FACT SHEET: President Biden Establishes the White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders

Today, President Biden will sign an Executive Order establishing the White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders, and delivering on the President’s commitment to reinstate and reinvigorate this historic Initiative.

Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AA and NHPI) communities together constitute the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States and make invaluable contributions to our society, our economy, and our culture. Yet for far too long, systemic barriers to equity, justice, and opportunity have put the American dream out of reach for many AA and NHPI communities, and racism, nativism, and xenophobia against AA and NHPI communities continues to threaten safety and dignity of AA and NHPI families. The new Initiative is charged with driving an ambitious, whole-of-government agenda to advance equity, justice, and opportunity for AA and NHPI communities by:

  • Helping to coordinate a comprehensive Federal response to the rise in acts of anti-Asian bias and violence
  • Addressing the systemic lack of disaggregated data on AA and NHPI communities in Federal statistical systems
  • Expanding language access and language assistance programs for AA and NHPI individuals across federal programs
  • Strengthening economic security and opportunity for AA and NHPI communities by empowering AA and NHPI entrepreneurs, building new workforce training opportunities, and promoting workplaces that are free from harassment against AA and NHPI workers
  • Addressing the concentration of poverty experienced in many AA and NHPI communities
  • Addressing disparities in educational outcomes for AA and NHPI students of all ages, and addressing bullying, harassment, and discrimination in our Nation’s schools
  • Advancing climate and environmental justice for AA and NHPI communities who are particularly impacted by the climate crisis and are overburdened by environmental degradation
  • Promoting inclusion and belonging for all AA and NHPI communities by strengthening public awareness and education about AA and NHPI communities, cultures, and traditions
  • Empowering AA and NHPI communities to be civically engaged, including through electoral participation
  • Building a Federal workforce where AA and NHPI public servants are leaders at the most senior levels of our government
  • Ensuring that AA and NHPI communities are empowered and equitably served by Federal funding, grants, and contracts

The COVID-19 pandemic, and the xenophobic rhetoric used by certain political leaders during this crisis, have led to a tragic spike in acts of anti-Asian bias, violence, and xenophobia. At the same time, the pandemic has disproportionately burdened many AA and NHPI communities, and exposed the significant health inequities faced by many Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in particular. To ensure that the Federal government is mitigating COVID-19 related anti-Asian bias, advancing health equity for all AA and NHPI communities, and ensuring AA and NHPI communities can equitably recover from these crises, the Initiative will be led out of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Today, President Biden also announced that Krystal Ka’ai has been selected to serve as Executive Director of the Initiative. Krystal has served as the Executive Director of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) since 2013, leading legislative, communications, and outreach strategy for a bicameral caucus composed of more than 70 members in both the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate. She worked to advanced key priorities impacting the AAPI community, including health care, immigration, education, civil rights, economic development, and more. She previously served in various roles with the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and the State of Hawai‘i.

In addition, the Executive Order establishes a renewed Presidential Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. The Commission will advise the President on ways the public, private and non-profit sectors can work together to advance equity and opportunity for every AA and NHPI community. The Commission is also charged with advising the President on policies to address anti-Asian xenophobia and violence, ways to build capacity in AA and NHPI communities through federal grantmaking, and policies to address the intersectional barriers that AA and NHPI women, LGBTQ+ people, and people with disabilities face. The Commission will include AA and NHPI civic leaders from across the country, and will reflect the rich diversity of AA and NHPI communities throughout the United States.

These announcements build on the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic actions to combat bias, violence, and xenophobia against AA and NHPI communities, including:

Signing the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act into law. On May 20, 2021, President Biden signed into law the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, bipartisan legislation that will make significant improvements to our Nation’s response to hate crimes. The bill addresses two challenges: the lack of resources and training for state and local law enforcement to accurately identify and report hate crimes to the FBI, and the language and cultural barriers that many communities of color face in reporting hate crimes to law enforcement.

The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act will strengthen the Federal coordination and response to hate crime incidents, especially those that victimize Asian American communities, by appointing a designated official at the Department of Justice whose sole job is to facilitate the expedited review of hate crimes related to COVID-19. The Department of Justice will also issue new guidance for state, city, and Tribal law enforcement agencies on how to establish online reporting of hate crimes. The law will provide resources to create specialized hate crimes units that will also help states create hotlines for hate crimes at state and local levels that will be accessible for people with limited English proficiency. And it provides resources for training for state and local law enforcement to identify, investigate, and report these heinous crimes.

Signing a Presidential Memorandum Condemning and Combating Racism, Xenophobia, and Intolerance Against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States. In his first week in office, President Biden signed a Memorandum which established that it is the official policy of the Biden-Harris Administration to stand up against racism, xenophobia, nativism, and bias. The Memorandum directs all Federal agencies to take steps to ensure their official actions mitigate anti-Asian bias and xenophobia, especially in the Nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Memorandum also charged the Department of Justice with partnering with AA and NHPI communities to respond to and prevent hate crimes and violence.

Advancing equity and racial justice for AA and NHPI communities through the whole-of-government initiative. On his first day in office, President Biden signed a historic Executive Order establishing a whole-of-government initiative to advance equity and racial justice and root out systemic racism from federal policies, programs, institutions and laws. Under this Executive Order, all Federal agencies are charged with affirmatively advancing equity, civil rights, racial justice, and equal opportunity for the American people, including AA and NHPI communities.

Appointing a White House Senior Liaison to Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities. President Biden announced the appointment of Erika L. Moritsugu to serve as Deputy Assistant to the President and Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Senior Liaison. Moritsugu serves as a vital voice to advance the President and the Administration’s priorities.

Creating a historically diverse Administration in which 15 percent of all appointees identify as Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. The Biden-Harris Administration reflects the diversity of the American people, and 15 percent of the Administration’s appointees identify as AAPI.

Funding critical research to prevent and address bias and xenophobia against Asian American communities. The National Science Foundation (NSF) is taking a comprehensive approach to investing in research to understand, address, and end bias, discrimination and xenophobia, including against AAPI communities. NSF is currently supporting more than 100 grants across the country totaling more than $33 million dollars of investment. This wide array of researchers is advancing innovative studies to reveal new and more effective strategies for reducing the frequency and severity of discrimination experienced by historically underrepresented groups, and reduce targeting of, and violence towards, historically underrepresented communities and individuals, including Asian American communities.

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