Leadership and Advocacy Training 2017


This year, both the Trump administration and Congress have vowed to upend our refugee and immigration system in ways that could have profound consequences for Southeast Asian American communities, such as barring and deporting low-income immigrants, eliminating many family visas, severely limiting refugee admissions, and ramping up deportations, especially for immigrants with criminal convictions.

Our 2017 LAT training will focus specifically on immigration and deportation policy, with a special emphasis on the deportation consequences of old criminal convictions. Cambodian, Hmong, Lao, and Vietnamese immigrants and refugees are 3-4 times more likely than other immigrants to be deported because of old criminal convictions, often "aggravated felonies" under immigration law. These "aggravated felonies" include crimes as minor as possession of drugs and shoplifting.

Current laws make it all but impossible to fight deportation under these circumstances, and even long-time green card holders who arrived in the U.S. as refugee children can be deported. Because of unique agreements between the U.S. and Southeast Asian countries, people often move on with their lives and start families and careers before they are finally deported years later.

Deportation touches the lives of so many of our Southeast Asian American families, but stigma and shame keep many families from speaking out.


This year’s LAT will focus on the policies behind deportation in the SEAA community, as well as the intersecting issues that contribute to high rates of criminalization, including:

  • History of the SEAA refugee and resettlement experience
  • Mental health and intergenerational trauma
  • School discipline policies, high school push-out, and bullying

We will also present the general landscape of immigration policy, including policies that would support or threaten undocumented students and families.

Each LAT participant will learn how to talk about SEAA deportation and how it impacts their own lives, their families, or their communities in a way that can move a policy maker to action. The third day of the training will culminate in direct advocacy with Congress and the administration.

Our expectation is that LAT alumni will continue to practice their advocacy skills at the state and local level upon completion of the training.

Training goals

The goals of LAT in 2017 are to:

1.) Train and mobilize participants to amplify a shared agenda on the issue of deportation with Members of Congress and federal agencies.

2.) Expose participants to different types of advocacy models and issue-based campaign strategies.

3.) Connect participants to follow-up advocacy opportunities on the federal, state, and local levels.

4.) Prepare participants to be spokespersons for their community.

Apply now

SEARAC will cover the majority of travel and lodging expenses for accepted applicants living outside of the Washington, DC area, but participants may be responsible for a portion of their travel costs.

We welcome individuals from all 50 states to apply. Because of key opportunities in the Senate, we especially encourage applications from community members in Minnesota, California, Rhode Island, North Carolina, and Texas.

Applicants should expect final decisions and invitations by early April.

Training Dates

LAT: June 26 - 28, 2017

Applications due: March 10, 2017