WASHINGTON, D.C. (Oct. 14, 2011) — Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and U.S. Secretary Janet Napolitano of the Department of Homeland Security held a recent meeting to discuss issues of critical concern to the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.
CAPAC Chair Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA- 32) said the meeting was an important first for the caucus. She said nearly 60 percent of all Asian Americans are foreign born, and immigration issues are a top priority.
“We appreciate the critical work the Secretary has done to tackle issues on racial profiling, enforce prosecutorial discretion, and ensure that language access and cultural sensitivities are taken into consideration,” said Chu. “I thank Secretary Napolitano for her leadership and look forward to working with her to ensure that immigration and homeland security concerns that impact the Asian American and Pacific Islander community are not overlooked.”
Secretary Napolitano said DHS is committed to working with the CAPAC on issues that affect the AAPI community.
“The inaugural meeting with CAPAC was a good opportunity to continue this critical dialogue with members of the AAPI community and I look forward to working with CAPAC in the future,” said Napolitano.
CAPAC Vice Chair Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo (GU) said the DHS has jurisdiction over a host of issues, especially with regard to immigration, that affect Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders throughout the nation.
“The Secretary addressed many of our concerns and assured us of her commitment to working with us as we advocate for the AAPI community,” said Bordallo. “I also appreciated the Secretary’s willingness to discuss expansion of the Guam-CNMI visa waiver program.”
Bordallo sad she looks forward to working with DHS and the Department of Defense to bring a resolution to this matter. “It will be important for us to build on the progress made during yesterday’s meeting, and to work with DHS in improving services to our constituencies,” she added.
Congressman Mike Honda (CA-15), CAPAC Immigration Taskforce Chair, said the meeting with Secretary Napolitano was a critical step in highlighting issues that are of importance to CAPAC and the millions of AAPIs that we represent, including the deportation of AAPI undocumented immigrants, racial profiling of the Muslim and Sikh communities, and comprehensive immigration reform.
“We reminded the Secretary that such reform needs to include family reunification, as nearly half of the 4.7 million individuals waiting to reunite with their loved ones are AAPI,” said Honda. “As CAPAC’s Immigration Taskforce Chair, I look forward to continuing to partner with the Secretary and all offices within the Department of Homeland Security to address the issues that we raised during this productive meeting.”
Congresswoman Laura Richardson (CA-37) said that as a member of the Homeland Security Committee, she has worked closely with Secretary Napolitano on national security issues.
“I thank the Secretary for her commitment to working with the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus on improving coordination and outreach to our Asian and Pacific Islander communities. Our country is safer under the leadership of Secretary Napolitano,” said Richardson.
Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (CNMI), said Napolitano and her staff have an extremely important and very complex job to do. He said they have to keep all of us safe by protecting the borders, a policing function that often requires them to be tough.
“At the same time the Secretary and her staff have to be humane,” said Sablan. “They must treat every individual with respect. They have to be compassionate. And they have to be fair. These goals can be difficult to reconcile. I was glad to be able to let the Secretary know that in the Northern Mariana Islands, where a transition to federal management of immigration is underway, the employees of the Department of Homeland Security have managed to bring all of those competing values together.
“The transition is not easy, but the resources that the Secretary has devoted to guiding the process and the dedication of her staff on the ground are helping the transition be as least difficult as possible,” he added.
The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus 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