By Daphne Kwok
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Jan. 31, 2014) — Today, the White House released a video message from President Obama welcoming in the Lunar New Year.
Echoing the President’s message, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) and the President’s Advisory Commission on AAPIs send our abundant best wishes to all those celebrating the Lunar New Year.
2014 is the Year of the Horse. The horse is a great and strong symbol. Many associate this symbol with “swift success” for all facets of one’s life. We wish that everyone fulfills his or her potential and achieves success in 2014. In his State of the Union address, the President declared 2014 to be a year of action so it seems only fitting that it is also the Year of the Horse.
The AAPI community is also great and strong, as our shared heritage spans from immigrants to refugees to native people. AAPIs have worked the land for generations. AAPIs literally built this land, connecting the East Coast and the West Coast via the Transcontinental Railroad. We have more recent immigrants coming in as business owners, students, laborers, educators, and workers from all fields. Our nation has benefited from our immigration system, and that means we all have a stake in building a strong and better immigration system for future generations. For instance, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Asian-owned businesses increased 40.4 percent to 1.5 million between 2002 and 2007, growing at more than twice the national rate and bringing in more than half a trillion dollars in sales.
However, we have more than a million undocumented Asian Americans living in the shadows. Passage of commonsense immigration reform will afford our undocumented brothers and sisters, many who are young and students, an opportunity to fully live the American dream.
The Senate has already acted in a bipartisan manner to fix our broken immigration system, and we hope that the House will do the same. By fixing our broken immigration system, we will give young people a chance to become future leaders of our nation. In the meantime, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program provides DREAMers an opportunity to request temporary relief from deportation proceedings and apply for work authorization. To find out more information about DACA, please visit www.uscis.gov.
In this Year of the Horse, we hope that all of us can pursue opportunity and success. We wish you and your loved ones happiness, prosperity, and good health.
Below is the transcript of the President’s video message:
Michelle and I join millions of people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent – here in the United States and around the world – in welcoming the Lunar New Year.
The Lunar New Year reminds us that this country has always drawn strength from the rich cultures and traditions of people from all different backgrounds. It’s at the heart of who we are. It’s why we’re fighting to make sure everyone has a chance to get ahead. And it’s why we’ll continue to make sure that new ideas and new people are always welcome in America.
Today, my Administration is working harder than ever to fix an immigration system that doesn’t serve America as well as it should. We’re committed to a comprehensive plan that will continue to strengthen border security and reunite families, while creating a pathway to earned citizenship and a stronger system moving forward. We’ve already taken an important step by lifting the fear of deportation from young people, DREAMers, who are Americans in every way but on paper – kids who just want a chance to study and serve and contribute to the nation they love. And if you’re a young person who feels like you’re living in the shadows, take advantage of this opportunity. Because America needs your talent.
It’s the aspiration and optimism of the next generation of New Americans that inspires us – and gives us hope for this Year of the Horse. So, I want to wish everyone celebrating a Happy New Year. May this be a year of prosperity for you and your families, and a year of progress for this country that we love.
Daphne Kwok is Chair of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.