Our nation is better than this.

Dear Friend,

Last week I spoke out against the President’s divisive and un-American Executive Orders that built walls, banned Muslims, rejected refugees, deprived sanctuaries, and expanded surveillance on Muslim-American communities across the country, all the while failing to make us safer or greater. I wrote in response, “we must be better than this.”

The tens of thousands of people who took to the airports and airwaves, to the city streets and social media, to the courtrooms and Capitol Hill in protest of these orders confirmed: we are better than this.

As a result, President Trump’s xenophobic agenda has met resistance.

This morning I spoke at a press conference in Washington D.C. with the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus in opposition to the President’s Executive Orders. Part of my remarks focused on SAALT’s latest report, “Power, Pain, Potential,” which documented over 200 incidents of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric targeted at our communities during the 2016 elections. I also stated that “These Executive Orders sow fear in communities of color and make us all less safe. The current national message resounds with exclusion and racism.”

As South Asian Americans, we’ve been here before. In those dark days and months following 9/11, our communities were targeted, attacked, and legislated against at unprecedented levels. We cannot let history repeat itself. Never again.

As SAALT continues to demand equality, justice, and full inclusion for all Americans, and as we push back against the anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, anti-American agenda of the Trump administration, we ask you to please stand with us.

As we continue tracking hate and working with our partners in the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations to demand our rights, we ask you to please stand with us.

As we host the 10-year anniversary of the National South Asian Summit in Washington D.C. this April, where hundreds of organizations and activists will come together to build skills, connect with policymakers, and strategize on how to claim our power through collective action, we ask you to please stand with us.

As our country continues to change shape and many of you fear that the worst is yet to come, we ask you to please stand with us. We promise you, our best is also yet to come. Support SAALT today.

In strength and partnership,

Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director, SAALT

SAALT Staunchly Opposes President Trump’s Separate and Unequal Policies Toward Muslims

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 28, 2017

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national South Asian advocacy organization, staunchly opposes the latest Executive Order in the litany of divisive, un-American measures issued by President Trump this week. Today’s announcement effectively bans Muslims, rejects refugees, and expands surveillance on Muslim-American communities, creating separate and wholly unequal standards of law and justice for millions of Americans.

“The ethos and impact of these Orders contradict America’s founding values and take us further away from our bedrock commitment to freedom and civil liberties for all,” stated Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT. “Today’s announcement will criminalize people of color based on their religion and national origin, and reinforces a climate of suspicion and increasing violence aimed at Muslim communities living in the U.S. Our nation is better than this.”

Today’s Executive Orders block refugees entering the U.S. from war-torn Syria indefinitely; suspends refugee admissions from other countries for 120 days; vaguely suspends visa issuance to countries of “particular concern;” bans immigrant and non-immigrant entry of individuals from several Muslim-majority countries; and creates an entry-exit tracking system for all visitors to the United States in addition to requiring in-person interviews for all nonimmigrant visa applicants.

A majority of American voters do not support the measures announced today: in fact, 52% of Americans oppose a ban on immigrants and travelers who are Muslim. President Trump’s decision to transform his divisive and irresponsible campaign rhetoric into policy expressly targets millions of our community members nationwide, and explicitly runs counter to the will of the electorate. The most recent policies will only serve to further divide us as a nation at the very moment when we must all come together as the resounding national message rings of exclusion and racism.

The entry-exit policy in particular has a troubling precedent that devastated South Asian American, Muslim, and Arab communities for much of the last 15 years, and was just dismantled at the end of 2016. Under the guise of “national security,” the 2002 National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) forced immigrants from Muslim-majority countries to register at local immigration offices for lengthy interrogations. Over 83,000 individuals registered; over 13,000 were placed into deportation proceedings, resulting in zero terrorism-related convictions. President Trump’s order reopens this wound at a time when our communities are increasingly under attack nationwide.

Just this month, SAALT released “Power, Pain, Potential,” which documents over 200 incidents of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, and Arab American communities during the 2016 election cycle. An astounding 95% of these incidents were motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment. President Trump was responsible for 21% of the xenophobic political statements we documented. Just one week into his administration, the President’s rhetoric is now being implemented via destructive policies. It is clear that this administration’s rhetoric and policies serve only to criminalize and dehumanize large segments of our country, and will continue to embolden neighbors to target neighbors, Americans to target Americans-all for the narrow end of “making America great again.”

As Black, Brown, indigenous, immigrant, and Asian American communities who have survived systemic racism, internment, and genocide, we will stand strong as a united front against any policies rooted in discrimination and divisiveness. Working with our partners in the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations, we will forge a future driven by the fundamental value that all people must be treated equally under the law. We must be better than this.

Contact: Vivek Trivedi
vivek@saalt.org

SAALT Condemns President Trump’s Anti-Immigrant Executive Orders

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 25, 2017

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national South Asian advocacy organization, is outraged at the latest Executive Orders issued by President Trump. Today’s announcement on immigration effectively shuts down our borders, threatens state and local policies that protect and welcome immigrants, and puts immigrant communities in the crosshairs of policies that tear apart families under the pretext of “making American great.”

“Today’s Executive Orders push the nation further away from core American values of equality and freedom, sow fear in communities of color that already face increasing violence, hostility and attacks, and make us and the country less safe – all under the guise of national security,” stated Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT. “Walling off the country will not make us safer. We expect this will be the first in a series of attacks against the freedom of immigrants and communities of color in the United States.”

South Asians are the most rapidly growing demographic group in the country, numbering over 4.3 million, with large growth in the undocumented South Asian population in recent years, including 450,000 Indian-Americans alone. India is currently the fourth-highest sending country for undocumented immigrants after Mexico, El Salvador, and Guatemala. We also know there are significant undocumented immigrants originally from other South Asian countries including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and the Indo-Caribbean diaspora.

Today’s announcement puts South Asian communities under further scrutiny and attack in the United States, particularly through the alarming revival of the “Secure Communities” program, which deputizes local authorities as immigration agents – a function numerous police chiefs have already spoken out against. The program, previously abandoned due to concerns that it led to racial profiling and other abuse by law enforcement, authorizes local police to check the immigration status of every individual arrested and to enforce immigration laws against the very communities they are sworn to protect. This policy sends a clear message to immigrants that any contact with the police can lead to deportation, and only serves to spur fear in immigrant communities.

Today’s Executive Orders also strip federal funding for “sanctuary cities” that refuse to arrest or detain undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. Many of these places of refuge are located in California, New York, and Chicago: areas with massive South Asian American populations as well as immigrant communities writ large. The result deprives localities of critical funding necessary to meet the needs of their residents. This crucial federal funding (from taxpayer dollars) is instead being funneled to hire more border patrol agents to criminalize rather than protect immigrant and border communities, all the while fueling an increasingly privatized immigration detention system.

SAALT recently released “Power, Pain, Potential,” the first comprehensive report documenting hate violence and xenophobic rhetoric against South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Arab, and Middle Eastern communities during the 2016 election cycle. We found skyrocketing violence against our communities nationwide reaching levels only seen in the aftermath of the events of 9/11. President Elect Trump was responsible for over one in five, or 21%, of the xenophobic political rhetoric we tracked.

Due to today’s Executive Orders, our communities – already experiencing the full force of a rising tide of hate violence and the proliferation of white supremacist movements nationwide – will have less recourse for protection from police, diminished options to report incidents aimed at their families, and fewer places to find safety and security. In the face of these devastating policies, SAALT and our partners nationwide will instead draw strength, unity, and resilience from each other, and work closely with our communities to ensure that we have an equal place in the U.S. and that our voices ring clear as we fight for equality, protection, and dignity for all.

Contact: Vivek Trivedi
vivek@saalt.org

Ahead of Inauguration, SAALT’s New Report Exposes Alarming Hate Violence and Xenophobic Political Rhetoric During Elections

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

On January 11, 2017, South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a leading national South Asian American advocacy organization, released “Power, Pain, Potential,” the first comprehensive report documenting hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Arab, Sikh, Hindu, and Middle Eastern Americans during the 2016 election cycle.  This report examines the dramatic demographic growth of South Asians across the United States, particularly in the South, and reveals how increases in population are met with increases in intolerance during the most divisive Presidential election in modern American history.

“The unprecedented violence we saw following the September 11 attacks has returned, electrified by a hostile 2016 presidential election,” stated Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT.  “With over 4.3 million South Asians in the US, policymakers must make it a first priority to address and dismantle the paradox of our communities living at the intersection of growth and hate.”

From November 15, 2015 to November 15, 2016 (between the Paris attacks and the week after the Presidential elections), SAALT documented 207 incidents of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric aimed at our communities in an online public database, a 34% increase in less than a third of the time covered in our 2011-2014 report, “Under Suspicion, Under Attack.”

This disturbing data breaks down to 140 incidents of hate violence and 67 instances of xenophobic political rhetoric during the 2016 election cycle.  An astounding 95% of incidents were motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment.  SAALT’s findings are consistent with the FBI’s 2015 hate crimes statistics, which revealed a 67% increase in hate crimes against Muslims from the previous year. Notably, President-elect Trump was responsible for one in five (21%) xenophobic political statements SAALT documented.

Against the backdrop of this hostility and the resurgence of white supremacist organizations nationwide, South Asian Americans are the most rapidly growing demographic group in the nation.  The largest population growth occurred in the South, where 30% of South Asians currently reside: an increase from half a million to one million since 2000.  Thirty percent of the hate violence incidents we catalogued occurred in the South.

This report also offers policymakers crucial and comprehensive recommendations to address hate crimes underreporting, improve relations between our communities and law enforcement, dismantle policies that promote racial profiling and surveillance, and shift immigration policies to respect and meet our communities’ needs.  The new administration must make these recommendations a first priority in order to heal our deeply divided country.  Anything less will make the transition of power on January 20 simply a transition of pain for our communities.

Contact: Vivek Trivedi; vivek@saalt.org for more information.

SAALT Welcomes Official End of Discriminatory Profiling of South Asian, Muslim, and Arab Individuals via NSEERS Program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 22, 2016
Contact: Suman Raghunathan, suman@saalt.org

SAALT applauds today’s announcement from the Department of Homeland Security on a final rule that formally ends the deeply flawed, patently ineffective, and openly discriminatory National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) program (known as special registration) effective immediately.

As a national South Asian organization that has since its inception been fighting the deeply discriminatory NSEERS program as well as racial and religious profiling writ large, SAALT thanks the Department of Homeland Security, White House, and the Obama Administration for their decision to rescind the regulation behind this dormant program.  SAALT in particular salutes the steadfast leadership, organizing, and advocacy of South Asian, Muslim, and Arab individuals directly impacted by the program and grassroots South Asian and Muslim organizations-including members of the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations (NCSO)-who have been involved in longstanding advocacy against NSEERS. The program was discontinued in 2011, but its regulatory framework remained dangerously on the books until today.

NSEERS, first created in the immediate aftermath of the events of September 11, 2001, required certain non-immigrant male visitors from 25 Middle Eastern, Arab, and South Asian countries and North Korea to appear at local immigration enforcement offices. Over 80,000 men were forced to register and over 13,000 individuals were placed into deportation proceedings, which did not result in one terrorism-related conviction. SAALT and South Asian Americans nationwide have experienced firsthand the ways programs such as NSEERS have decimated our trust in law enforcement.  Today’s announcement begins us on the path to restore some of that trust.

South Asians are the most rapidly-growing demographic group in the United States, and there are an estimated 3.3 million Muslims nationwide.  Even as our communities continue to grow, we are reminded that we are all safer when we refuse to racially and religiously profile individuals.  As an organization with a deep and longtime commitment to racial justice, civil rights, and civil liberties, SAALT will continue fighting to ensure South Asians and indeed all Americans are able to enjoy and exercise the basic rights and liberties enshrined in our Constitution and concordant with our values as a nation.

United We Must Stand

united

Dear Friend,

Each day that passes brings another disturbing incident of hate violence against our communities. In response, each day we are more united, organized, and determined in our pursuit of justice for South Asian Americans and all.

On December 19, SAALT hosted a webinar on hate crimes with groups working on the front lines of this struggle. Members of the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations, the largest South Asian American network of community-based advocacy organizations, shared their insights on this urgent call, along with the San Francisco chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. The Alliance of South Asians Taking Action, a Bay Area all-volunteer group, also joined to describe how they’re aggressively documenting local hate incidents for use as public evidence.

Representatives from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice also participated in this webinar, providing a variety of insights into America’s hate violence problem, as well as an opportunity to brainstorm solutions for the future.

This online event couldn’t have come sooner. The FBI’s most recent Hate Crimes report revealed not only a 7% increase in hate crimes overall, but also an alarming 67% increase in hate crimes targeting Muslims. SAALT’s own database confirms an uptick in hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric against our communities nationwide in 2016, with incidents expected to accelerate in the new year.

SAALT will continue to push back against hate, but we need your help.

Big battles require big support. Please stand with SAALT as we take on the challenges ahead. By donating today, SAALT can continue tracking hate, supporting our partners nationwide, and demanding justice and cooperation from our government.

With you by our side, we can make America better, together.

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We can only do this with your support. Stand with us today.

With determination,
Suman Raghunathan,
Executive Director, SAALT

It’s Not Too Late To Push Back Against Hate

investment

Dear Friend,

On December 6, moments after leaving a policy conference at the White House, a taxi driver called Minnesota Representative-Elect Ilhan Omar a member of “ISIS” and threatened to forcibly remove her hijab. Ms. Omar calls it the “most hateful, derogatory, Islamophobic, sexist taunts and threats I have ever experienced.”

A day earlier in New York City, Soha Salama, a Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) employee was harassed, called a “terrorist”, and pushed down a flight of stairs at Grand Central subway station. She was told to “go back” to her country by her assailant during the attack.

Days earlier in Pittsburgh, Ankur Mehta was working on his computer in a Red Robin Restaurant when a drunken man told him “things are different now” and “I don’t want you sitting next to me.” He then proceeded to use racial slurs such as “sandn****r” before striking Mr. Mehta several times with his fists and elbows.

These incidents occurred in a span of a little over one week. Sadly, there are many more. In 2016 SAALT tracked over 200 incidents of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric against our communities. These incidents have surged massively in the wake of the Presidential election.

We need your support now more than ever to push back against hate.

In the coming weeks and months, SAALT will:

  • Release a detailed report to policymakers and the media on hate incidents against South Asian, Muslim, and Arab Americans during the 2016 election cycle to fully illustrate the extent to which our communities are under attack;
  • Organize town hall meetings throughout the country to understand the local concerns of our communities nationwide;
  • Hold the 10th anniversary of our National South Asian Summit where hundreds of thought leaders, organizations, and activists from across the country will come together to strategize on how to support and defend our communities in this new and uncertain future. We will then take to Capitol Hill to engage with policymakers and government agencies en masse.

The time to answer the urgent call for South Asian American justice is now. Please stand with us as we take on the enormous challenges ahead. Will you make a contribution to our work?

donate

With your support, we can push back against hate so that our communities can enjoy the freedoms and rights owed to all Americans. With your contribution, we can help make America better for us all.

Please donate as generously as you can today.

With determination,
Suman Raghunathan,
Executive Director, SAALT

Our Impact. Your Voice.

2016-impact-snapshot

Dear Friend,

In a year defined by hate, where our communities have suffered historic levels of violence and xenophobic political rhetoric nationwide, SAALT worked even harder to ensure our communities’ voices were heard louder and farther than ever before.

With your help, we’ve made significant strides.

In 2016, we tracked over 220 incidents of hate violence and xenophobic rhetoric against our communities. In the coming weeks we will release a report to policymakers, law enforcement, and the new administration to make sure they fully understand the extent to which our communities are under attack.  We will demand that the government use its full power to ensure our communities are protected, not targeted or ignored.

In 2016 we terminated a 7-year relationship with Southwest Airlines due to repeated incidents of racial profiling against our communities on their flights. Doing so meant returning $10,000 in sponsorship that supported many of our vital programs. At SAALT, we advance ideals of justice and equality, and live by them fiercely and faithfully.

One such program is the Young Leaders Institute (YLI), which brings together 13 young adults to learn leadership skills, connect with activists, and develop practical tools and action plans to protect immigrant rights on and off campus.  For 4 years SAALT has trained 72 young adults to take on the challenges of the future, and with your support we can continue training tomorrow’s leaders today.

Through our We Build Community program, we provided $45,000 to four grassroots South Asian American groups to support and increase their capacity to fight for racial justice and immigrant rights across the country.

We continue to coordinate and expand the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations (NCSO), a group of 54 community partners that foster a broader movement for racial, gender, and immigrant justice.  The NCSO is the largest network of South Asian American organizations in the country, and is a crucial voice as we confront the ongoing challenges facing our communities.

These examples reflect our increasing commitment to South Asian American justice. We need your support so we can continue defending and demanding rights for our communities nationwide.

Please donate today to sustain and expand our work on this long road ahead.  While the future may be uncertain, what you can be sure of is SAALT’s commitment to our communities, our partners, and our mission.

Please stand with us today and donate as generously as you can.

With resolve and gratitude,

signature
Suman Raghunathan,
Executive Director, SAALT

On #GivingTuesday, Going Forward Means Giving Back

Hi Friend,

My name is Jasveen and I am a college student living in America’s post-election reality.  I am also a 2016-2017 Fellow of SAALT’s Young Leaders Institute (YLI).

In acknowledgment of Giving Tuesday, which follows the Thanksgiving Holiday each year, I want you to know how grateful I am that generous donors support SAALT and this amazing program.

With intolerance and even violence targeting our communities and surging nationwide, it is becoming difficult to find safe havens anywhere. Going to school, traveling, practicing my faith, even walking the street in broad daylight now present unmistakable risks to my life.

YLI became an important outlet for me and eleven other young South Asian American Fellows who are part of this year’s cohort.  It gave us an opportunity to connect with activists and mentors, and explore equality and immigrant justice strategies to implement on behalf of the South Asian community.  It has also become a place where I found community amongst like-minded South Asians Americans who are passionate about justice.

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The 2016-2017 YLI Cohort during a two-day leadership convening in Silver Spring, Maryland

I also wanted you to know that until recently YLI was funded in significant part by sponsorship money from Southwest Airlines.  This year, SAALT made the right choice to end its relationship with Southwest because of multiple incidents of racial profiling by its employees, including against a Muslim university student in California.

Speaking on behalf of the rest of my YLI cohort, we greatly admire and respect the bold stand that SAALT took in cutting ties with Southwest, because it meant returning a $10,000 contribution. Taking a stand against large powerful corporations like Southwest showed me what a dedicated organization SAALT is and made me prouder to be in YLI.

So today, on Giving Tuesday, a global day dedicated to generosity and charity, I’m asking you to please take the walk towards justice with SAALT and YLI. Please support SAALT and make sure it has enough funds to replace the $10,000 it lost in ending its relationship with Southwest. It’s in your hands now to help make sure that SAALT and YLI can thrive for years to come, and more young adults can get the vital leadership training we need to take on the challenges of tomorrow.

donate
Sincerely,

Jasveen and the 2016-2017 YLI Cohort

P.S. More than ever, our community and our country need young leaders to create the change that we all want to see.  Please stand with us today for a better tomorrow.

How To Prepare For An Uncertain Future

Dear Friend,

The weeks after the most divisive election in modern American history have left our community shaken.  Hundreds of incidents of hate violence and intolerance have been reported since November 8, and SAALT has tracked more than 200 of these incidents even before Election Day.  From campuses to places of worship, from airplane cabins to the sidewalks of America, our communities continue to be targets. As we prepare for an uncertain future, we must look to our children to be the ambassadors of change.

We must support our young people to help solve these problems.

Young adults like  Nikhil Mandalaparthy, a student at the University of Chicago who came to Washington, DC as a part of SAALT’s Young Leaders Institute (YLI) 2016-2017 cohort.  As a YLI Fellow, Nikhil joined 11 other young people in a two-day convening where mentors and activists took them through workshops and activities to strengthen their leadership skills.  This year’s theme was Building Immigrant Justice,and provided the cohort with practical tools and action plans to organize within the South Asian community while spotlighting undocumented immigrant rights.

Nikhil found this experience “eye-opening“, and believes “our efforts to have these important conversations in our communities can have a much greater impact than we could ever imagine.

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"The theme of this year's YLI was Immigrant Justice, and after hearing
about the different projects we were hoping to execute on our campuses,
I was honestly in awe." -Nikhil Mandalaparthy, 2016-2017 YLI Fellow

In order for SAALT to continue skills building and community training for these young leaders of tomorrow, we need your support – Today!  The need is made even more urgent by our recent decision to return $10,000 in sponsorship funds to Southwest Airlines, money that helped support our YLI program.  Southwest employees have been racially profiling South Asian, Muslim, and Arab passengers in the last year, including at least five well-publicized incidents.

Southwest ignored SAALT’s repeated demands to address racial and religious profiling in their training guidelines and complaint procedures.  Enough was enough, and we said goodbye to their sponsorship.

Now we need you! Please step up now as an individual standing for equality and justice.  Any amount you can contribute that is meaningful to you would make a big difference.

donate

Your gift supports young leaders as they chart out a path for a better future for our communities and country.  Leaders like Nikhil, who believes that the Young Leaders Institute “will serve as inspiration to many more young South Asian Americans, just as it did for me.”

With your help, we can ensure that our future is filled with young leaders who are inspired to work for South Asian justice, and indeed justice for all.  Please give today.

With resolve and gratitude,

Suman Raghunathan,
Executive Director, SAALT