SAALT Applauds the 4th Circuit Ruling Against “Muslim Ban 2.0”


South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT), a nation­al South Asian racial jus­tice and civ­il rights orga­ni­za­tion, applauds today’s rul­ing by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Cir­cuit to uphold a nation­wide injunc­tion on Pres­i­dent Trump’s “Mus­lim Ban 2.0” exec­u­tive order.

“SAALT and our allies nation­wide have called for a total and com­plete shut­down of the ‘Mus­lim Ban’ since day one, and today the Court of Appeals for the 4th Cir­cuit answered that call,” stat­ed Suman Raghu­nathan, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of SAALT. “Through his divi­sive poli­cies and rhetoric, the Pres­i­dent and oth­er irre­spon­si­ble elect­ed and appoint­ed offi­cials have ampli­fied an appetite for dis­crim­i­na­tion and hos­til­i­ty we’ve seen borne out in surges in hate vio­lence against our com­mu­ni­ties nation­wide. Today’s rul­ing reaf­firms our place in this coun­try, that we are not going any­where, and no one, not even the Pres­i­dent, can nego­ti­ate that truth away.”

Cos­met­ic changes to the Pres­i­den­t’s orig­i­nal “Mus­lim Ban” did not beguile the 13 judges of the 4th Cir­cuit. The court stat­ed that the evi­dence “cre­ates a com­pelling case that [the Pres­i­den­t’s sec­ond trav­el ban’s] pri­ma­ry pur­pose is reli­gious” and that the Pres­i­den­t’s anti-Mus­lim cam­paign rhetoric “pro­vides direct, spe­cif­ic evi­dence” of “Pres­i­dent Trump’s desire to exclude Mus­lims from the Unit­ed States.”

While the Pres­i­den­t’s anti-Mus­lim orders con­tin­ue to be blocked, SAALT con­tin­ues to be deeply con­cerned these poli­cies fan the flames of vio­lence against our com­mu­ni­ties nation­wide. From trag­ic shoot­ings in Kansas and Wash­ing­ton State to ongo­ing arson attacks and van­dal­ism of mosques, busi­ness­es, and homes across the coun­try, South Asian, Mus­lim, Sikh, and Hin­du com­mu­ni­ties con­tin­ue to expe­ri­ence a ris­ing tide of hate and fear through­out the Unit­ed States that only appears to con­tin­ue grow­ing.

In Jan­u­ary SAALT released “Pow­er, Pain, Poten­tial,” a report doc­u­ment­ing over 200 inci­dents of hate vio­lence and xeno­pho­bic polit­i­cal rhetoric against South Asian, Mus­lim, Hin­du, Sikh, Arab, and Mid­dle East­ern Amer­i­cans dur­ing the 2016 elec­tion cycle. While we know this num­ber accounts for only a frac­tion of actu­al inci­dents aimed at our com­mu­ni­ties, 95% of the inci­dents doc­u­ment­ed were moti­vat­ed by anti-Mus­lim sen­ti­ment. Pres­i­dent Trump was respon­si­ble for 21% of the xeno­pho­bic rhetoric we tracked. Even as Trump’s anti-Mus­lim rhetoric ener­gized his base dur­ing his cam­paign, it has stymied his admin­is­tra­tion’s efforts to enact and defend the “Mus­lim Bans” as evinced by sev­er­al fed­er­al court rul­ings.

Today’s judg­ment nul­li­fies, at least tem­porar­i­ly, one of this admin­is­tra­tion’s open­ly dis­crim­i­na­to­ry poli­cies tar­get­ing our com­mu­ni­ties. Despite this rul­ing, the strug­gle con­tin­ues to ensure our com­mu­ni­ties enjoy the rights, free­doms, and pro­tec­tions we all deserve.

CONTACT:  Vivek Trive­di —

National South Asian Summit Focused on Keeping Our Communities #United4Action

Wash­ing­ton, DC — On April 21–24, South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT) wel­comed hun­dreds of activists, orga­ni­za­tions, stu­dents, and com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers from across the coun­try to the 10-year anniver­sary of the Nation­al South Asian Sum­mit in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., a four-day event where par­tic­i­pants raised their voic­es on urgent issues for our com­mu­ni­ties.

“Our com­mu­ni­ties con­tin­ue to live in var­i­ous states of shock as a panora­ma of hate vio­lence, civ­il rights vio­la­tions, and anti-immi­grant poli­cies con­tin­ue to impact South Asian Amer­i­cans nation­wide,” stat­ed Suman Raghu­nathan, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of SAALT. “At this chal­leng­ing moment, the Nation­al South Asian Sum­mit offered a plat­form for our com­mu­ni­ties to seek and find spaces for sol­i­dar­i­ty while also pro­vid­ing an oppor­tu­ni­ty for thought lead­ers, activists, stu­dents, and com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers from across the coun­try to col­lec­tive­ly exam­ine our diverse pri­or­i­ties. Under the theme Unit­ed for Action, we ambi­tious­ly, dis­rup­tive­ly, and com­pas­sion­ate­ly engaged in a crit­i­cal strug­gle for jus­tice and full inclu­sion for all.”

This year’s par­tic­i­pants were a diverse group, includ­ing stu­dents and seniors, thought lead­ers and social work­ers, techies and teach­ers, poets, film­mak­ers, lawyers, coun­selors, and orga­niz­ers who reflect­ed the rich diver­si­ty, expe­ri­ences, reli­gions, eth­nic­i­ties, and nation­al ori­gins of our com­mu­ni­ties. The Sum­mit pro­vid­ed an oppor­tu­ni­ty to con­nect through a sense of col­lec­tive iden­ti­ty, com­mit­ment to strength­en­ing our com­mu­ni­ties, and a deep belief in the pow­er of unit­ing for action in the pur­suit of jus­tice.

ChangeMakers Awards

Pho­to Cred­it — Dani Leigh Pho­tog­ra­phy

The Nation­al South Asian Sum­mit 2017 kicked off on Fri­day, April 21 at the Nation­al Press Club with the Change­Mak­ers Awards, an event that rec­og­nized indi­vid­u­als and orga­ni­za­tions that have cat­alyzed social jus­tice with­in the South Asian Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ty. This year’s Change­Mak­ers hon­orees includ­ed Vani­ta Gup­ta, for­mer Prin­ci­pal Deputy Assis­tant Attor­ney Gen­er­al and future Pres­i­dent and CEO of the Lead­er­ship Con­fer­ence on Civ­il and Human Rights; Equal­i­ty Labs, the first South Asian women, gen­der non-con­form­ing, queer, and trans-led tech­nol­o­gy project whose lead­er­ship is from South Asian cul­tur­al and reli­gious minor­i­ty com­mu­ni­ties; Jayesh Rathod, pro­fes­sor of law at Amer­i­can Uni­ver­si­ty Wash­ing­ton Col­lege of Law and found­ing Direc­tor of the law school’s Immi­grant Jus­tice Clin­ic who also served on SAALT’s Board of Direc­tors for 10 years; Daya, Inc., a Hous­ton non-prof­it that sup­ports South Asian women who are try­ing to break the cycle of domes­tic and sex­u­al vio­lence and which in 2015 became a BIA-accred­it­ed agency pro­vid­ing immi­gra­tion ser­vices to clients in need; Zahra Bil­loo, lead­ing civ­il rights attor­ney and the Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of the San Fran­cis­co Bay Area chap­ter of the Coun­cil on Amer­i­can Islam­ic Rela­tions (CAIR); Gur­bani Kaur, a stu­dent activists, founder of the Sikh Stu­dent Asso­ci­a­tion at Har­vard, and alum­nus of SAALT’s Young Lead­ers Insti­tute; and Ravi Rag­bir, fear­less immi­grant rights advo­cate and Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of the New Sanc­tu­ary Coali­tion who is cur­rent­ly fight­ing against his own pos­si­ble depor­ta­tion. The evening also pro­vid­ed a oppor­tu­ni­ty for SAALT to express our deep appre­ci­a­tion to out­go­ing Board Chair Sunil Oom­men, who served on SAALT’s Board of Direc­tors with dis­tinc­tion for 10 years. A musi­cal per­for­mance by award win­ning artists Kiran Ahluwalia and Rez Abassi closed out the Change­Mak­ers recep­tion.

Summit Sessions

Pho­to Cred­it — Dani Leigh Pho­tog­ra­phy

Over 300 atten­dees gath­ered for the four-day Sum­mit, includ­ing two full days at Trin­i­ty Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty where 40 dynam­ic ses­sions con­ceived and led by com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers explored the diverse needs and pri­or­i­ties of our com­mu­ni­ties. “The Nation­al South Asian Sum­mit is cru­cial because we are now com­ing togeth­er from across the coun­try to dis­cuss cre­at­ing and chang­ing the insti­tu­tion­al racism that we face here in Amer­i­ca,” stat­ed Ravi Rag­bir, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of the New Sanc­tu­ary Coali­tion. ASATA mem­ber Sabi­ha Bas­rai believes “The Nation­al South Asian Sum­mit allows for a healthy con­tro­ver­sy in the room and does not expect every­one to have polit­i­cal align­ment on every­thing, which allows us to push each oth­er with love and respect.” Fahd Ahmed, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of Desis Ris­ing Up and Mov­ing (DRUM), not­ed, “The oppor­tu­ni­ty to bring peo­ple togeth­er and to learn about the issues that peo­ple are fac­ing, how they are respond­ing to those issues, how they are suc­ceed­ing, and what con­tin­ue to be their chal­lenges is a very impor­tant learn­ing ground. For DRUM, that’s always been the most impor­tant aspect of the Sum­mit.”

Pho­to Cred­it: Vivek Trive­di, SAALT

On the evening of April 22 the Sum­mit par­tic­i­pants took to the streets for the South Asian Amer­i­cans March­ing For Jus­tice event, a ral­ly that began at Free­dom Plaza and con­clud­ed with a march to the White House. From speech­es to chants demand­ing civ­il rights, civ­il lib­er­ties, and immi­gra­tion jus­tice for all, we marched for all those fight­ing for a social­ly just coun­try, and we demand­ed the sup­port of pol­i­cy­mak­ers towards that vision.

View the full agen­da with all ses­sion descrip­tions here.

Advocacy Day

Pho­to Cred­it — Dani Leigh Pho­tog­ra­phy

The Nation­al Sum­mit gar­nered strong media cov­er­age from numer­ous nation­al and eth­nic out­lets. A fea­ture in Scroll exam­ined the Sum­mit and the pow­er of cross-racial orga­niz­ing. NPR’s Arun Venu­gopal attend­ed the Nation­al Sum­mit and inter­viewed SAALT’s Exec­u­tive Direc­tor and allies for this piece on the nation­al real­i­ties of hate crimes.. SAALT was also hon­ored by Huff­Post as one of the five South Asian Amer­i­can orga­ni­za­tions every woke per­son should know.

Thank you to our spon­sors, The Four Free­doms Fund, Com­cast, Savan Kotecha, Gar­cia Her­nan­dez, Sawh­ney, LLP, South Asian Bar Asso­ci­a­tion of North Amer­i­ca, Sunil Oom­men, and Man­si and Archit Shah for their gen­er­ous sup­port of the Nation­al South Asian Sum­mit.

For more infor­ma­tion, quotes, or pic­tures, please con­tact:
Vivek Trive­di, Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Devel­op­ment Man­ag­er |

SAALT Calls On Law Enforcement To Investigate Bias As Motivation in Latest South Asian American Killings


South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT), a nation­al South Asian civ­il rights orga­ni­za­tion, mourns the loss of life in sep­a­rate killings of South Asian Amer­i­cans last week in Cal­i­for­nia and Michi­gan, and demands that law enforce­ment inves­ti­gate whether racial or reli­gious ani­mus moti­vat­ed any of these inci­dents.

On May 4, Dr. Ramesh Kumar was found shot dead in his car on a high­way near Detroit, Michi­gan. Hours lat­er in a sep­a­rate inci­dent in Modesto, Cal­i­for­nia, Jag­jeet Singh, a con­ve­nience store clerk, was stabbed to death by a cus­tomer out­side his shop. Racial moti­va­tions have been alleged in both cas­es.

“Our com­mu­ni­ties have faced a hos­tile cli­mate of hate for years, with par­tic­u­lar inten­si­ty since Pres­i­dent Trump took office. This makes race as a pos­si­ble moti­va­tion in these trag­ic killings a very real pos­si­bil­i­ty,” stat­ed Suman Raghu­nathan, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of SAALT. “The Pres­i­den­t’s divi­sive rhetoric and poli­cies have fanned the flames of vio­lence against our com­mu­ni­ties since his cam­paign, and now in his Pres­i­den­cy. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, broad swaths of our nation’s res­i­dents face hos­til­i­ty and vio­lence as a result of the xeno­pho­bic and anti-Mus­lim rhetoric advanced by Pres­i­dent Trump.”

2017 has been a dead­ly year for our grow­ing com­mu­ni­ties, includ­ing trag­ic shoot­ings in Kansas and Wash­ing­ton State, numer­ous arson attacks and van­dal­ism of mosques, busi­ness­es, and homes nation­wide, and mount­ing fear expe­ri­enced with­in our com­mu­ni­ties across the coun­try. The nation has seen a groundswell of vio­lence aimed at South Asian, Mus­lim and immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties, with numer­ous per­pe­tra­tors hurl­ing epi­thets before com­mit­ting acts of vio­lence against com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers. South Asians are the most rapid­ly grow­ing demo­graph­ic group nation­wide.

These relent­less and numer­ous tragedies build upon the his­toric vio­lence of the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tions. In our lat­est report, “Pow­er, Pain, Poten­tial,” SAALT doc­u­ment­ed 207 inci­dents of hate vio­lence and xeno­pho­bic polit­i­cal rhetoric aimed at South Asian, Mus­lim, Sikh, Hin­du, Arab, and Mid­dle East­ern Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties dur­ing the divi­sive elec­tions, 95% of which were ani­mat­ed by anti-Mus­lim sen­ti­ment. Notably, 1 in 5 xeno­pho­bic com­ments came from then-can­di­date Trump.

The Pres­i­den­t’s rhetoric has been imple­ment­ed with dev­as­tat­ing effect via divi­sive poli­cies such as two attempts at a “Mus­lim Ban”, both of which have been halt­ed by the courts. This week the admin­is­tra­tion is appeal­ing a nation­wide restrain­ing order on the lat­est “Mus­lim Ban” in the 4th Cir­cuit Court of Appeals in Vir­ginia. SAALT and our allies ral­lied in staunch oppo­si­tion to the “Mus­lim Ban” as part of the #NoMus­lim­Ban­Ev­er week of resis­tance. Lak­sh­mi Sri­daran, Direc­tor of Nation­al Pol­i­cy and Advo­ca­cy of SAALT, stat­ed, “The Pres­i­dent may be a busi­ness­man at heart, but civ­il rights do not belong at the nego­ti­a­tion table. SAALT, our allies, and our com­mu­ni­ties will con­tin­ue to be at the van­guard of efforts to resist this and any admin­is­tra­tion’s efforts to strip us of our dig­ni­ty and jus­tice.”

Con­tact:  Vivek Trive­di —