White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Interagency Workgroup New York Regional Conference

By William Kustiono

The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) Interagency Workgroup (IWG) New York held their conference meeting at Jacob K. Javits Federal Building in Manhattan, New York on August 15, 2013. At this conference, several topics were discussed such as “Workers Right under Federal Law”, “Resources for Entrepreneurs and Women Workers”, “Health and Social Services”, and “Community and Residential Development”.

The Regional Conference started with a morning national anthem sung by Ngan Ping (Lily) Chiang of Social Security Administration. After a nation’s respect, we have some agenda and introduction to the morning panelists by May Y. Chen, Adjunct Professor City University of New York, and Amardeep Singh, Director of Programs Sikh coalition. May introduced WHIAAPI to the audience that this initiative is under the Obama Administration as a way to integrate Asian communities and government. The idea came during the 1st term of President Clinton’s presidency and it addresses the racial discrimination, health care, affordable care act, social security, and reaching people through every parts of United States. The morning panelists at the discussion were Beatrice M. Disman, Regional Commissioner of Social Security Administration in New York Region, Kevin Berry, District Director of U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Adalberto Quijada, Acting District Director of U.S. Small Business Administration, and Dr. Jaime R. Torres, Regional Administrator of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The morning panel discussed about the current progress of WHIAAPI and the introduction of each government’s department that works with WHIAAPI. A brief explanation on online social security access was given on how people could check register, authenticate themselves, benefit statement, program and change their address using computer. Kevin is now working on stemming the discrimination case around the United States, in particularly against the Asian communities. The panelists also talked about first response during disasters, especially when Sandy occurred in 2012.

After the morning panelists’ discussion, the guests are guided into 4 different rooms for workshops, which further discusses about specific topic presented during the morning panels. In one of the four rooms, the topic was focused on the “Workers Right under Federal law”. Panelists reviewed the various rights and protection that workers have under federal labor and employment law, and addressed the issues of wage violations, employment discrimination, health and safety concerns, and other ways that employees may use federal law protections to advocate for better working conditions. In another room, it was all about “Resources for Entrepreneurs and Women Workers”. Panelists provided information about federal resources for small and minority business owners and addressed any issues relevant to women. Additional focused on the Affordable Care Act and how it relates to small business.

The third room discussed “Health and Social Services”. Panelists provided important information regarding cash benefits, social services, health-care and other programs available to people of every age, especially veterans and people living in or near poverty, as well as people who have limited English proficiency. Special emphasis will be placed on healthcare charges under the Affordable Care Act. The last room had “Consumer and Residential: Panelists” who discussed the various federal rights, protections, and services available to the AAPI community regarding U.S. immigration and naturalization, housing, and environment concerns (post-Sandy).

After the workshops, it was lunchtime with the Federal Regional Senior Executive. He answered any question guests had after the workshops. Hopefully after this WHIAAPI conference, the guests will have a better understanding about the current progress of Asian community and the government’s interaction with them. Through this WHIAAPI conference, the government wants to strengthen the community not just in New York, but also in every parts of United States.

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