Highlights from Joe Biden’s Agenda for the Asian American & Pacific Islander Community

Vice President Joe Biden knows that the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community is a core chapter of the American story. Our country’s ability to draw hard-working people from every culture and every nation has always made us stronger. Joe has turned bold, progressive ideas into tangible results for the AAPI community as Vice President and Senator. As Vice President, Joe stood shoulder-to-shoulder with President Obama to pass the landmark Affordable Care Act, providing health insurance to an additional 20 million people, including two million AAPIs by the time President Obama and Vice President Biden left office. The Obama-Biden Administration also re-established the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to improve the lives of AAPIs in the United States through federal programs, inter-agency coordination, and outreach to AAPI stakeholders. And, Joe helped secure the votes to finally deliver long-awaited compensation payments for our Filipino-American World War II veterans.

Joe knows that we’re in a battle for the soul of America. Our country needs moral leadership and a unifying force in the White House, rather than a divisive one, to fight hatred and injustice. As president, Joe will continue his lifelong commitment to ensure that every member of the AAPI community is treated with dignity—no matter their race or ethnicity—and has a fair shot at the American Dream. He will:

Mount a decisive public health and economic response to COVID-19. We need a decisive public health response to curb the spread of COVID-19 and provide treatment to those in need—as well as a decisive economic response that delivers real relief to AAPI workers, families, and small businesses, and protects the economy as a whole. Joe would ensure access to health care by ramping up testing; ensuring that testing, treatment, and any eventual vaccine for COVID-19, is free for all individuals regardless of insurance or immigration status; collecting racial, gender, and ethnic data on testing and treatment so we can identify and address disparities; and opening a new Obamacare enrollment period so AAPIs who need insurance can get it. 

He would protect AAPI workers providing essential services by getting them the protective equipment that they need to reduce their risk of getting infected by the virus; implementing and enforcing standards to keep all AAPI workers safe on the frontlines and ensure that their civil rights are protected; and providing a boost in AAPI essential workers’ paychecks. Joe would also reserve half of all the new Paycheck Protection Program funds for small businesses with 50 employees or less, authorize more generous loans that allow for small businesses in need to keep workers on payroll and cover fixed costs, and provide a guarantee that every qualifying AAPI small business will get relief. And, he would produce a weekly dashboard to show which small businesses are accessing loans—to make sure that the program isn’t leaving out communities, minority- and women-owned businesses, or the smallest businesses. Joe’s eight-point plan for a stronger, safer, more effective reopening ensures we protect Americans, especially those at high risk, while restoring consumer confidence and setting the foundation for an economy that works for everyone. 

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, we’ve heard increasing reports of the Asian American community being targeted with hate. These racist acts must stop. They are grounded in an impulse that is as ugly as it is dangerously ignorant. They are not who we are as a country. No one should be targeted for what they look like, where their ancestors come from, or who they are. Joe will provide the leadership we need to address every aspect of this pandemic—including the spate of racist incidents targeting Asian Americans—with urgency and seriousness. 

Elevate AAPI Voices and Increase AAPI Representation in Government. The Obama-Biden Administration appointed more AAPI judges than all previous administrations combined and encouraged AAPI hiring in senior staff positions. Joe will nominate and appoint federal officials and judges who look like the rest of America, including AAPI individuals. He will build on the Obama-Biden Administration’s Initiative on AAPIs and the President’s Advisory Commission on AAPIs to ensure that federal agencies are considering the AAPI community in the design and implementation of federal programs and that AAPI community leaders have a voice in a Biden Administration. He also knows how to bring key stakeholders to the table to ensure that the communities of those impacted by policies are an essential part of the decision-making process. He will do the same with the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) community by strengthening the Pacific Island Task Force, established by the Obama-Biden Administration.  

Protect and Build on the Affordable Care Act. Many AAPIs often face language and cultural barriers that reduce their accessibility to health care. Joe believes that every American should have access to affordable and quality health care and he will defend health care protections for all people. He will give Americans a new choice to purchase a public health insurance option like Medicare. He will stand up to abuse of power by prescription drug corporations. And, he will redouble efforts to ensure enforcement of mental health parity laws and expand funding for mental health services. Joe will also double the federal investment in community health centers, expanding access to high quality health care for AAPI populations that need it most. He will improve care for AAPI patients with chronic conditions by coordinating among all of a patient’s doctors and tackling social determinants of health. And, Joe will expand access to reproductive health care, including contraception and protecting the constitutional right to choose. 

Invest in our Students and Educators. Too many parents in the AAPI community do not have access to the resources and support they need to ensure that their children will succeed. Joe will invest in all children from birth to 12th grade, so that regardless of their zip code, parents’ income, race, or disability, they are prepared to succeed in tomorrow’s economy. As president, Joe will provide high-quality, universal pre-kindergarten for all three- and four-year-olds. He will triple Title I funding, which goes to schools serving a high number of children from low-income families. This new funding will first be used to ensure teachers at Title I schools are paid competitively, three- and four-year olds have access to pre-school, and districts provide access to rigorous coursework across all their schools. He will also build the best, most innovative schools in the country in AAPI communities without access to quality schools, other communities of color, and low-income communities; expand the community school model, bringing needed support for students and parents into our public schools; double the number of mental health professionals in our schools; and protect AAPI students from bullying. He will improve teacher diversity by  supporting more innovative approaches to recruiting teachers of color and working with minority-serving institutions, including Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institutions (AANAPISIs), to recruit and prepare teachers.   

Support Education Beyond High School. Joe will make public colleges and universities tuition-free for all AAPI students whose family incomes are below $125,000. He will also provide two years of community college or other high-quality training program without debt for any hard-working member of the AAPI community looking to learn and improve their skills to keep up with the changing nature of work. He will also double the maximum value of Pell grants, increasing the number of middle-class AAPIs who can participate in the program and increasing the grant value for individuals already eligible for Pell. And, he will halve the payments on undergraduate federal student loans by simplifying and increasing the generosity of today’s income-based repayment program. In addition, he will forgive all undergraduate tuition-related federal student debt from two- and four-year public colleges for debt-holders earning up to $125,000, which will include private minority-serving institutions. Joe will also take steps to rectify the funding disparities faced by minority-serving institutions, including AANAPISIs, so that the United States can benefit from their unique strengths. 

Counter Rise in Hate Crimes. From grocery stores to workplaces to simply being in their community, many AAPIs, including Sikh, Hindu, and Muslim Americans, have continually faced discrimination and hate, which is further exacerbated by Trump’s dangerous rhetoric and fanning the flames of hate. When the rights and freedoms of some are threatened by hate, it threatens us all. The Obama-Biden Administration added “Anti-Sikh” and “Anti-Hindu” to the Department of Justice’s hate crime reporting categories. The administration also provided resources and worked with local leaders to combat bullying directed at the AAPI community. Joe will make clear that hate has no safe harbor in this country. And, his Justice Department will prioritize prosecuting hate crimes.   

End our Gun Violence Epidemic.  Joe has taken on the National Rifle Association (NRA) on the national stage and won—twice. As president, he will defeat the NRA again. Joe will pursue constitutional, common-sense gun safety policies. He will protect our families, schools, and communities, by holding gun manufacturers accountable; getting weapons of war off our streets, including by banning the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines; and keeping guns out of dangerous hands, including by requiring background checks for all gun sales and closing loopholes in the federal background check system.

Protect our Planet against Climate Change. The climate crisis continues to threaten AAPI communities, particularly the NHPI community. Certain islands may become uninhabitable by 2030 without immediate action. In addition, two states with the highest percentage of AAPIs—Hawaii and California—remain vulnerable to the risks from climate change. Joe has long understood the enormity of climate change and that we have a moral and economic imperative to address it. Joe’s plan will tackle climate change and pollution to protect our communities. He will rejoin the Paris Agreement on day one, and then rally the rest of the world to up the ante on their climate commitments. At home, he will ensure that communities harmed by climate change and pollution are the first to benefit from his clean economy revolution. He will push the United States to achieve a 100 percent clean energy economy and reach net zero emissions no later than 2050. Joe’s plan will create 10 million good-paying jobs in the United States and hold polluters accountable. He will work to ensure that every member of the AAPI community has access to clean drinking water, clean air, and an environment free from pollutants. And, every dollar spent towards rebuilding infrastructure will be used to prevent, reduce, and withstand a changing climate. 

Secure our Values as a Nation of Immigrants. Donald Trump has waged an unrelenting assault on our values and our history as a nation of immigrants. It’s wrong, and it stops when Joe is president. Joe will rescind Trump’s “Muslim ban” on day one and reverse the detrimental asylum policies that are causing chaos and a humanitarian crisis at our border. Joe will immediately begin working with Congress to pass legislative immigration reform that modernizes our system, with a priority on keeping families together by providing a roadmap to citizenship for nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants—including the 1.7 million from Asia. 

He will support family-based immigration and preserve family unification as a core principle of our immigration system, which includes reducing the family visa backlog. He will increase the number of visas offered for permanent, work-based immigration based on macroeconomic conditions and exempt from any cap recent graduates of PhD programs in STEM fields. And, he will support first reforming the temporary visa system for high-skill, specialty workers to protect wages, then expanding the number of visas offered and eliminating the limits on employment-based visas by country. He will restore and defend the naturalization process for green card holders. And, he will increase the number of refugees we welcome into this country by setting the annual global refugee admissions target to 125,000 and seek to raise it over time commensurate with our responsibility, our values, and the unprecedented global need.  He will also work with Congress to establish a minimum admissions number of 95,000 refugees annually. Joe will remove the uncertainty for Dreamers by reinstating the DACA program and explore all legal options to protect their families from inhumane separation. As president, Joe will end workplace raids and protect other sensitive locations from immigration enforcement actions. No one should be afraid to seek medical attention, or go to school, their job, or their place of worship for fear of an immigration enforcement action. 

Spark Entrepreneurship and Small Business Growth in AAPI Communities. There are nearly two million AAPI-owned businesses across the United States, which drive economic growth and opportunity across the country. However, many of these businesses often struggle with issues such as access to funding and language barriers that complicate small business development for AAPI communities. In 2010, the Obama-Biden Administration created the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) to support small businesses. The program transfers funds to state small business lending initiatives, driving $10 billion in new lending for each $1 billion in SSBCI funds. Joe will extend the program through 2025 and double its federal funding to $3 billion, driving close to $30 billion of private sector investments to small businesses all told, especially those owned by women and people of color. Joe will also increase funding for the Minority Business Development Agency budget. And, he will establish a competitive grant program to provide $5 billion in funding to states for new business startups outside of our biggest cities.    

Eliminate Language Barriers for AAPI Communities. Language barriers to vital services and resources can prevent limited English proficient AAPIs from realizing their potential and the American Dream. Joe will build on the work of the Obama-Biden Administration, which ensured that members of the AAPI community who were limited English proficient had access to health care and other government services. For example, the administration produced outreach videos in Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Burmese, Hmong, Khmer, and Lao to ensure that members of those communities were able to take advantage of the Affordable Care Act’s benefits and coverage. Joe will direct his agencies to identify ways to increase access to federal programs for AAPI individuals and families, including those who are limited English proficient. He will also create neighborhood resource centers or welcome centers to help all residents find jobs; access services and English-language learning opportunities; and navigate the school system, health care system, and other important facets of daily life. And, he will ensure that all public schools have sufficient English-language learning support to help all children reach their potential.

Strengthen the Right to Vote. For the approximately 33 percent of AAPIs who are limited English proficient, the difficulty of navigating through the voting process remains a critical obstacle to fully realizing the values of our democracy. This barrier, along with the gutting of the Voting Rights Act, significantly diminishes the participation of communities of color, including the AAPI community, in the democratic process. Joe will strengthen our democracy by guaranteeing that every American’s vote is protected. He will start by restoring the Voting Rights Act and then ensuring the Justice Department challenges state laws suppressing the right to vote. He will support automatic voter registration, same-day voter registration, and other steps to make exercising one’s right to vote easier. He will support an end to gerrymandering and will protect our voting booths and voter rolls from foreign powers that seek to undermine our democracy and interfere in our elections.

Disaggregate Data to Achieve Equal Representation. The aggregation of data on the AAPI community does a disservice to the diversity and needs of AAPIs. The Obama-Biden Administration released best practices for the disaggregation of federal data on AAPIs. Joe will build on this work and ensure that his administration recognizes and serves the myriad of challenges facing diverse AAPI communities. 

Invest in our AAPI Communities through Housing. As president, Joe will invest $640 billion over 10 years so everyone in the AAPI community has access to housing that is affordable, stable, safe and healthy, accessible, energy efficient and resilient, and located near good schools and with a reasonable commute to their jobs. He will help AAPI families buy their first homes and build wealth by creating a new refundable, advanceable tax credit of up to $15,000 and create a new renter’s tax credit to help more low-income families. Joe will create a new public credit reporting agency within the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to provide consumers with a government option that seeks to minimize racial disparities, for example by ensuring the algorithms used for credit scoring don’t have a discriminatory impact and by accepting non-traditional sources of data like rental history and utility bills to establish credit. He will end redlining and other discriminatory and unfair practices in the housing market, including by enacting legislation for a new Homeowner and Renter Bill of Rights, protecting tenants from eviction, strengthening and expanding the Community Reinvestment Act to ensure that our nation’s banks and non-bank financial services institutions serve AAPI communities, and implementing the Obama-Biden Administration’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule. He will also establish a $100 billion Affordable Housing Fund to construct and upgrade affordable housing and invest in community development by expanding flexible funding for the Community Development Block Grant by $10 billion over ten years.