*This letter will continue to remain open for organizational and individual sign-on. It will be used to demonstrate community support for SEARAC engagement with Members of Congress. Please only sign once.
*************************************************************************************************We, the undersigned Southeast Asian American (SEAA) individuals, organizations, and allies, denounce the ongoing mandatory detention and deportation of SEAA refugees from the United States.
Our community is the largest refugee community to ever resettle in America following the mass persecution and genocide of our families during the Vietnam war and Khmer Rouge-orchestrated genocide.
We are strong and resilient, fleeing from chaos and destruction from a U.S.-backed war only to be resettled in an America of racial inequity, failing schools, and mass incarceration.
We are survivors of a war we didn’t choose – a war that the U.S. fought on our parents’ soil with boots and with bombs.
Today we are advocates and activists, small business owners, lawyers, machinists, service workers, artists, and educators. We are American families, moms and dads, sisters and brothers.
The 1,677 SEAA community members who have been deported to Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam over the past two decades are part of this uniquely American story. Many were born in refugee camps, fleeing the U.S. carpet-bombing of Laos, the Khmer Rouge genocide, and mass destruction in Vietnam. Some have never even set food in the countries that the U.S. is now deporting them to.
They came to America as babies and young children who knew nothing but their parents’ love and their trauma. Each one made a mistake along the path to adulthood, and each one served their time. They are an example of what makes America great -- the capacity to forgive, the strength to overcome obstacles, and the humility and perseverance to turn their lives around.
They are our beloved family members and friends.
Like many other immigrant and refugee communities who have played a critical role in our nation’s history, our story has largely been forgotten by our elected leaders. Today, SEAAs are swept under the rug and made invisible by the Asian American “model minority myth,” despite our unique refugee history rooted in deep trauma.
Our families were ripped apart or nearly annihilated by war and genocide. We survived, only now to face another generation of family separation. The impact of deportation is felt beyond our immediate families -- deportation destabilizes entire communities with far reaching social and economic consequences.
But we will not be forgotten. Our communities are resilient, and we join our immigrant and refugee brothers and sisters throughout the country to continue to fight for justice, for our dignity, and for our families.
We call on Congress to:• Champion policies that celebrate the refugee and immigrant resilience that has always made this country great.• Reject attempts to divide immigrant communities into “good” or “bad” immigrants, and demand that our laws be flexible enough to recognize each individual’s unique story and family situation.• Speak out against this Administration’s ongoing attempts to criminalize, scapegoat, and demonize immigrant and refugee communities.
We call on the Southeast Asian American community to:• Protect one another and keep each other safe.• Commit to fighting for family unity and the principles of “second chances” for all of our brothers and sisters.• Share our stories of resilience, of change and of love. We continue to be examples of the promise of the American dream and we continue to be proud of our refugee heritage.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus, San Francisco, CAFormerly Incarcerated Group Healing Together (F.I.G.H.T.), Seattle, WAManForward, Minneapolis, MNMekong NYC, New York, NYProvidence Youth Student Movement (PrSYM), Providence, RI#ReleaseMN8, Saint Paul, MNSoutheast Asian Freedom Network (SEAFN)Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC), Washington, DCVietLead, Philadelphia, PA
Organizations (organized by state)
Individuals (organized by city, state)