Thursday, February 16, 2017

Mass resignation of President's Advisory Commission on AAPI

The President's Advisory Commission on AAPI were sworn in at the beginning of President Obama's first term.

By Louis Chan

IN A STUNNING SHOW of resistance, 16 member of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have submitted their resignations to President Trump.

The ten members who resigned yesterday (Feb. 15) followed six others who resigned on January 20.

“Although the Commissioners’ term ends 9/30/17, we can no longer serve a President whose policies aim to create outcomes that are diametrically opposite to our principles, goals, and charge,”wrote the latest ten to resign in a letter to the president and cced to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, co-chair of the White House Initiative of Asian American Pacific Islanders.

The letter cited several actions by President Trump that have alarmed commission members including the proposal to cut federal funding to sanctuary cities, the ban on refugees and those coming from seven mostly Muslim countries, the announced intention to build a wall across the U.S.-Mexican border, and the plans to repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

The resignations leaves only four members still sitting on the advisory commission.

“There was no way to influence any policy, said Tung T. Nguyen, the chair of the commission said in an interview with AsAm News. Nguyen was among those who submitted his resignation yesterday. “Our assessment is only the viewpoints that fit the administration will be heard.”

The commission had sent a letter to the president on January 13 expressing their goals and viewpoints, but did not receive a response. Nguyen says it doesn’t matter who the President appoints to replace the departed commissioners because it is clear to him, the President will only listen to those who agree with his policies.

The other nine who submitted their resignations yesterday are Mary Okada, Co-Chair. Chamorro/American, Guam; Michael Byun, Commissioner, Korean/American, Akron, Ohio; Kathy Ko Chin, Commissioner. Chinese/American, Oakland, California; Jacob Fitisemanu, Jr., Commissioner; Samoan/American, Salt Lake City, Utah; Daphne Kwok, Commissioner. Chinese/American, Annandale, Virginia; Dee Jay Mailer, Commissioner. Native Hawaiian, Honolulu, Hawaii; Maulik Pancholy, Commissioner. Indian/American, Brooklyn, New York; Linda Phan, Commissioner. Vietnamese/American, Austin, Texas; and Sanjita Pradhan, Commissioner. Nepalese/American, Des Moines, Iowa.

Still uncertain is the fate of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans Pacific Islanders. Much of its website was removed following President Trump’s inauguration. Its staff remains in place.

"I spent much of my time on the Commission working on helping young people deal with issues around bullying, offering resources from the Federal Government as a way to help.," said former commissioner Maulik Punchily of New York in a separate statement. "I can no longer in good conscience, for example, tell a young Muslim-American being bullied at school to turn to the Trump Administration for help. So, now, I resist."
The commission has been in existence since President Clinton and continued under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

The six who previously resigned from the commission are Nina Ahmad, Lian Cheun, Diane Narasaki, Shekar Narasimhan, Bo Thao-Urabe, and Paul Watanabe.

“The en masse resignations of these 10 Commissioners speak volumes about the depth of opposition to President Trump’s recent actions, especially in the Asian American and Pacific Islander community," stated Rep. Judy Chu (D-California), Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC).

"Under previous Democratic and Republican administrations, the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders has enabled the federal government to better serve the AAPI community," Chu's statement continued. "But rather than empower this Commission, President Trump has chosen to undermine the very principles that guide their work. And instead of seeing the Commission as a path towards unity, Mr. Trump has embraced division. This deeply troubling shift signals that far from working to build a more inclusive government, we have a President that now seeks to advance discriminatory policies that strike fear in our communities." (Views From the Edge contributed to this report.)