Staff Blog
SEARAC staffer Thuy Do (fourth from right) with state Sen. Lena A. Gonzalez, staff members from Sen. Gonzalez and Asm. Lowenthal's offices, and honorees and guests representing the Cambodian community from Long Beach, CA, in attendance for April 17 Cambodian Genocide Remembrance Day in Sacramento, CA (Photo courtesy of Thuy Do)
Remembering hope throughout April
This month Thuy Do, SEARAC CA Program Manager, attended the Capitol remembrance event in Sacramento alongside our partners. For this month's staff blog, she wrote a beautiful reflection of remembering hope as we commemorate the tragedies in Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam that our communities have survived. Thuy’s blog is a reminder that we are our ancestors' wildest dreams. Thuy writes, "As I reflect on the journeys that our communities from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam embarked on more than four decades ago, I now understand that remembering the bitterness and beauty of a dark era can coexist. To celebrate and talk about where we are today and our accomplishments for equity are powerful principles of freedom and peace." 
Community Spotlight
From right to left: SEARAC staffer Jazmin Garrett, community leader David Ros, and Katya Cengel, author of Exiled: From the Killing Fields of Cambodia to California and Back (Photo courtesy of Long Beach Public Library)
SEARAC invited to speak at book discussion
Last weekend SEARAC was invited to speak alongside Katya Cengel, author of Exiled: From the Killing Fields of Cambodia to California and Back, as well as guest speaker David Ros, one of Long Beach's impacted leaders featured in the book. Members of the Long Beach community came to share their own testimonies of how they are impacted by deportation while also discussing the ways in which we can combat this unjust system. "I am thankful to have been given a space to speak on policies such as New Way Forward and the Southeast Asian Deportation and Responsibility Act and the ways in which our community expresses resilience and joy in the fight against deportation," said Jazmin Garrett, SEARAC Field Associate, after the event. SEARAC was a source for Exiled, which is now available in paperback and audio
Data Disaggregation
SEARAC comments on federal race and ethnicity standards
On April 27, SEARAC submitted a public comment, supported by 47 organizations, in response to the federal government’s revision of Statistical Policy Directive No. 15: Standards for Maintaining, Collecting and Presenting Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity (SPD 15). Last updated in 1997, SPD 15 sets the minimum categories for federal data collections. These standards are often adopted at state and local levels, used in research, and impact demographic data sets. SEARAC’s comment includes feedback for how the standard can better capture Southeast Asian American communities.
SEARAC staffers (from left) Phun H, Quyên Đinh, and Natalie Truong at rally for affirmative action at the Supreme Court in Oct 2022. (Photo courtesy of Phun H)
SEARAC reiterates support for affirmative action
On April 12, SEARAC submitted a public comment to the US Commission on Civil Rights affirming our longstanding support for affirmative action as a key civil rights policy. The letter was one of two comments SEARAC submitted to the Commission about the federal government’s response to anti-Asian racism, and to address inaccurate comments that were made about affirmative action during the Commission’s hearing on the same topic in March. SEARAC supports affirmative action because it helps ensure that the entire life experience of a student is considered in the college application process, including the very real impact that race, ethnicity, and gender have on students’ educational and lived experiences.
Free preventive care services challenged in federal courts
On March 30, a federal district court judge struck down a provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that provides more than 150 million Americans with critical preventive health services. For over a decade, the ACA has required private insurance health plans to cover many preventive services without cost to patients. After the recent ruling, many insurers are claiming that they will keep free preventive services until after the conclusion of all litigation, according to an April letter from health insurance industry groups. The lawsuit is currently headed to federal appeals courts and will likely end up in front of the Supreme Court.
SEARAC endorses the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act
On April 20, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Rep. Adam Smith (WA-09) reintroduced the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act, a bill that would end the inhumane conditions of detention centers and protect the civil and human rights of immigrants. The bill would repeal mandatory detention, phase out for-profit detention facilities and jails, and shift the government’s focus away from detention and towards more humane and effective alternatives, among other key changes to the US immigration system. SEARAC endorsed this bill in previous congresses, and we are proud to endorse it again for the 118th.
Community shares hopes for Hmong history and cultural studies
SEARAC hosted a virtual informational session, listening session, and focus group in English and Hmong led by Hmong community leaders. The purpose of these engagement sessions were to gather feedback from the Hmong community in California to develop a model curriculum relating to Hmong history and cultural studies as part of SB 895/AB 167. The sessions served as a meaningful opportunity for community members to express their vision and abundant ideas for future generations of students in California to learn about the history and vibrant culture of Hmong people.
Applications open for Southeast Asian Model curriculum writers
The Orange County Department of Education (OCDE) is looking for curriculum writers to support development of a Southeast Asian American Model Curriculum. We encourage SEAA community members, educators, and teachers to apply. Learn more about requirements, time commitments, and compensation here. Applications are due by May 15.​ 
California policy updates
In April, proposed legislation in California went through hearings in their respective policy committees – to introduce bills, share testimony, and gather support and opposition information. Updates on bills SEARAC is supporting include:

  •  AB 1306 (HOME Act) keeps SEAA families together
  • Status: Passed in Public Safety Committee
Gov. Newsom’s proposal to “Modernize Behavioral Health”
CA Gov. Newsom is proposing a general obligation bond for the 2024 ballot focused on support and housing for Californians with mental illness and substance use disorders. The ballot would also include a notable amendment to the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), with at least $1 billion every year in local assistance for these services. The MHSA currently funds 30% of the state’s mental health system and supports community-based services, community engagement processes, prevention and early intervention, and other critical services, education, support, and outreach. SEARAC is working with health advocates and partners to monitor the details of this proposal and ensure that resource allocations and changes to the MHSA support greater health access, adequate prevention and early intervention, and culturally and linguistically appropriate care.
SEARAC in the News
19th News features SEARAC in piece on wage gap within AANHPI community
Kham Moua, SEARAC National Deputy Director, was featured in The 19th News' recent article on the wage gap that exists within AANHPI communities. Our SEAA communities are diverse and our needs are unique. In the fight for pay equity, we must disaggregate data further so we can better understand what communities need resources.
Support SEARAC during Give in May
Next week, SEARAC will join hundreds of AANHPI-led organizations in raising funds to support our vital community work. During Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Give in May uplifts the leadership, community power, and essential contributions of AANHPI organizations. Support SEARAC by making a gift toward our $1,000 Give in May fundraising goal, or search the database to find an organization in your region to support! 
Job opportunity at Khmer Girls in Action
Long Beach, CA-based Khmer Girls in Action is hiring for two positions. Check out the job descriptions for lead organizer here and program coordinator here, and apply today.
SEARAC is a national civil rights organization that empowers Cambodian, Laotian, and Vietnamese American communities to create a socially just and equitable society. As representatives of the largest refugee community ever resettled in the United States, SEARAC stands together with other refugee communities, communities of color, and social justice movements in pursuit of social equity. 

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