SAALT Staunchly Opposes President Trump’s Separate and Unequal Policies Toward Muslims

Jan­u­ary 28, 2017

South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT), a nation­al South Asian advo­ca­cy orga­ni­za­tion, staunch­ly oppos­es the lat­est Exec­u­tive Order in the litany of divi­sive, un-Amer­i­can mea­sures issued by Pres­i­dent Trump this week. Today’s announce­ment effec­tive­ly bans Mus­lims, rejects refugees, and expands sur­veil­lance on Mus­lim-Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties, cre­at­ing sep­a­rate and whol­ly unequal stan­dards of law and jus­tice for mil­lions of Amer­i­cans.

“The ethos and impact of these Orders con­tra­dict Amer­i­ca’s found­ing val­ues and take us fur­ther away from our bedrock com­mit­ment to free­dom and civ­il lib­er­ties for all,” stat­ed Suman Raghu­nathan, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of SAALT. “Today’s announce­ment will crim­i­nal­ize peo­ple of col­or based on their reli­gion and nation­al ori­gin, and rein­forces a cli­mate of sus­pi­cion and increas­ing vio­lence aimed at Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties liv­ing in the U.S. Our nation is bet­ter than this.”

Today’s Exec­u­tive Orders block refugees enter­ing the U.S. from war-torn Syr­ia indef­i­nite­ly; sus­pends refugee admis­sions from oth­er coun­tries for 120 days; vague­ly sus­pends visa issuance to coun­tries of “par­tic­u­lar con­cern;” bans immi­grant and non-immi­grant entry of indi­vid­u­als from sev­er­al Mus­lim-major­i­ty coun­tries; and cre­ates an entry-exit track­ing sys­tem for all vis­i­tors to the Unit­ed States in addi­tion to requir­ing in-per­son inter­views for all non­im­mi­grant visa appli­cants.

A major­i­ty of Amer­i­can vot­ers do not sup­port the mea­sures announced today: in fact, 52% of Amer­i­cans oppose a ban on immi­grants and trav­el­ers who are Mus­lim. Pres­i­dent Trump’s deci­sion to trans­form his divi­sive and irre­spon­si­ble cam­paign rhetoric into pol­i­cy express­ly tar­gets mil­lions of our com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers nation­wide, and explic­it­ly runs counter to the will of the elec­torate. The most recent poli­cies will only serve to fur­ther divide us as a nation at the very moment when we must all come togeth­er as the resound­ing nation­al mes­sage rings of exclu­sion and racism.

The entry-exit pol­i­cy in par­tic­u­lar has a trou­bling prece­dent that dev­as­tat­ed South Asian Amer­i­can, Mus­lim, and Arab com­mu­ni­ties for much of the last 15 years, and was just dis­man­tled at the end of 2016. Under the guise of “nation­al secu­ri­ty,” the 2002 Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Entry-Exit Reg­is­tra­tion Sys­tem (NSEERS) forced immi­grants from Mus­lim-major­i­ty coun­tries to reg­is­ter at local immi­gra­tion offices for lengthy inter­ro­ga­tions. Over 83,000 indi­vid­u­als reg­is­tered; over 13,000 were placed into depor­ta­tion pro­ceed­ings, result­ing in zero ter­ror­ism-relat­ed con­vic­tions. Pres­i­dent Trump’s order reopens this wound at a time when our com­mu­ni­ties are increas­ing­ly under attack nation­wide.

Just this month, SAALT released “Power, Pain, Potential,” which doc­u­ments over 200 inci­dents of hate vio­lence and xeno­pho­bic polit­i­cal rhetoric aimed at South Asian, Mus­lim, Sikh, Hin­du, Mid­dle East­ern, and Arab Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties dur­ing the 2016 elec­tion cycle. An astound­ing 95% of these inci­dents were moti­vat­ed by anti-Mus­lim sen­ti­ment. Pres­i­dent Trump was respon­si­ble for 21% of the xeno­pho­bic polit­i­cal state­ments we doc­u­ment­ed. Just one week into his admin­is­tra­tion, the Pres­i­den­t’s rhetoric is now being imple­ment­ed via destruc­tive poli­cies. It is clear that this admin­is­tra­tion’s rhetoric and poli­cies serve only to crim­i­nal­ize and dehu­man­ize large seg­ments of our coun­try, and will con­tin­ue to embold­en neigh­bors to tar­get neigh­bors, Amer­i­cans to tar­get Amer­i­cans-all for the nar­row end of “mak­ing Amer­i­ca great again.”

As Black, Brown, indige­nous, immi­grant, and Asian Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties who have sur­vived sys­temic racism, intern­ment, and geno­cide, we will stand strong as a unit­ed front against any poli­cies root­ed in dis­crim­i­na­tion and divi­sive­ness. Work­ing with our part­ners in the Nation­al Coali­tion of South Asian Orga­ni­za­tions, we will forge a future dri­ven by the fun­da­men­tal val­ue that all peo­ple must be treat­ed equal­ly under the law. We must be bet­ter than this.

Con­tact: Vivek Trive­di

SAALT Condemns President Trump’s Anti-Immigrant Executive Orders

Jan­u­ary 25, 2017

South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT), a nation­al South Asian advo­ca­cy orga­ni­za­tion, is out­raged at the lat­est Exec­u­tive Orders issued by Pres­i­dent Trump. Today’s announce­ment on immi­gra­tion effec­tive­ly shuts down our bor­ders, threat­ens state and local poli­cies that pro­tect and wel­come immi­grants, and puts immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties in the crosshairs of poli­cies that tear apart fam­i­lies under the pre­text of “mak­ing Amer­i­can great.”

“Today’s Exec­u­tive Orders push the nation fur­ther away from core Amer­i­can val­ues of equal­i­ty and free­dom, sow fear in com­mu­ni­ties of col­or that already face increas­ing vio­lence, hos­til­i­ty and attacks, and make us and the coun­try less safe — all under the guise of nation­al secu­ri­ty,” stat­ed Suman Raghu­nathan, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of SAALT. “Walling off the coun­try will not make us safer. We expect this will be the first in a series of attacks against the free­dom of immi­grants and com­mu­ni­ties of col­or in the Unit­ed States.”

South Asians are the most rapid­ly grow­ing demo­graph­ic group in the coun­try, num­ber­ing over 4.3 mil­lion, with large growth in the undoc­u­ment­ed South Asian pop­u­la­tion in recent years, includ­ing 450,000 Indi­an-Amer­i­cans alone. India is cur­rent­ly the fourth-high­est send­ing coun­try for undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants after Mex­i­co, El Sal­vador, and Guatemala. We also know there are sig­nif­i­cant undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants orig­i­nal­ly from oth­er South Asian coun­tries includ­ing Pak­istan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and the Indo-Caribbean dias­po­ra.

Today’s announce­ment puts South Asian com­mu­ni­ties under fur­ther scruti­ny and attack in the Unit­ed States, par­tic­u­lar­ly through the alarm­ing revival of the “Secure Com­mu­ni­ties” pro­gram, which dep­u­tizes local author­i­ties as immi­gra­tion agents — a func­tion numer­ous police chiefs have already spo­ken out against. The pro­gram, pre­vi­ous­ly aban­doned due to con­cerns that it led to racial pro­fil­ing and oth­er abuse by law enforce­ment, autho­rizes local police to check the immi­gra­tion sta­tus of every indi­vid­ual arrest­ed and to enforce immi­gra­tion laws against the very com­mu­ni­ties they are sworn to pro­tect. This pol­i­cy sends a clear mes­sage to immi­grants that any con­tact with the police can lead to depor­ta­tion, and only serves to spur fear in immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties.

Today’s Exec­u­tive Orders also strip fed­er­al fund­ing for “sanc­tu­ary cities” that refuse to arrest or detain undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants liv­ing in the U.S. Many of these places of refuge are locat­ed in Cal­i­for­nia, New York, and Chica­go: areas with mas­sive South Asian Amer­i­can pop­u­la­tions as well as immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties writ large. The result deprives local­i­ties of crit­i­cal fund­ing nec­es­sary to meet the needs of their res­i­dents. This cru­cial fed­er­al fund­ing (from tax­pay­er dol­lars) is instead being fun­neled to hire more bor­der patrol agents to crim­i­nal­ize rather than pro­tect immi­grant and bor­der com­mu­ni­ties, all the while fuel­ing an increas­ing­ly pri­va­tized immi­gra­tion deten­tion sys­tem.

SAALT recent­ly released “Power, Pain, Potential,” the first com­pre­hen­sive report doc­u­ment­ing hate vio­lence and xeno­pho­bic rhetoric against South Asian, Mus­lim, Sikh, Hin­du, Arab, and Mid­dle East­ern com­mu­ni­ties dur­ing the 2016 elec­tion cycle. We found sky­rock­et­ing vio­lence against our com­mu­ni­ties nation­wide reach­ing lev­els only seen in the after­math of the events of 9/11. Pres­i­dent Elect Trump was respon­si­ble for over one in five, or 21%, of the xeno­pho­bic polit­i­cal rhetoric we tracked.

Due to today’s Exec­u­tive Orders, our com­mu­ni­ties — already expe­ri­enc­ing the full force of a ris­ing tide of hate vio­lence and the pro­lif­er­a­tion of white suprema­cist move­ments nation­wide — will have less recourse for pro­tec­tion from police, dimin­ished options to report inci­dents aimed at their fam­i­lies, and few­er places to find safe­ty and secu­ri­ty. In the face of these dev­as­tat­ing poli­cies, SAALT and our part­ners nation­wide will instead draw strength, uni­ty, and resilience from each oth­er, and work close­ly with our com­mu­ni­ties to ensure that we have an equal place in the U.S. and that our voic­es ring clear as we fight for equal­i­ty, pro­tec­tion, and dig­ni­ty for all.

Con­tact: Vivek Trive­di

Ahead of Inauguration, SAALT’s New Report Exposes Alarming Hate Violence and Xenophobic Political Rhetoric During Elections



On Jan­u­ary 11, 2017, South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT), a lead­ing nation­al South Asian Amer­i­can advo­ca­cy orga­ni­za­tion, released "Power, Pain, Potential," the first comprehensive report doc­u­ment­ing hate vio­lence and xeno­pho­bic polit­i­cal rhetoric aimed at South Asian, Mus­lim, Arab, Sikh, Hin­du, and Mid­dle East­ern Amer­i­cans dur­ing the 2016 elec­tion cycle.  This report exam­ines the dra­mat­ic demo­graph­ic growth of South Asians across the Unit­ed States, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the South, and reveals how increas­es in pop­u­la­tion are met with increas­es in intol­er­ance dur­ing the most divi­sive Pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in mod­ern Amer­i­can his­to­ry.

“The unprece­dent­ed vio­lence we saw fol­low­ing the Sep­tem­ber 11 attacks has returned, elec­tri­fied by a hos­tile 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion,” stat­ed Suman Raghu­nathan, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of SAALT.  “With over 4.3 mil­lion South Asians in the US, pol­i­cy­mak­ers must make it a first pri­or­i­ty to address and dis­man­tle the para­dox of our com­mu­ni­ties liv­ing at the inter­sec­tion of growth and hate.”

From Novem­ber 15, 2015 to Novem­ber 15, 2016 (between the Paris attacks and the week after the Pres­i­den­tial elec­tions), SAALT doc­u­ment­ed 207 inci­dents of hate vio­lence and xeno­pho­bic polit­i­cal rhetoric aimed at our com­mu­ni­ties in an online pub­lic data­base, a 34% increase in less than a third of the time cov­ered in our 2011–2014 report, "Under Suspicion, Under Attack."

This dis­turb­ing data breaks down to 140 inci­dents of hate vio­lence and 67 instances of xeno­pho­bic polit­i­cal rhetoric dur­ing the 2016 elec­tion cycle.  An astound­ing 95% of inci­dents were moti­vat­ed by anti-Mus­lim sen­ti­ment.  SAALT’s find­ings are con­sis­tent with the FBI’s 2015 hate crimes sta­tis­tics, which revealed a 67% increase in hate crimes against Mus­lims from the pre­vi­ous year. Notably, President-elect Trump was responsible for one in five (21%) xenophobic political statements SAALT documented.

Against the back­drop of this hos­til­i­ty and the resur­gence of white suprema­cist orga­ni­za­tions nation­wide, South Asian Amer­i­cans are the most rapid­ly grow­ing demo­graph­ic group in the nation.  The largest pop­u­la­tion growth occurred in the South, where 30% of South Asians cur­rent­ly reside: an increase from half a mil­lion to one mil­lion since 2000.  Thir­ty per­cent of the hate vio­lence inci­dents we cat­a­logued occurred in the South.

This report also offers pol­i­cy­mak­ers cru­cial and com­pre­hen­sive rec­om­men­da­tions to address hate crimes under­re­port­ing, improve rela­tions between our com­mu­ni­ties and law enforce­ment, dis­man­tle poli­cies that pro­mote racial pro­fil­ing and sur­veil­lance, and shift immi­gra­tion poli­cies to respect and meet our com­mu­ni­ties’ needs.  The new admin­is­tra­tion must make these rec­om­men­da­tions a first pri­or­i­ty in order to heal our deeply divid­ed coun­try.  Any­thing less will make the tran­si­tion of pow­er on Jan­u­ary 20 sim­ply a tran­si­tion of pain for our com­mu­ni­ties.

Con­tact: Vivek Trive­di; for more infor­ma­tion.

Communities on Fire: Resisting Hate Violence and Xenophobic Political Rhetoric

SAALT’s 2018 report doc­u­ments hate vio­lence and xeno­pho­bic polit­i­cal rhetoric aimed at our com­mu­ni­ties from Elec­tion Day 2016 to Elec­tion Day 2017. SAALT doc­u­ment­ed 302 inci­dents of hate vio­lence and xeno­pho­bic polit­i­cal rhetoric aimed at South Asian, Mus­lim, Sikh, Hin­du, Mid­dle East­ern, and Arab com­mu­ni­ties in the Unit­ed States, of which an astound­ing 82% were moti­vat­ed by anti-Mus­lim sen­ti­ment. The 302 inci­dents are a more than 45% increase from the year lead­ing up to the 2016 elec­tion cycle, lev­els not seen since the year after Sep­tem­ber 11.

SAALT Welcomes Official End of Discriminatory Profiling of South Asian, Muslim, and Arab Individuals via NSEERS Program

Decem­ber 22, 2016
Con­tact: Suman Raghu­nathan,

SAALT applauds today’s announce­ment from the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty on a final rule that for­mal­ly ends the deeply flawed, patent­ly inef­fec­tive, and open­ly dis­crim­i­na­to­ry Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Entry-Exit Reg­is­tra­tion Sys­tem (NSEERS) pro­gram (known as spe­cial reg­is­tra­tion) effec­tive imme­di­ate­ly.

As a nation­al South Asian orga­ni­za­tion that has since its incep­tion been fight­ing the deeply dis­crim­i­na­to­ry NSEERS pro­gram as well as racial and reli­gious pro­fil­ing writ large, SAALT thanks the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty, White House, and the Oba­ma Admin­is­tra­tion for their deci­sion to rescind the reg­u­la­tion behind this dor­mant pro­gram.  SAALT in par­tic­u­lar salutes the stead­fast lead­er­ship, orga­niz­ing, and advo­ca­cy of South Asian, Mus­lim, and Arab indi­vid­u­als direct­ly impact­ed by the pro­gram and grass­roots South Asian and Mus­lim orga­ni­za­tions-includ­ing mem­bers of the Nation­al Coali­tion of South Asian Orga­ni­za­tions (NCSO)-who have been involved in long­stand­ing advo­ca­cy against NSEERS. The pro­gram was dis­con­tin­ued in 2011, but its reg­u­la­to­ry frame­work remained dan­ger­ous­ly on the books until today.

NSEERS, first cre­at­ed in the imme­di­ate after­math of the events of Sep­tem­ber 11, 2001, required cer­tain non-immi­grant male vis­i­tors from 25 Mid­dle East­ern, Arab, and South Asian coun­tries and North Korea to appear at local immi­gra­tion enforce­ment offices. Over 80,000 men were forced to reg­is­ter and over 13,000 indi­vid­u­als were placed into depor­ta­tion pro­ceed­ings, which did not result in one ter­ror­ism-relat­ed con­vic­tion. SAALT and South Asian Amer­i­cans nation­wide have expe­ri­enced first­hand the ways pro­grams such as NSEERS have dec­i­mat­ed our trust in law enforce­ment.  Today’s announce­ment begins us on the path to restore some of that trust.

South Asians are the most rapid­ly-grow­ing demo­graph­ic group in the Unit­ed States, and there are an esti­mat­ed 3.3 mil­lion Mus­lims nation­wide.  Even as our com­mu­ni­ties con­tin­ue to grow, we are remind­ed that we are all safer when we refuse to racial­ly and reli­gious­ly pro­file indi­vid­u­als.  As an orga­ni­za­tion with a deep and long­time com­mit­ment to racial jus­tice, civ­il rights, and civ­il lib­er­ties, SAALT will con­tin­ue fight­ing to ensure South Asians and indeed all Amer­i­cans are able to enjoy and exer­cise the basic rights and lib­er­ties enshrined in our Con­sti­tu­tion and con­cor­dant with our val­ues as a nation.