For many Southeast Asian Americans, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal fight last year felt personal.
When the ACA was first passed, uninsured rates in Cambodian, Hmong, Lao, and Vietnamese American communities were high. Compared to the 15% of Americans overall who did not have health insurance in 2011, 20% of Cambodian, 20% of Vietnamese, 19% of Laotian, and 16% of Hmong Americans were uninsured. Too many families used emergency rooms as last-resort healthcare providers or went for years without regular check-ups.
Only four years later in 2015, the uninsured rate was cut in half. Thousands of families were finally accessing the preventative and life-saving care that they needed. Some accessed care through the healthcare exchange, supported by subsidies to.... Read More
Southeast Asian Americans March in DC to Commemorate Community’s Fight for Justice, Freedom, and Self-Determination
On Saturday, October 14, 150 Cambodian, Hmong, Laotian, and Vietnamese Americans and allies converged on the National Mall in Washington, DC, as part of the Southeast Asian American March for Equity. The march coincided with the national gathering Moving Mountains: A Southeast Asian American Equity Summit. National leaders and organizers from diverse Southeast Asian American communities came together to reflect on the community’s 40+ year journey from surviving war and displacement as refugees to honoring and carrying on the legacy of the American civil rights movement.
The seniors program of the Chicago-area Cambodian Association of Illinois (CAI) demonstrates that while many of the needs of Southeast Asian American elders are similar to those of other diverse seniors, they also have very specific needs: culturally, linguistically, and as survivors of.... Read More
Nothing About Us Without Us: Bringing the Needs of Southeast Asian American Elders to Capitol Hill
The comments elevated the voices of our Cambodian, Hmong, Laotian, and Vietnamese elders, whose stories are largely unknown or misunderstood by policymakers. Nearly all (98%) Southeast Asian Americans over the age of 55 were born outside the US, and between.... Read More
APAHM Spotlight on Southeast Asia Resource Action Center
As we enter into Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we are just closing a season of celebration and remembrance for Southeast Asian American communities. Lao and Cambodian families celebrated the New Year in April, but all of our communities also paused to remember our shared history of trauma and resilience as a refugee community.
Forty-one years ago on April 17th, 1975, the genocidal Khmer Rouge rolled their tanks into Phnom Penh and evacuated the city into the.... 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.
On Memorial Day, the United States honors millions of men and women who have served in our country’s Armed Forces, including around 1.7 million older Americans alive today who served during World War II, and over 7 million who served during the Vietnam War. For the Southeast Asian American community, Memorial Day brings both pride and pain to Southeast Asian veterans of the wars in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia – especially those who fought alongside American soldiers and the CIA to aid the American war effort. During the Vietnam War, the U.S. pursued a “Secret War” in Laos, unauthorized by and mostly unknown to.... Read More
40 & Forward: Southeast Asian Americans Rooted & Rising
April 30th marks the 40th anniversary of the end of the U.S. war in Vietnam. Between 1965 and 1975, the war took the lives of over 58,000 Americans and at least 1,000,000 Vietnamese. Without Congressional approval, the U.S. also secretly dropped the equivalent of a planeload of bombs every 8 minutes, 24 hours a day, for 9 years on the small country of Laos, and carpeted northern and eastern Cambodia with ordnance over the course of the war. In Cambodia, the end of the Vietnam War marked the beginning of the terror of the Khmer Rouge genocide, which killed approximately.... Read More
Vietnamese Poetry: Reflections on the sweetness and bitterness of growing older
Ngô Văn Diệm came to the U.S. from Vietnam in 1981. In these poems, Mr. Ngô reflects beautifully on the sweetness and bitterness of growing older, and the ephemeral qualities of memory and of life itself.
Mr. Ngô is also the father of Ivy Ngo, a former SEARAC aging policy associate who was instrumental in developing the early work of the Diverse Elders Coalition. Today, Ivy continues her path as an aging advocate at the Columbia School of Social Work. Ivy translated her father’s poems into.... Read More
Deporting Americans: A Community United Against Deportations
A couple of weeks ago, I posted a piece entitled “Caught in the Deportation Machine …” about how deportation affects elders – both those who are detained and deported, and those who suffer trauma from losing children or grandchildren. This photo montage, “Deporting Americans,” was created in Philadelphia by 1Love Movement when the tight Cambodian American community in that city was hit by a deportation crisis. Dozens of Cambodian folks with green cards, including Chally Dang and Mout Iv, were suddenly rounded up because of old convictions. Many had been rebuilding their lives for years after making the mistakes that had.... Read More
Caught in the Deportation Machine: Elders, Family Separation, and Immigration Reform
This year, the Obama administration will surpass the 2 million mark – this is, it will have deported 2 million people since 2008, more than any other administration in history. The largest numbers of people being deported are those without legal status, but many Green card holders are also among the 2 million deportees. Since 1998, over 13,000 Southeast Asians (from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam) have been deported, including many Green card holders who arrived in the U.S. decades ago as refugees fleeing war and genocide. The majority of those deported are under the age of 35, but many elders also get caught in the deportation machine. Even more elders who remain in the U.S. suffer emotionally and financially when.... Read More