This October marks 43 years since President Jimmy Carter signed a joint resolution designating a week in May 1979 as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week. Later on, extending to a month-long celebration, the United States has commemorated the vast contributions of the Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) community for decades. In Nevada and across the country, AAPI community members have been vital in building the America we know today, and they continue to shape the Silver State.
Nevada is home to one of America’s fastest growing AAPI populations, and throughout my life, I’ve had the pleasure of watching my hometown of Las Vegas grow and welcome a thriving AAPI community.
Asian American and Pacific Islanders have a long history in Nevada, starting with the Chinese immigrant workers who braved discrimination and dangerous conditions to build the transcontinental railroad across Northern Nevada in the 1800s. Today’s AAPI community in the Silver State is beautifully diverse: they are entrepreneurs, medical workers, professionals in trades, activists, students and hardworking families. Throughout the pandemic, AAPI Nevadans have served as doctors and frontline nurses in our hospitals and as home health workers for Nevada’s seniors.
At the height of the pandemic, when economic recovery packages were being negotiated here in Washington, my top two priorities were keeping Nevadans healthy and helping small businesses stay afloat. I worked hard to pass the American Rescue Plan (ARP), which directed over $3.77 billion to help Nevada’s state and local governments respond to the public health crisis. I have consistently advocated for laws that would provide comprehensive relief for Nevada’s struggling economy and communities, and I am glad that many AAPI owned small businesses were able to stay afloat as a result of these efforts. I am also focused on cutting taxes for the middle class, supporting our workers and their families, and extending the Child Tax and Earned Income Tax Credits.
The reality is, AAPI community members have helped lead us through some of the darkest day in the pandemic, working in our classrooms, in the hospitality industry, and at small businesses that helped keep our economy afloat. But unfortunately, this community faced disturbing violence and harassment during this time as well. I spoke with many AAPI community members about the hatred they faced and the discrimination they endured. It is wrong. Working together with my colleagues, I passed legislation to respond to this crisis: the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act. Our bill was signed into law last spring and is strengthening federal efforts to address hate crimes directed at Asian-Americans, and making it easier to hold perpetrators accountable. I know there is more to do to help the communities most impacted by all aspects of this pandemic. I want you to know that I will continue to work to ensure that AAPI Nevadans are protected from discrimination and bigotry and have access to the resources and opportunities they need to thrive.
Hardworking AAPI Nevadans have strengthened our community for generations and continue to make our state better every day, and I look forward to continuing to celebrate and honor their invaluable contributions.
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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.