As Prepared For Delivery:
Hello, everyone. I want to thank our co-chairs, Secretary Becerra and Ambassador Tai; our executive director, Krystal Ka’ai; all of our commissioners; and everyone joining this inaugural meeting of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. I’m honored to speak with you as you begin your vital work.
As President Biden’s Domestic Policy Advisor, I have the privilege of driving the development and implementation of the President’s domestic policy agenda in the White House and across the federal government, from health care and economic mobility to voting rights, education, and immigration. It is my responsibility to make sure our domestic policies are carried out on behalf of the American people—and that means advancing equity and opportunity for AA and NHPI communities is at the heart of our work. I’m supported in this work by Chiraag Bains, one of my outstanding deputies on the DPC, who I know you’ll be hearing from later today.
In that capacity, I’ve spoken with many of you over the past year. I’ve heard you describe the fear many Asian Americans feel for their safety just walking down the street. About the pain of being scapegoated and treated like the “other” by the very leaders who are supposed to represent and protect every American. And, I’ve seen the power of AA and NHPI communities that have spoken out against xenophobia, launched new organizations, and awakened so many Americans to the marginalization and discrimination that too many AA and NHPI families continue to face. As public servants, it is our job to meet this moment with federal action.
So, under the leadership of President Biden and Vice President Harris, we’re taking a whole-of-government approach to lifting up AA and NHPI communities, spearheaded by our reinvigorated White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. That work is being undertaken by an Administration in which more than 15 percent identify as AA and NHPI, including the heads of critical agencies. Our work is very much unfinished. But, as we begin the second year of the Biden-Harris Administration, we are working hard to advance greater equity, justice, and opportunity for the AA and NHPI communities.
Together, we’re moving towards greater equity, building off President Biden’s landmark Day One executive order to advance equity and racial justice across the federal government. Our COVID response has prioritized outreach to AA and NHPI communities, including campaigns and TV ads to reach families with limited English proficiency. And, we’re promoting equity in education, whether that’s providing resources to combat anti-Asian harassment in schools or devoting $36 billion in American Rescue Plan funds to support colleges, including institutions that primarily serve AA and NHPI students.
We’re also moving towards greater opportunity. Our historic American Rescue Plan helped many AA and NHPI small businesses through the pandemic. ARP programs like the Child Tax Credit and nutrition assistance have put us on track to reduce poverty in AA and NHPI communities by nearly 22 percent. That same landmark legislation helped lower or eliminate health insurance premiums for millions of American families, including nearly 200,000 uninsured AA and NHPI consumers. We’re also taking steps to expand federal contracting opportunities, setting a goal of increasing the share of contracts going to small, disadvantaged businesses by 50 percent by 2025. And, through the transformational Bipartisan Infrastructure Law President Biden signed last November, we’re making unprecedented investments in things like broadband, including at least $60 million dedicated to providing high-speed internet access to Native Hawaiian families.
Lastly, we’re moving towards greater justice and safety for AA and NHPI communities. That includes the bipartisan COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which has strengthened our ability to respond to hate crimes against Asian-Americans and all Americans. We’ve funded efforts by the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security and local communities to keep Asian Americans safe. We are also committed to working to rebuild a fair, humane, and orderly immigration system, from fighting to protect Dreamers and streamlining the naturalization process to deferring the removal of Hong Kong residents and slowing removals to Burma, Cambodia, and Laos. I’m also proud that we’ve moved swiftly to build a federal judiciary that looks like the American people, with AA and NHPI nominees representing more than one in five of President Biden’s nominees—including historic firsts, like the first Korean-American woman to serve on any federal appeals court, the first Muslim-American federal judge in the United States, and the first Bangladeshi-American to be nominated as a federal judge.
We’ve gotten a lot done in the first year of this Administration. But, as long as Asian American school children are bullied, aspiring entrepreneurs are caught in our byzantine immigration system, or entire segments of our communities remain invisible, we know we have work to do. In the months ahead, we’re especially committed to language access—making government accessible no matter what language you speak—and to data disaggregation, to ensure we have the data we need to develop policy that serves every community.
And, because this is the President’s Advisory Commission, we’re looking to you to advise. Whether you hail from academia or Hollywood or Silicon Valley, each of you represent the remarkable diversity and vitality of AA and NHPI communities from across America today. Tell us what more we could be doing. Help us harness the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to further lift up Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities. With your advice and support, I know that even more progress is possible, and we will continue to move towards a more just and equal America for us all. Thank you all very much.