SAALT’s Congressional Briefing on Hate Violence Sounds the Alarm for Justice


On September 12, 2017, one day after the 16th anniversary of the tragic attacks of September 11, South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national civil rights and racial justice organization, held a Congressional briefing to address the rising tide of hate violence aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Arab, and Middle Eastern Americans under the current administration. SAALT was joined by five members of Congressional leadership and national partner organizations to denounce this administration’s anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant policies that embolden hate against our communities.

“Post-9/11 has transformed into present-Trump, with hate violence reaching levels that rival the aftermath of the September 11 attacks,” stated Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT. “The White House has a sworn responsibility to condemn and prevent all forms of hate. Today’s briefing with Congressional leaders is an important step in making sure this administration does not renounce its responsibilities to our communities and nation.”

The current administration has been fundamental to the growth and audacity of white supremacist and Islamophobic movements in the United States. The White House has unleashed numerous divisive policies that have awoken and emboldened hate against our communities, including several permutations of the “Muslim Ban,” rescinding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and supporting the RAISE Act, among others.

Since the election, SAALT has documented over 150 incidents of hate violence against those who identify or are perceived as Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, South Asian, Middle Eastern, or Arab American, already surpassing totals from the year leading up to the 2016 election. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, anti-Muslim hate groups grew by 197% in 2016, and, according to the FBI, anti-Muslim hate crimes increased by 67% in 2015.

“SAALT, along with our national partners, will continue to demand and strive for a just and inclusive society for all Americans,” stated Ms. Raghunathan. “We stand ready to work with Congressional leaders to mount a decisive opposition to bigotry and division of all kinds and to reinforce our communities’ important place in the fabric of our nation.”


Co-Chairs, Sponsors, Speakers, Partners, and Quotes:

Honorary Co-Chairs of the briefing include: 
Senator Richard Blumenthal (CT);
Senator Ben Cardin (MD);
Senator Tammy Duckworth (IL)

Member Co-Sponsors of the briefing include: 
Representative Judy Chu (CA-27);
Representative Maxine Waters (CA-43);
Representative Barbara Lee (CA-13);
Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-7);
Representative Ro Khanna (CA-17)

Members of Congress who joined the briefing include:
Representative Judy Chu (CA-27);
Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-7);
Representative Ro Khanna (CA-17)

Partner organizations include:
South Asian Network;
Desis Rising Up and Moving;
Sikh Coalition;
DACA Network

Representative Judy Chu (CA-27), Chair, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus:
“Thank you to South Asian Americans Leading Together for organizing today’s briefing and being such a strong leader in the fight to defeat hate. Since the 2016 Presidential election we have witnessed heightened xenophobic and anti-Muslim rhetoric and violence targeting communities of color across the nation. This hate, rhetoric, and the violence is particularly alarming because it is reminiscent of what we saw in the aftermath of September 11 attacks, when Muslims, South Asians, Sikhs and others became the targets of hate. In 2017 we’ve seen racial tensions come to a head, which has been largely fueled by white supremacists. The Trump administration’s dangerous political rhetoric has explicitly targeted South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Arab, and Middle Eastern communities, such as the President’s ill-conceived and un-American Muslim travel ban. But the xenophobic sentiment is also being driven by xenophobic policies such as President Trump’s decision to terminate the DACA program, and its desire to upend our family based immigration system. Our nation’s values affirm that all people deserve to be welcomed and to feel safe no matter what they look like or who they worship. Hate has no place in America, and we have to continue to remain vigilant in protecting the rights of all Americans against this rising tide of hate violence.”

Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-7):
“The hate violence we are facing in 2017 is not new. But what we are facing, what it feels like, is a sanctioned hate that comes from places like the White House. We ask that the President cease his incendiary rhetoric that helps to fuel many of these hate crimes. It is crystal clear that we still have a tremendous amount of work to do, and that work must come from leaders in Congress and from our communities insisting that we are not a country that continues this anti-immigrant xenophobic rhetoric. You can tie a direct thread between everything that has been happening and the leadership that comes from the White House. It isn’t enough just to be speak out, there needs to be accountability that actually takes direct action to ensure that the President understands that he is the President of all of the United States of America. Let’s see every defeat as an opportunity to grow our movement, and let’s see every win as a victory in our step to push for that more perfect union.”

Representative Ro Khanna (CA-17):
“It’s time that we, together as a nation, speak openly and respectfully about how to end any hate and violence directed towards Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities. I will always stand up against racism and violence. To those who have faced prejudice know that you are not alone and we are with you.”

Contact:  Vivek Trivedi –