SAALT Denounces Trump Administration attack on Immigrant Children

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

August 22, 2019

Washington, D.C.: On Wednesday, the Trump Administration announced a new rule that would give the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)  the power to hold immigrant families – including children – indefinitely. The new rule directly undermines the Flores Agreement, which for decades has provided some protections for children including minimum safety and custody standards and a requirement that they be released within 20 days.

The Trump Administration’s new rule would allow DHS to detain children indefinitely without oversight or basic standards of care.   At least seven children alone have died under DHS custody since last year.

The continued and relentless attacks on immigrant families – on immigrant children – are incomprehensible at this point.

Our representatives have repeatedly said they care about our communities while simultaneously funding aggressive immigration enforcement and deadly immigration jails.  Stopping the flow of money is critical to stopping Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda. There is no other humane option but to demand our elected officials #ClosetheCamps and #DefundHate immediately and without delay.

Contact:  sophia@saalt.org

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House Passes Historic Dream and Promise Act

We’re taking a moment today to pause and celebrate what just happened.

After years of immigrant justice organizing by a broad coalition of community members, allies and partners, elected officials have listened.

The House voted last night to pass the Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6), which offers permanent protections and a pathway to citizenship for over two million people. The bill passed the House yesterday with no additional anti-immigrant amendments.

H.R. 6 will have a direct impact on the lives of people who came to the U.S. as children – Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. It will make a difference in the lives of people who came to the U.S. because their countries were ravaged by war, disaster, or U.S. intervention – those with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED).

In our communities alone, there are over 15,000 Nepalis with TPS and 4,500 South Asians with DACA status.

H.R. 6  will give them the ability to plan a future for themselves.

The road ahead isn’t easy. We are disturbed that this victory in the House included long debates across both parties on the use of deeply flawed gang databases and unjust criminal convictions to deny protections to some immigrants. Ultimately, the tireless political education of Members on the part of advocates ensured that the bill passed the House with no harmful additions. But, our work ahead will be to stop Congress from funding this administration’s deportation machine.

Before H.R. 6 becomes law, the Senate must vote to pass H.R. 6 and President Trump must sign it into law. We commit to ramping up the pressure on our elected officials.  

Lakshmi Sridaran, Interim Co-Executive Director of SAALT said, “ The Dream and Promise Act passed the House without additional anti-immigrant concessions.  This is the first step in bringing an end to this administration’s racist and xenophobic policies and laying a foundation for immigrant justice in federal policy. When we refuse to compromise our values, we keep the bar higher and set the standard for change. This must be the new path forward for additional legislation and measures to defund deportation and restore protections for all immigrant and communities of color.”

Contact: sophia@saalt.org

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ACTION ALERT: URGE CONGRESS TO PASS THE DREAM AND PROMISE ACT WITH NO HARMFUL ANTI-IMMIGRANT AMENDMENTS

June 3, 2019

Last month’s passage of the Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6) by the House Judiciary Committee is a historic milestone in the fight for immigrant rights. It is scheduled for a full floor vote in the House of Representatives tomorrow, June 4th.

The Dream and Promise Act offers a pathway to citizenship for thousands of our community members who are Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders.

As this historic legislation goes to the House, we need YOU to urge lawmakers to both support this legislation, which would provide permanent protections and a pathway to citizenship for over two million immigrants, and reject any anti-immigrant amendments or changes to the bill.

Please take a moment to call your Member of Congress and urge them to pass the Dream and Promise Act with NO harmful anti-immigrant amendments.

There are over 15,000 Nepalis with TPS whose protection from deportation will expire on June 24, 2019. NCSO member organization, Adhikaar has been leading the fight to ensure that the thousands of Nepalis on TPS would be able to remain here in the U.S. with their families, rather than being deported at the end of this month.

Over 4,500 South Asians in the U.S. are active DACA recipients (2,550 Indian recipients, 1,300 Pakistani recipients, 470 Bangladeshi recipients, and 120 Sri Lankan recipients). The Dream and Promise Act would give them a permanent path to citizenship and access to in-state tuition and federal financial aid.

It is critical that lawmakers vote against any anti-immigrant changes to the bill, regardless of their substance, including any additional funding for ICE and CBP as well as any further discretionary power to USCIS or DHS that would increase deportations and detention. Any anti-immigrant amendments will serve only to delay the passage of this vital legislation.

Lakshmi Sridaran, Interim Co-Executive Director of SAALT said, “The Dream and Promise Act will give over two million immigrants a fundamental right – the right to build a life and plan for a future in this country. We urge all Members of Congress to act boldly and pass this legislation with no anti-immigrant amendments. It’s time for Congress to chip away at this administration’s racist policies and voting for H.R. 6 without delay is a step in the right direction. It is our hope that this legislation will the be the first of many and lay a strong foundation for immigrant justice. ”

South Asians by the Numbers: Population in the U.S. has grown by 40% since 2010

May 15, 2019

SAALT released its latest South Asian demographic snapshot today, revealing a community in the U.S. that’s growing almost as fast as it is changing.

By 2065, Asian Americans are on track to be the largest immigrant population in the U.S. The South Asian population in the U.S. grew a staggering 40% in seven years, from 3.5 million in 2010 to 5.4 million in 2017.

Key demographic facts:

  • The Nepali community grew by 206.6% since 2010, followed by Indian (38%), Bhutanese (38%), Pakistani (33%), Bangladeshi (26%), and Sri Lankan populations (15%).
  • There are at least 630,000 Indians who are undocumented, a 72% increase since 2010.
  • There are currently at least 4,300 active South Asian DACA recipients.
  • Income inequality has been reported to be the greatest among Asian Americans. Nearly 10% of the approximately five million South Asians in the U.S. live in poverty.
  • There has been a rise in the number of South Asians seeking asylum in the U.S. over the last 10 years. ICE has detained 3,013 South Asians since 2017. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol arrested 17,119 South Asians between October 2014 and April 2018 through border and interior enforcement.

The South Asian community in the United States includes individuals who trace their ancestry to Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The community also includes members of the South Asian diaspora – past generations of South Asians who originally settled in other parts of the world, including the Caribbean, Africa, Europe, Canada and the Middle East, and other parts of Asia and the Pacific Islands. South Asian Americans include citizens, legal permanent residents, students, H-1B and H-4 visa holders, DACA recipients, and undocumented immigrants.

SAALT’s Interim Co-Executive Director Lakshmi Sridaran said, “As we witness this unprecedented growth in our communities, it is more important than ever that the needs of the most vulnerable South Asian populations are met. South Asians are impacted by the full spectrum of federal immigration policies – from detention and deportation to H-4 visa work authorization and denaturalization to the assault on public benefits. An accurate Census 2020 population count is essential to distributing critical federal funding to our communities. A citizenship question on the census would chill thousands of community members, resulting in a severe undercount, with at least 600,000 South Asians in the country not being counted and thousands more deterred. And, this means even fewer resources to the communities who need it the most.”

SAALT’s demographic snapshot is based primarily on Census 2010 and the 2017 American Community Survey. We encourage community leaders, government entities, policymakers, and journalists  to use this data to better understand South Asian Americans and help inform their engagement with this community.

Contact: Sophia@saalt.org

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Immigration Advocates Warn of Physical and Mental Harm to Hunger Strikers in El Paso Detention Facility

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

March 15, 2019

EL PASO, TX — Immigration advocates and medical experts are deeply concerned over the ongoing hunger strike at the El Paso Service Processing Center and the dire situation facing people held in indefinite detention, especially as their health deteriorates.

The “El Paso 9” have been subjected to brutal force-feedings, mistreatment and retaliatory actions by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and private contractors following their hunger strike, which began in late December 2018. At least two of the “El Paso 9” have entered the 11th week of their hunger strike.  

Of the group of men who were on hunger strike or supporting the hunger strike, two have been deported, three have been transferred to the Otero County Processing Center in New Mexico, and four remain detained at the El Paso Processing Center, two of whom are still on hunger strike and are in medical isolation.

Nathan Craig, a volunteer with Advocate Visitors in Detention, who recently visited one of the hunger strikers in El Paso, said, “At this point, having not eaten since December, he can barely walk and hold up his head. In his frail state, thinking and talking are slow and laborious. He must be afforded the opportunity to recuperate outside of detention so that he can prepare for his merits hearing and cross-examination.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), which has long argued that force-feeding against an individual’s wishes is unethical and inhumane, says precautions must be taken to ensure those on hunger strike receive adequate medical attention and accommodations. PHR also recommends that Congress fund alternatives to detention programming that represent a long-term solution to prevent human rights violations documented in immigration detention. Below is an official statement by Physicians for Human Rights:

Hunger striking is a nonviolent form of protest undertaken when other means of expressing grievances are unavailable, and hunger strikers must be protected from any and all reprisals. Physicians for Human Rights calls for all precautions to be taken to ensure that hunger strikers receive needed medical attention, and that accommodations be made to ensure appropriate transport so that they are not injured. Not eating may result in lightheadedness, so wheelchairs should be provided as needed.

“Extensive medical research shows that immigration detention is harmful and strongly correlated with negative mental health outcomes, while prolonged or indefinite detention violates the right to be free from torture and other cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment.

“The U.S. immigration detention system has repeatedly demonstrated a dangerous lack of accountability and transparency, and the recent hunger strikes are just one more example illustrating this dire situation. As a long-term solution, PHR strongly recommends the use of alternatives to detention that are humane and cost-effective and that have been proven to ensure compliance with immigration enforcement.

In a separate comment, Altaf Saadi, MD, a neurologist at UCLA and a member of Physicians for Human Rights’ Asylum Network, said,

Prolonged detention causes significant medical harm to individuals due to both denial and delays in medical care, inadequate staffing, punitive approaches to mental health needs like the misuse of isolation, and harmful conditions of confinement more broadly like poor and overcrowded living conditions. The human toll of detention is compounded for those already vulnerable and suffering from trauma based on persecution they have endured in their home countries. We don’t want more patients joining the list of those whose deaths have been linked to substandard care in detention, nor do we want to see the lasting impacts of detention-related psychological harm.”

ICE has threatened the hunger-striking men with deportation despite the deterioration of their health.

Immigration and civil rights groups are demanding the immediate release of the men and for them to be able to address their asylum cases outside of detention, as they should have been able to do from the beginning.

Lakshmi Sridaran, Director of National Policy and Advocacy for South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) said, “These asylum seekers, like so many before them, resorted to a hunger strike to draw attention to the litany of abuses they face at the hands of ICE on top of the indefinite delays in adjudicating their asylum cases.  We demand the immediate release of all of the detained individuals so they can be cared for by their community. And, we demand an immediate investigation into the civil rights violations, retaliation, and medical negligence at the El Paso Processing Center, a facility that SAALT and our partners have been monitoring and lodging complaints about over the last five years. We know the treatment of detained individuals in El Paso is a microcosm of conditions across detention facilities in this country.”

Media contact: Sophia Qureshi, sophia@saalt.org, 202-997-4211

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Freedom for Immigrants 

Advocate Visitors with Immigrants in Detention (AVID), in the Chihuahuan Desert

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)

Defending Rights & Dissent

National Immigration Project of the NLG

Detained Migrant Solidarity Committee

Ruby Kaur –Kaur Law Pllc

La Resistencia

 

NAKASEC, SAALT, and SEARAC Welcome Introduction of American Dream and Promise Act

Washington, D.C.: Asian American organizations welcome the introduction of the American Dream and Promise Act. The bill, introduced by Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA 40), Nydia Velazquez (D-NY 7), and Yvette Clarke (D-NY 9), provides a majority of undocumented immigrants eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and individuals with status under the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) programs a pathway to citizenship.

There are more than 11.5 million undocumented immigrants, 1.7 million of whom are Asian American. The top five countries of origin for Asian American undocumented individuals are India, China, South Korea, the Philippines, and Vietnam. The legislation would protect over 2 million individuals from detention and deportation by creating a permanent pathway to citizenship for these populations. Furthermore, approximately 120,000 Asian American DREAMERs and 15,000 Nepali Americans who currently live in the United States through the TPS program would benefit from the process created in this bill.

Quyen Dinh, Executive Director of SEARAC, states:

We applaud the leadership of Reps. Roybal-Allard, Velazquez, and Clarke for introducing this bill. It is an important step for immigrant communities and, if passed, would provide more than 9,000 Vietnamese Americans with a permanent pathway to citizenship. Our communities are hopeful that this act will create a strong foundation and pave the way for additional legislation that liberates all members of our communities from the fear heightened detentions and deportations inflict. And as Congress moves this bill forward, we must ensure that we do not divide immigrant communities into those deserving and undeserving of protections by utilizing only model immigrant narratives. SEARAC will continue to work with members of Congress to pass the American Dream and Promise Act and fix our fundamentally broken immigration system to create humane immigration processes that protect Southeast Asian American families from the trauma of detention and deportation and reunite our families in the United States.”

Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT, states:

We welcome the introduction of the American Dream and Promise Act, sets out to provide a long awaited pathway to citizenship for over two million individuals, including those with DACA, TPS, and DED. The South Asian community in the United States alone has over 23,000 Dreamers and 15,000 Nepali Americans with TPS who will directly benefit from this legislation. While Congress embarks on this important step, we will continue to follow the leadership of DACA, TPS, and DED holders, who advocate for policies that would uplift all – rather than legislation that would benefit one immigrant community at the expense of another. We must not allow any compromises that would undermine this hard work and deliver this bill’s protections for the price of increased enforcement and other harmful and unnecessary additions. We look forward to building on this legislation to improve our entirely broken immigration system to ensure that all immigrant families are protected from detention, deportation, and denaturalization.

Birdie Park, DACA Recipient with NAKASEC, states:

We are excited about forward motion in Congress for immigrant youth, TPS holders, and those with DED. We call upon our members of Congress to be courageous and not negotiate anything harmful for our communities onto this bill.”

 

Between Deals and Decisions, SAALT Reaffirms the Need for Real, Clean Solutions on Immigration

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 22, 2019

The Supreme Court’s decision today to omit hearing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) case is welcome news, as it keeps the program alive and allows current DACA recipients to continue submitting renewal applications. While this is encouraging, the work ahead remains clear – we need a clean DREAM Act and permanent legislative solutions that do not include harmful provisions, as proposed by the Trump Administration last weekend.

The Administration’s immigration “deal” from this weekend is no deal at all – it’s a sham. The Administration is claiming to reinstate two programs – DACA and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) – that the Administration itself made a decision to eviscerate last year. These so-called protections to TPS and DACA holders are half baked at best and do little to actually protect communities. The “deal” legislation that the Senate will likely introduce this week excludes entire communities. Anyone with TPS status from Nepal, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Sudan, South Sudan, Yemen, Somalia and Syria would not be protected.  The bill only covers a fraction of all DREAMers and does not provide permanent protection from deportation. Most alarmingly, it includes a $5.7 billion dollar border wall and more bloated increases to detention beds and border patrol agents.

“This ‘deal’ offers no concessions, no solutions, and will further undermine the rule of law. It will intensify militarization on the border and expand detention, while continuing to hurt refugees and asylum seekers, DACA recipients, and TPS holders. There are at least 450,000 undocumented people from India alone, at least 25,000 Indian and Pakistani DACA recipients, and nearly 15,000 thousand Nepalis with TPS status who will be directly impacted by this legislation,” said Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT).

South Asians, along with all immigrant communities, deserve a real immigration overhaul that serves everyone. Once this sham bill is introduced, we will support our community members and partners to voice our opposition.

CONTACT: Sophia Qureshi sophia@saalt.org

SAALT WELCOMES CHANGE IN CONGRESSIONAL LEADERSHIP

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 7th, 2018

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) joins our nation in celebrating a sea change of leadership in the House of Representatives and welcomes the prospect of significant policy changes to reflect the needs and priorities of our communities.

South Asian Americans, alongside immigrant and communities of color across the country, made their voices heard last night. The message is clear – the future we want is one that preserves dignity and inclusion for all. Voters chose to reject incumbents and candidates running on anti-immigrant platforms in California, Texas, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Our work begins today to ensure every elected official commits to safeguarding the rights of all Americans, including the over five million South Asians living in the U.S. We insist on accountability and strong, principled leadership for our communities.

South Asian Americans reaffirmed their role as constituents in pivotal Congressional districts. In several of the top 20 Congressional districts with the highest South Asian populations we saw unprecedented shifts – from the flip in Virginia’s 10th district where Democrat Jennifer Wexton defeated incumbent Barbara Comstock; to the election of Democrat Haley Stevens in Michigan’s 11th district, which voted for candidate Trump by a narrow margin in 2016; to Georgia’s 6th district in metro Atlanta that’s so close it hasn’t yet been called.

It was also a night of firsts in notable places. In Michigan, a state with thriving and powerful Arab American communities, Rashida Tlaib became the first Palestinian American woman elected to Congress. She joins Ilhan Omar, the nation’s first Somali American elected to the House, from Minnesota. Together they are the nation’s first Muslim women elected to Congress. Finally, Sharice Davids became one of the nation’s first Native American Members of Congress, and will represent Kansas’ 3rd district, the site of Srinivas Kuchibhotla’s murder at the hands of a white supremacist.

Our Midterm Election Voter Guide emphasized the importance of candidate positions on Civil Rights, Immigration, Hate Violence, and Census 2020. We ask you now to join SAALT in this next phase of holding our newly elected officials accountable to advancing and sustaining immigrant and civil rights by unequivocally rejecting an unconstitutional proposal on birthright citizenship and instead passing a clean DREAM Act; taking up the charge of confronting white supremacist hate violence targeting all of our communities; and eliminating the possibility of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census.

We will continue working with you to bridge grassroots power and priorities into a policy agenda. We remain committed to keeping our communities’ priorities at the forefront of those who aspire to represent us.

 

 

On the Anniversary of the Senate Immigration Bill

A year is a long time to wait. The Senate passed an immigration bill a year ago today, but the House has yet to act to make vital changes to our broken immigration system. Meanwhile, South Asian and other immigrants are languishing in the family and employment visa backlogs, enduring detention and deportation, or living in the shadows of our society due to their undocumented status. Leadership in the House has changed, and it’s time for the House to lead. Tell the House that a year is too long to wait and that action is needed today on immigration.