Congratulations to Many Uch on becoming a US citizen! 
On Jan. 22, after two decades of fighting deportation and leading grassroots efforts to challenge mass incarceration and deportation, long-time community organizer Many Uch became a naturalized US citizen. 

Co-founder of both Formerly Incarcerated Group Healing Together (F.I.G.H.T.) and Khmer in Action-Seattle (KIA), senior advisor for the Khmer Anti-deportation Advocacy Group of WA (KhAAG), and a 2006 SEARAC LAT alum, Many has built an impactful legacy of Southeast Asian American organizing. SEARAC celebrates Many on this momentous, long-fought battle, and we stand with him and the continued fight to end the criminalization of our immigrant and refugee communities.

Many said, “Thank you all friends that have been supporting me and the work that we’ve been doing. I hope to continue giving back to our desperately needed community in fighting for change in anti-deportation work. I do not feel whole at all if it wasn’t for folks that have inspired, motivated, and helped me change who I was and to who I am today. I thank all of you for being there for me and for people that need the help.”

Join us in giving virtual congrats to Many here.
COVID-19 cases continue to soar, new variants found
COVID-19 cases continue to climb in the US with over 79,000 new cases in the month of January. Many hospitals are overwhelmed by the continuous increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations. Since the start of the pandemic, more than 425,000 Americans have died from the virus. While states have begun to roll out vaccines, mass distribution to the general public still remains months away. SEARAC urges community members to continue wearing masks, social distancing, and practicing proper hygiene to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. We remain committed to working with Congress to pass robust COVID-19 relief that would provide financial, health, housing, education, and immigration support for Southeast Asian Americans. 
President Biden unveils COVID-19 relief legislation
On Jan. 15, President Biden unveiled details of his COVID-19 relief legislation. The $1.9 trillion dollar package would mount a national vaccination program, contain COVID-19, and safely reopen schools. Methods of achieving these ambitious goals include setting up community vaccination sites nationwide, scaling up testing and tracing, eliminating supply shortage problems, investing in high-quality treatments, and providing paid sick leave to contain spread of the virus. Additionally, it would deliver $1,400 per-person checks to households across America, provide direct housing and nutrition assistance, expand access to safe and reliable childcare and affordable healthcare, increase the minimum wage, and extend unemployment insurance. Senate Republicans have expressed opposition to the President’s plan. SEARAC continues to advocate for passage of a robust relief bill that would provide support to all US residents.
SEARAC and partners comment on final Ethnic Studies draft
After several rounds of extensive reviews and revisions, the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC) recently underwent its last round of public comment for the CA State Board of Education’s (SBE) review, approval, and adoption this year. SEARAC, in partnership with community and statewide partners, educators, and curriculum leads at the CA Department of Education, successfully advocated for the inclusion of lesson plans that reflect the history and experiences of Cambodian, Laotian, and Vietnamese American communities. As the March deadline to take final action on the curriculum nears, SEARAC urges the SBE to conduct a thorough review with ethnic studies experts, educators, and community stakeholders and maintain the integrity of the ethnic studies discipline as envisioned by Third World Liberation Front.
Reintroduction of the New Way Forward Act 
On Jan. 27, Reps. Jesús “Chuy'' García, Pramila Jayapal, Karen Bass, and Ayanna Pressley reintroduced the New Way Forward Act. The bill would eliminate mandatory detention, end deportations based on certain convictions, restore judicial discretion for immigration judges, create a five-year statute of limitations for deportability, and establish an opportunity to come home for certain deported individuals or non-citizens. SEARAC applauds the reintroduction of this landmark legislation, which is an important step toward eliminating mass incarceration and creating a racially just society for immigrant and refugee communities. Our action alert in partnership with Asian Americans Advancing Justice provides sample language for calling your elected officials to ask them to co-sponsor New Way Forward, as well as a digital toolkit so that you can uplift the stories of SEAA immigrants impacted by NWF on social media.
Federal judge blocks Biden's 100-day deportation moratorium
On Jan. 26, a federal judge in Texas granted a temporary restraining order following President Biden’s announcement of a 100-day pause on deportations for certain noncitizens. Deportations will be allowed to continue for 14 days from the date of the ruling while the judge reviews the case. President Biden’s moratorium would have put a temporary pause on the deportation of immigrants living in the U.S. since Nov. 1, 2020. We urge the Administration to fully adopt the priorities laid out in the letter on ending Southeast Asian deportations SEARAC and partners sent earlier this month
AANHPI groups send letter urging Biden to halt deportations 
On Jan. 15, SEARAC, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, the Southeast Asian Freedom Network, and the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans sent a letter, signed by 150 organizations, urging President Biden to place a complete moratorium on all deportations immediately upon taking officeA halt to deportations would provide relief for over 15,000 Southeast Asian Americans with removal orders and would reaffirm President Biden’s commitment to racial justice. The letter also recommended broad protections for SEAAs including deprioritizing removals of people with old convictions, lifting visa sanctions on Laos and Cambodia, and requiring that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) use their discretionary powers to release all immigrants possible from detention. The letter is available here.
Civic Engagement
Executive order ends weaponization of 2020 Census data
President Biden has issued an executive order that revoked the Trump Administration's efforts to exclude undocumented immigrants from the 2020 Census data used for apportionment and redistricting, a poorly disguised attempt to weaponize the decennial census as a means of denying communities of color their rightful representation in Congress. SEARAC and our fellow census advocates celebrate the Census Bureau’s announcement that “all work on the immigration status of the population of the United States regarding the 2020 Census was suspended.”
CA EDD faces massive challenges, communities struggle
The Employment Development Department’s mishandling of the unemployment crisis in California has led to billions of dollars lost in fraudulent claims while struggling Californians are still unable to get adequate relief and support. Significant challenges for SEAA communities include the lack of language access and support in navigating EDD resources and processes. EDD is required by law to provide access to benefits and services for all Californians, including those who are limited English proficient. If you are a community member or know someone who is struggling with their unemployment benefits, and want to support our advocacy efforts in improving language access at EDD, please reach out to our Director of California, Mandy Diec at
Staff Blog
Leading during the most uncertain of times
For our staff blog, Acting Executive Director Katrina Dizon Mariategue reflected on the challenges she faced both personally and professionally in 2020. "Stepping in as Acting Executive Director of SEARAC during this uncertain time in the world led to much struggle and uncertainty within myself. Leading up to the transition, I questioned if I could fill such big shoes; how could I make sure that I was leading with respect as an ally, ensuring that SEARAC’s work continued to make an impact, while caring for staff struggling to move forward as the world burned all around us?" Read her blog post here.
Study for AAPI high school students to share their experiences
Asian-focused racist incidents have increased in the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic. The University of Wisconsin-Stouth is conducting a study to explore the impact of COVID-19 fueled discrimination on the mental health of East or Southeast Asian American high school students. High school students taking in-person (face-to-face) or hybrid (a combination of face-to-face and online) classes and fluent in English are eligible to complete the survey. Participants will also have the opportunity to enter a drawing for one of twenty $20 gift cards. A parental consent form must be received before students can participate. Parents of high school students can begin the process of completing the survey here:
Let us know about your upcoming events
If you have an event or campaign that you would like SEARAC to promote to our communities, please fill out this form to let us know! We recommend alerting us to your event at least two weeks in advance of the date to allow time for processing. If you have any questions about your submission, please email
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. 

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