Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) this month inserted the following statement into the Congressional Record honoring the Asian and Pacific Islander community and commemorating May as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month:
“I rise today to honor the Asian and Pacific Islander community in the United States and celebrate the tremendous contribution these Americans have made to our Nation.
There are an estimated 17.3 million residents of Asian descent in our country and 5.6 million Asian Pacific Americans living in California. I am proud that our state has the largest Asian population in the country.
California also boasts the highest number of Asian-owned businesses at 508,969, and the United States Armed Forces has more than 265,000 Asian American veterans.
In 1977, Senators Daniel Inouye and Spark Matsunaga of Hawaii introduced a resolution in the Senate and President Jimmy Carter officially establishing Asian Pacific American Heritage Week to honor the first Japanese immigrants to the United States and the Chinese individuals who worked on the Transcontinental Railroad. In 1992, May was officially designated Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.
This year’s Asian Pacific American Heritage Month theme, “Striving for Excellence in Leadership, Diversity and Inclusion,” is embodied in the accomplishments of numerous Asian Pacific Americans.
In Congress, my colleagues, Senators Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka are joined by California Representatives Judy Chu, Mike Honda and Doris Matsui as examples of good public servants.
A number of California cities are led by Asian Pacific Americans, including: Mayor Ling-Ling Chang of Diamond Bar, Mayor Edwin Lee of my hometown of San Francisco, Mayor Jean Quan of Oakland, Mayor Richard Sun of San Marino, Mayor Jeremy Yamaguchi of Placentia, and Mayor Vincent Yu of Temple City.
Additionally, it is appropriate to acknowledge the outstanding contributions of Asian Pacific Americans who sit on the bench in California.
Judge Edward M. Chen just finished his first year as a United States District Court Judge in San Francisco.
Associate Justice Goodwin Liu was recently appointed to the Supreme Court of California.
Judge Jacqueline H. Nguyen has served with distinction as the first Vietnamese American federal judge since 2009, and was nominated to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2011. I am confident she soon will win confirmation to the Ninth Circuit, which will make her the first Asian American female federal appellate judge in the Nation.
Public service is by no means the only area in which Asian Pacific Americans have made great strides forward.
National Basketball Association phenomenon Jeremy Lin, a California native, has provided inspiration well beyond the Asian Pacific American community. From young children to adults, the Harvard-educated athlete has proven to millions that no dream is too big to achieve.
Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is particularly relevant in 2012, as we recognize the 70th anniversary of the Japanese American relocation during World War II, under Executive Order 9066.
I remember this shameful page in our history. As a young girl, my father took me to the Tanforan Racetrack, near San Francisco, which was a staging point for Japanese Americans en route to more permanent detention centers. Seeing the barbed wire, and the men, women and children housed in horse stables and small buildings on the infield of the racetrack was an experience I will never forget.
It is important that our Nation acknowledge mistakes, no matter how far in the past. I am proud to have cosponsored and voted in support of a resolution expressing Congressional regret for decades of legislation targeting Chinese people for physical and political exclusion, as well as reaffirming the commitment of the Senate to preserve civil rights and constitutional protection of all Asian Pacific Americans.
The future of the Asian Pacific American community is bright, and I have no doubt it will see many triumphs in the years ahead. Today, it is my honor to recognize the ongoing determination, ambition, and success of Asian Pacific Americans during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.”