Statements on Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month
May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, which is celebrated annually to recognize the history, contributions and achievements of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.
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 and was later expanded to a full month in 1992 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 this month-long observance, members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) and Congressional Leaders released the following statements:
Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), CAPAC Chair: “Each May, we come together to celebrate the vibrant history and widespread contributions that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made to our nation. As laborers who helped build the first transcontinental railroad and contribute to the farm worker movement, and military service members who have fought valiantly in battles dating back to the American Civil War, the rich cultural heritage of the AAPI community is inextricably woven into the fabric of our nation. From our indigenous Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities to our more recent refugee and immigrant populations, AAPIs have also planted deep roots in their local communities as small business owners, entrepreneurs, teachers, doctors, artists, lawyers, scientists, and public servants.
“As we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, let us honor the tireless work of generations of AAPIs who came before us and recommit ourselves to advancing the work that still lies ahead. Together, we have the power to speak out against dangerous policies targeting immigrant, refugee, and minority populations and to build a brighter future for generations to come.”
Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo (GU), CAPAC Vice Chair: “Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is a celebration of our diversity and the contributions that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders make to our nation every day. We are a nation of immigrants, whose ancestors came to America seeking liberty, prosperity, and human dignity. As we celebrate APA Heritage Month, we should be mindful of this history and remember that ours was a country founded on compassion and justice. I am proud to join my colleagues in honoring the heritages of all Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and I encourage all Americans to take time during APA Heritage Month to appreciate the achievements and patriotism of the AAPI community.”
Congressman Ted Lieu (CA-33), CAPAC Whip: “This month, we celebrate and honor our country’s Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. The AAPI community has made indelible contributions to American society and culture and continues to demonstrate the importance and value of diversity and inclusion. As an Asian American, I am grateful for the AAPI trailblazers who carved a path for people like me to thrive fields like public service, art, education, business, research, science, journalism and entertainment. Ensuring people of all backgrounds have the opportunity to succeed is the best thing we can do for our country.”
Senator Tammy Duckworth (IL): “Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is a time to reflect on and take pride in the numerous contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders throughout our nation’s history and of the continued contributions of our children and our children’s children. As we celebrate our community this May, we should also look ahead and continue to work for progress for our community and ensure the American Dream remains within reach for all.”
Senator Mazie K. Hirono (HI): “As we observe Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we celebrate the progress AAPI communities have made across the country. However, these are unusual times. As communities of color are attacked by the Trump administration, we must all continue the work that we’re doing and increase our efforts to achieve equality and opportunity for all.”
House Congressional Leadership
Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (CA-12), House Democratic Leader: “Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is an opportunity for all Americans to recognize the immense contributions that this beautiful and diverse population has made to our nation. For generations, Asian Pacific American communities have come to our shores to pursue the American Dream, bringing their rich cultures and wonderful traditions. Many of these courageous Americans overcame persecution, injustice and bigotry to strengthen our country and, in the process, exemplified what it means to be an American.
“For generations, proud Asian Pacific American men and women have bravely defended our nation and become an enduring part of our unique American story. In San Francisco, we are immensely proud of the richness and diversity that our vibrant AAPI community has brought to our city. We like to say that the beauty is in the mix, and generations of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have built our city, invigorated our community and enriched all our lives.
“This Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, let us celebrate the AAPI community’s undaunted spirit and the role they have played in our history and the contributions they are making to our future. We can honor these proud Americans by reaffirming our legacy as a nation of immigrants and fulfilling our most basic promise that out of many, we are one.”
Congressman Steny Hoyer (MD-05), House Democratic Whip: “Throughout May, we pay tribute to the history and heritage of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. I join in celebrating the diverse cultures that form a critical part of our American fabric and the contributions ofAsian Americans and Pacific Islanders to our nation. In business, government, sports, the arts, science, and military service, they continue to help make America stronger, safer, and more prosperous.
“In Congress, I’ve been proud to work closely with my colleagues in the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), led by Chairwoman Judy Chu, to make opportunities more accessible to workers and their families, to expand access to quality health care and education, to stand up for the rights of immigrants, and to combat racism and xenophobia. Together, we will continue fighting to protect voting rights, to ensure justice is blind, and to create good jobs that offer pathways to long-term economic security. As we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month together, let us resolve to continue standing up for our shared values and common vision of an America where all are able to get ahead.”
Congressman Joe Crowley (NY-14), Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus: “During Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we pay tribute to the rich histories, cultures and contributions the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities have made to our country. From science to the arts, our AAPI brothers and sisters have enriched and shaped every aspect of American society. I am proud to join CAPAC and my fellow Americans in this celebration, and to reaffirm my commitment to elevate and promote opportunity for the AAPI community in Congress.”
Congresswoman Linda Sánchez (CA-38), Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus: “I’m proud to recognize Asian Pacific American Heritage Month to celebrate the AAPI community in our country. Their involvement in the sciences, arts, industry, government, and commerce highlights the many contributions AAPIs make to enrich and strengthen our society’s cultural fabric. I am incredibly proud to represent cities that are known throughout Southern California and the world for their prominent Asian Pacific American communities. I join with my Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus colleagues to ensure that the concerns and needs of the Asian American Pacific Islander community are heard in Congress.”
CAPAC Executive Board Members
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02): “The AAPI community has made exceptional contributions to our country throughout history. Hawai‘i’s own leaders like Senator Daniel Inouye, Senator Daniel Akaka, Congresswoman Patsy Mink, the Nisei-only 442nd Infantry Regiment, and our Filipino WWII Veterans have shaped our collective history by breaking down barriers and working with unwavering conviction to better the lives of all Americans. Our AAPI community today continues to lead across every sector—from government, business, and military service, to culture, arts, technology, healthcare, and so much more.”
Congressman Jimmy Gomez (CA-34): “It is an honor and privilege to represent a district as diverse as California’s 34th Congressional District. From the communities of Koreatown, Chinatown, and Historic Filipinotown, to the neighborhoods of Little Tokyo and Little Bangladesh, Los Angeles provides a diversity of art, culture, and cuisine unlike any other city in the country. As we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I join my colleagues in honoring the immense contributions of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community to America’s greater story and I’m proud to be one of their representatives in Congress.”
Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01): “As we mark Asian Pacific American Heritage Month by honoring the contributions our community has made to America, let us remember that there is so much more work to be done. Hawaii is the only majority-AAPI state in the country. Our history is full of examples of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders working to build the foundations of our state’s success in business, education, military service, science, engineering and the arts. The AAPI community is one of the fastest growing groups in America. But as our country continues to diversify we must recognize that we live in challenging times. Divisive rhetoric, discrimination and racism have been given a prominent platform in America. It is up to all of us to remember the struggles of those who came before us. As we honor their work, let us remember their perseverance and continue their fight for equality.”
Congressman Ro Khanna (CA-17): “The many contributions that Asians and Pacific Islanders have made to the community in Silicon Valley and to our country are a testimony to the benefits of embracing diversity. We must ensure that America remains a nation where people from all backgrounds are free to pursue their potential and the American dream.”
Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13): “This May, I’m proud to join communities across the country in celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. By opening new businesses, participating in the arts, serving in elected office, and pioneering new scientific discoveries, the contributions of Asian Pacific Americans are a vital part of our nation’s civic, economic, and cultural development. The East Bay’s diversity is one of its greatest strengths and I am proud to represent such a vibrant Asian Pacific American community. As a member of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and co-chair of the CAPAC Health Care Task Force, I’m committed to expanding opportunity and ensuring that every family can realize the American Dream.”
Congresswoman Doris O. Matsui (CA-06): “I’m pleased to join my colleagues in celebrating the profound impact that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have had on American life. From contributions in the arts, to science, to civic life, the AAPI community has played in an important role in enhancing our country’s multifaceted identity. This Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I encourage all Americans to join in celebrating those contributions and look for ways to value diversity in their communities.”
Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY-06): “I’m thrilled to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM) with my fellow Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) across the nation and in Queens. APAHM is a joyous month to reflect on the unique and many contributions that AAPIs have made to our country. Our participation in American society has grown exponentially since the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants on May 7, 1843.
“From the Chinese workers who built the Transcontinental Railroad to the millions of small business owners across America, AAPIs are part of the American social fabric. Today, it is encouraging to see AAPIs are participating in our political system, the military, academia, entertainment, and sports. They are actors and actresses, politicians, doctors, lawyers, bankers, athletes and soldiers. While we celebrate our shared success, we must also invest in overcoming inequality and ensure AAPIs have an equal chance at the American Dream. In Congress, I will continue to fight for policies that ensure AAPIs receive equal treatment and justice and to have our contributions toAmerican society recognized nationally.”
Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03): “I am proud to celebrate Asian American Pacific/Islander (AAPI) heritage month. During this time, we reflect on the many contributions that the AAPI community has made in the development and success of this country. The APPI community has been an integral part of the story of America.”
Congressman Mark Takano (CA-41): “Each year, the month of May is a time to recognize the many contributions Americans of Asian and Pacific Island descent have made to the United States. Members of the AAPI community have been an essential part of our nation for centuries. We have created businesses, developed new technologies, produced great works of art, and served America in times of peace and times of war. As I join my colleagues in CAPAC to celebrate Asian PacificAmerican Heritage Month, I do so with pride in all that we have achieved and excitement for all the achievements yet to come.”
CAPAC Associate Members
Congressman Jerry McNerney (CA-09): “This Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I am proud to join my colleagues in honoring Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and their invaluable contributions to our country. Asian Pacific Americans have made many contributions throughout our nation’s history and I am proud that many call California and my district home.”
Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52): “Asian Pacific American Heritage Month celebrates the history and lasting contributions of the Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community to San Diego and our country.
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are the fastest-growing racial group in the United States with more immigrants originating from the Asia-Pacific region than anywhere else in the world. San Diego’s AAPI community has emulated that growth to become a political, economic, and social force in our city. It’s one of San Diego’s greatest strengths, which is why I’m working to create greater economic opportunity and oppose backwards immigration policies, so our AAPI community can continue to grow and thrive. I hope you all will join me this May in celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.”
Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40): “As we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, it is a privilege for me to salute my district’s diverse Asian American and Pacific Islander population, and AAPI families from coast to coast, for all their contributions to our country. AAPIs enrich our neighborhoods, our businesses, and our culture each and every day, and have been pivotal to making America a strong, just, prosperous, and forward-thinking nation. In the years to come, our AAPI community will continue to play an essential role in making America a more perfect union.”
Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09): “Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is a time to celebrate the accomplishments and vast contributions Asian Pacific Americans have made to the United States. I am proud to represent a district in the Pacific Northwest with a significant Asian Pacific American community that enriches and strengthens our entire region. During this month, we also reflect on the deep-rooted history of Asian Pacific Americans in our country and their continued work to make our country stronger.”
The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) is comprised of Members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and Members who have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the AsianAmerican and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Currently chaired by Congresswoman Judy Chu, CAPAC has been addressing the needs of the AAPI community in all areas of American life since it was founded in 1994.
DNC Statement On Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month
To mark Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, DNC Chair Tom Perez and DNC AAPI Caucus Chair Bel Leong-Hong released the following statement:
“Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) have made tremendous contributions to our country. From starting small businesses to making breakthroughs in the sciences and technologies, serving in our military since the birth of this nation, and excelling in sports, education and the arts – they make an invaluable impact on our country each and every day. AAPI Heritage Month reminds us of the cultures, traditions, and remarkable achievements made by the AAPI community, at times in the face of discrimination and exclusion.”
“We also honor the deep tradition of public service that runs in the AAPI community. From Dalip Singh Saund, who was the first Asian American to serve in Congress, to Patsy Mink, the very first woman of color ever to serve in Congress, to Norman Mineta, who was the first Asian American appointed by a president to serve as a cabinet secretary, generations of AAPIs have served this country with honor and distinction in all echelons of Government. And Democrats have continued to help elect AAPI leaders so that those in elected office better represent the diversity of our country. In the last year, Democrats Kathy Tran and Kelly Fowler became the first Asian American women elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, while Vin Gopal was the first Indian American elected to the New Jersey state Senate and Manka Dhingra’s victory flipped control of the Washington state Senate, giving Democrats full control of the state government.”
“While we celebrate AAPI Heritage Month, Democrats will continue working every day to protect civil rights and expand opportunities for AAPI communities across the country.”