Ten members of White House Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have resigned in protest of Donald Trump’s policies, leaving only four sitting on the board.
The total resignations for the commission now stands at 16 after six others quit on January 20, including Nina Ahmad, Lian Cheun, Diane Narasaki, Shekar Narasimhan, Bo Thao-Urabe, and Paul Watanabe.
“Although the Commissioners’ term ends 9/30/17, we can no longer serve a President whose policies aim to create outcomes that are diametrically opposite to our principles, goals, and charge,” wrote the members in a resignation letter to the president.
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, co-chair of the White House Initiative of Asian American Pacific Islanders, were also sent the letter, dated February 15.
The letter of resignation cites the president’s ban on refugees and immigrants coming from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S., the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, plans to build a wall across the U.S.-Mexican border and cutting federal funding to sanctuary cities as actions that go against everything that the commission stands for.
Among those who handed in their resignation on Wednesday was Tung T. Nguyen, the chair of the commission.
“There was no way to influence any policy,” Nguyen told AsAmNews. “Our assessment is only the viewpoints that fit the administration will be heard.”
The commissioners said they sent another letter to the president in January to discuss issues affecting Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities, but did not hear back from him.
Nguyen added that no matter who the president appoints to replace those who resigned, Trump will only pay attention to those who agree with his policies.
“Rather than empower this Commission, President Trump has chosen to undermine the very principles that guide their work,” Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-Calif.), chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, added. “Instead of seeing the commission as a path towards unity, Mr. Trump has embraced division.”
The other nine members who resigned on Wednesday include:
Mary Okada, Co-Chair. Chamorro American, Guam
Michael Byun, Commissioner. Korean American, Akron, Ohio
Kathy Ko Chin, Commissioner. Chinese American, Oakland, California
Jacob Fitisemanu, Jr., Commissioner. Samoan American, Salt Lake City, Utah
Daphne Kwok, Commissioner. Chinese American, Annandale, Virginia
Dee Jay Mailer, Commissioner. Native Hawaiian, Honolulu, Hawaii
Maulik Pancholy, Commissioner. Indian American, Brooklyn, New York
Linda Phan, Commissioner. Vietnamese American, Austin, Texas
Sanjita Pradhan, Commissioner. Nepalese American, Des Moines, Iowa
“The choice to stay on under the new administration was with the hopes that I would have a seat at the table to be able to bring up the issues that are important to our community based on the work that’s happened over many years under this commission,” Pancholy, who was appointed to the commission in 2014, told NBC News. “It became very clear to me in the last month and a half that that voice at the table wasn’t going to be able to be effective inside the administration the way that I hoped it would be.”
The commission was first created by an executive order under President Bill Clinton in 1999, and was renewed under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.