Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Blog
- Posted byon April 7, 2014 at 1:57 PM EST
I am proud to be the Assistant District Director at the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division and a member of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders' (WHIAAPI) Regional Interagency Working Group. But this position did not come easily.
Growing up as an undocumented child, I bounced around multiple schools before finally settling in Monterey Park with my grandmother. Even though I grew up in an ethnic enclave such as Monterey Park, my grandmother and I constantly lived in fear of deportation. But my grandmother was hopeful, reassuring me that community leaders were rallying and fighting for people like me.
I received my green card through the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act and after becoming a U.S. citizen, I worked as an intern at the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division. As an intern, I worked side-by-side with investigators on many Wage and Hour cases, including the El Monte sweatshop case in 1995, where 72 Thai garment workers were victims of human trafficking and worked for some of the most visible brands in the United States.
I realized that not so long ago, I was the one living in constant fear, but now I was here, helping these victims of human trafficking. I was promoted to be an investigator after graduating from college. Today as the Assistant District Director I continue my work in protecting the American workforce, especially the most vulnerable. I am currently working on programs to better coordinate engagement efforts across federal and regional offices and to share information and resources between agencies and with the AAPI community.
I have also been selected to serve on the WHIAAPI and Federal Asian Pacific American Council challenge team on capacity building, where I am working to find solutions to building and strengthening strategic partnerships between government and the community that are vitally important to all of us.
Paul Chang is the Assistant District Director at the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division and a member of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders’ Regional Interagency Working Group.
- Posted byon April 2, 2014 at 9:12 AM EST
“What can we do for you?” was the question we, the Region 9 Northern California Interagency Working Group (RIWG) posed to community leaders at last Tuesday’s AAPI Community Roundtable. Our event drew 90 representatives from over 70 organizations serving Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities, and provided community leaders the opportunity to set the agenda for our RIWG in the coming year.
After a quick panel introducing the RIWG and its member agencies, we opened the floor to hear from our audience about priority issues, including issues facing Filipino homecare workers, the preference of Korean domestic violence survivors to seek help from community-based organizations instead of shelters, the alarming numbers for AAPI men with HIV, and more.
RIWG members led lively interactive sessions on (1) Healthcare and Social Services, (2) Economic Development and Capacity Building, (3) Worker’s Rights, (4) Civil Rights in Education and (5) Environmental Issues. Questions and concerns from the community filled the room, as each breakout group brainstormed ideas for collaborative projects and solutions. Significantly, the issue of capacity building and funding for community-based organizations and nonprofits repeatedly bubbled up in almost all sessions.
Our co-sponsor, the California Commission on Asian Pacific Islander American Affairs, helped get the word out to our target audience, and together we turned out an impressive array of health care and social service providers, youth organizations, legal and community advocates, academics, women’s groups, foundations, as well as state, federal and congressional officials.
Our other co-sponsor, the San Francisco Bay Area Federal Executive Board, highlighted the amazing work you can get done working collaboratively across federal agencies. We had representatives from the Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights; Department of Health and Human Services; Department of Labor (DOL), Occupational Safety and Health Administration; DOL Women’s Bureau; Environmental Protection Agency; Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; Small Business Administration; Social Security Administration, and DOL Employment & Training Administration.
Our AAPI Roundtable was a great opportunity to build a network amongst community leaders and our agencies. As an RIWG, we learned that if we work together, we can better serve and engage the AAPI community in ways that we had not considered before.
Dr. Tung Nguyen, a member of the President’s Advisory Commission on AAPIs, thanked the community for sharing key issues and taking time to have a dialogue with their local federal agencies. Thanks to the Bay Area community, we, the Region 9 RIWG, are energized to work together and make our voice count on behalf of our local AAPI communities.
Tong Qin is the Director of Asian American and Pacific Islander Outreach and Deputy District Director for the Small Business Administration in the San Francisco District Office and Ana Victoria Fortes is the Program Analyst from the Department of Labor, Women’s Bureau.
- Posted byon April 2, 2014 at 9:06 AM EST
Please join the New York Regional Interagency Working Group in collaboration with the New York Public Library – Science, Industry and Business Library on Tuesday, April 8, 2014 at 3:00 p.m. ET for a Google+ Hangout discussion on effective means of dealing with bullying as a youth or young adult in the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities.
Every day, thousands of kids, teens, and young adults around the country are bullied. Data from the federal government shows that nearly one-third of all school-aged children are bullied each school year—upwards of 13 million students. Students involved in bullying are more likely to have challenges in school, to abuse drugs and alcohol, and to have health and mental health issues. Bullying in the AAPI community presents circumstances that can be complicated by linguistic, cultural, and religious barriers. More than half of AAPI students who reported being bullied at school indicated the bullying occurred in the classroom. In fact, AAPI students reported the highest rate of classroom bullying, 20 percent higher than any race or ethnic group.
The panel will include representatives from the New York Regional Offices of the U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Justice – U.S. Attorney’s Office, and U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Submit your questions for the Google+ Hangout through the link below and join the conversation on Tuesday, April 8, 2014 at 3:00 p.m. ET.
- WHAT: New York Regional IWG Google+ Hangout on Anti-Bullying Efforts in the AAPI community
- DATE: Tuesday, April 8, 2014
- TIME: 3:00 p.m. ET
- LINK: http://bit.ly/NYbullying
Dr. Michelle S. Davis is Regional Health Administrator with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services New York Regional office.
- Posted byon March 28, 2014 at 9:33 AM EST
Did you know that 8 out of 10 Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders may be eligible for financial assistance through the Health Insurance Marketplace?*
Given the importance of having health insurance within the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, last week the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI), White House Office of Public Engagement, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and many AAPI community leaders held an AAPI Enrollment Week of Action.
In a final push, we’re working to make sure our community is well informed about the Affordable Care Act and enrolls in the Health Insurance Marketplace before the deadline on March 31, 2014. If you do not have health insurance and don’t enroll by March 31, you may not be able to get health insurance again until next year. Just call 1-800-318-2596 or visit HealthCare.gov to sign up.
AAPI community leaders and members have been sharing their own stories. Here are some examples of advocates encouraging our communities to #GetCovered:
MomsRising: Healthcare.gov Answered My Prayers—Maly Xiong, Hmong American entrepreneur and mother of six
“Living in the one of the richest countries in the world without health coverage can be very stressful. Every night I prayed that my children wouldn’t get sick because we did not have health insurance. I would tell my children not to run around too much to avoid getting injured because we did not have health insurance. When my children participated in school sports, I told them not to play too hard for fear that they might get injured and I wouldn’t have the money to pay for the medical bills. Can you imagine, as a mother, telling your children not to play?...Receiving health insurance has been a blessing.”
AsianWeek: Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to Benefit from the Affordable Care Act—Dr. Howard K. Koh, Assistant Secretary for Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
“As a physician for over 30 years, I have seen the patient benefits of having health insurance as well as the problems of lacking it. Nearly one in five Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) does not have health insurance. Without insurance, AAPIs may have a harder time accessing critical health care, putting them at greater risk of chronic and preventable diseases, such a hepatitis B and certain cancers.”
Also in: Korea Times
Korea Daily: Korean Americans to Benefit from the Affordable Care Act—Dr. Howard K. Koh, Assistant Secretary for Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
“For the Korean American community, one in three individuals lacks health insurance. In addition, Korean Americans are at risk for many preventable diseases, such as stomach and liver cancer. The good news is that the Affordable Care Act provides Korean Americans new options for affordable health coverage that covers a range of benefits, including important preventive services with no out-of-pocket costs for millions of Americans.”
“한인 커뮤니티에는 3명 중 1명이 건강보험이 없다. 반면 한인들은 위암과 간암 등 예방이 가능한 질병에 걸릴 위험이 높다. 반갑게도 오바마케어(Affordable Care Act) 건강보험법은 이러한 한인들에게 저렴한 가격으로 다양한 의료혜택을 받을 수 있게 하는 옵션을 제공하고 있다.”
Also in: KoreAm
NW Asian Weekly: Chinese Americans to Benefit from the Affordable Care Act—Daphne Kwok, Chair of the President’s Advisory Commission on AAPIs
“Betty Li, a young Chinese American woman from Philadelphia, PA is one of them. She stopped by her neighborhood community-based organization, Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Associations Coalition (SEAMAAC) in south Philadelphia after hearing that she could receive enrollment assistance there. Betty works at a small business that doesn’t offer health insurance so both her husband and she have been living without coverage. SEAMAAC, a certified navigator, helped her apply for and enroll in a marketplace plan for both her husband and herself. They will now pay less than a dollar a month for their coverage.”
India Journal: Indian-Americans to Benefit from the Affordable Care Act—Kiran Ahuja, Executive Director of WHIAAPI, and Gautam Raghavan, Advisor at the White House Office of Public Engagement
“Ms. Patel from Phoenix, Arizona, is one of them. She had previously been denied private health insurance because she had a pre-existing health condition. When she fell and had to go to the hospital for care, she ended up with a bill of over $1000. After the Affordable Care Act went into effect, she went to Asian Pacific Community in Action (APCA) to get help from a certified navigator to enroll in the Health Insurance Marketplace. With APCA’s in-person and assistance available in Hindi, she learned that she now qualified for health insurance through the expansion of Medicaid. Now she has peace of mind and a renewed hope for the future.”
Asian Journal: Getting to the Heart of the Communities in Nevada to Help AAPIs #GetCovered—Rozita Lee, Member of the President’s Advisory Commission on AAPIs and certified navigator
“One of my most memorable successes was with a group of Bhutanese refugees who had been in Nevada for several years and were green card holders and permanent residents, but living without health insurance. With interpreters, our team provided assistance in Dzongkha, the official Bhutanese language, helping them successfully enroll in NevadaHealthLink for health insurance. Speaking in a person's language helps them open up and feel comfortable. It was gratifying to see their faces when they realized that they can be insured. To see that sigh of relief and the smile on their faces, knowing that we have helped alleviate their concerns about healthcare, is worth all the time and energy we dedicate to outreach and enrollment.”
Pakistan Link: Pakistani Americans to Benefit from the Affordable Care Act—Dilawar Syed, Member of the President’s Advisory Commission on AAPIs
“More than 22 percent of Pakistani Americans do not have health insurance, a rate much higher than the national average. That’s why the Affordable Care Act is so important to the Pakistani American community. It will help those without health insurance get affordable coverage and provides new benefits and protections for millions of Americans, including Pakistani Americans.”
Viet Bao Daily: Vietnamese Americans to Benefit from the Affordable Care Act—Dr. Tung Nguyen, Member of the President’s Advisory Commission on AAPIs
“The good news is that the Affordable Care Act provides Vietnamese Americans new options for affordable health coverage that covers a range of benefits, including important preventive services with no out-of-pocket costs for millions of Americans, including the Vietnamese American community. Early cancer screenings and smoking cessation interventions are just some of the free preventive services provided by health plans through the Health Insurance Marketplace.”
“Luật Cải Tổ Y Tế sẽ giúp người Mỹ gốc Việt có được bảo hiểm với giá phải chăng và nhiều sự lựa chọn bao gồm những dịch vụ phòng bệnh mà không phải trả phí trực tiếp. Dò tìm ung thư sớm và can thiệp cai thuốc lá là một số các dịch vụ phòng ngừa miễn phí được cung cấp bởi các chương trình bảo hiểm y tế thông qua Thị trường bảo hiểm y tế.”
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, nearly 2 million uninsured AAPIs now have the ability to get health coverage. We also applaud our community partners in Illinois, Minnesota, New York, and Georgia for holding enrollment summits during the Week of Action. These summits were instrumental in helping hundreds of AAPIs receive in-person assistance, in 17 different languages, and sign up for health insurance. However, there is still a lot more work that needs to be done in the final days left, so spread the word to our neighbors and communities by March 31!
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 may not be able to get health insurance again until next year.
Sign up today online at HealthCare.gov; over the phone with help available in 150 languages at the 24/7 call center at 1-800-318-2596; or directly through an issuer, agent, or broker. You can also find in-person assistance in your community at localhelp.healthcare.gov.
* This fact can be found in the report released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on March 18, 2014.
Kiran Ahuja is Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
New Data Sheds Light on Need to Expand Opportunities for Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Young Men and BoysPosted byon March 27, 2014 at 3:56 PM EST
In February, the President launched his My Brother’s Keeper Initiative to expand opportunity for all young men and boys of color. This initiative builds upon collaboration between leading foundations and businesses to ensure that all young men and boys are able to achieve their full potential, regardless of their background.
As an educator who works closely with Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) youth and students on a daily basis, I have seen firsthand the many challenges and barriers that young men and boys of color face. Low graduation rates and bullying are among these challenges. My Brother’s Keeper is an important step in furthering the President’s commitment to improving the quality of life and opportunities for all, including the AAPI community.
In order to work effectively to address the needs of young men and boys of color, we need to have compelling data—data that is disaggregated and detailed enough to illuminate the areas where the community’s needs are the greatest.
On March 21, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights released the results of its 2011-2012 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC). With data collected from every public school and school district across the country, the CRDC provides a detailed portrait of student equity and opportunity trends locally and nationwide for Asian Americans and Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders (NHPIs).
The data is disaggregated by seven race and ethnicity categories, and this year marks the first time the CRDC has included disaggregated data on NHPIs and multiracial students. The CRDC shows that during the study, 7 percent of NHPI boys received out-of-school suspensions whereas only 3 percent of NHPI girls received out-of-school suspensions. In addition, in Mississippi, the out-of-school suspension rates for NHPI boys and girls reached 41 percent and 22 percent respectively. Furthermore, in kindergarten retention, boys represented 52 percent of kindergarten students and 61 percent of the kindergarten students retained and 10 percent of NHPI boys were retained in kindergarten.
With this new disaggregated data, the CRDC joins the U.S. Department of Education’s Higher Education: Gaps in Access and Persistence Study as an immensely important tool in shedding light on the experience of young men and boys in our communities.
The Higher Education study, produced by the department’s National Center for Education Statistics, examines gaps in educational participation and attainment between males and females overall and within racial/ethnic groups. The report includes data on Asian Americans and NHPIs and looks at 46 indicators of important developments and trends in the education of males and females within and across specific racial/ethnic groups to explore the educational achievements and challenges of males and females.
The incredible opportunities presented by the CRDC and Higher Education study in addressing our community’s needs fuel a growing demand for greater data disaggregation. The data provided in these reports allow us to see a more complete snapshot of the daily needs and challenges our young men and boys face and are a great tool for school officials, federal agencies, policymakers, and educators.
Boys and young men of color of all backgrounds are disproportionately at risk from their youngest years through college and the early stages of their professional lives. The data presented in the CRDC and Higher Education study paint a complex picture of just how early we begin to see these risks. By observing and understanding these risks, and addressing them through efforts like the President’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative, we can work to overcome the challenges young men and boys of color face early on.
Sefa Aina is Director of the Asian American Resource Center at Pomona College and Vice Chair of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
- Posted byon March 27, 2014 at 8:27 AM EST
Last Thursday, the Region IV Interagency Working Group hosted its first Community Roundtable for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) leaders in Atlanta, Georgia. This meeting was co-hosted by the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) and the Center for Pan Asian Community Services (CPACS). Mayor Kasim Reed and the Atlanta City Council issued proclamations to CPACS for its collaborative effort in working with the AAPI community.
It was wonderful to see community members and leaders, community organizations, partners and federal agencies come together, to learn about and discuss strategies for addressing the needs of the AAPI community. Importantly, the Region IV IWG was committed to moving beyond words to action, and also hosted an AAPI Affordable Care Act Enrollment Summit immediately after the AAPI Community Roundtable.
During the AAPI Community Roundtable, the first presentation provided a brief history of the AAPI community in the South. I appreciated hearing from AAPI community leaders and members who shared their stories about their lives in Atlanta. This provided an important framework for the conversations that would follow.
Next, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) District Director Denise Frazier spoke about immigration and the AAPI community. She shared important information about programs available to assist AAPI immigrants and their families. Immigration plays such a large role in emerging AAPI communities, it was critical to have this conversation with the AAPI leaders in Atlanta.
After this plenary session, the attendees split into four issue-based discussions focused on: (1) Health and Human Services, (2) Housing and Education, (3) Employment and Small Business, and (4) Emergency Preparedness and Civic Engagement. The discussions were each led by a member of the Region IV IWG and facilitated by officials from nine federal agencies, including representatives from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Education, Small Business Administration, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, General Services Administration, Social Security Administration, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Department of Justice.
These small groups provided an opportunity for community members and leaders to engage directly with federal officials, making these discussions much more meaningful and a great start to building working relationships between the federal government and the AAPI community in Atlanta.
Although it had already been a very productive day, the first AAPI Affordable Care Act Enrollment Summit at CPACS was held directly after the Region IV roundtable. The March 31 deadline to sign up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act is rapidly approaching, so CPACS made sure that more than 20 in-person assisters were available on-site to help community members learn about the Health Insurance Marketplace in over a dozen languages and receive assistance to enroll in health insurance.
This Summit was a much-needed effort for the AAPI community, and many individuals and families benefited from this event, including one mother who had been struggling to enroll in health insurance since January 2014. With the assistance provided by CPACS, she received in-person help to enroll in a health insurance plan. Over 50 families were able to enroll as a result of this event.
After a busy and informative day, I am grateful that stronger relationships are being built between Region IV’s federal agencies and the AAPI community. There are many passionate and dedicated people working on issues that are vital to the AAPI community and, with more events like this, I am hopeful that this is just the beginning of a meaningful partnership. Together through solidarity and commitment, we can help serve the needs of all Americans and build a stronger nation.
Dr. Renard L. Murray is co-chair of the WHIAAPI Regional Interagency Working Group and the Regional Administrator for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for the Atlanta and Dallas Regional Offices.
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