For generations, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (AA and NHPIs) have faced entrenched disparities, discrimination, and inequitable barriers to reaching the American dream. President Biden and Vice President Harris know that America’s future prosperity and global leadership is tied to the success of individuals, families, and communities. As we recover from the pandemic and build a better America, the Biden-Harris Administration has worked to advance equity by making long overdue investments in AA and NHPI communities and responding forcefully to the spike in anti-Asian violence.
The administration remains committed to lifting up AA and NHPI individuals, families, and communities and will continue building on the historic progress we’ve already made towards safety, equity, and opportunity for AA and NHPIs.
Advancing Safety for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders By Combatting Hate, Xenophobia, and Intolerance
AA and NHPI communities have faced a recent spike in anti-Asian violence, and persistent xenophobia, religious discrimination, racism, and violence since long before the pandemic. President Biden has led a historic whole of government approach to combat hate, xenophobia and intolerance facing AA and NHPI communities in the United States, including:
Condemning and combating racism, xenophobia, and intolerance against Asian Americans, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders in the United States. In his first week in office, President Biden signed a Presidential memorandum that established an official policy to ensure the federal government stands up against racism, xenophobia, nativism, and bias. The memorandum directs all federal agencies to take steps to ensure their actions mitigate anti-Asian bias and xenophobia, especially in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The memorandum also charged the Department of Justice to partner with AA and NHPI communities to respond to and prevent hate crimes and violence.
Signing the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act into law. In May, President Biden signed into law the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, bipartisan legislation that makes significant improvements to our Nation’s response to hate crimes. The bill addresses two challenges: the lack of resources and training for state and local law enforcement to accurately identify and report hate crimes to the FBI, and the language and cultural barriers that many AA and NHPI communities and communities of color face in reporting hate crimes to law enforcement.
Funding critical research to prevent and address bias and xenophobia against AA and NHPI communities. The National Science Foundation (NSF) is taking a comprehensive approach to investing in research to understand, address, and end bias, discrimination and xenophobia, including against AA and NHPI communities. NSF is currently funding 100 grant programs across the country that are helping a wide array of researchers advance innovative studies to reveal new and more effective strategies for reducing the frequency and severity of discrimination and violence experienced by historically underrepresented groups, including AA and NHPI communities.
Issuing a memoranda from the Attorney General on hate crimes and hate incidents. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland’s first directive was a 30-day expedited internal review to determine how the Justice Department could deploy all the tools at its disposal to counter the recent rise in hate crimes and hate incidents. In May, Attorney General Garland followed up by issuing a comprehensive memorandum on improving the Department’s efforts to combat hate crimes and hate incidents.
Translating information about hate crimes reporting. The Department of Justice has added information to its website on reporting hate crimes in additional languages, including six of the Asian languages most frequently spoken in the United States: Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Punjabi, Tagalog, and Vietnamese. The Justice Department is working to add additional languages in the coming months.
Providing funding for justice programs. In October, the Justice Department announced that its Office of Justice Programs (OJP) would award more than $21 million to state and local partners to investigate and prosecute hate crimes and assist hate crime victims. In December, the Department announced that it was beginning to award these funds, including grants of up to $300,000 to state, local and Tribal law enforcement and prosecution agencies, working with community-based partners, to conduct outreach, education, investigations and the prosecution of hate crimes. In addition:
- OJP’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) awarded grants to local law enforcement and prosecution agencies to support collaborative efforts with local community-based organizations to prevent hate crimes in their communities. BJA awarded one of these grants to the Los Angeles Police Department to prevent and address anti-Asian hate crimes in the city of Los Angeles. The proposal included the following partners: the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, the Japanese American Citizens League, the Chinatown Business Improvement District, the Little Tokyo Business Improvement District, the Mid-City West Neighborhood Council, and Research Partner Justice & Security Strategies, Inc.
- OJP’s Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) has awarded $2 million to Futures Without Violence to respond to the needs of individuals and communities victimized by hate crimes. OVC’s Services to Support Victims of Hate Crime and Strengthen Communities program funds innovative, field-generated projects that promote awareness, healing, reconciliation, service access and resource development. OVC is also providing technical assistance to state, local and tribal service providers to help identify and serve hate crime victims.
Revitalizing the Justice Department’s Community Relations Service. The Justice Department is strategically revitalizing the Community Relations Service (CRS), an office which provides facilitated dialogue, mediation, training, and consultation for communities facing bias-related conflict, including AA and NHPI communities. CRS has been meeting with national and local AA and NHPI organizations to address community concerns about the rise in anti-Asian incidents and individuals’ safety during the pandemic. CRS will continue sharing resources and information with affected communities, as well as working with government leaders, faith leaders, community groups, universities, and schools to help them build the capacity to address and prevent hate crimes.
Providing trainings to enhance civil rights reporting and strengthen relationships between law enforcement and community members. Between June and November, the FBI held regional conferences with hundreds of law enforcement agencies in Denver, Louisville, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, and New Orleans. These conferences help local police agencies better understand federal civil rights and hate crimes laws; encourage reporting; strengthen relationships between law enforcement and local civil rights organizations; and build trust within the diverse communities they serve.
Assessing Threats Against AA and NHPIs. The Department of Homeland Security’s(DHS)Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) issued an “Intelligence in Brief” publication that assessed the threats targeting AA and NHPI communities. The brief examines physical threats and incidents of violence against AA and NHPI community members over the last year and provides context for what the office views as the potential threats facing the community in the near future.
Identifying systemic barriers in accessing nonprofit security grant benefits and opportunities. In July, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at Homeland Security collaborated to award FEMA Nonprofit Security Grants to 17 AA and NHPI serving organizations.
Integrating AA and NHPIs into community-based violence prevention efforts. DHS’s Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships (CP3) Regional Prevention Coordinators conducted outreach and built connections with local and regional partners across the country to ensure that AA and NHPI communities are integrated into broader local community-based prevention efforts to increase the ability of local community leaders to prevent violence and build community resilience against discrimination and hate.
Safeguarding AA and NHPIs from COVID-19 and Advancing Health Equity
Because of systemic inequities in our economy and healthcare system, AA and NHPI communities have been disproportionately burdened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, in particular, have faced significant COVID-19 health inequities. Since his first day in office, President Biden has used every lever and tool to ensure access to safe, free, and convenient vaccines; expand access to free and convenient testing; and invest in more equitable public health infrastructure to better serve communities of color
Supporting COVID-19 public education and vaccine confidence campaigns to engage AA and NHPI communities through HHS programming. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has launched several campaigns to advance health equity during the COVID-19 pandemic for AA and NHPI communities, including:
- The “Slow the Spread” campaign and the “Building Vaccine Confidence” campaign, which includes public information about vaccines in 14 AA and NHPI languages.
- Television ads funded by HHS that promote vaccination in English, Cantonese Chinese, Mandarin Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.
This outreach is responsive to the recommendations in the final report of the Presidential COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, which included a working group specifically dedicated to addressing challenges faced by the AA and NHPI communities. Many AA and NHPI communities have led the way in our vaccination efforts and comprise a share of the vaccinated population that exceeds their share of the overall population. The Biden-Harris Administration will continue working closely with these communities to promote vaccination during this critical period of our response.
Expanding access to health care. The American Rescue Plan has lowered or eliminated health insurance premiums for millions of lower- and middle-income families enrolled in health insurance marketplaces, including 197,000 uninsured AA and NHPI people.
Ensuring health care resources are readily available for AA and NHPI communities. The Department of Health and Human Services Centers For Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is expanding culturally appropriate and understandable health care information for the AA and NHPI community, including releasing the “Medicare & You” handbook in Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese. CMS has also conducted targeted outreach to AA and NHPI communities for the 2022 Affordable Care Act (ACA) Open Enrollment season, including specific social media and television advertisements, and hosting an AA and NHPI week of action during December.
HHS has also launched an Equity Technical Assistance (TA) Center to provide training, tools, and TA for HHS employees to make sure that policies, programs, research, and analyses more equitable, including TA on strategies for reducing disparities in access to, and use of, grants and other HHS policy levers. As part of this effort, HHS released a Request for Information (RFI) in the Federal Register in July 2021 to gather public input on best practices to advance cultural competency, language access, and sensitivity toward AA and NHPIs.
Providing Immediate Relief to AA and NHPI Individuals and Families through the American Rescue Plan
When President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan (ARP) into law, it provided a lifeline to millions of AA and NHPI families who were struggling from the economic fallout and health impacts of the pandemic. The ARP is:
Reducing poverty. The ARP was projected to reduce poverty by nearly 22 percent in AA and NHPI communities through increases in the value of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits), direct relief payments, extension of unemployment insurance expansions, a fully refundable Child Tax Credit, and an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit for workers without children.
Expanding relief for mixed-status families. Thanks to the ARP, more than 1.4 million spouses and nearly 3.7 million children who have a Social Security number in mixed-status families were eligible for $1,400 each in cash relief. For the first time, this relief applied to all spouses and children with Social Security numbers in mixed status families, meaning that 2.2 million more children, including AA and NHPI children who are part of mixed-status families, received cash payments under this bill than under the CARES Act of 2020.
Keeping families housed. The ARP and Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 allocates over $46 billion to keep families safely housed with emergency rental assistance and culturally and linguistically relevant outreach and stability services. In addition, the ARP includes funding for housing counseling and homeless prevention services, programs which are critical to supporting individuals who face eviction. Additionally, in July, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) made available over $19 million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding for the Fair Housing Initiatives Program to address discriminatory housing practices related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Advancing Educational Equity and School Safety for AA and NHPI Students
Confronting COVID-19 related harassment in schools. In May, the U.S. Department of Education wrote a letter to educators to address the increased harassment and violence directed at AA and NHPI students and families and remind schools about their roles in protecting AA and NHPI students as they returned to in-person learning. The Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) shared a resource guide on how to navigate these situations, and also shared “How to File a Discrimination Complaint with the Office for Civil Rights” in 24 languages, including in 11 Asian languages.
The Civil Rights Divisions of the Department of Justice and Department of Education also partnered to create a resource on Confronting COVID-19-Related Harassment in Schools, to assist AA and NHPI students who have reported bullying and harassment by classmates because of their race or national origin, including their ethnicity, ancestry, and language.
Safely reopening K-12 schools. The American Rescue Plan has provided more than $122 billion to help K-12 schools reopen safely. These investments include set asides at the local and state level to ensure states and districts address the learning loss and social and emotional needs of students disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, including AA and NHPI students, English learners, and students with disabilities.
Supporting college students. The American Rescue Plan provided more than $36 billion in support to institutions of higher education, including institutions that primarily serve AA and NHPI students, to ensure learning continues during the COVID-19 pandemic. All students, regardless of citizenship, who met the appropriate criteria were eligible to receive financial aid from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.
Advancing Equity for AA and NHPI Communities Through White House Leadership and Initiatives
Advancing equity and racial justice for AA and NHPI communities throughout the federal government. On his first day in office, President Biden signed a historic Executive Order establishing a cross-government initiative to advance equity and racial justice for communities that have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality, including AA and NHPI communities. The President directed all agencies to advance equity by taking comprehensive action to root out systemic racism from federal policies, programs, institutions, and laws. Under this Executive Order, all federal agencies are charged with affirmatively advancing equity, civil rights, racial justice, and equal opportunity for the American people, including AA and NHPIs.
Reestablishing and expanding the White House Initiative on Asian American and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders. In May, the President signed Executive Order 14031 reestablishing the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders, and delivering on the President’s commitment to reinstate and reinvigorate this historic Initiative. The Initiative is led out of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and is co-chaired by HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and Ambassador Katherine Tai. The Initiative is charged with driving an ambitious, whole-of-government agenda to advance equity, justice, and opportunity for AA and NHPI communities by:
- Coordinating a comprehensive Federal response to the rise in acts of anti-Asian bias and violence;
- Addressing the systemic lack of disaggregated data on AA and NHPI communities in Federal statistical systems;
- Expanding language access and language assistance programs for AA and NHPI individuals across federal programs;
- Strengthening economic security and opportunity for AA and NHPI communities by empowering AA and NHPI entrepreneurs, building new workforce training opportunities, and promoting workplaces that are free from harassment against AA and NHPI workers;
- Addressing the concentration of poverty experienced in many AA and NHPI communities;
- Addressing disparities in educational outcomes for AA and NHPI students of all ages, and addressing bullying, harassment, and discrimination in our Nation’s schools;
- Advancing climate and environmental justice for AA and NHPI communities who are particularly impacted by the climate crisis and are overburdened by environmental degradation;
- Promoting inclusion and belonging for all AA and NHPI communities by strengthening public awareness and education about AA and NHPI communities, cultures, and traditions;
- Empowering AA and NHPI communities to be civically engaged, including through electoral participation;
- Building a Federal workforce where AA and NHPI public servants are leaders at the most senior levels of our government; and
- Ensuring that AA and NHPI communities are empowered and equitably served by Federal funding, grants, and contracts.
In addition, the Executive Order establishes a Presidential Advisory Commission on AA and NHPIs that will advise the President on ways the public, private and non-profit sectors can work together to advance equity and opportunity for AA and NHPI communities. The Commission is also charged with advising the President on policies to address anti-Asian xenophobia and violence, ways to build capacity in AA and NHPI communities through federal grantmaking, and policies to address the barriers that AA and NHPI women, LGBTQI+ people, and people with disabilities face. The Commission is made up of leaders who reflect the rich diversity of AA and NHPI communities across the country.
Advancing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in the Federal Government. In June, the President signed an Executive Order advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in the federal government. The Executive Order establishes that it is the policy of the Biden-Harris Administration to cultivate a workforce that draws from the full diversity of the nation. As the nation’s largest employer, the federal government must be a model for diversity, equity, and inclusion, and accessibility, where all employees are treated with dignity and respect. In particular, the Executive Order directs agencies to mitigate barriers that AA and NHPI employees, first generation professionals, religious minorities, and workers with limited English proficiency face in accessing federal employment opportunities, including in positions of leadership.
Reducing Barriers and Increasing Access to Federal Services to AA and NHPI Communities
At the President’s direction, agencies across the Biden-Harris Administration have taken a number of steps to improve access to vital federal programs for AA and NHPI communities.
Promoting affordable housing for AA and NHPI communities. Earlier this year, HUD finalized its new Language Access Plan, which updates a previous version issued 13 years ago. The Plan outlines HUD’s commitment to providing meaningful access for people with limited English proficiency across all programs, services, and activities conducted by the Department. HUD also developed social media and web-based resources for housing counseling agencies to reach those with limited English proficiency who may be struggling to make their mortgage payments due to COVID-19. These materials are available in multiple languages, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Samoan, Tagalog, Thai, Vietnamese, and Punjabi. Similarly, HUD has general homebuying information available for housing counselors to use with clients in multiple languages, including Korean, Laotian, Tagalog, Mandarin, and Vietnamese.
Expanding language access and assistance for arts programs. Using American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) expanded language access and language assistance, including for the first time translating guidelines and supporting materials into Chinese. The NEA has also held grant workshops with the Asian American Arts Alliance, the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, the Consortium of Asian American Theaters & Artists, and HowlRound. These workshops provided technical assistance for ARP grant applications, better equipping culturally-specific organizations to apply successfully for relief funding.
Increasing access to contracting, grant, employment, and internship opportunities at the Department of Defense. Through the implementation of specific outreach programs to advance inclusivity, the Department of Defense’s Taking the Pentagon To The People Program (TTPTTP) is aimed at increasing access to contracts, federal grants, resources, and employment programs for AA and NHPIs and other underserved communities. In addition, DOD is working to strengthen the capacity and the infrastructure of Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions (ANNAPISIs) and other Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) and increase opportunities for AA and NHPI serving institutions to participate in Federal programs.
Providing Direct Support for Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders
Since taking office, the Administration has taken a number of steps that meet the unique needs of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, including:
Restoring Hawaiian Home Lands Trust. As part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to honor relationships with Indigenous communities and uphold trust responsibilities, the Departments of Commerce and the Interior announced the transfer of an 80-acre parcel of surplus federal property at the former NOAA Pacific Tsunami Warning Center on O‘ahu for inclusion in the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust. The land has the potential to provide homesteads for 200 to 400 Native Hawaiian families. The transfer of this land helps move the government closer to a settlement of claims against the United States for its taking and continued use of approximately 1,500 acres set aside a century ago as “available lands” for the Native Hawaiian Community under the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act.
Establishing Native Hawaiian Community Consultation Standards. In January of 2021, the Department of Interior’s Office of Native Hawaiian Relations published the Native Hawaiian Community Consultation Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). This SOP outlines seven basic steps for working with the Native Hawaiian Community on regulatory, policy, or other administrative decision-making matters. The SOP emphasizes maintaining a clear administrative record, setting realistic metrics, and communicating outcomes with the consulting parties. The SOP lays out how the federal government should utilize the expertise available in the Native communities when engaging in Federal actions that will impact the rights, resources, or lands of Native Hawaiians.
Improving the protection of sacred sites. The Interior Department announced a new interagency initiative to improve the protection of and access to Indigenous sacred sites through enhanced and improved interdepartmental coordination, collaboration, and action. This commits participating agencies to work together and consult with Native Hawaiian organizations and spiritual leaders, as well as Indian Tribes, in developing and implementing actions to improve the protection of and access to Native Hawaiian, Tribal, and Alaska Native sacred sites.
Providing education, employment, and training opportunities for Native Hawaiian youth. The Department of the Interior released draft guidelines to implement the Indian Youth Service Corps (IYSC) Program and is working closely with Native Hawaiian community members on implementation of the program. The IYSC Program will provide meaningful education, employment, and training opportunities to Indigenous youth through conservation projects on public lands, Indian lands, and Hawaiian homelands – putting young people on a path to good paying jobs working to tackle the climate crisis.
Supporting the ‘Umeke ‘ai Waimea Nui program. The Department of Interior assisted the Waimea Nui Hawaiian Home Lands Beneficiary Association with the development of the ‘Umeke ‘ai Waimea Nui program. The ‘Umeke ‘ai program was developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic economic slowdown and achieved two main outcomes: purchasing fresh produce from Waimea Community Farmers to keep the farm workers employed and the farm businesses from collapsing during the COVID-19 pandemic and providing healthy nutritional foods to the community at a highly discounted price. The food baskets provided to families contained: beef, fresh fish, pork, kalo, ‘uala, tomato, lettuce, and mamaki tea. The cost to families who participate in the program is $20 for 8 weeks, totaling $160. This cost is supplemented by multiple government and private foundation grants along with volunteers from Waimea Nui. The program has helped feed close to 1,000 Native Hawaiians in need.
Providing Pacific Islanders with CARES Act grant assistance. The Department of Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs provided $55 million in CARES Act grants to support Pacific Islander communities in United States territories and Insular Area Pacific Islander populations in the contiguous United States prepare for, prevent, and protect against COVID-19.
Reducing health disparities and mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in Hawaii. In August, the Centers For Medicare & Medicaid Services(CMS) released a State Health Official Letter that detailed temporary Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) increases under the American Recovery Plan. This determines the amount of federal matching funds for state expenditures for assistance payments. Expenditures for Medicaid services received through Native Hawaiian Health Care Systems will be matched at 100 percent FMAP because Native Hawaiians suffer health disparities at higher rates than other U.S. racial and ethnic groups.
Additionally, HHS’s Health Resources and Services Administration awarded $20 million to six Native Hawaiian Health Care Improvement Act award recipients in August 2021 to strengthen vaccination efforts, respond to and mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and enhance health care services and infrastructure in their communities.
Supporting NH and PI partners to develop and execute economic development projects. Through the Indigenous Communities program, the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Agency (EDA) is allocating $100 million in American Rescue Plan funding specifically for Indigenous communities, including Pacific Islanders, which were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. EDA will support these partners to develop and execute economic development projects that they need to recover from the pandemic and build economies for the future. A wide range of technical, planning, workforce development, entrepreneurship, and public works and infrastructure projects are eligible for funding under this program. Eligible organizations include: a public or private non-profit organization or association serving Native Pacific Islanders of Guam, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau.
Awarding $3.9 million in grants to help Native Hawaiian Businesses Grow. The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) awarded $3.9 million in federal funding to 13 projects that support American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiianbusiness growth. Each of the projects aim to address one or more of three strategic initiatives: innovation and entrepreneurship (e.g., business trainings, incubators, coaching); strategic planning (e.g., entrepreneurial and economic development); and/or transformative projects (e.g., infrastructure focused public-private partnerships and broadband).
Investing in broadband deployment, digital inclusion, workforce development, telehealth, and distance learning. The Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program (TBCP), funded by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (Act), makes $980 million available for grants to eligible Native Hawaiian entities, as well as Native American and Alaska Native entities, for broadband deployment, digital inclusion, workforce development, telehealth, and distance learning. The recently enacted Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides an additional $2 billion in funding for this program.
Providing stable housing for Native Hawaiian families. The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Native American Programs(ONAP) made $5 million in Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant funding available under the American Rescue Plan to provide critical rental assistance to 223 low-income Native Hawaiian families. ONAP also issued approximately 60 mortgage loan guarantees representing over $17 million dollars in mortgage capital to Native Hawaiian families.
Funding Native Hawaiian educational organizations. In September, the Department of Education announced 35 grants totaling nearly $85 million through the Native Hawaiian Education (NHE) program and 33 grants totaling more than $100 million through the Alaska Native Education (ANE) program. Grants were made to Native Hawaiian educational organizations; Native Hawaiian community-based organizations; public and private nonprofit organizations, agencies, and institutions with experience in developing or operating Native Hawaiian programs or programs of instruction in the Native Hawaiian language. Grantees under these programs use their funds for activities such as the development of curricula and education programs that address the education needs of Native Hawaiian students and the development and operation of student enrichment programs in science and mathematics. Eligible activities also include professional development for educators, activities carried out through Even Start and Head Start programs, family literacy services, and dropout prevention programs. Over 58,000 students, educators, and community members will benefit from these grants in 2021.
Launching a new interagency initiative to preserve, protect, and promote the rights and freedom to use, practice, and develop Native languages. The Departments of the Interior, Education, and Health and Human Services joined five other agencies in signing a memorandum of agreement to further the Native American Languages Act of 1990 by establishing new goals and programs that support the protection and preservation of Native languages, including Native Hawaiian languages.
Removing Derogatory Names from The Nation’s Geographic Features. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland established a process to review and replace derogatory names of the nation’s geographic features, such as creeks and mountains. The Advisory Committee on Reconciliation in Place Names will establish a process to solicit and assist with proposals to the Secretary to change derogatory names, and will include representation from Native Hawaiian organizations, as well as Tribal partners, civil rights, anthropology, history experts, and members of the general public.
Ensuring that AA and NHPI Owned Small Businesses Grow and Thrive
Leveraging federal procurement to expand Opportunity for AA and NHPI owned small businesses. Federal procurement is one of our most powerful tools to advance equity and build wealth in underserved communities, but only around 10 percent of federal agencies’ total eligible contracting dollars typically go to small disadvantaged businesses, a category under federal law for which AA and NHPI-owned businesses are presumed to qualify. Recognizing the importance of using the government’s purchasing power to advance opportunity and equity, the Administration has already taken steps to expand contracting opportunities for underserved small businesses, setting a new goal of increasing the share of contracts going to small disadvantaged businesses by 50 percent over the next five years.
Supporting AA and NHPI owned small businesses. AA and NHPI owned small businesses were hit especially hard during the COVID-19 economic crisis, in part fueled by stigma and bias against Asian-owned small businesses and restaurants. The ARP has supported small businesses, including those owned by AA and NHPIs, through a $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund that has helped restaurants and bars recover from the pandemic and an additional $7.25 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program. The ARP also made changes to the COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan program – including raising the cap from $500,000 to $2 million, and created a $100 million Community Navigator pilot program that works with community groups to connect eligible business owners with American Rescue Plan and other pandemic-relief programs.
Accessing federal resources through trusted community leaders. A program funded by the Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency has helped more than 500 AA and NHPI-business owners apply for federal resources through virtual programming and one-on-one application assistance. The program helped more than 400 AA and NHPI entrepreneurs aged 22-48 participate in the program, many of whom have created jobs, secured loans, and pivoted their business model during the pandemic.
Enhancing access to capital. The Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Capital Access has provided more than $179 billion to AA and NHPI business owners and entrepreneurs. Additionally, SBA’s Office of International Trade has also provided 70 loans to AA and NHPI-owned small business exporters in Fiscal Year 2021, worth $106.3 million.
Training and counseling AA and NHPI entrepreneurs. Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), a resource partner of the Small Business Administration, have provided training and counseling to more than 20,000 clients who identified as Asian American and more than 3,600 Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander entrepreneurs, and published resources that are specifically geared toward helping AA and NHPI entrepreneurs thrive.
Advancing Immigration Reform
Given the four years of chaos and cruelty under the previous Administration, President Biden is rebuilding our immigration system and ensuring it is more fair, humane, and orderly, including for AA and NHPI immigrants and new Americans. These actions include:
Pushing for immigration reform legislation in Congress. On his first day in office, the President sent Congress the United States Citizenship Act – comprehensive legislation that seeks to create a pathway to permanent residence and eventual citizenship for the nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants, including AA and NHPI immigrants, living in and contributing to our country. The President’s plan also modernizes our immigration system and responsibly manages our borders, while addressing the root causes of migration. President Biden and Vice President Harris have repeatedly expressed their strong support for including immigration reform in reconciliation legislation moving through Congress to enable DREAMers, TPS recipients, farmworkers, and essential workers to gain long-awaited pathways to permanent residence and eventual citizenship.
Promoting naturalization. President Biden is committed to making the naturalization process more accessible for eligible noncitizens. The President established an Interagency Working Group to Promote Naturalization and directed the Attorney General, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the Secretary of State to improve the naturalization processing, including identifying and removing barriers to naturalization and reducing backlogs for naturalization applications.
Protecting DACA recipients and Dreamers. On his first day in office, President Biden issued a Presidential Memorandum directing the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Attorney General, to take appropriate actions to preserve and fortify the 2012 DACA policy, under which eligible undocumented immigrant youth, including undocumented AA and NHPI youth, could be permitted to work and study in our communities on a temporary basis. The Department of Homeland Security recently published a new proposed rule on DACA.
Addressing the backlog for U Visa Petitioners. In June, the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) implemented a bona fide determination policy for U visa petitioners that enables USCIS to address a five-year backlog by issuing employment authorization and granting deferred action to petitioners in the United States with pending U visa petitions in cases that USCIS determines are bona fide and merit a favorable exercise of discretion.
Using a victim-centered approach to crime, including noncitizen victims. In August, U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued a new directive on using a victim-centered approach with noncitizen crime victims. The directive emphasizes exercising prosecutorial discretion in immigration enforcement actions for noncitizen individuals and individuals with pending applications for victim-based immigration benefits. In October, Secretary Mayorkas directed all DHS components and offices to incorporate a victim-centered approach into all policies, programs, and activities governing DHS interactions with victims of crime. Components and offices were given 90 days to prepare and transmit implementation plans to the Secretary.
Deferring enforced departure for Hong Kong. In August, President Biden signed a “Memorandum on the Deferred Enforced Departure for Certain Hong Kong Residents for 18 months” which authorized the Secretary of Homeland Security to take measures to defer the removal of any qualified Hong Kong resident for 18 months.
Slowing removals to Burma, Cambodia, and Laos. The DHS AA and NHPI Task Force analyzed key policy issues surrounding the visa sanctions on Burma, Cambodia, and Laos and continues to monitor removals to these countries. To date, ICE has slowed removals to Burma, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam based upon conditions in the countries.
Building an Administration that Represents America
President Biden has assembled the most diverse Administration in our nation’s history and is proud to serve alongside Vice President Kamala Harris—the first Black American and South Asian American to be elected Vice President— as well as the 15 percent of all agency appointees that are AA and NHPI, far exceeding their 7 percent share of the Census population. In the White House itself, 17 percent of all staff and 26 percent of the President’s commissioned officer staff identify as AA and NHPI. The President has taken further action to ensure diversity is emphasized throughout the administration, including:
Appointing AA and NHPIs to lead critical agencies. AA and NHPIs are represented at the top level of the administration in the President’s Cabinet and as heads of agencies. This list of senior officials includes United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai, Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Rohit Chopra, Surgeon General of the United States Vice Admiral Vivek Murthy, Chair of the Federal Trade Commission Lina Khan, Director of the Office of Personnel Management Kiran Ahuja, and Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy Rahul Gupta.
Nominating AA and NHPIs to Federal Judicial Positions. The Biden-Harris Administration has nominated 16 AA and NHPI federal judicial nominees so far, which represents 18 percent of all federal judicial nominees. This includes several historic appointments, including:
- Lucy Haeran Koh (9th Cir.), the first Korean-American woman to serve on any federal appeals court.
- Jennifer Sung (9th Cir.), the first Asian American judge from Oregon on the Ninth Circuit.
- Angel Kelley (D. Mass), who, at the time of her confirmation, was the second African American judge and the second Asian American judge actively serving on the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.
- Zahid N. Quraishi (D.N.J.), the first ever Muslim American federal judge in the United States and the first Asian American judge in the District of New Jersey.
- Sarala Vidya Nagala (D. Conn.), who, at the time of her confirmation, was the only woman of South Asian descent on the District of Connecticut.
- Regina M. Rodriguez (D. Colo.), the first Asian American to serve as a district judge in the state.
- Florence Y. Pan (D.D.C.), the first Asian American woman on the district court for the District of Columbia.
- Tana Lin (W.D. Wash.), the first Asian American federal judge in the Western District of Washington, which is particularly notable since Asian Americans are the largest minority group in Seattle, comprising approximately 14 percent of the city’s population. Lin was born in Taiwan and immigrated to the United States at age 3.
- Shalina D. Kumar (E.D. Mich.), the first federal judge in Michigan of South Asian descent.
- John Chun (W.D. Wash.), who, if confirmed, would be the first Asian American man on the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, and just the second Asian American federal judge to serve in the district.
- Jinsook Ohta (S.D. Cal.), who is the first Asian American woman to ever sit on the Southern District of California bench.
- Dale E. Ho (S.D.N.Y.), who, if confirmed, would be just the third Asian American federal judge on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York and the only AA or NHPI man actively serving on that court.
- Cindy K. Chung (PA-W) was sworn in as the first Asian American person to serve as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania.
- Robert Huie (S.D. Cal.), who, if confirmed, would be the third Asian American ever to serve on the Southern District of California.
- Judge Nina Wang (D. Colo.), who, immigrated from Taiwan as a child and, if confirmed, would be the second Asian American to serve on the United States District Court for the District of Colorado.
- Nusrat Choudhury (E.D.N.Y). who, if confirmed, would be the first Bangladeshi-American, the first Muslim-American woman, and only the second Muslim-American person to serve as a federal judge.
Creating a White House Senior Liaison to the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities. President Biden announced the appointment of Erika L. Moritsugu to serve as Deputy Assistant to the President and the first-ever Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Senior Liaison to the White House.
Native Hawaiian leadership of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. In May, President Biden appointed Krystal Ka’ai to serve as the Executive Director of the Initiative. Ka’ai is the first Native Hawaiian to serve as head of the WHIAANHPI.