The Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community is extremely diverse and the concerns and needs of this community encompass a wide range of issue areas.
The U.S. is home to over 55 million people who speak a language other than English at home. Among the 8.3 million Americans aged five or older who speak an Asian or Pacific Island language, approximately one in three are limited English proficient (LEP). As part of the Administration’s commitment to improving the quality of life for all AAPIs, WHIAAPI works closely with 23 federal agencies to ensure that LEP AAPIs have meaningful access to federal programs and services. In addition, the Initiative continues to promote efforts to integrate immigrants into their new American communities linguistically, civically, and economically.
While educational attainment for some AAPI communities exceeds the national average, their success should not overshadow the staggering educational needs of other AAPI communities that may be masked by aggregated data, including large sectors of AAPI students that consist of immigrants and non-native speakers of English. The Initiative is working with federal government agencies to drive resources to Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions (AANAPISI) that are colleges with high underserved AAPI student populations to assist these communities.
WHIAAPI also works to ensure a safe environment for all students by educating the community, including parents, educators, and school administrators, about the unique challenges that AAPIs face with bullying/harassment.
Historically, AAPI communities have faced significant barriers to accessing affordable health insurance and quality health services, and these barriers have contributed to health disparities. Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and other Pacific Islander communities are likely to lack health insurance coverage. Health conditions that are common in the AAPI community — like diabetes, obesity, cancer, HIV/AIDS and mental illness — often go undiagnosed and untreated.
The Affordable Care Act will remove obstacles to care that many AAPIs historically have faced and ensure that they will have better access to stable, affordable health insurance and high quality health care suited to their needs.
The Administration recognizes that AAPI immigrants contribute greatly to the economy, diversity and cultural landscape of the United States and that vast majorities of the AAPI community are or have been affected by our immigration laws and policies. Of the over 4 million individuals languishing in the family immigrant visa backlogs waiting list, over 40% are from an Asian country. And, approximately 11% of the undocumented immigrant population is from an Asian country. The President’s commonsense immigration reform proposal will support the AAPI community by streamlining our family-sponsored and employment-based immigration systems and including an earned path to citizenship that will bring undocumented immigrants out of the shadows, and allow eligible undocumented students who have been raised and educated in the U.S. to obtain permanent residence. Learn more about the Administration’s path to immigration reform at the link.
LABOR AND WOMEN’S RIGHTS
Today, more than ever, women are often the breadwinners in many American families. Yet, women still earn just 77 cents on every dollar paid to men. For AAPI women, those earnings can be even less, as many in the community work in high-risk and low-wage industries, such as nail salons, domestic work, and garment production. The Obama Administration has promoted policies and programs that support AAPI women workers, expand protections for victims of domestic violence and trafficking, and increase access to and participation in federal programs and services. Learn more about the Administration’s accomplishments on behalf of AAPI women and girls at the link.
Despite dramatic population growth in the last ten years, AAPIs are among the most understudied racial or ethnic minority group in the U.S. The lack of information on AAPIs perpetuates the model-minority myth- the notion that Asian Americans are self-sufficient, well-educated, and upwardly mobile. This generalization masks the diversity within the AAPI community and the real differences that exist in socioeconomic status, educational attainment, health and other areas. The Initiative will promote better data collection practices that highlight AAPI subgroup needs and inform better policy and programs. Learn more about data disaggregation at the link.
With 1.5 million AAPI-owned businesses in the United States, success of AAPI-owned businesses is critical to the overall economy. The Obama administration has implemented a number of initiatives to support AAPI-owned businesses continue to grow and create jobs, testifying to their important role in helping drive economic growth.
The Initiative strives to identify ways to better recruit, develop, and advance AAPIs in the Federal government so that it truly represents the people it serves. These efforts include working with schools, community-based organizations and interns to find positions in the federal government, working with agencies to improve opportunities for AAPI federal employees, and assisting AAPIs to join the Senior Executive Service ranks. Learn more about federal internship opportunities at the link.
VETERANS AND MILITARY AFFAIRS
There are over 265,000 Asian American veterans and 28,000 Native Hawaiian and/or Pacific Islander veterans. The President has provided unprecedented levels of funding to help veterans. As part of these efforts, WHIAPPI leads an Interagency Working Group on Filipino World II Veterans Compensation. Thousands of AAPIs serve on active duty and reserve forces in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard. WHIAAPI highlights the role of AAPI servicemembers, such as U.S. Army Sergeant Shrestha, who was named the Soldier of the Year.