10 Resign from President’s Advisory Commission on AAPIs


The President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders submitted their resignations Feb. 15  to President (Donald) Trump. The main reason: Trump’s policies have adversely affected Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Six other Commissioners — Nina Ahmad, Lian Cheun, Diane Narasaki, Shekar Narasimhan, Bo Thao-Urabe, and Paul Watanabe — had resigned in January.

“We had significant concerns about the Trump Administration’s policies regarding issues crucial to AAPI communities such as immigration, health care, and education,” said Dr. Tung Nguyen, former chair of the Commission. “As a practicing physician, I saw how much good the Affordable Care Act (ACA) did for patients. Under the ACA, which the Administration seeks to repeal, over 2 million AAPIs obtained health insurance. Now, there is so much anxiety about not being able to get health insurance or treatment for severe illnesses.”

Below is their open letter to President Trump.

February 15, 2017

The Honorable Donald J. Trump President of the United States

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Trump:

We, the undersigned, members of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) resign from our appointments effective immediately. We sent to you a letter on 1/13/17 stating the goals and principles that defined our work as Commissioners but have received no response. Although the Commissioners’ term ends 9/30/17, we can no longer serve a President whose policies aim to create outcomes that are diametrically opposite to our principles, goals, and charge.

Under Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama, the charge to Commissioners has been to help the federal government better serve AAPIs by engaging our communities, identifying our needs and priorities, and increasing access to our government. The

Commissioners have engaged with AAPIs throughout our country, from all walks of life, and across the political spectrum using the following principles that are fundamental to our work:

• Protecting the civil rights of all those living in our country, including the most vulnerable;
• Respecting the unique attributes of all individuals and communities;
• Promoting family values by keeping families together and reuniting those separated by immigration; and
• Ensuring linguistic, cultural, and financial access to health care as well as economic and educational opportunities for all.

We firmly believe these principles are fundamental to our nation and need to be implemented and enforced at all times. Since your Inauguration, the Executive Orders you have issued and policies you promulgated have greatly impeded the ability of the federal government to serve all who live here.

Specifically, your actions have had the following deleterious consequences for AAPIs and for all Americans:

• Proposals to cut federal resources to sanctuary cities will harm all residents of those cities by reducing support for critical municipal services such as police, fire, health, and emergency services. These actions will fuel tensions between native-born Americans and immigrants — regardless of their status. Two out of three AAPIs are immigrants.

• Bans on refugees and those coming from the seven predominantly Muslim countries have torn families apart, have created confusion about our immigration and visa policies, and have created tension with countries that we need to better understand.

By singling out individuals, families and communities for their religious beliefs, your actions create a religion-based test for entry into our country and threaten freedom of religion, a fundamental constitutional right. Banning Muslims bans members of our AAPI community.

• Increased border and immigrant enforcement, as well as building a wall between Mexico and the United States, will not improve the security of our country. Rather, it will split working families apart, severely impact companies and their workforce, and exacerbate tensions with a key ally and trading partner. Many AAPI individuals and businesses depend on good international relations for personal and economic reasons.

• Repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will harm at least 20 million Americans who were previously uninsured, two million of whom are Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, along with millions more who benefited from key provisions of the ACA.

In addition to these actions, we object to your portrayal of immigrants, refugees, people of color and people of various faiths as untrustworthy, threatening, and a drain on our nation. The fact is that Native Peoples, immigrants from all parts of the world, and people of color have built this country. Among the Commissioners, there are immigrants, refugees, and descendants of those who have experienced systematic discrimination. We, and the communities that we represent, have worked diligently to make America great and have fought to keep it free. We have and will always strive to ensure that America, our America, will never go back to the days of exclusion, segregation, and internment — all policies which have severely impacted AAPIs.
AAPIs are an integral part of the mosaic of our great country and have been since the 1500s. We share the same dreams as other

Americans for a stronger, brighter and more inclusive America. We urge you and every member of your Administration to respect all Americans by protecting civil rights and civil liberties for everyone, promoting broader dialogue and understanding, and keeping the federal government accessible to all people living in the United States —  regardless of their status as citizens, immigrants or refugees.


Tung T. Nguyen, MD, Chair. Vietnamese American, San Francisco, California;

Mary Okada, Co-Chair. Chamorro American, Guam;

Michael Byun, Commissioner. Korean American, Akron, Ohio;

Kathy Ko Chin, Commissioner. Chinese American, Oakland, California;

Jacob Fitisemanu, Jr., Commissioner. Samoan American, Salt Lake City, Utah;

Daphne Kwok, Commissioner. Chinese American, Annandale, Virginia;

Dee Jay Mailer, Commissioner. Native Hawaiian, Honolulu, Hawaii;

Maulik Pancholy, Commissioner. Indian American, Brooklyn, New York;

Linda Phan, Commissioner. Vietnamese American, Austin, Texas;

Sanjita Pradhan, Commissioner. Nepalese American, Des Moines, Iowa

cc: Secretary Betsy DeVos, Department of Education

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, Co-Chair, White House Initiative on AAPIs

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