July 2019 - In This Issue:

Mental health for Southeast Asian Americans in CA
During Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, SEARAC ramped up our commitment to improving mental health services for communities of color and the LGBTQ+ community. As part of our Mental Health Story Collection campaign, respondents shared their vulnerable experiences navigating a mental health system that was not built with our community in mind. In doing so, they helped SEARAC create a collective vision of what mental health services need to become in order to serve Southeast Asian Americans. Click here to view some of the community stories we've shared. To learn more about the impact of unaddressed mental health conditions and intergenerational trauma, read our recently released report,  Intergenerational Trauma and Southeast Asian American Youth in California.

Additionally, SEARAC-sponsored CA legislation, Assembly Bill 512 (Ting) to improve cultural and linguistic competence in mental health passed out of the California Senate Health Committee (7-1). Through the leadership of Assemblymember Phil Ting and community advocates, AB 512 moved forward in the legislature into the California Senate Appropriations Committee.

Advocating for Reuniting Families Act
As a member of the Value Our Families (VOF) Coalition, SEARAC joined other immigrant rights organizations from across the country to advocate for broad Congressional support for Rep. Chu's (D-CA) Reuniting Families Act. Montha Chum, co-founder of ReleaseMN8 and SEARAC LEAF 2018 participant, joined the VOF fly-in and spoke at the press conference introducing the bill.

House hears remarks on SEAA deportations 
SEARAC has been working with Rep. Harley Rouda's (D-CA-48) office on Southeast Asian American deportations. In June, the representative spoke on the House floor
opposing the deportations of refugees from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam and recognized the work of SEARAC, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, and the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association.

Denouncing July 1st deportation of 37 Cambodian Americans
On July 1st, ICE deported 37 Cambodian Americans. SEARAC denounced the deportations as a continued attack on SEAA communities and refugees. The deportations bring the total number of SEAAs deported since 1998 to more than 2,000 individuals.

Urging Congress to Repeal Hurtful '96 Immigration Laws
In June, SEARAC and over 240 immigration and civil rights organizations sent a
letter to Congress  urging the repeal of the 1996 immigration laws. Individuals who are interested in learning more about the impact of these laws can watch this webinar hosted by Families for Freedom, Immigrant Defense Project, Immigrant Justice Network, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, and SEARAC. 

Supreme Court blocks census citizenship question 
In late June, the Supreme Court
rejected the Trump Administration's efforts to add a controversial citizenship question to the 2020 census questionnaire, forcing the president to abandon his efforts to derail the accurate count of immigrant communities. This decision delivers much cause for hope and celebration for civil rights activists, who have been fighting the past year to exclude this question to preserve the integrity of the 2020 count. The Census Bureau has begun printing the census questionnaire without this question.

Because census dictates how federal money will be spent in the next 10 years and also greatly impacts federal representation in Congress, SEARAC is committed to working with community partners to share resources and information as we hear more about rollout. Consider signing up to be a SEARAC Census Ambassador to educate your community and get out the count. Click here for more info

Senators advocate for additional SEAA language translations
Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) coordinated a letter with support from 18 senators to the US Census Bureau advocating for additional phone and online translation support in Cambodian, Lao, and Hmong to complement the already existing support for Vietnamese. Following a similar  letter  on the House side signed by 39 representatives, Congressional champions have been stepping up to ensure that limited English proficient SEAA communities get the support they need in order to get counted.


Denouncing public charge rule 
More than 100 AAPI leaders and allies joined legislative leaders in June to denounce a public charge rule forcing immigrants to choose between accessing critical anti-hunger and anti-poverty programs and their ability to secure a green card. A press conference was hosted on Capitol Hill to demonstrate community opposition to another Trump Administration policy aiming to alienate and terrorize immigrant communities. Last year, SEARAC mobilized a campaign to collect over 800 comments to oppose this regulation.

ACA civil rights protections now vulnerable 
The US Department of Health and Human Services released a rule proposing a number of changes that would radically reinterpret civil rights protections under the Health Care Rights Law (Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act). The Asian American community is particularly concerned about what this could mean for LEP communities, including the roughly 40% of SEAA individuals who do not speak English very well. For more information, check out this resource, template comment for community-based organizations from Asian and Pacific Islander American Health Forum, as well as SEARAC's own comment. Click here to submit your own individual comment and consider participating in this week of action. 

Opposing efforts to shrink the federal poverty line
The Trump Administration released a new proposal that would change the way the federal poverty line adjusts annually for inflation, effectively reducing the number of people who would qualify for critical government benefits, such as Medicaid, Medicare, SNAP, and many other health and nutrition aid programs. While the changes made from this proposal would not be very noticeable at first, the collective impact in the long term would eliminate assistance for millions. SEARAC submitted a comment on the potential harm this policy would do for many low-income families and elders struggling to make ends meet. 


Prioritizing equitable higher education
The Higher Education Civil Rights Coalition, convened by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and of which SEARAC is a member, released a set of policy principles and recommendations for a fair and equitable higher education system. The principles describe the fundamental elements of a system that advances equity and protects students' civil rights, especially for students who have been historically marginalized in higher education, including SEAAs. The principles and recommendations were developed in partnership with a diverse coalition of civil rights organizations, and they are informed by the knowledge, experience, and perspectives of the entire coalition. The principles reflect SEARAC's policy priorities in college access, affordability, and completion, as well as the necessity of data equity in education.


Moving Mountains early bird registration ends today

Click here to register for our second biennial Equity Summit on October 2-4 at the Sheraton Grand Sacramento Hotel in Sacramento. Registration includes the three-day summit program, breakfast for three days and lunch for two, and a gala ticket for the evening of Friday, October 4.  T ake advantage of our early bird discount by the end of today to take $25 off the cost of  registration (p romo code: EARLY BIRD).  LEARN MORE
SEARAC internships
SEARAC is still accepting applications for a national policy intern based in Washington, DC, to support efforts to advocate for access to affordable, culturally, and linguistically appropriate care, education equity, and immigrant justice. This position is a good fit for someone with strong research skills, high attention to detail, and a passion for social justice. LEARN MORE

This month on our staff blog, meet SEARAC's California policy intern Tiffany Tran, who writes about what motivates her to pursue community service. 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. 
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