SAALT Joins Allies in Demanding NYPD Investigate attack on Hindu Priest as a Hate Crime

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 22, 2019

SAALT joins Sadhana, CAIR, and faith based allies in calling for the NYPD to investigate the attack on Swami Ji Harish Chander Puri in Queens, NY  as a hate crime.  

Swami Ji Harish Chander Puri was walking down the street wearing his traditional religious clothes in Glen Oaks, Queens not far from the Shiv Shakti Peeth temple around 11am last Thursday.  A man came up from behind him and started beating him.  

Eyewitnesses say the attacker shouted “this is my neighborhood,” during the incident. 

Puri had to be rushed to the hospital because of his injuries.  

This incident happened just days after President Trump tweeted about the four women of color Congresswomen known as “the Squad”:  “Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. ” Just days after that, crowds chanted “send her back” about Congresswoman Ilhan Omar at a Trump rally in North Carolina.

“There will be no end to hate violence unless we disrupt and dismantle the racist narratives and policies leading to this violence. This should start from the top, but instead the highest levels of government are encouraging this violence,” said Lakshmi Sridaran, SAALT’s Interim Co-Executive Director.

Racist political rhetoric from this administration is dangerous. It has a direct impact on communities of color across the country. SAALT’s Communities on Fire report found that one in 5 perpetrators of hate violence in the year after President Trump was elected cited Trump’s name, a Trump campaign slogan, or a Trump administration policy while committing the act of violence.

Contact: sophia@saalt.org

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Update on South Asian restaurant workers detained by ICE

July 11, 2019

Washington, D.C.: A community member reached out to SAALT last week alerting staff that several South Asian restaurant employees had been detained by ICE and taken to the Montgomery County Correctional Facility the week before.  

Given that the Trump Administration has announced imminent raids, SAALT issued a community alert to prepare our community members for future ICE raids in the coming days or weeks. 

Over 500 people responded to the alert, volunteering to help community members prepare by offering to assist with legal matters, provide language support, and to distribute Know Your Rights materials  in DC.

A community member providing direct support to the detained South Asian restaurant employees reached out to SAALT and said, “Two weeks ago, nine South Asian restaurant workers were detained by ICE at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility. Four were released the same day and the remaining five individuals were released at a later date.” 

South Asians are increasingly impacted directly by the Trump Administration’s anti-immigrant policies and SAALT strives to protect and defend our communities by examining and documenting the impact of these policies, creating educational resources, and making policy recommendations. 

There are over 600,000 undocumented Indians alone in the U.S. Between fiscal year 2015 to 2018, ICE arrested over 2,000 Indian and Pakistani migrants alone within the interior of the United States. The number of Indian migrants apprehended along the Southern border tripled from fiscal year 2017 to 2018Between October 2014 and April 2018, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) arrested over 17,000 South Asians.  South Asians go on to experience civil rights violations and human rights abuses in detention facilities and court rooms at the intersections of racism, islamophobia, and anti-immigrant sentiment. 

SAALT will continue to work to protect and defend South Asian communities in the US, especially at a time when immigrants are being targeted, whether at their workplaces, homes, restaurants, hotels, or along the border.

Restaurant Opportunity Center (ROC-DC), a restaurant workers’ rights organization, issued this statement, in response to the alert about the detained South Asian restaurant employees: 

ICE raids are a serious issue for immigrant workers all of the time but are especially prevalent in light of the most recent threats. There have already been multiple cases of ICE activity in our DC communities and that activity specifically targets restaurants and restaurant workers. Right now we need to come together as workers, employers and community members in DC to educate ourselves on our rights so that we are able to protect ourselves and each other in our workplaces, the streets and in our homes.

We do not want to create a culture of fear around these issues but instead empower people to know what their rights are and who their community is that is here to support them. ROC DC has been working with multiple other community organizations to provide know your rights materials & trainings to workers and employers in DC in preparation for any raids. We must continue to band together and fight back the racist attacks that seek to tear apart our communities and families.

Contact: Sophia@saalt.org 

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ACTION ALERT: ICE Raids Indian Restaurant in DC

UPDATE, July 10th

Earlier this week, we put out a call for volunteers to assist with an outreach effort to provide food and restaurant workers from the South Asian community with “know your rights” resources. The alert was prompted by community reports about an immigration enforcement action targeting workers in the restaurant industry over the past week in DC. Out of respect for those directly affected, we are not providing any additional information at this time. We will continue our work to protect and defend our communities, especially at a time when immigrants are being targeted, whether at workplaces and homes or at the border.

July 8, 2019

An Indian restaurant in DC was raided by ICE last week. Several Hindi speaking employees were taken to the Montgomery County jail in Maryland. 

Given the prospect of immigration raids in the DC area, we are calling for volunteers to join us for an outreach effort on July 13th and 14th.

SAALT is seeking volunteers to help with outreach, translation, and legal counsel. Click here for immediate steps you can take.

 

 

 

SAALT Welcomes Khalid Jabara and Heather Heyer NO HATE Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

June 27, 2019 

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  SAALT welcomes Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Senator Dick Durbin’s (D-IL)  introduction of the Khalid Jabara and Heather Heyer NO HATE Act.  Representatives Donald Beyer (D-VA) and Pete Olson (R-TX) introduced the companion bill in the House. The bill – which promotes more accurate hate crimes data collection and would provide support for hate crime victims and their families – marks a major step in hate crimes legislation. 

Khalid Jabara was killed on his doorstep in Tulsa, Oklahoma on August 12, 2016. One year later, on the same day, Heather Heyer was killed during a protest in Charlottesville, Virginia. Both deaths were prosecuted as hate crimes, yet neither were reported in official FBI hate crimes statistics. Both killings were motivated by white supremacy.  

A coalition of community and civil rights organizations have been working closely with Khalid and Heather’s families to ensure that families do not have to endure the same pain they have endured.  The first step to achieving this is understanding the systemic underpinnings of hate violence and instituting more effective ways to mandate hate crime data collection. Every level of government must be held accountable for addressing the spike in hate violence aimed at our communities. The Khalid Jabara and Heather Heyer NO HATE Act can play an instrumental role in laying this groundwork,” said Lakshmi Sridaran, Interim Co-Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT).  

SAALT has documented over 484 incidents of hate violence against South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, and Arab American communities around the country since  November 2015.  Read the latest hate report here

CONTACT: sophia@saalt.org

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Supreme Court Rules Against Citizenship Question on 2020 Census

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

June 27, 2019 

Washington, D.C. : The Supreme Court of the United States ruled 5-4 today against the addition of the citizenship question on the 2020 Census, upholding a lower court’s decision. Chief Justice Roberts asked the Commerce Department for further explanation of the justification for the question, saying the Trump Administration’s reasons for it were “contrived.” Today’s ruling will effectively block the question from being added for now, and given the short time frame before census forms must be printed, the Commerce Department must no longer waste time justifying this dangerous question.

“This is a victory, but it should never have come this far. The looming threat of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census has already posed a chilling effect among immigrant and communities of color who are increasingly being deported, denaturalized, and disenfranchised by this administration. Thankfully, in this instance, the Trump Administration’s tactics have been exposed and rejected. The Commerce Department must respect the Supreme Court’s decision and allow the Census Bureau to spend their limited time and resources preparing for a 2020 Census without the citizenship question. We will work to ensure our communities’ power is recognized by ensuring that every person regardless of their status is counted and no one is left behind in the 2020 Census,” said Lakshmi Sridaran, Interim Co-Executive Director of SAALT.

SAALT’s latest South Asian demographic snapshotfound that the South Asian population in the U.S. grew a staggering 40% in seven years, from 3.5 million in 2010 to 5.4 million in 2017.

The purpose of the Census is simple: to literally count each person living in the U.S. That count determines more than $800 billion in federal funding to states for education, infrastructure, hospitals, parks, public benefits, and so much more. A full count ensures that our rapidly growing and changing communities are represented and receive our fair share of public programs like Medicaid, school lunches, and programs for seniors.

Census Resource: https://www.countusin2020.org/resources

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SAALT Marks One Year Anniversary of Supreme Court Ruling Upholding the Muslim Ban

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 26, 2019

Washington, D.C.: On June 26, 2018, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of upholding the Muslim Ban, making it both legal and indefinite. Since the inception of the Muslim Ban, countless families have been separated, individuals have been denied critical medical treatment, family members have been unable to attend weddings, funerals, births; and many more have had no choice but to turn down opportunities of the so-called American dream. 

There is no humanity in the Muslim Ban, despite the Trump Administration’s assertion that waivers are granted in cases of undue hardship. The waiver process itself is a sham.  Only 5.1 percent of waivers requested are granted. The process to obtain a waiver and the way in which waiver requests are evaluated, is extremely opaque, even after numerous FOIA requests on the paltry numbers of waivers that have been granted. 

The Muslim Ban is hurting familes both in the U.S. and abroad. It is a fundamental part of our nation’s violent environment where families are routinely separated at the U.S. Mexico border and white supremacist hate violence thrives. Just this month, the body of six-year old Gurupreet Kaur was found in the Arizona desert, one mile from the nearest port of entry, where she and her mother were part of a group of migrants seeking asylum. As SAALT documented in its Communities on Fire report, 1 out of every 5 perpetrators of hate violence incidents referenced President Trump, a Trump Administration policy or a Trump campaign slogan while committing the act of violence. Since November 2016, SAALT has documented over 484 incidents of hate violence and over 252 incidents of xenophobic rhetoric aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern and Arab communites around the country. 

It’s increasingly clear that our communities cannot rely on the Executive or Judicial branches of our federal government to protect our rights. But, Congress has the power to terminate this racist and violent policy and has recently introduced legislation that would curtail executive authority for this and future bans.

Call your Member of Congress today (House: 202-225-3121, Senate: 202-224-3121)  and urge them to cosponsor the NO BAN Act (HR 2214/S1123), which will end this cruel policy and amend the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to ensure that no community can ever be targeted for their religion without accountability.

Contact: sophia@saalt.org

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SAALT DENOUNCES ICE RAIDS AND FAMILY SEPARATION

For Immediate Release
Friday, June 21, 2019

Media Contacts
Sophia Qureshi, sophia@saalt.org
Lakshmi Sridaran, lakshmi@saalt.org

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.

The death of 6-year-old Gurupreet Kaur

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 17, 2019

We are devastated to learn of the death of 6-year-old Gurupreet Kaur.

Gurupreet’s body was found by U.S. Border Patrol agents in a remote desert outside the Lukeville, Arizona point of entry on Wednesday, June 12th, just days before her seventh birthday.

She died of heat stroke in the Arizona desert where temperatures were 108 degrees Fahrenheit, according to U.S. Border Patrol and the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner (PCOME).

Gurupreet and her mother were reportedly among a group of five Indian nationals who were dropped off by migrant traffickers in a remote area on the U.S.-Mexico border. Her mother and another woman went in search of water, leaving Gurupreet with two others from the group. Gurupreet’s mother was found by a U.S. Border Patrol agent 22 hours later. Four hours after that, Border Patrol agents found Gurupreet’s body.

Seven migrant children have died in immigration custody since last year. Hundreds more have died close to ports of entry while attempting to make the perilous journey through the desert along the U.S.-Mexico border.

SAALT is sending a letter of inquiry to Customs and Border Protection Commissioner, Kevin K. McAleenan this week, demanding an investigation into Gurupreet’s death and information about her mother and the other migrants in their group.  

As U.S. Customs and Border Protection has escalated border enforcement and aggressively turned away migrants attempting to cross at ports of entry, deaths have continued to mount. Migrants are forced right back into the dangerous conditions that CBP and other federal agencies often blame on migrant traffickers and smugglers.

Lakshmi Sridaran, Interim Co-Executive Director of SAALT said, “U.S. border militarization, forced migration, and rejection of migrants attempting to cross at ports of entry have created an environment where a child like Gurupreet, can die in the desert, alone. Until this system is completely defunded and a new one is created that upholds the dignity of all migrants – we will continue to see unspeakable tragedies, not withstanding the countless deaths that go undocumented. While ICE and CBP have experienced unprecedented surges in their budgets, their treatment of migrants has plunged to new lows.

SAALT has been tracking both the rise in the number of South Asians crossing the border over the last 5 years and their treatment in detention facilities. Between October 2014 and April 2018, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) arrested over 17,000 South Asians.

Of the South Asians who end up in detention facilities, SAALT has tracked a pattern of abuse including inadequate language access, lack of religious accommodations, medical neglect, use of solitary confinement, and unacceptably high bond amounts.  

We urge our communities to stay engaged and active on this urgent issue.  

Stay updated and active by following our updates and action alerts on Twitter (SAALTweets) and Facebook (facebook.com/talktosaalt).

You can also support by donating to these organizations that provide immediate assistance:

  • The Fronterizo Fianza Fund is a community bond (fianza) fund based in El Paso and serving Far West Texas and New Mexico. Many detained migrants have no chance to be released while they wait the months or years until their trial. When someone does receive a bond, they are often way out of reach for most families, ranging anywhere from $1,500-50,000.
  • The Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project is the only organization in Arizona that provides free legal and social services to detained men, women, and children under threat of deportation.
  • The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) promotes justice by providing free and low-cost legal services to underserved immigrant children, families and refugees in Central and South Texas.
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House Passes Historic Dream and Promise Act

We’re taking a moment today to pause and celebrate what just happened.

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.”

Contact: sophia@saalt.org

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ACTION ALERT: URGE CONGRESS TO PASS THE DREAM AND PROMISE ACT WITH NO HARMFUL ANTI-IMMIGRANT AMENDMENTS

June 3, 2019

Last month’s passage of the Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6) by the House Judiciary Committee is a historic milestone in the fight for immigrant rights. It is scheduled for a full floor vote in the House of Representatives tomorrow, June 4th.

The Dream and Promise Act offers a pathway to citizenship for thousands of our community members who are Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders.

As this historic legislation goes to the House, we need YOU to urge lawmakers to both support this legislation, which would provide permanent protections and a pathway to citizenship for over two million immigrants, and reject any anti-immigrant amendments or changes to the bill.

Please take a moment to call your Member of Congress and urge them to pass the Dream and Promise Act with NO harmful anti-immigrant amendments.

There are over 15,000 Nepalis with TPS whose protection from deportation will expire on June 24, 2019. NCSO member organization, Adhikaar has been leading the fight to ensure that the thousands of Nepalis on TPS would be able to remain here in the U.S. with their families, rather than being deported at the end of this month.

Over 4,500 South Asians in the U.S. are active DACA recipients (2,550 Indian recipients, 1,300 Pakistani recipients, 470 Bangladeshi recipients, and 120 Sri Lankan recipients). The Dream and Promise Act would give them a permanent path to citizenship and access to in-state tuition and federal financial aid.

It is critical that lawmakers vote against any anti-immigrant changes to the bill, regardless of their substance, including any additional funding for ICE and CBP as well as any further discretionary power to USCIS or DHS that would increase deportations and detention. Any anti-immigrant amendments will serve only to delay the passage of this vital legislation.

Lakshmi Sridaran, Interim Co-Executive Director of SAALT said, “The Dream and Promise Act will give over two million immigrants a fundamental right – the right to build a life and plan for a future in this country. We urge all Members of Congress to act boldly and pass this legislation with no anti-immigrant amendments. It’s time for Congress to chip away at this administration’s racist policies and voting for H.R. 6 without delay is a step in the right direction. It is our hope that this legislation will the be the first of many and lay a strong foundation for immigrant justice. ”