Obama said Asian-Americans and those of Pacific Island heritage have not always been given credit for their accomplishments and have been subjected to "tremendous unfairness and injustice during our history."
"But we also know that generations of Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders helped to build this country, defend this country and make America what it is today," Obama said, "from the Chinese laborers who scaled cliffs and laid ties to connect our coasts by rail, to the members of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team who fought and bled overseas while their families were interned back home; from the hundreds of thousands who bore hardship and sacrifice on the journey to Angel Island a century ago, to the more than 16 million Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders whose talents and efforts strengthen our economy and protect our security and enliven our communities each and every day."
Obama noted he has signed an executive order to re-establish the White House initiative on Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, which will be led by Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
"The goal is to make sure that our government is successfully working to address disparities in healthcare, in education and economic opportunity that exists within various AAPI communities, Obama said.
Obama also used the occasion to make another plug for immigration reform.