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by Randall Krongard
July 27. President Clinton apconcede that the briefing
a m8lor crty,

resentatives were given a bnefing on the polic)- b)., White House domesdc policy advisor Donsia Srong. APA leaders are lar from satistred. They teel the meerings with Reno didn't allow much of an opponunity to oiter real input and the White House bneting. held in Dons Matsui's office the day belbre the press conterence. \ras

More Asian Americans are hankering to become players in the games Washington plays.


peared before reporters to announce his

adminisration's immigration policy. The only Asian Americans who arrived with the president were either from his adminisration or the Democratic National Commi[ee (DNC) though several Asians from
outside the administration had been invit-

too little too late. Privately. administration officials in Matsui's office probablv

ed. including Rep. Norman Mineta (D-

CA), Rep. Bob Matsui (D-CA).

Daphne Kwok. execurive direcror of the Organizaiion of Chinese .A.mericans (OCA). Pleading prior engagemenG
N1ineu. ltatsui and Kwok begged off from the conference. W'ell-placed sources say the thfee boycotted the press conterence (o protest the Whirc House's failure to consult with them over the new policy. -{sian leaders first sensed rrouble when rhey learned

CongE*eman ofln n Mints ot Sen Jose, Calitomia, ryas ottercd


lhr posl ot SacrrtlJy ol lranlporbtion. Hsd he accepled, he rvould hsve becn thc highdt ranking Alhn Amc|icln in the hislory ol the
orculive bEnch. In3leed, hc cho3e to remrin in thr S.neb whele he hoads tha inllucntial Committec on Transpoialion and Public Wo*s. Mincta was lhe first Asien Americsn lo bG rlGcted mavor of

that Whire House officials were making rhe rounds on Capitol Hill briefing African American and Hispanic American lawmakers and community leaders-basically evervbodv but them. [t wasn't undl a scant 24 houn betbre the stan of the news conference that Asian leaders received phone calls inviting them to artend. The slight was a sure sign that the Clinton adminisration wasn't accordlng anl" more respect to Asian Americans ttnn had the pre\ rous administr:rtion. ''The adminisration has to wake up to the fact that they need to consult wirh .A.PAs [Asian Pacihc Americans] instead of leaving them out of major policy decisions," says a frustrated Kwok. Kwok is panicularly upser that the White House failed to consult APA leaders over irffnigration. an issue so vital to the Asian American community. For their pan administration officials say Asian Arirerican representatives did have opponunities to voice opinions when thev. along with African American and Hispanic American representatives. attended meetings with Attorney Ceneral Janet Reno. Officials also poinr out that APA rep-





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happy to say

that I don't believe that my colleagues here in the Senate Iook upon me as a



uantel Inouve

hadn r caughr uind rhar rhe policv uas on rhe reree oerng lnnounced and prodded White House

wouldn't have eren raken place if Kwok. DNC con_ stltuency dlrector Vida Benavides and Doris Matsui


hold rhe briefing. ''Evervone was caught off guaro oecause even we Iinside the Whire House] didn r know *h.n ,t oor.oring our,' says Benavides. She is willing ,o ,.r..u. .ludgement tbr rhe time being. ..1 don.r rhink ir was a deliberate a(empt ro exclude any communltles. It was more a case ot people in lhe new administration gening used to the proces\ oi purrrng a pohcy together.: Th! policy. Benavtdes savs. was on the last rack because the adminisrrarion wanted ro include it in the president.s budger package to Congress. Nevenheless. she admits. "There is rhat perception of exclusion... Bill Tamayo. a la*yer with rhe Asian La$,Caucus in San Frrncrrco. sees more lhan J perceptton of exclusron. ''lhe) blprssed APA members and organizations inten_ lronally." he says. '.They know full well that Mineta and \larsui plal ma.;or roles in immigrarion polic'... Tamato oellc\e\ the admtnisrratton ) game plah called for ApA lawmakers ro be shut out in order to avoid attacks. The incidenr ^ sratfer who has set off tempers on Capirol Hill as we . One worked on the immigration policv savs the admrnistrarion can t be blamed for somerhing thar was the responsibilir] of lhe .{pA leadership. ..ApAs have to rale Ihe initiarive.- he says. ..They can.r jusr sir and wair for the Presidenr ro call rhem. Thar.s nor how polirics works.,. he sa-vs. That posirion riggers a harsh reply from those on the Hill who feh shut our. Says one .A,sian .,Whoever aide. iard something like. .We don't know why the ApA communrtv is so upset. they should have klown what was go_ -*e tng on. ue did -wellrole in know what was gorng on and lried ro plav a it. but there was llttle interest in hav_

orficials to

\ -

leading his ptatoon on a go-tor.broke charge up an nalian hill to lale a heavily debndcd German mechincaun placmcnt.
Snator Daniel K. Inouys, who h!! bn GprBenting Hawaii in the House or lh Senete since it bccamc a stste in 1959. is th grey eminence fron vrhom all fuian Amricsn politicians. Democtit or Re publican, draw inspiration. He in one of the live nost poredul men in the Snate and wss a contendrr lor the post of Maiority Leader. Ite is a distinguished wortd War hero who tost his rigm ;rm white

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her a response. and indicated they did nol thtnk diversity was a necessalv ingredienr in policy making...she savs. White House officials mav have dodged Narasaki.s attempr at securing accountability but orher ApA leaders rleren t as easilv evaded. Sources sav that atier being in!lted to the press conference on such shon notice. cenain well-piaced APAs contionted White House congressronal lrairon director Howard Pasrer After recerrrng rhe thrrd degree. Paster reponedlv promised that he would issue a orrectrve lnstnrctlng each agency in the idministration lo ma(e cenatn they consult with ApA leaders in the tuture whenever other minority groups are consulted.



rng rhat happen."

Was the promise for real? don t kjlow ver. I.ll iust have take the White House s |aord tbr ir...a staffer sals."


Karen Narasaki. executrve direcror oi San Franctsco_ rased Japanese American Citizens Leasue (JACL). savs )he rsked whire House ofticial. rf any -npe potir,cat up_ porntee took pan in making rhe immigrarion policy. They

The rmmrgration banle isn r losl yer. ApA lawmalers wrll have another crack at rr when Congress holds hearines on lhe policv in rhe fall. Unrrl rhen npn leaders borh on and off Capitol Hill wiu be lefr wondering whv l.l hours before it was to be announced to the nauon. thev found



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