17 Years After 9/11: Detentions, Deportations, Diminished Civil Rights

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 11, 2018

Today marks the 17-year anniversary of the tragic attacks of September 11, 2001. This anniversary falls at a time of rampant immigration enforcement and racial profiling policies directed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, and Arab American communities. Unsurprisingly, this escalation of brutal and discriminatory policies is accompanied by a rising tide of hate violence impacting our communities. Nearly two decades after the events of September 11th, hate violence targeting South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, and Arab American communities has now surpassed levels only seen immediately after that tragedy.

SAALT has already documented over 400 incidents of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric targeting our communities since the 2016 presidential election. Tragically, we can now draw a direct link between divisive political rhetoric and its role in spurring hate violence: one in five of the hate incidents documented in our 2018 report, Communities on Fire, involved perpetrators who verbally referenced President Trump, one of his administration’s policies, or one of his campaign slogans while committing an act of violence.

Since the events of September 11th, successive administrations have leveraged a ‘national security’ lens to advance anti-immigrant and xenophobic policies that target our communities and our place in this nation. This list of policies that seek to limit and exclude our rights includes but is not limited to the Patriot Act, the Countering Violent Extremism program, and the Muslim Ban. Several devastating policies aimed at immigrant communities have been unveiled in the last year alone. Examples include the decision to terminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for individuals from several countries including Nepal, Honduras, El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan; a wave of deportations of documented and undocumented residents; separating families and detaining children in cages; and denaturalizing American citizens. In short, we are in the midst of a campaign to create an America that is separate and unequal for the foreign-born and their families. The onslaught is slated to continue escalating through the administration’s plans to further criminalize immigrants for utilizing public benefits by issuing a ‘public charge’ rule and unconstitutionally including a question on citizenship status in the 2020 Census.

It appears this dangerous convergence of policies, rhetoric, and violence will not end soon. In April 2018, a Houston Muslim woman wearing a hijab was stabbed by an attacker yelling “Oh my God, it’s a r**head” “sand n******” and other racially derogatory terms. In July and August 2018, two California Sikh men wearing turbans were violently attacked in separate incidents. In one incident, the perpetrator yelled “Go back to your country!” SAALT continues to collect data on incidents of hate violence in our public, online database, and provides monthly updates on trends.

Later this week, SAALT will host a Congressional Briefing in collaboration with the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) to highlight the intersection between current incidents of hate violence, the Muslim Ban, and immigration enforcement. SAALT is committed to addressing the underlying factors that spur hate violence against our communities, including discriminatory policies and the growth in organized white supremacy. We are dedicated to ensuring the next decade sees a decline in hate violence and an effort to regain this nation’s core ideals of equality and justice.

DACA: One year of uncertainty, one year of fighting back

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 5, 2018

Today is the one-year anniversary of this administration’s unnecessary and destructive decision to expose over 800,000 DREAMers to deportation by ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. This critical program, which continues to enjoy overwhelming support from the American public, has protected immigrant youth for over six years from being forced out of the only country they have ever known. The DACA program is an important lifeline for immigrant communities, including South Asians; there are at least 5,500 DACA recipients from India and Pakistan alone, and an additional estimated 17,000 individuals from India and 6,000 individuals from Pakistan who are eligible for DACA.

Continue reading

The Fight Continues: No Muslim Ban Ever!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 26, 2018

Washington D.C– Over a year and three iterations at state-sponsored discrimination later, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled earlier today to uphold the Trump Administration’s divisive and damaging Muslim Ban. This is a troubling first in modern times for our nation: one that openly codifies inequality before the law.

In response, Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together, said: “Greenlighting persecution of communities due to their appearance or how they pray is unacceptable and un-American, and cannot be the law of our land. Today’s decision joins our nation’s past shameful decisions on Korematsu and Dred Scott by upholding discrimination. With this ruling, the highest court has turned its back on our communities who are already on the front-lines of state-sanctioned hate, violence and division.”

“As we see immigrants portrayed and treated as subhuman, hate violence at historic levels, and challenges to due process and core rights for all, we face a critical question as to who we are and what we stand for as a nation. We know hate violence targeting our communities will continue to rise nationwide, amplified by today’s decision. SAALT chooses to build a nation where families are not torn apart, where children are not detained in cages, where differences are not criminalized for political gain. Today, as the government chooses to separate families and places our communities in the cross hairs of hate, we vow to continue the fight for justice, dignity, and full inclusion. Our communities have a place in this nation regardless of today’s decision, and we will fight to protect them.”

 

Our elected and appointed officials should know we will continue to mobilize our communities, and will not stop till we have equality and justice for all.

SAALT

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

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

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

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

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

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

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

CONTACT: Vivek Trivedi – vivek@saalt.org

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

CONTACT: Vivek Trivedi – vivek@saalt.org

SAALT Responds to Government Shutdown, Demands DREAM Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

CONTACT: Vivek Trivedi – vivek@saalt.org

Stop Ravi’s Deportation – We need your help!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

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

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

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

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

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

You can use the following script:

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

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

SAALT Statement on Court Order Blocking DACA Termination

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CONTACT: Vivek Trivedi – vivek@saalt.org

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.’”

***
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.”

***
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