Tell your Congressional Representative that We Need Additional Southeast Asian American Language Translations for the 2020 Census

SEARAC thanks Rep. Lori Trahan (MA-3) for coordinating a congressional effort urging the US Census Bureau to expand translated phone and online support of 2020 Census materials in Hmong, Khmer, and Laotian (in addition to the already existing support for Vietnamese translations). A significant number of Southeast Asian American community members, including elders, struggle with limited English proficiency. According to the American Community Survey (ACS), 39.5% of Cambodian households, 32.9% of Hmong households, and 37.6% of Laotian households speak English less than “very well.” In addition, more than 14% of these communities live in poverty, making them especially hard to reach and hard to count. We need to make sure they have the support they need to be visible.
The census is critical to ensuring that our communities are accurately counted so that our families get their fair share of government resources, political representation in Congress, and long-term opportunities for themselves and their families. The deadline to support Rep. Trahan’s letter is May 3. Can we count on you to take action?

ACTION ALERT: Members of Congress Need to Hear From YOU

1. Contact your Congressional leader today.

2. Here’s what you can say:“My name is ____ from (city, state). I am calling Representative (name) to urge him/her to sign onto a letter circulated by Rep. Lori Trahan urging the Census Bureau to expand translated phone and online support of 2020 census materials in Khmer, Laotian, and Hmong. Many Southeast Asian American community members and elders who came to the US as refugees struggle with limited English proficiency, as well as poverty. We want to make sure they have the support they need to be accurately counted. Rep. Trahan’s letter has a deadline of May 3. Can I count on you to sign on?”3. If your Representative is Congresswoman Lori Trahan, consider calling, emailing, or sending her a tweet  to say thank you! You can say:

“My name is ____ from (city, state). As your constituent, I want to thank you for being a champion for the Southeast Asian American community by drafting a letter to the US Census Bureau urging additional phone and online translation support in Khmer, Laotian, and Hmong. Thank you for your leadership in ensuring that my community is accurately counted!”

4. Sign our pledge form to count yourself in for Census 2020. The link will take you to a Google form, where you can also indicate your interest in becoming a SEARAC Census Ambassador to help ensure an accurate count from the Southeast Asian American community. Lastly, we have included survey questions to inform our planning and creation of Census 2020 materials.

Photo caption: SEARAC was in front of the US Supreme Court today to oppose the addition of a potential #2020Census citizenship question intended to silence the Southeast Asian American community and other communities of color and keep us from getting the resources we deserve. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for all the latest news!


SEARAC California Update

Southeast Asian American families and communities, along with immigrant, refugee, and families of color continue to experience the relentless attacks by the Trump administration on issues of education, health, immigration, law enforcement, census, and more. We are hopeful that states like California continue to fight back with strong proposed policies to protect Californians and ensure all communities can thrive.


SEARAC-sponsored bill

Policy priorities
California complete count
Advancing health access and care
Education equity
Immigrant and refugee rights


SEARAC is a co-sponsor of AB512, introduced by Assemblymember Phil Ting.

AB 512 (Ting) – Restoring ethnic and cultural accountability in county mental health

This bill would require the following –


The bill passed unanimously out of Assembly Health Committee and is moving to Assembly Appropriations Committee in May.

Take action: 

To submit a letter of support, contact SEARAC Policy Associate Lee Lo at


The following are legislation that SEARAC supports:

California Census Complete Count

On Jan. 10, California Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed an additional $54 million for community outreach and education on top of the $90.3 million approved from last year’s budget. SEARAC advocates for an increase to at least $93.4 million, which would provide additional resources for community based organizations to conduct culturally relevant and linguistically appropriate community outreach and education to California’s hard-to-count communities.

Advancing Health Access and Care

Gov. Newsom proposed to expand full-scope Medi-Cal for undocumented adults, 19-25 years old. SEARAC and other advocates will be pushing for state legislation (below) that would expand full-scope Medi-Cal for undocumented population regardless of age. Additionally, advocates are requesting for a state investment of $15 million to extend funding for health navigators.

AB 4 (Arambula) & SB 29 (Durazo) – Health for all

This bill would extend eligibility for full-scope Medi-Cal benefits to individuals of all ages, if otherwise eligible for those benefits, but for their immigration status.


AB 4 will be heard in Assembly Health Committee on April 9, and SB 29 will be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee on April 8.

Additional resources:

My Path to Health, a pilot project of the County Medical Services Program Governing Board to increase access to health treatment and preventative health care services, is currently enrolling up to 25,000 undocumented residents within 35 designated California counties.

Education Equity

SEARAC, alongside the College 4 All Coalition, are requesting for California to provide an ongoing reinvestment to build educational opportunities and public higher education access for low-income and underrepresented students through a College Readiness Block Grant that would do the following:

AB 331 (Medina) – Ethnic studies high school requirement

This bill would add the completion of a one-semester course in ethnic studies, in either the subject of social studies or English, based on the model curriculum in ethnic studies developed by the Instructional Quality Commission, to the high school graduation requirements commencing with the 2023–24 school year.


The bill has moved out of Assembly Education Committee and into Assemble Appropriations.

Additional resources:

Visit California Department of Education to stay up to date on the progress of California’s Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum.

Take Action:

To submit a letter of support, contact SEARAC BMoC Coordinator Gabriel Garcia at

AB 1393 (Weber) – Laotian history and cultural studies

This bill would require the commission to develop and submit to the state board a model curriculum on the history and cultural study of Laotian refugees, on or before Dec. 31, 2022.


The bill will be heard in Assembly Education Committee on April 10.

Take action:

To get involved or submit a letter of support, please contact Lily Liemthongsamout at

Immigrant and Refugee Rights 

AB 1282 (Kalra) – No Private ICE Act

This bill would prohibit an officer, employee, contractor, or employee of a contractor of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation from facilitating, allowing entry to the department’s premises, or otherwise authorizing an employee or contractor of a private security company to arrest, detain, or take into custody an individual in the department’s custody for immigration enforcement purposes.


This bill will be heard in Assembly Public Safety Committee on April 9.


The following are bills that we are closely watching:

SB 2 (Glazer) – Statewide Longitudinal Student Database

This bill would express the intent of the Legislature to establish the Statewide Longitudinal Student Database to collect and store data regarding individual students as they matriculate through P–20, as defined, and into the workforce. The bill would require the commission to convene a review committee for purposes of advising the commission on the establishment, implementation, funding, and ongoing administration of the database.

AB 200 (Patterson) – State veterans cemeteries for Hmong veterans

This bill would authorize the remains of a person to be buried in those cemeteries if the person was naturalized following the federal Hmong Veterans’ Naturalization Act of 2000, and was a California resident at the time of the person’s death.

AB 392 (Weber) – California act to save lives

This bill would require the following –


The bill will be heard in Assembly Public Safety Committee on April 9.

Take action:

Please visit the Alliance of Boys and Men of Color.

Nkauj Iab Yang,


Take Action: Tell the Census Bureau We Count

Protect Southeast Asian Americans’ rights to be counted and seen

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced that he has directed the Census Bureau to add an untested and unnecessary citizenship question to the 2020 Census. The Census Bureau is now taking public comments to inform the final questionnaire, and our community has an opportunity to establish a strong, clear public record that we oppose the addition of a citizenship question, but we support the expansion of the race and ethnicity categories.
SEAA community impact

Citizenship question
Including a citizenship question puts the 2020 Census at grave risk of a significant undercount among hard-to-reach populations, like Southeast Asian American (SEAA) communities, especially in this increasingly hostile anti-immigrant political environment. The inclusion of this question undermines the accuracy of the 2020 Census and jeopardizes a full, fair, and accurate count of our communities. When communities are underrepresented, it negatively impacts their voices in government, as well as critical funding for education, healthcare, housing, and other essential programs.

Expanded race and ethnicity categories
The systemic barriers that SEAAs face are only made known through the collection and reporting of disaggregated data through the census. Without this data, the most underserved and marginalized communities in the United States remain invisible, and community needs are unmet. Expansion of race and ethnicity categories allows SEAA groups to be listed separately so that our diverse community does not become absorbed under the broader Asian American umbrella.

We need your help

SEARAC is joining Asian Americans Advancing Justice, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Humans Rights, NALEO Educational Fund, and other national organizations to ensure community voices are heard. We want our community to show up strong and loud!
Our goal? Submit a minimum of 1,000 individual comments and 50 organizational comments from across our diverse SEAA community. The deadline for public comments is August 7, 2018, at midnight.

Take Action: The Census Bureau Needs to Hear From YOU

Tell Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross: We do NOT want the addition of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census; we want expanded race and ethnicity categories. 

1. Submit an individual comment.
2. Submit an organizational comment.
3. Share, share, share.
Help spread awareness by forwarding this action alert link to your listservs, partners, family, and friends. The 2020 Census will impact all communities, particularly hard-to-reach communities of color like SEAAs.