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Press Release: January 8, 2021

APAICS Statement on Lack of AAPI Cabinet Secretary In Over 20 Years

WASHINGTON—President-elect Joe Biden has finalized his nominations for Cabinet Secretaries, solidifying that for the first time in over 20 years, no Asian American or Pacific Islander will serve as a Cabinet Secretary in the Biden-Harris administration. Over the course of the transition, members of Congress, Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) organizations and grassroots organizers urged the President-elect to nominate an AAPI Cabinet Secretary. These appeals have fallen on deaf ears. While it is to be celebrated that this Cabinet will feature diverse representation from other communities breaking barriers, President-elect Biden has made it clear that this does not extend to Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders to represent our constituency in any of the 15 Cabinet Secretary positions.

APAICS President and CEO Madalene Xuan-Trang Mielke issued the following statement:

“It is frustrating that despite a unified effort by over 115 members of Congress, numerous grassroots community organizations, and the fact that there were record turnout and participation by AAPIs during the 2020 elections, we are still being left out of the room. We have fought too hard to be represented at the highest levels of government only to be overlooked in this process. The AAPI demographic is the fastest growing racial or ethnic group in the United States electorate. The lack of an AAPI Cabinet Secretary only serves to further distance AAPIs from having their voice heard in public policy.

President-elect Biden promised an administration that would ‘look like’’ America, including at our virtual CELEBRATION in October 2020. Cabinet Secretaries serve a key role at the decision-making table while inspiring new generations of AAPIs to enter public service and participate in our civic process. The brazen exclusion of AAPIs in this incoming administration abandons and erases the AAPI community. It is paramount that the Biden Administration vow to work with AAPIs to build back our democracy so our issues can be made cognizant within the policy-making process.

We urge that the incoming administration remedy their blatant oversight of not appointing an AAPI to a Cabinet Secretary position with future appointments that include other leadership positions in agencies, White House staff, and Boards and Commissions.”

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The Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS) is a national non-partisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting Asian Pacific American participation and representation at all levels of the political process, from community service to elected office. APAICS programs focus on developing leadership, building public policy knowledge, and filling the political pipeline for Asian Pacific Americans to pursue public office at the local, state, and federal levels.

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