Welcome to this edition of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) Highlights. Read about the economic benefits of fixing our broken immigration system, the President’s plan to build a better, smarter, faster government, the growing AAPI community in Georgia, how HealthCare.gov empowers AAPIs, and more agency announcements.
President Barack Obama greets young reporters at the Kids' State Dinner in the East Room of the White House, July 9, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Did you know that fixing our broken immigration system will strengthen the U.S. economy, create jobs for American workers, and cut the deficit? That’s what the independent, nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says will happen if the Senate’s bipartisan immigration reform bill were signed into law. The White House put together an animated White Board to help explain how that would work. Check out the video to learn more and read the full report on the economic benefits of fixing our immigration system here.
In his weekly address, President Obama said that two weeks ago, a large bipartisan majority in the Senate voted to pass commonsense immigration reform, which would add a big boost to our economy, strengthen Social Security, and modernize our legal immigration system to make it more consistent with our values. The President urges Congress to quickly take action to fix our broken immigration system and keep America strong for years to come. Watch President Obama’s weekly address here.
On July 8th, President Obama held a meeting with his Cabinet and senior officials to lay out his vision for building a better, smarter, faster government over the course of his second term. During the meeting, the President directed Cabinet members and key officials in his Administration to build on the progress made over the first term, and he challenged us to improve government even further. President Obama highlighted innovations taking place in our government that are already making a difference. Read more about the innovations in government here.
On July 11th, White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett joined Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki, Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, and Director of the Domestic Policy Council Cecilia Muñoz for the White House’s Veterans and Military Family Mental Health Conference. Mental health professionals, members of Veterans Service Organizations, Military Service Organizations, military family organizations, and representatives from the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs came together to discuss how we can better serve our veterans and military in regards to mental health. The facts are sobering: Every day, we lose 22 veterans to suicide. Twenty two. As long as that number is more than zero, the Obama administration will do everything it can to support our troops, and our veterans who are suffering from a traumatic brain disorder, traumatic brain injury, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or any other affliction. Read more about the administration’s work on veterans and military family mental health here.
Over the last seven months, the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Fund Interagency Working Group (IWG) has worked toward increased transparency and a thorough accounting of the process to verify valid military service for Filipino World War II veterans. This effort culminates in the reports that follow from each member of the IWG. This is the first time all organizations involved in the verification process were brought together to examine the process from start to finish, and publicly post a collaborative report explaining each organization's role in the verification process. Get detailed information from each agency here.
White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Executive Director Kiran Ahuja recently took a trip to Gwinnett County, Georgia, where she met with members of the growing AAPI population there. In the WHIAAPI Blog, she writes, “it is heartening to see progress in Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities, and especially inspiring to see community growth and leadership in my home state of Georgia.” Read more about Kiran’s trip to Georgia here.
Starting in 2014, nearly 2 million uninsured Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders will have new opportunities for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Also, increased funding to community health centers is enabling more AAPIs to receive culturally and linguistically appropriate care. Strengthened data collection standards that distinguish between AAPI subgroups will help providers and policymakers better understand the diverse needs of different groups in the AAPI community, and make more informed decisions about how best to address health disparities. These are just a few of the many ways the Affordable Care Act benefits AAPIs. Read more about how HealthCare.gov helps AAPIs here.
The U.S. Social Security Administration has been working to ensure that individuals with limited English proficiency are able to access SSA services and programs. Over the past year, SSA updated 42 program and benefit publications in Chinese, Korean, Tagalog, and Vietnamese; held seven video hearings in American Samoa and eight hearings in Guam; and now has 9 field offices offering AAPI language services at its visitor intake process kiosks. In addition, SSA is partnering with Department of Justice and its Interagency Working Group on Limited English Proficiency and the Initiative to design a video vignettes training series to help train the federal workforce on strategies to provide meaningful access to limited English proficient individuals. The videos are currently in post-production, and SSA previewed the series at the Initiative’s Federal Employee Conference on July 12th. Read more about SSA’s work here.
Late last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released Veteran unemployment data for the month of June. The unemployment rate for all Veterans was 6.3 percent last month—a slight drop from 6.6 percent in May and still below the national average of 7.6 percent. For post-9/11 Veterans, the rate dropped to 7.2 percent in June, compared to 7.3 percent in May. In a graph on the VA blog, we see the monthly unemployment rate for all Veterans since January 2010. The long-term trend shows a clear decrease. Read more about the declining unemployment rate for Veterans here.
On July 8th, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced that its efforts to produce a system to create unique IDs for companies participating in global financial markets was coming to fruition. The need for an LEI system has long been recognized. However, the recent financial crisis exposed the critical nature of that need, when government regulators and market participants were unable to quickly assess exposures to failing firms or the network of interconnections among financial companies and markets. The U.S. Treasury has reached agreement on a framework for global acceptance of so-called pre-LEIs that will underpin an interim LEI system for producing fully standardized codes until the LEI system is fully up and running. Read more about the Treasury’s work on precisely identifying parties to financial transactions here.
The DOL Fair Labor Data Challenge calls for creating a smartphone app that integrates the department's publicly available enforcement data with consumer ratings websites, geo-positioning Web tools, and other relevant data sets, such as those available from state health boards. The winning app is expected to be creative, innovative, easy to use, and will incorporate data from DOL’s enforcement data page. Read more about the app contest here.
Across the nation thousands of recent high school graduates are enjoying their last summer before their first college semester. They are submitting deposits, selecting courses, packing, and anxiously awaiting their first day. However, a large portion of students from low-income communities will have a very different summer experience. Despite being college eligible and in some cases even enrolled, these students will not attend in the fall and will instead “melt” away during the summer. This is called “summer melt”. Nationally about 10 to 20 percent of college eligible students melt away, most of which are low-income minority students planning to enroll in community college. Read more about summer melt here.
The U.S. Department of Energy released a new report which assesses how America’s critical energy and electricity infrastructure is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Historically high temperatures in recent years have been accompanied by droughts and extreme heat waves, more wildfires than usual, and several intense storms that caused power and fuel disruptions for millions of people. These trends are expected to continue, which could further impact energy systems critical to the nation’s economy. The U.S. Energy Sector Vulnerabilities to Climate Change and Extreme Weather report, which builds on President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, notes that annual temperatures across the United States have increased by about 1.5°F over the last century. In fact, 2012 was both the warmest year on record in the contiguous United States and saw the hottest month since the country started keeping records in 1895. Read about the implications for America’s energy infrastructure here.
On July 12th, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that she would be stepping down to become President of the University of California system, saying in part, “The opportunity to work with the dedicated men and women of the Department of Homeland Security, who serve on the frontlines of our nation’s efforts to protect our communities and families from harm, has been the highlight of my professional career. We have worked together to minimize threats of all kinds to the American public. The Department has improved the safety of travelers; implemented smart steps that make our immigration system more fair and focused while deploying record resources to protect our nation’s borders; worked with states to build resiliency and make our nation’s emergency and disaster response capabilities more robust; and partnered with the private sector to improve our cybersecurity.” Read Secretary Napolitano’s full statement here. Read the President’s statement here.
This funding opportunity will support a network of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Research Centers (PRCs) to conduct applied public health prevention research. The types of applied research approaches supported by this FOA include behavioral interventions, environmental, or systems-wide solutions and strategies that address major causes of disease and disability. Research addressing underserved, minority and other populations that focus on diseases and health hazards and risk factors which are most amenable for health promotion and disease prevention interventions. The closing date for the grant is September 26, 2013. Read more about the grant opportunity here.
To capitalize on proven initiatives, VA has released $300 million in new grants to more than 300 community agencies in all 50 states (including Washington, DC, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands). The non-profits and community groups will provide support on the ground for as many as 120,000 homeless and at-risk Vets and family members. Health care services, financial planning, transportation and childcare services, along with a host of additional resources will be provided under the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program. Read more about the VA grants here.