by Chris Farrell. This article originally appeared on Next Avenue.
America’s immigrant community is aging along with the rest of the population, and in many cases, with great financial difficulty.
Some 15 percent of adults 60 and over were foreign-born in 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Older immigrants represent a larger proportion of the elderly in major gateway cities and states. For example, in New York City, they comprise 46 percent of older adults; in California, one in nearly three older residents is foreign-born. Late-life immigrants are contributing to rising ethnic populations in rural areas and small towns in the Midwest and South, such as in Minnesota and Georgia, according to the Population Reference Bureau.
FRESNO, Calif. — They came to America in the 1970s and 1980s as child refugees, members of the Hmong minority in Laos fleeing that country’s new communist government and persecution for helping the CIA in its covert war in Southeast Asia.
America held the promise of safety and a piece of the American dream.
Many of them chased that dream in California’s Central Valley, slowly, sometimes painfully, building lives in a new country where their language and culture were virtually unknown. Largely from poor rural farming families, they often struggled to adjust to a dramatically different society, with few relevant skills and limited support.
Bright lights and big cities: they’re attracting more and more American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) to move toward urban and metropolitan areas at an ever-quickening pace. Just before World War II, almost all – some 92% – of AI/ANs lived on reservations. Now it’s nearly the opposite, with almost 80% of AI/ANs living off tribal lands.
The push toward the cities was not always a voluntary one. After decades of removal policies and war aimed at fighting and slaughtering AI/ANs, the federal government’s approach turned into one of “killing the Indian, but saving the man.” This meant programs aimed at ‘educating’ AI/ANs in.... Read More
SEARAC Election Response: We Love, We Heal, We Organize
Today as we let the election results sink in, it may feel like hatred and oppression won. We have all witnessed the next President of the United States stoke fear about immigrants and Muslims, disrespect women and people with disabilities, and make explicitly racist statements. Those engaged in the fight for true equity, justice, and empowerment of immigrants, refugees, and communities of color are feeling a great deal of grief — feeling that our nation’s vote was a personal attack on who we are, the values we stand for, and why we are here in America.
What do we do now?
We hold each other closer, and we love our.... Read More
Automatic Injustice: A Report on Prosecutorial Discretion in the Southeast Asian American Community
On Wednesday, October 26, I attended a webinar for the launch of the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC)’s new report, “Automatic Injustice: A Report on Prosecutorial Discretion in the Southeast Asian American Community.” The Southeast Asian American (SEAA) community has been heavily impacted by automatic, mandatory criminal deportation policies. This community faces unique struggles as refugees, which have made them vulnerable to high levels of criminalization over the last four decades. SEAA families are routinely torn apart by these policies, with individuals being deported to countries they once fled – or countries in which they have never actually set foot. When our families are dismantled, it means less support, fewer caregiving options, trauma, illness, stress, and so.... Read More
by Andy Pacificar. This post originally appeared on the SEARAC blog.
I spent eighteen years in prison. I was incarcerated from 1990 until 2008. It was amazing to see all the changes in the world that happened in that amount of time. In the very beginning of my journey through prison I met a young man who was at the time only 17 years old. A misguided youth if you will. I was 30 years old at the time and this young man and I started to form a bond that still is enduring and growing today. He became my friend, my brother, my son and so much more. My Brother in struggle was also a Southeast Asian.... Read More
This year marks the 40th year anniversary since the United States opened its doors to millions of men, women and children from Southeast Asia seeking humanitarian protection. SEARAC’s communities—Cambodian, Laotian and Vietnamese American communities—arose from the largest refugee resettlement in U.S. history. Approximately 1.3 million refugees from war-torn countries in Southeast Asia were resettled into the United States after decades of the U.S. war in Vietnam, the Secret War in Laos, and the bombings of Cambodia, followed by the ruthless Khmer Rouge genocide. In 1975 alone, the United States resettled 4,600 refugees from Cambodia, 800 from Laos, and 125,000 from Vietnam, and continued to welcome hundreds of thousands more in need of safe haven in the years to come.
On September 23rd, I was honored to be in the audience for Pope Francis’ official welcome to the United States. Braving an early morning start at 2am, getting in line at 4am, and hours waiting for the event to start at 9:30am, I joined thousands of my closest friends on the South Lawn of the White House to witness the first African American President welcome the first Pope from the Americas. Washington, DC has hit a fever pitch in recent days in anticipation for the Pope’s visit, and this welcome ceremony did not disappoint, with pomp and fanfare appropriate for the arrival.... Read More
The Mongoose and the Bird of Paradise: Storytelling to Help Older Lao Americans Thrive in Minnesota
Last week, SEARAC traveled to Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, as part of our year-long commemoration of 40 years since the end of the Vietnam War and the beginning of the Southeast Asian American (SEAA) refugee experience (40 & Forward: Southeast Asian Americans Rooted & Rising). Over 100 community members, artists, elders, youth, and families, as well as sponsors from foundations, corporations, and the University of Minnesota gathered to reflect on how far our communities have come over the last four decades, and celebrate both traditional and modern SEAA arts and culture. Almost 125,000 Southeast Asian Americans live in the Twin Cities, including the nation’s 2nd largest Hmong community and the 3rd largest Lao community.