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.”

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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 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.”

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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

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.”

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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.