YLI Reflections: Combating Islamophobia with Rupa Palanki

My high school history teacher, quoting Mark Twain, often said, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” For centuries in the United States, minority groups, ranging from Eastern European immigrants to Japanese Americans, have faced discrimination from more established populations due to a sense of “otherness” that they are invariably perceived to disseminate. This has resulted in dark chapters of history in a nation that prides itself as “the home of the free and the brave.” The recent rise in hatred against Muslims is just another iteration of the same story.

With the 9/11 attacks happening only three years after I was born, life, as I know it, has included a constant undercurrent of backlash in the United States against Muslims. At present, the current administration continues to relentlessly engage in anti-Muslim rhetoric and news headlines continue to blame Islam for select acts of violence perpetuating false, negative perceptions of the Muslim community. At school and in my city, I have personally witnessed how lack of a nuanced understanding breeds bigotry and discrimination. Many people in my hometown in Alabama have never left the state or interacted with Muslims before, and their bias towards Muslims stems from stereotypes that have been perpetrated over generations. And often at college, I am the first South Asian American that my peers have conversed with for an extended period of time, leading them to ask questions about my culture, religion, and language or mistakenly identifying me as Muslim instead of Hindu.

Because of this personal exposure to islamophobia, I developed a desire to better understand the phenomenon and to equip myself to combat it within my community. This, in part, was what motivated me to apply for SAALT’s Young Leaders’ Institute last summer. During the training in Washington D.C., I developed the organizational and leadership tools necessary to carry out effective change. Speakers like Noor Mir and Deepa Iyer shared fascinating insights on different aspects of islamophobia that reinforced the importance of understanding it in the context of institutionalized racism like anti-blackness and colonialism, as well as provided meaningful insights on the resilience and solidarity necessary to work in the social justice field. I appreciated the opportunity to meet activists and student leaders from other colleges and the opportunity to discuss the specificity of our experiences as South Asian Americans. I had never really had the opportunity to explore my identity as a South Asian American so extensively before.

This propelled me to begin to shape my own project that I carried out over the course of the academic year to work against biases within my college community. This spring, I worked in conjunction with other South Asia Society members at the University of Pennsylvania to plan a Symposium for Awareness of South Asian Issues (SASAI), a week-long intercollegiate conference to create awareness for social justice issues and to encourage activism in its many facets. The week’s events included a keynote address from 2014 Miss America Nina Davuluri, a fundraiser for a nonprofit organization fighting malnutrition in South Asia, and a series of discussions covering social issues like islamophobia. With a mix of both fun cultural programming and deep political conversations, SASAI encouraged participation not only from a diverse range of South Asians but throughout the minority community at Penn. By the end of the week, we found it inspiring to see that our efforts to make our campus a more inclusive space for all were rewarded.

Photos from the awareness symposium Rupa helped organize in the University of Pennsylvania.

As the incredibly passionate, intelligent, and socially conscious individuals that made up my Young Leaders’ Institute cohort carry out their projects over the course of this year, I hope to see visible change within the communities that they target, just as I hope that my actions have spurred. However, our work cannot be done alone. As President Obama notably wrote in his final message to the American people as Commander in Chief, “America is not the project of any one person. The single most powerful word in our democracy is the word ‘We.’ ‘We the People.’ ‘We shall overcome.’” Together, we must push forward the fight against islamophobia, for this is not a matter of one culture or religion or language or social class; it is a struggle for achieving equality for all people.

***

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT). South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) is a national, nonpartisan, non-profit organization that fights for racial justice and advocates for the civil rights of all South Asians in the United States. Our ultimate vision is dignity and full inclusion for all.

 

 

 

This Week in Hate: hate continues to rise, our communities continue to suffer

 

Earlier this year, SAALT released our post-election analysis of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric called “Communities on Fire.” During the first year following the 2016 presidential election (November 7, 2016 to November 7, 2017)—we documented 302 incidents of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric aimed at our communities, an over 45% increase from our previous analysis in just one year. An astounding eighty-two percent of incidents were motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment. Additionally, One out of every five perpetrators of hate violence incidents referenced President Trump, a Trump administration policy (“Muslim Ban”), or Trump campaign slogn (“Make America Great Again”) while committing the attack.

Since November 7, 2017, which marked one year since the presidential election, SAALT has documented 40 additional incidents of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric. Three of the eight instances of xenophobic political rhetoric were anti-Muslim videos retweeted by President Trump in a single day.[1]

Fourteen of the thirty-two incidents of hate violence were verbal/written assaults, followed by twelve incidents of property damage, and six physical assaults. The cumulative post-election total is shown in Figure 1 below compared to the year leading up to the presidential election.

Emerging Trends

Property Damage

On December 1, 2017, Bernardino Bolatete was arrested for planning to “shoot up” the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida.[2] He told an undercover detective, “I just want to give these freaking people a taste of their own medicine, you know? They are the ones who are always doing these shootings, the killings.” Following this event, four more mosques were vandalized around the country. Mosques in Upper Darby, PA[3]; Clovis, NM[4], and Queens, NY[5] were vandalized with “Trump”, “Terr-” “911” and other anti-muslim phrases.

In tune with the disturbing trend of Mosque vandalism, Tahnee Gonzales and Elizabeth Dauenhauer trespassed the Islamic Community Center of Tempe, Arizona. While on Facebook lives, the women stole the masjid’s educational material and called Muslims “devil-worshippers” who are destroying “America.” The women also encouraged their children to participate in anti-Muslim behavior.

Continued Targeting of Sikh Americans

Twenty-two percent of hate incidents we documented in “Communites on Fire” targeted men who identify or are perceived as South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, or Arab. Perpetrators of hate crimes often use the religious presentation of turban-wearing Sikh men to target them. Our report found over seven incidents of hate violence aimed directly against Sikhs Americans, which reflected a significant disconnect between SAALT’s community-reported and publicly-sourced data and data reported to the FBI.

In January 2018, at least three incidents of hate violence targeted Sikh men. In Bellevue, Washington, an unknown perpetrator took a hammer from his bag and swung it against the head of Swarn Singh, causing his head to bleed.[6] At the AM/PM convenience store in Federal Way, Washington, a man threatened to kill a Sikh employee and told him to “go back where you came from.”[7] Later in the month, a Sikh Uber driver, Gurjeet Singh, picked up a couple in Moline, Illinois.[8] The male suspect put a gun to Singh’s head saying that he hated “turban people.”

Additionally, on March 3, 2018 Chad Horsely plowed his pickup truck into Best Stop Convenience Store because he thought the store owners were Muslim; they were Sikh Americans.[9]  On February 20, 2018, a Sikh gas station owner was called a “terrorist” and told that he should “go back to his own country.” When the victim tried to take photos of the vehicle license plate, Steven Laverty exited the vehicle and tried to punch the victim and took his phone.[10] On February 1, 2018, Pit Stop Gas Station in Kentucky, owned by a Sikh American, was found vandalized with swastikas, “white power,” “leave,” and “f**k you,” spray-painted on its exterior.[11]

While we recognize that many instances of hate violence or xenophobic rhetoric against our communities go unreported, we at SAALT remain committed in refusing to normalize hate. Download our report “Communites on Fire”, to read more about our recommendations on how to combat hate violence and address the underlying systems and structures that produce this violence.

[1] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/donald-trump-britain-first-retweet-muslim-migrants-jayda-fransen-deputy-leader-a8082001.html

[2] https://www.actionnewsjax.com/news/local/jacksonville-officers-man-planned-mass-shooting-at-islamic-center/658434170

[3] http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2017/11/30/upper-darby-anti-muslim-signs/

[4] http://www.krqe.com/news/new-mexico-mosque-vandalized-by-a-real-christain/1009337281

[5] http://www.qchron.com/editions/queenswide/vandal-scrawls-graffiti-at-mosque-site/article_bd1eaf88-a7d6-5006-9244-a1175c21b3fe.html

[6] http://www.king5.com/article/news/crime/sikh-community-facing-rise-in-hate-crimes-seeks-help-from-cities/281-509640203

[7] http://www.king5.com/article/news/crime/sikh-community-facing-rise-in-hate-crimes-seeks-help-from-cities/281-509640203

[8] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2018/03/07/an-ex-deputy-rammed-a-truck-into-a-store-because-he-thought-the-owners-were-muslim-police-say/?utm_term=.96c4bbd6f212

[9] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2018/03/07/an-ex-deputy-rammed-a-truck-into-a-store-because-he-thought-the-owners-were-muslim-police-say/?utm_term=.96c4bbd6f212

[10] http://www.newsindiatimes.com/sikh-gas-station-owner-in-new-jersey-becomes-victim-of-hate-crime

[11] http://www.indiawest.com/news/global_indian/indian-american-owned-gas-station-in-kentucky-vandalized-with-racist/article_ce755584-0b0b-11e8-949b-d30fdeef3b05.html

DEFUND HATE. CALL CONGRESS NOW!

Call your Members of Congress to Oppose Government Spending that Expands Deportation & Mass Incarceration of Immigrants.

Don’t let your taxpayer dollars fund President Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda. Join the AAPI Immigrant Rights Organizing Table and call your Members of Congress to Defund Hate & Keep Immigrant Families Together. Script below.

This week, Congressional leadership is finalizing negotiations on the government spending bill for Fiscal Year 2018. Congress has consistently failed to provide a solution for DACA recipients and undocumented immigrant youth, and now the White House and Congressional Republicans want billions of dollars in increased funding for the Department of Homeland Security—dollars that will fuel ICE and border patrol’s detention and deportation machine and further militarize the border.

Specifically, the White House budget asks for $21.5 billion for ICE and border patrol—which is $2.9 billion more than last year. The White House’s anti-immigrant budget wish list for 2018 includes $2.7 billion to build a wall and other border infrastructure; funding for 1,000 new ICE agents and 500 new Border Patrol agents to arrest and deport immigrant family members; and funding for 51,379 jail beds to detain immigrants in privately-run prisons rife with mismanagement and abuse.

Dial 202-224-3121 now using the script below:

Sample Script:

“Hello, I am your constituent from [CITY/TOWN] and I strongly urge you to call for cuts to ICE and border patrol’s budgets. Increased funding for this mass deportation force will increase detention and deportation of immigrants, tearing families apart and further terrorizing and destabilizing immigrant communities. Increased funding for ICE and border patrol is also more money to deport Dreamers and TPS recipients who Congress has failed to protect. Tell Congressional leadership to cut funding for detention beds, ICE and border patrolagents, and say no to the wall. Instead pass a clean DREAM Act.”

In solidarity & partnership,
SAALT

***
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) is a national, nonpartisan, non-profit organization that fights for racial justice and advocates for the civil rights of all South Asians in the United States. Our ultimate vision is dignity and full inclusion for all.

There’s no time to lose. Force Congress to protect DREAMers now!

Dear Friend,

Despite a temporary government shut down, Congress still hasn’t passed legislation to protect 800,000 DREAMers who are at risk of deportation from the only country they’ve ever known. The next vote on their futures is this Thursday, February 8.

The Trump administration has cynically tied any ‘deal’ to protect DREAMers directly with militarizing our southern border, ending the diversity visa lottery, and making massive cuts to family-based immigration. This ‘deal’ is a non-starter.

Rather than passing already-introduced, bipartisan legislation called the DREAM Act [S. 1615/H.R. 3440], which would protect immigrant youth without tearing apart families and building a border wall, Congress keeps introducing new legislation that insists upon including harm in its approach and impact. The latest, the USA Act, provides a pathway to citizenship for millions of people who came to the U.S. before age 18. Yet it also includes harmful provisions to increase deportations and further militarize our borders.

Now is the time to pass the DREAM Act once and for all.

Thousands of DREAMers, including SAALT allies Chirayu Patel and Ruchir, have traveled to Washington, D.C. since President Trump heartlessly terminated DACA in September 2017 without legislation to undo the harm caused by ending this crucial program. Since last fall, DREAMers have courageously shared their stories and have declared they DO NOT support any ‘deal’ that uses them as political bargaining chips while putting other immigrants in harm’s way. Despite misguided efforts to pit immigrants against each other, an overwhelming majority of Americans support legislation that protects DREAMers with a path to citizenship that does not increase border enforcement.
Continuing to shirk its responsibility to reflect the public’s needs and priorities, Congress keeps kicking the can down the road as hundreds of thousands of immigrants’ lives continue to hang in the balance, including over 23,000 Indian and Pakistani DREAMers. Since September, over 120 DREAMers lose their status every day, facing the threat of deportation.

Congress must do its job and protect DREAMers on February 8!

Your voice matters! Here’s what you can do today to force Congress to protect DREAMers:

  1. Dial 1-888-778-6856 and wait for the “Welcome” message
  2. Enter your zip code
  3. Connect to your Member of Congress and force them to protect DREAMers now by passing S. 1615/H.R. 3440!

See below for a sample script!

Hi, my name is ____________ and I live in ___________ (city in district). I’m calling to urge Representative/Senator ____________ to support legislation on February 8 that protects DREAMers without provisions to increase deportations or militarize our borders. DREAMers are not bargaining chips. Over 120 DREAMers lose their DACA status every day and thousands of families will be at risk of being torn apart unless Congress does its job on February 8 to protect DREAMers without harming immigrant communities in the process. The best legislative solution is the existing DREAM Act and I urge you support that bill. Thank you for your time.  

Also, today, February 7, join hundreds of progressive allies in Washington D.C. for the National Day of Action to demand a DREAM Act.

DAY OF ACTION DETAILS

What: National Day of Action for the Dream Act
When: Wednesday, Feb. 7th starting at 12:00pm EST
Where: Starting at Trump International Hotel, 1100 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20004, and marching to the halls of Congress.
Who: Immigrant youth, United We Dream, Center for Popular Democracy, SEIU, The Women’s March, FIRM/Center for Community Change, Good Jobs Nation, National Domestic Workers Alliance, Church World Service and more!

More infohttps://www.facebook.com/events/877004879138672/

It’s time for our leaders to put politics aside and do their jobs and the will of the people. Congress must protect immigrant communities. Make your voice heard. There’s no time to lose.

In partnership,
The SAALT Team

 

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South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) is a national, nonpartisan, non-profit organization that fights for racial justice and advocates for the civil rights of all South Asians in the United States. Our ultimate vision is dignity and full inclusion for all.

CONTACT: Vivek Trivedi – vivek@saalt.org

Report | Communities on Fire: Confronting Hate Violence and Xenophobic Political Rhetoric

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, and Arab communities are the target of increasing levels of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric in the United States, with record attacks since the election of President Trump in November, 2016, South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) said in a report released today. The uptick in anti-Muslim attacks runs parallel to the surge in this administration’s anti-Muslim policies and rhetoric.

The report, Communities on Fire,” documents hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric aimed at our communities from Election Day 2016 to Election Day 2017. SAALT documented 302 incidents of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, and Arab communities in the United States, of which an astounding 82% were motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment. The 302 incidents are a more than 45% increase from the year leading up to the 2016 election cycle, levels not seen since the year after September 11.

SAALT’s report draws a direct line between this administration’s anti-Muslim agenda and increasing attacks, revealing that of the 213 incidents of hate violence documented, one in five perpetrators invoked President Trump’s name, his administration’s policies, or his campaign slogans during attacks.

“Our nation prides itself on the freedom for people of all religious traditions to practice their faith without fear or intimidation,” said Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT. “However, through its policies and rhetoric, this administration’s incessant demonization of Islam has created an environment of hate and fear-mongering for Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim. Deadly shootings, torched mosques, vandalized homes and businesses, and young people harassed at school have animated an acutely violent post-election year. This administration must break eye contact with white supremacy if our nation is to live up to its highest ideals of religious freedom.”

The report also underlines the way intersectionality informs hate – both the identities of victims targeted and the systems that criminalize our communities. Women who identify or are perceived as South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, or Arab were the targets of attack in 28% of the 213 documented hate incidents post-election. Women who wear hijab or head scarves are particularly vulnerable, accounting for 63% of the documented hate incidents targeting women. The report discusses the intersection of immigration, racial profiling and surveillance, and criminal justice policies that compound against our communities.

“The growth of white supremacist hate groups and mounting attacks on our communities are proof positive that this administration’s anti-Muslim agenda is not making America great, it’s making Americans afraid,” Raghunathan said. “The daily decay of our democracy can only be repaired by dignity and full inclusion for all Americans, regardless of faith, race, or national origin. SAALT and our allies are going to go the distance to see this demand realized.”

CONTACT: Vivek Trivedi – vivek@saalt.org

One Year of the Muslim Ban. One Year of Resistance.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Saturday, January 27, 2018 is the one-year anniversary of the Trump administration’s first Muslim Ban, a blatantly Islamophobic order barring entry of immigrants and refugees from seven majority-Muslim countries. This administration’s divisive rhetoric and policies, including several iterations of the Muslim Ban, have led to increasing attacks aimed at Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim in the United States.

To mark one year of this administration’s immoral Muslim Ban, Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), released the following statement:

“No one should fear for their safety because of their country of origin, how they pray, speak, or dress. Yet that is exactly what this administration attempted to accomplish one year ago today when it signed into the law its first Muslim Ban. Over the year, through a combination of hateful rhetoric, toxic tweets, and polluted policies, including four iterations of the Muslim Ban, this administration has made every effort to institutionalize Islamophobia.

A forthcoming report by SAALT reveals the deadly consequences of this administration’s anti-Muslim agenda. From Election Day 2016 to Election Day 2017, SAALT documented 302 incidents of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Arab, and Middle Eastern individuals in the U.S., of which an astounding 82% were motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment. It is enough to simply be perceived as Muslim to be a target of attack. This marks a 45% increase in hate violence from the year leading up to the presidential election, levels of violence not seen since the year after September 11.

While the White House does everything it can to normalize hate, our communities continue to normalize resistance to this administration’s anti-Muslim agenda. One year ago we took to the airports and streets in defiance of the Muslim Ban. Today the struggle continues, and our communities are mobilizing nationwide in defiance of division and in furtherance of equality, fairness, and respect. Every day, for as long as it takes, we will demand that our nation’s values are rooted in celebrating differences, not criminalizing them.

The Muslim Ban has no place in our society—not one year ago, not now, not ever.”

***

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) is a national, nonpartisan, non-profit organization that fights for racial justice and advocates for the civil rights of all South Asians in the United States. Our ultimate vision is dignity and full inclusion for all.

CONTACT: Vivek Trivedi – vivek@saalt.org

SAALT Responds to Government Shutdown, Demands DREAM Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

On Friday night, due to the President’s callous decision to terminate DACA in September and the ongoing inability of Congress to do its job and pass a clean DREAM Act, the government shutdown.

In response, Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), released the following statement:

“America’s laws should reflect our core values of fairness, equality, and freedom. Yet the toxic anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies of this administration continue to fly in the face of our nation’s values and led to today’s government shutdown.

Since the President decided to terminate DACA in September, over 800,000 DREAMers have lived in complete uncertainty. More than 15,000 DREAMers have already lost their status and face the daily threat of deportation. The U.S. is home to 450,000 undocumented Indians, in addition to at least 23,000 Indians and Pakistani DREAMers. The absence of a DREAM Act puts all their lives at risk.

Month after month, Congress refuses to do the will of the people, despite overwhelming bipartisan voter support for DACA and the DREAM Act. The President and his allies have stained negotiations with the most vulgar and insulting language imaginable, revealing exactly what this administration thinks of immigrant communities. By what alchemy does this make America great?

A government shutdown hurts everyone, from government employees to the hundreds of thousands of DREAMers who still face the threat of deportation from the only country they’ve ever called home.

DREAMers are not bargaining chips. To play political pinball with their lives does not reflect the core values of our nation. We need Congress to protect immigrant communities, and to do their job to ensure dignity and full inclusion for all Americans. This is the will of the people. Congress must do its job once and for all and pass a clean DREAM Act. There’s no time to lose.”

***

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) is a national, nonpartisan, non-profit organization that fights for racial justice and advocates for the civil rights of all South Asians in the United States. Our ultimate vision is dignity and full inclusion for all.

CONTACT: Vivek Trivedi – vivek@saalt.org

Stop Ravi’s Deportation – We need your help!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Ravi Ragbir, a prominent immigrant rights activist, community leader, and Executive Director of the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City, was detained while checking-in to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at 26 Federal Plaza in New York City today. Ravi’s detention is part and parcel of the escalating raids and deportations our communities continue to experience under the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant agenda.

Here are ways you can help us secure Ravi’s immediate release:

CALL THE FOLLOWING ICE OFFICES:
NYC ICE Field Office Director: 212-238-4530
NYC ICE Field Office: 212-264-4213
ICE Office of Policy: 202-732-4292
You can use the following script:

“Hi, my name is ___________, and I am calling to request that ICE release Ravi Ragbir, A Number: 044-248-862. Ravi was detained today in New York City. Ravi is a husband, father, and a cherished community leader, and we need him here in the United States. I respectfully ask you to release him from detention and grant him a new stay of removal. Thank you.”

CALL YOUR LOCAL ELECTED OFFICIALS:
If you live in New York, call:
Senator Chuck Schumer: 212-486-4430 (NYC); 202-224-6542 (DC)
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand: 212-688-6262 (NYC); 202-224-4451 (DC)
If you live outside of New York, call your local representatives in Congress. You can find their contact information here.

You can use the following script:

“Hello, my name is ___, and I calling about Ravi Ragbir, A Number: 044-248-862. Ravi was detained today in New York City. Ravi is a husband, father, and cherished community leader, and we need him here in the United States. I respectfully ask you to meet with DHS Secretary Nielsen and urge her to release Ravi from detention and grant him a new stay of removal. Thank you.”

SAALT and our partners nationwide continue to demand justice and full inclusion for our communities, and we will continue pushing back against this administration’s anti-immigrant agenda. Please let us know if you witness any ICE raids or arrests by emailing us at info@saalt.org. We are going to go the distance with and for our communities until justice is served.

SAALT Statement on Court Order Blocking DACA Termination

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) welcomes yesterday’s decision from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to continue implementing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for those who have already received DACA status. In a strongly worded ruling, District Judge William Alsup blocked the Trump administration’s devastating decision in late 2017 to terminate the DACA program, citing the harmful impacts on families, employers, and communities across the nation. Judge Alsup’s order directs the administration to accept DACA renewal applications from anyone who obtained DACA status as of September 5, 2017 and to “maintain the DACA program on a nationwide basis.”

In response, Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT, issued the following statement:

“America’s founding ideals are grounded in the belief that we are all created equal. The President’s decision to end the DACA program in September 2017 rejected this core value and put the lives of nearly 800,000 DREAMers at risk. Meanwhile, over 15,000 people have lost their work permits and 122 DREAMers lose their DACA status every day, leaving them vulnerable to deportation. While yesterday’s court order provides momentary relief, we need a permanent fix by passing a clean DREAM Act that resists using DREAMers’ parents and family-based immigration as bargaining chips.

Month after month, and despite overwhelming bipartisan voter support for DACA and the DREAM Act, Congress continues to kick the can down the road, turning its back on hundreds of thousands of DREAMers. The US is home to 450,000 undocumented Indians, in addition to at least 23,000 Indians and Pakistani DREAMers. It’s time for Congress to do their job and to act once and for all.

On Tuesday, adding to his now-commonplace verbal gymnastics, President Trump claimed he’s willing to ‘take the heat’ to push through bipartisan immigration legislation. From terminating DACA, rescinding Temporary Protected Status, and supporting the RAISE Act, immigrant communities have been feeling the heat for nearly a year under this administration’s anti-immigrant agenda. We demand less talk and more action to pass a clean DREAM Act with no additional border enforcement or cuts to family immigration.

SAALT along with our national partners will continue to apply maximum pressure until our leaders do their jobs and represent the American people’s demands. Congress must act now and ensure that a clean DREAM Act is part of the January 19 spending bill.”

***
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) is a national, nonpartisan, non-profit organization that fights for racial justice and advocates for the civil rights of all South Asians in the United States. Our ultimate vision is dignity and full inclusion for all.    

CONTACT: Vivek Trivedi – vivek@saalt.org