Obama’s Executive Order Aims to Aid Asian Americans
Wednesday, October 14 2009
During George W. Bush’s presidency, an executive order passed by the Clinton administration that addressed the concerns of the Asian American community expired. But on October 14, President Barack Obama restored the federal panel by signing an executive order that re-established the White House Advisory Commission and Interagency Working Group, which aims to aid Asian Americans. In the executive order , Obama set up a commission comprised of numerous governmental agencies to conduct a two-year study on how to better serve Asian Americans. According to the Pacific News Center , the order aims to increase Asian American and Pacific Islander participation in a full range of federal programs, including health care, human services, housing, education, labor, transportation and economic and community development. The initiative and commission will be co-chaired by Secretaries Arne Duncan and Gary Locke,
and will be housed in the Department of Education. The executive order emphasized the contributions that the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities have made over the years in the United States. Obama lauded a great variety of contributions, ranging from musical achievements to military service. However, Obama stressed that those contributions don’t tell the whole story, and must be weighed against the struggles the communities still face.He cautioned his audience from falling into the “model minority” myth, in which the strengths overshadow the challenges that are still against the community. In particular, he pointed out that some communities, especially those made up mainly of recent immigrants, like those of Hmong, Cambodian, and Malaysian descent, suffer high rates of poverty and lack health insurance. In the order, Obama listed problems that continue to plague the Asian American community, such as language barriers, hate crimes, and health disparities, such as high rates of diabetes and hepatitis B. One of the problems in studying these health disparities is the tendency to lump Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders into one category, which makes it impossible to study specific data from each community. “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,” said Obama in the executive order. According to Obama, the mission of the initiative is to work with the 23 government agencies across the board to ameliorate the specific problems facing the Asian American community.