Obama to Muslims: Tell me what you want
‘Outreach summits’ launched, 1st stop Chicago
Story by: Steve Peacock
A series of Muslim Outreach Summits are planned coast-to-coast by the Obama administration to get feedback from Muslims on how the government can better serve them and their specific desires.
The president’s adopted home town of Chicago will be the first stop.
WND initially discovered documents referring to the Muslim summits while examining a U.S. Department of Education procurement of data-gathering and report-writing services.
The services are specific to information being assembled by the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, or WHIAAPI, which Obama created via executive order in 2009.
Upon closer inspection, however, WND learned that the Education Department explicitly will direct the selected contractor to chronicle findings and recommendations gleaned from the Muslim Outreach Summits.
The White House views this year’s venues as an extension of a previous outreach to “new immigrants and refugees – some of the most underserved in the AAPI community,” according to a document titled “WHIAAPI 2013 Faith-Based and Community Engagement.”
Complementing the prior effort will be the three “regional convenings,” tentatively scheduled June 15 in Chicago, June 22 in San Francisco and June 29 in New York City.
“These cities are main AAPI immigrant hubs and entry points for new immigrants/refugees,” according to a related document, “Questions Received from Vendors: Development and Preparation of the AAPI Annual Report to the President.”
“Each convening with [sic] include panel discussions/workshops with federal officials on key issues impacting the community and also an open-dialogue session to hear directly from the community about issues of concern.”
One vendor submitted a question to the Education Department asking, “Is there separate authorizing legislation for the Muslim Outreach Summits, or is it included in the AAPI EO [Executive Order]?”
The department, in response, acknowledged that separate authorizing legislation does not exist.
Rather, it says that Obama crafted the initiative solely through executive order, which it justified because the endeavor’s goal is to “improve the quality of life of AAPIs through increased participation in federal programs in which AAPIs may be underserved.”
The vendor-question document further states that Obama’s “faith-based outreach summits” will help the government to provide federal resources to “underserved AAPIs” while determining their ongoing needs.
When Obama signed the executive order Oct. 14, 2009, he also launched a separate President’s Advisory Commission on AAPI as well as a Federal Interagency Working Group.
The groups work collaboratively with the White House Office of Public Engagement and federal agencies “to increase Asian American and Pacific Islander participation.”
“The initiative seeks to highlight both the tremendous unmet needs in the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities as well as the dynamic community assets that can be leveraged to meet many of those needs.”
It hopes to address the needs of those communities by increasing participation in a broad swath of programs, such as those involving art, business, education, environmental and justice programs.
Sometime after the three Muslim Outreach Summits, the chosen contractor will develop and then present its summary report to the president and to newly appointed WHIAAPI commissioners.
The contracting action – the first of its kind since its inception in 2008 – will help lay the foundation for the initiative’s future work, the document says.