2012 Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
During National Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we celebrate and pay tribute to the many contributions made by generations of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to America's society and culture. This year's theme is, "Striving for Excellence in Leadership, Diversity and Inclusion." The theme was chosen to focus on the Executive Order on Diversity and Inclusion signed by President Obama on August 18, 2011.
The designation of the month of May by Congress to commemorate Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders was based on two considerations as follows: 1) the first immigrants from Japan landed in America on May 7, 1843; and, 2) the transcontinental railroad, built largely by Chinese workers, was completed on May 10, 1869.
According to the 2010 Census data projections, the Asian American and Pacific Islander populations will more than double by the year 2050. There are approximately 17.3 million Americans, of Asian descent. That number is expected to grow to 40.6 million by 2050. Similarly, there are more than 1.2 million residents who claim Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander descent and that number is expected to increase to more than 2.6 in 2050.
Take the opportunity this month to learn more about the immigration experience of Asian and Pacific Islanders. For example, most Americans are familiar with Ellis Island. But what is not commonly known is that Angel Island Immigration Station, located in San Francisco Bay, served as an immigration checkpoint from 1910 until 1940. Dubbed the "Ellis Island of the West," approximately 175, 000 Chinese immigrants were detained and processed at Angel Island. Thousands of immigrants from Japan, Korea and the Philippines were interned on Angel Island as well as upon their arrival to America. This immigration station was scheduled to be demolished until the discovery of Chinese character carvings were found on the walls. This site is now a museum dedicated to the education of the immigration of Asians and Pacific Islanders.