WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nov. 18, 2014) — While we await President Obama’s promised announcement on administrative relief for undocumented families, we remain concerned about the humanitarian crisis of children and families fleeing violence in Central America.
Last night, SEARAC joined a broad coalition of Asian American & Pacific Islander and Latino partners in front of the White House to call on the Obama Administration to treat children and families fleeing for their lives from Central America with the dignity, humanity, and due process they deserve. Too many families who need our protection are locked up in remote private prisons and rapidly deported.
“As a child of refugee parents who fled Viet Nam in 1980 for a better future, I see my mother’s face as I read the news about the children fleeing Central America,” said SEARAC Executive Director Quyen Dinh. “Like these children, she was a 16-year-old girl when she escaped Viet Nam to find a better life — free of violence, free of political and economic oppression. The only difference was that my mom made it to the refugee camps of Thailand before coming to the U.S., and the children we see today are ending up at our borders to be detained and deported.
“My mom was one of the 1.3 million refugees who fled after the U.S. wars in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam – the largest community of refugees ever resettled in this country. Her ability to resettle in the U.S. was made possible through the humanitarian advocates who founded SEARAC – seeing it as an American moral obligation and imperative to respond to this refugee crisis.
“Today, SEARAC still stands for that American tradition of humanitarian protection for refugees and immigrants. What we are seeing and must address is a humanitarian crisis – these children are coming to the U.S. as refugees fleeing violence, just as Southeast Asian refugees did 40 years ago and up until today.
“We stand in solidarity with children from Central America whose stories of suffering, trauma, and resilience are our own. We stand in solidarity with advocates who are calling on our country to protect these children, to provide humane treatment rather than incarceration and deportation — because 40 years ago, U.S. advocates stood up for us. Our fates are interlaced. This vigil represents that we’re in this struggle and fight together.”
November 20th is the 25th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. SEARAC will join advocates across the country to protest the U.S. practice of detaining immigrant families in prisons.
Partners attending last night’s vigil included the National Korean American Educational & Service Consortium (NAKASEC), CARECEN – Central American Resource Center,Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC, OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates, the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), and Detention Watch Network.
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.