August 2019 - In This Issue:

Victory in Washington
SEARAC partner Khmer Anti-deportation Advocacy Group (KhAAG) supported five Cambodian Americans in fighting their deportation orders, resulting in the termination of orders for all five individuals. Below are the stories of two individuals that KhAAG helped: 

Saray Phin (pictured above, left) was born in a refugee camp after her family escaped from Cambodia. Her family resettled in Seattle when she was 2 years old. She was convicted as part of her husband's possession and intention to sell record, despite being a domestic violence victim who was seeking to divorce her abusive partner. Ultimately, she was detained on March 11, 2019, during a routine check-in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), leaving behind her 4 and 12-year-old boys. Although she was scheduled to be deported in July, with the help of KhAAG, her criminal case vacated on May 2, and an immigration judge terminated her removal order. Saray now intends to go back to school to become a paralegal to work on criminal, immigration, and domestic violence law. 
Kunthy Nov (pictured above, right) is a youth organizer with Formerly Incarcerated Group Healing Together WA. Although his family fled to refugee camps after the Khmer Rouge genocide, they gave up on the idea of resettling after being in the camps for almost a decade. His family went back to Cambodia in 1990, and Kunty was born there in 1993. In 1995, a family member sponsored Kunthy and his family to the United States. Like some others in his situation, Kunthy struggled as a young person and was eventually convicted for assault. After serving eight years in prison, Kunthy was released at age 25 before being detained by ICE on March 15, 2019. Despite his travel document being confirmed for the July 1st ICE flight to Cambodia, an immigration judge approved his motion to reopen. His removal order was vacated. Kunthy was released on May 15, 2019, and is eligible for reinstatement of his green card. He and his partner are expecting their first child in March of 2020.

SEARAC is motivated by the work being done every day on the ground and is committed to continue fighting the immigration policies that unjustly threaten and tear apart Southeast Asian American families. 


August is back to school month!
Summer may be ending, but that just means our students are headed back into classrooms for another fruitful season of learning. At SEARAC, we're continuing to advocate for SEAA learners from the nation's capital while amplifying the work of our state and local partners to uplift SEAA communities. Read about our education policy priorities, and check out our factsheets on SEAAs in education.

Share your back-to-school photos using #SEAAVisibilityinEducation a nd tell us what educational justice means to you!


Trump Administration's "public charge" rule finalized
After a year of coordinated opposition to a harmful policy forcing immigrants to make an impossible choice between their immigration status and their family's health and well-being, the Trump White House finalized its "public charge" regulation this month. Set to go into effect on Oct. 15, 2019, this policy penalizes immigrants using programs such as non-emergency Medicaid, supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP or food stamps), and housing assistance (public housing, Section 8 housing vouchers, and rental assistance). Read SEARAC's statement and action alert for more information.


Register for our 2020 Census community call
Joining us on this Thursday's monthly call will be community leaders who are working to ensure an accurate count of SEAAs in 2020. If you want to get involved in making sure your community community is counted, make sure you register for the webinar and consider  signing up  to be a SEARAC Census Ambassador!


Pushing support for the Reuniting Families Act and 
the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act
The SEARAC national policy team continues to advocate for Congressional support for Rep. Judy Chu's Reuniting Families Act (RFA) and Reps. Pramila Jayapal and Adam Smith's Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act (Dignity). The RFA would decrease backlogs in the family reunification system while also creating new waivers for individuals currently in deportation proceedings. Dignity is a comprehensive bill that overhauls the immigration detention system by: 
  • Establishing humane and uniform standards for the facilities
  • Phasing out private detention facilities
  • Requiring more oversight of detention centers
  • Encouraging community-supervised alternatives to detention; and
  • Expanding the definition of vulnerable populations to include youth, the elderly, LGBTQ, and limited English individuals without access to a translator.
North Carolina win
Though North Carolina's HB 370 bill is not yet completely dead, SEARAC partner, Southeast Asian Coalition (SEAC), and SEARAC board member, Julie Mao of Just Futures Law , along with other organizations, have persuaded the state governor to veto the bill. HB 370 would have required sheriffs in North Carolina to cooperate with ICE, essentially serving as part of the deportation pipeline. Advocates on the ground are urging their state representatives and senators to sustain the veto.


Register for Moving Mountains by Sept 13   
This month, we began rolling out workshop previews for Moving Mountains 2019, which will be taking place on Oct. 2-4 in Sacramento. Check them out here. Don't forget to register for your tickets by Sept. 13! 

Back by popular demand
Purchase your SEARAC T-shirt by Sept. 9 and help support Moving Mountains! More info here

Staff thoughts
This month on the SEARAC blog, our summer national policy intern An Thien Nguyen discusses her decision to pursue academia and how it ties into her identity as a child of refugees.

In " Research: One tool for restorative justice, " she writes: " a female researcher of color, I was initially hesitant to become involved in research with the Southeast Asian American community because I feared being labeled as a 'minority researcher,' accused of being biased, or accused by my own community of playing into the dominant White culture. Despite these convictions, I think about research as an opportunity of restorative justice for my Southeast Asian American community. I

envision a society that incorporates a culture of research that engages our community in building relationships and addressing societal issues through inclusive and intersectional understanding to create transformative outcomes."

Read  more.

SEARAC is a national civil rights organization that empowers Cambodian, Laotian, and Vietnamese American communities to create a socially just and equitable society. As representatives of the largest refugee community ever resettled in the United States, SEARAC stands together with other refugee communities, communities of color, and social justice movements in pursuit of social equity. 
Find out more at