SAALT Denounces the Administration’s “Public Charge” Proposal to Criminalize Immigrants for Using Public Benefits

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Washington, D.C., South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) condemns the Department of Homeland Security announcement of new proposed “public charge” rules that would deny permanent resident status (“green cards”) to immigrants who use government services such as nutrition programs and housing assistance. The new rule would also weigh age, health, and employability as factors to deny green cards. SAALT, along with immigrant and civil rights, public health, and labor organizations, are denouncing these changes that threaten families and children’s health. The proposed rules would relegate immigrants who are not yet citizens to second-class status by condemning their use of critical public benefits programs.
If implemented, the public charge regulation would undermine the safety, health, and security of immigrant families. Rumors of the proposal have already sown fear among immigrant families, many of whom have foregone essential health and nutrition services for which they are eligible. The new rule would hit South Asian American communities particularly hard, as over 10% of green card recipients in FY 2016 were from South Asian countries. According to a recent Pew Research Center study, one in four immigrants in the U.S. from Bangladesh and Nepal and one in three immigrants from Bhutan already live in poverty. This new rule would put all of these individuals at great risk. The term “public charge” predates federal immigration law entirely. In the early 1800’s states would only free individual slaves on the condition that they never become a “public charge.” This framework is now being expanded to criminalize immigrant communities.
“This policy is about who this Administration considers a desirable immigrant. It is designed to instill fear in immigrant communities of color and relegate non-citizens and their families to second-class status. It will punish immigrants who rightfully access the public benefits to which they are entitled, it will punish parents for taking care of their children, and it will force immigrant families to choose between citizenship and basic needs. Rather than taxing the 1%, this Administration chooses to punish immigrant families over and over again. Today, on the one-year anniversary of Muslim Ban 3.0, we say no to more racist and anti-immigrant policies,” said Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT.
Once the rule is officially published in the Federal Register, the public will have 60 days to comment on the proposed rule before the Department of Homeland Security proceeds with final rulemaking. Stay tuned for SAALT’s campaign to channel public comments to the federal government opposing this discriminatory proposal.
CONTACT: Sophia Qureshi, sophia@saalt.org

SAALT Chicago Townhall: The Future of South Asians in the U.S.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Join us to learn about how we can all build The Future for South Asians in the U.S. on Saturday, October 6th in Niles, Illinois. South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) will be partnering with Chicagoland community organizations to host this critical forum addressing the impact of immigration policy in the U.S. on the South Asian community.

This exciting Town Hall will include:
  • A Resource Fair, featuring local South Asian community organizations.
  • A panel discussion on several key local and national policies that impact South Asian Americans

 

The Resource Fair will allow community members to connect with local organizations serving and working with South Asian American communities. Indo-American CenterSouth Asian Americans Policy and Research Institute (SAAPRI)Hamdard CenterApna Ghar, the Council on American Islamic Relations – Chicago (CAIR-Chicago), and more local organizations will be available to answer your questions aboutimmigration, health care, public benefits, and DACA.
There will also be a panel discussion with local advocates for the South Asian community, sharing how current national and state-level policies affect our communities, H4 visa holders, DACA recipients, and the DREAM Act. There will also be information about the 2020 Census, and how proposed changes will likely impact the South Asian community.
For a full list of our co-sponsors and speakers please visit and RSVP on our Eventbrite page for The Future of South Asians in the U.S. on Saturday, October 6th at Culver Elementary School.
We look forward to seeing you there!

CONTACT: Sophia Qureshi, sophia@saalt.org

SAALT hosts Congressional Briefing — 17 years after 9/11 ”Detentions, Deportations, Diminished Civil Rights”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 14, 2018
On September 13, South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) hosted a Capitol Hill Briefing in collaboration with the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC). Members of Congress and an expert panel of community leaders provided remarks marking the 17th anniversary of the tragic events of 9/11. This year’s anniversary fell at a time of rampant anti-immigrant and xenophobic policies aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, and Arab American communities. Members of Congress and community leaders discussed the intersection of hate violence, the Muslim Ban, and immigration enforcement. They also pointed to legislative and policy proposals to safeguard civil rights and protect immigrant communities.
As lead sponsor of H.R. 1566 NO HATE Act, Representative Don Beyer (VA-08) provided opening remarks emphasizing the relationship between hate violence and discriminatory and anti-immigrant policies advanced by the current administration. Representative Beyer reminded the audience that hate violence exists in every corner of our nation as he recounted recent incidents from his northern Virginia Congressional District.
Representative Grace Meng (NY-06) provided closing remarks commemorating the impact of 9/11 and the ensuing backlash against South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, and Arab American communities in New York City. She highlighted the story of Salman Hamdani, a young Muslim-American first responder on 9/11, whose name was left off the National September 11 Memorial in Manhattan.
“SAALT is committed to addressing the underlying factors that spur hate violence against our communities, including discriminatory policies and the growth in organized white supremacy. We are dedicated to working with Congressional leaders and our community partners to ensure the next decade sees a decline in hate violence,” stated Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT.

Honorary Co-hosts:
The Honorable Senator Jeffrey A. Merkley (OR)
Congressional Co-sponsors:
Representative Don Beyer (VA-08) – opening remarks
Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07)
Representative Ro Khanna (CA-17)
Representative Grace Meng (NY-06) – closing remarks
Representative Jan Schakowsky (IL-09)
Panelists:
Azza Altiraifi, Justice for Muslims Collective
Paromita Shah, National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild
Lakshmi Sridaran, South Asian Americans Leading Together

Quotes

Representative Don Beyer (VA-08): “I want to recognize SAALT’s crucial advocacy work – they have been instrumental in elevating South Asian American voices into conversations on the Hill. I am proud to have SAALT’s support on my bill, the NO HATE Act, which will help improve hate crime reporting.”
Representative Grace Meng (NY-06): “I’m proud of the tremendous work SAALT does on behalf of the South Asian community. We have a collective responsibility to ensure our communities are safe from violence, hate, and discrimination. I’m committed to ensuring that my constituents have the support and resources to keep our communities safe. I’m proud to partner with SAALT and am confident it will continue to play a pivotal role in keeping our communities safe.”
For a recorded stream of the Briefing, please click here.

17 Years After 9/11: Detentions, Deportations, Diminished Civil Rights

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 11, 2018

Today marks the 17-year anniversary of the tragic attacks of September 11, 2001. This anniversary falls at a time of rampant immigration enforcement and racial profiling policies directed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, and Arab American communities. Unsurprisingly, this escalation of brutal and discriminatory policies is accompanied by a rising tide of hate violence impacting our communities. Nearly two decades after the events of September 11th, hate violence targeting South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, and Arab American communities has now surpassed levels only seen immediately after that tragedy.

SAALT has already documented over 400 incidents of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric targeting our communities since the 2016 presidential election. Tragically, we can now draw a direct link between divisive political rhetoric and its role in spurring hate violence: one in five of the hate incidents documented in our 2018 report, Communities on Fire, involved perpetrators who verbally referenced President Trump, one of his administration’s policies, or one of his campaign slogans while committing an act of violence.

Since the events of September 11th, successive administrations have leveraged a ‘national security’ lens to advance anti-immigrant and xenophobic policies that target our communities and our place in this nation. This list of policies that seek to limit and exclude our rights includes but is not limited to the Patriot Act, the Countering Violent Extremism program, and the Muslim Ban. Several devastating policies aimed at immigrant communities have been unveiled in the last year alone. Examples include the decision to terminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for individuals from several countries including Nepal, Honduras, El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan; a wave of deportations of documented and undocumented residents; separating families and detaining children in cages; and denaturalizing American citizens. In short, we are in the midst of a campaign to create an America that is separate and unequal for the foreign-born and their families. The onslaught is slated to continue escalating through the administration’s plans to further criminalize immigrants for utilizing public benefits by issuing a ‘public charge’ rule and unconstitutionally including a question on citizenship status in the 2020 Census.

It appears this dangerous convergence of policies, rhetoric, and violence will not end soon. In April 2018, a Houston Muslim woman wearing a hijab was stabbed by an attacker yelling “Oh my God, it’s a r**head” “sand n******” and other racially derogatory terms. In July and August 2018, two California Sikh men wearing turbans were violently attacked in separate incidents. In one incident, the perpetrator yelled “Go back to your country!” SAALT continues to collect data on incidents of hate violence in our public, online database, and provides monthly updates on trends.

Later this week, SAALT will host a Congressional Briefing in collaboration with the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) to highlight the intersection between current incidents of hate violence, the Muslim Ban, and immigration enforcement. SAALT is committed to addressing the underlying factors that spur hate violence against our communities, including discriminatory policies and the growth in organized white supremacy. We are dedicated to ensuring the next decade sees a decline in hate violence and an effort to regain this nation’s core ideals of equality and justice.

DACA: One year of uncertainty, one year of fighting back

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 5, 2018

Today is the one-year anniversary of this administration’s unnecessary and destructive decision to expose over 800,000 DREAMers to deportation by ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. This critical program, which continues to enjoy overwhelming support from the American public, has protected immigrant youth for over six years from being forced out of the only country they have ever known. The DACA program is an important lifeline for immigrant communities, including South Asians; there are at least 5,500 DACA recipients from India and Pakistan alone, and an additional estimated 17,000 individuals from India and 6,000 individuals from Pakistan who are eligible for DACA.

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