"Even today, South Asian Americans, especially those who are Muslim, Hindu and Sikh, are targets of suspicion and violence," Obama said in a presidential proclamation that recognised the contribution of Asian-Americans in the socio-political and economic milieu of the country.
"Like America itself, the AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) community draws strength from the diversity of its many distinct cultures - each with vibrant histories and unique perspectives to bring to our national life," Obama said.
"Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders have helped build, defend and strengthen our Nation - as farm workers and railroad laborers; as entrepreneurs and scientists; as artists, activists, and leaders of government.
They have gone beyond, embodying the soaring aspirations of the American spirit," Obama said. Noting that May month marks 145 years since the final spike was hammered into the transcontinental railroad, an achievement made possible by Chinese laborers, who did the majority of this backbreaking and dangerous work, Obama said this May, they will receive long-overdue recognition as they are inducted into the Labor Hall of Honor. "Generations of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders have helped make this country what it is today," he said.
"Yet they have also faced a long history of injustice - from the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii and its devastating impact on the history, language and culture of Native Hawaiians; to opportunity-limiting laws like the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the Immigration Act of 1924; to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II," he said.
Obama reiterated his determination to pass comprehensive immigration reform that would modernise the legal immigration system, create a pathway to earned citizenship for undocumented immigrants, hold employers accountable, and strengthen the border security.
He said with courage, grit, and an abiding belief in American ideals, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders have challenged the Nation to be better.
"Nearly 5 years ago, I re-established the White House Initiative on AAPIs. The Initiative addresses disparities in health care, education, and economic opportunity by ensuring Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders receive equal access to government programs and services," Obama said.