WASHINGTON – United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai today joined Vice President Kamala Harris, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice, and members of the Biden-Harris Administration for the swearing-in and inaugural meeting of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders.
Last year, President Biden signed Executive Order (EO) 14031 on Advancing Equity, Justice, and Opportunity for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. EO 14031 established the White House Initiative and the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders, both of which are co-chaired by Ambassador Tai and Secretary Becerra.
In her opening remarks, Ambassador Tai shared how her family successfully pursued the American Dream – and how the Commission’s work will help make that dream a reality for AA and NHPI communities. Ambassador Tai also detailed the Commission’s mission and the importance of advancing equity, justice, and opportunity in all aspects of the Biden-Harris Administration’s agenda.
Ambassador Tai’s remarks as prepared for delivery are below.
Thank you, Secretary Becerra, for that kind introduction. Hello everyone, and Happy Lunar New Year to all who celebrate. It is an honor to be joined by Vice President Harris for today’s swearing-in ceremony and inaugural meeting of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders.
Congratulations to all of our newly sworn in Commissioners. I look forward to working together to advance equity, justice, and opportunity for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders across the country.
I would like to acknowledge our Executive Director of the White House Initiative and President’s Advisory Commission on AA and NHPIs, Krystal Ka‘ai, and her team for organizing this meeting. I also want to thank Erika Moritsugu, Deputy Assistant to the President and AA and NHPI Senior Liaison for her tireless work in the White House on behalf of our communities.
As the Vice President eloquently said, this work is critical, and I am proud to join Secretary Becerra as co-chair of this important Commission.
Unfortunately, the past two years have underscored and exacerbated long-standing inequities in our country. The pandemic has had significant economic and social impacts on AA and NHPI workers -- particularly in the hospitality and leisure, retail, and other service industries that employ one in four workers from our communities.
Meanwhile, small business owners have faced xenophobia, harassment, vandalism, and targeted threats.
This is why the Biden-Harris Administration is prioritizing the values of equity, equality, and opportunity in the Build Back Better agenda – and why our pandemic recovery must bring along all communities.
Those values are why this Commission was established and why its work is so important to me – both professionally and personally. My parents were born in mainland China and grew up in Taiwan. President Kennedy’s immigration reforms allowed them to come here as graduate students. My dad became a researcher at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, and my mom still works at the National Institutes of Health.
I am proud of their service to the nation that welcomed them. I am proud to live in a country where, in just one generation, their daughter could grow up to represent the United States and serve in the President’s Cabinet.
I want to ensure that the same pursuit of the American Dream that drove my parents to immigrate to this country remains alive for future generations. It is why I believe so strongly in the mission of this President’s Advisory Commission.
Commissioners, you have been selected to carry out a charge that has the potential to impact the direction of our Nation’s efforts on behalf of AA and NHPI communities for years to come. This Commission will provide independent advice and recommendations to the President on ways to advance equity, justice and opportunity for AA and NHPIs throughout the entirety of the Federal government.
And as specified in President Biden’s Executive Order 14031, the Commission is charged with carrying out work on critical areas that include:
- developing, monitoring, and coordinating executive branch efforts to advance equity, justice, and opportunity for AA and NHPI communities in the United States, including efforts to close gaps in health, socioeconomic, employment, and educational outcomes;
- advancing policies to address and end anti-Asian bias, xenophobia, racism, and nativism, and advance inclusion, belonging, and public awareness of AA and NHPIs;
- advancing policies, programs, and initiatives to prevent, report, respond to, and track anti-Asian hate crimes and hate incidents;
- promoting equitable Federal funding, grantmaking, and employment opportunities to build greater capacity for AA and NHPIs;
- improving research and equitable data disaggregation for AA and NHPI communities;
- improving language access services to ensure AA and NHPI communities can access Federal programs and services; and
- developing strategies to increase public-and private-sector collaboration, and community involvement in improving the safety and socioeconomic, health, educational, occupational, and environmental well-being of AA and NHPI communities.
As you can see, we have a lot of work ahead. But I am excited about what we can accomplish together.
Once again, thank you to all of our Commissioners for your service and the intense work that lies ahead. Through this Commission, we will fulfill our mission and mandate to build a brighter future for AA and NHPI communities.
With that, I will now turn it back over to Secretary Becerra.