Spotlight
The SEARAC T-shirt store is now open!
SEARAC is pleased to announce the launch of our end-of-year T-shirt fundraiser, which features new limited edition shirts designed by LAT alumnus and Southeast Asian American artist ph.am in addition to our popular Made by Refugees, Made by Immigrants, and I Stand with SEARAC designs. These shirts are only available until Dec. 4, so get yours today!
Health
ACA open enrollment now until Dec. 15 for most states
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) enrollment period opened on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020 and ends on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020 for most states. There are some states with extended or permanently extended deadlines: 

  • Minnesota: December 22, 2020
  • Colorado: January 15, 2021
  • Pennsylvania: January 15, 2021
  • Nevada: January 15, 2021
  • Washington: January 15, 2021
  • Massachusetts: January 23, 2021
  • Rhode Island: January 23, 2021
  • California: January 31, 2021
  • District of Columbia: January 31, 2021
  • New Jersey: January 31, 2021
  • New York: January 31, 2021

Applicants who are eligible for Medicaid or CHIP can enroll year-round. You can refer to SEARAC’s Enrollment FAQ and Get Covered 2021 for more information. SEARAC urges uninsured community members to enroll in ACA coverage. For individuals and families already enrolled, SEARAC recommends that you review your options on the marketplace to see if your health care coverage has changed and/or if there are other plans that offer services you or your family require.
COVID-19 cases surge, highest peak since pandemic began 
With the holidays just around the corner, COVID-19 positive cases continue to surge in the United States with a new record high of 185,759 new cases on Thursday, Nov. 19. Many hospitals around the country are overwhelmed by the continuous increase in COVID-19 related hospitalizations. To date, more than 252,000 Americans have died from the virus. And while two different pharmaceutical companies have declared the development of a 95% effective vaccine, mass development and distribution of any vaccine 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 members of Congress to pass a robust COVID-19 relief bill that would provide financial, health, housing, education, and immigration support for all Southeast Asian Americans. You can view SEARAC’s COVID-19 priorities here.
2018 ACA protest image via Ted Eytan, WUSF Public Media
SCOTUS hears oral arguments in California v. Texas
On Nov. 10, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in California v. Texas, a case seeking to strike down the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The case is led by 18 states and two individuals with the backing of the Trump Administration. If SCOTUS decides to repeal the ACA, 20 million people will lose their health insurance and millions more will be at risk of losing or being denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions, which may eventually include COVID-19. If the Court chooses not to preserve the entire ACA, they could also rule that only the individual mandate is unconstitutional while preserving the rest of the law. Since its enactment, the ACA has decreased the percentage of Southeast Asians without health insurance by about half. SEARAC continues to closely monitor this case and remains steadfast in our position that the entirety of the ACA must be upheld. 
Education
Critical education initiatives not passed in California
Propositions 15 and 16 on the CA statewide ballot were opportunities to provide resources for underfunded schools and address systemic inequities that continue to impact marginalized, low-income, and vulnerable students. While neither proposition was successful, we know that many Californians care about racial justice and dismantling structural inequities, and parents and families want to see increased education resources to support distance learning and a high-quality education for all students. SEAA students continue to struggle with limited English proficiency, lack of representation, and inadequate support in school. Almost 30% of SEAAs have not completed a high school education, more than double the national average rate. SEARAC will continue fighting for education equity to provide our students with the necessary resources, access, and support to thrive.
Recommendations for the CA Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum
The Instructional Quality Commission under the CA Dept of Education has released public comments and agency recommendations from the last draft of the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC) from August 2020. The ESMC will continue to build on the four foundational studies of African American, Asian American and Pacific Islander, Chicanx/Latinx, and Native American history. Guidelines and resources for AAPI studies will include Cambodian, Hmong, Lao, and Vietnamese lessons after SEARAC and CA partners provided extensive review and recommendations in the last two years. Another 45-day public comment period on a revised draft is expected soon, with the State Board of Education taking final actions by March 2021.
Federal court upholds Harvard race-conscious admissions
On Nov. 12, the US Court for the First Circuit in Massachusetts ruled in a 2-0 decision that Harvard College’s race-conscious admissions policy is lawful and does not discriminate against Asian American applicants. This decision upholds a lower court ruling from 2019 and affirms race-conscious admissions policies as valid methods for considering the entirety of a student’s qualities and potential, providing underserved and marginalized students with a fair shot at education, and creating diverse campuses where students can learn from each other. SEARAC applauds this decision and remains committed to defending race-conscious admissions, affirmative action, and equitable higher education policies that expand opportunity for all students. Read our past statements on affirmative action here.
Immigration
CA Gov. Newsom grants new pardons and commutations
On Nov. 10, CA Gov. Newsom issued a number of pardons and commutations, including grants for members of the SEAA community and some at risk of deportation. Still, more people have died as a result of COVID-19 in CA prisons than have been granted release through clemency. As of last week, there have been nearly 17,000 COVID-19 cases in CDCR facilities and over 80 preventable deaths, even as advocates and public health experts continue to urge for the reduction of prison populations and ending of prison-to-ICE transfers during the pandemic. We continue to press Gov. Newsom to grant mass clemencies to address racial injustice and the criminalization of immigrant and refugee communities, end deportations and keep families together, and stop the rapid spread of COVID-19 within our state prison system.
Revised civics test for naturalization begins Dec. 1
On Nov. 13, USCIS announced a revision to the civics portion of the US naturalization test. This new test goes into effect for applicants on Dec. 1. The revisions make the test longer and more difficult: the pool of questions to study from increased from 100 questions to 128 questions. It also doubles the number of questions applicants need to answer correctly, from 6 out of 10 questions on the previous test, to now 12 out of 20 questions. These new changes are overly burdensome and will lead to even greater backlogs and delays in the citizenship process. SEARAC will continue fighting to ensure that the naturalization process is fair, accessible, and affordable for all. 
Proposed new rule limits work authorization for immigrants
On Nov. 17, DHS announced a proposed new rule that would limit employment authorization for immigrants with a final removal order. Under the proposed rule, immigrants with deportation orders need to provide proof of economic necessity to work and must demonstrate that DHS’ determination of their removal from the US is impracticable. The proposed rule also changes the validity of granted work permits to one year, regardless of whether it is an initial or a renewal employment authorization. SEARAC is working to submit a comment and also urges community members to submit comments to DHS opposing the changes of the proposed rule. The deadline for comments is Dec. 21, and they can be submitted here
Civic Engagement
People wear their face masks waiting in line for an emergency food distribution at the 88th Street Temple Church of God in Christ on April 14, 2020 in Los Angeles, CA during the coronavirus pandemic. (Frederic J. Brown | AFP | Getty Images)
Language access and unemployment support in California
Last month, SEARAC and several civil rights partners in CA submitted a policy memo to the Employment Development Department, Governor’s office, and other stakeholders advocating for more inclusive language access and to uphold the state’s mandate to provide all qualified Californians, including those with limited English proficiency, with meaningful access to public benefits. SEAA community members continue to report insufficient infrastructure support, language barriers, and a lack of response or long waiting times for requests and questions. Our recommendations in the memo include expanding languages and translations for online applications and digital materials, as well as increasing the breadth of interpreters and languages for phone line support.
Celebrating a historic appointment
SEARAC applauds the appointment of Nkauj Iab Yang as the first Executive Director of the California Commission on Asian Pacific Islander American Affairs. Nkauj Iab is SEARAC's former CA Director and a long-time community leader. “I am humbled for the opportunity to serve as the first executive director of the California Commission on (APIA) Affairs Commission,” Yang said in a press release. “The love, guidance, and dedication of my entire village has gotten me here today ... and it is my village, you, who I will continue to lean on to lead and guide the work of the APIA Commission to move California towards healing, equity, and access.”
Census Bureau updates affirm need for timeline extensions
Census Bureau officials recently flagged irregularities found during data processing and quality improvement activities. This development jeopardizes the Trump Administration's insistence on the agency meeting a Dec. 31 deadline for producing state population totals despite COVID-19's disruptive effect on census operations. These quality assurance processes normally take five months, but the current timeline allots just two. "The notion that the 2020 Census data could be processed in half the time scheduled given all the obstacles and challenges that the Census Bureau encountered defies logic," one expert stated. It is vital that the 2020 Census is accurate, because the numbers will guide allocation of critical COVID-19 pandemic recovery resources, as well as federal funding and political representation for SEAA communities over the next 10 years. Alongside our census coalition partners, SEARAC urges Congress to pass the bipartisan, bicameral 2020 Census Deadline Extensions Act to give the Census Bureau the time it needs to ensure the most accurate census possible.
Want to help with runoff elections in Georgia? 
The 2020 Elections aren't over yet! Two runoff elections for US Senate seats are taking place in January 2021 in the state of Georgia. Want to lend a hand? Donate to or volunteer with the following organizations:


For a full list of Georgia BIPOC-led voter outreach organizations (created by They See Blue Georgia), click here.
Announcements
Join a study on COVID-19's impact on SEAA immigrant parents
Fordham University is conducting a study to learn about how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting the experiences of Southeast Asian immigrant parents. Help inform where support is most needed in our communities by completing the screening form by Dec. 15th. Please contact Sophie Uyen Nguyen if you have any questions or are interested in participating after Dec. 15th at unguyen5@fordham.edu or 626-257-4833. Thank you!

Nếu bạn muốn tham gia phỏng vấn, xin vui lòng hoàn tất vài câu hỏi sơ lược (qua link) trước ngày 15 tháng 12 năm 2020. Xin bạn vui lòng liên lạc Sophie Uyên Nguyễn nếu bạn có bất kỳ câu hỏi gì hay muốn tham gia phỏng vấn sau ngày 15 tháng 12 qua email unguyen5@fordham.edu hoặc số điện thoại 626-257-4833. Chân thành cảm ơn!
Federal resume bank now open for AAPI candidates
The Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS) and National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) have opened their resume bank for AAPI candidates interested in a federal appointment. The intent of this bank is to identify and flag qualified AAPI candidates to serve in a federal administration.
 
  • For more information about the appointment process, types of appointments, and what to expect, please visit the Partnership for Public Service’s “Ready to Serve” website
  • Please review the previous Plum Books to research listings of former appointee positions, departments, agencies, and desired bureaus to inform your application.
  • Access the resume bank submission form here
Let us know about your upcoming events
If you have an event or campaign that you would like SEARAC to promote to the community, fill out this Google Form to let us know! We recommend submissions are entered at least two weeks in advance of event date to allow time for processing and scheduled uplift. To follow up regarding your requests, please email alyssa@searac.org
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 www.searac.org