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Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

Rep. Ed Perlmutter

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Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Minnesota (Mr. Ellison) is recognized for 5 minutes.

Rep. Keith Ellison

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Mr. Speaker, this month marks a special opportunity to pay tribute to the contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans. In our community, we have a great opportunity to recognize this dynamic force of creativity in our Nation, and I welcome the opportunity to do so and I thank my colleague Mike Honda for hosting this special order tonight.

An estimated 180,000 Asian Pacific Islanders representing a diverse community of backgrounds and cultures and experiences make their homes in Minnesota, with an estimated 32,000 in the Fifth Congressional District alone. Minnesota serves as home to one of the Nation's largest Hmong population, estimated at nearly 80,000. In Minnesota, we boast 2 members of our State legislators who have Hmong American heritage, Senator Mee Moua and Representative Cy Thao. The Hmong American story in Minnesota is quintessentially Minnesotan and we are proud of our Hmong community.

The Hmong story is quintessentially an immigrant story as well, a story coming from their land to a new one to make success here in America, overcoming the many difficulties, struggling, persevering, while retaining love for their land of origin, finding tremendous love and loyalty in their new home as well.

The Asian American and Pacific Islanders make a valuable contribution to every aspect of American life and Minnesota life, from business, education, to arts to military. We will always remember Qixing Lee, a young man who graduated from North High School of Hmong American heritage who lost his life in this conflict in Iraq. Their contributions and unique additions to our life have enhanced the moral fabric and character of our State and our great country.

As we celebrate the many contributions of the Asian American-Pacific Islander community, let us not lose sight of the cornerstone of their contributions and to the very foundation of this country, immigration. Immigration has played a vital role in the entire making of America, whether the immigrants are from Europe, Africa, whether they are from Asia, or Latin and Central America. But immigration no doubt has played a vital role in the creation and success of our country, and must be looked at as a vital American strength as we look forward in this 110th Congress.

As the Democratic-led House leads the way on immigration reform, I believe that we must look at comprehensive reform, not shock radio sound bites. Reform that fully recognizes the contribution of immigrants have made and continue to make to our Nation is as equally important as security on the border. Fair comprehensive immigration policy must work to protect and unite families. Right now, an estimated 1.5 million Asian and Pacific Islanders face an immigration backlog that has forced many families to live separated from their loved one for years. This is a shame and must end.

As we celebrate the contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to our Nation, let us use this occasion to take our great country in a new direction and to higher heights, and to meet the challenges facing all Americans, including Asian American and Pacific Islanders. As we have in the first 100 days, let us take further steps to change the way we do business in Washington and defend our country, grow our economy, care for all children and families, protect our planet, and restore accountability. Together, we can make the American dream a reality for all Americans.