Washington, DC — Dr. Debra T. Cabrera of Saipan has been sworn in to serve as one of 17 members of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islanders. Acting Solicitor General of the United States Neal Kaytal administered the oath of office at a formal ceremony in the Congressional Auditorium at the U.S. Capitol Tuesday. Dr. Cabrera was nominated to serve on the Commission by Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan.That's a photo of Deb taking the oath to become a part of the commission. So what is the commission? Kilili again:
President Obama created the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders by Executive Order in October 2009. The mission is “to improve the quality of life of AAPIs through increased participation in Federal programs in which AAPIs may be underserved,” according to the Executive Order.Deb's service on this commission is a big deal. Not to put any pressure on her, but she is going to advise the president on issues affecting all Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders whether they live in the territories, San Diego, Brooklyn, or any point in between. Think of the millions of people the president could have chosen. One of the seventeen is from Saipan and currently works on Guam. Like I said, this is a big deal.
Several speeches at the event highlighted how AAPIs came to America and how we have made contributions to make this country a better place. Commission member Hines Ward, wide reciever for the Pittsburg Steelers, became the only Korean-American to win a Superbowl MVP trophy; others became business owners; all have contributed to the fabric that makes this country great.
Sitting in the audience only strengthed my convictions that the long toiling contract workers in the Northern Mariana Islands have earned the opportunity to obtain improved status.
None of the candidates for US delegate in the Northern Mariana Islands are supporting improved status and I find that extremely disappointing. And I know all four campaigns read this blog; If I am mistaken, please correct me.
For the record, what I am calling "improved status" would be to follow one of the five recommendations of the Department of the Interior to " consider permitting alien workers who have lawfully resided in the CNMI for a minimum of five years to apply for long-term status under the immigration and nationality laws of the United States." I would actually prefer the recommendation to apply to all alien workers. An argument can be made that businesses need those workers, but we are talking about our fellow community members, our friends, and members of our family. We were given the chance to contribute; they should be given the same opportunity.
But back to the AAPI event: I got to meet Deb for the first time, even though we lived on the same 15 mile long island for half a decade. I also met her brother, Dr. Felix. And Kilili was there, too.
Kilili was very gracious and invited me to sit up front with him and Dr. Felix. Thank you for the honor, Kilili!