WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 28, 2011) — On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Judy Chu (CA-32), Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and seven of the caucus’s Executive Board Members met with senior White House officials to discuss topics of high importance to the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.
The hour-long meeting included Valerie Jarrett, the President’s Senior Advisor; Nancy-Ann DeParle, the White House Deputy Chief of Staff; and Chris Lu, the White House Cabinet Secretary.
“Our first official meeting between CAPAC and the White House was productive, historic, and an important precursor to our meeting with President Obama,” said Chairwoman Judy Chu. “We were able to make progress on a wide range of critical issues, but there is still much work to be done. CAPAC greatly appreciates the President’s commitment to ensuring that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have a voice at the table, and we look forward to working with the White House to address our community’s significant unmet needs.”
The meeting covered a range of topics including the importance of collecting more disaggregated data, the lack of AAPI representation in the federal judiciary, issues specific to the U.S. territories, minority health disparities, and the future of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. The central policy focus of the meeting was on the negative impact that our nation’s broken immigration system has on AAPI communities.
“As the Chair Emeritus and Chair of the Immigration Taskforce, I am pleased that this long-awaited meeting with White House senior officials has finally occurred,” saidCongressman Mike Honda (CA-15). “The meeting provided CAPAC the opportunity to remind the White House that comprehensive immigration reform is an AAPI issue — with 1.2 million undocumented AAPI individuals currently in the US and with AAPIs comprising 40 percent of the University of California system’s DREAM students.
“While comprehensive immigration reform must continue to be a top priority for Congress, the Administration has the power to change our nation’s current immigration system in a number of important ways without needing an act of Congress. These administrative changes include fully exercising the prosecutorial discretion outlined in the ‘Morton Memo’ to protect our Dream students; improving transparency and consistency in the deferred action process; clearly, uniformly, and generously defining the ‘extreme hardship’ provision of the 3 and 10 year bars that keep families apart; and immediately freezing the flawed Secure Communities program pending its thorough review. It is also vitally important that the Administration support all provisions of the Reuniting Families Act, a family immigration bill that I introduced that helps reduce backlogs, retains family preference categories, and assures family unity for lawful permanent residents, in comprehensive immigration reform. We look forward to meeting with the President and DHS Secretary Napolitano on these issues. I am hopeful that this meeting will act as the start of a strong dialogue on immigration between the White House and our nation’s Asian American Pacific Islander communities.”
Statements from CAPAC Executive Board Members who participated in the meeting:
Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo (GU), CAPAC Vice Chair: “Yesterday’s meeting allowed CAPAC to bring several key issues important to the Asian American and Pacific Islander community to the direct attention of senior White House officials. While much progress has been made to advance the interests of AAPIs, and all minorities, in our country, work still remains to ensure that our constituencies’ needs are adequately addressed. I look forward to building on the progress that was made during yesterday’s meeting, and I thank President Obama for his continued commitment to addressing issues important to the AAPI community.”
Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-9), CAPAC Healthcare Taskforce Chair: “As the Chairwoman of CAPAC’s Health Task Force, I am pleased that we were able to highlight the work that CAPAC and the Tri-Caucus is doing to bring an end to minority health disparities and to encourage White House participation at the Tri-Caucus Minority Health Disparities Summit that will take place in my district this coming September. We look forward to working with President Obama and the entire Administration to bring an end to health disparities for communities of color and on the range of issues we addressed.”
Al Green (TX-9), CAPAC Housing Taskforce Chair: “I was proud to be a part of CAPAC’s meeting with high-level Executive branch officials. It was a positive meeting that generated meaningful dialogue and the potential to make significant positive changes in our judiciary. I was appreciative of the Administration’s willingness to discuss AAPI judicial nominations, as it is important that our judiciary reflect a diversity that is judiciously inclusive of capable, competent and qualified AAPIs.”
Congressman Faleomavaega (American Samoa): “I would like to extend my gratitude to the White House and my CAPAC colleagues for a successful meeting to address the most pressing needs of our community. For some 17 million Asian-Pacific Americans across the country, this meeting was a monumental step forward, indicative of the progress we are making as a whole. I am confident that Congress and the White House will further strengthen our coordinated efforts to serve Asian-Pacific Americans in the States and U.S. Territories, including those from American Samoa.”
CAPAC is comprised of Members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and members who have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. Currently Chaired by Congresswoman Judy Chu, CAPAC has been addressing the needs of the AAPI community in all areas of American life since it was founded in 1994. http://capac.chu.house.gov