President Barack Obama drops by an Asian American & Pacific Islander Initiative meeting in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, March 14, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 15, 2011) – Asian American and Pacific Islander leaders appointed by President Obama presented a report to the White House Monday with recommendations on how 23 federal agencies and offices can improve the everyday lives of AAPIs.
The report addresses problems uniquely facing Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, such as linguistic isolation, health problems that disproportionally affect AAPIs and bullying and other civil rights issues.
It was submitted to the White House during a gathering of two groups created under the executive order establishing the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders – the President’s Advisory Commission and the federal Interagency Working Group, which includes representatives from almost every federal agency. President Obama stopped by the gathering to thank the Commission and the Working Group for their work.
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, who serves as the White House Initiative’s co-chair noted that each federal agency worked hard to identify hurdles preventing the AAPI community from achieving their full potential.
“We’ve made a lot of progress,” said Secretary Locke. “A lot of innovative thought went into this report to the President. The Census, for one, gave us a lot of insight into how we can make our federal government more responsive to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.”
“This report shows how the federal government is taking action to address unique AAPI needs,” said Daphne Kwok, chairwoman of the President’s Advisory Commission on AAPIs. “Hopefully, federal agencies will implement these recommendations as quickly as possible.”
Details outlined in the report were submitted by each agency to address priorities established by the White House Initiative – creating healthy communities and sustainable neighborhoods, expanding educational opportunities, increasing economic growth and improving civil rights.
Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary Christopher Lu joined President Obama to accept the report, urging Administration officials to move quickly to carry out the recommendations outlined in the plans.
“The President is very appreciative of all the great work that has been done on the report,” said Chris Lu. “And we challenge all of you – the Initiative, the Commission, and the agency representatives – to work quickly to implement these important recommendations.”
Recommendations in the report include:
• Early identification of chronic Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) infection for Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander populations that don’t know they have the virus. Hepatitis B chronically infects about 1.5 million people in the U.S., and AAPIs account for over half of all the cases.
• Strengthening of Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions programs to increase college graduation rates for AAPI students. While educational attainment among East Asian and South Asian groups is high, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders have lower high school graduation rates.