The White House Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islanders Just Lost Most of Its Members

By Deepa Iyer Feb 16, 2017

Yesterday (February 15), 10 members of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders resigned from their appointed positions because of fundamental disagreements with President Donald Trump’s rhetoric and positions on immigration, refugees and communities of color.

The commission, established under executive order by President Clinton in 1999, continued through the tenures of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Under Obama, the commission—along with the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders housed within the Department of Education—advocated for the disaggregation of racial and ethnic data related to housing, health and education needs, anti-bullying programs, and the expansion of interpreter and translation services to reach Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders.  

In their resignation letter to Trump, the commissioners point to recent executive orders and negative rhetoric that they say have singled out vulnerable communities. They write:

“[W]e can no longer serve a president whose policies aim to create outcomes that are diametrically opposite to our principles, goals, and charge. In addition…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… We have and will always strive to ensure that America, our America, will never go back to the days of exclusion, segregation, and internment.”

The 10 commissioners who resigned this week join six others who previously resigned on Inauguration Day. Their terms were set to expire on September 30, 2017. McClatchy reports that there are four members who still remain on the Commission.

Asian Americans represent the fastest growing racial group in the United States. Read the full letter from the commissioners to Trump here.

Related: 100+ AAPI Orgs Vow to Resist the Trump Administration

*This post has been updated to note that 16 of the 20 members of the Commission resigned.