By Louis Chan, AsAmNews National Correspondent
President Joe Biden vowed to do more work on immigration reform, voting rights and stopping anti-Asian hate during a meeting today at the White House with leaders from at least 10 Asian American, Pacific Islanders and Native Hawaiian organizations.
“There is work to do in immigration, voting right, so much more,” Biden said as he opened the meeting also attended by Vice President Kamala Harris.
The President pledged to do more to build an economy “from the middle and bottom up” even as he heralded what he described as the “fastest economic growth in 40 years.”
Gregg Orton, the National Director of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, left impressed.
“It was a very productive meeting. We’re pleased with the progress and excited for the work to come,” Orton told AsAmNews, but he also said it’s imperative that the community is included in any economic recovery and job opportunities.
Orton called for the elimination of structural barriers that plague immigrant communities. He also expressed fear that the upcoming origin report on COVID-19 is something that can foment more anti-Asian hatred.
Biden reminded those in attendance that he signed the COVID-19 Hate Crime Act months after the shooting in Atlanta and that he issued an executive order on racial equity his first day in office.
He also met with leaders from the community in Atlanta shortly after that shooting.
He said the AAPINH community in Atlanta reported “feeling unsafe, unwanted and invisible. Our message back to you at that moment was we see you.”
The President paused to remember today’s anniversary of the 2012 Oak Creek Shooting in Wisconsin at a Sikh Gurdwara that left 7 people dead.
The White House also indicated the Homeland Security Department is reevaluating its deportation policies of Southeast Asian refugees. The policy started under the previous administration, and has continued during the Biden Administration.
Southeast Asian Resource Action Center executive director Quyen Dinh pushed for a renegotiation of the Vietnam bilateral repatriation agreement with the United States to protect Vietnamese, Cambodian and other refugees facing deportation.
“SEARAC is committed to working with this Administration to provide relief for as many people in our communities as possible.” she said in a statement to AsAmNews.
Kara Subach, Deputy Director of Media Affairs, APA, for the Republican party described the meeting as “checking a box.”
“His empty promises sound like a broken record,” she said in a statement.
She called Biden’s record on law enforcement “anti-police” and “ripe for anti-Asian hate.”
Subach also blasted the President for the Justice Department’s decision to drop its anti-affirmative action lawsuit against Yale.
Other groups to have attended the meeting were Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, Asian Pacific Islander Vote, Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, Empowering Pacific Islander Communities, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development, and Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund.
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