WASHINGTON, D.C. (Jan. 21, 2015) — In the State of the Union address last night, President Obama presented his vision of a “middle class economics” to address this country’s growing wealth inequality by strengthening basic protections for working people, including tax credits for child care costs, guaranteed paid sick leave, and a higher minimum wage.
Southeast Asia Resource Action Center welcomes these proposals, which would uniquely impact Southeast Asian American (SEAA) communities. Over 18 percent of Cambodian families and 27 percent of Hmong families still live below the poverty line, compared with 11 percent of U.S. families overall.
SEARAC also applaud President Obama’s bold plan to make community college “as free and universal as high school is today.” We are encouraged that this plan will create more opportunities for SEAA students, many of whom are first-generation college students or come from low-income families. We hope the plan will be available for students who previously dropped out of high school, for whom community college is often a second chance. Across SEAA communities, 34 percent of Laotian, 38 percent of Cambodian, and 40 percent of Hmong adults over the age of 25 do not have a high school diploma or equivalent.
President Obama also celebrated the tremendous progress of the Affordable Care Act in helping about ten million Americans gain the security of health care coverage, even as health care inflation is at its lowest rate in fifty years. The President vowed to protect the health care law and promised to veto any attempts to undermine coverage for communities. With another month remaining for open enrollment, SEARAC commends President Obama’s commitment to seeing through the implementation of his historic health reform, and will continue to support efforts on the ground to support SEAA community members to access affordable coverage.
Finally, the President made it clear that Congress shouldn’t be “refighting past battles on immigration” by trying to undermine his recent executive actions, which could provide relief to many of the approximately 1.3 million undocumented Asian American immigrants in this country, and exhorted lawmakers to “shape a law that upholds our tradition as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.”
SEARAC shares the President’s vision of a country that values the “dignity and worth of every citizen – man and woman, young and old, black and white, Latino and Asian, immigrant and Native American, gay and straight, Americans with mental illness or physical disability.” We hope that in the next year, Congress can put aside partisan posturing and let the values we share as a diverse and dynamic country guide its way.
The Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC) is a national organization that advances the interests of Cambodian, Laotian, and Vietnamese Americans by empowering communities through advocacy, leadership development, and capacity building to create a socially just and equitable society. Find out more at www.searac.org.