AAPI Highlights, April 27, 2012

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AAPI Highlights, April 27, 2012

Welcome to this edition of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) Highlights!  This week we are highlighting President Obama’s proposals to keep college affordable for students and their families, celebrating National Minority Health Month, upcoming webinars and convenings, and other important announcements.

334,000 AAPIs to be Impacted if Congress Fails to Act: #DontDoubleMyRate

President Obama is calling on Congress to put forward legislation to stop interest rates from doubling. For the estimated 334,000 AAPI borrowers it would mean an estimated average savings per borrower of $1,089 for Asian Americans and $1,042 for Pacific Islander/Hawaiian Americans over the life of the loan and an estimated total savings of over $361 million. Keeping interest rates on student loans low would allow more Americans to get a fair shot at an affordable college education, the skills they need to find a good job, and a clear path to the middle class.

As the President has said:

… I’m asking everyone else who’s watching or following online -- call your member of Congress. Email them. Write on their Facebook page. Tweet them -- we’ve got a hashtag. Here’s the hashtag for you to tweet them:  #dontdoublemyrate. All right?  I’m going to repeat that -- the hashtag is #dontdoublemyrate.  

 Read more about the impact on AAPIs here and about keeping student interest rates low here.

Celebrating National Minority Health Month

Dr. J. Nadine Gracia of the Department of Health and Human Services reflects on progress that has been achieved in reducing racial and ethnic health disparities.

During April, we celebrate National Minority Health Month by reflecting on the progress that has been achieved in reducing racial and ethnic health disparities.  As we continue to move forward toward health equity, we recognize that this has truly been a year of unprecedented opportunity for minority populations. The Affordable Care Act -- the landmark health care law signed by President Obama two years ago -- is generating new opportunities in the national effort to eliminate health disparities.

To read the rest of Dr. Gracia’s blog, click here.

Ending Bullying in Our Schools and Communities

Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to President Obama blogs about “Ending Bullying in Our Schools & Communities.” She describes the efforts both the White House and the federal government has embarked on to raise awareness to the issue of bullying and to prevent it from happening.

We also hope that Congress will take action to ensure that all students are safe and healthy and can learn in environments free from discrimination, bullying, and harassment by passing the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) and the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA)…All of our students have the same right to go to school in an environment free of discrimination and harassment, and that’s why the President supports these two important pieces of legislation and wants to work with Congress as they move forward in the process. Every day, we are striving to do our part to make progress...And I believe that day by day, step by step, we will change not just our laws and policies, but behavior, so that every young person is able to thrive in our schools and communities, without worrying about being bullied.

To read the rest of Valerie’s blog post, click here.


 Gordon Hirabayashi Receives Presidential Medal of Freedom

The Medal of Freedom is the Nation’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.  The awards will be presented at the White House in late spring.

Gordon Hirabayashi openly defied the forced relocation and internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.  As an undergraduate at the University of Washington, he refused the order to report for evacuation to an internment camp, instead turning himself in to the FBI to assert his belief that these practices were racially discriminatory.

Read more about Gordon Hirabayashi and other Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients here.

Profile America Forum on the Asian Population - The Emerging Power of the Fastest Growing Population in the United States

On May 2, 2012, join the U.S. Census Bureau and the Asian American Justice Center for a Profile America Forum on the Asian Population – The Emerging Power of the Fastest Growing Population in the United States to discuss the current social and economic impact of the Asian population on the U.S. The event will be held from 12:00pm to 2:30pm in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C. For more information and to RSVP, click here.

Other Agency Announcements

  • On April 23, 2012, the Department of Education and the Department of Justice reached an agreement with the Boston School Committee, the governing body of the Boston Public Schools, to ensure that English Language Learner (ELL) students in Boston have access to the resources necessary to overcome language barriers. “We applaud the Boston Public Schools for working collaboratively with the United States to develop a comprehensive plan to effectively serve all students who are not proficient in English,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “We believe this plan can guide other school districts seeking to ensure that its English Language Learner programs not only meet the requirements of federal law, but also empower English Language Learner students to strive for success in their education and lives.” Read more about the agreement here. 
  • This month the Department of Health and Human Services HRSA’s Health Information Technology (IT) website highlights the work of the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organization’s (AAPCHO) Enabling Services Accountability Project (ESAP). Health centers often provide a range of non-clinical services, such as financial counseling, housing and food assistance programs, language services, immigration support and health education. AAPCHO’s ESAP successfully utilizes electronic health record (EHR) data on enabling services and studies the impact of these services on health care access and outcomes, and also uses its EHR for successfully decreasing health disparities within Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and other Pacific Islander (AA & NHOPI) communities.  
  • The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) released its latest National Healthcare Disparities Report which shows that access to health care was not improving for most racial and ethnic groups in the years 2002 through 2008 leading up to enactment of the Affordable Care Act.  The latest reports, which include about 250 health care measures, show the persistent challenges in access to care faced by most racial and ethnic groups. Asian Americans experienced worse access to care than non-Latino Whites on only 17 percent of the access measures. The report shows improvements in hospital care for Asians for pneumonia, but disparities remain in cancer screenings and access to care, for example.
  • The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) posted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register that would reduce the time U.S. citizens are separated from their spouses, children, and parents (i.e. immediate relatives) who must obtain an immigrant visa abroad to become lawful permanent residents of the United States. To read the entire proposed rule, click here. You can also read their press release and visit their detailed web page addressing the proposed rule.   
  • The Social Security Board of Trustees released its annual report on the financial health of the Social Security Trust Funds.  The combined assets of the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) Trust Funds will be exhausted in 2033, three years sooner than projected last year.  The DI Trust Fund will be exhausted in 2016, two years earlier than last year’s estimate.  The Trustees also project that OASDI program costs will exceed non-interest income in 2012 and will remain higher throughout the remainder of the 75-year period.