Daily Buzz 03.12.09

1. Immigrants face mixed messages along the South’s “immigrant highway”

2. UNHCR reports on the failure to investigate the deaths of journalists in Sri Lanka

3. Congress hears two very different accounts of local police and immigration enforcement

4. Plenty of exciting South Asian films at the San Francisco International Film Festival

5. Innovative NGO works to empower Nepal’s youth

6. So, whatever happened to that Kashkari guy?

Daily Buzz 3.11.09

1. Bollywood hits college campuses

2. Bobby Jindal: Taking Us Backwards– A South Asian woman says “No thanks”

3. To go with the great Op-Ed in the Baltimore Sun, another piece about how detention and deportation hurts immigrant children

4. Dhaka resident describes the BDR mutiny

5. Gambling and the Asian American community

“Failing Families” op-ed in Baltimore Sun

Montgomery County, MD, where the SAALT offices are located, is a vibrant community with immigrants from around the world. This op-ed from Dr. Lavanya Sithanandam, a pediatrician and travel doctor based in Takoma Park, shows how immigration raids have negatively impact this community, particularly its most vulnerable members: children. Read the excellent piece here:

Failing Families

Immigration enforcement policies unfairly hurt many children who are citizens

by Lavanya Sithanandam

When I walked into the exam room, I knew something was wrong. My 8-year old patient, usually an extroverted, charming boy, was angry. He sat with his arms crossed and refused to look at me. His exhausted mother recounted how one week ago, her husband, after arriving home from a 12-hour shift at work, had been arrested in front of his children and taken away in handcuffs. He was now sitting in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center in Frederick. The mother asked me to evaluate her son for a one-week history of poor appetite, difficulty with sleeping, and wheezing.

As a pediatrician working in Montgomery County, home to the largest immigrant community in Maryland, I have seen firsthand the devastating effects that aggressive immigration enforcement policies can have on families. Many of these children are citizens, born in the United States to at least one undocumented parent. Yet these children often experience what no U.S. citizen (or any child, for that matter) should. They live in constant fear of abandonment because they have seen and heard of neighbors and family members being picked up and deported within days.

My patient, a “citizen child” himself, was exhibiting symptoms of depression, and like other children who have lost a parent to detention centers, he perceives his father’s arrest as somehow being his fault. His mother, who must now take over her husband’s 15-year role as the family’s breadwinner, is struggling to pay the bills, to make the lengthy drive to see her husband, and to take her son to the doctor. These parents are good people: hardworking and honest immigrants from West Africa who pay their taxes and take good care of their children. They struggle to make a decent life for their family, despite a grueling, 70-hour workweek.

Unfortunately, their story is not unique. There are more than 5 million citizen children in this country – and sadly, the likelihood that one or both of their parents will be deported is increasing. In order to meet arrest quotas, ICE agents are increasingly going after “soft targets”: immigrants such as my patient’s father, with no criminal record and for whom ICE had not issued a deportation order. Some of these people are picked up by chance, at work or at home. Some are victims of “residential raids” where immigration authorities knock on door after door with no evidence that the inhabitants are undocumented until they can get someone to admit that he or she is here illegally.

Sometimes, racial profiling is an issue – as in the case, recently revealed, of a January 2007 raid on a 7-Eleven in Baltimore. Officers detained 24 Latino men, few of them with criminal records, in an apparent effort to meet a quota for arrests.

The future for families like my 8-year-old patient’s looks grim. My patient’s suffering will probably have no influence on his father’s deportation proceedings, given the high legal standards of “extreme hardship” that must be met in order for his father to stay with his family. The boy will most likely be forced to start a new life in a country he has never even visited.

Immigration policy is complicated and emotionally charged, but punishing citizen children should be at the bottom of ICE’s priorities. It is time to once again consider a fair and comprehensive approach to immigration reform. One promising proposal is the “Child Citizenship Protection Act” (introduced this year by Rep. Jose Serrano of New York), which would authorize an immigration judge to prevent deportation of an immigrant when it is in the best interest of his or her citizen children.

It is essential to enact laws that will promote family reunification, fairness and dignity over current enforcement tactics that tear families apart.

Dr. Lavanya Sithanandam, a pediatrician in Takoma Park, immigrated to this country from India at the age of 4. She is a member of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a social justice and advocacy group. Her e-mail is drsithanandam@gmail.com.

Daily Buzz 3.10.09

1) Immigrant’s Children Look Closer for Love

2) Neurosurgeon Dr. Sagun Tuli Awarded $1.6 Million in Gender Bias Suite

3) Dalai Lama on 50 Year Anniversary of Uprising

4) First Ever Kirpan Bill Introduced into California legislature

5) Michael Rao to lead Virginia Commonwealth University as president

Call out for Guest Bloggers in March for the SAALT Spot – FOCUS ON IMMIGRATION RAIDS AND DETENTION

SAALT wants to hear from activists and community members about the relevant issues of the day through our blog, the SAALT Spot.

For the month of March, we are focusing on the topic of immigration raids and detention and their impact on the South Asian community. You don’t need to be an immigration expert; we are interested in what people throughout the country and community are thinking and talking about.

Things you can consider when composing a blog post:

-Immigration enforcement has been on the rise in recent years and include both workplace and residential raids. In fact, a recent raid, the first since President Barack Obama’s inauguration, took place on February 24th in Bellingham, WA, where 28 workers were arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement at a engine manufacturing plant.

-Immigration raids tear families apart, often separating U.S. citizen children from their immigrant parents.

-There are now approximately 400 detention and deportation facilities all around the country (an interactive map can be found here).

-A group of the Indian guest workers who allege they were exploited by their employer in the Gulf Coast and are engaged in a struggle for justice were caught up in an immigration workplace raid in North Dakota. 23 workers were arrested during that raid.

– Other stories of South Asians in detention and deportation proceedings like Harvey Sachdev, a diagnosed schizophrenic deported to India who has since gone missing

As the issue of workplace raids and immigration detention conditions becomes the topic of Congressional legislation and conversations around the country, blog posts could focus on:

-How have immigration enforcement procedures affected South Asians?

-What issues and provisions should South Asians look for in government legislation and policies that address immigration enforcement?

-How can the South Asian community make our positions heard around immigration enforcement policies?

Ideally, blog posts will be between 1-3 paragraphs and each guest-blogger will write 2-3 entries in the course of the month. If you want to link to interesting articles or blog posts, please include them in the text of the composition. All entries should be emailed to mou@saalt.org on the Tuesday of each week in February that you can contribute. Entries may be edited for length.

Daily Buzz 3.9.2009

1) Pelosi asks to “end raids splitting immigrant families

2) “America’s loss will be the world’s gain” – the immigrant “brain drain”

3) Indian American, Vivek Kundra, is US “Technology Czar”

4) Dartmouth College becomes first Ivy League school to appoint an Asian-American dean – but not without an offensive email sent around by a student

5) Gandhi auction items sold for $1.8 million to Indian liquor and airline tycoon Vijay Mallya who will donate the items to the Indian government

DC Muslim Film Festival – “Art Under Fire”

On Wednesday, I had the chance to check out Sounds of Silence, one of the films being shown as part of the DC Muslim Film Festival that is SAALT is co-sponsoring. The film festival is being coordinated by the American Islamic Congress and Project Nur to showcase different aspects of the Muslim world through film. Sounds of Silence is an exceptional and eye-opening film that profiles artists in Iran who are fighting to find a way to express themselves through music under the guidelines of the Ministry Of Islamic Guidance or Ershad. The film highlights the underground music scene in Tehran and plays out an in depth interview with the journalist who is heavily involved in this movement. For me, the film allowed me to realize the intense need for a creative outlet during difficult times and the importance of music as it fills this role. I encourage you to check out this film and the artists featured in it.

The DC Muslim Film Festival will be airing The Warrior next week:

Thursday, March 12th at 8:30pm in Grand Ballroom at George Washington University

**Special Performances by: Capoeira Malês DC (Doing Capoeira–a Brazilian Martial Art) & MOKSHA (Presenting a Classical Indian Bharatanatyam Dance) AND Free Henna Painting**

Non-profits brace themselves for 2010

Check out this article in the SF Gate about the struggles of non-profits in the Bay Area in these challenging economic times.

Bay Area nonprofits brace for 2010 shakeout

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Nonprofits are seeing an alarming drop in funding and increased demand for help this year, setting the stage for a complete shakeup of the sector in 2010.

Unlike recessions past, this one could permanently alter the nonprofit landscape, say nonprofit CEOs, forcing possible closures and mergers as the sector restructures to survive.

Hardest hit will be the Bay Area, home to one of the highest concentrations of nonprofits in the nation. There are 25,000 nonprofits in the region; 7,000 in San Francisco alone. Among them are 10,000 charitable nonprofits with budgets above $25,000. Their combined budgets account for 14 percent of the Bay Area’s gross national product – twice the national average.

Click here to read the full article.

The article discusses the constant fears of non-profits around the country including bracing themselves for a significant drop in funding in 2010. Many non-profits feel comfortable with their budgets for 2009 because funding was acquired before the economic downturn – but 2010 proves to be quite a challenge. Funding from most sources is being cut – foundations are scaling back grant amounts, government agencies are revisiting funding priorities, corporations are facing their own budget cuts, and most individuals are feeling more hesitant to donate money instead of saving it for a “rainy day” that might occur at any moment.

“The Chronicle of Philanthropy, the leading newspaper of the nonprofit world, surveyed 73 of the nation’s largest foundations in December about their 2009 grant making plans and found 39 percent expect to decrease the amount they contribute to charities this year.”

However, it is important to note that these are generalizations and that some entities are actually increasing funding because they recognize the increased need for non-profit services during this time. A need which does not necessarily correlate with an increase in funding.

“The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest in the world with assets estimated at $30 billion, plans to raise its giving from $3.3 billion in 2008 to $3.8 billion in 2009 to help charities survive. The San Francisco Foundation plans to give the same amount to charities that it did last year, despite a shrinking endowment.”

As funding sources and amounts shrink, this is a crucial time for non-profits to think creatively and explore different options for fundraising. Check out these links for some useful tips:

If you are interested in attending some workshops around fundraising during these tough times – register for the 2009 South Asian Summit to have access to those workshops and much more!