Community Spotlight
Photo credit: Hmong Cultural Center
Support the Hmong Cultural Center after act of vandalism
On Sept. 8, the Hmong Cultural Center in Minneapolis was vandalized, which forced the center to delay the opening of its new museum expansion by several weeks. The Hmong Cultural Center is the only free-standing Hmong museum in the United States. The vandalism included white paint across the front of the museum, with the white supremacist phrase “life, liberty, and victory” stenciled into the paint. We send our love and healing to the Hmong community in Minnesota and encourage donations to support repairs and enhanced safety measures.
AANAPISI Week (Sept. 27 - Oct. 3, 2021)
This year marks the 14th anniversary of the establishment of the Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (AANAPISI) program by Congress on Sept. 27, 2007. The program was created to improve the availability and quality of postsecondary education programs and to support Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) students. Learn more by visiting APIA Scholars’ AANAPISI webpage for research and resources on how campuses are making a difference for AANHPI students.
Investments in education in budget reconciliation
The House Education and Labor Committee is currently working on the Build Back Better Act, which would invest hundreds of millions in early care and education, increase Pell grants by an additional $500 as well as expand access to Pell grants to DACA students, invest in school infrastructure, and increase funding for minority-serving institutions such as AANAPISIs.
Solidarity with Haitian refugees seeking asylum
SEARAC is outraged by the images of cruelty and violence at the southern US border, where Border Patrol agents attacked Haitian refugees as they sought asylum in the United States. Haiti has suffered from devastating natural disasters and political turmoil in recent months, and seeking asylum is a human right.

We agree with this statement from Asian Americans Advancing Justice, which urges the Biden Administration to end deportation of Haitian migrants. "Instead of abuse at the border, Haitians must be offered basic humanitarian aid of safe shelter, water, food, and health care." For more information on how to support Haitian refugees, check out the following:

Rep. Omar leads letter to Administration to lift visa sanctions
Last week, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN-5) led a letter, along with ten other members of Congress, to the Department of Homeland Security and State Department urging both agencies to fully lift visa sanctions on Burma, Burundi, Cambodia, Eritrea, and Laos. The letter also asked the agencies to conduct a full review of all the other remaining sanctions. SEARAC applauds Rep. Omar and echoes the requests of the letter. You can read SEARAC’s full statement here
White House announces 125,000 refugee cap
President Biden recently announced an intended refugee cap of 125,000 for Fiscal Year 2022. The new refugee cap is a drastic improvement from the 65,000 put in place by President Biden earlier this year. However, given the number of refugees now also fleeing Afghanistan, SEARAC joins other refugee organizations and urges President Biden to increase the refugee cap to 200,000 for this coming fiscal year. The Afghan refugee crisis did not end with the U.S. withdrawal from that country, and we must increase our admissions goals to accommodate for the likely increase in Afghan refugees fleeing from the new regime. 
California’s effort to reform sanctuary laws continues
The VISION Act, or Assembly Bill 937, which aims to protect refugee and immigrant community members who have already been deemed eligible for release from being funneled by jails and prisons to immigration detention, has been put on hold until the second year of the legislative process resumes in January. Our disappointment is echoed through the ongoing suffering that families will have to endure as they continue to be separated from loved ones and live each day not knowing whether they will be able to see and be with their families and communities again. This bill pertains to community members who have already served their time and are eligible for release, and highlights an unjust system that continues to double punish immigrant communities.
Senate Parliamentarian rules against citizenship
This week, the Senate Parliamentarian issued two rulings that advised against including a pathway to citizenship in the Budget Reconciliation Infrastructure Bill, a crushing blow to people who deserve to be formally recognized as the Americans they already are. We are consulting and planning with our communities, our allies, and our champions to determine next steps in the process to get to yes. There will be a next step. We will achieve a breakthrough. Stay tuned.
The Right to Heal: Mental health equity in California
SEARAC extends our deep gratitude to our partners, speakers, and participants who joined us on September 22 for The Right to Heal event, which identified mental health barriers and policy recommendations toward improving the Mental Health Services Act and mental health equity in California. Thank you to the California Pan Ethnic Health Network for their incredible leadership, as well as to the Hmong Cultural Center in Butte County for ensuring that our advocacy and work is always deeply grounded in the community. You can watch the recording of the event and read our latest report, “A Right to Heal: Mental Health in Diverse Communities.”
Comprehensive health coverage for older adults in California
Historic moves have been made toward universal health coverage for all Californians, including the signing of Assembly Bill 133 into law, which removed immigration status as a barrier to full-scope Medi-Cal (California’s Medicaid) eligibility for Californians ages 50 and over. Full-scope Medi-Cal has comprehensive health benefits and participation in Medi-Cal does not affect an individual’s immigration case or “public charge” determination. SEARAC and statewide health advocates will continue pushing for health coverage expansion in the second year of the legislative session, including coverage for all income-eligible adults regardless of immigration status.
CA Legislature passes mental health bills to support youth
SEARAC supports and urges Governor Newsom to sign: (1) Senate Bill 224, which will require all students in California to receive appropriate mental health education and mandate the Department of Education to develop a plan to expand mental health instruction in public schools, and (2) Senate Bill 14, which will require local education agencies serving students grades 7-12 to train staff on youth behavioral health and to allow excused absences for mental health needs. COVID-19 has only exacerbated the mental health needs faced by youth and our system needs better opportunities and tools to address the behavioral health crisis in schools.
SEARAC in the News
PBS NewsHour: As Afghan refugees arrive in the U.S., Southeast Asian American advocates urge more support
Earlier this month, SEARAC was featured on PBS NewsHour in both an article and on the Sept. 3 broadcast. Reporter Frances Kai-Hwa Wang shared quotes from our Executive Director, Quyen Dinh, and our Director of National Policy, Kham S. Moua, about the United States’ obligation to support Afghan refugees and the echoes of the wars in Southeast Asia that are seen in the US’ exit from Afghanistan today.
Staff Blog
In SEARAC's September staff blog, our Communications Intern, Anna Dang, shares her original poem “I resent that I’m Vietnamese American,” where she captures her complicated emotions that come with being a daughter of Vietnamese refugees.

“I, We, were forced
to be Asian American

You demolished my motherland
You erected the walls that trap my Heart
I have been to the motherland, but
I don’t know if I ever truly went back.”

Read Anna's powerful poem here.
Introducing a new book in Southeast Asian American studies
Voices of a New Generation: Cambodian Americans in the Creative Arts by Dr. Christine Su

This groundbreaking book delves into the experiences and tells the stories of members of the 1.5 and 2.0 generations of Cambodian Americans. From martial arts to fashion design, from cooking to classical dance, this book follows fifteen Khmer Americans and explores how they negotiate and express their hybrid identities through the arts. 

The book is available now at
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. 

Find out more at