The immigration debate is in full swing and there are various improvements being proposed in order to better our immigration system. For South Asians, as well as other immigrants, there are numerous improvements that would help our community move forward in a way that helps us as individuals and community members and also helps our nation grow economically and culturally. The National Coalition of South Asian Organizations (NCSO) recently released a statement on immigration reform which includes a set of principles that we would like comprehensive immigration reform to include. However, currently, the dialogue has shifted to one area of focus: family-based immigration. It takes less than five minutes to ask your member of Congress to improve our family immigration system by keeping families together.
Recently, the discussion on family-based immigration has included the notion of further limiting our ability to bring our family members to the United States by potentially eliminating options for siblings of U.S. citizens (and their spouses and children) and married adult children of U.S. citizens (and their spouses and children). Many South Asians come to the United States because they are siblings or married children of U.S. citizens. In fact, over 550,000 South Asians are still waiting to be united with their families through these categories. For many of us, siblings and married children are a part of our family and we do not wish to choose between being separated from these family members in order to live in the United States or returning to our country of descent in order to be together. It is essential for South Asian families that the options for us to bring over our family members not be further restricted. We need reform that improves our system by eliminating the backlogs and waiting lists, not reform that separates us from more family members.
Urge your Member of Congress to fight to keep families together by improving our options, not by further limiting them! Help us move forward towards just and humane immigration reform that benefits South Asians, all immigrants, and our nation as a whole.
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) welcomes the opportunity to submit a statement for the record for the March 14, 2013 hearing on “The Separation of Nuclear Families under U.S. Immigration Law” before the House Judiciary Committee. Comprehensive immigration reform greatly impacts South Asian Americans and as such, it is important and timely for the House Judiciary Committee to examine avenues of immigration options, including family-based immigration as well as inclusive, holistic options for all immigrants. In this statement, SAALT focuses on the importance of holistic immigration reform for South Asian Americans, particularly the need to reunite families in a timely and humane manner, rather than keeping them apart for years or decades on end.
South Asian organizations welcome the signing of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) into law today. Representatives of organizations around the country, including South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), Raksha, and Sakhi for South Asian Women, attended the event today where President Barack Obama signed the bill into law.
Currently, a letter is circulating in Congress requesting that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) track hate crimes against Sikh, Hindu, and Arab Americans. While the FBI has various categories to track hate crimes, crimes directed at these three communities are not currently tracked and it is crucial that they are added to the tracking form in order to address this problem and keep all communities safe. It takes less than five minutes to ask your Member of Congress to sign-on to this letter.
Long before September 11, 2001, South Asians have endured bias, discrimination, and hate violence against our community. Unfortunately, following the September 11th attacks, these crimes escalated particularly against Sikh, Muslim, Arab, and South Asian Americans in many facets of life. In fact, within just one week of September 11th, South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) identified 645 incidents of bias in these communities. On August 5, 2012, the tragic shooting at the Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin took the lives of six people and was followed by a wave of apparent hate crimes and incidents throughout the country. Sadly, these attacks continue to be an ongoing problem in our community and effectively addressing them has become increasingly difficult.
Part of the difficulty in addressing these alleged hate crimes is due to the fact that they are only partially tracked. According to the FBI, over 6,600 hate crimes were reported in 2010 alone, the majority of which were motivated by race (approximately 47%), followed by religion (approximately 20%), sexual orientation (approximately 19%), and ethnicity or national origin (approximately 13%). Hate crimes in the Muslim community are tracked by the FBI with a notable rise by 1600% from 2000 to 2001. However, hate crimes against Sikhs, Hindus, and Arabs are not similarly tracked. These categories do not exist in the FBI’s hate crime tracking form and without fully accounting for the problem, we cannot begin to fully understand or address it.
Currently, numerous organizations, including SAALT, have requested that the FBI add these categories to the tracking form so that individuals can be given the dignity of having these crimes accounted for and so that we can begin as a society to fully address them. Many organizations have submitted requests to the Advisory Policy Board (an arm of the FBI) regarding the inclusion of anti-Sikh, anti-Hindu, and anti-Arab categories in the hate crime tracking form as hate crimes in these communities are rampant. As a part of these efforts, a letter to the Advisory Policy Board is currently circulating for signatories in Congress requesting that these categories be added so that data is collected regarding hate crimes in these communities. Ask your Member of Congress to sign-on as well.
SAALT’s policy advocacy includes a variety of issues that impact South Asian Americans, including racial justice, civic engagement, immigrant rights, post-9/11 backlash, and gender justice. SAALT advocates for policy change on these issues by monitoring policies that affect South Asians, presenting the needs of South Asians in meetings and communications with policymakers, and working in coalition with ally organizations within and outside our community. Additionally, as action by community members is an effective way to influence policymakers, SAALT works to provide tools for South Asian Americans to proactively take action and advocate for the change that benefits and protects our community.
Join SAALT in our efforts to impact policies that affect the South Asian community! Check back for recent updates on action alerts and email email@example.com for additional ways to get involved.
Read the statement from The National Coalition of South Asian Organizations (NCSO), a coalition of 41 groups around the United States, that works closely with South Asian immigrants, including aspiring citizens on the current state of immigration and the need for reform.