SEARAC Press Release: SEARAC Joins Broad Coalition of 135+ Organizations in Firm Support of Race-Conscious Admissions Policies in Higher Education

Washington, DC – The Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC) has joined over 135 Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) organizations to sign a letter affirming the AAPI community’s support for race-sensitive admissions policies in higher education. The letter opposes recent efforts by a small group to dismantle race-sensitive admissions policies at educational institutions such as Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. SEARAC fully supports race-conscious policies as one of many variables for examining holistically a student’s ability to achieve, thrive, and positively contribute to the campus community.

SEARAC Executive Director Quyen Dinh said, “Affirmative action is one of the most important policies we have to undo decades or even centuries of institutional racism, systemic poverty, and discrimination. Discrimination against any racial or ethnic group is intolerable under our nation’s protection of civil rights. However, we will not let divisive groups undermine important policies such as affirmative action without merit in our community’s name. Affirmative action provides a framework for evaluating not only a student’s academic achievement, but the kinds of challenges and barriers that student has had to overcome to succeed at a high level for themselves and their community.”

Affirmative action policies account not only for race, but for challenges that many Southeast Asian American students face, such as poverty, being the first in the family to attend college, having parents who are not proficient in English, and attending low-performing schools that do not prepare students for standardized testing. Only 67% of Cambodian, 65% of Hmong, 68% of Laotian, and 70% of Vietnamese Americans aged 25 and over hold a high school degree or higher, compared to over 86% of the overall Asian American population.

Affirmative action is a keystone policy for addressing education equity, and it must be implemented in the context of a comprehensive approach to reducing education achievement gaps in this country. SEARAC calls for more attention to holistic K-12 policies that are equally important to close education equity gaps including, but not limited to, equal access to rigorous college and career ready content, support for English language learners and families with limited English proficiency, cultural and linguistic competency training for educators and school administrators, and health-promoting policies that address students’ physical and mental health challenges so that all students can thrive.

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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

CAA Press Release: CAA Joins 120+ Asian American Civil Rights Groups in Support of Affirmative Action

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Chinese for Affirmative Action, a community-based civil rights organization in San Francisco, joins with over 120 Asian American civil rights organizations nationwide to reaffirm support for affirmative action and equal opportunity in education.

The collective statement represents broad Asian American support for affirmative action – a view reflected in nationwide polls and surveys of Asian Americans – and underscores the need for policies that create inclusion rather than division.

Based on over forty years of successful work to improve equal opportunity, CAA strongly affirms that affirmative action is one of the most important, effective, and necessary policy tools for advancing justice for Chinese Americans as well as other marginalized communities.

For the full statement and list of endorsements, please see:

AAAJ Press Release: More than 130 Asian American organizations sign open letter supporting equal opportunity in higher education

WASHINGTON – Asian Americans Advancing Justice (Advancing Justice) joined 135 Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) community organizations from across the country in an open letter in support of equal opportunity and affirmative action in higher education, highlighting that a majority of Asian Americans strongly support affirmative action in higher education.  

In response to an administrative complaint being filed today by Asian American groups seeking to dismantle race-conscious admissions policies at Harvard University, Advancing Justice issues the following statements:

“Historically, affirmative action programs have opened doors and provided opportunities for Asian Americans and other communities of color, who have been systematically denied everything from entrance into and citizenship in this country to educational opportunities, job promotions, and leadership positions,” states Betty Hung, Policy Director at Advancing Justice – Los Angeles. “Today, these programs continue to benefit communities of color and, in the education context, also has provided opportunities to members of our own ethnically diverse Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities, particularly Pilipino Americans, Southeast Asians, and many Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.”

Advancing Justice has a long supported and continue to support programs to ensure equal educational access as well as a diverse and inclusive society. As civil rights organizations, we remain a strong supporter of diversity, inclusion, and equal opportunity in all contexts, including in education, employment, and contracting.

“Instead of asking Americans to come together to help address serious problems in our education system, these folks are trying to divide communities. We are in this boat together and Asians won’t save our children’s future by pushing other communities overboard,” said Christopher Punongbayan, Executive Director at Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus.

For additional comments, the following experts from Asian Americans Advancing Justice can be reached at:

Mee Moua, President and executive director
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC
202-296-2300 x 144

Betty Hung, Policy Director
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles

(213) 977-7500 ext. 214

Laboni Hoq, Litigation Director
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles
(213) 977-7500 ext. 257

Christopher Punongbayan, Executive Director
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus

(415) 848-7723

Aarti Kohli, Deputy Director
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus
(415) 848-7713 

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Asian Americans Advancing Justice is a national affiliation of five leading organizations advocating for the civil and human rights of Asian Americans and other underserved communities to promote a fair and equitable society for all. The affiliation’s members are: Advancing Justice | AAJC (Washington, D.C.), Advancing Justice – Atlanta, Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus (San Francisco), Advancing Justice – Chicago, and Advancing Justice – Los Angeles.