President Obama Proclaims May to be AAPI Heritage Month

Photo from Google Images

Photo from Google Images

     Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) are the
fastest growing racial group in our country, growing over
4 times as rapidly as the population of the United States.
As one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse groups
in America, the AAPI community reminds us that though we all
have distinct backgrounds and origins, we are bound in common
purpose by our shared hopes and dreams for ourselves and our
children.  Our Nation's story would be incomplete without the
voices of countless Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and
Pacific Islanders who have called the land we all love home.
This month, we honor the irreplaceable roles they have played in
our past, and we recommit to ensuring opportunities exist for
generations of AAPIs to come.
     The AAPI community's long and deeply-rooted legacy in
the United States reminds us of both proud and painful
chapters of our history.  Confronted with grueling and perilous
working conditions, thousands of Chinese laborers on the
transcontinental railroad pushed the wheels of progress forward
in the West.  Japanese American troops fought for freedom from
tyranny abroad in World War II while their families here at home
were interned simply on the basis of their origin.  And many
South Asian Americans in particular face discrimination,
harassment, and senseless violence often in the communities in
which they live and work.
     Today, AAPIs lend their rich heritage to enhancing our
communities and our culture.  As artists and activists,
educators and elected officials, service men and women and
business owners, AAPIs help drive our country forward.  Yet
despite hard-won achievements, AAPIs continue to face obstacles
to realizing their full potential.  One in three AAPIs does
not speak English fluently, and certain subgroups experience
low levels of educational attainment and high levels of
unemployment.  AAPIs also often experience heightened health
risks, and millions of AAPI men, women, and children in the
United States live in poverty.
My Administration is committed to supporting and investing
in AAPI communities.  Thanks to the Affordable Care Act,
20 million uninsured adults have gained health insurance
coverage, including 2 million AAPIs.  Among Asian Americans
under the age of 65, the uninsured rate has declined by
55 percent since 2013.  Last year, we brought together thousands
of AAPI artists; advocates; and business, community, and Federal
Summit on AAPIs to discuss the key issues facing their
communities.  The Summit was hosted by the White House
Initiative on AAPIs, which I reestablished during my first year
in office and is housed within the Department of Education.

We are working with Federal agencies to build stronger and more robust regional networks across our country that improve access to Federal resources and expand opportunities. We have worked to protect civil rights, foster educational equity, and create economic opportunity across our country. Because a lack of detailed data perpetuates the false notion of AAPIs as a model minority, we are working across Government to improve data collection to counter existing stereotypes and to shed light on the realities faced and resources needed by the AAPI community. Through the White House Task Force on New Americans, Federal agencies are working with cities and counties around America to build welcoming communities that allow immigrants and refugees to thrive. And we will continue working to allow more high- skilled immigrants to stay in our country — too many talented AAPIs are held back from fully realizing our country’s promise, and too many have suffered the consequences of our Nation’s broken immigration system.

     Peoples of diverse backgrounds and circumstances have long
come to our country with the faith that they could build a
better life in America, and spanning generations, the story of
AAPIs in the United States embodies this promise.  During Asian
American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, let us celebrate
the many contributions our AAPI brothers and sisters have made
to the American mosaic, and let us renew our commitment to
creating more opportunities for AAPI youth as they grow up and
embrace the hard work of active citizenship, adding their unique
voices and experiences to our Nation's narrative.
     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 2016 as Asian American and Pacific
Islander Heritage Month.  I call upon all Americans to visit to learn more about our efforts on
behalf of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific
Islanders, and to observe this month with appropriate programs
and activities.
     IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this
twenty-ninth day of April, in the year of our Lord
two thousand sixteen, and of the Independence of the
United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.



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