WASHINGTON, D.C. (JULY 23, 2013) — President Barack Obama met with 22 members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus on Tuesday at the White House.
The meeting covered immigration reform, increasing diversity among presidential appointments, improving language access in enrolment for the Affordable Care Act, and pressing issues impacting Native Hawaiians and Pacific Island Territories, including federal recognition for Native Hawaiian self governance and equitable funding and treatment for the territories.
“Today’s meeting was very productive, and I appreciate the President’s receptiveness and willingness to address our concerns,” said Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), CAPAC Chair. “President Obama has demonstrated throughout his presidency that he understands the needs of the Asian Pacific American community, and that fact was reinforced today. We look forward to working with the President to ensure American opportunity is safeguarded for generations still to come.”
The President thanked CAPAC for their work to expand the middle class within AAPI communities and among all Americans, and said that he looks forward to continuing to work with them. He stressed that the Administration continues to urge the House to take action to pass commonsense immigration reform that would secure our borders, crack down on illegal employment, offer a path to earned citizenship for undocumented persons, and modernize our legal immigration system so that it once again addresses our needs and reflects our values as a nation.
He thanked CAPAC for their ongoing efforts on this important issue and both sides agreed on the need to pass immigration reform now to help grow the economy, create jobs and reduce the deficit.
The President urged CAPAC to continue to reach out to their colleagues in the House to find consensus and complete work on this important issue at the earliest possible opportunity. In the coming weeks, members of the Cabinet and Senior Administration officials will stress the economic need for commonsense immigration reform, including highlighting the economic benefits of reform and the high costs of inaction.
“The beauty of the American Dream is that no one has a claim to it, but everyone has a stake in it. CAPAC’s meeting with President Obama focused on promoting and securing this promise for all Americans,” Chu said. “President Obama recognizes that good ideas can come from anywhere – and anyone. CAPAC and the President agree that passing comprehensive immigration reform is as vital to our economy as it is to our national security.
“But safeguarding opportunity also involves fostering talent, and ensuring government leadership reflects the diversity of our country,” she added. “That is why CAPAC Members urged President Obama to address the disproportionate under-representation of Asian Americans in the federal government.”
The President also said that he was proud of his efforts to make the Executive Branch and the federal judiciary more diverse. CAPAC thanked the President for more than doubling the number of AAPI federal judges currently serving.
The President reiterated his commitment to ensuring that his Administration is composed of highly qualified public servants who reflect the diversity of America. CAPAC also thanked the President for the ongoing work of the White House Initiative on AAPIs to better connect AAPI communities to the federal government.
The President also thanked CAPAC for their strong support in passing the Affordable Care Act and discussed the robust ongoing efforts to successfully implement the law. Starting in 2014 nearly 2 million uninsured AAPIs will have new opportunities for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. And, increased funding to community health centers is enabling more AAPIs to receive culturally and linguistically appropriate and accessible care. The President and CAPAC pledged to work together to ensure that all qualified individuals are able to sign up for the Health Insurance Marketplace.
The President was joined at the meeting by Office of Legislative Affairs Director Miguel Rodriguez, Director of Presidential Personnel Jonathan McBride, and Executive Director of the White House Initiative on AAPIs Kiran Ahuja.