An organization that serves Southeast Asian refugee communities has made it clear that Friday’s executive order will not go unchallenged.
Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC), a D.C.-based nonprofit, recently called on people to support all refugees in defiance of Trump‘s order which not only bans visitors from several Muslim-majority countries, but also blocks Syrian refugees from entering the country.
SEARAC released a statement, challenging others to take part in visible social media campaigns, contact members of Congress, and sign a petition to oppose the executive action.
The nonprofit, which works with refugees from a variety of countries including Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, says they understand the importance of maintaining the U.S. as a place of refuge ― especially since Southeast Asians make up one of the largest communities of refugees ever resettled in the U.S.
And they’ll do what they can to make sure those fleeing persecution will have a country to turn to.
“As Southeast Asian Americans, we stand proud as refugees, as children of refugees, and as Americans to denounce these Executive Orders that attack, not protect, the very best of our country’s values,” the group said in a press release, just before the action was even signed.
Indeed, the current situation hits close to home for so many Southeast Asian-American families. In fact, the American public was even less accepting of resettling refugees fleeing communist governments in the 1970s, Quartz pointed out.
When President Jimmy Carter doubled the number of Indochinese refugees the U.S. had agreed to accept in 1979, about 62 percent of Americans opposed the move. Now, about 51 percent oppose accepting Syrian refugees into the country, a Quinnipiac University poll released in December revealed.
However back then, public opposition didn’t stop the U.S. from becoming home to those from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Between 1980 and 1990, the country took in about 590,000 Indochinese refugees, according to Pew Research Center.
“Our families ran from terror, starvation, and incessant bombings of our homes,” Quyen Dinh, SEARAC’s executive director said in the release. “We were welcomed into America despite the opposition of a minority of Americans, and with resilience and grit we have made America our home.”
So the nonprofit has no intention of staying silent as the nation continues to grapple with Trump’s restrictions. In addition to calling on people to sign a petition protesting the refugee restriction, SEARAC has joined in the #SolidaritySelfie movement, with its own staff sharing messages of support for refugees and their own stories of resettlement.
And by urging people to reach out to their members of Congress, the group hopes to spur more of those in government to release public statements opposing the executive order.
“America is a great nation today because of our diverse immigrant and refugee communities, not despite our communities,” Dinh said. “A great America stands by its constitution, and an attack on one religious minority is an attack on the freedom of religion for all Americans.”