By Akemi Tamanaha, AsAmNews Associate Editor
On Tuesday morning, the Biden administration announced the first-ever National Strategy to Advance Equity, Justice, and Opportunity for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AA and NHPI) Communities. The strategy was developed through The White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (WHIAANHPI).
The White House unveiled the strategy at a virtual launch event Tuesday afternoon.
WHIAANHPI was founded in 1999 by an executive order from then-President Bill Clinton. Each president since Clinton has signed an executive order reestablishing the initiative. President Biden signed his (Executive Order 14031) in May 2021, as anti-Asian hate rose dramatically throughout the country. The executive order also established a federal Interagency Working Group (IWG) to coordinate WHIAANHPI strategies across different agencies. The IWG is comprised of senior executives from 45 different departments, agencies and offices.
In Summer 2022, under the guidance of WHIAANHPI, federal agencies began creating action plans to help the AA and NHPI communities. The plans focus on six priorities:
- PRIORITY 1: Promoting belonging, inclusion, and combatting anti-Asian hate and discrimination;
- PRIORITY 2: Data disaggregation for AA and NHPI communities;
- PRIORITY 3: Language access for AA and NHPI communities;
- PRIORITY 4: Promoting equitable and inclusive COVID-19 response and recovery efforts;
- PRIORITY 5: Capacity building for AA and NHPI communities;
- PRIORITY 6: Federal workforce diversity;
- PRIORITY 7: Outreach and engagement to AA and NHPI communities
The initiative also identified three areas of major domestic policy to prioritize:
- FOCUS 1: Combat anti-Asian hate and discrimination and promote greater inclusion and belonging of AA and NHPI communities;
- FOCUS 2: Promote greater language access for AA and NHPI communities; and
- FOCUS 3: Prioritize data disaggregation for AA and NHPI communities.
Under the new strategy, the AAPI community will have greater access to information from the federal government. The 2020 Census Detailed Demographic and Housing Characteristics and will provide detailed disaggregated data on AAPI groups in the summer of 2023.
Information will be accessible in different languages. For example, the Internal Revenue Service developed landing pages in 20 different foreign languages. Associate Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice Vanita Gupta acknowledged how important language access is to many AAPI citizens.
“Language access can be the difference … between life and death. Being able to access public safety professionals if something is going wrong, being able to access any type of program for benefits,” Gupta said at the launch event.
Prior to the strategy’s unveiling federal agencies also began working to provide greater funding to the AAPI community. Federal spending from the Department of the Treasury and the Department of Agriculture on Hawaii and the Pacific Islands increased by over $80 million. In 2021 and 2022, the Small Business Administration provided over $5 billion worth of loans to AAPI business owners.
Actor and producer Daniel Dae Kim, a member of President Biden’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, praised the unity that went into developing the strategy.
“I’ve never seen our community come together the way it has over the past few years,” Kim said. “And I’ve been so heartened by the support of this administration that has gone beyond the usual political rhetoric. So I look forward to continuing to work alongside the Biden-Harris administration to advance opportunities for the AA and NHPI communities across the country.”
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