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SEARAC Press Release: New Federal Guidance on Promoting Diversity & Reducing Racial Isolation in K-12 Schools and Higher Education Benefits SE Asian American Students

The below is a press release from the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 8, 2011

Contact: Pang Houa Moua, panghoua@searac.org; (202) 744-0436

New Federal Guidance on Promoting Diversity and Reducing Racial Isolation in K-12 Schools and Higher Education Benefits Southeast Asian American Students

Washington, DC –  On Friday December 2, 2011, the United States Department of Education and the United States Department of Justice jointly issued new federal guidance to provide a roadmap for K-12 schools, colleges, and universities to leverage the benefits of educational diversity to achieve high quality, inclusive educational opportunities for all students. The Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC) applauds this new guidance that provides tremendous opportunities for institutions to serve the educational needs of Southeast Asian American and other underserved students.

The guidance makes clear that the nation’s K-12 schools and colleges can use race in a variety of ways to assemble diverse student bodies and improve the quality of education for every student. The new guidance also provides concrete suggestions that K-12 schools and colleges can pursue in order to enhance social cohesion, reduce racial and economic isolation, and improve the quality of education for every student. The guidance for colleges and universities provides examples for a range of approaches to achieving diversity, including admissions procedures, development of pipeline programs, recruitment and outreach initiatives, and support programs (including mentoring, tutoring, and retention).

“At the K-12 level, too many of our students attend racially and economically isolated schools, and contrary to the ‘model minority myth’ – a misconception that all Asian Americans excel academically and face few obstacles – Southeast Asian American and Pacific Islander students remain underrepresented within higher education,” said Quyen Dinh, education policy advocate at SEARAC. Educational disparities within the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community are highlighted when educational outcomes are disaggregated by subgroup. For example, according to the American Community Survey, in comparison to over 86% of the overall Asian American population who holds a high school degree or higher, disaggregated data reveals that this is true for only 67% of Cambodian, 65% of Hmong, 68% of Laotian, and 70% of Vietnamese Americans aged 25 and over. In California, a 2010 report found that over a four-year period, one-fifth of Pacific Islander students in grades 9-12 are estimated to drop out. This guidance is a powerful advocacy tool for Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander communities to voice the needs for their students to be included in diversity policies at educational institutions.

SEARAC supports the Department of Education and Department of Justice in the issuance of this guidance and is ready to work with both agencies to ensure that this guidance acts to alleviate educational barriers that still exist for many Southeast Asian Americans and other underrepresented communities.

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2011 in Legislative, National news, Press Release

 

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Asian American Center for Advancing Justice acts on federal and state immigration policies

http://advancingjustice.org/

Asian American Groups Express Deep Concern and Opposition to Secure Communities

Secure Communities (S-Comm) is an Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) program that automatically forwards all fingerprints taken by local police to ICE for civil immigration background checks at the point of arrest.

Asian American Center for Advancing Justice has criticized S-Comm for being an indiscriminate mass deportation program, rather than one that is focused on identifying and deporting individuals with serious criminal convictions. 74 percent of those deported as a result of S-Comm either did not have any criminal convictions or have convictions for the lowest level offenses, including misdemeanors and minor traffic offenses.

Stewart Kwoh of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center states, “S-Comm has caused much harm to the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. Many AAPI immigrants come from countries with a history of government corruption, which makes it difficult for these community members to come forward and trust law enforcement. S-Comm compounds this problem by adding potential immigration consequences to contact with local law enforcement.”

Titi Liu of the Asian Law Caucus noted, “S-Comm is fundamentally flawed because it burdens and entangles local police with immigrant enforcement, thereby driving a wedge between immigrant community members and local police. This in turn compromises public safety for all community members.”

read more on Asian American Press…

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AAJC Applauds the Obama Administration for Taking Positive Steps Towards Fairer Immigration Policies

Last week the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Utah’s immigration law HB 496, which is similar to Arizona’s SB 1070 law. DOJ previously sued Arizona challenging SB 1070 and recently brought similar suits against copycat laws in Alabama and South Carolina.

SB 1070-type laws aim to criminalize undocumented immigrants and impermissibly authorizes local police to enforce federal immigration laws, which frequently leads to racial and ethnic profiling of all immigrants or persons who appear foreign.

read more on Asian American Press…

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Asian American Groups Urge Supreme Court to Hold That Legal Permanent Residents Should Not Be Retroactively Subjected to Harsh New Legal Consequences

Members of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice have joined an amicus curiae brief in Vartelas v. Holder. The brief urges the U.S. Supreme Court to hold that the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), which seeks to remove a legal permanent resident’s (LPR) right to make “innocent, casual and brief” trips abroad without fear that he will be denied reentry, does not apply retroactively.

“Retroactive application renders long-time LPR’s unable to take short trips abroad to fulfill important family and religious obligations, including caring for dying parents and attending funerals. They also risk being subject to detention and deportation,” said Stewart Kwoh of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center.

read more on Asian American Press…

 

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2011 in Legislative, National news

 

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Conference Call on Fellowship and Internship Opportunities for Asian Pacific Youth

The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and the White House Office of Public Engagement invite you to a nationwide conference call on federal internship and fellowship opportunities for young Americans on Tuesday, December 6th from 4:00-5:00pm EST.   Program representatives will explain how to apply for these unique opportunities, when application materials are due, and useful tips on putting together a competitive application package.

WHAT:           Conference Call on Fellowship and Internship Opportunities for Youth

SPEAKERS FROM:
The White House Internship Program
The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Internship Program
The Presidential Management Fellowship Program
Other Federal Agency Opportunities

WHEN:           Tuesday, December 6th from 4:00-5:00pm EST/1:00-2:00pm PST

HOW:              Please click HERE to receive call-in information for this call by Monday, December 5, 2011, at 12:00 PM.

These calls are not intended for press purposes and are off the record.

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2011 in National news

 

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STAND BY COMMITMENT TO MINNESOTA’S REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS

The following article was originally printed in Asian American Press on Oct. 24, 2011

(Comments from CAPM: the typical fee for a citizenship test is $675, a cost that is very difficult to afford for low-income refugees and immigrants, especially those with a disability and limited English proficiency.)

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STAND BY COMMITMENT TO MINNESOTA’S REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS

By Pham Thi Hoa and John Keller

Mr. Vang is a refugee who was resettled in Minneapolis in 2004 after spending over a decade living in a makeshift refugee camp in Wat Thamkrabok in Thailand.

Like thousands of Hmong men, Mr. Vang proudly fought alongside U.S. forces during the Secret War in Laos. Because of his allegiance to the United States, Mr. Vang became a refugee after U.S. forces pulled out of Southeast Asia.

The United States agreed to resettle him and his family as legal refugees to the U.S., and ultimately Minnesota, under our international humanitarian treaty obligations. Today, he faces yet another crisis that leaves him fearful for his well-being.

At 63 years old, he faces the looming cut off of his Supplemental Security Income in the coming months if he does not successfully naturalize. He has already attempted to naturalize once, but did not pass the test because of his limited English language ability and his disability which both qualifies him for SSI and simultaneously makes attaining citizenship more difficult.

On September 30th, Supplemental Security Income benefits will run out for thousands of low income, elderly and disabled refugees across the nation like Mr. Vang, unless Congress acts quickly to address a short term extension of the benefits. In fact, 720 refugees in Minnesota are projected to lose their SSI in 2011 alone — the third highest number in the country.

SSI provides the bare minimum, no more than $674 for an individual, and $1,011 for a couple per month, to afford the very basic necessities. During these tough economic times, it is especially unconscionable for us to cut off basic resources to this vulnerable community to whom we promised humanitarian treatment, when it could mean they are left hungry and without their basic needs met.

Today’s problem began fifteen years ago. In 1996, Congress restricted SSI to no more than seven years for elderly and disabled refugees, with the misconception that they should be able to naturalize within this time and thus, remain eligible for benefits. Importantly, in 2008, President Bush recognized the hardship this mandatory cut-off was having on vulnerable refugees and signed legislation to protect them — until September 30, 2011.

As direct service providers who work with refugee populations know all too well, seven years is not nearly enough time to learn English and gain citizenship, especially for a population that is elderly and who have disabilities that limit their learning ability. For those who have severe mental or physical disabilities, usually caused by the very situation they were forced to flee, and those who are often among the most elderly, the ability to learn a new language and memorize information for the naturalization test may take the rest of their lives.

Furthermore, some of these same vulnerable, disabled individuals may also face the loss of SSI due to errors or delays by either themselves, the government, or both while requesting asylum, permanent residency, and naturalization — a reality that any Congressional staffer who works with immigration applications will acknowledge. Refugee elders are often critical contributors to the livelihood of entire family units and communities.

For many elderly and disabled refugees, the cut off of SSI is severe and has a wide ranging impact on the well-being of their families. Our members of Congress must act to ensure that an extension on SSI is passed as soon as possible to prevent needless hardship for those most vulnerable among us.

In addition, the Minnesota delegation must also work in Congress to sever the link between naturalization and SSI for those who are elderly or disabled and to help us honor the commitment made to these internationally vulnerable neighbors.

Pham Thi Hoa is the executive director of CAPI, a community-based social justice organization and a direct implementer of anti-poverty programs to provide jobs, housing, food, health education, youth and senior social services in the Minneapolis area.

John Keller is executive director of the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, whose mission is to provide quality immigration legal services, law-related education, and advocacy to meet the steadily increasing needs of Minnesota’s immigrant and refugee communities.

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2011 in Community news, Legislative, National news

 

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A Community of Contrasts: Asian Americans in the United States 2011

asian american national data census

A Community of Contrasts: Asian Americans in the United States 2011 compiles the latest data on Asian Americans at the national level. Produced by the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice, the report is a valuable resource to community organizations, elected and appointed officials, government agencies, foundations, corporations, and others looking to better understand and serve one of this country’s fastest growing and most diverse racial groups. Below is a summary of key findings in the report.

Note:  the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice will release a separate national report in 2012 dedicated to Pacific Islanders.

Asian Americans are the country’s fastest growing racial group.
The Asian American population in the United States grew 46% between 2000 and 2010, faster than any other racial group nationwide.

Asian Americans make significant contributions to the economy through entrepreneurial activity, job creation, and consumer spending.
Asian American entrepreneurs own over 1.5 million businesses, employing about 3 million people with an annual payroll of nearly $80 billion. Asian American firms were more likely than other firms to create jobs, and between 2000 and 2009, the buying power of Asian American communities increased 89%, from $269 billion to $509 billion.

Asian Americans are becoming citizens, registering to vote, and casting ballots
Approximately 68% of Asian Americans old enough to vote are U.S. citizens, but of those eligible to register to vote, 55% have done so, and the rate of Asian American voter turnout still lags behind that of non-Hispanic Whites. Greater naturalization, voter registration, and Get Out the Vote (GOTV) efforts are needed if Asian Americans are to realize their untapped political potential.

Immigration policies disproportionately impact Asian Americans.
Proportionately, Asian Americans are more likely than any other racial group to be foreign-born. Approximately 60% of Asian Americans were born outside the United States.

Language barriers continue to limit opportunities for millions of Asian Americans.
Roughly one out of every three Asian Americans are limited-English proficient (LEP). Providing assistance in Asian languages and greater opportunities to learn English promotes better access to good jobs, citizenship, voting, healthcare, social services, and the judicial system for millions of Asian Americans.

Asian American educational attainment varies widely among ethnic groups.

Disaggregated data show that the low educational attainment of Cambodians, Laotian, Hmong, and Vietnamese Americans limit employment opportunities for many in Southeast Asian communities. Job training programs and vocational English language instruction should be targeted to Asian Americans with lower levels of educational attainment in an effort to increase access to good jobs.

Some Asian Americans struggle economically.
Hmong Americans have the lowest per capita income of any racial or ethnic group nationwide, while Hmong, Bangladeshi, and Cambodian Americans have poverty rates that approach those of African Americans and Latinos. Federal, state, and local governments should establish or expand culturally and linguistically accessible public assistance programs to meet these needs.

Unemployment has impacted Southeast Asian American communities.
Hmong, Laotian, and Cambodian Americans have unemployment rates higher than the national average. Job training, adult English language learning, unemployment benefits, and other safety net programs should be made accessible to these workers as they struggle to get back on their feet.

Asian Americans continue to face housing concerns.
59% of Asian Americans own homes nationwide, yet homeownership rates lags significantly behind that of non-Hispanic Whites, with a majority of Bangladeshi, Hmong, and Korean Americans renting rather than owning their own homes.  The problem is compounded by large numbers of Asian Americans living in overcrowded housing.

Access to affordable healthcare coverage is critical for Asian Americans.
Asian Americans are twice as likely than both non-Hispanic Whites and African Americans to have seen a doctor in the past five years, despite being more likely to develop hepatitis, stomach and liver cancer, and other diseases. Asian Americans are also more likely than non-Hispanic Whites to be uninsured. The federal government should work with insurance companies and employers to expand access to affordable healthcare coverage for all U.S. residents, including immigrants.

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To view the full report, visit: http://www.advancingjustice.org/pdf/Community_of_Contrast.pdf

To visit the Center for Advancing Justice website, visit: http://www.advancingjustice.org/

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2011 in National news

 

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