For Immediate Release
Friday, June 21, 2019
Following the Trump administration’s announcement this week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids are expected to impact families across the U.S. beginning this Sunday, June 23rd in the pre-dawn hours. Cities expected to have the highest level of impact include: Chicago, Atlanta, Baltimore, Miami, New Orleans, Houston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, Newark, New York City, and Washington, D.C. Around 2,000 families are being targeted, primarily those with final orders for deportation or those who missed a hearing, with “collateral arrests” of others who might be in the vicinity.
Targeting children, youth and families in an effort to further criminalize immigrant communities is misguided and immoral. This is a blatant assault on families that will destabilize communities and harm children. Research by the Center for Law and Social Policy found evidence of behavioral changes in children who had been separated from a parent or had come in contact with immigration agents. It showed that children who have been separated from their parents frequently exhibit signs of trauma, including anxiety, depression, frequent crying, disrupted eating and sleeping, and difficulties in school.
The ICE raids announcement comes on the heels of new reports of deaths and overcrowding in detention facilities, denial of beds and sanitation for detained children, and continued unwillingness by ICE to reunify families.
Lakshmi Sridaran, Interim Co-Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) said, “The announcement of these raids further underscores the need for sanctuary policies across all cities to protect our communities. SAALT is working with our partners to quickly disseminate know your rights materials in multiple South Asian languages to prepare communities if ICE comes to their door. We are also encouraging members of the South Asian legal community to offer their expertise and aid for individuals impacted by these raids and for those currently detained.”
It is increasingly clear that Congress must cut funding from both Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and ICE, and immediately redirect funding to reunifying families and closing detention facilities across the U.S.
After years of immigrant justice organizing by a broad coalition of community members, allies and partners, elected officials have listened.
The House voted last night to pass the Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6), which offers permanent protections and a pathway to citizenship for over two million people. The bill passed the House yesterday with no additional anti-immigrant amendments.
H.R. 6 will have a direct impact on the lives of people who came to the U.S. as children – Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. It will make a difference in the lives of people who came to the U.S. because their countries were ravaged by war, disaster, or U.S. intervention – those with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED).
In our communities alone, there are over 15,000 Nepalis with TPS and 4,500 South Asians with DACA status.
H.R. 6 will give them the ability to plan a future for themselves.
The road ahead isn’t easy. We are disturbed that this victory in the House included long debates across both parties on the use of deeply flawed gang databases and unjust criminal convictions to deny protections to some immigrants. Ultimately, the tireless political education of Members on the part of advocates ensured that the bill passed the House with no harmful additions. But, our work ahead will be to stop Congress from funding this administration’s deportation machine.
Before H.R. 6 becomes law, the Senate must vote to pass H.R. 6 and President Trump must sign it into law. We commit to ramping up the pressure on our elected officials.
Lakshmi Sridaran, Interim Co-Executive Director of SAALT said, “ The Dream and Promise Act passed the House without additional anti-immigrant concessions. This is the first step in bringing an end to this administration’s racist and xenophobic policies and laying a foundation for immigrant justice in federal policy. When we refuse to compromise our values, we keep the bar higher and set the standard for change. This must be the new path forward for additional legislation and measures to defund deportation and restore protections for all immigrant and communities of color.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 17, 2019
Jasvir Singh and Rajandeep Singh were released from the Otero County Processing Center last week almost three months after initial reports that they were among nine Sikh men on hunger strike whom ICE agents were force feeding in the El Paso Service Processing Center.
El Paso and Las Cruces based community groups and national advocacy organizations launched a coordinated campaign to demand ICE cease force feeding and release the men.
ICE released both men on bond after consistent pressure from local Rep. Veronica Escobar’s office and local and national advocates, and days after a Congressional Delegation from the House Committee on Homeland Security visited and toured facilities in El Paso where they examined immigration policies and operations along our southern border.
Three of the men who had originally been among the nine on hunger strike remain in detention. While on hunger strike at EPSPC they reported regular physical, verbal, and psychological abuse at the hands of facility guards.
Jasvir and Rajandeep sustained a hunger strike for nearly 80 days to protest their conditions and treatment in detention. They had been held in the EPSPC since November 2018. Initially they were part of a group of 13 men in the EPSPC, ten from India and three from Cuba, who began hunger striking at the end of December.
Four of the men taking part in the hunger strike were deported and returned to India in early March. A fifth man who agreed to stop his hunger strike in January in return for much needed surgery, was also deported.
Jennifer Apodaca of the Detained Migrant Solidarity Committee who led advocacy efforts in El Paso said, “ICE always had the discretion to release people but refused to use it. It shouldn’t have taken an angry congressional delegation to secure their release. Instead, they continue to ignore the complaints of abuse and torture and turn a blind eye at the conditions of detention and prison spaces that house more than 52,000 people as they await their fate in our broken and biased immigration courts. All of this could have been avoided. It is time to abolish the detention and deportation machine. “
Nathan Craig from Advocate Visitors with Immigrants in Detention (AVID) visited the hunger strikers regularly in the El Paso facility. He said, “From their initial asylum requests, to their treatment while hunger striking, to their various hearings, all of these men experienced substantial discrimination based on the language they speak and the way they dress. Unfounded value judgements by and prejudices from U.S. government officials and contractors resulted in significant negative consequences for these men’s asylum claims. Inadequate, or complete lack of, interpretation was a chronic problem. All of the men told me about how they were subjected to frequent racial and ethnic slurs while detained. Sadly, more than the facts of their cases, these men’s asylum claims have been structured by prejudice on the part of immigration officials and their contractors. This must change. Wrongdoing at all stages of the process must be investigated. Justice must be brought for those men still in the US, and those men already deported must be afforded the opportunity to return to the US to pursue justice for what is widely recognized as torturous treatment in detention.”
Lakshmi Sridaran, Interim Co-Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national advocacy organization for South Asians that led national advocacy efforts said, “We are relieved that Jasvir and Rajandeep have finally been released, but it should not have taken this long. And, we remain deeply concerned for the three men who remain in detention – we fear they could be deported back to India and into the dangerous conditions they fled. We also know there are thousands more people housed in detention facilities across the country, suffering from the same litany of abuse and due process violations that our government refuses to acknowledge and address. It is clear that our nation’s entire understanding of detention must be overhauled. As a start, we need Congress to pass legislation that will hold facilities accountable with penalties and even the threat of shutting down for their repeated patterns of noncompliance.”
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SAALT’s 2018 report documents hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric aimed at our communities from Election Day 2016 to Election Day 2017. SAALT documented 302 incidents of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, and Arab communities in the United States, of which an astounding 82% were motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment. The 302 incidents are a more than 45% increase from the year leading up to the 2016 election cycle, levels not seen since the year after September 11.
SAALT and our allies are tracking hate crimes committed against South Asian, Sikh, Muslim and Arab communities.
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