Community Spotlight
Ai and family. Photo courtesy of Ai Lopez
Community interview with Ai Lopez
During the introduction of the Southeast Asian Deportation Relief Act (SEADRA), Ai Lopez gave a moving testimony to the public. She spoke on her experience as a Lao refugee who was incarcerated and detained and its impact on her and her family. Sharing her story to a national audience was unexpectedly scary and draining for Ai as she balanced her values of vulnerability, authenticity, and transparency. Guided by her faith and courage, Ai believes that these moments of transition have led her to share her story and to uplift and encourage other women impacted by deportation to speak up, too.

Ai’s intersecting identities as a woman, a Texan, a Christian, and mother have influenced her leadership within deportation defense and relief spaces. By leading with empathy, she hopes to build a foundation of care and growth that creates space for folks to develop a deeper understanding of the challenges that surround women within the fight for deportation relief. Ai shared that there are women who are afraid to talk about their experiences with incarceration and deportation due to shame, stigma, and lack of resources.

As Ai continues her fight for justice and liberation for those directly impacted by deportation, she hopes to be a person that women can reach out to for a sense of support, love, and community.
Loan forgiveness applications live
Borrowers can now apply for loan forgiveness from the Department of Education from now through Dec. 31, 2023. Single borrowers making less than $125,000 and household borrowers making less than $250,000 on 2021 or 2020 tax filings can get up to $10,000 in debt forgiveness. Former Pell Grant recipients can apply for up to $20,000 in relief. Find more information and link to the application here
Medicare advantage fall open enrollment runs Oct. 15 - Dec. 7
During the Medicare biannual open enrollment periods, individuals can review and make changes to their Medicare Advantage or Medicare drug plan. Some of the things that beneficiaries can do include:
  • Changing from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan;
  • Changing from a Medicare Advantage Plan back to Original Medicare;
  • Switching from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another Medicare Advantage Plan;
  • Switching from a Medicare Advantage Plan that doesn't offer drug coverage to a Medicare Advantage Plan that offers drug coverage;
  • And joining a Medicare drug plan.

To find out more information and see the full list of options, you can visit 
SEARAC in the News
Activists participate in a 2019 rally against deportation of refugees in Sacramento, California. Photo courtesy of Samantha May Photography.
The Yappie uplifts SEARAC’s efforts to end deportation
Earlier this month, Samson Zhang of The Yappie wrote an article highlighting the introduction of the Southeast Asian Deportation Relief Act (SEADRA) in Congress. SEARAC and our partners at the Southeast Asian Freedom Network traveled to Washington, DC, to introduce this bill alongside our legislative champions, including the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Alan Lowenthal.

“This bill is an effort to try to center some of the Southeast Asian removal narratives and the Southeast Asian refugee narratives … [and] the need to make sure that immigrants and refugees who have a prior conviction and who have made mistakes are able to gain relief in the immigration system.”

Read more from The Yappie here.
Staff Blog
Photo courtesy of Diane Chao
Data equity for Southeast Asian American students is long overdue
This month, SEARAC Summer Policy Intern, Diane Chao, reflects on the importance of data equity for Southeast Asian students. She shares, “When student data is not disaggregated by ethnicity, education agencies and providers are ill-equipped to evaluate information that accurately represents the needs and outcomes of students from distinct ethnic backgrounds.” Read Diane's full blog here. 
Meet our fall development intern, Alexis Friedman!
SEARAC is thrilled to share that we have a fall intern joining our Development Team! Alexis Friedman is a senior at Eastern Washington University studying Public Health, and she will be supporting SEARAC’s end-of-year fundraising efforts. Learn more about Alexis in the interview below!

Name: Alexis Friedman
School: Eastern Washington University 
Major: Public Health

Likes: Cats and coffee 
Dislikes: Traffic and pickles 

What are your plans after graduation?: I plan on going to graduate school and getting a Master’s in Social Work. After I am done with school, I hope to be a medical social worker and continue my work in advocacy.  

What most excites you about being a part of SEARAC?: I am most excited about working with passionate people to address issues faced by the Southeast Asian community. Being a part of SEARAC means paving the way for leadership and change, and I am excited to see where that takes me!
Opportunities to Work in the Health & Aging Space

NAPAWF is looking to hire a Georgia Organizing Manager, a Georgia Organizer, and a Texas Organizing Manager to join their team. AARP is seeking to hire a Director, Family & Caregiving. All interested applicants are encouraged to apply. 
Tell SEARAC your health, education, and/or immigration Story
Our stories are our strength. Southeast Asian American communities have shared histories and experiences that form the basis for SEARAC’s advocacy work. We center our community members’ stories of accessing healthcare and education, navigating the immigration system, caring for older adults and loved ones, and expressing our joy through food, music, art, and culture. It is through these stories that we make powerful, lasting change.

SEARAC wants to hear from you! If you have a story about your family’s refugee journey, your experiences with our policy priority areas (health, education, and/or immigration), or your engagement with SEARAC at our summits and training programs, fill out this form and we may use your story in our advocacy on Capitol Hill.
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. 

Find out more at