Today, we kick off Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. This occasion provides us with a special opportunity to celebrate the successes of our community and the important challenges that still lie ahead.
As the Co-Chair of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, I am proud of the Obama Administration’s efforts to reach out to all members of our diverse community – to hear about the issues on their minds and their ideas for how the federal government can better serve them. Since President Obama re-established the Initiative in October 2009, the Initiative staff and advisory commission members have crisscrossed the country, holding roundtables and forums that have reached over 25,000 people in more than 50 cities.
During our travels around the country, we’ve talked about how the policies of the Obama Administration have helped the AAPI community by:
- Creating 4.1 million private sector jobs over the past 25 months.
- Providing tax relief to 7.6 million AAPI workers through the payroll tax cut.
- Passing 17 tax cuts to help American small businesses, including 1.5 million AAPI-owned businesses in the U.S.
- Making health care more accessible and affordable to AAPI families, including expanding preventive services to 3 million AAPIs.
- Making college more affordable, including preventing a student loan interest rate increase for 334,000 AAPI students.
President Obama has also appointed a historic number of highly qualified Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to senior positions in his Administration. One of his first actions was nominating three AAPIs – the most ever – to his Cabinet: Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki, and former Secretary of Commerce and current Ambassador to China Gary Locke. And over the past three years, the President has nominated more AAPIs to become federal judges than any other administration. When President Obama came to office, there were eight AAPI federal judges. Today, there are 16, and two more await confirmation by the Senate.
Over the next month, we will highlight the many ways in which the Obama Administration has helped the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, and feature some of the AAPI officials serving in the Obama Administration. We hope you will visit this blog to learn more.
Chris Lu is Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary. He is also the Co-Chair of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.