May 2019 - In This Issue:

Announcing Moving Mountains scholarships 
Moving Mountains 2019 will take place on October 2-4 in Sacramento, CA, and will bring together 175-200 Southeast Asian American changemakers, from college students, to community leaders, to elders, from across the United States.

To ensure representation across regions, organizations, and generations, SEARAC will be providing a limited number of scholarships to community members who need financial support to attend and who exemplify the spirit and mission of the eq uity summit. Applications will be accepted through June 28. Apply today.

SEARAC is also currently accepting workshop proposals. We invite you to submit your vision that keeps in mind our convening's overall theme of Southeast Asian American self-determination and at least one of our four guiding pillars: inspiration , connection , innovation , and activation . You'll be able to choose from one of seven workshop themes: capacity building; community engagement; mind, body, and soul; policy and advocacy; diversity, inclusion, and racial equity; artistic expression; and big ideas. And you'll also select one of four session formats, ranging from a multiday 180-minute deep dive to a 30-minute group reflection.

Scholarship applications and proposals will be accepted through Friday, June 28, at 11:59 pm local time.

For more information, visit Moving Mountains 2019.


Panel discussion with Viet Thanh Nguyen
On May 5, 2019, SEARAC co-sponsored a panel discussion with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen , contributing author of The Displaced Joseph Azam, immigrant rights advocate Somdeng Danny Thongsy , and our very own Director of California Policy and Programs Nkauj Iab Yang, moderated by longtime community activist and storyteller Michael Tran.

The panel explored personal and familial struggles surviving the global immigrant and refugee experiences pre- and post- resettlement into the United States, the transformation each panelist made during their journeys of owning the complexities of their histories and identities, and the powerful role to shift the narrative of immigrant and refugee populations together through their own respective work as a writer, lawyer, advocate, and organizer.

Thank you to all of the sponsors who co-hosted such a powerful community dialogue: Oakland Asian Cultural Center, Eastwind Books of Berkeley, Asian Health Services, Asian Prisoner Support Committee, Asian Students Promoting Immigrant Rights through Education, and Chinese for Affirmative Action.

ICE Drops Tung Nguyen and Many Uch's deportation cases
SEARAC congratulates Tung Nguyen and Many Uch on their significant victories against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). We also congratulate Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus for its victories and assistance in Tung's and Many's cases.

Tung Nguyen is 40 years old, born and raised in Vietnam. He arrived in the United States around 1991 at 14 years of age. In 1993, at 16, he was sentenced to 25 years to life for his involvement in a
crime of murder and robbery. In 2011, after having served 18 years, he was found suitable for parole with a future release date of 2023. In April 2011, CA Gov. Jerry Brown reviewed the Board
of Parole's decision and modified the Board's decision to allow his release from prison.

On April 23, 2019, because of the governor's pardon granted to him in 2018, Nguyen's deportation case was terminated by ICE. While incarcerated he earned his high school diploma and an associate of arts degree from Patten University-Prison University Project and participated in various self-help programs. He is currently living with his family, and when possible, he participates in community outreach, including restorative justice, juvenile advocate, and victim reconciliation.

Many Uch arrived in the United States as a refugee from Cambodia in 1984 when he was 8 years old. At 14, he was swept up into a local gang with his peers, and in 1994, he was arrested for driving a car for friends who had committed armed robbery. Many served 40 months in prison, where he transformed his life. Upon release, he was held by ICE in immigrant detention for an additional 28 months.

When Many was finally released from custody, he devoted his life to helping other Cambodian youth by founding the grassroots social justice group Khmer in Action to organize the community around deportation issues affecting so many young men. Many spoke at schools and youth groups about gang prevention, and even spoke before the U.S. Congress on deportation and immigration law. In 2007, Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire pardoned Many's 1994 conviction. Fortunately, changes in post-conviction release laws in Washington State and sentencing reform in his county allowed Many to reduce his convictions to non-deportable misdemeanors. ICE terminated his deportation case in May of 2019.

SEARAC uplifts letter calling for repeal of '96 immigration laws
Our current immigration laws are designed to criminalize, incarcerate, and separate our families. They tear immigrant families apart and continue the United States' long history of criminalizing communities of color. The blueprint for our current deportation machine lies in two 1996 immigration laws: the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act. SEARAC recently uplifted a letter to Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Hoyer calling for Congressional action now to repeal the many provisions in these laws that hurt immigrant and refugee communities.  For more background information, you can watch our webinar and read the Immigrant Justice Network report .  


39 representatives demand SEAA language support
Rep. Lori Trahan (MA-3) sent a letter with 39 signatures from House colleagues to the Census Bureau this month urging the addition of translated phone and online support in Khmer, Lao, and Hmong (in addition to the already existing support for Vietnamese translations) for the 2020 Census. If your representative signed this letter, consider contacting him or her today to give kudos for supporting efforts to strengthen the ability of many limited English proficient Southeast Asian American community members and elders to be counted for the next 10 years!


Send us your stories
As part of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and Mental Health Awareness Month, SEARAC is excited to launch our SEARAC Mental Health Story Collection - California campaign to identify gaps in mental health services and develop community-defined policy solutions. To celebrate the month and to inspire your participation, we've shared powerful stories from the  community, including Elizabeth's story (pictured above). 

Your story will also help convey to California state legislators why they should support Assembly Bill 512: Cultural Competence in Mental Health , a bill that SEARAC is co-sponsoring. Additionally, your experience will be used to inform a larger statewide #Care4MyCulture campaign , which seeks to improve cultural competence in California's mental health delivery system.

The survey takes 10-15 minutes to complete. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns regarding this campaign or your participation, you may contact SEARAC Policy Associate Lee Lo at .

House passes bills to protect access to health care

This month, the House Democrats passed a package of healthcare bills aimed at blocking the Trump Administration's ongoing efforts to allow insurance companies to sell junk insurance plans discriminating against Americans with pre-existing conditions The House plan  also aims to restore funding for ACA outreach, enrollment, and advertising, and lower the cost of prescription drugs. The White House has already threatened to veto some of these bills, making it evident this Administration cares little for protections that many Americans rely on for quality health coverage. 

Discovering our hidden narratives, strengthening our roots
SEARAC was a sponsor of "Discovering Our Hidden Narratives: Strengthening Our Roots," this year's visibility event for the Alliance of Rhode Island Southeast Asians for Education (ARISE). The event showcased ARISE's youth-led work over the past year for educational justice and honored six graduating seniors with scholarships. Highlights from the past year included launching a youth-led educational justice campaign through the Providence Alliance for Student Safety, growing and sustaining their student-centered ethnic studies programming, and implementing a research project on the Southeast Asian American (SEAA) educational experience in Rhode Island. Youth spoke to the incredible power of being their authentic selves in order to heal together from intergenerational trauma and fight for access, equity, and success for their communities. SEARAC is incredibly humbled by the power of SEAA young people, and we are proud to continue partnering with ARISE to amplify our youth.


Community story

This month, former SEARAC intern Pele Văn Lê shares his advocacy awakening in  Bridging My Vietnamese Identity To Our Southeast Asian Advocacy. Part memoir, part photoessay, the blog post takes readers on a journey from Pele's familial legacy in Vietnam, his roots in Minnesota, and his current work in DC fighting for his own community.

Free legal help for victims of abuse
On Saturday, June 8, 2019, My Sister's House, based in Sacramento, CA, will be providing free legal help for those victims of abuse. The areas the organization can assist in include: divorce, separation, annulment, spousal support, parentage, child custody, child visitation, child support and restraining orders. Those in need of language translation can reach out to (916) 930-0626. The workshop will be from 10 am to 12 pm, and individuals must call and RSVP to get the location due to confidentiality. RSVP to (916) 930-0626.

SEAA fashion show

On Saturday, June 8 , 2019, the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association of Greater Lowell (CMAA) will be celebrating its 4 th "Enchanted Evening" of Fashion. This fundraising event will showcase outfits and food from different cultures that truly reveal the diversity of Lowell. CMAA will celebrate its partnerships by highlighting various local businesses, food from local restaurants, performances by the youth programs of CMAA, and listening to traditional music while raising money to support our important programs. The Fashion Show will proudly feature traditional outfits from Burma, Cambodia, India, Laos, and Vietnam.
For more information about this event, please contact Thavy Hout, (978) 454-6200 or or visit Tickets are $50.  

Bilingual election officers needed
Sacramento County Voter Registration and Elections seek bilingual Election Officers, including individuals who speak Hmong and Vietnamese, to assist them at Vote Centers for the upcoming elections.  Vote Centers are open countywide 10 days prior (Early Voting Days) and Election Day. Shift assignments range from 8 to 10 hours on Early Voting Days and approximately 15 hours on Election Day. 


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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