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Press Statement: Renewing a Commitment to AAPI Communities: Signing Of Executive Order for White House Initiative on AAPIs

By October 14, 2009No Comments

A transcript of the President’s remarks can be found here.

Watch video shot by EunSook Lee at the bill signing.

For Immediate Release
October 14, 2009

Eun Sook Lee, NAKASEC, 213-453-4378
Becky Belcore, KRCC, 773-588-9158
Dae Joong Yoon, KRC, 323-937-3718

Signing Of Executive Order for White House Initiative on AAPIs

(Washington, D.C.) Today, President Obama signed an Executive Order that restored the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs). The mission of the Initiative is to coordinate activities throughout the Administration that seek to outreach to and serve the Asian American and Pacific Islander community in a variety of areas, including health, education, labor, small business, housing and economic development. The Initiative will be jointly coordinated by the Department of Commerce and the Department of Education.

AAPI community leaders were invited to the ceremony, including Eun Sook Lee, executive director of NAKASEC. She said: “NAKASEC commends President Obama for signing the Executive Order, a meaningful effort to address existing disparities and other longstanding problems faced by the nation’s fastest growing population. Today marks the beginning of a renewed endeavor on all our parts to fully realize a better life all Americans.”

Before signing the Executive Order which will not be housed within the Department of Education (DOE) and co-chaired by Secretary Arne Duncan (DOE) and Secretary Gary Locke (Department of Commerce), President Obama remarked:

“Because when any of our citizens are unable to fulfill their potential due to factors that have nothing to do with their talent, character, or work ethic, then I believe there’s a role for our government to play. Not to guarantee anybody’s success or to solve everybody’s problems, but to ensure that we’re living up to our nation’s ideals; to ensure that we can each pursue our own version of happiness, and that we continue to be a nation where all things are still possible for all people. That’s the impact that our government can have.”

Also present at the event were: Eric Shinseki, Secretary of Veterans Affairs; Tammy Duckworth, Assistant Secretary of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs for the Department of Veterans Affairs, Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education, Harold Koh, Legal Advisor to the Department of State, Howard Koh, Assistant Secretary for Health for the Department of Health and Human Services; and Representatives Mike Honda (D-CA), Joseph Anh Cao (R-LA), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI).

The Initiative was created by President Bill Clinton in 1999 and worked to advise the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) on the implementation and coordination of federal programs and how they relate to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. The commission also advised the President on how to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities in six key areas of health for AAPIs. The advisory commission served until 2001 which was then renewed under the Bush Administration. At that time, the Initiative’s focus was narrowed and moved from DHHS to the Department of Commerce.