CAPAC lawmakers discuss with Biden, Harris AAPI priorities: hate crimes, immigration

Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) leadership on March 7 met with President Biden, Vice President Harris, and senior White House officials to discuss policy priorities for the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.

The CAPAC members in attendance were CAPAC Chair Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27), CAPAC First Vice-Chair Rep. Grace Meng (NY-06), CAPAC Second Vice-Chair Rep. Mark Takano (CA-41), and CAPAC Whip Rep. Ted Lieu (CA-33).

Rep. Chu issued the following statement after the meeting: “I am so grateful to President Biden, Vice President Harris, and their dedicated team in the White House for taking the time to listen to and better understand the needs of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. From his very first day in office, President Biden has done so much to elevate the AAPI community, from his actions to address anti-Asian hate to the significant number of AAPI judges and leaders he has nominated and AAPI appointees he has hired at all levels to ensure a truly representative government. And in our meeting we encouraged him to continue with these efforts, particularly the need to fully implement the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act and further address anti-Asian hate.

“Additionally, as we near the end of lockdown measures thanks to the Administration’s strong response to the coronavirus and begin to focus on our economic recovery, we must also ensure that AAPIs are included in that. That is why we urged the Administration to address our need for more disaggregated data, so we can better understand the needs of all our communities. We also discussed the need for better language access so that those not proficient in English, including one-third of the AAPI community, are still able to take part in this recovery. And any recovery is incomplete if it does not include immigration reform. Immigrants were on the front lines of this crisis, keeping our country running even at the risk to their own health. That is why we pressed the Administration on addressing on the needs of AAPI immigrant families, including addressing the decades-long visa backlogs to keep families together…

2021 photo of CAPAC leaders at the White House with Judy Chu (2nd from left) and Grace Meng (far right)

“Finally, addressing anti-Asian hate will require more than just better monitoring and reporting of hate crimes, which is what the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act will help us do. It requires us to ensure the language we use does not stoke hatred against Asian American communities, and we appreciate President Biden’s careful use of language around the America COMPETES Act to ensure that we are focusing on all it does to bolster American competitiveness and innovation, not just on fear of China… We in CAPAC look forward to working with the Department of Justice, OSTP, and agencies implementing their guidance to ensure that these steps will, through implementation, mitigate racial profiling of Asian Americans. We also need to do more to promote understanding of AAPI history in our schools so that future generations are more aware of our history of prejudice, which is why we reiterated our support for a Smithsonian Museum of Asian American and Pacific Islander History.”

The members of the Administration in the meeting were Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council, Gautam Raghavan, director of the Office of Presidential Personnel, Ambassador Susan Rice, director of the Domestic Policy Council, Cedric Richmond, senior advisor to the President and director of the Office of Public Engagement, Neera Tanden, White House staff secretary, Louisa Terrell, director of the Office of Legislative Affairs, Shalanda Young, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Erika Moritsugu, deputy assistant to the President and AA & NH/PI senior liaison.

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