The White House released on Tuesday an initial batch of plans by agencies to increase Asian American and Pacific Islanders access to the federal government, from employment to services.
The plans are a result of a 2009 executive order forming the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders that has been charged with the incorporating process. The working group along with 11 agencies published their plans on Tuesday.
“The agency plans are part of the Administration’s commitment to assure that all Americans have a seat at the table,” said education secretary Arne Duncan, who serves as the initiate’s co-chair, in a statement.
An overarching theme for the plans is to embrace and address the diversity of the Asian community, providing services targeting specific groups within the some 307 million Americans that are known as Asian American or Pacific Islander.
Four sub-themes that help achieve this tailored approach and appear across the plans are encouraging diversity in federal employment, increasing access to federal funding, overcoming language and cultural barriers, and collecting data on specific communities rather than lumping the groups together.
“We have an extraordinary opportunity to break down barriers and address challenges that the AAPI community has faced for decades as a result of the model minority myth,” Duncan said.
That myth reinforces the image of the overachieving Asian and restricts the access for many in the Asian American and Pacific Islander community who do need help, said Kiran Ahuja, executive director of the White House Initiative.
The initiative has focused on cultivating “this understanding within the federal government and the society at large that the Asian American Community and the Pacific Islander community is very complex, economically and socially,” Ahuja said.
“When any American can’t fulfill his or her potential due to reasons beyond his or her control, it’s really important for the federal government to play a role in helping them achieve whatever they set out to do,” she said.
The plans are now in the public comment stage and will be finalized in March.