WASHINGTON – On May 11, Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) met with Vice President Kamala Harris at the White House.
The meeting, which comes during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, followed a meeting between CAPAC leaders and President Biden in April, which Harris also attended. The attendees at this month’s meeting included CAPAC Chair Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena), Rep. Ami Bera (D-Sacramento), Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.), and Del. Michael San Nicolas (D-Guam). Chu issued the following statement following the meeting:
“I am so grateful for Vice President Harris’ time and her commitment to addressing the needs of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. As we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month this May, it was historic to be able to meet with our first woman, Asian, and Black vice president and to know that we have a former CAPAC member in the White House.
“The vice president’s clear rejection of anti-Asian hate, saying ‘harm against one of us is harm against all of us,’ speaks to this administration’s strong commitment to fighting hate crimes and bigotry. Having the opportunity to not only raise our concerns at the White House, but to know we have someone who will be a strong voice for our community, is so meaningful.
“In addition to discussing our efforts to address anti-Asian hate, Vice President Harris spoke with us about the incredible investments that have been made through the President’s American Rescue Plan, as well as the importance of rebuilding our economy and infrastructure through the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan. These bills are essential for helping more families get back to work through investments in infrastructure, child care, and more.
“But while we begin to draft these bills, we also urged Vice President Harris and the Biden Administration to ensure that communities of color, especially AAPIs, are included. Recent data have shown that communities of color have received fewer PPP loans and continue to face staggering long-term unemployment rates and small business closures, which is contributing to an unequal recovery. And so we urged the administration to ensure resources are translated into AAPI languages and accessible to all Americans.
“Even as we prepare for the economic recovery made possible by the increased distribution of vaccines thanks to President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, we cannot turn away from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and its disparate impact on AAPIs who continue to experience higher than average infection and mortality rates. This is especially true for Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
“That is why we also discussed the importance of tackling health inequalities impacting our communities, including the importance of ensuring equal access to vaccines. We also discussed the importance of providing equitable resources to the U.S. Pacific Island territories, the urgent need to provide aid to countries like India that are being devasted by the COVID-19 crisis, and the need to ensure that we do not stoke Cold War rhetoric pertaining to China that will put Asian Americans at risk.
“Today’s meeting, coming on the heels of last month’s meeting with both the president and vice president, are testaments to the growing influence of the AAPI community. This influence is being felt in our elections as well. Last year saw record AAPI voter turnout and the number of first time AAPI voters alone was larger than the margin of victory in some swing states, including Georgia. That is why CAPAC expressed our alarm to the vice president over state-laws that aim to make it harder to vote. These restrictions on voting rights are a direct threat to the growing voice of the AAPI electorate and we vowed to work with the administration to fight back.
“We in CAPAC are so grateful to our former colleague, Vice President Harris, for her time and dedication to helping our communities. I was encouraged by today’s conversation and look forward to our ongoing relationship with the White House to ensure AAPIs and all Americans have a chance to participate in the economic recovery and find a path to better opportunity.”