SEARAC Encouraged by Passage of the Reconciliation Bill in the House of Representatives

Important wins for Southeast Asian American education, health, and immigration

For Immediate Release:
November 19, 2021

Media contact:
Elaine Sanchez Wilson
(202) 601-2970

Washington, DC — Today, the House of Representatives passed the Build Back Better Act, paving the way for many initiatives that would improve the lives of Southeast Asian Americans to become law. In particular, SEARAC supports the following provisions:
  • Increased Pell grants and access to financial support for recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA);
  • Increased funding for Minority Serving Institutions (MSI) and minority teacher investment;
  • $150 billion for homecare support and assistance to seniors and individuals with disabilities;
  • Four weeks of paid family and medical leave;
  • Reduction of Affordable Care Act healthcare premiums and Medicaid expansion to include hearing;
  • Lowered prescription drug prices and reduced out-of-pocket co-pays for older adults; and
  • Decreasing family immigration backlogs by rolling over unused visas.
While SEARAC is pleased with the impactful and important provisions included in this bill, we are disappointed that the final text excludes debt-free two-year college; decreases homecare support from the original $400 billion proposal to $150 billion; excludes dental and vision from Medicaid expansion; and provides only a narrow, parole-based immigration relief. Additionally, SEARAC is also disappointed that a full pathway to citizenship without criminal exclusions was excluded from the package and replaced with limited temporary parole.
“The passage of this groundbreaking reconciliation bill is an important step forward in supporting equitable health and education for Southeast Asian Americans,” said Quyen Dinh, Executive Director of SEARAC. “We are proud of the provisions that support our elders’ access to care, our students’ access to higher education, and our educators’ access to resources and training to support their development. However, we are extremely disappointed that a full pathway to citizenship was not included in the final language of the bill. A parole-based immigration reform provides only temporary relief and is out of reach financially for many of our undocumented community members. The bill also excludes those with certain convictions, despite individuals having served time for their mistakes. We urge the Senate to move quickly on the Build Back Better Act and by building on these provisions instead of rolling back any of the support included for our communities.”