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Department of Justice: Advocating for Civil Rights and Access for AAPIs

Summary: 
Under the leadership of Attorney General Eric Holder, DOJ has made strides to support Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs).

Led by the Attorney General, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is composed of more than 40 offices and divisions responsible for a broad array of issues: national security, law enforcement, civil rights, and the criminal justice system. Among its many roles, DOJ enforces federal criminal and civil laws and provides grants and training to state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners. Under the leadership of Attorney General Eric Holder, DOJ has made strides to support Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs). Over the past year, for instance:  

  • We’re leading the charge on increasing access to federal resources for Limited English Proficient (LEP) communities. Most recently, DOJ released a new tool to help state and local courts assess and improve their language assistance services for LEP individuals who need access to court services. We have also partnered with the Social Security Administration and the White House Initiative on AAPIs to create a video series to help train the federal workforce on providing meaningful access to limited English proficient (LEP) individuals. 
     
  • DOJ has conducted outreach to the Vietnamese Young Leaders Association in New Orleans and is currently enforcing a Consent Decree that specifically addresses treatment of and services to the Vietnamese community. We’ve also met with Muslim Advocates to hear its concerns about law enforcement’s treatment of Muslim community members in New York. And, DOJ routinely engages with the AAPI community in Seattle in connection with the enforcement of a Consent Decree with Seattle Police Department.
     
  • From October 2012 through January 2014, our Civil Rights Division conducted 136 outreach sessions that targeted immigrant advocates, legal service providers, workers, and worker advocates. In March 2013, we conducted outreach in San Juan, Puerto Rico with the Asian Community Association, and in June 2013, we conducted outreach in Washington, DC with the Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
     
  • DOJ’s Office on Violence Against Women grantees held a number of technical assistance events and trainings addressing the needs of the AAPI community, including issues related to immigration relief, sexual assault, culturally appropriate services, and domestic violence. 

DOJ’s FY 2014-2015 agency plan for AAPIs builds off of these accomplishments and activities. This comprehensive plan includes ambitious new goals that include:

  • exploring the feasibility of developing a consultation policy with the Native Hawaiian community;
  • conducting an assessment of funding awarded to AAPI-serving organizations;
  • developing a communication plan to increase awareness of agency procurement opportunities for AAPI businesses;
  • surveying federal agencies about their language access goals, challenges, and best practices; and
  • coordinating training on hate crime data collection.  

DOJ looks forward to its continued partnership with the White House Initiative on AAPIs and fulfilling the promise of justice for all Americans, including the more than 16 million AAPIs across the country. We encourage you to submit your feedback on DOJ’s agency plan by March 31, 2014.

Grande Lum is Director of the Community Relations Service at the Department of Justice and the Department’s designee to the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders’ Interagency Working Group.