On September 24, 2014, Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community leaders from around the country met with senior officials from the White House Domestic Policy Council (DPC), White House Office of Public Engagement, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to discuss health and immigration.
The Administration officials reaffirmed their unwavering commitment to improving the quality of life and opportunities for AAPIs across the country. Cecilia Muñoz, Assistant to the President and Director of the DPC, opened the meeting by thanking community leaders for their work and partnership, particularly on health care enrollment and immigration reform.
AAPI health advocates emphasized the continued need for in-language assistance and culturally and linguistically appropriate materials for limited English proficient (LEP) individuals as part of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and within behavioral health care settings. Agency representatives acknowledged the need to ensure that LEP members of our community receive sufficient language assistance and adequate interpreting services. Advocates also praised new standards for collecting and reporting data on race, ethnicity, sex, primary language, and disability status and recommended actions to further disaggregate data and increase public access to data so that communities can assess progress and identify ongoing challenges.
With regard to immigration, AAPI leaders shared their sense of urgency and hopes around potential administrative reforms to fix the broken immigration system that would best benefit their community members. An AAPI DACA-recipient shared his personal story and the challenges that he and other undocumented immigrants face daily. Administration officials reaffirmed the President’s commitment to taking action this year but also emphasized that the President is focused on fixing our immigration system in a way that is sustainable for the long term, as commonsense immigration reform through legislative action continues to be the best way to fix our broken system.
The roundtable provided a valuable forum for discussing concerns and recommendations of the AAPI community around health and immigration issues. WHIAAPI looks forward to continuing to work with community leaders and partners in the White House and the federal government to address challenges and barriers that AAPIs face.
Diane Narasaki is a member of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.