Remarks by HHS Secretary Becerra at Second Public Meeting of President Biden’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders

Xavier Becerra

Eisenhower Executive Office Building
Washington, D.C.

On Thursday, May 12, 2022, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra hosted the first in-person meeting of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders, at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C.

Last May, President Joe Biden authorized the creation of the President’s Advisory Commission through Executive Order 14031 and appointed 25 leaders to serve as commissioners on December 20, 2021. The commissioners were sworn in by Vice President Kamala Harris in February 2022. The Commission, chaired by Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and United States Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai, advises the President on ways the public, private and non-profit sectors can work together to advance equity, justice, and opportunity for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AA and NHPI) communities.

As Prepared for Delivery

Thank you, Krystal, for that warm introduction.

I want to start by wishing everyone a happy Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

I can’t think of a better time to have our first in-person meeting than during this month where we celebrate the strength and resiliency of AA and NHPI communities.

Ambassador Tai, thank you for co-chairing this Commission with me. I couldn’t ask for a better partner.

Commissioners, great to see your faces again since the swearing-in ceremony in February. Thank you for your tireless work.

And I want to recognize Krystal Ka‘ai, for her leadership as Executive Director of this Commission.

But before we begin, I want to pay tribute to a trailblazer for AA and NHPI communities, Secretary Norm Mineta.

Secretary Mineta was the first Asian American ever appointed to a presidential Cabinet.

He was also the first Chair of the President’s Advisory Commission under the Clinton Administration.

And he was the founder of several AA and NHPI institutions, including the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, which I was proud to join as a member of Congress and doubly blessed to serve alongside him.

Secretary Mineta opened doors for so many of us here today, and there is no better tribute to his legacy than our work on this commission.

Our mission can best be summed in three words: equity, justice, opportunity.

That is what AA and NHPI communities deserve from us.

That is the President’s goal.

And that is what we are working here to accomplish.

AA and NHPI communities have faced an uphill fight the last couple of years in the face of COVID-19 and the blight of racism.

But today, the resiliency of these communities has never been clearer. Every day, these communities work and study hard, start small businesses, support their families, and continue to build their lives with dignity and perseverance.

And all of you play a vital role in ensuring that moving forward, AA and NHPI communities get a fair shake at reaching the American Dream.

As Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, I’m proud to say our Department stands with you in this critical work.

In the past two years, we’ve launched several campaigns to advance health equity during the COVID-19 pandemic for AA and NHPI communities.

We have launched an Equity Technical Assistance Center to provide training, tools, and technical assistance for HHS employees to make sure that our policies, programs, research, and analyses are more equitable.

We have worked to ensure an equitable pandemic response by investing in our 1400 community health centers that serve many AA and NHPI families.

And we have awarded grants to drive better health research and data and that support AA and NHPI survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

But we’re not done.

Over the past three months, this Commission’s subcommittees have been hard at work – often meeting on a weekly basis – to develop recommendations to the President on everything from addressing anti-Asian hate, to promoting health and economic equity, to tackling systemic challenges like the need for greater data disaggregation, language access, and more.

The recommendations that you will be presenting and discussing today address some of the most pressing issues impacting AA and NHPI communities.

These recommendations will help us advance equity, justice, and opportunity, and they are only the beginning.

Today, as we celebrate AA and NHPI Heritage Month, you are helping to chart a new course for AA and NHPI communities and setting the stage to emerge stronger from the past two years.

Please continue this momentum. And please know that myself, Ambassador Tai, the President, and all of government stand with you in this endeavor.

Thank you. And now I’d like to welcome my co-chair Ambassador Tai to say a few words.

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