The Washington Times - May 28, 2013, 07:09PM

Calling the Asia-Pacific region “a central part of my life,” President Obama said Monday that the contributions of Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders are a prime reason for Congress to pass immigration reform.

“Generations of Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders helped build this country and helped to defend this country and to make America what it is today,” Mr. Obama said at an event at the White House. “To keep our edge and stay ahead in the global race, we need to figure out a way to fix our broken immigration system, to welcome that infusion of new-ness while still maintaining the enduring strength of our laws.”

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The president recalled his childhood growing up in Hawaii and in Indonesia. In the audience in the East Room to celebrate Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month were his half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, and her husband, Konrad Ng, a Canadian of Chinese descent who became director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center in 2010. He is a U.S. citizen.

“Certainly it’s been a central part of my life, the entire Asia-Pacific region,” Mr. Obama said.

He said the experience of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders shows that America welcomes all immigrants, “no matter their color or their beliefs.”