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.”

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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

BLOG: Why You Can’t Be Neutral About Net Neutrality – Civil Rights At Stake

Tomorrow, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote on a plan to reverse its 2015 “Open Internet Order,” which established net neutrality, ensuring that all online content is treated equally by internet service providers. Essentially, net neutrality prevents companies like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T from blocking, slowing down, or speeding up online content based on the user and their ability to pay for faster or increased services. Eliminating net neutrality allows internet service providers to charge user fees at their discretion for access to certain content.

In this digital age, the internet has been a way for poor and working class families to connect with critical employment, health services, and even legal assistance. These issues impact all of us, including South Asian Americans. At SAALT, our online intake form for individuals who have experienced hate violence or discrimination is an important internet tool that allows us to direct people to legal services. Creating a “pay to play” environment threatens the ability of the poor and working class to get these important resources. Numerous studies, including a recent investigation by the Center for Public Integrity, reveal that families in poor areas are five times less likely to have access to high-speed internet than families in affluent areas. Allowing internet service providers to charge user fees further restrains access to online content and widens this disparity even further, which throttles civil rights..

Black-led media justice organizations like the Center for Media Justice and the Voices for Internet Freedom Coalition have defended net neutrality for decades and were instrumental in the FCC’s 2015 decision to codify net neutrality. Their tireless work has shown the importance of an open internet for social justice organizing, healthcare access, rapid response to national disasters, and content creation for artists, just to name a few. All of these reasons should be enough for South Asian Americans to join the fight to preserve net neutrality. But digging further into recent demographic data shows exactly how many poor South Asian Americans would be hurt by the elimination of net neutrality.

According to recently released data from the Pew Research Center, there are currently 5 million South Asian Americans living in the United States. Of those, over 10% or more than half a million live in poverty. For Nepalese and Bangladeshi American communities, this figure is nearly 25%, and for Bhutanese Americans, this figure jumps to 33%. With these staggering levels of poverty and inequality in our community alone, it is critical that we understand net neutrality as more than a politically charged issue, but a fundamental civil rights issue.

We must also consider the backdrop of this poverty, inequality, and unequal access to information. It occurs in a national climate that is fueled by this Administration’s white supremacist agenda, fanning the flames of hate to heights not seen since the year after 9/11. SAALT and our allies regularly document incidents of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, and Arab American communities. Exactly one year since the 2016 presidential election, SAALT documented 213 incidents of hate violence alone against our communities, which is over a 60% increase from the previous year. These stories rarely make news headlines because the victims are disproportionately Muslim or perceived to be Muslim (84%) and often do not have the power of law enforcement or the bully pulpit behind them to get the recourse they deserve.

South Asian American communities and all communities of color are doubly victimized by this Administration’s agenda that both fans the flames of hate and attacks civil rights by issuing Muslim Bans, rolling out mass deportations, and eliminating net neutrality. As we established in our last report “Power, Pain, Potential,” there is a relationship between rolling back civil rights and increasing vulnerability to hate violence. South Asian Americans should be alarmed and activated to speak out now.

Resources to learn and act now

To take action on net neutrality, please see guidance from the Voices for Internet Freedom Coalition.

To learn more about SAALT’s efforts, check out our 2017 report “Power, Pain, Potential” that documents incidents of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, and Arab American communities in the year leading up to the 2016 presidential election. Stay tuned for an updated 2018 report that documents the year after the 2016 election.

If you have experienced an act of violence or discrimination, you can report it confidentially on SAALT’s intake form here or call our partners at the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law at 1-844-9-NO-HATE and get resources and support.

Lakshmi Sridaran
Director, National Policy and Advocacy, SAALT

SAALT Responds to SCOTUS Decision to Reinstate Muslim Ban

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) is deeply disappointed in the Supreme Court’s decision to allow full implementation of “Muslim Ban 3.0″ during the appeals process. In response, Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT, released the following statement:

“No one should be discriminated against on the basis of how they look, how they choose to pray, or their country of origin. ‘Muslim Ban 3.0’ remains reprehensible at its core and discriminatory in its intent. While the Supreme Court did not rule on the merits of the ‘Muslim Ban,’ court after court has consistently rejected it as outright discrimination and a threat to our most fundamental constitutional protections.

The third version of the ‘Muslim Ban’ will only contribute to a worsening climate of hate aimed at our communities. The Supreme Court’s decision comes on the heels of the President tweeting incendiary and irresponsible anti-Muslim videos last week, posts applauded by white supremacists such as David Duke and denounced by the British Prime Minister and civil rights organizations.

Anti-Muslim policies and rhetoric continue to have deadly consequences. The FBI’s 2016 hate crimes statistics reveal that assaults against Muslims have surpassed levels reached in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Since the election, SAALT has documented over 205 incidents of hate violence aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Arab, and Middle Eastern Americans, a 58% increase from the year prior. Due to a massive underreporting of hate crimes, we know this is just a fraction of the attacks our communities experience regularly.

We will not remain silent in the face of these divisive and un-American policies. Our communities will stand united at airports, marches, and in the courts. The majority of Americans are against the ‘Muslim Ban’ and we will continue to sound the alarm against policies that drag our country backwards. To form a more perfect union, we must begin by standing against the ‘Muslim Ban.’”

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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

SAALT Condemns President Trump’s Tweets as “Unconscionable and Un-American”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) condemns President Trump’s appalling and irresponsible actions in retweeting unverified videos portraying Muslims committing violence. The videos were titled: “Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!”, “Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary!” and “Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!” The President’s tweets will only serve to actively incite violence against communities in his own nation at a time when Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim face historic levels of violence. This is not only unconscionable, it is un-American and deeply disturbing.

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

“The President’s incendiary and irresponsible tweets this morning will continue to create an atmosphere of hatred, fear, and suspicion of our communities. The source of the President’s retweets is an ultranationalist British party leader who has been previously charged with “religious aggravated harassment.” In response to the President’s tweets, David Duke, former head of the Ku Klux Klan stated, “Thank God for Trump! That’s why we love him!”
The actions and message sent across by the President must be condemned and renounced immediately.

Hate remains sharply on the rise in the United States. According to the FBI’s 2016 hate crimes statistics, anti-Muslim hate crimes increased by 19%, anti-Hindu hate crimes increased by 100%, and anti-Sikh hate crimes increased by 17%. According to PEW, assaults against Muslims have surpassed levels reached in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

Since the election, SAALT has documented over 205 incidents of hate violence aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Arab, and Middle Eastern Americans, a 58% increase from the year prior. Due to underreporting, these incidents are just a fraction of the violence our communities continue to face.

As a result of Islamophobic federal policies such as the Muslim Ban and the President’s semantic stampedes on twitter, our communities continue to suffer injustices at the hands of white supremacists and anti-Muslim hate groups nationwide.

We must demand better from our President and democracy. The United States was founded on the principles of religious freedom, and our leaders must promote rather than counteract these values. SAALT opposes this administration’s acutely anti-Muslim rhetoric and policies, and will continue to demand dignity and full inclusion for all communities.”

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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

Two-Day Mobilization Demanding Passage of a Clean DREAM Act Brings Hundreds of Our Communities to Washington

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Washington, D.C. — Over the next two days, more than 120 Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) immigrant youth and allies from over 15 states will convene at the U.S. Capitol to demand the passage of a clean DREAM Act by December 8. After the termination of DACA on September 5, eighteen AAPI organizations came together to form the AAPI immigrant rights organizing table to organize and advocate for a clean DREAM Act.

The convening will open on November 15 with a press conference and a rally followed by over 30 meetings with legislators on both sides of the aisle, urging them to support a clean DREAM Act that creates a pathway to citizenship for immigrant youth without harming other members of the immigrant community.

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) has the privilege of facilitating the presence of two South Asian DREAMers, Chirayu Patel and Ruchir, at the mobilizations to drive home the message that our communities have a strong stake in the passage of a clean DREAM Act.

Chirayu Patel arrived in the U.S. on a visa at the age of 11 and has tried to resolve his status since 1994. He has paid his taxes, graduated from college, and received DACA status in 2012. He is an outspoken activists and has continually asked policymakers to exercise their power and influence to pass a clean DREAM Act as soon as possible.

Ruchir has been working in Silicon Valley for over 13 years, at companies large and small, supporting their I.T. infrastructure in various capacities and contributing to America’s economy. With the protection of DACA, he was able to get a bachelors degree that allowed him to provide for his family.

When the first DREAM Act was introduced 16 years ago, it was inspired by an Asian American student barred from attending a prestigious music college due to her immigration status. Today almost 17,000 AAPIs have benefitted from the DACA program with South Korea, China, India and the Philippines among the top countries of origin of AAPI DACA-eligible populations.

It is the moral responsibility of Congress and the demands of a majority of Americans to ensure that a clean DREAM Act is passed before the end of the year and is attached to the spending bill to be voted on December 8. Every day we wait, more and more immigrant youth fall out of status, losing their ability to work, attain a higher education, and protection from deportation.

Mobilization led by the undocumented community is what won DACA in the first place. Together, we will not stop until a clean DREAM Act is passed and until all 11 million undocumented immigrants have a pathway to citizenship.

For more information, go to aapidream.org.

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Participating groups include: 18MillionRising • Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) • Asian Americans Advancing Justice • Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO) • Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), AFL-CIO • ASPIRE • HANA Center • Korean Resource Center • NAKASEC • National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) • National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) • National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) • OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates • OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates Greater Seattle • RAISE (Revolutionizing Asian American Immigrant Stories on the East Coast) • South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) • Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC) • The Office of Philadelphia City Councilmember Helen Gym • UPLIFT

Contact: Vivek Trivedi – vivek@saalt.org

Hate remains on the rise, according to the FBI

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Hate remains on the rise, according to the FBI’s 2016 hate crimes statistics released this week. Since 2015, anti-Muslim hate crimes increased by 19%, anti-Hindu hate crimes increased by 100%, and anti-Sikh hate crimes increased by 17%. These surges are on top of the historic spike in hate crimes reported in the FBI’s 2015 data, now marking the highest levels of violence aimed at our communities since the year after 9/11. Tragically, hate has become the new normal for our communities.

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

“The FBI’s hate crimes statistics underline that violence has become a fact of life for our communities. These incidents are just a fraction of the violence our communities experience on a daily basis. According to FBI’s own estimates, for every one hate crime reported, five hate crimes go unreported. Enough is enough – the violence must stop.

Trump, as a candidate and now as President, has encouraged and emboldened hate violence against our communities through his administration’s anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies. Since the election, SAALT has documented over 205 incidents of hate violence aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Arab, and Middle Eastern Americans, a 58% increase from the year prior. From Muslim Bans to terminating DACA to support of white supremacy, this administration’s rhetoric and divisive policies are dragging our country backwards.

Our nation was founded on the principle that all people should enjoy the freedom of religion. Yet our communities continue to live in fear based on the color of our skin, our nation of origin, the ways we pray and the languages we speak. Increasing levels of hate violence don’t make America great, they make Americans afraid, and SAALT calls on all elected and appointed officials, as well as law enforcement, to defend our country’s highest values of dignity and full inclusion for all. We are stronger when we stand united and weaker when we are divided.”

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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

This Week In Hate: November 8- Hate Violence and Hate Rhetoric

Prepared by Radha Modi

Over the past week, six new incidents of hate violence occurred against South Asian, Muslim, and Middle Eastern communities marking the end of the first year of the Trump administration. The latest numbers in hate show over the past 12 months, there have been a total of 205 unique incidents of hate; a 58% increase from the previous year.   

There is a persistent increase in all categories of hate violence as shown in Figure 2. Verbal and written threats are by far the most common category of hate incidents with 83 occurring over the past year. Five of the six recent hate incidents involved written hate rhetoric or threats against mosques and local politicians.

For example, over the past week, numerous threats have been directed towards a mosque in Patterson, NJ and a mosque in Passaic, NJ. Further, hate-filled fliers were found in Hoboken, NJ with a picture of Ravi Bhalla, a local Sikh mayoral candidate, stating Don’t let TERRORISM take over our town! A day prior, unknown perpetrators sent mailers to Edison, NJ residents attacking local school board candidates.

 

The increase in verbal and written assaults points to a growing trend of sanctioned and normalized hate rhetoric that is xenophobic and Islamophobic by elected officials including Donald Trump. The rise in state-sponsored implicit or explicit hate rhetoric is encouraging the targeting of those perceived to be foreign and Muslim as well as other marginalized communities. For instance, after the truck attack of bikers by Sayfullo Saipov, President Trump tweeted out alarmist messages that supported his targeting of Muslim immigrants: “We must not allow ISIS to return, or enter, our country after defeating them in the Middle East and elsewhere. Enough!”, “I have just ordered Homeland Security to step up our already Extreme Vetting Program. Being politically correct is fine, but not for this!, andCHAIN MIGRATION must end now! Some people come in, and they bring their whole family with them, who can be truly evil. NOT ACCEPTABLE!”. In comparison, Trump has yet to call out the extremism of white shooters in Las Vegas, NV and Sutherland Springs, TX. These tweets, undoubtedly, are meant to encourage anti-immigrant sentiments and nativist fears in the U.S.

 

THIS WEEK IN HATE: November 1- Continued Increase in Hate Violence

Prepared by Radha Modi

As of November 1, 2017, there have been 199 documented incidents of hate violence against those who identify or are perceived as Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, South Asian, Arab, or Middle Eastern. Most notably, hate violence this year has increased by 53% compared to the previous year.

The three categories of hate violence, physical violence, verbal/written threats, and property damage, have all surpassed the totals from the year before the election as well. Verbal and written threats and hateful rhetoric are the most common type of violence with 78 documented incidents occurring since November 8, 2016. A recent incident of verbal assault occurred against a Muslim student, Fay Alwattari, at the University of Cincinnati by his music professor. The professor responded to Alwattari’s assignment with a barrage of incendiary comments such as: “The U.S. President’s first sworn duty is to protect America from enemies, and the greatest threat to our freedom is not the President, it is radical Islam. Review this list of Islamic terrorist attacks and then tell me about your hurt feelings.” University of Cincinnati is investigating the professor’s problematic behavior. In addition to verbal assaults, incidents of physical violence also continue to rise with three new incidents occurring in the past week including an attack on a Hindu Temple by an unknown suspect in Lexington, KY. Currently, the total number of physical assaults for this year are 68 incidents. Finally, property damage often consisting of vandalism comprises the third category of hate incidents with 53 unique incidents occurring since November 8, 2016.

Just this past weekend, a four foot cross wrapped in bacon was left at a mosque in Twin Falls, Idaho. Local law enforcement are investigating this incident as a hate crime.

Consistent with the numbers from last week, women who identify or are perceived as Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, South Asian, Arab, or Middle Eastern continue to be the most common target of hate making up 29% of hate violence in the SAALT database. Hate incidents against men, youth, and Muslim places of worship come in second with comparable percentages. Nineteen percent of hate violence is against youth, a slight increase from the previous week. On October 25th, Christopher Beckham harassed two Muslim girls wearing hijabs coming off of a school bus and threatened their father with a knife. He told them to “go back to their country” and that he would kill them when he got out of prison.

This Week In Hate: October 25 – The Vulnerability of Youth as Hate Violence Continues to Increase

Prepared by Radha Modi

This week’s report on hate violence against those who identify or are perceived as Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, South Asian, Arab, or Middle Eastern highlights two notable shifts in trends. For the first time, physical assaults post-election have surpassed pre-election numbers. Additionally, there has been an increase in hate incidents in the Midwest region of the U.S., with percentages close to the Western and Eastern regional percentages.

As we approach the close of the first year of Donald Trump’s presidency, the total number of hate incidents have increased to 191 resulting in a 46% increase from pre-election year to post-election year (see Figure 1).

Of the 191 reported hate incidents, 65 incidents are physical assaults, 77 incidents are verbal or written threats, and 50 incidents involve property damage (see Figure 2). The most dramatic increase in hate incidents has involved verbal and written assaults over the past year. Recently, a Delaware man, Gerard Medvec, is facing hate crime charges for spying on and threatening his neighbors who he thought were Muslim. Post-election totals on physical assaults have also surpassed the totals from pre-election year. Physical assaults include acts such as shoving, punching, pulling, and spitting by the perpetrators. On October 7th, a 43-year old white man walked into a convenience store in Seattle, WA, and pepper sprayed two men and one woman wearing hijab. This attack was preceded by an anti-Muslim rant in the store. Finally, property damage often consisting of vandalism comprises the third category of hate incidents. Mosques are the most common target of hate incidents involving property damage. For example, figure 3 demonstrates that 21% of hate incidents involve damage or vandalism of mosques and Muslim community centers. This past week, Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center in Minnesota, which was bombed in August, was broken into and burglarized.

The most common victims of hate incidents are often women. Twenty-nine percent of the 191 documented hate incidents are against women who identify or are perceived as Muslim, Sikh, South Asian, Middle Eastern, or Arab (see Figure 3). A majority of these hate incidents involve women wearing hijabs. Hate violence towards women underscores the role of intersectionality and the need for identifying these intersections in documenting hate.

The combination of gender, religious attire, skin color, accent, and other factors all play a part in how women are perceived and targeted in daily life. For men, as well, intersections of multiple factors contribute to how they are perceived and treated by others. Twenty-two percent of hate incidents are against men who identify or are perceived as Muslim, Sikh, South Asian, Middle Eastern, or Arab. Youth are also vulnerable to hate incidents due to the intersections of race, name, skin color, gender, and religion with young age. Eighteen percent of hate incidents involved students and youth (Youth numbers overlap with percentages of hate incidents against women and men). Incidents not only occur on the streets from strangers but also in institutional settings where others bully and haze them.

A recent incident stands out in highlighting the violence that youth who identify or are perceived as Muslim, Sikh, South Asian, Middle Eastern, or Arab face regularly, and the mental health crisis that can result from that trauma. Raheel Siddiqui, a young Muslim enlisted in the U.S. Marines, committed suicide during training this past March. According to his parents, his drill instructor incessantly hazed him for being Muslim. The instructor reportedly called him a terrorist and forced him to run laps until he collapsed. Superiors denied Raheel Siddiqui medical assistance and did not take seriously his threats to commit suicide. With increasing hate violence, community groups will need to hold institutional spaces such as schools, the military, and afterschool programs accountable in creating safe space for all youth.

Lastly, the rise in the number of hate incidents is regionally relevant (see Figure 4). The West Coast and East Coast continue to lead in hate incidents with slightly over half of incidents occurring in those regions of the U.S. Their lead, however, has shrunk over the weeks as the occurrence of hate incidents increased in the Midwest. Currently, 25% of hate incidents have occurred in places such as Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. Southern regions of the U.S. have the lowest number of incidents making up 18% of the total.

SAALT, CAIR Condemn Southwest Airlines’ Racial and Religious Profiling of Muslim Professor

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), joined 30 other national and local civil rights organizations,* including the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), in condemning Southwest Airlines’ treatment of a pregnant Muslim-American professor, Anila Daulatzai, in September.

In a letter sent to Southwest Airlines and the Maryland Transportation Authority Police (MDTA) on October 19, 2017, the coalition of civil rights organizations wrote in part:

“Our organizations are appalled at the mistreatment of Anila Daulatzai by Southwest Airlines and the Maryland Transportation Authority Police (MDTA). We support Ms. Daulatzai’s demands and call for changes in policy and practice on the part of Southwest Airlines and the MDTA.

“Communities of color unfortunately endure profiling at airports and on airlines on a regular basis. In fact, Muslim, Arab, South Asian and Sikh passengers have experienced a disproportionately high level of discrimination in the 16 years since September 11, 2001. ‘Flying while brown’ means that passengers are often subjected to secondary screenings, interrogations, bodily searches, and removal from airplanes for no legitimate reason at all.

“Anila Daulatzai, a pregnant woman who is a Pakistani American and a Muslim, is the latest person to face this type of airline discrimination. In her case, Southwest Airlines staff insisted that Daulatzai deplane her flight because of a dog allergy even though she had made it clear that her allergies were not life-threatening. Instead of believing Daulatzai’s own statements about her physical conditions, Southwest Airlines personnel chose to escalate the situation by alerting the Maryland Transportation Authority Police (MDTA). According to Daulatzai, MDTA law enforcement agents pulled her from her seat via her belt loop, tore her pants, and dragged her through the aisle. They then allegedly made racist remarks about immigrants and charged her with disorderly conduct and other criminal charges.

“Ms. Daulatzai’s mistreatment by Southwest Airlines is part of a pattern and practice of profiling. Between 2015 and 2016, over a period of just six months, several Muslim, Arab, and South Asian passengers reported incidents of being rebooked for their appearance, removed from a flight for speaking in Arabic in a private phone conversation or simply for asking to switch seats.

“We call upon the MDTA to drop the criminal charges against Ms. Daulatzai. We also call
upon both the MDTA and Southwest Airlines to provide adequate and appropriate
restitution to Ms. Daulatzai. In addition, we demand that both the MDTA and Southwest
Airlines make systemic changes to their policies and protocols. We call upon both entities
to disclose their protocols for responding to passenger-related situations aboard flights,
including their trainings and practices around de-escalation and mediation tactics. We
continue to demand that Southwest Airlines training policies be disclosed publicly, and
that personnel at all levels be provided with mandatory and regular trainings on conflict
resolution, de-escalation tactics, anti-Blackness, Islamophobia, and anti-racism. We call
upon the MDTA to engage in regular trainings on Islamophobia, systemic racism,
xenophobia, anti-Blackness, and implicit bias.”

*Signatories:

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
18MillionRising.org
Advocates for Youth
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)
Andolan: Organizing South Asian Workers
Asian American Psychological Association
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – LA
Chhaya CDC
Defending Rights & Dissent
Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center
Jewish Voice for Peace – Network Against Islamophobia
Jews Say No!
Kiran, Inc.
MPower Change
Maitri
Muslim Youth Network
Muslimmatters
National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC)
National Asian Pacific American Families Against Substance Abuse (NAPAFASA)
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF)
National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (CAPACD)
National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC)
National Organization for Women
National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT)
Project South
Raksha, Inc.
Sapna NYC
Turning Point for Women and Families

Last year, in response to numerous incidents of profiling against our communities on Southwest Airlines flights, SAALT and our partners sent multiple communications to Southwest, including to CEO Gary Kelly, expressing concerns with their pattern and practice of racially profiling passengers. Disappointingly, all we received was one unsatisfactory response after another. As a result, SAALT terminated its 7-year relationship with Southwest and gave back $10,000 in grant funding. SAALT and our partners will continue to hold Southwest accountable until our communities are treated with dignity and equality.

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