Supreme Court Decision Hurts Immigrant Communities

Washington, DC – Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 and along party lines in the Nielsen v. Preap case that immigrants with a criminal record can be detained at anytime and are not required to provide such individuals with a bond hearing. Immigrants who have already been ordered removed are not subject to this decision. The American Civil Liberties Union litigated the class action lawsuit. One of the lead plaintiffs in the case was a Cambodian American named Mony Preap.

“The right to due process is a principle that is core to this country, and stripping that basic right away from immigrants, including Southeast Asian Americans who have already long served their time, is not just shameful and anti-American – it is wrong,” Quyen Dinh, executive director of SEARAC, said to AsAmNews. “We remain committed to fixing the injustices of our broken immigration system through holistic legislation, such as Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal’s Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act, and call on to Congress to work with impacted communities to right the failings of the Supreme Court.”

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Contact:
Elaine Sanchez Wilson
(202) 601-2970 / elaine@searac.org

NAKASEC, SAALT, and SEARAC Welcome Introduction of The Dream and Promise Act

Washington, DC – Asian American organizations welcome the introduction of the Dream and Promise Act. The bill, introduced by Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA 40), Nydia Velazquez (D-NY 7), and Yvette Clarke (D-NY 9), provides a majority of undocumented immigrants eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and individuals with status under the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) programs a pathway to citizenship.

There are more than 11.5 million undocumented immigrants, 1.7 million of whom are Asian American, living in the United States. The top five countries of origin for Asian American undocumented individuals are India, China, South Korea, the Philippines, and Vietnam. The legislation would protect over two million individuals from detention and deportation by creating a permanent pathway to citizenship for these populations. Furthermore, approximately 120,000 Asian American DREAMers and 15,000 Nepali Americans who currently live in the United States through the TPS program would benefit from the process created in this bill.

Quyen Dinh, Executive Director of Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC), states:
“We applaud the leadership of Reps. Roybal-Allard, Velazquez, and Clarke for introducing this bill. It is an important step for immigrant communities and, if passed, would provide more than 9,000 Vietnamese Americans with a permanent pathway to citizenship. Our communities are hopeful that this act will create a strong foundation and pave the way for additional legislation that liberates all members of our communities from the fear heightened detentions and deportations inflict. And as Congress moves this bill forward, we must ensure that we do not divide immigrant communities into those deserving and undeserving of protections by utilizing only model immigrant narratives. SEARAC will continue to work with members of Congress to pass the Dream and Promise Act and fix our fundamentally broken immigration system to create humane immigration processes that protect Southeast Asian American families from the trauma of detention and deportation and reunite our families in the United States.”
Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), states:
“We welcome the introduction of the Dream and Promise Act, which sets out to provide a long awaited pathway to citizenship for over two million individuals, including those with DACA, TPS, and DED. The South Asian community in the United States alone has over 23,000 Dreamers and 15,000 Nepali Americans with TPS who will directly benefit from this legislation. While Congress embarks on this important step, we will continue to follow the leadership of DACA, TPS, and DED holders, who advocate for policies that would uplift all – rather than legislation that would benefit one immigrant community at the expense of another. We must not allow any compromises that would undermine this hard work and deliver this bill’s protections for the price of increased enforcement and other harmful and unnecessary additions. We look forward to building on this legislation to improve our entirely broken immigration system to ensure that all immigrant families are protected from detention, deportation, and denaturalization.”
Birdie Park, DACA Recipient with National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC), states:
“We are excited about forward motion in Congress for immigrant youth, TPS holders, and those with DED. We call upon our members of Congress to be courageous and not negotiate anything harmful for our communities onto this bill.”
Contacts
Sam Yu, NAKASEC
syu@nakasec.org / 213-703-0992
Sophia Qureshi, SAALT
sophia@saalt.com / 202-997-4211

Elaine Sanchez Wilson, SEARAC
elaine@searac.org / 202-601-2970

Take Action: Tell Your Reps to Vote NO on the DHS Funding Bill

Today, both the US Senate and US House of Representatives will vote on a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding bill that will be extremely harmful to immigrant communities. Using our taxpayer dollars, this bill allocates $1.3 billion for a wall, an 11% increase in detention beds to incarcerate immigrants, and increases ICE agents. This bill was negotiated because Trump shut down the government, putting 800,000 federal workers’ livelihood at risk, for a wall. He is making us believe that if anti-immigrant legislation is not passed, Congress will force him to shut down the government again.
This is a false frame. Trump does not need to shut down the government for Congress to work on immigrant rights issues. If he shuts down the government, he is solely to blame.
We need our members of Congress to protect immigrant communities and vote NO on the DHS funding bill.

TAKE ACTION:  

Take two minutes (one minute per call) and call your US Senator and US Congressmember NOW

1.) Call the US Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to speak with your senators and congressmember. You can also click here to find the direct lines to your representatives.

Sample Script: “Hi, my name is ______ and I am a constituent of Senator/Congressmember ____. On this Valentine’s Day, I am calling to urge them show their love for the immigrant community and VOTE NO on the DHS funding bill. This bill will be extremely harmful to our communities. Thank you.” 

Community Alert: US, Vietnam Schedule Meeting Next Week to Renegotiate 2008 Repatriation Agreement

Community members have been alerted that the Vietnamese government will be meeting with the Department of Homeland Security this Monday, Dec. 10, to renegotiate the current 2008 repatriation agreement, also known as memorandum of understanding (MOU). This renegotiation leaves open the possibility that all Vietnamese people with final orders of removal will no longer be protected from deportation — regardless of when they entered the United States.
As it currently stands, the US-Vietnam repatriation agreement does not permit Vietnamese immigrants who arrived to the United States before July 12, 1995, to be deported. It also requires that Vietnam and the United States take into account family unity and other humanitarian factors when considering whether to remove an individual to Vietnam.
Now, the US government seeks to continue its policy of separating families, this time putting all Vietnamese community members with final orders of removal at risk.

TAKE ACTION: Voice your opposition to any renegotiation of the US-Vietnam agreement

1) Sign this petition opposing a change in the US-Vietnam MOU.
2.) Attend a national community meeting to discuss our community’s opposition strategy and to gather ideas on how to maintain the repatriation agreement as is, so that our families are not torn apart further by deportation. The community meeting will take place tonight at 10pm EST / 7pm PST. Please click here to join the meeting. Space is limited.

A love letter to America

“He chose his country because he loved his family.” My parents have repeated those words to me for more thanover two decades when describing my grandfather. In the fallout of the Vietnam War and in the ensuing escape from Laos, he and his men guided my family across the Mekong River. And in the dark of the night, he left them at a Thai refugee camp and returned to the jungles of Laos. He spent years resisting a government that hunted my peoples before he and his men were ambushed.

I was born in that camp, a location that I often cannot pronounce. My green card still lists me as a Lao national, even though I’ve never been there nor do I remember the chain fences from my birth. After I was born, my parents crossed an ocean to California and then to Minnesota. My parents struggled —- selling trinkets at flea markets and working from dawn until midnight, manufacturing your hearing aids and heart catheters. And in the space between their love, I learned in snow- covered streets that I was just American enough, but still not American.

Throughout my adolescence, I was ashamed of the rocks hurled at our cars, the slurs thrown in our faces, and the pity tossed in our direction. But my time at college taught me to look inward, to understand my parents —- that they are American in their copper skin, brown eyes, and jet black hair. And in that understanding, I realized that it was America that should be ashamed of the ways in which we have treated refugees and immigrants.

So at 18, I helped a group of recent Burmese, Bhutanese, and Karen refugees organize and fight to save an educational program that allowed them to procure a high school diploma. And we won. But I remember what a young Burmese woman said during one of our strategy sessions: “My country has taken away my home, my family, and my education. I come to America only to find that they, too, are trying to take my education away from me.” Those words continue to stay with me. I’ve since spent over a decade of my life working to advance the rights of immigrant and refugee communities.

I now work at SEARAC because, like my grandfather, I, too, choose my country. I love the only country I have ever called home, but our laws are flawed. We hurt and deport immigrants without consideration of history, of community, nor of impact. We target and retraumatize those who seek shelter on our shores. But because I love our country, I am committed to making her better for all of us. Through SEARAC, I choose to resist efforts to tear my community from the only home many of us have ever known.

Kham S. Moua is SEARAC’s new Immigration Policy Advocate. To contact him, e-mail kham@searac.org.