state of the asian american and pacific islander community

With President Obama giving his pseudo-state of the union address to Congress this week, Congressman Mike Honda also issued the following statement on the State of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, touching on issues like the economy, housing, education, health care and immigration:

Washington, DC - Today, Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA) issued the following statement on the State of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community:

"Today, our nation faces tremendous challenge. People throughout our country are losing their jobs, their homes, and struggling to keep their families afloat. We are in tough times, and as the President stated in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, we will rebuild together, and by developing our resilience, we will emerge stronger and more unified as a nation.

"As the nation reflects upon the state of the Union, Asian American and Pacific Islander communities must not be forgotten. Over 15 million strong, the Asian American and Pacific Islander community is one of the fastest growing and most diverse racial groups in the United States. With close to 50 ethnic groups among our ranks, we have made tremendous economic, political, and social contributions to the United States.

"This new Congress presents particular opportunities as there are three new Asian American Pacific Islander Members of Congress, namely Reps. Anh Cao and Gregorio Sablan - who are also new members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC)- and Rep. Steve Austria.

"The Asian American and Pacific Islander community is also fortunate that we have a President who understands the particular challenges that our community faces. During his campaign, Barack Obama became the first presidential candidate in history to issue a blueprint geared toward strengthening the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, demonstrating his nuanced understanding of our community's needs.

"CAPAC members are hopeful that we will be able to roll up our sleeves and work together with our colleagues to solve the major problems facing our nation today."


"President Obama's comprehensive strategy to rebuild our economy includes short-term solutions that reinvigorate our credit flows, as well as long-term investments in education, energy, and healthcare. These plans will provide much needed support to strengthen our communities.

"Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders contribute immensely to the U.S. economy. Asian-owned firms experienced growth at 12.7 percent between 2000 and 2006. In 2002, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders owned 4.7 percent of all U.S. firms, 6.1 percent of employer firms, and 4.3 percent of nonemployer firms. In 2002, there were 1.1 million Asian-owned firms in America, sustaining more than 2.2 million jobs, generating almost $327 billion in revenues. There are 28, 900 Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander-owned businesses, supporting 29,319 employees. The majority of Asians in the U.S. labor force are immigrants, and among self-employed Asians, 80.8 percent are immigrants, and for Pacific Islanders, that share is 67.9 percent.

"Despite our successes, AAPI small businesses are in need of greater resources and attention from the Administration and Congress. Minority-owned firms, while they create jobs, make significantly less than white-owned firms. On average, for every dollar made by a white-owned firm, Pacific Islander-owned firms make about 59 cents; Asian-owned businesses made 56 cents. Investing federal dollars in this growing sector will spur continued job creation for our workforce.


"Asian American and Pacific Islander communities have not been immune to the foreclosure crisis. According to research conducted by the National Association of Realtors, the use of subprime loans among Asian Americans grew by 181 percent from 2004 to 2005. From 2004-06, over 17 percent of loans made to Asian Americans were subprime loans.

"Few banks have bilingual, bicultural staff or offer information about the home purchasing process for AAPI immigrant communities, which in turn contributes to a rise of high-cost loans. We must continue to invest in financial literacy education that is culturally and linguistically appropriate, and build capacity of our community based organizations to help our communities respond to the foreclosure crisis.


"I applaud President Obama's commitment to developing a world-class, competitive education system. To strengthen our economy, we need to invest in long-term solutions such as education. For Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, it may be tempting to assume that all of our students are faring well in school.

"While our community as a whole has a higher rate of individuals holding a bachelor's degree, Southeast Asians have significantly lower percentages of individuals holding a bachelor's. Only 17 percent of Vietnamese Americans, 7 percent of Laotian Americans, 6 percent of Cambodian Americans, and 3 percent of Hmong Americans hold bachelor's degrees. English language learners face some of the toughest challenges among Asian American and Pacific Islander students, yet they are largely underserved. 79 percent of Asian American students, and 43 percent of Pacific Islander students speak a language other than English at home.

"Last congress, CAPAC successfully advocated for the creation of a designation for Asian American and Pacific Islander Serving Institutions. This designation provides certain colleges and universities with grants needed to expand their capacities to assist underserved and low-income Asian American and Pacific Islander students.

"If we do not dispel the myth that all of our students are doing well in school, we will miss the opportunity to fully engage these students, who have so much potential to contribute to our communities.


"I applaud President Obama's commitment to reducing the cost of healthcare by eliminating inefficiencies, as well as investing in preventative care. CAPAC is dedicated to access to affordable healthcare for all, which includes a commitment to eliminate health disparities facing minority communities.

"There are many health disparities that exist among our communities. From 2004-2006, 17 percent of Asian Americans and 24 percent of Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders do not have health insurance compared to 12 percent of non-Hispanic whites. AAPIs are also less likely than white Americans to have employment-based health insurance coverage. Additionally, AAPI women have the lowest rate of cancer screening compared to other ethnic groups and AAPIs make up over half of the cases of chronic Hepatitis B. CAPAC along with our Tri-Caucus partners, the Congressional Black and Hispanic Caucuses, have introduced the Health Equity and Accountability Act that would help close the racial and ethnic disparities in our communities.


"From CAPAC's perspective, immigration itself is a long-term investment strategy for our nation. In particular, efficient, fair and effective avenues for legal, family-based immigration are vital to keep America strong for generations to come. Family members pool resources to start and run businesses that create American jobs, purchase homes, and send their American children to college to obtain the skills they need to contribute to our economy."

"We also fail to attract and keep the talent that maintains America's competitiveness in the global economy if those coming to share their skills face long-term or permanent separation from close family members."

"In the Asian community, two million Asians are waiting to be reconnected with family members, stuck in decades-long immigration backlogs. Those working hard in the shadows of American society without documentation include 1.5 million Asians. We must also restore due process, fairness, and respect for civil liberties in the immigration system. CAPAC members look forward to working with our colleagues in Congress as well as the Obama Administration to ensure an open and inclusive dialogue on comprehensive immigration reform.


"The state of the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities is also very much tied to the quality of information that is available about our populations. In order to effectively address challenges in all of these policy areas, our Caucus, as well as other lawmakers and advocates around the country, require accurate data about the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. There must be both disaggregated data available by ethnic subgroup, given the diversity of our community, as well as non-disaggregated data.

"For this reason, CAPAC is committed to ensuring an accurate 2010 decennial census that counts all of our communities. Because many in our communities are linguistically or socially isolated from the mainstream, particular targeted outreach becomes tremendously important.

White House Initiative

"Our community has much to look forward to with President Obama's new Administration. The President has committed to restoring the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. The mission of the Initiative is to coordinate activities throughout the Administration that seek to outreach to and serve the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. I look forward to working with the Obama Administration to ensure that the Initiative will have robust support.

"Despite the challenges we face, we are hopeful that we will be able to makes strides as a community. Members of CAPAC are excited and hopeful to advance our legislative and other priorities in the 111th Congress. We will work with President Obama, and other Members of Congress, particularly with our Tri-Caucus colleagues from the Congressional Black and Hispanic Caucuses, to keep the American dream of equal opportunity alive."
This text comes courtesy of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), comprised of members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and members who have "strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the AAPI community."

To learn more about CAPAC, go here. Also read CAPAC's statement regarding the Obama's nomination of Gary Locke as Commerce Secretary: CAPAC Applauds Nomination of Gary Locke as Commerce Secretary and Urges Swift Confirmation.

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