Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and President Barack Obama/tiles/non-collection/A/APA_essay3_28_CAPACObama_ObamaLibrary.xml Image courtesy of the Barack Obama Presidential Library/National Archives and Records Administration The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus meets with President Barack Obama in the Cabinet Room of the White House in 2011. Left to right on the far side of the table: Northern Mariana Islands Delegate Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, California Representative Judy Chu, President Obama, Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo, California Representative Doris Matsui, and Texas Representative Al Green.
In June 2016, the Associated Press reported new Census numbers underscoring perhaps the most underappreciated characteristic of America’s ever-changing demographics: Asian Americans remained “the fastest growing racial group in the United States.” Between 2010 and 2016, the Asian-American population had jumped from 17.3 million to 21 million. That growth, according to the Associated Press, had been driven, in large part, by migration.122

If these current population figures are any indication, the story of this period—larger numbers, greater diversity, and a more pronounced legislative agenda in Congress—has the potential to continue well into the 21st century.

But whatever changes occur over the next few decades, they will happen on the shoulders of the APA Members who have come before, and those Members came from all over. The congressional narrative is no longer dominated by Japanese-American legislators from California and Hawaii and, instead, features the life stories and family histories of immigrants from China, Vietnam, Korea, the Philippines, and India, to name a few.

On Capitol Hill, greater legislative influence has accompanied that new diversity. Although few APA Members have chaired committees or subcommittees in the modern era, the creation of CAPAC has given an added lift to the most pressing issues in recent Congresses: immigration, civil liberties, territorial interests, and public education campaigns to ensure America never again approves a policy as destructive as internment. Asian Pacific Americans have also served as cabinet members (Mineta) and as president pro tempore in the Senate (Inouye).

With a history that is, at turns, both heart-wrenching and awe-inspiring, Asian Pacific Americans in Congress have fought to overcome a century of exclusion to take their rightful place in both Congress and the American narrative.


122Jesse J. Holland, “Census: Asians Remain Fastest Growing Racial Group in US,” 23 June 2016, Associated Press, (accessed 1 July 2016). The article, citing U.S. Census officials, includes the statement: “The nation’s Asian population grew at 3.4 percent between July 2014 and 2015, with migration responsible for the majority of the growth.”