Asian and Pacific Islander Americans in Congress

Since 1900, when Delegate Robert M. Wilcox of Hawaii became the first Asian Pacific American (APA) to serve in Congress, a total of 63 APAs have served as U.S. Representatives, Delegates, Resident Commissioners, or Senators. This Web site, based on the book Asian and Pacific Islander Americans in Congress, 1900–2017, contains biographical profiles of former APAs, links to information about current APA Members, essays on the institutional and national events that shaped successive generations of APAs in Congress, and images of each individual Member, including rare photos.

Member Profiles

Member Profiles

Read biographical profiles of former Asian Pacific American Representatives, Delegates, and Senators that focus on their congressional careers. These profiles also contain suggestions for further reading and references to Members’ manuscript collections.

Introduction

Introduction

Since 1900, Asian Pacific Americans have represented unique and diverse constituencies in Congress. From the Philippines to California, from Virginia to Hawaii, APA Members and Senators have shaped landmark pieces of legislation in the 20th and 21st centuries. Fighting for justice and equality, their ranks have grown in both number and power. Many of their stories are being told here for the first time.

Exclusion and Empire, 1898–1941

Exclusion and Empire, 1898–1941

The annexation of both Hawaii and the Philippines in 1898 opened a new chapter in congressional history. Limited in their legislative tools as statutory representatives and stymied by racial prejudice, Resident Commissioners and Delegates worked to protect their islands’ economies and define their political status. Elsewhere across America, discriminatory policies at the federal and state level denied Asian immigrants access to citizenship and all but erased their political rights.

From Exclusion to Inclusion, 1941–1992

From Exclusion to Inclusion, 1941–1992

During World War II, the federal government imprisoned 120,000 Japanese Americans in remote, heavily guarded camps using a reactionary wartime policy called internment. Stripped of their civil liberties, some children who grew up in the camps would go on to win election to Congress many years later. After the war, new federal immigration law opened citizenship to millions, and in 1956 Dalip Saund of California became the first APA elected to Congress with full voting rights.

A Growing Diversity, 1993–2017

A Growing Diversity, 1993–2017

Starting in the early 1990s, the number of Asian Pacific Americans in Congress grew exponentially. The Members in this section account for roughly half of all APAs ever elected, and embody a diverse collection of personal and family histories. Representing constituencies from every corner of America, this group of legislators founded their Caucus in 1994 to support issues and legislation important to Asian Pacific American communities everywhere.

Get the ePublication

Asian and Pacific Islander Americans in Congress, 1900–2017, is available as an ePublication from the Government Publication Office.

Historical Data

In this section, users can find tables and appendices of historical data about Asian Pacific Americans in Congress, including: APAs by Congress; committee and subcommittee leaders; party leadership positions; chairmen and chairwomen of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus; and major legislation referenced in the text.

Artifacts

View artifacts from the House Collection related to the history of Asian Pacific Americans in Congress, from formal portraits to political campaign buttons.

Map

Use the interactive map to compile information on the representation of Asian Pacific Americans in Congress, such as the number of Members who served from a particular state or region and when they served.

Glossary

What is the difference between apportionment and realignment? What is a discharge petition? What does the word quorum mean and how does it relate to the House of Representatives? These and other relevant congressional terms are defined in this glossary.