Washington, DC – The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) today celebrated Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month with Senator Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii. The senator, who provided the keynote remarks at the event, is the most senior member of the U.S. Senate and the President Pro-Tempore.
“Few Americans recall, but in 1924, Congress passed the 1924 Immigration Act which essentially functioned as an Asian Exclusion Act, and stopped virtually all immigration from Asia,” said Senator Inouye. “This law was eventually undone by the 1952 Immigration Act, which removed the “national origin” criteria used to influence the chances of immigration by various ethnic groups. This is but one example of the many challenges faced by Asian Americans throughout our nation’s history.
“However,” the senator added, “during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage month we should not only recall the difficult time, but the character and nature of our democracy. I would suggest thinking about how many other nations in the world acknowledge their shortcomings, and would apologize for their actions. None would. I am proud to be an American in a country that is big enough and strong enough to admit when it was wrong, and to apologize for those actions. All Americans, including Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders should be proud.”
“Senator Inouye is the highest ranking Asian American politician in our nation’s history, and we are delighted that he joined Ex-Im Bank in honoring Asian-Pacific Heritage Month,” said Ex-Im Director Patricia Loui. “The United States is a true melting pot and that is what makes our country great.”
During the event, Ex-Im’s Chief Operating Officer Alice Albright provided opening remarks and Director Loui introduced Senator Inouye. Following the senator’s remarks, there was a cultural dress showcase by the Bank’s employees. The program concluded with a Bangladeshi cultural dance performance.
Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month is a celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. Like most commemorative months, it originated from a congressional bill. In June 1977, Reps. Frank Horton of New York and Norman Y. Mineta of California introduced a House resolution that called upon the president to proclaim the first ten days of May as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week. The following month, Senators Daniel Inouye and Spark Matsunaga introduced a similar bill in the Senate. Both were passed. On October 5, 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed a Joint Resolution designating the annual celebration. Twelve years later, President George H.W. Bush signed an extension making the week-long celebration into a month-long celebration.
Ex-Im Bank is an independent federal agency that helps create and maintain U.S. jobs by filling gaps in private export financing at no cost to American taxpayers. In the past five years, Ex-Im Bank has earned for U.S. taxpayers $1.9 billion above the cost of operations. The Bank provides a variety of financing mechanisms, including working capital guarantees, export-credit insurance, and financing to help foreign buyers purchase U.S. goods and services.
Ex-Im Bank approved $32.7 billion in total authorizations in FY 2011 — an all-time Ex-Im record. This total includes more than $6 billion directly supporting small-business export sales — also an Ex-Im record. Ex-Im Bank’s total authorizations are supporting an estimated $41 billion in U.S. export sales and approximately 290,000 American jobs in communities across the country. For more information, visit www.exim.gov.