About Us

Our Mission

SEARAC is a national civil rights organization that builds power with diverse communities from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam 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. 

We envision a socially, politically, and economically just society for all communities to enjoy for all generations.”

Our History

In 1979, a group of Americans concerned about the genocide in Cambodia, as well as the large number of refugees fleeing Southeast Asia, founded SEARAC as the “Indochina Refugee Action Center” or “IRAC.” The war and bombings of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia claimed millions of lives between 1955 and 1975. After the wars ended, political persecution and violence continued to force hundreds of thousands of refugees across borders and out onto the open sea. IRAC pushed the US to welcome these refugees and protect their human rights and dignity.

Photo by Berta Romero


IRAC’s advocacy laid the foundation for the United States’ first formal refugee system. As the flow of refugees from Southeast Asia surged, IRAC urged the United States to develop a comprehensive response to receive and properly support new refugees. These early advocacy efforts resulted in the passage of the Refugee Act of 1980 and the establishment of the Office of Refugee Resettlement. Throughout the 1980s, IRAC continued to champion the human rights of refugees, while nurturing community-led support networks in the United States.

Photo by Berta Romero


In 1991, IRAC became the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC). As the flow of refugees from Southeast Asia tapered, SEARAC shifted its focus toward the long-term integration needs and civic engagement of Southeast Asian Americans. SEARAC builds the capacity of dozens of powerful Southeast Asian American community-based organizations to serve and support the community. Since 1998, SEARAC’s advocacy trainings have graduated over 1,000 individual Southeast Asian American leaders who have gone on to mobilize for progressive policies at the local, state, and national level.


Today, SEARAC advocates at the highest levels of national and California state government to call for justice and equity for Southeast Asian American communities, as well as all immigrants and communities of color. We invest in building powerful individual advocates and resilient community-based organizations who fight collectively for our community’s needs and uplift our strengths.

Learn More

Learn more about SEARAC’s programs, successes, and vision in our recent annual reports and strategic plan.


States with the Largest Southeast Asian American Populations (2019, 2017)

Congressional Districts with the Largest Southeast Asian American Populations (2019, 2017)

Southeast Asian Americans at a Glance: Statistical Profile
SEARAC’s latest Southeast Asian American Statistical Profile includes a compilation of findings and analysis on Southeast Asian American communities based on data from the 2010 American Community Survey. Updated October 2011.

Southeast Asian American Statistical Profile: 2000
This Southeast Asian American Statistical Profile contains findings and analysis on Southeast Asian American communities based on data from the 2000 Census.

SEARAC National southeast asian american equity agenda

Following a community-centered process that included interviews with more than 30 partner organizations that serve, empower, educate, and advocate on behalf of SEAA communities nationwide, SEARAC developed an equity agenda that seeks to bridge the gap between local community need and national policy opportunities to drive equity in the areas of census, education, health, and immigration. The equity agenda outlines SEARAC’s priorities leading for 2023-2024.

SEARAC National Southeast Asian American Equity Agenda

SEARAC Five-Year Strategic Plan

SEARAC’s new five-year strategic plan was informed by more than 40 partner organizations and community leaders and defines our major strategies and direction for their years ahead.  Our five priorities include: build mighty communities, shape national policies from the ground up, bolster California for national change, cultivate leaders and shifting narratives, and build a path forward as survivors who thrive.

SEARAC Strategic Plan 2022 – 2026