CAPAC Celebrates Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

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WASHINGTON – May 1 marked the start of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, which commemorates the history, contributions, and achievements of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) and congressional leaders released the following statements:

CAPAC LEADERSHIP

Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena), CAPAC chair: “Every year in May, we come together to celebrate the rich cultural heritage and the invaluable contributions that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made to our great nation. Today, AAPIs are the fastest growing racial group in the United States, and more immigrants come to the U.S. from the Asia-Pacific region than anywhere else in the world. The incredible growth and vitality of this community can be found in so many different sectors – from small business owners to medical professionals to military service members and public servants. And we have also seen this growth in our very own Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, where we now have a historic high of 18 AAPI members of Congress!

“Together, the Asian American and Pacific Islander community has the power to make our voices heard on a wide range of issues – from keeping immigrant families together and denouncing hate violence to protecting the civil and constitutional rights of all Americans. As we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, let us recommit ourselves to advancing the needs of our communities and ensure that America continues to be land of opportunity for all.”

Rep. Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam), CAPAC vice chair: “I join my colleagues in Congress and all Americans as we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Asian Americans and Pacific islanders make up a large and valuable part of our country. As Guam’s representative to Congress, I am extremely proud to represent a district made up of a majority of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. I witness first-hand the valuable social and economic contributions they make to our community and our nation. We share unique cultures and rich histories that we will honor and celebrate. We must use this month as a reminder to work together and protect and strengthen our shared values as an AAPI community and as a nation.”

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Los Angeles), CAPAC whip: “I’m thrilled to join my colleagues in celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Asian Americans from all walks of life have made enormous contributions to our society. From building the Transcontinental Railroad to serving in the armed forces, Asian Americans exemplify the countless contributions immigrants have made to our nation. Many first-generation Asian Americans worked long hours to provide for their families, hoping their children could thrive. Now, many AAPIs, including myself, have shared in the American Dream due to this hard work and dedication. However, one Asian American daughter or son left behind is one too many. So, it’s vitally important that we push forward to expand educational and economic opportunity for AAPIs, for when the entire Asian American community thrives, so does America.”

U.S. SENATORS

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.): “As we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, our community should be proud of the contributions we’ve made to America’s economy, culture, military and infrastructure, each of which have played a vital role in this country’s growth and development. I’m also proud that the number of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders from Wall Street to Washington has reached new highs, but must all continue to work for progress for our community and to ensure the American Dream remains within reach for all.”

Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii): “Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is a celebration of the contributions made by the Asian American and Pacific Islander community in Hawaii and across the country. As the fastest growing minority population in the United States, the AAPI community continues to have increasing impact on our national discourse. At a time when dangerous policies have been put forth by the Trump Administration, we must remain vigilant and fight back against unjust policies and xenophobic rhetoric. That’s why Asian Pacific Heritage Month is so important — it reminds us of the accomplishments made by AAPI leaders including Sens. Daniel K. Inouye, Daniel K. Akaka, and Rep. Patsy T. Mink and further encourages us to achieve progress in addressing the unique needs of the community.”

CONGRESSIONAL LEADERSHIP

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), House Democratic leader: “Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is an opportunity to lift up the remarkable achievements, beautiful cultures and rich contributions that Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders have made to our country. This month, our nation celebrates the inspiring legacy of Americans of Asian descent who have overcome injustice and persecution to bravely defend, shape, and strengthen our great nation. A deeply rooted, lively and growing AAPI community continues to strengthen my home town of San Francisco, and reminds us every day that the beauty is in the mix.”

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), House Democratic whip: “I join in celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, when Americans of all backgrounds pay tribute to the extraordinary contributions of our country’s Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. From those who have served our nation in uniform or in government to those who have helped build our economy as entrepreneurs and innovators, from those who have expanded our knowledge of science to those who have enriched our culture through the arts, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders have helped make our country great for generations.

“I’m proud to serve alongside outstanding colleagues in the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, which continues to fight for equal justice, equal opportunity, and a better future for all our people. I look forward to continue working closely with CAPAC Chair Judy Chu and the rest of the caucus to further CAPAC’s agenda of creating more jobs, securing higher wages, protecting voting rights, keeping our communities safe, reforming our broken immigration system, and making sure that all Americans have access to the opportunities that make the American Dream achievable.”

Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus: “Asian Pacific American Heritage Month celebrates the countless contributions Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made to help build and strengthen New York and our entire country. From business to medicine, from academia to the arts, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have had a profound impact on every facet of American society. I’m proud to join my fellow Americans in honoring Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and I will continue to make the realization of equal rights for Asian Americans a key part of my work in Congress.”

Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Norwalk), vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus: “Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month pays tribute to all those in the AAPI community who have helped strengthen our country. The contributions of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders, have enriched the diverse cultural fabric throughout the United States. My community in California is a shining example of the vibrant and growing AAPI community. I join CAPAC in celebrating the continued achievements of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community to our country.”

CAPAC EXECUTIVE BOARD MEMBERS

Rep. Ami Bera (D-Sacramento): “This May, as we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I want to thank the Americans of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage who are serving their communities and celebrate their contributions to our nation’s culture, military and economy. As the son of immigrants, it’s an honor to see so many members of the AAPI community stepping up to serve through public service which makes our country more vibrant and diverse.”

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii): “As we celebrate our shared heritage and history this month, we recognize the exceptional contributions Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made throughout our nation’s history. Leaders like Hawaii’s Sen. Daniel Inouye, Sen. Daniel Akaka, and Congresswoman Patsy Mink broke down barriers, made history, and worked tirelessly to better the lives of all Americans. Decorated patriots like the Nisei-only 442nd Infantry Regiment and our Filipino WWII veterans laid their lives on the line to protect and defend the freedoms we hold dear.

“Today, our AAPI community continues to lead across every sector — from government, business, and military service, to culture, arts, technology, healthcare, and so much more. As we celebrate AAPI Heritage Month, we must honor the tireless work of those who came before us by continuing to challenge the status quo and create a better future for the next generation.”

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii): “Asian Pacific American Heritage Month 2017 is a particularly fitting year to look around and admire the beauty of the ethnic, racial and cultural diversity of our great nation of immigrants. A land of opportunity, a place to escape war, persecution and/or religious oppression, America is richer, fuller and stronger as a result of the cultures and traditions of our diverse immigrants. Asians and Pacific Islanders celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of our people and community in May of each year and I am proud of the remarkable role AAPIs have played in America.”

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.): “As a South Asian immigrant, I am honored to recognize the accomplishments and the sacrifices of our AAPI communities. This past year, we have seen an unprecedented level of political engagement among AAPIs. Our community continues to enrich our nation’s cultural heritage and make important contributions to all areas of society. Yet, our broken immigration system, hate crimes and violations of American civil liberties continue to haunt our community, especially under President Trump. We must work hard to resist this ‘otherizing’ and ensure that our communities are safe spaces free from violence and discrimination because of race, religion, or country of origin.”

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-San Jose): “I am incredibly proud to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. It is the diversity of our country that strengthens and drives us. We live in a nation of immigrants, and it is important that we take time to reflect on those that have come before us. Every day I am thankful for the leaders from the AAPI community that have broken barriers in business, the arts, and public service. Their vision, courage, and passion will continue to inspire future generations of Asian Americans, as they have inspired me. It has been a honor to follow the Honorable Mike Honda as the only mainland United States representative of a majority Asian American district. He is a living reminder of what happens when, as a country, we become blinded by fear, and I pledge to continue his fight for the rights of all individuals, and to maintain America’s status as a nation of openness and opportunity.”

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.): “Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is a time to recognize the contributions our communities have made along with the obstacles we’ve overcome. In business, science, the arts, athletics, public service, and every other area of American life, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have helped to build a stronger, more inclusive America. The 16 million people of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community advance the legacy of those who came before us each day as we pave the way for others to follow.”

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland): “This May, I am proud to join the East Bay and people across the country in celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. This month is an important time for our nation to reflect on the remarkable contributions of the AAPI community. Every day, I see the critical role that the AAPI community plays in building and enriching our East Bay culture and values. As a member of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and co-chair of the CAPAC Health Care Task Force, I will keep fighting in Congress for policies that uplift and empower the AAPI community.”

Rep. Doris O. Matsui (D-Sacramento): “America is built on those who have come from many different countries and cultures. This May, we celebrate the many contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to our country. It’s important that we continue to embrace diversity and work together to make America a better place.”

Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.): “Each May, we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and the contributions Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) have made, and continue to make, to our country. I’m honored to help shatter the record for AAPI representation in Congress by being one of the now 18 AAPI members of Congress. I’m also proud to represent a vibrant AAPI community in Queens.

“AAPIs have made gains in every facet of American society. We built the Transcontinental Railroad, which connected the coasts and allowed our economy to develop exponentially. We participate in politics, open small businesses, fight in our nation’s wars, and research cures for diseases. Even though AAPIs are now the fastest-growing group in the United States, we are still underrepresented in many executive roles, and vital statistics about our community are often not reported. I will continue my efforts to fight for AAPI inclusion in all parts of American life and to have our contributions to American society recognized nationally.”

Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.): “I’m honored to join my colleagues in Congress to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and the extraordinary contributions made by AAPI communities across the country. From building vibrant business communities, to supporting comprehensive immigration reform, to speaking out when other minority communities are attacked, AAPIs continue to represent an important voice in moving our country forward. As the first Vietnamese American woman elected to Congress, I am proud to stand on the shoulders of those who helped pave the way for me and others in the AAPI community to serve our country.”

Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.): “I am proud to join my fellow CAPAC colleagues in celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, a time dedicated to honoring the contributions Asian Pacific Americans have made to the fabric of our country. In the 3rd Congressional District of Virginia, AAPI Virginians provide valuable contributions to our community. As the AAPI community continues to grow, I encourage all Americans to educate themselves on the rich heritage of Asian Pacific Americans and to take a moment to honor all of the tremendous contributions this community has made to our great nation.”

Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside): “Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is an opportunity to celebrate the proud history and the continuing contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to the strength and success of our country. This year – the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, which established Japanese American internment camps during World War II – gives this month additional meaning. The progress we’ve made since that dark chapter, as a community and as a country, serves as a monument to America’s capacity to shed its biases and remake itself for the better. I join my colleagues in honoring this occasion by remembering the barriers we’ve overcome and the accomplishments that surely lie ahead.”

CAPAC ASSOCIATE MEMBERS

Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach): “This month, we celebrate the innumerable contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to communities in every corner of our country. I am proud to represent the many culturally diverse communities in California’s 47th Congressional District — from Cambodia Town and the Filipino and Pacific Islander communities in Long Beach to the Korean Business District and Little Saigon in Westminster and Garden Grove — where I see first-hand how Asian Pacific Americans continue to add to the rich tapestry of our nation.

“As we mark the 38th anniversary of the end of the Cambodian Genocide and the 42nd anniversary of the Fall of Saigon, let us take this opportunity to remember and honor the courage and bravery with which millions of Asian Pacific Americans made the journey to the U.S. not only to build a better life for themselves and their children, but to help build a better nation for us all.”

Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Stockton): “During the month of May, we celebrate and reflect on the many contributions Asian Pacific Americans have made to help strengthen this great nation. The Asian American and Pacific Islander community is the fastest-growing in the United States, and I am proud that many call California and my district home. This Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I invite you to join me in honoring Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and their invaluable contributions throughout American history.”

Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-El Monte): “Southern California is a great melting pot of ethnicities and cultures, and as a congressional representative of the San Gabriel Valley, I am proud that our region is a reflection of this diversity. Our 32nd District is home to a growing AAPI population, comprising leaders, entrepreneurs, students, business owners, and residents who drive our economy, enrich our communities, and contribute to making the world a better place. Please join us in celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month as we highlight the role that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders continue to play in strengthening the fabric of our nation.

Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Commerce): “Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is a time to celebrate the rich diversity of our AAPI community and their invaluable contributions to our nation. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders enrich every aspect of American life, distinguishing themselves in the workplace, the home, and the classroom. They are small business owners, military service members, doctors, lawyers, homemakers, teachers, students, artists, and public servants. I am proud to recognize AAPIs as they continue to strengthen our culture, our economy, our communities, and our country.”

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank): “Each May, we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, recognizing the extraordinary influence that generations of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made on American history and every aspect of our society. I am honored to join my constituents in celebrating Los Angeles County’s diverse AAPI community and paying tribute to the countless contributions that members of the AAPI community have made to enrich our economy, the sciences, business, medicine, culture, and the arts.”

Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.): “Asian Americans and Pacific islanders strengthen the fabric of our American story. During the month of May, it is important that we recognize the remarkable contributions the AAPI community has made to our nation. Millions of AAPI individuals have defended our nation at home and abroad, contributed to our economy, becoming doctors, engineers, teachers, and great neighbors in our communities.

“I have the honor of representing diverse AAPI community organizations in my district, including the Japanese American Citizens League and the Asian Counseling and Referral Services, and museums such as the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience. During Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I am proud to join all Americans in recognizing the AAPI community’s achievements and contributions to our country.”

Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-N.Y.): “This month provides an important opportunity to celebrate the countless ways Asian Americans have helped strengthen our city of New York. Spanning from Chinatown in Manhattan to Sunset Park in Brooklyn, to the rapidly growing number of other areas throughout all five boroughs, the presence of our Asian community members enriches the fabric of the city.

“As the Asian population has grown in size, so have contributions in entrepreneurship and culture, including food, music, and the arts. Undeniably, Asian residents make up an integral part of our city’s identity.

“As we take the month of May to celebrate the Asian community, we can expect Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to continue contributing to our country’s achievements. This month, we should all take time to honor their commitment and sacrifices to our nation.”

BACKGROUND

May is officially designated as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month by Section 102 of Title 36, United States Code. The observance originally began as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week, which was established through a joint congressional resolution in 1978. The month of May was chosen due to two important milestones in Asian/Pacific American history: May 7, 1843, when the first Japanese immigrants arrived in the U.S., and May 10, 1869, when the first Transcontinental Railroad was completed with substantial contributions from Chinese immigrant workers.

The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus is composed of members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and members who have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the AAPI community. CAPAC has been addressing the needs of the AAPI community in all areas of American life since it was founded in 1994.

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