SAALT Releases Groundbreaking Voter Guide to Educate, Mobilize South Asian American Community in Preparation for 2018 Midterm Elections

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Washington, D.C., Today South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) released its 2018 Midterm Election Voter Guide, the only resource designed to engage, educate, and mobilize the growing South Asian American electorate in Congressional districts nationwide.
At over 5 million strong, South Asian Americans are the second-most rapidly growing demographic group nationwide, across longstanding community strongholds and newer regions in the South. As a result, South Asian Americans occupy an increasingly significant position in the American electorate. In this critical election year, South Asian Americans have a stake in key policy questions that affect our communities, and are deeply impacted by issues spanning immigration, civil rights, hate crimes, and the 2020 Census.
The Guide is a voter education tool that equips South Asian Americans and all voters with the crucial information they need to cast informed votes this November. SAALT’s non-partisan 2018 Midterm Election Voter Guide does not endorse any candidate—rather; it analyzes House of Representatives candidates’ positions on four critical issues for South Asian Americans in twenty Congressional Districts with the highest South Asian American populations. The Guide also includes analysis on two additional races that feature a South Asian American candidate and a Congressional district whose Member currently holds a leadership position in the House of Representatives.
Each race shows the Democratic and Republican candidate positions on the issues of immigration, civil rights, hate crimes, and the 2020 Census based upon their responses to a series of questions. SAALT reached out to all candidates with a questionnaire and analyzed publicly available information on their voting records on federal legislation, public statements, and policy platforms to develop our analysis. For all incumbent candidates, SAALT analyzed only their voting record on key legislation to determine their policy positions. All questions are included in the Guide to allow voters to assess a candidate’s positions themselves even if a particular Congressional district is not featured.
SAALT will be distributing its 2018 Midterm Election Voter Guide far and wide in partnership with its 62 community partners in the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations (NCSO), national allies, as well as over social and traditional media. The Voter Guide will be unveiled in-person at this weekend’s The Future of South Asians in the U.S. regional town hall in Niles, Illinois in partnership with Chicagoland NCSO organizations. On Saturday, October 6th from 1-4 pm, this powerful and topical forum will address the impact of U.S. immigration policy on the South Asian American community. The Voter Guide will continue to serve as a critical community education tool that keeps the focus on the important issues impacting our nation on the road to the November 2018 elections and beyond.
CONTACT: Sophia Qureshi, sophia@saalt.org

Last Chance to Force Congress to Vote On and Pass a Clean DREAM Act

Since President Trump terminated the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in September, you have heard about our efforts to speak truth to power. During a 2-day mobilization in Washington, D.C. last month, South Asian DREAMer, leader, and SAALT ally Chirayu Patel asked elected officials at a rally on Capitol Hill, “What is the legacy you want to leave behind?” You heard SAALT’s Executive Director, Suman Raghunathan, demand a clean DREAM Act without any compromises on increased border enforcement that will negatively impact immigrant families.

Over the last three months, DREAMERs have been deported by the thousands, with over 100 DREAMers falling out of status every day because Congress’s failure to act. Additionally, the government is terminating Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for several countries that are still reeling from war, disease, and natural disasters. So far Nicaragua, Honduras, and Haiti have been on the chopping block. Nepal and others could be up next.

We are now at the end of the year and Congress needs to deliver.

Funding for the government expires this Friday, December 8th and Congress plans to pass a short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the lights on. This is likely the last must-pass spending bill of the year, and the last chance for us to get the DREAM Act and TPS legislation through Congress this year.

Here’s what you can do today to force Congress to vote on and pass a clean DREAM Act and TPS legislation now: 

Call your elected officials and tell them why they must include the DREAM Act in the last must-pass spending bill of the year. Urge them to withhold their vote on any spending bill that does not include a clean DREAM Act. It is critical that calls are made this week before a Continuing Resolution is passed on December 8th. Click here to find your Member of Congress.

See below for a sample script!

“I am calling to urge you to sign on to the bi-partisan DREAM Act of 2017. As a South Asian American constituent, I am calling on you to support the DREAM Act now and ensure that it is included in the year-end spending bill. 

This legislation would allow our DREAMers who are as American as you or me to remain in the only country they have ever known or called home. You may be surprised to know that there are at least 450,000 undocumented Indians alone in the U.S. and there are at least 23,000 Indians and Pakistanis who are eligible to remain in the country, be shielded from deportation, and legally work through the DREAM Act.

We need you to exercise courage and leadership on behalf of our families and our communities so we can all thrive. I urge you to sign on to a clean DREAM Act with no border enforcement. Will you commit to voting NO on a year-end spending bill that does not include the DREAM Act? I am happy to share more information if useful or connect you with South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national organization representing our communities in Washington, D.C.” 

Understanding the Muslim Bans

The Muslim Bans are a series of discriminatory executive orders and proclamations that the Trump administration has implemented. While the first version, Muslim Ban 1.0, was signed and went into effect on 1/27/2017, within a day of being signed, thousands of individuals across the country rushed to the airports in protest, and significant portions of it were immediately blocked by the federal courts. The administration has continued to issue different versions of the Muslim Ban, which are working their way through the court system.  Just as with Muslim Ban 1.0, the federal courts have temporarily blocked significant portions of the subsequent Muslim Bans, finding them to be blatantly anti-Muslim, unconstitutional, and an abuse of the President’s power. The fight to challenge the Muslim Bans continues.                                               

BEYOND THE BAN: OTHER DISCRIMINATORY POLICIES AGAINST MUSLIMS

Despite intense opposition and criticism from the public, allied legislators, and the federal courts, the Trump administration has also pushed forward other discriminatory policies that share the same goal as the Muslim Bans and target Muslims and other immigrants and communities of Color.

Extreme Vetting (or the Backdoor Muslim Ban) – On 3/15/2017, the Secretary of State called for enhanced screening of nationals of the six countries included in Muslim Ban 2.0. On 5/23/2017, the Office of Management and Budget approved discretionary use of “extreme vetting” questions, including inquiries into social media accounts and extensive biographical and travel information from the last 15 years. Impacts of the policy include a dramatic decline in visa applications; further delays in visa issuance to nationals of Muslim-majority countries targeted by the Muslim Bans; and discriminatory practices while issuing visas.

Ending Temporary Protection Status (TPS) for Sudan – On 9/19/2017, a few days before Sudan was removed from Muslim Ban 3.0, the Trump administration announced an end to TPS for Sudan, effective 11/2/2018. Sudanese TPS holders may be forced to return to a country that is still unstable, despite this being the very reason for originally granting TPS to people from Sudan. These measures raise concerns about what is to come next for over 400,000 people with TPS from different countries.

Slashing Legal Immigration and Cutting Diversity in our Immigration System – On 2/7/2017, Senator Cotton (R-AK) and Senator Purdue (R-GA) introduced a bill that would cut green cards by more than half and end our family-based immigration system. If passed, the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act, would cut current levels of legal immigration by over 50%, and eliminate the Diversity Visa Lottery Program, which provides opportunities for countries that send few immigrants – often those with a majority of Muslim and/or Black populations – to apply for a green card.

Slashing Annual Refugee Admissions – On 9/27/2017, the Trump administration drastically lowered the annual refugee admission cap from 110,000 to 45,000, the lowest cap since 1980, and Muslim Ban 4.0 specifically targets countries that account for approximately 80% of all Muslim refugees resettled in the U.S. in the past two years.

 

*The information provided in this document is just a basic summary and is not legal advice. Every person’s situation is different. For legal advice please contact an attorney. For any information regarding the Muslim Bans please contact Subha Varadarajan, Muslim Ban Legal and Outreach Fellow: A project of Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus, CAIR San Francisco Bay Area, and National Immigration Law Center at varadarajan@nilc.org *

 

Ban # Date Issued Targeted Populations[1] Impact on Refugees Duration Key Court Actions Current Status
1.0 1/27/17 All refugees and nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen Halted entire program 90 days for all nationals (not dual citizens) of targeted countries; 120 days for refugees; indefinite for Syrian refugees On 2/9/17, the Ninth Circuit held that the Ban should be blocked Revoked by Muslim Ban 2.0 on 3/6/2017
2.0 3/6/17 All refugees and nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen Halted entire program 90 days for all nationals of targeted countries,

120 days for all refugees

On 6/26/17, the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) allowed part of the ban to go into effect, applying it to those lacking a bona fide relationship[2] to the U.S. On 9/24/17, the Ban on nationals from the targeted countries expired and on 10/24/17, the Ban on refugees expired. SCOTUS dismissed the cases challenging the ban as moot.
3.0 9/24/17 Most or all nationals from Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen and government officials from Venezuela and their families N/A Indefinite On 10/17/17 the Maryland district court in IRAP v. Trump blocked the Ban for all individuals with a bona fide relationship to the U.S[3]

 

Pending review:

On 12/6/17, the Ninth Circuit Court of appeals will hear Hawaii v. Trump, and on 12/8/2017, and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear IRAP v. Trump

4.0 10/24/17 Refugees from Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan,

Syria, Yemen and any stateless individuals

Halted program for targeted populations and extreme vetting measures for all other refugees Indefinite Challenge filed district court in Seattle (JFS v. Trump) on 11/13/17 Still in effect, preliminary injunction hearing set for 12/21/2017

[1]  Waivers may be granted under circumstances set in each Executive Order or Proclamation.

[2]  As of December 1, 2017, close familial relationship in the U.S or a formal documented relationship with a U.S entity. Familial relationship includes parents (including in-laws and step- parents), spouses, fiancées, children (including step children), siblings (including step and half-siblings), grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins. Formal documented relationship between students and universities; workers and companies; and lecturer invited to speak; among other examples are required.

[3] The Hawaii district court in Hawaii v. Trump initially blocked the Ban for all individuals, BUT on 11/13/17 the Ninth Circuit limited this ruling to only protect those individuals with a bona fide relationship to the U.S.

SAALT thanks our partners at National Immigration Law Center (NILC), Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC) for this infographic.