Published: January 11, 2017
AP(Eye) on the Hill is a monthly report based out of our D.C. office. Here we highlight significant federal updates, particularly those that impact AAPI communities regarding reproductive, immigration, and economic justice. Learn about NAPAWF’s federal policy work, as well as that of other national AAPI groups. You can be on the ground to stay connected to what is happening on Washington and how it impacts AAPI communities!
In this month's edition of AP(Eye) on the Hill...
- Federal Judge in Texas attempts to halt protections against gender health discrimination, abortion
- French pharmaceutical company intends to bring over-the-counter birth control to the U.S.
- New York High Court Rules Skin Color as Protected Status in Jury Selection
- Lundy Khoy Publishes an Open Letter in the New York Times
- D.C. passes Paid Family Leave Act!
- Center for American Progress releases report on Asian American and Wealth Inequality
- Senate Introduces Bill to Protect DACA Recipients
- CAPAC Sends Letter to President-Elect Trump
- Trump Transition Team announces 12 More Nominations
Federal Judge in Texas attempts to halt protections against gender health discrimination, abortion
At the end of December, U.S. District Judge Reed O’ Connor granted a temporary injunction that prevents federal health officials from implementing and enforcing rules protecting against gender discrimination by doctors and hospitals. The injunction is a response to a lawsuit filed by the state of Texas on behalf of religious hospital network Franciscan Alliance. Wisconsin, Kentucky, Nebraska, and Kansas have joined the lawsuit, as well as an Indiana-based network of religious hospitals. Citing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, O’Connor claimed that protections for transgender people would “likely violate” the religious freedom of doctors and medical providers whose religious or medical beliefs conflict with gender transition services. Included in the 46-page ruling, O’Connor asserted that the health rules place, “substantial pressure on Plantiffs to perform and cover transition and abortion procedures.”
Civil rights groups have asserted that transgender discrimination by doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies violates protections in the Affordable Care Act. The Texas ruling is another dangerous attempt to control the bodies of women and transgender protections by limiting the protections to rightful health care coverage.
Read more about the ruling here:
- “Texas Judge Halts Federal Transgender Health Protections” by Paul J. Weber, ABCNews
- “Federal judge issues injunction against Obama administration abortion, transgender regulations” by David Weigel, Chicago Tribune
- “Texas judge blocks transgender policy” by Mihir Zaveri, Houston Chronicle
French pharmaceutical company intends to bring over-the-counter birth control to the U.S.
Image Credit: ThinkProgress
Ibis Reproductive Health recently announced a partnership with HRA Pharma in France to bring an over-the-counter oral contraceptive to the U.S. Ibis Reproductive Health is a nonprofit research organization that has worked extensively on policy research internationally to improve women’s lives. Oral contraceptives have been well researched and found to be safe, leading many health advocates and medical experts to push for over-the-counter access. The partnership is the first step in a long process of getting FDA approval and ensuring that birth control access remains affordable and accessible to all people regardless of insurance or income. Read more about the news here. Visit freethepill.org/ for more information on over-the-counter birth control access in the U.S.
New York High Court Rules Skin Color as Protected Status in Jury Selection
Photo Credit: Tim Roske
On December 22, 2016, the New York Court of Appeals ruled that excluding an individual of any race from jury service based solely on skin color violates the New York Equal Protection Clause and the New York Civil Rights Law. This ruling originated after the prosecutor in People v. Joseph Bridgeforth excluded dark-skinned people of various races from the jury, including a dark-skinned Indian American woman. Mr. Bridgeforth’s counsel challenged the jury selection process, claiming that excluding jurors by race or skin color violated New York law. The court’s decision can be read here. The U.S. Supreme Court previously ruled in Batson v. Kentucky that jurors cannot be excluded based solely on their race, color, creed or religion. The ruling on December 22, 2016 is the first time discrimination based on skin color has been upheld as unlawful based on Baston v. Kentucky. NAPAWF signed on to the amicus brief earlier in the year.
Lundy Khoy Publishes an Open Letter in the New York Times
In November, Lundy Khoy wrote an open letter to President-Elect Trump for the New York Times, and was interviewed by CNN on December 14th. Lundy’s parents fled Pol Pot genocide in Camobdia and she was born in a Thai refugee camp. She has lived in the U.S. her whole life—she and her parents are legal permanent residents and her brother and sister were born in the United States. After an arrest in 2000, Lundy was faced with a deportation order in 2004. While she received a pardon from the Governor of Virginia this spring, the Federal Government may still deport her if it wishes. NAPAWF has signed on to SEARAC’s community letter in support of Lundy--to add your name, click here!
Read more about Lundy Khoy’s story below:
- “After run-in with law, Cambodian immigrant’s permanent residency is at risk” by Tara Bahrampour
- “Why Are Immigrants Being Deported for Minor Crimes?” by Steve Patrick Ercolani
- “Cambodian Legal Resident Fights Deportation” by Asam News
D.C. passes Paid Family Leave Act!
Photo Credit: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post
On December 20th, the D.C. City Council passed the Universal-Paid Leave Amendment Act. The Act is one of the most generous family paid leave bills in the nation and gives eight weeks of leave to new parents, six weeks for caring for an ill family member, and two weeks of personal sick leave. D.C. Council approved the legislation 9-4 and it will be funded by a 0.62 percent payroll tax. Paid leave legislation was originally introduced last fall by At-large Councilmembers David Grosso and Elissa Silverman. Councilmember Phil Mendelson introduced the revised paid leave legislation after consulting with different funding model analysts. After three hearings over the summer prior to the Council recess, the Council finally voted on the Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act in December. NAPAWF supported this effort through the D.C. Paid Leave Coalition and is excited to see D.C. become a leader in supporting women and families in the workforce!
Read more about DC’s Universal-Paid Leave Amendment Act here:
- “Washington, D.C. Passes 8 Week Paid Parental Leave Bill” by Clare O'Connor
- “Washington, D.C., expands paid leave law” by The Associated Press
- “D.C. Council votes for expansive paid family and medical leave for private-sector workers” by Peter Jamison
- “The paid family leave bill benefits D.C. residents” by Ed Lazere, Washington
- “Where Startups Stand on DC's Universal Paid Leave Act” by Samantha Sabin
- “D.C. Restaurant Workers Win Legally-Mandated Paid Leave. Here’s Why That Matters” by Ryan Sutton
- “D.C.’s Battle for Paid Family Leave” by Alexia Fernández Campbell
Center for American Progress releases report on Asian American and Wealth Inequality
Photo Credit: AP/Elaine Thompson
The Center for American Progress released a report on December 20th revealing that the wealth inequality is greater among Asian Americans than White Americans. While Asian Americans tend to have higher incomes in the aggregate than other communities of color, within the AAPI community, the range of incomes is wide. While wealthy Asian Americans have continued gaining in income, low-income Asian Americans have plateaued or fallen behind in income. These disparities highlight the need for comprehensive data disaggregation for AAPI people. For instance, as highlighted in October’s Department of Labor report on AAPI people in the workforce, while AAPI people as a whole experience the lowest rates of unemployment, unemployment rates vary widely among different AAPI groups and are all higher than the rate for White people. You can read more about NAPAWF’s work on addressing gender and ethnic wage disparities here and here.
Senate Introduces Bill to Protect DACA Recipients
Photo Credit: John Moore/Getty Images
On December 9th, Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsay Graham (R-SC) announced the introduction of the Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy (BRIDGE) Act. The BRIDGE Act is intended to provide continuing temporary residency to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, and is also sponsored by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Jeff Flake (R-AZ). While the BRIDGE Act would continue providing temporary protection for DACA recipients, it would not create a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients or DREAMers. NAPAWF Executive Director Miriam Yeung published a statement in response to the BRIDGE Act that you can read here. For more information on how the BRIDGE Act could affect you or your loved ones, go to the National Immigration Law Center’s FAQ.
CAPAC Sends Letter to President-Elect Trump
Photo Credit: Pasadena Now
Early in December, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus sent a letter to Trump asking for a meeting regarding immigration, civil rights, and education. CAPAC chairperson, Representative Judy Chu (D-Calif) said the meeting’s main focus would be preventing discrimination against Muslims and the creation of a Muslim registry. During the campaign, President-Elect Trump repeatedly said he would ban Muslim immigrants and immigrants from nations with high Muslim populations like the Philippines from entering the US. He also said he would institute a registry to keep track of Muslim-Americans. “Much like how the Japanese were the target of the internment camp experience. They lost their civil liberties due to fear, hysteria and accusations of espionage. We cannot have that happen again,” said Representative Chu. CAPAC has yet to hear back from the Trump transition team, but promises to continue pressing if they receive no response.
Trump Transition Team announces 12 More Nominations
Photo Credit: Getty Images
As of December 22nd, Trump’s transition team has announced 12 additional nominations, including several high profile ones. Almost all of the nominees are currently or formerly members of the military, or high-profile millionaires with ties to Trump business holdings. After a great deal of speculation regarding potential nominees for Secretary of State, the President-Elect announced Rex Tillerson, the Chief Executive of Exxon Mobil, as Secretary of State. Trump also nominated his former political rival Ben Carson as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; former Texas Governor Rick Perry as Secretary of Energy; and former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment Linda McMahon as Administrator of the Small Business Administration.
Other nominations include General James Mattis as Secretary of Defense; billionaire Vincent Viola as Secretary of the Army; General John F. Kelly as Secretary of Homeland Security. Hardee’s CEO Andrew Puzder as Secretary of Labor; Montana Representative Ryan Zinke as Secretary of the Interior; South Carolina Representative Mick Mulvaney as Director of the Office of Management and Budget; Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; Iowa Governor Terry Branstad as Ambassador to China; and advisor David Friedman as Ambassador to Israel.