SAALT Responds to Tragic Kansas Shooting — This Country is for All of Us

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT), a nation­al South Asian advo­ca­cy orga­ni­za­tion, is deeply dis­turbed by the dead­ly shoot­ing of two South Asian men, Alok Madasani and Srini­vas Kuchib­hot­la, in Kansas City that left one vic­tim dead in what appears to be a hate crime.  Our thoughts and con­do­lences go to the vic­tims’ fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties. Sad­ly, this lat­est act of vio­lence comes as no sur­prise giv­en the anti-immi­grant, anti-Mus­lim vit­ri­ol esca­lat­ing across the coun­try, most notably illus­trat­ed in Pres­i­dent Trump’s divi­sive recent exec­u­tive orders.

“This inci­dent is the lat­est in a ris­ing tide of hate vio­lence against South Asian, Mus­lim, Sikh, Hin­du, Mid­dle East­ern and Arab com­mu­ni­ties, elec­tri­fied by the Pres­i­den­t’s anti-immi­grant poli­cies,” stat­ed Suman Raghu­nathan, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of SAALT. “When our ‘so-called’ lead­ers attempt to gov­ern from an angle of xeno­pho­bia, these sen­ti­ments embold­en dead­ly vio­lence against our com­mu­ni­ties.”

Wit­ness­es report­ed the shoot­er yelled “get out of my coun­try” and var­i­ous racial slurs before open­ing fire, appar­ent­ly believ­ing his two vic­tims were ‘Mid­dle East­ern’. SAALT wel­comes news that the FBI is inves­ti­gat­ing whether this inci­dent was racial­ly moti­vat­ed and we insist that con­sid­er­a­tions of domes­tic ter­ror­ism are includ­ed in the inves­ti­ga­tion to address the prob­lem of grow­ing white suprema­cy across the coun­try.

SAALT’s lat­est report, “Pow­er, Pain, Poten­tial,” doc­u­ments over 200 inci­dents of hate vio­lence and xeno­pho­bic rhetoric against our com­mu­ni­ties dur­ing the 2016 elec­tions, with an astound­ing 95% of inci­dents moti­vat­ed by anti-Mus­lim sen­ti­ment. Regard­less of the tar­get, it is enough sim­ply to be per­ceived as Mus­lim to be the vic­tim of vio­lence.

The Pres­i­dent has yet to com­ment or offer his con­do­lences to the vic­tims’ fam­i­lies after this lat­est tragedy, con­sis­tent with his pat­tern of curi­ous silence in the wake of hate vio­lence inci­dents against many com­mu­ni­ties includ­ing Mus­lim, Arab, South Asian, and Jew­ish Amer­i­cans. When tragedies charged with anti-immi­grant sen­ti­ment occur on the heels of anti-immi­grant exec­u­tive orders by the Pres­i­dent, we must demand bet­ter from our lead­ers. SAALT calls on the Pres­i­dent to imme­di­ate­ly denounce hate vio­lence and rescind his recent anti-immi­grant, anti-Mus­lim exec­u­tive orders. We fur­ther encour­age leg­is­la­tors at all lev­els to con­demn this unac­cept­able vio­lence.

Despite the ven­omous words of the shoot­er, there is a place in Amer­i­ca for all of our com­mu­ni­ties, and we will fight fierce­ly for our right­ful place with­in it.

Con­tact:  Vivek Trive­di — vivek@saalt.org

SAALT Resolutely Objects to DHS Memos Creating Blueprint for Mass Deportations

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT), a nation­al South Asian advo­ca­cy orga­ni­za­tion, res­olute­ly objects to the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty’s (DHS) mem­o­ran­da imple­ment­ing Pres­i­dent Trump’s exec­u­tive orders on inte­ri­or and bor­der enforce­ment. We believe these mem­os fur­ther rel­e­gate South Asian and all immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties to sec­ond-class cit­i­zen­ship, ques­tion­ing our very place in the quin­tes­sen­tial nation of immi­grants.

These poli­cies mas­sive­ly expand and accel­er­ate deten­tions and depor­ta­tions, tram­ple upon due process by in many cas­es remov­ing the require­ment for hear­ings and con­vic­tions pri­or to depor­ta­tion, dep­u­tize local law enforce­ment to serve as immi­gra­tion enforce­ment author­i­ties, and increase the pro­fil­ing and tar­get­ing of immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties already under siege in the wake of recent and con­tro­ver­sial exec­u­tive orders released by this admin­is­tra­tion.

“The scale of the Pres­i­den­t’s anti-immi­grant poli­cies is extreme, and the new admin­is­tra­tion appears hell-bent on tar­get­ing and demo­niz­ing immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties through orders that active­ly under­mine safe­ty and pub­lic trust in law enforce­ment,” stat­ed Suman Raghu­nathan, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of SAALT. “Short-cir­cuit­ing due process is not a crack­down on crime, but a crack­down on rights and our very found­ing val­ues as a nation, and these mea­sures must be opposed by all com­mu­ni­ties of col­or.”

The Pres­i­den­t’s poli­cies deeply affect the South Asian Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ty, the most rapid­ly grow­ing demo­graph­ic group in the Unit­ed States at over 4.3 mil­lion. The undoc­u­ment­ed South Asian pop­u­la­tion has grown sig­nif­i­cant­ly in the US in recent decades. India is the coun­try of ori­gin with the great­est increase in unau­tho­rized immi­grants to the Unit­ed States with a 914% increase since 1990. Cur­rent­ly there are 450,000 undoc­u­ment­ed Indi­an-Amer­i­cans in the US alone, mak­ing India the fourth-high­est send­ing coun­try for undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants after Mex­i­co, El Sal­vador, and Guatemala.

As doc­u­ment­ed in our recent report, “Pow­er, Pain, Poten­tial,” hate vio­lence against our com­mu­ni­ties has sky­rock­et­ed to lev­els not seen since the back­lash imme­di­ate­ly after the events of 9/11. At a time when immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties need to feel con­fi­dent in engag­ing with local law enforce­ment to report such inci­dents, the Pres­i­den­t’s dra­con­ian poli­cies will instead force vul­ner­a­ble com­mu­ni­ties to turn inward based upon their fear of pro­fil­ing and depor­ta­tion at the hands of the author­i­ties. Over­all pub­lic safe­ty will like­ly plunge as a result, as entire com­mu­ni­ties con­tin­ue to lose trust in the very law enforce­ment pro­fes­sion­als tasked with keep­ing them safe. As such, pub­lic safe­ty does not increase, but instead crip­ples under the weight of these short-sight­ed anti-immi­grant poli­cies.

Our com­mu­ni­ties are at the crosshairs. SAALT will con­tin­ue to fight for the core rights and pro­tec­tions for our com­mu­ni­ties at the nation­al, state and local lev­els with our 55 com­mu­ni­ty part­ners of the Nation­al Coali­tion of South Asian Orga­ni­za­tions. We will remain unbowed.

Con­tact:  Vivek Trive­di — vivek@saalt.org

SAALT Endorses the End Racial and Religious Profiling Act (ERRPA)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT), a nation­al South Asian Amer­i­can advo­ca­cy orga­ni­za­tion, is proud to endorse the End Racial and Reli­gious Pro­fil­ing Act 2017 (ERRPA), a crit­i­cal piece of leg­is­la­tion intro­duced today by Sen­a­tor Ben Cardin that pro­vides a com­pre­hen­sive pro­hi­bi­tion on pro­fil­ing by law enforce­ment that is woe­ful­ly miss­ing from exist­ing fed­er­al law enforce­ment poli­cies.

“This has been a ban­ner year for hate and we’re only in Feb­ru­ary, with suc­ces­sive waves of anti-Mus­lim, anti-immi­grant poli­cies crack­ing at the notion of equal­i­ty in our coun­try,” stat­ed Suman Raghu­nathan, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of SAALT. “ERRPA acknowl­edges the dan­ger­ous cli­mate of hate in the Unit­ed States, the dehu­man­iz­ing impact pro­fil­ing has on our com­mu­ni­ties, and cre­ates mech­a­nisms that seek to pro­tect the civ­il lib­er­ties of all Amer­i­cans.”

If passed, ERRPA cre­ates a uni­form def­i­n­i­tion of racial pro­fil­ing, includ­ing dis­crim­i­na­to­ry pro­fil­ing based on reli­gion, eth­nic­i­ty, or oth­er pro­tect­ed cat­e­gories, pro­hib­it­ed at all lev­els. ERRPA man­dates train­ing on racial pro­fil­ing issues, autho­rizes grants to law enforce­ment agen­cies to imple­ment best prac­tices dis­cour­ag­ing dis­crim­i­na­to­ry pro­fil­ing, and requires data col­lec­tion by these agen­cies.

ERRPA comes in light of SAALT’s lat­est report, “Power, Pain, Potential,” which doc­u­ments the dis­turb­ing increase in pro­fil­ing, sur­veil­lance, and hate vio­lence aimed at Mus­lim, Arab, and South Asian Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties dur­ing the 2016 elec­tion cycle, with lev­els rival­ing the back­lash in the year after 9/11. Issues of mis­trust and account­abil­i­ty from law enforce­ment have plagued com­mu­ni­ties of col­or for decades, and par­tic­u­lar­ly since 2001, when Mus­lim, Arab, and South Asian com­mu­ni­ties have been unjust­ly tar­get­ed, pro­filed, and sur­veilled by law enforce­ment. This leg­is­la­tion is now more impor­tant than ever, as the Trump admin­is­tra­tion con­tin­ues to embold­en law enforce­ment to tar­get and crim­i­nal­ize com­mu­ni­ties of col­or through divi­sive poli­cies such as the Secure Com­mu­ni­ties pro­gram, as well as through destruc­tive exec­u­tive orders and cab­i­net appoint­ments.

The trust deficit con­tin­ues to grow between the pub­lic and law enforce­ment at a time when pub­lic con­fi­dence in polic­ing is urgent­ly need­ed. The pas­sage of ERRPA can have a civ­i­liz­ing effect in our divid­ed soci­ety by trans­form­ing our police from a force to a ser­vice and ensur­ing that all are equal under the law. In a month of wrong turns, this leg­is­la­tion is the course cor­rec­tion our coun­try needs to uphold and pro­tect the rights of all.

Con­tact:  Vivek Trive­di — vivek@saalt.org

Meet the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations (NCSO)

Meet the 60 mem­bers of the Nation­al Coali­tion of South Asian Orga­ni­za­tions (NCSO), the nation’s largest net­work of com­mu­ni­ty-based orga­ni­za­tions that believe in com­mon prin­ci­ples relat­ed to social change, and that pro­vide ser­vices to, work with, con­vene, orga­nize and advo­cate for South Asians in the Unit­ed States.

SAALT Vehemently Opposes Bill Limiting Legal Immigration

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb­ru­ary 7, 2017

South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT), a nation­al South Asian Amer­i­can advo­ca­cy orga­ni­za­tion, vehe­ment­ly oppos­es today’s bill intro­duced by Sen­a­tor Tom Cot­ton (R‑AR) that aims to crack­down on legal immi­gra­tion. The bill, named the Reform­ing Amer­i­can Immi­gra­tion for Strong Employ­ment (RAISE) Act, would sig­nif­i­cant­ly reduce the num­ber of immi­grants who can obtain green cards and oth­er visas and would cut the num­ber of legal immi­grants allowed in the Unit­ed States by 40% in the first year and by 50% over a decade.

“This bill is clear­ly part of an undis­guised and coor­di­nat­ed attack on immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties,” stat­ed Lak­sh­mi Sri­daran, Direc­tor Nation­al Pol­i­cy and Advo­ca­cy at SAALT. “The dra­con­ian use of leg­is­la­tion and Exec­u­tive Orders to crim­i­nal­ize and mar­gin­al­ize immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties reveals the inher­ent xeno­pho­bia of this new admin­is­tra­tion.”

Num­ber­ing over 4.3 mil­lion, South Asians are the fastest grow­ing demo­graph­ic group in the Unit­ed States, with the major­i­ty our com­mu­ni­ties for­eign born. Sen­a­tor Cot­ton’s bill will make reunit­ing fam­i­lies a drain­ing if not impos­si­ble task for South Asian immi­grants who already strug­gle under a woe­ful­ly out­dat­ed immi­gra­tion sys­tem that makes fam­i­ly reuni­fi­ca­tion a bur­den­some task.

We implore Con­gress to sup­port and not hin­der immi­gra­tion, to wel­come refugees, to not crip­ple sanc­tu­ary cities, and to adopt an accu­rate and long view of our coun­try’s his­to­ry that sees immi­grants as a fun­da­men­tal aspect of Amer­i­can life.

Con­tact: Vivek Trive­di
vivek@saalt.org

Help us Fight Back Against the “Muslim Ban”

Dear Friend,

Last week’s Exec­u­tive Orders were an affront to the ideals of equal­i­ty and jus­tice upon which our nation was found­ed. Build­ing walls, ban­ning Mus­lims, and crip­pling sanc­tu­ary cities are just a few of the dev­as­tat­ing impacts of Pres­i­dent Trump’s poli­cies tar­get­ing our com­mu­ni­ties.

In response, we’ve seen an inspir­ing pub­lic push­back against these poli­cies nation­wide. It’s clear that the new admin­is­tra­tion feels the resis­tance. To keep the momen­tum going, below is a menu of actions you can take to demand jus­tice for our com­mu­ni­ties across the coun­try.

Take Action:

  • Use the link here to find your Mem­ber of Con­gress. Check here to see which Sen­a­tors and Gov­er­nors have tak­en a pub­lic stance against the Exec­u­tive Orders and find a sam­ple script on the “tem­plate for respons­es” tab of the doc­u­ment. Thank the Mem­bers of Con­gress who have pub­licly opposed the Orders and demand that those who remain silent or in sup­port speak up in oppo­si­tion!
  • Ear­li­er this week Sen­a­tor Fein­stein sub­mit­ted a bill to reverse the ‘Mus­lim ban’. While it did­n’t advance, it will be intro­duced again and needs more sup­port. Call this num­ber to ask your Sen­a­tors to pass this bill to reverse the ban: 1–855-976‑1858.
  • Attend the Nation­al South Asian Sum­mit on April 21–24 in Wash­ing­ton D.C., where SAALT will cel­e­brate the 10-year anniver­sary of this impor­tant gath­er­ing of South Asian Amer­i­can orga­ni­za­tions, activists, and indi­vid­u­als com­ing togeth­er to claim our pow­er through col­lec­tive action. To learn more and for infor­ma­tion on reg­is­tra­tion, click here.

Educate Yourself:

  • Get famil­iar with the impact of the Exec­u­tive Orders on our com­mu­ni­ties. Read and share these resources with your fam­i­ly and friends:
    • Read SAALT’s lat­est report, “Pow­er, Pain, Poten­tial” to learn about the dis­turb­ing lev­els of hate vio­lence and xeno­pho­bic polit­i­cal rhetoric tar­get­ed at our com­mu­ni­ties dur­ing the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tions.
    • Take a look at these impor­tant gen­er­al resources to find out what you can do to help today.
    • Go through this toolk­it pre­pared by Amer­i­can-Arab Anti-Dis­crim­i­na­tion Com­mit­tee to under­stand the Exec­u­tive Orders, Jan 27, 2017.
    • Read through this fact sheet on the Exec­u­tive Orders pre­pared by the Penn State Law Cen­ter for Immi­grants’ Rights Clin­ic and Mus­lim Advo­cates, Jan. 27, 2017.

Demonstrate:

  • Join the numer­ous direct actions occur­ring all over the coun­try. Here is a list of air­port actions around the coun­try that occurred this week­end or com­ing up soon.
  • Orga­nize ral­lies and actions in sup­port of local mosques on Feb­ru­ary 3, 2017. MPow­er Change can sup­port your ideas for action.
  • Con­nect to mem­bers of the Nation­al Coali­tion of South Asian Orga­ni­za­tions in your state if you want to vol­un­teer or join a ral­ly.

Provide and Find Help:

Stay informed:

These small actions col­lec­tive­ly can cre­ate large-scale change for our com­mu­ni­ties and coun­try. SAALT stands ready as a resource and sup­port for all. Con­tact us at info@saalt.org.

In part­ner­ship and with deter­mi­na­tion,
South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT)

Our nation is better than this.

Dear Friend,

Last week I spoke out against the Pres­i­den­t’s divi­sive and un-Amer­i­can Exec­u­tive Orders that built walls, banned Mus­lims, reject­ed refugees, deprived sanc­tu­ar­ies, and expand­ed sur­veil­lance on Mus­lim-Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties across the coun­try, all the while fail­ing to make us safer or greater. I wrote in response, “we must be better than this.”

The tens of thou­sands of peo­ple who took to the air­ports and air­waves, to the city streets and social media, to the court­rooms and Capi­tol Hill in protest of these orders con­firmed: we are better than this.

As a result, Pres­i­dent Trump’s xeno­pho­bic agen­da has met resis­tance.

This morn­ing I spoke at a press con­fer­ence in Wash­ing­ton D.C. with the Con­gres­sion­al Asian Pacif­ic Amer­i­can Cau­cus in oppo­si­tion to the Pres­i­den­t’s Exec­u­tive Orders. Part of my remarks focused on SAALT’s lat­est report, “Power, Pain, Potential,” which doc­u­ment­ed over 200 inci­dents of hate vio­lence and xeno­pho­bic polit­i­cal rhetoric tar­get­ed at our com­mu­ni­ties dur­ing the 2016 elec­tions. I also stat­ed that “These Exec­u­tive Orders sow fear in com­mu­ni­ties of col­or and make us all less safe. The cur­rent nation­al mes­sage resounds with exclu­sion and racism.”

As South Asian Amer­i­cans, we’ve been here before. In those dark days and months fol­low­ing 9/11, our com­mu­ni­ties were tar­get­ed, attacked, and leg­is­lat­ed against at unprece­dent­ed lev­els. We can­not let his­to­ry repeat itself. Never again.

As SAALT con­tin­ues to demand equal­i­ty, jus­tice, and full inclu­sion for all Amer­i­cans, and as we push back against the anti-Mus­lim, anti-immi­grant, anti-Amer­i­can agen­da of the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, we ask you to please stand with us.

As we con­tin­ue track­ing hate and work­ing with our part­ners in the Nation­al Coali­tion of South Asian Orga­ni­za­tions to demand our rights, we ask you to please stand with us.

As we host the 10-year anniver­sary of the Nation­al South Asian Sum­mit in Wash­ing­ton D.C. this April, where hun­dreds of orga­ni­za­tions and activists will come togeth­er to build skills, con­nect with pol­i­cy­mak­ers, and strate­gize on how to claim our pow­er through col­lec­tive action, we ask you to please stand with us.

As our coun­try con­tin­ues to change shape and many of you fear that the worst is yet to come, we ask you to please stand with us. We promise you, our best is also yet to come. Support SAALT today.

In strength and part­ner­ship,

Suman Raghu­nathan, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, SAALT