended, I visited Guam Community College – a Department of Education-designated Asian American, Native American, and Pacific Islander-serving Institution. Combined sources of federal funding contributed to the college’s first student center, a place where students are now able to stay after class to collaborate in study groups and access reference materials. I then visited Guma’ Mami, a group home funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, where adults with physical, emotional and cognitive disabilities were building a community garden. My tour ended with a stop at Sagan Mami, a drop-in center that provides shelter and medical care for homeless individuals and employment training for people with mental illness. Funded by the Department of Health and Human Services, Sagan Mami also operates a peer mentorship program to aid in the healing and recovery process.
These places reminded me of all the things we can accomplish together. Together, we can build better communities.
Audrey Buehring is Deputy Director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
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