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Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

Location: Washington, DC

ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH -- (House of Representatives - May 10, 2006)

Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Mr. Speaker, I am here today to join my colleagues and the Nation in recognizing May as Asian Pacific American Month, a time to celebrate the numerous contributions that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made to American life.

But first, I would like to recognize and congratulate my colleague, the gentleman from California (Mr. Honda). As the Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, Congressman Honda has worked tirelessly to highlight the contributions of the Asian Pacific American community.

Congressman Honda's leadership emphasizes the importance of diversity, cultural education, and awareness of the many beautiful cultures and heritages that are woven into the fabric of our country.

Thank you, Congressman Honda, for your dedication and your passion.

May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is celebrated with community festivals, government-sponsored activities, and educational activities for students. Currently, 15 million Asian Pacific Americans live in the United States.

With more than 25 Asian and Pacific Islander groups with different languages and unique histories, including Taiwanese, Vietnamese, Chinese, Filipinos, Indian, Pakistani, Korean, Japanese, and Bangladeshi, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month highlights the diversity that makes up our great Nation.

As an American Jew, I am proud to say that Asians and Jews have a unique and celebrated history of partnership and community. Asian Americans have developed many thriving communities in California and New York City, for example, where there are also a large number of Jewish communities.

Our cultural similarities and major emphasis on family and education present a variety of opportunities for cooperation between the communities, including community organizing, mutual support and political advocacy.

Asian Americans have impacted our Nation in several distinct ways: in science and technology; arts and media; and business and social work.

Approximately 1.1 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders own small businesses in the United States. Additionally, Asian Pacific Americans have served bravely in the United States Armed Forces, and more than 300,000 Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are veterans.

The theme for this year's Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is ``Dreams and Challenges of Asian Pacific Americans.'' Throughout the month of May, this theme serves as a reminder that while this community has made several strides, many Asian and Pacific Americans face economic and societal challenges.

Affordable health care and education are among those challenges that all Americans, including Asian Pacific Americans, face. It is estimated that more than 2 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders currently have no health insurance, a figure that is far too large.

We must focus on policies that will provide all Americans the opportunity to prosper in our great country.

Throughout the month of May, Mr. Speaker, I ask all Americans to join me in raising awareness of this growing community as we celebrate together Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

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