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.
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 1.7.... Read More
Supporting and Advocating for Immigrant Elders on Cesar Chavez Day
March 31st is Cesar Chavez Day, a commemoration of the life of labor activist and civil rights pioneer Cesar Chavez. Chavez cofounded the National Farm Workers Association with Dolores Huerta and worked tirelessly throughout his life to encourage Mexican Americans and other Latin@s to vote, to protect the rights of workers, and to protest the use of pesticides on our food supply. Many people commemorate Cesar Chavez day by giving back to their communities through volunteer work and service.
The impact of immigration reform on the labor conditions and practices that Cesar Chavez spent his life protesting cannot be overstated. According to the.... Read More
Get To Know the Diverse Elders Coalition Through Pictures: Blog Highlights of 2013
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
Interview with Chum Awi from the Chin community in Burma
SEARAC provides technical assistance to a number of Burmese and Bhutanese community organizations in the US to build strong, local ethnic community-based organizations and faith-based organizations. For this blog post, we interviewed Chum Awi, a key leader and elder in the Chin community, an ethnic minority from Burma. Chum is based out of Lewisville, Texas and works with the Chin Community of Lewisville..... Read More