UPDATED:  April 2, 2009 1:07 AM
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APAICS Event for CAPAC Shows
Growing Asian American Influence

WASHINGTON–Power and energy pervaded the atmosphere at the successful reception hosted by the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS) for freshmen members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC).

Norman Y. Mineta, former Congressman and U.S. Transportation and also Commerce secretary, noted the growing clout of Asian Americans, with two Cabinet secretaries, and possibly a third, top White House appointees, and more members in the U.S. Congress.

In the senate, two Asian Americans now occupy central positions of power. Senator Daniel K. Inouye (D, HI) is the new chairman of the committee on appropriations. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D, HI) is the chairman of the committee on veterans’ affairs.

Mineta couldn’t stop smiling as he recalled, “When CAPAC was first formed, all of its members could have met in a phone booth. It is truly rewarding to see how far our community has come in the past few years.”

Mineta was instrumental in establishing both APAICS and CAPAC in 1994. APAICS Secretary Fred Underwood, director of Diversity Programs at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), introduced Mineta, to enthusiastic applause from over 200 guests. APAICS Interim Executive Director Ruby Moy emceed the March 3 event.

Congressman Mike Honda (D, CA), CAPAC Chair, proudly announced that for the first time, CAPAC was bi-partisan. The two newest members are Anh “Joseph” Cao (R-LA) and Gregorio “Kilili” Sablan (D-CMNI). Congressman Steve Austria (R, OH) was a no-show.

The other CAPAC members, all Democrats, were present at the jam-packed hall in the Capitol’s new Visitors’ Center in this capital. Congressman Xavier Becerra (CA), Congressman Bobby Scott (VA), Madeleine Bordallo (Guam), Mazie Hirono (HI), Barbara Lee (CA), and Lynn Woolsey (CA). Japanese Ambassador to the U.S. Ichiro Fujisaki was a special guest.

Also represented was the future of the Asian American community. Young and talented aides, professionals and advocacy leaders, also attended the reception. Among them: CAPAC’s Vicky Tung, Irene Bueno, principal at Nueva Vista LLC, Ben de Guzman, permanent representative of NaFFAA to the NCAPA.

APAICS Chair David L. Kim thanked the evening’s co-hosts: The National Association of Realtors, the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund, the H Street Group, the National Federation of Filipino American Associations, the Japanese American Citizen League, the Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA) and Frances Nam, APIASF board member.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) members from Oxon Hill, Maryland, led in the Trooping of the Colors. APAICS Fellows Mark Beyersdorf, Rommel Calderwood, Gloria Mak, Lan Nguyen, and Gregg Orton recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

CAPAC is composed of lawmakers and others working to advance the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. Currently, it is working on the following issues: promotion of the community’s leadership and visibility in the political and civic processes; access to education; expansion of hate crimes legislation; elimination of racial profiling within the federal workplace and other state and municipal government agencies; preservation and expansion of economic opportunities and access to legal protection for refugees/immigrations; and minority health bills and veterans’ benefits.

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