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

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Key Resources

Latest national immigration news

Southeast Asian American Organizations, Leaders, and Community Celebrate Deportation Relief Legislation

Washington, DC - Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC), Southeast Asian Freedom Network (SEAFN), and Southeast Asian organizations from across ...
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/ Immigration, National, Press Room

SEARAC Applauds the Introduction of the Honor Our Commitments Act

For Immediate Release: May 12, 2022 Media contact: Jenna McDavid Communications and Development Manager 202-601-2972 Washington, DC - SEARAC applauds ...
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/ Immigration, National

ACTION ALERT: ICE May Resume Deportations of Cambodian Community Members

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 15, 2022 Media Contacts: Elaine Sanchez Wilson 202-601-2970 Nancy Nguyen 281-635-3088 WASHINGTON, DC – ...
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/ Immigration, National, Take Action

US Lifts Visa Sanctions on Laos

UPDATE/CORRECTION: An earlier version of this statement inaccurately indicated that the United States had also lifted 243(d) visa sanctions on ...
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/ Immigration, National, Press Room

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 ...
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/ Immigration, National, Press Room

Latest California immigration news

Budgetary and Legislative Wins and Hopes in California

As 2019 quickly comes to a close and a new decade emerges, SEARAC reflects on the wins and hopes of ...
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/ California, Education, Health, Immigration

SEARAC Applauds California Gov. Newsom Pardons of Two Cambodian Refugees Facing Deportation

Sacramento, CA - SEARAC is happy to announce that California Gov. Gavin Newsom granted pardons yesterday for two Cambodian refugees ...
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SEARAC California Update

Southeast Asian American families and communities, along with immigrant, refugee, and families of color continue to experience the relentless attacks ...
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Criminal Justice and Immigrant Rights Organizations Deliver Recommendations For Improving Pardon & Commutation Process to CA Governor Newsom

SACRAMENTO, CA - Yesterday, SEARAC, along with a coalition of criminal justice and immigrant rights organizations, met with members of California ...
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/ California, Immigration, Press Room

SEARAC Encouraged by Passage of Landmark Legislation in California 

Contacts: Gabriel Garcia,, for education equity advocacy Lee Lo,, for health equity advocacy Nkauj Iab Yang,, for ...
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