Congressman Faleomavaega, along with fellow members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) and House Democratic Leadership, celebrated Asian Pacific American (APA) Heritage Month and offered remarks to an audience of over 400 APA community leaders at the Annual CAPAC Ceremony in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center on Wednesday, May 8th, 2013.
With this year’s theme being “A Path Forward on Comprehensive Immigration Reform,” CAPAC Chairwoman Judy Chu (CA-32) offered opening remarks on importance of immigration reform, followed by remarks by CAPAC’s Immigration Taskforce co-Chairs, Congressman Honda (CA-23) and Congressman Faleomavaega. CAPAC Chair Emeritus Congressman Honda previously served as Chair of CAPAC while Congressman Faleomavaega, a member of CAPAC’s Executive Board, previously served as CAPAC Vice-Chair.
Congressman Faleomavaega, who is also Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, opened his remarks with two proverbs. Faleomavaega shared the Chinese proverb which says, “Drinking the water of a well, one should never forget who dug it,” in reference to those who paved the way for the Asian-Pacific American voice to be heard in the recent immigration debate. The Congressman also shared the Samoan proverb “E lē falala fua le niu” or “The coconut tree doesn't sway on its own,” reiterating that nothing happens without a reason and commending the many groups and individuals behind the scenes whose efforts have created significant progress in national awareness of the needs of Asian-Pacific Americans.
He also highlighted the increasing significance of the Asian-Pacific region in U.S. Foreign Policy and called on leaders in the room to continue to fight so that Asian-Pacific Americans are never marginalized or dismissed.
Among other attendees and speakers attended the ceremony, including Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA-12), Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD-05), Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra (CA-34), and Democratic Caucus Vice Chair Joseph Crowley (NY-14). Also in attendance were CAPAC Vice Chair Madeleine Z. Bordallo (GU), Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03), Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13), Congressman Al Green (TX-09), Congressman Ami Bera (CA-07), Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01), Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52), and Senator Brian Schatz (HI), as well as Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairman Ruben Hinojosa (TX-15). The ceremony also featured a keynote speech offered by Jose Antonio Vargas, an immigration activist, filmmaker, journalist, and undocumented immigrat.
Founded in 1994, CAPAC is comprised of Members of Congress who have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the Asian-Pacific American community. Several of the members are of Asian American or Pacific Islander descent or represent districts with large populations of Asian-Pacific Americans.
“I thank President Barack Obama, CAPAC colleagues, and Democratic leadership in Congress for their efforts on behalf of Asian-Pacific Americans across the United States, and I also thank our and Pacific Islander leaders who took part in our APA Heritage Month events in the Nation’s Capital,” Congressman Faleomavaega stated.
“The beauty of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is that no other community in the United States more accurately represents America’s diversity than the more than 18 million Americans who make up the APA community.”
“Because we are a community of immigrants, no matter what generation, our story is such an integral part of the greater American story. And as CAPAC’s Immigration co-Chair, along with my good friend Congressman Mike Honda, I am pleased to know that our voice is being heard. The Senate bill introduced just last month is the first of many steps that we must take to address the failures of our current immigration system for all who hope to also take part in the American story”.
“While there is more work ahead, we commend the bi-partisan effort to bring one of the most progressive and comprehensive reforms to our immigration system. As we move ahead as a community, I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to ensure momentum on this hallmark reform effort.”
“In closing, I once again thank all those who came before us, our community leaders and advocates, and especially our APAs serving throughout the world in the U.S. Armed Forces. I wish everyone much enjoyment in their festivities as we celebrate Asian-Pacific Heritage Month in the spirit of unity,” Congressman Faleomavaega concluded.
Photo Caption: Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus at the Congressional Ceremony for the 2013 Asian Pacific Heritage Month
Photo Caption: (L to R) Sefa Aina-White House Advisory Commission on APIA, Congressman Faleomavaega, JamesLetoa- Office of Samoan Affairs (Sacramento), & Hugo Stanley- TOA Institute (California), at the Congressional Ceremonyfor the 2013 Asian Pacific Heritage Month