Today, SAALT grieves the loss of life in the latest mass shooting in Indianapolis, Indiana: On Thursday, April 15th, 2021, the Indiana community lost Matthew R. Alexander (32), Samaria Blackwell (19), Amarjeet Johal (66), Jasvinder Kaur (50), Jaswinder Kaur Singh (70), Amarjit Sekhon (49), Karli Smith (19), and John Weisert (74). Our hearts are heavy and mourn with the victims’ families and community members, who are undoubtedly reeling from the trauma of losing their loved ones. Of particular note, four of the eight victims were our Sikh siblings and fellow community members.
Just after 11:00 PM EDT on April 15th, a now-identified gunman entered an Indianapolis Fedex facility where he was previously employed, and opened fire, taking the lives of those mentioned above and injuring several others, before taking his own life. Since the investigation into the incident and the gunman’s motive is ongoing, and we are awaiting more detailed facts, we must prioritize those currently in recovery. Of utmost importance are those left behind tending to both their physical wounds and the deep trauma of having to return to a workplace and community where fellow community members were so tragically taken.
Such an act of mass violence sends reverberations across Sikh and South Asian communities, evoking past pain and grief rooted in decades of similar violent acts. Though the motive is still unclear, understandably this type of event triggers fear and uncertainty — much like what the community faced after 9/11 and in the aftermath of the killing of six Sikhs at a gurdwara in Oak Creek in 2012. SAALT stands in solidarity with our Sikh community, in Indianapolis and across the country, as we move towards healing.
We are struck by the trend of violence against immigrant workers, who have not only taken on essential work during a global pandemic, but have also been particularly vulnerable to its health and economic consequences as a result of their work. SAALT stands in solidarity with immigrant and essential workers, and honors the care they have poured into our community despite widespread bigotry.
We are also disheartened by the loss of both elders, who were pillars of strength and resilience, and of young people, who were beacons of hope and life. As SAALT stands in solidarity with our elders and young folks, we are reminded of the practice of chardi kala: a Sikh spiritual practice that reminds us to center compassion, optimism, and courage, even in times of adversity and grief. For decades, the Sikh community has shown that resilience is possible even as they continually face tragedy, and our solidarity honors, centers, and uplifts that always; this is the thread we hope our community can center as we continue to process our grief. If you are looking to support Sikh siblings at this time of strife, please consider directing your resources to the following organizations:
- Sikh Coalition
- Sikh American Legal Defense & Education Fund (SALDEF)
- Jakara Movement
- Kaur Life
On the night of Tuesday, 16 March, a 21-year-old white man attacked three spas in the metro Atlanta area, shooting and killing eight people. Six of the eight victims were Korean American women. This attack is the worst possible outcome of the rise in coronavirus-driven anti-Asian hatred – another mass shooting rooted in white supremacy and goaded by politicians’ xenophobic rhetoric.
The incident is a horrific peak in the bigotry we’ve all witnessed over the past year: once again, marginalized working-class immigrants are targeted at a time of global crisis; once again, we witness our nation’s inability to recognize the dominance of gendered white supremacist violence and racism in all of its structures; once again, our healing is disrupted.
Still, local police are not categorizing this mass shooting as a hate crime, nor recognizing the significant role of both race and gender in the shaping of this tragedy. But we must be clear: seven of the eight victims were women; six of the eight victims were Asian American. It is clear the shooter (who has cited “sexual deviance” as his motivation for murder) also had some bias in his targeting, whether explicit or implicit. This, in turn, demands that we – as Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, as Americans of color, as Americans generally – question how embedded anti-Asian rhetoric is in American culture and how American culture benefits from patriarchal white supremacy and erasure. And more specifically, these intersections point to the clear history of dangerous sexualization of Asian women in the U.S. Last night’s shooting can only be understood and approached as an act of race‑, class‑, and gender-based sexual violence.
Considering these complexities, it is our responsibility as members and allies of the broader APIA community to push for an intersectional analysis that understands the racism facing Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, as well as the violent and sexualized misogyny aimed at our East Asian and Southeast Asian sisters. Our role in this moment is to both remember the pain of our past community experiences with mass violence, and honor and move towards the point of healing and reparation.
Below are some allies who have ties to the victims, their families, and their communities; please follow them to stay updated on calls to action and news.
- Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ) — Atlanta
- Red Canary Song
- Survived & Punished
- National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF)
SAALT mourns the loss of our Korean American siblings’ lives, and in their honor, reaffirms our responsibility to protecting others from similar harm.
Yesterday marked the introduction of the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, by Representative Sanchez (D‑CA-38) and Senator Menendez (D‑NJ). The bill is a historic piece of legislation that proposes a pathway to citizenship for 11 million immigrants, including more than 650,000 undocumented South Asians.
Among other things, this bill addresses issues that are fundamental to the wellbeing of South Asian communities, including language that:
- Creates an earned roadmap to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants, providing Dreamers, TPS holders, and some farmworkers with an expedited three-year path to citizenship, and giving all other undocumented immigrants an eight-year path.
- Reforms the family-based immigration system to keep families together by recapturing visas from previous years to clear backlogs, including spouses and children of green card holders as immediate family members, and increasing per-country caps for family-based immigration. It also eliminates discrimination against LGBTQ+ families, provide protections for orphans, widows and children, and allows immigrants with approved family-sponsorship petitions to join family in the U.S. on a temporary basis while they wait for green cards.
- Updates the employment-based immigration system, eliminating per-country caps, improving access to green cards for workers in lower-wage industries, giving dependents of H‑1B holders work authorization, and preventing children of H‑1B holders from aging out of the system. The bill also creates a pilot program to stimulate regional economic development, and incentivizes higher wages for non-immigrant, high-skilled visas to prevent unfair competition with American workers.
- Supports asylum seekers and other vulnerable populations by eliminating the one-year deadline for filing asylum claims, reducing asylum application backlogs, increasing protections for U visa, T visa, and VAWA applicants, including by raising the cap on U visas from 10,000 to 30,000.
We look forward to the possibilities this legislation presents. However, we also urge Congress to address some of its harmful provisions that exclude immigrants who have been harmed by the racist criminal legal system, and hinder immigrants from accessing health care and other vital services on their path to citizenship.
President Biden and his administration must not only follow through with the above commitments but also transform the immigration system to explicitly account for climate change, religious persecution, and growing right-wing fascism in South Asia.
Amid mass deportations of Black immigrants, the COVID-19 pandemic, and ongoing interior enforcement threats, SAALT will continue to advocate to strengthen the bill and ensure that all immigrants and their families have access to a humane immigration system. A thoughtful immigration policy lifts us all.
On Tuesday, January 26, the Department of Homeland Security withdrew its proposal to rescind H‑4 work authorizations (EADs). This means that more than 100,000 H‑4 EAD recipients, the majority of whom are women of color, keep their ability to work. This move to preserve the program signals the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to supporting immigrant women workers who play an essential role as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite this hopeful news, SAALT continues to hear from community members who have been adversely impacted by significant delays in the processing of H‑4 work authorization documents. These people must be protected, and the Biden administration must unilaterally extend the validity period of all expired H‑4 EADs and resolve USCIS processing delays.
Hopefully, we will see these extensions come with the introduction of the Citizenship Act of 2021 in the coming weeks. It seeks to formalize work authorization for H‑4 EAD visa recipients, create an accessible and equitable pathway to citizenship (especially for undocumented essential workers), and commit to a structural transformation of our broken immigration system that addresses and resolves backlogs. President Biden and Congress must work together to pass clean immigration and essential worker bills.
Learn more about the current status of the H‑4 EAD rule, and take action:
- Watch this video testimonial from community member and ally, Neha.
- Read Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman’s letter urging the immediate extension of H‑4 EAD expiration dates.
- Share your own experiences with H‑4 EAD processes by posting on social media with the hashtag #ProtectH4EAD.
This is a long overdue moment of hope for immigration policy; let’s make it count and #ProtectH4EAD.
Since January 27th, 2017, countless families have been separated, detained, and refused fair treatment under the Muslim Ban – but as of yesterday, hope and justice feel nearer, as President Biden has signed an executive order to end the Ban, repealing an explicitly racist immigration policy and standing with Arab, Black, and Muslim Americans.
SAALT spent the last four years as a part of the No Muslim Ban Ever campaign, mobilizing community members and elected officials to stand against the Ban, and stand up for our community. Yesterday’s victory is the fruit of our collective resistance to white supremacy, and our continued defense of (im)migrant rights.
With the rescission of the anti-Black, xenophobic, and Islamophobic policy, SAALT and our allies now have a clearer path to fight for the protection of all migrants and immigrants, regardless of their background. Still, of course, the Muslim Ban is just one cog in a highly flawed immigration system, which must be transformed in its entirety; the enactment of the Muslim Ban only highlighted the entrenchment of Islamophobia and xenophobia in American culture. Therefore, it is critical that the 118th Congress pass and enact the No Ban Act to limit executive authority from issuing future discriminatory bans based on religion and national origin.
It’s equally crucial for our community to recognize that President Biden’s rescission of the Ban only marks the beginning of an arduous healing process – a challenge which we must come together to address. This is why SAALT is prioritizing and practicing restorative justice strategies in our continued fight against institutionalized Islamophobia and xenophobia. Our collective ability to hold space for healing will determine the sustainability of our movement, and we ask our community to recognize the harms that these discriminatory policies have on the mental and physical well-being of impacted community members for generations to come.
As hope and justice draw nearer, we call on President Biden and his administration to continue showing support for Black, Indigenous and all other communities of color, and continue to condemn and act against white supremacy and hatred.
Please reach out to email@example.com with any questions or requests.
|Election win opens up greater potential for pushing policies that matter to South Asian communities|
|November 9, 2020: SAALT congratulates President-elect Joe Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris on their historic win and we look forward to the opportunity to push for progressive and inclusive policies for South Asian Americans across the U.S with the new Administration. Despite attempts by the Trump Administration to thwart the democratic process, the hard work of organizers, poll workers, and volunteers ensured greater accountability around voter suppression than ever before. Ultimately, this led to a clear and decisive victory for the Biden campaign. |
Lakshmi Sridaran, Executive Director of SAALT, said: “This election opens up greater potential for pushing the policies that matter to our communities. We will rely on the same vigilance that propelled historic voter turnout and accurate vote counts to hold this Administration accountable to our communities. This means a complete overhaul of our immigration system that ensures a pathway to citizenship for all, COVID-19 relief packages that include immigrants of all status, increased language access resources, an end to detention and the militarization of U.S. borders, and the transformation of policing as we know it. We will celebrate and heal, but we also know the work of undoing the immense harm of the last four years and affirmatively laying the groundwork for meaningful systems change requires intention and political will. In order for this Administration to truly acknowledge the Black and brown communities whose years of organizing delivered this weekend’s victory, beyond representation, we expect them to exercise that political will to the full extent on behalf of our communities.“
The historic voter turnout and inspring shifts of traditionally conservative states were a direct result of years of organizing by Black and brown communities who felt the brunt of the Trump Administration’s xenophobic and racist polices and dangerous rhetoric. In particular, a growing and increasingly engaged South Asian population played a critical role in Georgia. The South Asian population in the South tripled from 2000 to 2014, and of the top ten metropolitan areas in the U.S. that experienced the largest South Asian population growth, five were in the South. Groups like Georgia Muslim Voter Project, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta, and Project South, working to implement Stacey Abrams’ strategy of appealing to disenfranchised voters of color instead of relying on the Democratic Party’s usual outsized focus on moderate white voters, harnessed the political organizing power of communities of color across the state. This critical shift in priorities should inform the Biden-Harris Administration.
However, given the narrow margin of victory in this election that took days to determine, it is clear that there remains definitive support for racist and xenophobic policies and that white supremacy is a dangerous force that will remain a threat to our communities. This is paired with the violent Islamophobia and Hindu nationalism aimed at many South Asian populations. Dismantling these interlinked systems of institutionalized violence is an important part of the work we now have an opportunity to directly address with the new administration, especially given Vice President Harris’ identity. At SAALT, we look forward to continuing to build community power, strengthening coalitions across communities of color, and advocating for just and equitable federal policies alongside the new Administration.
Today, SAALT grieves the loss of life in the latest mass shooting in Indianapolis, Indiana: On Thursday, April 15th, 2021, ...
On the night of Tuesday, 16 March, a 21-year-old white man attacked three spas in the metro Atlanta area, shooting ...
On the night of Tuesday, 16 March, a 21-year-old white man attacked three spas in the metro Atlanta area, shooting ...
Yesterday marked the introduction of the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, by Representative Sanchez (D‑CA-38) and Senator Menendez (D‑NJ). The ...