U.S. President Joe Biden’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (AANHPI) released its inaugural report and held its third public meeting this week.
Launched last December under Executive Order 14031, the 25-member commission is tasked with advising the president on how the public, private and non-profit sectors can work together to advance equity, justice and opportunity for AANHPI communities. It is co-chaired by Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra and U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai. The inaugural report, which was sent to Biden on Aug. 24, contains more than a dozen recommendations in six key areas: (1) belonging, inclusion, anti-Asian hate and anti-discrimination; (2) health equity; (3) immigration and citizenship status; (4) language access; (5) data disaggregation and (6) economic equity.
Subcommittees were formed at the commission’s inaugural meeting in February to focus on each area. The commission then approved their recommendations at its first in-person meeting in May.
The inaugural report
The Belonging, Inclusion, Anti-Asian Hate, Anti-Discrimination Subcommittee detailed three recommendations in the report: (1) having the Justice Department condition funding on credible participation in data collection and reporting under FBI’s Hate Crime Statistics Act (HCSA); (2) having all branches of the U.S. military adopt a standard uniform policy that allows for religious articles of faith and (3) having the commission engage in public-private partnerships to create a series of public service announcements (PSAs) to address anti-Asian hate crimes.
The Health Equity Subcommittee approved one recommendation. It sought for HHS to host a two-day mental health summit in coordination with the White House Office of Public Engagement (OPE) that would bring together mental health practitioners, advocacy organizations, individuals with mental health disabilities and officials from related federal agencies to discuss ways to improve mental health services for AANHPIs.
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The Immigration and Citizenship Status Subcommittee developed three recommendations: (1) having the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reduce the backlog of immigration visas by expanding staffing and modernizing processes; (2) having the DHS, USCIS and State Department reduce internal processing times for family green card applications and (3) having the DHS and State Department issue new public charge policies that support AAPI immigrant families in accessing immediate support for their health and well-being.
The Language Access Subcommittee also approved three recommendations: (1) having the federal government ensure that emergency programs “are inclusive of and reflect the lived experiences” of those with limited English proficiency; (2) making public and emergency alerts simultaneously accessible to both English speakers and those with limited proficiency and (3) having federal agencies translate their online content into multiple AANHPI languages.
The Data Disaggregation Subcommittee had two recommendations: (1) having the Office of Management and Budget (OBM) update minimum standards for federal data on race and ethnicity and (2) encouraging key federal agencies to partner with communities to ensure that optimal data gathering, reporting and access are relevant and useful to AANHPI groups.
The Economic Equity Subcommittee also listed two recommendations: (1) hosting forums titled “White House Initiative on AA and NHPI (WHIAANHPI) and White House AA and NHPI Economic Summits” and (2) increasing the share of federal contract dollars for small, disadvantaged businesses (SDB’s) to 20% by 2025.
“The inaugural report is the product of months of engagement with experts, community advocates and federal officials,” Chief Commissioner Sonal Shah said in a statement. “I commend our commissioners for their dedication and diligence in developing these recommendations.”
Shah added, “Together, they represent a significant community-driven effort to advance equity, justice and opportunity for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. The Commission stands ready to provide guidance as the Biden-Harris Administration considers whether the recommendations should be implemented.”
The third public meeting
The commission’s third public meeting was held at the White House on Wednesday. Actor Daniel Dae Kim, who is part of the Belonging, Inclusion, Anti-Asian Hate, Anti-Discrimination Subcommittee, delivered the opening remarks with a rundown of anti-Asian incidents that have occurred since the commission’s last meeting in May. Among the cases Kim cited include the racist assault of a 5-year-old Japanese girl and her father in Portland, Oregon, in July and the racist tirade against a group of Indian American women outside a restaurant in Plano, Texas, last month. The Korean American actor stressed that they are only a few among the thousands of incidents that have afflicted the community since the COVID-19 pandemic started.
“It reaches across all Asian demographics, all across the country. It is vitally important that these stories be told. Despite how long this list may be, it is important that these voices be heard,” Kim said. “Clearly, there remains much work to do.”
The meeting, which lasted for about eight hours, saw the commission discuss full and draft recommendations. The livestream can be viewed below: