Each May, our Nation comes together to recount the ways Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) helped forge our country.
We remember a time 170 years ago, when Japanese immigrants first set foot on American shores and opened a path for millions more.
We remember 1869, when Chinese workers laid the final ties of the transcontinental railroad after years of backbreaking labor. And we remember Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have made our country bigger and brighter again and again, from Native Hawaiians to the generations of striving immigrants who shaped our history — reaching and sweating and scraping to give their children something more.
Their story is the American story, and this month, we honor them all.
For many in the AAPI community, that story is one also marked by lasting inequality and bitter wrongs. Immigrants seeking a better life were often excluded, subject to quotas, or denied citizenship because of their race. Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders endured decades of persecution and broken promises.
Japanese Americans suffered profoundly under internment during World War II, even as their loved ones fought bravely abroad. And in the last decade, South Asian Americans — particularly those who are Muslim, Hindu, or Sikh — have too often faced senseless violence and suspicion due only to the color of their skin or the tenets of their faith.
This year, we recognize the 25th anniversary of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 and the 70th anniversary of the Chinese Exclusion Act’s repeal — milestones that helped mend deep wounds of systemic discrimination. And with irrepressible determination and optimism, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have prevailed over adversity and risen to the top of their fields — from medicine to business to the bench. But even now, too many hardworking AAPI families face disparities in health care, education, and employment that keep them from getting ahead.
My Administration remains committed to addressing those disparities. Through the White House Initiative on AAPIs, we are working to ensure equal access to Federal programs that meet the diverse needs of AAPI communities. We are standing up for civil rights, economic opportunity, and better outcomes in health and education. We are fighting for commonsense immigration reform so America can continue to be a magnet for the best and brightest from all around the world, including Asia and the Pacific.
Meeting those challenges will not be easy. But the history of the AAPI community shows us how with hope and resolve, we can overcome the problems we face. We can reaffirm our legacy as a Nation where all things are possible for all people. So this month, as we recognize Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who are fulfilling that promise in every corner of our country, let us recommit to giving our children and grandchildren the same opportunity in the years ahead.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 2013 as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. I call upon all Americans to visit www.WhiteHouse.gov/AAPI and www.AsianPacificHeritage.gov to learn more about the history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this
thirtieth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh.
CAPAC Celebrates Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
WASHINGTON, DC – Wednesday marked the beginning of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM), a time for all Americans to celebrate the contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have enriched our nation’s history.
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 United States, and May 10, 1869, when the first transcontinental railroad was completed with substantial contributions from Chinese immigrant workers.
To commemorate the month, Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27), Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), introduced H.Res. 189. Senator Mazie K. Hirono of Hawaii plans to introduce a companion resolution in the U.S. Senate. CAPAC Members also released the following statements on Asian Pacific American Heritage Month:
Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), CAPAC Chair: “Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is a time for our country to celebrate the ways in which generations of Asian Pacific Americans have contributed to the vibrancy of our nation. From the completion of the transcontinental railroad to the entrepreneurs and small business owners that drive our economy today, Asian Pacific Americans have been instrumental in every step of our nation’s growth. As we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month this May, my colleagues in Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and I will continue to ensure that the needs of the Asian Pacific American community are included as we push for commonsense immigration reform and policies to reignite the American Dream for all.”
Senator Mazie K. Hirono (HI): “Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month is an opportunity to celebrate the culture and stories of AAPI families that enrich our nation. Our unique island culture in Hawaii, from local plate lunches to the pidgin language, is a product of the vibrant melting pot of AAPI cultures. The examples of Hawaii’s distinctive cultural heritage are numerous: Hawaii families enjoy andagi at the Honolulu Okinawan Festival, modern farmers look to traditional Native Hawaiian sustainable agriculture practices for inspiration and Samoan Americans from Hawaii continue to make waves in sports, politics and business. This month, let us recognize and celebrate the many achievements of AAPI families and the cultural vitality they bring to this nation.”
Senator Brian Schatz (HI): “Growing up in Hawaii, one of the best and most unique things about our state is the rich culture. This month, as we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we remember the many contributions that the Asian Pacific American community has made not only to our state, but to our entire country. I hope that you will join me in observing this month with great honor and pride as we celebrate the history of the entire community.”
Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo (GU), Vice Chair: “The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus represents a large and diverse community. This year, the 113th Congress welcomed a record five new APA members and the most diverse group of members in the history of the U.S. House of Representatives. I join my colleagues in CAPAC in celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage month, and urge all Americans to take time to learn about the many achievements, contributions and sacrifices APAs make to our nation. This month also gives us an opportunity to draw attention to the disparities and obstacles APAs continue to face every day. CAPAC is committed to working to overcome these challenges and advance legislative priorities to help improve the quality of life our APA community.”
Congressman Mark Takano (CA-41), CAPAC Whip: “I am honored to stand alongside my colleagues as we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Although we come from a multitude of diverse languages and cultures, we are united by a shared commitment to better this country through our active participation. Because of the contributions of the Asian and Pacific Islander community, America is a more vibrant and resilient nation.”
Congressman Mike Honda (CA-17), CAPAC Chair Emeritus: “As Chair Emeritus, Immigration Taskforce co-Chair and Appropriations Taskforce Chair of CAPAC, and as the Representative of California’s 17th district, I am proud to celebrate May’s Asian Pacific American (APA) Heritage Month. APA Heritage Month is a time for our nation to reflect and remember those Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) who came before us, and to honor and inspire those still to come, in our fight for civil rights and social justice. From the makings of the transcontinental railroad, to the courage of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Filipino veterans, and the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II; from the pioneering spirit of Dalip Singh Saund, who was the first Asian American to be elected in Congress, to the enduring heroism of our late Senator Daniel Inouye – the contributions and lessons of AAPIs continue to enrich the fabric and vitality of our nation. Celebrating APA Heritage Month is not only a time of significance to the AAPI community; it is a time for all Americans to take pride in the diversity of our nation. Let us take this month – and every month for that matter – to reaffirm our commitment to the promise of America’s future for all Americans.”
Congressman Xavier Becerra (CA-34), Chair of the House Democratic Caucus: “Asian American and Pacific Islander communities play key roles in building and strengthening America. I’m honored to represent Chinatown, Historic Filipinotown, Koreatown, Little Bangladesh and Little Tokyo, each of which reminds us of our AAPI heritage and its special place in our history and importance to our future. As civic leaders, small business owners, and active participants in our democracy, the AAPI community has enriched the city of Los Angeles and our nation. This month, let’s recognize our shared heritage and our fellow Americans who will continue contributing so much to America’s success.”
Congressman Joe Crowley (NY-14), Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus: “I am proud to join my fellow Americans in celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have long made, and continue to make, positive and meaningful contributions to New York and our entire country. Whether it is through the sciences, arts, business, or government, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have helped shape every facet of American society. As we celebrate this month, let us recognize the struggles of the past while paying tribute to the many stories of achievement and success.”
Congressman Ami Bera (CA-07): “As the only Indian American in Congress, I’m proud to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Our community has made many contributions to the United States that we should celebrate. This May, let us both honor those who have led the way for us, and encourage new Asian and Pacific Americans to take on leadership roles in their communities and careers to further enrich our great country.”
Congresswoman Tammy Duckwork (IL-08): “Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is a time for us to both reflect on how far Asian Americans have come and how far we still have to go. Asian Americans helped build this country by constructing the railroads that connected this country from East to West. Despite facing injustices such as the internment camps during World War Two, many served our country to defend democracy and freedom around the world. Now, we are serving in the Cabinet, Congress, and running Fortune 500 companies in greater numbers than ever.
“Still, we have more work to do to make sure that all Asian Americans are able to achieve the American Dream. On issues especially important to Asian Americans, such as preserving family cosponsorship as part of immigration reform, I look forward to making sure that our voices are heard.”
Congressman Eni Faleomavaega (AS): “This month we celebrate a rich heritage and pay tribute to Asian Pacific Americans whose sacrifice, hard work, and patriotism have contributed immeasurably to the greatness of our nation. We honor these pioneers, past and present, and those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom. This year, I particularly want to acknowledge a pioneer whose example paved the way for generations of Asian Pacific American leaders. Known to my constituents in American Samoa as “Fofoga o Samoa,” the late Senator Daniel K. Inouye was a true model of the Asian Pacific American story. This will be our first ever Asian Pacific Heritage Month without the Honorable Senator, who passed away in December after a half century of leadership in the U.S. Senate, serving the people of the Great State of Hawai‘i. As we forge ahead to promote the well-being of the Asian Pacific American community, let us gain strength as we remember his lasting legacy.”
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02): “This month, we proudly celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage month in recognition of their significant contributions to our country. In Hawaii, the AAPI community contributes greatly to our diverse culture and has demonstrated remarkable leadership throughout our history. Senators Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka led historic careers in the U.S. Senate, for example, and Patsy Mink led the charge for Title IX and equal treatment for women in educational institutions. As leaders in our community at every level, Asian Pacific Americans have made a tremendous impact on our nation, and will continue to do so.”
Congressman Al Green (TX-09): “In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I would like to acknowledge the considerable contributions of Asian Pacific Americans to our great nation. The Asian Pacific American community is rich with diversity and history that has enhanced the American experience. Furthermore, I am proud to be a member of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), which works with Members from both sides of the aisle to effectively represent our Asian and Pacific American constituents in Congress. Moving forward, we will continue to work on issues important to our constituents, such as comprehensive immigration reform, so that families can be reunited, as well as greater language access, so that the community has equal access to opportunities for success. Finally, we will work to ensure that all Americans have access to jobs that pay a living wage, comprehensive healthcare, Medicare, and Social Security.”
Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01): “Growing up in Hawaii, where so many cultures and traditions coexist, I understood at an early age how important it is to respect and appreciate the diversity that makes America a model for the world. As we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and acknowledge the many milestones achieved by AAPIs throughout our nation’s history and the contributions our communities continue to make, let’s also recommit ourselves to the challenges we must still address. As a member of CAPAC, I will continue to work to ensure AAPIs are fully represented in our national debates and have the same opportunities enjoyed by every American.”
Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13): “I am proud to stand with my colleagues in recognition of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Now and throughout history, their contributions have enriched our communities all across the nation. Especially in my district, the California 13th, we have Asian American leaders in all sectors across all spectrums. I’m so proud of their contribution to the fabric of our country. This month, and every month, we must recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of our Asian American and Pacific Islander brothers and sisters.”
Congresswoman Doris O. Matsui (CA-06): “As an Asian American, I am so pleased to represent the historically diverse city of Sacramento, and to take part in recognizing Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. America has always pulled its strength from the celebration of our diverse cultures, traditions, and viewpoints. It is the acknowledgment of our differences that makes our Nation so readily able to address the evolving issues we face as a country. Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is an opportunity to celebrate the past, present, and future achievements and contributions of Asian and Pacific Americans in our communities.”
Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY-06): “It is a privilege to join my CAPAC colleagues in commemorating Asian Pacific American Heritage month. During this time of year, we recognize the important customs and culture of Asian American and Pacific Islanders, and highlight the vital role that Asian American and Pacific Islanders play throughout our nation. It is also a time for us to recognize all the outstanding achievements and contributions that the Asian American and Pacific Islander community has made to our neighborhoods, communities and country. I am proud to join my constituents and the nation in celebrating this annual occasion. I look forward to Asian American and Pacific Islanders continuing to enrich our nation for many years to come.”
Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (CNMI): “The people of the Northern Mariana Islands join other Americans this month in celebrating the contributions that Pacific Islanders and people of Asian heritage have made to our country. As the fastest growing segment of America’s population, we look forward to increasing the influence and impact the AAPI community can have in guiding our nation’s future for the benefit of all its people.”
Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03): “As the first American of Filipino heritage to serve as a U.S. Representative, I am honored to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage month. During the month of May, I encourage Americans of all backgrounds to educate themselves on the rich heritage of Asian Pacific Americans and their contributions to our great nation.”
Congressman Gerald E. Connolly (VA-11): “I am pleased to join with my local community in celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Northern Virginia is blessed with its rich diversity in which one in four residents is foreign born with the largest population being of Asian Pacifica American descent. Whether it is running a business, keeping our streets safe, or serving in public office, Asian Americans are actively engaged in every facet of our community. Working together to share and learn from our cultures, we are making our community stronger.”
Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13): “I am proud to join with my colleagues in celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. The Asian American and Pacific Islander communities have made substantial, lasting contributions to our nation that merit celebration. I look forward to continuing my work with CAPAC and I appreciate this opportunity to recognize the important role these communities play in the life of our nation.”
Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18): “Asian Pacific American Heritage month is an important celebration in the life of our nation. Economically, culturally, academically and politically, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are a significant part of our communities and add to the rich tapestry that is our great nation. I’m privileged to represent California’s 18th Congressional District, now home to one of the fastest growing Asian Pacific American populations in the country.”
Congressman Alan S. Lowenthal (CA-47): “This May, I am proud to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month by recognizing the invaluable contributions that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made to our nation. As we mark 70 years since the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act and 25 years since the granting of reparations to Japanese Americans interned during World War II, we remember the strength and determination with which Asian Pacific Americans have fought for justice, freedom, and equality. I am proud to represent a Congressional district of incredible diversity, where more than one in five people are Asian Pacific American. From Little Saigon and the Korean Business District in Westminster and Garden Grove to Cambodia Town and the Filipino and Pacific Islander communities in Long Beach, this month I am pleased to join with thousands of my constituents as we celebrate the rich heritage and the ongoing achievements of Asian Pacific Americans all across our great nation.”
Congresswoman Grace F. Napolitano (CA-32): “On behalf of the thousands of Asian Pacific Americans in my district and the millions across our country, I am pleased to join my colleagues in celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. In May, we take time to honor their contributions, large and small. I am proud to represent such a diverse community whose hard work and rich culture strengthens our San Gabriel Valley.”
Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52): “It is an honor to join my colleagues to celebrate May as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Members of Asian and Pacific Islander communities have been active citizens in neighborhoods across San Diego, and continue to contribute to the cultural fabric that makes up our region. I joined the Congressional Asian Pacific Americans Caucus (CAPAC) so that I could most accurately represent the interests of this diverse, dynamic group here in Washington. I look forward to continued opportunities to work with API communities in the future on a range of social and economic issues, so that we can bring their important perspective to the ongoing discussions in Congress.”
Congressman Charles B. Rangel (NY-13): “I’m proud to recognize and honor the invaluable contributions of Asian American pioneers that have paved the road for their future generations to achieve the American Dream. Through strength and determination, the AAPI community has overcome prejudice, oppression and countless barriers to achieve enormous heights in America. As leaders in business, education, STEM, military, medicine or the arts, Asian Americans have contributed to our nation’s prosperity and culture. The story of the AAPI community is a testament to what is possible in America. I join Asian Americans in celebrating their heritage and their well-deserved successes.”
Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40): “Asian and Pacific Islanders continue to enrich the greater Los Angeles community and our country as a whole. Today, as we mark the beginning of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, let us acknowledge the many contributions of this diverse community. From military service to small business ownership, education to artistic expression, members of the AAPI community have helped make our country what it is today.”
Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (CA-46): “I am proud to represent a district where many Asian Pacific Americans call home. As we take this month to celebrate their significant contributions to our nation, it is especially important to honor the elder leaders of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community for their extraordinary work and guiding wisdom in the development of our diverse community in Orange County. I am proud to work with a group of dedicated public servants in Congress to further promote and advocate for the wellbeing of the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.”
Congressman Adam Schiff (CA-28): “May is Asian Pacific American Heritage month and I am honored to represent the diverse Los Angeles neighborhoods of Koreatown and Thai Town, as well as large Japanese, Filipino and Chinese American communities. I am proud to join millions across the nation as we recognize the extraordinary contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and celebrate the rich heritage and cultures of our country.”
Congresswoman Jackie Speier (CA-14): “Each May Americans celebrate the rich cultural heritage and contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to our nation. The landscape of my own district is brightly painted with the history of the largest population of Filipino Americans in the continental US. We are working together to recognize the Filipino veterans of WWII who fought for the US and were promised full veterans benefits, but who were later denied eligibility for them.
“I am proud to join with my CAPAC colleagues to celebrate the immigrants from Asia, the Philippines, the Pacific Islands, and generations of their descendants who represent a vital part of our nation and have distinguished themselves as outstanding entrepreneurs, members of our armed forces and community leaders. The heroes of the AAPI community represent the very best aspects of American life and have enhanced the moral fabric of my district, the state of California, and our country.”
Congressman Eric Swalwell (CA-15): “Every May we recognize the impressive history of Asian-Americans and the invaluable contributions they have made to our nation’s success as part of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. I am honored to represent a portion of the East Bay that is home to a vibrant Asian-American community, one that enriches the fabric and great diversity of our country. I’m proud to stand with my colleagues in Congress and Americans across the country to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.”
Congressman Chris Van Hollen (MD-08): “During the month of May, we honor the generations of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have helped to make our country great. We also rededicate ourselves to addressing the challenges still facing this community as we continue to work in Congress to address their concerns and advance their aspirations.”
Kiran Ahuja and Gautam Raghavan
Today marks the first day of this year’s Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. To mark the occasion, President Obama issued a Presidential Proclamation. In it, the President highlighted the importance of using this month to reflect upon the history and contributions of AAPIs to this country:
“Each May, our Nation comes together to recount the ways Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) helped forge our country. We remember a time 170 years ago, when Japanese immigrants first set foot on American shores and opened a path for millions more. We remember 1869, when Chinese workers laid the final ties of the transcontinental railroad after years of backbreaking labor. And we remember Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have made our country bigger and brighter again and again, from Native Hawaiians to the generations of striving immigrants who shaped our history — reaching and sweating and scraping to give their children something more. Their story is the American story, and this month, we honor them all.”
This year, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center selected a Heritage Month theme, “I Want the Wide American Earth,” based on the poem by acclaimed Filipino American writer, Carlos Bulosan. As Bulosan so eloquently writes:
Before the brave, before the proud builders and workers,
I say I want the wide American earth
For all the free.
I want the wide American earth for my people.
I want my beautiful land.
I want it with my rippling strength and tenderness
Of love and light and truth
For all the free.
Bulosan’s poem captures the scope and ambition of the American Dream. His words also reflect the enduring spirit of many AAPI immigrants and refugees seeking freedom and prosperity for their families.
Over the next month, we will highlight the many ways in which the Obama Administration continues to address the needs of the AAPI community, for example by working towards commonsense immigration reform. We encourage you to share your own stories and the work that’s being done in your communities.
Throughout the month, we will also host a number of exciting events, including:
Google+ Hangout for AAPI Heritage Month
Today, from 3:00 – 3:45PM EST, Lisa Ling, Phil Yu (the blogger behind Angry Asian Man), and representatives from the White House Initiative on AAPIs and the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center will help launch AAPI Heritage Month through a Google+ Hangout (webcast discussion).
· To watch this event live, click here.
· To Tweet a question, use #may1apa.
White House AAPI Women Champions of Change
On Monday, May 6th from 1:00 – 3:30PM EST, the White House will honor fifteen AAPI women as “Champions of Change,” recognizing their extraordinary work to create a more equal, safe, and prosperous future for their communities and the country.
· To watch this event live, visit www.whitehouse.gov/live at 1:00PM EST.
· To learn more about the White House Champions of Change program, visit www.whitehouse.gov/champions.
White House Forum on AAPI Heritage
On Thursday, May 9th from 1:00 – 5:00PM EST, national leaders and scholars will gather to discuss how the legacy of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders should be recognized, preserved, and interpreted for future generations. The event will feature remarks by senior Obama Administration officials and panel discussions featuring nationally recognized AAPI scholars and historians.
· To watch this event live, visit www.doi.gov/live at 1:00PM EST.
· For more information, please click here.
AAPI Heritage Month is an annual call to action for the AAPI community. We would like to hear about your plans to observe AAPI Heritage Month and your vision of the “Wide American Earth,” and encourage you to fill out thisfeedback form. Together, we look forward to celebrating the contributions of the AAPI community in the month ahead, and we hope you will visit www.whitehouse.gov/aapi to learn more.
Kiran Ahuja is the Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
Gautam Raghavan is an Associate Director in the White House Office of Public Engagement.
RNC Chairman Priebus and Co-Chair Day Statement Commemorating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
WASHINGTON – Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus and Co-Chairman Sharon Day released the following statement commemorating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month:
“This month, we honor the countless contributions Asian Americans, South Asians, and Pacific Islanders have made to our great country,” said Chairman Priebus. “In every field imaginable–from arts and entertainment and science and technology to public policy, business, and military service–Americans of Asian and Pacific descent have strengthened the fabric of the nation.
“This is a time to celebrate our friends and neighbors in our communities throughout this nation and to become more aware of their rich traditions, culture, and heritage. This is a chance to recognize the impact of their work, innovation, and leadership on our daily lives. At the same time, we also recall the challenges this community has faced in the past and in the present so that working together we can build a better future.”
“Generations of Asian and Pacific immigrants have come to the United States in search of the American Dream,” said Co-Chair Day. “While their home countries were different and their languages many, their common motivation was the same as that shared by all who have come to America: a good life earned from hard work and a good education.
“America is grateful for that spirit, which has resulted in a stronger and more diverse country. So as we honor the Asian-Pacific community, we should also recommit ourselves as a nation to ensuring that America remains the Land of Opportunity for all.”
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
In May, we observe Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and celebrate the many contributions made by this diverse community. While we recognize the progress made in reducing health disparities in this and other communities, we realize there is still much work to be done. That is why we take this opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to ensuring that all Americans, regardless of race or ethnicity, have the opportunity to be as healthy as possible.
To help further our work in this area, we have issued enhanced National Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) Standards. This updated framework helps guide health professionals and organizations in their delivery of culturally respectful and linguistically responsive care. Recognizing that health is influenced by many factors, CLAS broadens the definition of culture to, including race, ethnicity, language, spirituality, sexual orientation, and gender identify.
Enhancing the CLAS Standards is just part of our effort to ensure that all Americans get the health care they need and deserve. Because of the Affordable Care Act, historic opportunities to help reduce health disparities now exist.
For example, the Affordable Care Act has allowed 97,000 more Asian-American and Pacific Islander children to gain health coverage, because they can now stay on their parents’ plans until age 26. About 3.8 million Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders with private insurance have gained expanded coverage of free preventive care, such as mammograms and diabetes screenings.
And because of the health care law, millions of Americans will have the opportunity to get affordable, quality health coverage. Starting October 1, 2013, they will be able to shop for coverage that best fits their needs and budget in the new Health Insurance Marketplace. Coverage will begin as early as January 1, 2014. Sign up now for information at https://signup.healthcare.gov.
Together, these initiatives will make a difference in the lives of all Americans, including Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, giving everyone the chance to reach their full health potential.