Chao served as the Labor Secretary under President George W. Bush and is the first Asian American woman to serve in a Cabinet level position. Under her leadership in the Department of Labor, she cut safety enforcement budgets, failed to pass any new significant safety rules during her tenure, and inadequately investigated complaints of wage theft.
APALA National President Johanna Puno Hester commented: “If Chao’s time as Labor Secretary is any indication of what she’ll bring to the table as Transportation Secretary, then we can expect a term that parlays with corporate interest rather than the safety of the people and the environment.”
Chao joins as the third Asian American woman appointee in the Trump Administration, following Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and Seema Verma, the founder of health policy consulting firm, as the head for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Hester continued: “We refuse to let the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community be a racial wedge group. These women have built their careers on creating policies that serve only the most privileged. They do not accurately represent our diverse AAPI community – a community of immigrants, the poor, the underserved.”
“This is a different political climate. This is not business as usual. As people build their strategies for the first hundred days or the next four years, we must not conflate access or a seat at the table with actual power to influence policy or decision makers,” added APALA Executive Director Gregory A. Cendana on the said “diversity picks” in a predominately white administration. “These newest appointees – alongside Price, Devos, Sessions, and Bannon – continue to shape a Trump administration that undermines the values so central to our communities and the fabric of our country.”