Obama Administration Record for the Asian American and Pacific Islander Community
“When any of our citizens are unable to fulfill their potential due to factors that have nothing to do with their talent, character, or work ethic, then I believe there’s a role for our government to play.”
– President Barack Obama, October 14, 2009
President Obama knows that putting Americans back to work is job one. But we have to do more. We have to reclaim the security the middle class has lost by restoring the basic values that
made our country great. America prospers when we’re all in it together; when hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded; when everyone, from Main Street to Wall Street, does their
fair share and plays by the same rules. The Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community has made tremendous contributions to our nation, but still faces challenges. That’s
why President Obama signed an executive order reestablishing the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders which has worked to improve the quality of life and
opportunities for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders by facilitating increased access to and participation in Federal programs, and ensuring educational opportunities for AAPI students.
The Obama Administration’s record for the AAPI community includes:
o Restoring Economic Security to Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Families: In the
last 23 months, 3.7 million private sector jobs have been created and putting Americans back
to work and restoring economic security for middle class families remain the President’s top
priorities. He has taken a series of steps to spur economic growth, get Americans back to
work, and restore middle class security.
o Taking Action to Strengthen the Recovery: The President fought to continue the
payroll tax cut into 2012, ensuring that taxes do not go up on nearly 7.6 million AAPI
workers, and to extend unemployment insurance so that Americans looking for work
do not lose this crucial support. In addition, the President has put forward a broader
jobs package that would cut taxes for small businesses, put teachers and first
responders back on the job, help the unemployed get back to work, and rebuild our
o Helping AAPI-Owned Businesses Grow and Hire: The success of the 1.5 million
AAPI-owned businesses in the United States, which employ more than 2.8 million
workers, is critical to our economy.
Cutting Taxes and Expanding Access to Credit for AAPI-owned
Businesses: President Obama has helped AAPI firms by cutting taxes for
small businesses and helping them get the loans they need to grow and hire,
including signing into law 17 small business tax cuts and taking action to
expand access to credit. Between 2009 and 2011, over $9 billion through more
than 18,000 Small Business Administration loans went to AAPI small
Ensuring AAPI-Owned Businesses Compete for Government Contracts:
Through Fiscal Year 2011, over 30 percent of Federal agency Recovery Act
contracting dollars, totaling nearly $11 billion, have gone into the hands of
small businesses; more than 16 percent, totaling $6 billion, went to minorityowned
firms. Additionally, for non-Recovery Act funds, AAPI small
businesses were awarded over $6 Billion in Fiscal Year 2010 alone.
o Helping Americans Stay in Their Homes: AAPI families have been particularly
hard-hit by the housing crisis, with 6.6 percent of Asian-American borrowers who
took out loans between 2004 and 2008 having lost their homes to foreclosure. The
President has taken action to help responsible homeowners and strengthen the
housing market, including expanding access to refinancing – allowing responsible
borrowers who are current on their payments to save an average of $3,000 per year.
The Administration has also taken measures to allow homeowners behind on their
payments to modify their mortgages and avoid foreclosure – with over 4.8 million
borrowers having received permanent modifications.
Re-establishing the President’s Advisory Commission and White House Initiative on
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders: In October 2009, President Obama signed an
executive order reestablishing and reinvigorating this important group and directing 23
agencies and departments across the Federal government to work together to improve the
health, education, and economic status of AAPI communities.
Improving Health Outcomes for the AAPI Community: The Obama Administration
has worked to improve health outcomes for the AAPI community by expanding access to
health care, improving data collection to better track and research AAPI health issues,
and promoting prevention and wellness in the AAPI Community.
o Working with Community Partners to Expand Access to Health Services in
AAPI Communities: The White House Initiative collaborated with community
partners and the Department of Health and Human Services on innovative strategies
to integrate and connect relevant services and provide technical assistance to
community health organizations to expand health care services and access to Federal
o Improving Health Data Collection Methods for AAPIs: The Affordable Care Act
presents an unprecedented opportunity to improve data collection on AAPI
communities. It invested in increased data collection and research about health
disparities, as well as initiatives to increase the racial and ethnic diversity of health
care professionals in order to strengthen cultural competency training among health
care providers. It also elevated the National Center on Minority Health and Health
Disparities at the National Institutes of Health from a Center to a full Institute,
reflecting an enhanced focus on minority health.
o Promoting Prevention and Wellness in the AAPI Community: Cancer is the
leading cause of death for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Cervical cancer
incidence rates are among the highest in the United States for Laotian American,
Samoan American, Vietnamese American, and Cambodian American women. The
Affordable Care Act helps reduce these disparities by ensuring that people who join
new health insurance plans can receive recommended preventive services, including a
range of cancer screenings, with no additional out-of-pocket costs. As a result of
these reforms, nearly 3 million Asian Americans are receiving expanded preventive
services coverage in the private health insurance market and over 500,000 Asian
Americans received free preventive services through Medicare in 2011.
Making College More Affordable for AAPI Students and Families: By re-directing
subsidies from private lenders to students, the Administration has already raised the
maximum Pell Grant to $5,550, and it will increase again to $5,635 in 2013. Meanwhile,
the number of Pell Grant recipients has risen by 3 million – a 50 percent increase since
2008 – demonstrating the need for this critical program. Also, for families struggling
with the cost of college, we’ve created the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) —
a partially refundable tax credit worth up to $10,000 over four years of college.
Strengthening Higher Education Institutions that Serve AAPI Students: Through
the Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions
(AANAPISI) Program, the Obama Administration is strengthening higher education
institutions that serve Asian Americans, Native Americans, and Pacific Islanders. The FY
2013 Budget provides $8.1 million in grants to allow these institutions to improve their
academic programs, institutional management, and fiscal stability as well as serve highneed
and limited English proficiency communities.
Reforming Legal Immigration and Immigration Enforcement: Since 2009, the
Administration has made significant improvements to our legal immigration system,
including better protecting American workers through reforms to the temporary work
visa program; improving immigration services and resources provided to military
families; reducing barriers for high-skilled immigrants; making our immigrant detention
system safer and more humane; and providing more staff and better training to our
immigration courts. The Administration is also focusing its enforcement resources so
that convicted criminals and those who pose a threat to public safety are prioritized for
deportation, and that resources are not focused on low-enforcement priorities, such as
individuals brought to the United States as children or those with strong community and
Promoting Safe and Secure Jobs for AAPI Workers: The White House Initiative on
Asian American and Pacific Islanders has partnered with the Department of Labor to
work with community organizations to translate materials into Asian languages to engage
at-risk AAPI workers to ensure safe and healthy work conditions.