WASHINGTON – Ten members of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) submitted their resignations in a letter addressed to President Trump Wednesday.
The resignations resulted from Trump’s policies that have “adversely” affected AAPI, according to a letter dated Feb. 15 and obtained by USA TODAY.
In the letter, the former commissioners cited their objection to Trump’s portrayal of “immigrants, refugees, people of color and people of various faiths as untrustworthy, threatening, and a drain on our nation.”
The letter also notes the Trump administration’s proposals to cut federal resources to sanctuary cities, bans on refugees, increased border and immigrant enforcement and repealing the Affordable Care Act.
Chris Lu, former Deputy Secretary of Labor and former co-chair of the White House of Asian American and Pacific Islanders says Trump’s position on issues have been “destructive” toward the AAPI community.
The Feb. 15 letter marks the second wave of resignations after six commissioners stepped down last month prior to Trump’s inauguration.
Paul Watanabe, former commissioner of the President’s Advisory Commission on AAPIs, was part of the first wave of resignations. Watanabe tells USA TODAY he has seen enough of Trump’s actions during the election and transition period that spurred his decision early on to make it “untenable for me to serve as his advisor”
Watanabe vowed to fight even harder for AAPI interests using other vehicles. He adds: “The fight goes on, the arenas change and regrettably the White House is a target, rather than an ally.”
The President’s Advisory Commission on AAPIs, which includes a total of 20 commissioners, was originally created by President Bill Clinton in 1999. It was renewed by former George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
The resignation comes within days before the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066 that led to the imprisonment of 120,000 Japanese Americans in internment camps during World War II.
“It’s fairly representative to view as a community that these kinds of actions remind us of things that happened in the past,” Shekar Narasimhan, former commissioner for the President’s Advisory Commission on AAPIs, tells USA TODAY.
Narasimhan says he can draw parallels with Trump’s immigration ban and historical events from the past, including Executive Order 9066 signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.
Tung Nguyen, former commissioner of the President’s Advisory Commission on AAPIs, tells USA TODAY he’s surprised by the outpouring of support from the AAPI community after resigning since Asian Americans have a reputation of being somewhat “quiet” politically.
Nguyen says AAPIs are at a “breaking point” that cannot be tolerated further with the Trump administration.
“The resignation is unfortunate but it’s an important message to send not only to people in the community but around the country that Asian Americans are being neglected by this president,” Lu says.
USA TODAY has reached out to the White House for comment.