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Tomorrow, U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez will formally induct into the Labor Hall of Honor about 12,000 Chinese immigrant laborers who worked on the Central Pacific Railroad between 1865 and 1869.The workers are the first Asian-Americans to receive the tribute since the hall was established in 1988. Their efforts helped connect the United States from east to west, laying the foundation for "the extraordinary economic prosperity enjoyed by the nation in the years that followed," U.S. Labor Department officials said in a press release.Many of the Chinese railroad workers risked their lives, and some perished form the harsh winters and dangerous working conditions. They faced prejudice, low wages and social isolation, labor department officials said.President Barack Obama noted in his presidential proclamation that May has been designated "Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month," in part because the Transcontinental Railroad was completed on May 10, 1869.
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