Does the Stimulus Bill Impact South Asians?

Nina Baliga, National CAPACD

Nina Bali­ga, Nation­al CAPACD

Check out this blog post from Feb­ru­ary guest­blog­ger, Nina Bali­ga, Devel­op­ment and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Man­ag­er at Nation­al CAPACD. Nina tells us how she thinks the stim­u­lus bill may impact South Asians:

“Know­ing and under­stand­ing the diver­si­ty of our com­mu­ni­ties, it’s hard to say what the final impact of the Amer­i­can Recov­ery and Rein­vest­ment Act will have on South Asians across the coun­try.  Per­son­al­ly, I think there are enough stip­u­la­tions in the bill that pro­vide hope for our com­mu­ni­ties.

For exam­ple, $1 bil­lion will go towards the 2010 Cen­sus.   Why does this mat­ter?  Well, the cen­sus pro­vides the back­bone of infor­ma­tion that deter­mines how a lot of pub­lic mon­ey and even pri­vate sec­tor mon­ey is spent.  Part of this $1 bil­lion will be used to increase in-lan­guage part­ner­ships and out­reach efforts to minor­i­ty com­mu­ni­ties and oth­er “hard-to-reach” pop­u­la­tions.  If more South Asians are count­ed in the 2010 Cen­sus, then there will like­ly be more resources for our com­mu­ni­ties.

We do know that there are some pro­vi­sions that will help low-to-mod­er­ate income indi­vid­u­als, and this will def­i­nite­ly help many South Asian fam­i­lies.  For exam­ple, there is the Make Work Pay refund­able tax cred­it which could give $400 to sin­gle fil­ers and $800 to joint fil­ers in 2009 and 2010.  The bill has also expand­ed Pell grants to a max­i­mum of $5,350 in 2009 and $5,500 in 2010, hope­ful­ly increas­ing access to a col­lege edu­ca­tion to more young adults.  And for those of you who are look­ing to buy their first home, do it in 2009, because you’ll receive up to an $8000 tax cred­it from the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment.

The bill is large and mul­ti-faceted, includ­ing tax cuts for indi­vid­u­als and small busi­ness­es, fund­ing for edu­ca­tion and job train­ing, more mon­ey for trans­porta­tion and health cov­er­age, food assis­tance, fund­ing for states and local gov­ern­ments, and so much more. The final impact on our com­mu­ni­ties is yet to be seen.  We can tru­ly hope for the best dur­ing this eco­nom­ic cri­sis, and pray that this mas­sive injec­tion of cap­i­tal into the country’s econ­o­my will prove worth­while.”

So what do you think? How will this stim­u­lus bill impact the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty? What do you like about the bill and what do you wish it did/did not include?

Nina Bali­ga joined the Nation­al CAPACD staff as the Devel­op­ment and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Man­ag­er in 2007.  Nina devel­ops our com­mu­ni­ca­tions strate­gies, and over­sees our out­reach to mem­bers, fun­ders and oth­er stake­hold­ers. Pri­or to Nation­al CAPACD, Nina worked as a Research Ana­lyst for SEIU Local 11, orga­niz­ing con­do­mini­um work­ers in South Flori­da. In 2004, she worked as the Can­vas Direc­tor of the Mia­mi office of Amer­i­ca Com­ing Togeth­er, where she mobi­lized tens of thou­sands of vot­ers in the largest vot­er con­tact pro­gram in his­to­ry.  She began her polit­i­cal career head­ing up Flori­da PIRG’s Clean Water Cam­paigns.  Nina has served on the Board of Direc­tors of SAAVY (South Asian Amer­i­can Vot­ing Youth) as the Fundrais­ing Chair, and men­tored SAAVY fel­lows at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Flori­da as part of a larg­er South Asian Youth Vot­er mobi­liza­tion movement.Nina grad­u­at­ed from New York Uni­ver­si­ty with degrees in Soci­ol­o­gy and Envi­ron­men­tal Stud­ies and recent­ly received her Mas­ters in Busi­ness Admin­is­tra­tion from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Flori­da.

Daily Buzz 2.17.2009

1.) Asian Amer­i­can coali­tion hon­ors Indi­an Amer­i­cans

2.) Was Frei­da Pin­to white­washed in Van­i­ty Fair?

3.) Crit­i­cal Look at Bangladeshi Amer­i­can Rei­han Salman

4.) The Amer­i­can Dream Moves to India

5.) Break­ing News: Beat­ing Yer Girl­friend is Still Not Okay! Asian Amer­i­can Women Over­rep­re­sent­ed in Domes­tic Vio­lence Deaths

The Good and the Bad in the Stimulus Bill

After weeks of intense debate and nego­ti­a­tions, Con­gress passed an eco­nom­ic stim­u­lus pack­age that is head­ed to Pres­i­dent Obama’s desk for his sig­na­ture today. The final law includes spend­ing for domes­tic infra­struc­ture projects, fund­ing to state and local gov­ern­ments, and tax relief in the form of cuts and cred­its. The gov­ern­ment knew that it need­ed to take quick action to pull the econ­o­my out of its down­ward spi­ral, which has affect­ed everyone’s lives – from immi­grants and cit­i­zens, to stu­dents and seniors, to the wealthy and the work­ing-class.

No one can claim to be unscathed by the reces­sion that we are going through, includ­ing H‑1B work­ers. Vast num­bers of South Asians rely upon this visa, includ­ing lawyers, engi­neers, artists, and sci­en­tists. Yet many fear los­ing not only their jobs, but also their immi­gra­tion sta­tus, dur­ing these rough eco­nom­ic times. Take, for instance, Shali­ni, whose sto­ry was cap­tured by Lit­tle India

Shali­ni (name altered), who came to New York City from Mum­bai one year ago to work with Ernst & Young, is cop­ing with just such an even­tu­al­i­ty. With­in a few months she was pro­mot­ed from assis­tant man­ag­er to man­ag­er in her divi­sion. How­ev­er, in Novem­ber, the com­pa­ny let her go. Her first thought was, “How am I going to find anoth­er job in the next six weeks in this kind of envi­ron­ment?”

Shali­ni is on an H1‑B work per­mit, which means that if she does­n’t find work with­in 30 to 60 days, she has to leave the coun­try. Her prospects are bleak. Most com­pa­nies in the U.S., India and across the world have either frozen hir­ing or are sack­ing their work­force. Shali­ni has real­ized that there is no safe­ty net in the U.S. with­out a Green Card or cit­i­zen­ship. So she is fol­low­ing the exam­ple of sev­er­al NRIs [non-res­i­dent Indi­ans], who have applied to non‑U.S. com­pa­nies, sent resumes to con­tacts in cor­po­rate India, put up notices to sell their homes and fur­ni­ture, and post­poned plans to get mar­ried or start a fam­i­ly.”  [Lit­tle India]

These work­ers help build the vibrant inno­va­tion of this coun­try. In fact, Thomas Fried­man had a thought-pro­vok­ing piece in The New York Times recent­ly about how we need more immi­grants, not less, because it’s good for the Amer­i­can econ­o­my …

“We live in a tech­no­log­i­cal age where every study shows that the more knowl­edge you have as a work­er and the more knowl­edge work­ers you have as an econ­o­my, the faster your incomes will rise. There­fore, the cen­ter­piece of our stim­u­lus, the core dri­ving prin­ci­ple, should be to stim­u­late every­thing that makes us smarter and attracts more smart peo­ple to our shores. That is the best way to cre­ate good jobs.” [New York Times]

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, Con­gress went the oth­er way on this issue. As part of the stim­u­lus bill, finan­cial insti­tu­tions receiv­ing fund­ing through the Depart­ment of Treasury’s Trou­bled Assets Relief Pro­gram (or TARP) intend­ed to sta­bi­lize the finan­cial mar­kets, must jump through extra hoops before they can hire H‑1B work­ers. Giv­en the immense con­tri­bu­tions of H‑1B work­ers to help Amer­i­ca remain on the cut­ting-edge, it makes you won­der if this is not only bad news for South Asians, but bad news for the econ­o­my.

Daily Buzz 2.16.2009

1.) Pak­istani Amer­i­can Charged with Behead­ing His Wife

2.) Indi­a’s Unlike­ly New Immi­grants: Indi­an Amer­i­cans Immi­grat­ing to India

3.) Hate Crime Charges filed in attack on cab dri­ver

4.) New UC eli­gi­bil­i­ty stan­dards will open col­lege doors, but may change demo­graph­ics

5.) Rachel Mad­dow joins the “Con­sor­tium of Pub-going, loose, and for­ward women.”

6.)  Ennis from Sepia Mutiny: Speak Hin­di? Join the Army and become a cit­i­zen in six months.

Bobby Jindal Responding to President Obama’s Address to the Nation

Ennis over at Sepia Mutiny reflects on the RNC pick of Gov. Bob­by Jin­dal to deliv­er the par­ty response to Pres­i­dent Oba­ma’s Address to the Nation on Feb­ru­ary 24th. With an African Amer­i­can chair and a South Asian star on the rise, will minor­i­ty lead­er­ship become the watch­word at the Grand Old Par­ty? Check out Ennis’s entire post here <http://www.sepiamutiny.com/sepia/archives/005629.html>

Daily Buzz 2.12.2009

1.) Gov. Bob­by Jin­dal to give GOP Response to Oba­ma’s State of the Union.

2.) Col­orado Kills e‑verify Bill to Require Work­er Sta­tus.

3.) Eboo Patel Dis­cuss­es his Appoint­ment to Oba­ma’s Faith Coun­cil.

4.) There is a “Record num­ber of Women in Con­gress”, but they are still under­rep­re­sent­ed.

5.) Sri Ram Sena Aban­dons Valen­tines Day Protests in Kar­nata­ka

South Asian Artists Use Music to Inspire a Movement

Cana­di­an pop stars The Bilz & Kashif recent­ly released a sin­gle called “One Voice” which express­es a desire for uni­ty, change, and action. After return­ing from a trip to India and wit­ness­ing the after­math of the recent Mum­bai attacks, these artists were moved and inspired to cre­ate this inspir­ing song and video.

From the lyrics of “One Voice”:Get informed. Get inspired. Stand up. Speak out. Break the silence. Build Aware­ness. Share the Knowl­edge. Stop Ignor­ing and Deliv­er the Mes­sage.


The Bilz & Kashif — One Voice from Bilz Music on Vimeo.

I am look­ing for­ward to see­ing more artists in the Unit­ed States fol­low this approach and use pop­u­lar forms of media such as music to deliv­er a strong mes­sage.

Have you heard of any artists in the US doing some­thing sim­i­lar?

How the Economic Downturn is Affecting Nonprofits

In times of eco­nom­ic cri­sis, non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tions often see an increase in the need for ser­vices. SAALT’s part­ners who pro­vide ser­vices to South Asian com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers are observ­ing an increased need for hous­ing, job train­ing, and ben­e­fits due to lay­offs, lack of jobs, and the down­turn in the econ­o­my.  At the same time, non-prof­its too are fac­ing the bur­den of the eco­nom­ic cri­sis and are hav­ing to lay off staff, reduce pro­gram­ming, and dip into reserve funds.

As Daniel Gross, a finan­cial edi­tor at Newsweek, point­ed out as ear­ly as June of 2008, dona­tions from indi­vid­ual donors are down from what they used to be. And with 80 per­cent of sup­port to non-prof­its com­ing from 20 per­cent of the peo­ple in Amer­i­ca, any reduc­tion in giv­ing can have a sig­nif­i­cant impact on non-prof­it groups.

How can South Asians who are able to give sup­port the non-prof­its that are so crit­i­cal in our local com­mu­ni­ties? Why give at all? Read an excerpt from a post from Sayu Bho­jwani (for­mer Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of South Asian Youth Action and former Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs for New York City on the South Asian Philanthropy Project blog about the importance of strategic giving within the South Asian community:

South Asian phil­an­thropy has until recent­ly meant con­tribut­ing to caus­es in the home coun­try and to region­al and reli­gious asso­ci­a­tions here in the U.S. As the com­mu­ni­ty matures, accu­mu­lates wealth, and increas­es in num­ber, more South Asian Amer­i­cans are con­tribut­ing to insti­tu­tions in the Unit­ed States, tar­get­ing resources to issues of con­cern in the com­mu­ni­ty. Strate­gi­cal­ly uti­lized, the “brown dol­lar” can boost the capac­i­ty of fledg­ling orga­ni­za­tions that serve the needs of minor­i­ty com­mu­ni­ties across the U.S. and can play a crit­i­cal role in shap­ing per­spec­tives about South Asians in the broad­er Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ty.

In the fif­teen years or so that I have been work­ing in the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty and in phil­an­thropy, I have been frus­trat­ed by the piece­meal approach that peo­ple often take to phil­an­thropy. South Asians who give, whether they are wealthy or not, are like most oth­ers who give—responsive to a per­son­al­ized request from a friend or col­league, drawn by a per­son­al con­nec­tion to an issue or orga­ni­za­tion, or moti­vat­ed by the need to meet a cer­tain end-of-year lev­el of giv­ing

Read more here <http://southasianphilanthropy.org/2009/02/02/sapp-blog-forum-sayu-bhojwani/>

Daily Buzz 2.11.2009

1.) The Asso­ci­at­ed Press presents a com­par­i­son of eco­nom­ic stim­u­lus plans.
2.) The South Asian Phil­an­thropy Project dis­cuss­es Phil­an­thropy and the Stim­u­lus Pack­age
3.) Updat­ed sta­tis­tics about wage dis­crim­i­na­tion in the Unit­ed States.
4.) Award Win­ning jour­nal­ist Prat­ap Chat­ter­jee dis­cuss­es his new book, “Hal­libur­ton’s Army: How a Well-Con­nect­ed Texas Oil Com­pa­ny Rev­o­lu­tion­ized the Way Amer­i­ca Makes War”, on Democ­ra­cy Now!
Tran­scripts, Audio, and Video all avail­able.
5.) How is the econ­o­my affect­ing mon­ey being sent fam­i­ly mem­bers abroad?
6.) Indi­a’s tan­gled rela­tion­ship with the kiss.

Mentally Ill Man with Open Case, Deported back to India 2 days After Obama Inaugurated, is Now Missing

This case came to our atten­tion through Dim­ple Rana at Deport­ed Dias­po­ra. In a trag­ic turn of event, Har­vey Sachdev, who has lived in the Unit­ed States for more than 40 years, was deport­ed to India even though his case is still open on appeal. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, Sachdev suf­fers from schiz­o­phre­nia and has been miss­ing since his arrival in New Del­hi. Read the press release about Sachde­v’s case below.

Want to do some­thing to to demand human rights for immi­grants who are in deten­tion and who reg­u­lar­ly face due process vio­la­tions? Take a minute to sign this peti­tion to Pres­i­dent Oba­ma encour­ag­ing him to con­sid­er these vio­la­tions as he staffs and restruc­tures the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty (the Exec­u­tive agency that over­sees many key oper­a­tions includ­ing Immi­gra­tion and Cus­toms Enforce­ment) here <http://www.rightsworkinggroup.org/?q=DHSPetition>

PRESS RELEASE:
Men­tal­ly Ill Man with Open Case, Deport­ed 2 days After Oba­ma Inau­gu­rat­ed, is Now Miss­ing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednes­day, Jan­u­ary 28, 2009

For more infor­ma­tion, con­tact:
Neena Sachdev, nks29@cox.net
Greg Pleas­ants, JD/MSW, (213) 389‑2077, ext. 19, gpleasants@mhas-la.org
Dim­ple Rana, (781) 521‑4544, dimple.scorpio@gmail.com

Wash­ing­ton DC Area Fam­i­ly of Men­tal­ly Ill Man Fears for His Life as He is Miss­ing in India Fol­low­ing Depor­ta­tion
ICE exe­cutes depor­ta­tion of schiz­o­phrenic man on Jan­u­ary 22nd, despite his case still being under review, that he is the son, broth­er and father of U.S. cit­i­zens and that his depor­ta­tion could result in his death.

Wash­ing­ton D.C.  —  Jan­u­ary 28, 2009 — The Sachdev fam­i­ly is liv­ing a night­mare as Immi­gra­tion and Cus­toms Enforce­ment (ICE) deport­ed their fam­i­ly mem­ber, Har­vey Sachdev, to India on Jan­u­ary 22nd. Har­vey was a res­i­dent of the Unit­ed States for near­ly 40 years, and is diag­nosed with schiz­o­phre­nia. Har­vey is a son, a broth­er and a father of U.S. cit­i­zens. His case is still open on appeal before the Fourth Cir­cuit court. Nev­er­the­less ICE deport­ed him to India on Jan­u­ary 22nd, 2009.

The trau­ma of Har­vey’s pro­longed deten­tion and recent depor­ta­tion made him high­ly unsta­ble. He is now miss­ing in New Del­hi, India, a city of 11 mil­lion peo­ple. It is an unfa­mil­iar city to him, where he has no fam­i­ly and no access to med­ica­tion. Accord­ing to his broth­er and sis­ters, “Our broth­er’s depor­ta­tion is like­ly a death sen­tence for him, and we also fear our moth­er’s life. The stress and the wor­ry has put her life in per­il.”

Hav­ing pushed his depor­ta­tion date back sev­er­al times, ICE ini­tial­ly noti­fied the fam­i­ly of the sched­uled depor­ta­tion, but failed to con­firm it, so nec­es­sary arrange­ments could be made in India. After repeat­ed calls on the day of his depor­ta­tion, ICE only told the fam­i­ly he was no longer in deten­tion. The fam­i­ly also repeat­ed­ly attempt­ed to get con­fir­ma­tion from the India Con­sulate Offices and Embassy, which had to issue trav­el doc­u­ments, but received no infor­ma­tion.

Har­vey came to the U.S. with his par­ents at the age of twelve. He was vale­dic­to­ri­an of his high school and earned a schol­ar­ship to col­lege. Trag­i­cal­ly, in his late teens he devel­oped schiz­o­phre­nia and has bat­tled men­tal ill­ness for all of his adult life.

Due to his men­tal ill­ness, he was con­vict­ed of inap­pro­pri­ate and aber­rant but non-vio­lent crimes. The most seri­ous was inde­cent expo­sure, but he was not guilty of any phys­i­cal con­tact with any per­son, nor of any vio­lence. There is no indi­ca­tion that any court thought that the pun­ish­ment for his crimes should result in depor­ta­tion to a coun­try that he can’t remem­ber, where he has no friends or fam­i­ly or any con­nec­tion what­so­ev­er.

His par­ents and his fam­i­ly are U.S. cit­i­zens. Two of his fam­i­ly mem­bers are serv­ing in the mil­i­tary, with one com­plet­ing two tours of duty in Iraq. He mar­ried a U.S. cit­i­zen and has a U.S. cit­i­zen daugh­ter who is now twen­ty-two years old.

Mr. Sachdev is men­tal­ly ill and requires care, which his fam­i­ly is able and will­ing to pro­vide. He has no one in India and does not have the abil­i­ty to sur­vive on his own.

Greg Pleas­ants, JD/MSW, an Equal Jus­tice Works Fel­low and Staff Attor­ney at Men­tal Health Advo­ca­cy Ser­vices, Inc. states that “Peo­ple with men­tal and devel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties who are deport­ed can also face a grave risk of harass­ment and even per­se­cu­tion in their home coun­tries — harass­ment and per­se­cu­tion based sole­ly on their dis­abil­i­ties.”

“With­out fam­i­ly or med­ical sup­port, depor­ta­tion can become a death sen­tence. Sui­cide and attempt­ed sui­cide are not uncom­mon among deport­ed peo­ple with men­tal ill­ness­es. Access to med­i­cine can be lim­it­ed and peo­ple are often deport­ed with­out any infor­ma­tion on their med­ical back­ground.  Depor­ta­tion of the men­tal­ly ill is cru­el and unusu­al pun­ish­ment,” says Dim­ple Rana of Deport­ed Dias­po­ra, an orga­ni­za­tion work­ing with peo­ple deport­ed from the U.S.

For more infor­ma­tion, con­tact:
Neena Sachdev — Har­vey Sachde­v’s sis­ter, nks29@cox.net
Greg Pleas­ants, JD/MSW — Equal Jus­tice Works Fel­low and Staff Attor­ney at Men­tal Health Advo­ca­cy Ser­vices, Inc. (213) 389‑2077 ext. 19, gpleasants@mhas-la.org
Dim­ple Rana, Co-Founder and Direc­tor, Deport­ed Dias­po­ra, (781) 521‑4544, dimple.scorpio@gmail.com