WASHINGTON — The Japanese American Citizens League issued the following statement on Dec. 9.
JACL celebrates the formal re-launch of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (WHIAANHPI) and the Federal Interagency Working Group (IWG) and Regional Network (RN).
Previous iterations of the initiative existed under former administrations; however, we particularly wish to acknowledge the expanded inclusiveness of Native Hawaiians. We welcome the addition of Ambassador Katherine Tai as co-chair of the initiative and look forward to her leadership with Co-chair Secretary (of Health and Human Services) Xavier Becerra and Executive Director Krystal Ka’ai.
JACL has valued our long-standing relationship with Secretary Becerra since his leadership in the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) and with Ms. Ka’ai when she served as executive director for CAPAC and look forward to continued collaboration.
We celebrate Ms. Ka’ai’s status as the first Native Hawaiian and Japanese American to serve in her role. We also recognize Ambassador Tai as the first woman of color to serve in her role as U.S. trade representative and as the highest-ranking Asian American in the Biden Administration.
We look forward to the return of the initiative’s work under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which has a considerable impact on the daily lives of AANHPI individuals, businesses, and communities. The role of HHS is especially important as we continue our recovery and response to COVID and its impact on our communities, and look towards implementation of broader recovery efforts such as those proposed in the Build Back Better program.
We look forward to the possibilities with the newly launched initiative and we hope that broader resources available in HHS will lead to a more robust and active initiative in support of our AANHPI communities and greater representation of our community within the government.