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.
Yesterday, white supremacy was on full display at the US Capitol and at government buildings across the nation. These attacks represent a blatant and illegal attempt to deter democracy and promote white supremacist beliefs — which harm everyone. All of us have a duty to respond, not only with condemnation, but with sustained action against the instigators and their supporters.
Though Congress has certified the results of the presidential election, they must do more. They must call for the removal of President Trump and begin impeachment proceedings immediately. Republican leadership must ensure there is a peaceful transition of power on and past Inauguration Day, and all members of Congress who incited, encouraged, or participated in this attack must be expelled for breaking their Oaths of Office. Those responsible for yesterday’s attacks must be held equally accountable under the law.
We must also be careful about how to characterize yesterday’s events. SAALT’s work on national security and immigration issues since 9/11 has made it clear that labeling acts of extremist violence as terrorism is dangerous and paves the way for the targeting of Black and Brown communities, as seen through the War on Terror framework. We can and must stand vigilant against yesterday’s attacks without resorting to such characterizations by demanding that what happened yesterday is characterized as white supremacist violence. SAALT stands with our Black allies, who are rightfully pointing out the double standards in how the white supremacists behind yesterday’s events are being treated, as compared to the peaceful protesters during last summer’s uprisings.
“For our own communities, who were retraumatized by yesterday’s events, we are with you. The past four years have been a relentless surge of policies and attacks against the bodies and rights of so many communities, ours included. SAALT will continue to press for the reversal of these xenophobic and racist policies from the Trump era and push for bold solutions that will improve the lives of everyone.”Simran Noor, SAALT Board Chair
As South Asians, we also have work to do within our communities. There are reports of Indian Americans being present at and encouraging yesterday’s attempted coup. Given what we witnessed from the 2020 Howdy Modi event in Texas featuring Trump and Modi, this is no surprise. We have work to do within our own communities to raise awareness about the links between Hindu nationalism and white supremacy, and the dangers of allying with the elements who orchestrated yesterday’s events. Simply put: We cannot condemn one fascist and excuse another. SAALT calls on its entire community to hold these truths and stand united against nationalism, fascism, and imperialism on all its fronts.
SAALT will continue to share news and coverage of the violence, as well as help connect those affected by the chaos with local resources. Please reach out to email@example.com with any questions or requests.
November 17, 2020: Yesterday, the FBI released its 2019 Hate Crime Statistics Report, showing the deadliest year on record and the highest number of hate crime murders since 1991. A total of 7,314 hate crime incidents were reported by law enforcement agencies. The FBI data illustrates a slight decrease from last year’s report, and yet we know that communities of color, LGBTQ folks, and people with disabilities continue to be targets of hate violence by white supremacist individuals and institutions.
Major findings of the report:
- The FBI report cites the Sikh community saw a slight decrease in the number of reported anti-Sikh incidents in 2019, after a record 200 percent increase in 2018. And while crimes motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment decreased, with 176 reported, overall hate crime incidents targeting Muslims and those perceived as Muslims has been up since 2015. As of November 1, 2020, SAALT and our partners have tracked 348 incidents of xenophobic or Islamophobic rhetoric, and 733 incidents of hate violence targeting Muslims and Asian Americans, and those perceived as Muslim or Asian American, since November 2015.
- Racially motivated hate crime incidents made up the majority of hate crimes reported in 2019, with nearly half of the incidents motivated by anti-Black racism. The number of anti-Black hate crimes was the highest it’s been since 2011.
- There were 51 hate crime murders in 2019. 22 of those were the racially motivated murders in the single El Paso shooting last August. There was a nine percent increase in reported hate crime incidents against Latinos, and yet the deadly El Paso shooting was categorized under “anti-other race/ethnicity/ancestry” despite well documented anti-Mexican sentiment. As reported in SAALT’s COVID report, the “other” categorization often obscures the true impact on communities.
- Of the known offenders, over 50% identified as white.
The numbers depict a far from accurate picture of the real prevalence of hate violence incidents in the U.S. The federal government has yet to mandate hate crime reporting at the state and local levels. During an extraordinary year of uprisings and state violence against Black and brown communities, it is imperative for Congress to pass the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act, (H.R. 3545; S. 2043), which helps close vast gaps in hate crime statistics and improve data collection on hate crimes by local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. The bill also includes a restorative justice component which provides an “alternative sentencing” provision that would allow specific defendants supervised release to undertake educational classes or community service directly related to the harmed community.
Hate violence targeting South Asian, Arabs, and Muslims is fueled by state sanctioned white supremacy. Policies and practices like the Muslim Ban, family separation, and ongoing police violence endanger our communities because they embolden white supremacists. From the constant vandalizing of mosques, harrassment of Muslim women, to the targeting of South Asians in their own neighborhoods, we have seen the very real and constant impact of this violence. SAAT is committed to advocating for policy and community based solutions that address hate violence from its root cause — by fighting all the manifestations of state sanctioned hate.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Yesterday marked the introduction of the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, by Representative Sanchez (D‑CA-38) and Senator Menendez (D‑NJ). The ...
On Tuesday, January 26, the Department of Homeland Security withdrew its proposal to rescind H‑4 work authorizations (EADs). This means ...
Yesterday marked the introduction of the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, by Representative Sanchez (D‑CA-38) and Senator Menendez (D‑NJ). The ...
Since January 27th, 2017, countless families have been separated, detained, and refused fair treatment under the Muslim Ban – but ...