June 2020 - In This Issue:

A California win
Last week, Ny Nourn, Community Advocate at  Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus (ALC) and alumnus of our Leadership and Advocacy Training program,  received a full and unconditional pardon from CA Gov. Gavin Newsom, which will prevent her deportation for Cambodia. Gov. Newsom also issued a pardon to 1Love Cambodia founding member Sophea Om, which may allow her to reunite with her 16-year-old son after being deported to Cambodia in 2011. 

After receiving this news, Ny said, "I am grateful to Gov. Newsom for his pardon, and I want to ask him to extend clemency to other currently and formerly incarcerated refugees, immigrants and survivors facing deportation like I was. California can take a step in the right direction and stop the prison-to-ICE pipeline." 

Read Ny's full statement  here.

Senate delays COVID-19 relief package
Despite increasing COVID-19 cases across the country, Senate leadership continues to delay a fourth COVID-19 relief package. Across the country, states are reporting an increase in COVID-19 cases, with over 2.5 million cases and 125,000 deaths. Some states have paused or slowed down their reopenings. States like California have a significant budgetary shortfall that requires additional financial assistance from the federal government, with CA Gov. Newsom indicating a $53 billion deficit without federal support. In spite of the limitations of the HEROES Act, SEARAC supported the bill's passage in order to provide relief for Southeast Asian Americans struggling during the pandemic, and we continue to push the Senate to move forward with a COVID-19 relief bill as well.

Because there is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19, the best way to prevent spread of the illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus through proper hand  hygiene, social distancing, and wearing face masks to protect others. For more information, visit the CDC's website and check out our COVID-19 resource page.


ACA lawsuit 
As the Republican-led lawsuit to repeal the Affordable Care Act continues, a new report estimates that the repeal would strip 23 million Americans of their health insurance coverage. Since passage of the ACA, the number of uninsured Southeast Asian Americans have been cut in half. For that reason, SEARAC released a report in 2018 highlighting different Southeast Asian voices speaking out against such a repeal. You can join the conversation on Twitter using #ProtectOurCare.

Affirmative action in California heads to November ballot
The California State Legislature approved ACA 5, which would reinstate affirmative action in employment, education, and state contracting. Affirmative action has been banned in California since the passage of Prop 209 in 1996, which has resulted in fewer opportunities and increased discrimination for people of color. With Senate passage last week, California's voters now have the chance to reverse the harm caused by Prop 209. Read SEARAC's letter in support of ACA 5 here, and learn more about ACA 5 here.

Trump Administration doubles down on immigration ban
This month, the president signed an executive order extending his April executive order banning entry to the United States based on the family reunification and diversity visa programs. The ban will now be in place until December 31, 2020. The new executive order also extends the ban to include certain non-immigrant programs, including high skilled and guest workers, among other employment categories. As mentioned in SEARAC's initial statement on the immigration ban, 221,000 individuals from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam are currently waiting in line to reunite with their loved ones in the United States. You can view SEARAC's full statement here

Major Supreme Court decisions
This month, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that the Trump Administration did not give adequate justification for ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. However, the opinion leaves room for the Administration to try and terminate the program again if it provides a more thorough explanation for its decision in the future. The Court also ruled in a 7-2 decision that asylum seekers whose initial asylum claim is denied by an immigration officer have no right to a court hearing, further restricting due process rights in the asylum process. The conservative majority opinion couched their rationale in the process established in the 1996 immigration laws, which continue to restrict due process rights for immigrants, asylum seekers, and refugees caught in the immigration enforcement system.

Census Bureau announces operational updates
This month, the US Census Bureau announced updates to the 2020 Census operations that community members and partners should be aware of while getting out the SEAA count.
  • The Census Bureau will begin a soft launch to nonresponse followup to ensure the smooth operation of their field plans and systems. This soft launch will entail six area census offices (ACOs) (one per census region) to begin the operation of interviewing households that have not yet responded to the 2020 Census. The Census Bureau has not yet shared the specific dates or list of ACOs.
  • The enumeration of transitory locations has been scheduled between September 3-28. This operation includes the count of people staying at campgrounds, RV parks, marinas, and hotels if they do not usually live elsewhere.
  • The enumeration of populations experiencing homelessness will occur between September 22-24.
  • The mobile questionnaire assistance (MQA) program is being modified based on current health conditions. The MQA program will add direct outreach efforts to neighborhoods across the country with the lowest response rates.
You can read the Census Bureau's press release for more information and check out SEARAC's census timeline for a summary of these scheduled dates.

Census Bureau July operations
On July 1, the Census Bureau will kick off in-person group quarters enumeration-- the count of people living or staying in group living arrangements, such as nursing facilities, military barracks, and correctional facilities.

Additionally, the Census Bureau is planning three waves of regional communications surges in July. While the campaign activities have not been finalized or announced, the Census Bureau will likely focus on areas with low response rates. We encourage our partners in the following regions to mobilize around the scheduled surges.
  • Wave 1 (July 13-19): Chicago region
  • Wave 2 (July 20-26): Denver/Dallas region, Philadelphia region, Atlanta region
  • Wave 3 (July 27-August 2): New York region, Los Angeles region
Lastly, the Census Bureau announced that households that have not yet responded will receive an additional reminder postcard between July 22-28.

Our SEARAC team expands
SEARAC is delighted to announce Mandy Diec as our new director of California. In her role, Mandy will be leading and coordinating SEARAC's policies and programs at the state level. Prior to joining SEARAC, Mandy managed and led program development and evaluations in the international development sector, with a focus on education, health, and civil society strengthening projects in Southeast Asia and Southern Africa. Welcome to the team, Mandy!

Staff Blog

To close out Pride Month, our Director of National Policy Kham S. Moua is the latest contributor to SEARAC's blog with an essay on identity and solidarity, and how today's fight in defense of Black lives intersects with the movement for LGBTQ+ and SEAA equity. Read his  full post  here .

COVID-19 impact surveys
The Critical Refugee Studies Collective is conducting a survey on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on refugees, their families and communities, refugee-serving organizations and support groups. The deadline to complete the survey is July 1, and it should take about 25-30 minutes to complete. Please use the links below to access the online survey. For questions, c ontact Professor Khatharya Um at
  • Refugee-serving organizations or support groups, click here.
  • Refugees, click here
A research study based out of Santa Clara University aims to examine the experiences of Asian Americans in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic. Researchers hope to understand the experiences of racism and discrimination  faced by Asian Americans during this time. We also hope to identify needs and resources to better advocate for the Asian American community. For more information, click here and see the below flyer. 

Opportunities with The Fresno Center
The Fresno Center seeks a Mental Health Case Manager / Wellness Coach and a paid, remote volunteer to help complete their census efforts. For more information, click here or contact Amee Moua at

Social justice fellowship 
The Nathan Cummings Foundation is seeking applications for the sixth cycle of its Fellowship program. The program awards three individuals with up to $150,000 over 18 months to turn an inspired idea that advances social justice into a reality. Fellows also receive hands-on training, resources, and leadership development to scale the impact of their work. The Fellowship is designed for emergent leaders in the U.S. who have limited access to institutional philanthropy and whose work is traditionally underfunded. Deadline to apply is Sept. 1. Learn more here.

Speaking engagements

This month, SEARAC Executive Director Quyen Dinh sat down with ForwardPromise, a national program that aims to promote the health of boys and men of color, to talk about hope, solutions, and opportunities for lasting change in the Southeast Asian American community. Watch her interview here

Quyen also participated in Tsuru for Solidarity's Tsuru Rising weekend of virtual action. Check out her remarks here
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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