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.


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Key Resources

Latest national immigration news

SEARAC Condemns Executive Order Denying Asylum

The United States cannot turn its back on refugees Washington, DC — Yesterday, a few days into the start of ...
/ Immigration, National, Press Room

SEARAC to Congress: Vote NO on Anti-Immigrant Foreign Aid Bill

Bill includes unrelated harmful immigration policy changes Washington, DC – SEARAC strongly opposes this week’s Senate bill that would expand ...
/ Immigration, National, Press Room

SEARAC Condemns Congressional Efforts to Dismantle Asylum

Lawmakers must reject funding packages that include xenophobic policy changes Washington, DC – SEARAC strongly denounces recent efforts in Congress to tie one-time ...
/ Immigration, National, Press Room

Keep Our Families Whole – SEARAC Applauds Reintroduction of the Reuniting Families Act

Washington, DC – SEARAC applauds the reintroduction of the Reuniting Families Act (RFA) by Rep. Judy Chu (CA-28). The RFA ...
/ Immigration, National, Press Room

SEARAC, SEAFN Celebrate House Reintroduction of Southeast Asian Deportation Relief Act

Washington, DC -SEARAC and SEAFN are proud to announce the reintroduction of the Southeast Asian Deportation Relief Act (SEADRA) in ...
/ 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 ...
/ 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 ...

SEARAC California Update

Southeast Asian American families and communities, along with immigrant, refugee, and families of color continue to experience the relentless attacks ...

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 ...
/ 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 ...