- Who We Are
- What We Do
- Get Involved
- Resource Center
- Contact Us
SEARAC Defends the American Community Survey
Jun 19 SEARAC Defends the American Community Survey
Southeast Asian Americans and the American Community Survey
Submitted by Doua Thor, Southeast Asia Resource Action Center
Prepared for the Hearing on
“The Economic Impact of Ending or Reducing Funding for the American Community Survey and other
Joint Economic Committee
210 Cannon House Office Building
June 19, 2012
The American Community Survey (ACS) is one of the few reliable and accurate sources of disaggregated socioeconomic data on Cambodian, Hmong, Laotian, and Vietnamese Americans, who, together, make up the Southeast Asian American community. Eliminating the ACS would undercut the ability of the Southeast Asian American community and community-based organizations (CBO) that serve this population to advocate for their fair share of federal, state, and local resources.
Southeast Asian Americans are the largest refugee group to be resettled in the United States. In the aftermath of the Vietnam War and as a result of the atrocities in surrounding countries, millions of refugees escaping war and persecution in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam were resettled in the United States. Today, nearly two million Southeast Asian Americans make their homes throughout this nation.
As the U.S. population becomes increasingly diverse, the collection of disaggregated racial and ethnic data is increasingly important to historically underrepresented communities. For Southeast Asian Americans, the availability of disaggregated data helps shed light on the challenges and achievements otherwise masked by the grouping together of the many diverse ethnic Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. For example, the education needs of many Cambodian, Hmong, Laotian, and Vietnamese American students are often overlooked because of the “Model Minority Myth” – a misconception that all Asian Americans excel academically and face few obstacles. This misconception overshadows the high rates of poverty and limited English proficiency among this student group and often hinders efforts to address their needs. Losing the ACS would be a step backward for social justice and community-based groups who have worked to highlight the needs and challenges of the growing and diverse population of the United States.
We urge Members of Congress to continue to support the ACS and its purpose to inform governments, businesses, non-profit organizations, research institutions, and the general public about all communities and populations across the country. We, at the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC), believe that the ACS is vital in our efforts to effectively advocate on public policy and for our community-based partners to address and serve the needs of the Southeast Asian American community.
Based in Washington, DC, SEARAC is a national organization that advances the interests of Cambodian, Laotian, and Vietnamese Americans by empowering communities through advocacy, leadership development, and capacity building to create a socially just and equitable society.