SAALT Responds to Tragic Kansas Shooting – This Country is for All of Us

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national South Asian advocacy organization, is deeply disturbed by the deadly shooting of two South Asian men, Alok Madasani and Srinivas Kuchibhotla, in Kansas City that left one victim dead in what appears to be a hate crime.  Our thoughts and condolences go to the victims’ families and communities. Sadly, this latest act of violence comes as no surprise given the anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim vitriol escalating across the country, most notably illustrated in President Trump’s divisive recent executive orders.

“This incident is the latest in a rising tide of hate violence against South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern and Arab communities, electrified by the President’s anti-immigrant policies,” stated Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT. “When our ‘so-called’ leaders attempt to govern from an angle of xenophobia, these sentiments embolden deadly violence against our communities.”

Witnesses reported the shooter yelled “get out of my country” and various racial slurs before opening fire, apparently believing his two victims were ‘Middle Eastern’. SAALT welcomes news that the FBI is investigating whether this incident was racially motivated and we insist that considerations of domestic terrorism are included in the investigation to address the problem of growing white supremacy across the country.

SAALT’s latest report, “Power, Pain, Potential,” documents over 200 incidents of hate violence and xenophobic rhetoric against our communities during the 2016 elections, with an astounding 95% of incidents motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment. Regardless of the target, it is enough simply to be perceived as Muslim to be the victim of violence.

The President has yet to comment or offer his condolences to the victims’ families after this latest tragedy, consistent with his pattern of curious silence in the wake of hate violence incidents against many communities including Muslim, Arab, South Asian, and Jewish Americans. When tragedies charged with anti-immigrant sentiment occur on the heels of anti-immigrant executive orders by the President, we must demand better from our leaders. SAALT calls on the President to immediately denounce hate violence and rescind his recent anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim executive orders. We further encourage legislators at all levels to condemn this unacceptable violence.

Despite the venomous words of the shooter, there is a place in America for all of our communities, and we will fight fiercely for our rightful place within it.

Contact:  Vivek Trivedi – vivek@saalt.org

SAALT Resolutely Objects to DHS Memos Creating Blueprint for Mass Deportations

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national South Asian advocacy organization, resolutely objects to the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) memoranda implementing President Trump’s executive orders on interior and border enforcement. We believe these memos further relegate South Asian and all immigrant communities to second-class citizenship, questioning our very place in the quintessential nation of immigrants.

These policies massively expand and accelerate detentions and deportations, trample upon due process by in many cases removing the requirement for hearings and convictions prior to deportation, deputize local law enforcement to serve as immigration enforcement authorities, and increase the profiling and targeting of immigrant communities already under siege in the wake of recent and controversial executive orders released by this administration.

“The scale of the President’s anti-immigrant policies is extreme, and the new administration appears hell-bent on targeting and demonizing immigrant communities through orders that actively undermine safety and public trust in law enforcement,” stated Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT. “Short-circuiting due process is not a crackdown on crime, but a crackdown on rights and our very founding values as a nation, and these measures must be opposed by all communities of color.”

The President’s policies deeply affect the South Asian American community, the most rapidly growing demographic group in the United States at over 4.3 million. The undocumented South Asian population has grown significantly in the US in recent decades. India is the country of origin with the greatest increase in unauthorized immigrants to the United States with a 914% increase since 1990. Currently there are 450,000 undocumented Indian-Americans in the US alone, making India the fourth-highest sending country for undocumented immigrants after Mexico, El Salvador, and Guatemala.

As documented in our recent report, “Power, Pain, Potential,” hate violence against our communities has skyrocketed to levels not seen since the backlash immediately after the events of 9/11. At a time when immigrant communities need to feel confident in engaging with local law enforcement to report such incidents, the President’s draconian policies will instead force vulnerable communities to turn inward based upon their fear of profiling and deportation at the hands of the authorities. Overall public safety will likely plunge as a result, as entire communities continue to lose trust in the very law enforcement professionals tasked with keeping them safe. As such, public safety does not increase, but instead cripples under the weight of these short-sighted anti-immigrant policies.

Our communities are at the crosshairs. SAALT will continue to fight for the core rights and protections for our communities at the national, state and local levels with our 55 community partners of the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations. We will remain unbowed.

Contact:  Vivek Trivedi – vivek@saalt.org

SAALT Endorses the End Racial and Religious Profiling Act (ERRPA)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national South Asian American advocacy organization, is proud to endorse the End Racial and Religious Profiling Act 2017 (ERRPA), a critical piece of legislation introduced today by Senator Ben Cardin that provides a comprehensive prohibition on profiling by law enforcement that is woefully missing from existing federal law enforcement policies.

“This has been a banner year for hate and we’re only in February, with successive waves of anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant policies cracking at the notion of equality in our country,” stated Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT. “ERRPA acknowledges the dangerous climate of hate in the United States, the dehumanizing impact profiling has on our communities, and creates mechanisms that seek to protect the civil liberties of all Americans.”

If passed, ERRPA creates a uniform definition of racial profiling, including discriminatory profiling based on religion, ethnicity, or other protected categories, prohibited at all levels. ERRPA mandates training on racial profiling issues, authorizes grants to law enforcement agencies to implement best practices discouraging discriminatory profiling, and requires data collection by these agencies.

ERRPA comes in light of SAALT’s latest report, “Power, Pain, Potential,” which documents the disturbing increase in profiling, surveillance, and hate violence aimed at Muslim, Arab, and South Asian American communities during the 2016 election cycle, with levels rivaling the backlash in the year after 9/11. Issues of mistrust and accountability from law enforcement have plagued communities of color for decades, and particularly since 2001, when Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities have been unjustly targeted, profiled, and surveilled by law enforcement. This legislation is now more important than ever, as the Trump administration continues to embolden law enforcement to target and criminalize communities of color through divisive policies such as the Secure Communities program, as well as through destructive executive orders and cabinet appointments.

The trust deficit continues to grow between the public and law enforcement at a time when public confidence in policing is urgently needed. The passage of ERRPA can have a civilizing effect in our divided society by transforming our police from a force to a service and ensuring that all are equal under the law. In a month of wrong turns, this legislation is the course correction our country needs to uphold and protect the rights of all.

Contact:  Vivek Trivedi – vivek@saalt.org

SAALT Vehemently Opposes Bill Limiting Legal Immigration

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 7, 2017

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national South Asian American advocacy organization, vehemently opposes today’s bill introduced by Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) that aims to crackdown on legal immigration. The bill, named the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act, would significantly reduce the number of immigrants who can obtain green cards and other visas and would cut the number of legal immigrants allowed in the United States by 40% in the first year and by 50% over a decade.

“This bill is clearly part of an undisguised and coordinated attack on immigrant communities,” stated Lakshmi Sridaran, Director National Policy and Advocacy at SAALT. “The draconian use of legislation and Executive Orders to criminalize and marginalize immigrant communities reveals the inherent xenophobia of this new administration.”

Numbering over 4.3 million, South Asians are the fastest growing demographic group in the United States, with the majority our communities foreign born. Senator Cotton’s bill will make reuniting families a draining if not impossible task for South Asian immigrants who already struggle under a woefully outdated immigration system that makes family reunification a burdensome task.

We implore Congress to support and not hinder immigration, to welcome refugees, to not cripple sanctuary cities, and to adopt an accurate and long view of our country’s history that sees immigrants as a fundamental aspect of American life.

Contact: Vivek Trivedi
vivek@saalt.org

Help us Fight Back Against the “Muslim Ban”

Dear Friend,

Last week’s Executive Orders were an affront to the ideals of equality and justice upon which our nation was founded. Building walls, banning Muslims, and crippling sanctuary cities are just a few of the devastating impacts of President Trump’s policies targeting our communities.

In response, we’ve seen an inspiring public pushback against these policies nationwide. It’s clear that the new administration feels the resistance. To keep the momentum going, below is a menu of actions you can take to demand justice for our communities across the country.

Take Action:

  • Use the link here to find your Member of Congress. Check here to see which Senators and Governors have taken a public stance against the Executive Orders and find a sample script on the “template for responses” tab of the document. Thank the Members of Congress who have publicly opposed the Orders and demand that those who remain silent or in support speak up in opposition!
  • Earlier this week Senator Feinstein submitted a bill to reverse the ‘Muslim ban’. While it didn’t advance, it will be introduced again and needs more support. Call this number to ask your Senators to pass this bill to reverse the ban: 1-855-976-1858.
  • Attend the National South Asian Summit on April 21-24 in Washington D.C., where SAALT will celebrate the 10-year anniversary of this important gathering of South Asian American organizations, activists, and individuals coming together to claim our power through collective action. To learn more and for information on registration, click here.

Educate Yourself:

  • Get familiar with the impact of the Executive Orders on our communities. Read and share these resources with your family and friends:
    • Read SAALT’s latest report, “Power, Pain, Potential” to learn about the disturbing levels of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric targeted at our communities during the 2016 presidential elections.
    • Take a look at these important general resources to find out what you can do to help today.
    • Go through this toolkit prepared by American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee to understand the Executive Orders, Jan 27, 2017.
    • Read through this fact sheet on the Executive Orders prepared by the Penn State Law Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic and Muslim Advocates, Jan. 27, 2017.

Demonstrate:

  • Join the numerous direct actions occurring all over the country. Here is a list of airport actions around the country that occurred this weekend or coming up soon.
  • Organize rallies and actions in support of local mosques on February 3, 2017. MPower Change can support your ideas for action.
  • Connect to members of the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations in your state if you want to volunteer or join a rally.

Provide and Find Help:

Stay informed:

These small actions collectively can create large-scale change for our communities and country. SAALT stands ready as a resource and support for all. Contact us at info@saalt.org.

In partnership and with determination,
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)

Our nation is better than this.

Dear Friend,

Last week I spoke out against the President’s divisive and un-American Executive Orders that built walls, banned Muslims, rejected refugees, deprived sanctuaries, and expanded surveillance on Muslim-American communities across the country, all the while failing to make us safer or greater. I wrote in response, “we must be better than this.”

The tens of thousands of people who took to the airports and airwaves, to the city streets and social media, to the courtrooms and Capitol Hill in protest of these orders confirmed: we are better than this.

As a result, President Trump’s xenophobic agenda has met resistance.

This morning I spoke at a press conference in Washington D.C. with the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus in opposition to the President’s Executive Orders. Part of my remarks focused on SAALT’s latest report, “Power, Pain, Potential,” which documented over 200 incidents of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric targeted at our communities during the 2016 elections. I also stated that “These Executive Orders sow fear in communities of color and make us all less safe. The current national message resounds with exclusion and racism.”

As South Asian Americans, we’ve been here before. In those dark days and months following 9/11, our communities were targeted, attacked, and legislated against at unprecedented levels. We cannot let history repeat itself. Never again.

As SAALT continues to demand equality, justice, and full inclusion for all Americans, and as we push back against the anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, anti-American agenda of the Trump administration, we ask you to please stand with us.

As we continue tracking hate and working with our partners in the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations to demand our rights, we ask you to please stand with us.

As we host the 10-year anniversary of the National South Asian Summit in Washington D.C. this April, where hundreds of organizations and activists will come together to build skills, connect with policymakers, and strategize on how to claim our power through collective action, we ask you to please stand with us.

As our country continues to change shape and many of you fear that the worst is yet to come, we ask you to please stand with us. We promise you, our best is also yet to come. Support SAALT today.

In strength and partnership,

Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director, SAALT