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 fight for 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

Southeast Asian Organizations Respond to Vice President Harris’ Trip to Vietnam

For Immediate Release: August 27, 2021 Media contact: Elaine Sanchez Wilson, SEARAC 202-601-2970 WASHINGTON, DC - Vice President Harris traveled ...
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/ Immigration, National, Press Room

SEARAC responds to House and Senate passage of Budget Resolution on infrastructure

For Immediate Release: August 25, 2021 Media contact: Elaine Sanchez Wilson (202) 601-2970 WASHINGTON, DC - Yesterday, the House approved ...
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America Cannot Repeat the Southeast Asian Refugee Crisis

Afghan Refugees Must Be Offered Refuge Immediately  For Immediate Release August 17, 2021 Media contact(s): Elaine Sanchez Wilson, SEARAC ...
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/ Immigration, National, Press Room

SEARAC Responds to Biden’s First 100 Days, Increase of Refugee Cap

WASHINGTON, DC — Last week, President Biden addressed his fellow lawmakers and the people of the United States in his first ...
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First 100 Days – Bimonthly Policy Recap (April 23)

April 30th marks the 100th day of the Biden-Harris Administration. While this will be the final edition of SEARAC's 100 ...
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/ Education, Health, Immigration, National

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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