Southeast Asian refugees represent the largest refugee community ever to be resettled in the United States, after being forcefully displaced by U.S. war and its aftermath in Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam in the 1970s. Refugees were often resettled in urban centers of concentrated poverty with few social or economic supports. Families struggled to help their children navigate underresourced schools and racialized bullying. Southeast Asian American young people were disproportionately swept into gangs and violence. As a result, today Southeast Asian refugees are at least three times more likely to be deported on the basis of an old criminal conviction, compared to other immigrants.
SEARAC advocates for the dignity and rights of Southeast Asian refugees with old criminal convictions to stay together with their families. We also fight for gubernatorial clemencies so that community members may be protected from deportations and receive meaningful reentry support. We’re creating policy changes to restore fairness and flexibility to immigration laws that make deportation mandatory and irreversible regardless of the individual circumstances of each case. Our advocacy is grounded in the principles of fairness, family, and second chances.
SEARAC also fights to preserve our family-based immigration system. On average, more than 90% of Southeast Asian Americans who received green cards in 2017 did so because of family-based immigration, with more than 22,000 families benefiting from extended family visa sponsorship of siblings, parents, and adult children in 2016.
National POLICY news: Read more
California POLICY news: Read more
- The Devastating Impact of Deportation on Southeast Asian Americans
A one-pager exploring the status of at least 14,000 people who face potential deportation.
- SEARAC Media Messaging Guide on Southeast Asian American Criminal Deportation
Basic facts, top-line messages, and tips to address media inquiries.
- How Family-Based Immigration Benefits Southeast Asian Americans—Standing Up for Families and Our Rights
A memo that discusses the current backlog for immigration visas and the ramifications of ending family-based sponsorship.
- Southeast Asian Americans and the School-to-Prison-to-Deportation Pipeline
Poverty, mental health, criminalization, and other statistics surrounding the largest refugee community in US history.
- Southeast Asian Americans and Deportation Policy
A primer on laws responsible for the mandatory detention and deportation of Southeast Asian refugees and SEARAC’s recommendations on legislative fixes.
- Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders Behind Bars
This 2015 report exposes the school-to-prison-to-deportation pipeline and offers recommendations for addressing mass incarceration and deportation.
Latest national immigration news
Southeast Asian American Organizations, Leaders, and Community Celebrate Deportation Relief Legislation
SEARAC Applauds the Introduction of the Honor Our Commitments Act
ACTION ALERT: ICE May Resume Deportations of Cambodian Community Members
US Lifts Visa Sanctions on Laos
SEARAC Encouraged by Passage of the Reconciliation Bill in the House of Representatives
Latest California immigration news
Budgetary and Legislative Wins and Hopes in California
SEARAC Applauds California Gov. Newsom Pardons of Two Cambodian Refugees Facing Deportation
SEARAC California Update
Criminal Justice and Immigrant Rights Organizations Deliver Recommendations For Improving Pardon & Commutation Process to CA Governor Newsom
SEARAC Encouraged by Passage of Landmark Legislation in California