Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg’s campaign has released a policy statement entitled “Belonging, Opportunity, Empowerment: An Agenda for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.”

Pete Buttigieg

The statement reads, in part: “The story of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) in the United States is far from a single narrative, as it consists of many unique experiences and remarkable contributions.

“Trailblazers like Wong Kim Ark and Patsy Takemoto Mink advanced fundamental rights, from birthright citizenship to Title IX of the Higher Education Act, which requires equal treatment of women. Cambodian and Vietnamese refugees made courageous journeys to rebuild their lives and start new businesses and communities in America.

“The 442nd Regiment, composed almost entirely of Japanese American soldiers, became one of the most decorated units in military history; as they fought fascism abroad during World War II, other Japanese Americans faced internment by their own country.

“CEOs such as Indra Nooyi and Andrea Jung have led some of our nation’s most successful companies that employ thousands of Americans. AAPI communities include Americans from over 30 countries of origin and ethnic groups who speak over 100 different languages.

“The potential of AAPIs to lead, reshape, and inspire our nation has never been greater. AAPIs are the fastest-growing racial group in America, having grown by 25 percent between 2010 and 2017 — nearly five times faster than the general population. Yet every single opportunity and advancement for AAPIs has been won despite systemic racism and discrimination.

“The ‘model minority’ myth obscures the fact that income inequality among AAPIs is now higher than among any other racial demographic. 17 percent of Thai Americans live in poverty, as do 20 percent of Cambodian Americans. The rate of tuberculosis among Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders is 38 times the rate among white Americans. Coronary heart disease is especially prevalent in the Filipino American population.

“And the current administration’s anti-Muslim policies have stoked prejudice and hatred against South Asian and Southeast Asian communities nationwide.

“Pete recognizes that we must overcome the challenges facing AAPI communities by understanding the distinct barriers that affect each community and developing a comprehensive strategy to dismantle these barriers. Like so many others, AAPIs aspire for each generation to be better off than the last, in all aspects of their lives.

“This is why Pete’s extensive investments in education, health, immigration reform, and economic growth will work together as a holistic agenda to empower AAPI families to pursue every opportunity that America offers. He will ensure that AAPI individuals can live their lives with a sense of security and a feeling of belonging in a nation that values their unique stories and contributions.”

Examples of specific policies include:

Education — Invest $700 billion in early childhood education, which will include increased investments in dual language learning programs; invest $50 billion in minority-serving institutions, including Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institutions.

Economic Empowerment — Invest $430 billion in expanding access to affordable housing for AAPI families; provide reliable transportation, clean drinking water, and safe school buildings to all AAPI communities through Buttigieg’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan.

Health — Provide dignity and security in retirement for older AAPIs by creating a long-term care insurance. program and increasing resources to support aging at home and unpaid family caregivers; expand funding for research on health disparities that affect AAPI populations.

Immigration — Streamline and simplify the process for 1.5 million AAPIS to become U.S. citizens; expand the number of family reunification visas available and eliminate discriminatory per-country caps; combat human trafficking and other crimes against immigrants.

Community Empowerment — Ensure that all federal agencies collect and use disaggregated data for AAPI communities; improve language access for federal programs.

Safety and Security — Vigorously enforce federal laws against hate crimes and racial profiling to protect AAPI communities; support AAPI veterans and members of the military, and honor them for their crucial contributions.

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