SAALT Demands A Clean DREAM Act Without Compromises

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
In response to reports of a deal on DACA made by Democratic leadership and the President, with rumors of increased border enforcement provisions included in that agreement, Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national civil rights and racial justice organization, released the following statement:

“We demand a clean DREAM Act, without any compromises on increased border enforcement that will negatively impact immigrant families. Last week’s cruel termination of DACA by President Trump is just the latest in this administration’s toxic anti-immigrant policies. Over 800,000 lives reduced to bargaining chips for a more militarized border is unconscionable, unacceptable, and un-American. Democratic leadership including Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi must stand up for DREAMers, stand up for our country’s ideals of equality and fairness for all people, and stand against this administration’s anti-immigrant policies.”

“Over 27,000 Asian Americans, including 5,500 Indians and Pakistanis, have already received DACA. An additional estimated 17,000 individuals from India and 6,000 from Pakistan respectively are eligible for DACA, placing India in the top ten countries for DACA eligibility. These families are at risk of deportation and must be protected, not with a wall or more armed forces on the border, but with a roadmap to citizenship for aspiring new Americans.”

“This is a category 5 administration, threatening millions of people who find themselves in its path, forced to hide underground and in the shadows for any hope of survival. A climate change of hate is to blame, with anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim policies blustering and wreaking havoc across our nation. Reversing this trend, before it’s too late, is the need of the hour, and it must begin with a clean DREAM Act without compromises.”

CONTACT: Vivek Trivedi – vivek@saalt.org

This Week in Hate: Sixteen Years after 9/11 and Hate Violence is on the Rise

Prepared by Radha Modi

September 11, 2017 marked the 16 year anniversary of 9/11, and hate violence against those who identify or are perceived as Muslim, Sikh, South Asian, Arab, Middle Eastern, and Asian continues to rise. While the campaign and election of Donald Trump is heralded as the impetus for the growing hate speech and violence nationally, Islamophobia, anti-Blackness, and anti-immigrant sentiment had become normalized and institutionalized in the U.S. over the last sixteen years: from profiling by TSA to police brutality to excessive delays in processing of immigration applications. Trump as well as others would not have been able to advocate and sanction white supremacy so deftly had it not been for the continued embedding of these principles in the foundations of U.S. governance.

The latest numbers in hate show that in the ten months since the election, a total of 168 incidents of hate have occurred against those who identify or are perceived to be Muslim or immigrant. Figure 1 illustrates that the percent increase is up by 29% as compared to the year prior to the election which had a total of 130 incidents.

There is a persistent increase in all categories of hate violence as shown in Figure 2. Verbal and written hate speech – at 68 unique incidents and property damage at 40 unique incidents  – have surpassed the totals from the prior year. Acts of physical violence, now at 60 incidents, will soon exceed the total of 64 from last year. Recent examples of these hateful acts occurred over the previous week. On September 4th in Ohio, a truck driver fired a gun thirteen times at a Muslim woman in her car. She was struck four times and is currently recovering at a local hospital in Columbus, Ohio. CAIR is urging police to investigate this crime as a hate crime. Then on September 6, a Sikh Temple in Hollywood, CA was vandalized with hate speech. The words, “Nuke all Sikhs,” was scrawled on the walls of the temple. Further, a Filipino-Turkish man was beaten by a white supremacist in a parking lot in Fullerton, CA on September 7th.

Figure 3 demonstrates that the rise in the number of hate incidents are regionally relevant. The West Coast continues to lead in hate incidents with a third of incidents occurring in that region of the U.S. The hate violence occurring in the Eastern and Midwestern regions make up about half of all incidents. Southern regions of the U.S. have the lowest number of incidents making up 16% of the total. The higher proportion of documented hate crimes in certain regions is due to a variety of issues: 1) a higher proportion of the population that is of color and immigrant, 2) an ease and access to reporting structures, 3) the visibility of the crime, and 4) the visibility of the victim.

SAALT’s Congressional Briefing on Hate Violence Sounds the Alarm for Justice

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

On September 12, 2017, one day after the 16th anniversary of the tragic attacks of September 11, South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national civil rights and racial justice organization, held a Congressional briefing to address the rising tide of hate violence aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Arab, and Middle Eastern Americans under the current administration. SAALT was joined by five members of Congressional leadership and national partner organizations to denounce this administration’s anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant policies that embolden hate against our communities.

“Post-9/11 has transformed into present-Trump, with hate violence reaching levels that rival the aftermath of the September 11 attacks,” stated Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT. “The White House has a sworn responsibility to condemn and prevent all forms of hate. Today’s briefing with Congressional leaders is an important step in making sure this administration does not renounce its responsibilities to our communities and nation.”

The current administration has been fundamental to the growth and audacity of white supremacist and Islamophobic movements in the United States. The White House has unleashed numerous divisive policies that have awoken and emboldened hate against our communities, including several permutations of the “Muslim Ban,” rescinding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and supporting the RAISE Act, among others.

Since the election, SAALT has documented over 150 incidents of hate violence against those who identify or are perceived as Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, South Asian, Middle Eastern, or Arab American, already surpassing totals from the year leading up to the 2016 election. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, anti-Muslim hate groups grew by 197% in 2016, and, according to the FBI, anti-Muslim hate crimes increased by 67% in 2015.

“SAALT, along with our national partners, will continue to demand and strive for a just and inclusive society for all Americans,” stated Ms. Raghunathan. “We stand ready to work with Congressional leaders to mount a decisive opposition to bigotry and division of all kinds and to reinforce our communities’ important place in the fabric of our nation.”

——

Co-Chairs, Sponsors, Speakers, Partners, and Quotes:

Honorary Co-Chairs of the briefing include: 
Senator Richard Blumenthal (CT);
Senator Ben Cardin (MD);
Senator Tammy Duckworth (IL)

Member Co-Sponsors of the briefing include: 
Representative Judy Chu (CA-27);
Representative Maxine Waters (CA-43);
Representative Barbara Lee (CA-13);
Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-7);
Representative Ro Khanna (CA-17)

Members of Congress who joined the briefing include:
Representative Judy Chu (CA-27);
Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-7);
Representative Ro Khanna (CA-17)

Partner organizations include:
South Asian Network;
Desis Rising Up and Moving;
Sikh Coalition;
DACA Network

Representative Judy Chu (CA-27), Chair, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus:
“Thank you to South Asian Americans Leading Together for organizing today’s briefing and being such a strong leader in the fight to defeat hate. Since the 2016 Presidential election we have witnessed heightened xenophobic and anti-Muslim rhetoric and violence targeting communities of color across the nation. This hate, rhetoric, and the violence is particularly alarming because it is reminiscent of what we saw in the aftermath of September 11 attacks, when Muslims, South Asians, Sikhs and others became the targets of hate. In 2017 we’ve seen racial tensions come to a head, which has been largely fueled by white supremacists. The Trump administration’s dangerous political rhetoric has explicitly targeted South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Arab, and Middle Eastern communities, such as the President’s ill-conceived and un-American Muslim travel ban. But the xenophobic sentiment is also being driven by xenophobic policies such as President Trump’s decision to terminate the DACA program, and its desire to upend our family based immigration system. Our nation’s values affirm that all people deserve to be welcomed and to feel safe no matter what they look like or who they worship. Hate has no place in America, and we have to continue to remain vigilant in protecting the rights of all Americans against this rising tide of hate violence.”

Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-7):
“The hate violence we are facing in 2017 is not new. But what we are facing, what it feels like, is a sanctioned hate that comes from places like the White House. We ask that the President cease his incendiary rhetoric that helps to fuel many of these hate crimes. It is crystal clear that we still have a tremendous amount of work to do, and that work must come from leaders in Congress and from our communities insisting that we are not a country that continues this anti-immigrant xenophobic rhetoric. You can tie a direct thread between everything that has been happening and the leadership that comes from the White House. It isn’t enough just to be speak out, there needs to be accountability that actually takes direct action to ensure that the President understands that he is the President of all of the United States of America. Let’s see every defeat as an opportunity to grow our movement, and let’s see every win as a victory in our step to push for that more perfect union.”

Representative Ro Khanna (CA-17):
“It’s time that we, together as a nation, speak openly and respectfully about how to end any hate and violence directed towards Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities. I will always stand up against racism and violence. To those who have faced prejudice know that you are not alone and we are with you.”

Contact:  Vivek Trivedi – vivek@saalt.org

Minority leader Pelosi joins CAPAC and Asian American DREAMers to demand immediate passage of the DREAM Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national civil rights and racial justice organization, fully supports calls by Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Judy Chu, and other members of Congressional leadership for the immediate passage of the DREAM Act. These demands come on the heels of last week’s decision by the Trump administration to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the latest in this administration’s anti-immigrant policies that puts 800,000 people at risk of deportation from the only country they’ve ever called home.

“This administration’s heartless, endless efforts to target and marginalize immigrant communities makes the immediate passage of a clean DREAM Act all the more urgent,” stated Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT. “SAALT joins Congressional leadership in staunch support of the immediate passage of the DREAM Act, and we call on all elected and appointed officials to defend our communities through their words and actions.”

At a press conference on the DREAM Act, Representative Nancy Pelosi noted, “It’s an honor to be here with DREAMers, who are advancing the American dream. With their courage, with their optimism, and with their inspiration, they make America more American.”

Representative Judy Chu stated, “It was only last week that President Trump issued one of the cruelest orders he ever could, the end of DACA, forcing 800,000 people to face deportation to countries that they do not even know. We are here to say, ‘We will fight for our DREAMers.’”

Chirayu Patel, Co-Founder of the DACA Network and a DREAMer himself, stated, “I have built a life here: gone to elementary, middle school, high school, and college. The decision by President Obama in 2012 to enact the DACA program was a consequential day for me, as I believed this was the first step to earn my American citizenship. Last week’s decision by President Trump turned my life upside down. We will not be used as bargaining chips in political gamesmanship between the parties. We are calling on Congress to pass a clean DREAM Act now. Now is the time for Congress to make a decision on whether they’re going to support us or if they’re going to stand in the way of progress.”

Over 27,000 Asian Americans, including 5,500 Indians and Pakistanis, have already received DACA. An additional estimated 17,000 individuals from India and 6,000 Pakistan respectively are eligible for DACA, placing India in the top ten countries for DACA eligibility. With the termination of DACA, these individuals could face deportation at the discretion of the administration.

Our immigration laws are badly broken – disregarding our values is not the answer to fixing them. We call on Congress to do its job and immediately pass a clean DREAM Act that creates a roadmap to citizenship for aspiring new Americans. This is the only way to align our immigration laws with the values Americans hold dear.

CONTACT: Vivek Trivedi – vivek@saalt.org

Civil Rights Coalition Denounces ACT For America’s Anti-Muslim Online Campaign; Calls on the President to #CounterACTHate

Washington – Civil rights leaders, faith based, human rights, and community organizations condemn today’s bigoted, anti-Muslim online campaign by ACT for America, reportedly the nation’s largest anti-Muslim hate group.  This online campaign was scheduled for just two days before the anniversary of September 11 to target and manufacture hatred for American Muslims at a time when violence against Muslim, Arab, South Asian, and Sikh communities is reaching historic highs.

ACT originally planned to coordinate 67 anti-Muslim rallies across 36 states under the theme “America First.”  However, after thousands of Americans came out in peaceful resistance to white supremacy and racism in Charlottesville and Boston, ACT decided to call off its rallies and shift to today’s online campaign, a clear signal that messages of justice and solidarity are drowning out messages of hate nationwide.

This is not the first time civil rights groups and anti-racist protestors stared down ACT’s bigotry.  In June ACT held anti-Muslim rallies in 30 cities across the nation under the theme “March Against Shariah”.  This campaign was met with strong resistance from civil rights groups who held alternative events that telegraphed calls for love, fairness, and justice. The Trump administration was silent in response.

ACT’s founder, Brigitte Gabriel, has made her racism clear. She has said, “Every practicing Muslim is a radical Muslim” and has argued, outrageously, that Muslims are a “natural threat to civilized people of the world, particularly Western society.”  In a video message launching the America First rallies, Ms. Gabriel exclaims, “Let’s show our president that we are behind him in securing our nation.” In accordance with the bigotry that ACT promotes, its previous anti-Muslim rallies have attracted a host of armed militia-type groups and white nationalists.

Likewise, President Trump has made no secret of his bigotry,, stating on the record, “I think Islam hates us” and moving forward with his administration’s dogged pursuit of a “Muslim Ban,” among other policies.  The words and actions of the administration, including high-level advisors who are known standard-bearers for white supremacist movements, as well as the President himself, increasingly fuel and validate violence targeting Muslims and people perceived as Muslim. The FBI’s 2015 hate crimes statistics, the most updated data available, show a 67% increase in hate crimes against Muslims in 2015, while violence aimed at South Asian, Sikh, and Arab communities continue to rise. The xenophobic statements by the President and Gabriel run counter to the values of justice and inclusivity that we seek to uphold.

Peaceful resistance by civil rights groups, immigrant and faith communities, and communities of color has been the strongest counterweight to the insults and injuries of white supremacists and this administration. We demand this administration, and all elected and appointed officials, condemn groups that peddle hate in the strongest possible terms, and back that condemnation with swift action and policies that contribute to the transformation of our institutions. The hatred must stop now. As a coalition of diverse organizations representing communities of color and immigrants at the national, state, and local levels, we are committed to condemning bigotry of all kinds and advancing the principles of racial justice.

Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director, South Asian Americans Leading Together, said, “ACT for America’s racism and fear mongering are incompatible with core American values of justice and equality in a nation where people of color will constitute a majority of residents within the next two decades.  ACT’s decision to shift from nationwide rallies to an online campaign, while still toxic, is in no small terms a victory and emblematic of the power of standing together, united from all faiths and backgrounds against bigotry. The Trump administration must end its anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant campaign that emboldens hate groups to commit horrific acts of violence against our communities. Silence is no longer an option. The President, along with all elected and appointed officials, must condemn Islamophobia and white supremacy and ensure that our communities can live in a just and inclusive society for all Americans.”

SAALT Condemns President Trump’s Decision to Terminate DACA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national civil rights and racial justice organization, condemns President Trump’s decision to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the latest in a litany of this administration’s anti-immigrant policies.  This morning Attorney General Sessions announced the destructive change, citing DACA’s executive overreach as the main source of critique, reflecting this administration’s amnesia and its unconstitutional actions to date, not the least of which include the “Muslim Ban.”

“America’s values are founded on the ideal that all people are created equal and deserve justice. The President’s decision to terminate DACA puts 800,000 individuals at risk of deportation from the only country they’ve ever called home. Ending DACA is the latest evidence of this administration’s utter lack of commitment to our nation’s founding values of equality and fairness,” stated Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT.  “Our current patchwork of immigration policies and programs is broken, and we demand Congress does its job to craft a commonsense immigration process that creates a roadmap to citizenship for aspiring new Americans. This is the only way to align our immigration laws with the values Americans hold dear.”

The Trump administration will phase out DACA after a six-month delay, punting responsibility to Congress to craft legislation to protect Dreamers. Passing the DREAM Act 2017 is an important first step, but what the nation needs is comprehensive immigration reform.

Over 27,000 Asian Americans, including 5,500 Indians and Pakistanis, have already received DACA. An additional estimated 17,000 individuals from India and 6,000 Pakistan respectively are eligible for DACA, placing India in the top ten countries for DACA eligibility.  With the termination of DACA, these individuals could face deportation at the discretion of the administration.

The CEOs of Apple, Google and Facebook and many other business leaders have all staunchly supported DACA and opposed its termination, citing their need for talented workers in a direct rebuttal to claims that DACA has hurt the American economy.

When asked about DACA in February the President stated, “We are going to deal with DACA with heart.”  Yet today the Attorney General called the termination of DACA a compassionate decision, revealing how tone deaf and inconsistent this administration is to its past statements and American values. The administration has announced several permutations of the “Muslim Ban”; continually called for the construction of a wall on the southern border of the United States; has rolled back Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA); supported the RAISE Act that seeks to slash immigration in half within a decade; and encouraged, endorsed, and emboldened bigotry, white supremacy, and hatred toward immigrants, Muslims, and people of color across the nation. That is not the type of ‘heart’ this nation needs.

Since its inception, this administration has demonstrated a crucial lack of heart, compassion, values, and respect for the law when it comes to DACA and immigration.  It is time for Congress to step up and pass comprehensive immigration reform, and for all elected and appointed officials to defend our communities through words and actions.  We are here to stay, we have the same rights to America as anyone else, and we are not going away.

Contact:  Vivek Trivedi – vivek@saalt.org