Members of President’s Commission on Asian Americans Resign

by Jesse J. Holland for AP in The Washington Post, February 16, 2017

WHIAAPIWASHINGTON — Ten members of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have resigned to protest the Trump administration’s policies and positions on repealing the Affordable Care Act, building a wall between the United States and Mexico and punishing sanctuary cities.

“We can no longer serve a president whose policies aim to create outcomes that are diametrically opposite to our principles, goals and charge,” the resigning commissioners said in a letter sent to President Donald Trump on Wednesday.

This is a second wave of resignations from the 20-member commission; six members resigned in January. This leaves the commission with only four members.

The Trump administration said resignations from advisory commissions were common after a new administration comes in. Trump “is committed to working on behalf of all Americans, including the nation’s Asian American and Pacific Islander community,” the White House said in a statement.

The resigning commissioners said in a letter that several of Trump’s positions and statements don’t align with what they wanted to advocate as a commission.

 “Protecting civil rights and fighting against bullying were pillars of our commission’s work,” said actor Maulik Pancholy, a former commissioner. “We cannot serve under an administration that seeks to exclude members of our society or take away their rights, especially the Muslim community, which is very much part of our AAPI community.”

President Bill Clinton created the commission in 1999, and Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama reauthorized it.

The commissioners’ terms were already scheduled to end in September, but the former chair, Tung Nguyen of San Francisco, said they could no longer serve with this administration. Nguyen said they had tried to communicate with the Trump administration since the president’s election but have not been able to make any headway.

“We basically have been informed that we are not to communicate with them unless it’s something that is congruent or in the same direction as their policies,” Nguyen said. “We were supposed to be the connector (between the White House and their communities) and we were told that unless those concerns were aligned with the administration’s actions or agenda, there was no point in doing it.”

This year marked the 75th anniversary of President Franklin Roosevelt’s decision to authorize internment camps for Japanese-Americans during World War II, said Nguyen, who has been on the commission since 2011.

“We could no longer sit and decide to do nothing,” he said, while the administration is putting forth its policies on immigration, health care and sanctuary cites.

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