SAALT Denounces the Administration’s “Public Charge” Proposal to Criminalize Immigrants for Using Public Benefits


Washington, D.C., South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT) con­demns the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty announce­ment of new pro­posed “pub­lic charge” rules that would deny per­ma­nent res­i­dent sta­tus (“green cards”) to immi­grants who use gov­ern­ment ser­vices such as nutri­tion pro­grams and hous­ing assis­tance. The new rule would also weigh age, health, and employ­a­bil­i­ty as fac­tors to deny green cards. SAALT, along with immi­grant and civ­il rights, pub­lic health, and labor orga­ni­za­tions, are denounc­ing these changes that threat­en fam­i­lies and children’s health. The pro­posed rules would rel­e­gate immi­grants who are not yet cit­i­zens to sec­ond-class sta­tus by con­demn­ing their use of crit­i­cal pub­lic ben­e­fits pro­grams.
If imple­ment­ed, the pub­lic charge reg­u­la­tion would under­mine the safe­ty, health, and secu­ri­ty of immi­grant fam­i­lies. Rumors of the pro­pos­al have already sown fear among immi­grant fam­i­lies, many of whom have fore­gone essen­tial health and nutri­tion ser­vices for which they are eli­gi­ble. The new rule would hit South Asian Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties par­tic­u­lar­ly hard, as over 10% of green card recip­i­ents in FY 2016 were from South Asian coun­tries. Accord­ing to a recent Pew Research Cen­ter study, one in four immi­grants in the U.S. from Bangladesh and Nepal and one in three immi­grants from Bhutan already live in pover­ty. This new rule would put all of these indi­vid­u­als at great risk. The term “pub­lic charge” pre­dates fed­er­al immi­gra­tion law entire­ly. In the ear­ly 1800’s states would only free indi­vid­ual slaves on the con­di­tion that they nev­er become a “pub­lic charge.” This frame­work is now being expand­ed to crim­i­nal­ize immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties.
“This pol­i­cy is about who this Admin­is­tra­tion con­sid­ers a desir­able immi­grant. It is designed to instill fear in immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties of col­or and rel­e­gate non-cit­i­zens and their fam­i­lies to sec­ond-class sta­tus. It will pun­ish immi­grants who right­ful­ly access the pub­lic ben­e­fits to which they are enti­tled, it will pun­ish par­ents for tak­ing care of their chil­dren, and it will force immi­grant fam­i­lies to choose between cit­i­zen­ship and basic needs. Rather than tax­ing the 1%, this Admin­is­tra­tion choos­es to pun­ish immi­grant fam­i­lies over and over again. Today, on the one-year anniver­sary of Mus­lim Ban 3.0, we say no to more racist and anti-immi­grant poli­cies,” said Suman Raghu­nathan, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of SAALT.
Once the rule is offi­cial­ly pub­lished in the Fed­er­al Reg­is­ter, the pub­lic will have 60 days to com­ment on the pro­posed rule before the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty pro­ceeds with final rule­mak­ing. Stay tuned for SAALT’s cam­paign to chan­nel pub­lic com­ments to the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment oppos­ing this dis­crim­i­na­to­ry pro­pos­al.
CONTACT: Sophia Qureshi,

SAALT Chicago Townhall: The Future of South Asians in the U.S.


Join us to learn about how we can all build The Future for South Asians in the U.S. on Sat­ur­day, Octo­ber 6th in Niles, Illi­nois. South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT) will be part­ner­ing with Chicagoland com­mu­ni­ty orga­ni­za­tions to host this crit­i­cal forum address­ing the impact of immi­gra­tion pol­i­cy in the U.S. on the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty.

This excit­ing Town Hall will include:
  • A Resource Fair, fea­tur­ing local South Asian com­mu­ni­ty orga­ni­za­tions.
  • A pan­el dis­cus­sion on sev­er­al key local and nation­al poli­cies that impact South Asian Amer­i­cans


The Resource Fair will allow com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers to con­nect with local orga­ni­za­tions serv­ing and work­ing with South Asian Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties. Indo-Amer­i­can Cen­terSouth Asian Amer­i­cans Pol­i­cy and Research Insti­tute (SAAPRI)Ham­dard Cen­terApna Ghar, the Coun­cil on Amer­i­can Islam­ic Rela­tions — Chica­go (CAIR-Chica­go), and more local orga­ni­za­tions will be avail­able to answer your ques­tions aboutim­mi­gra­tion, health care, pub­lic ben­e­fits, and DACA.
There will also be a pan­el dis­cus­sion with local advo­cates for the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty, shar­ing how cur­rent nation­al and state-lev­el poli­cies affect our com­mu­ni­ties, H4 visa hold­ers, DACA recip­i­ents, and the DREAM Act. There will also be infor­ma­tion about the 2020 Cen­sus, and how pro­posed changes will like­ly impact the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty.
For a full list of our co-spon­sors and speak­ers please vis­it and RSVP on our Eventbrite page for The Future of South Asians in the U.S. on Sat­ur­day, Octo­ber 6th at Cul­ver Ele­men­tary School.
We look for­ward to see­ing you there!

CONTACT: Sophia Qureshi,

SAALT hosts Congressional Briefing — 17 years after 9/11 “Detentions, Deportations, Diminished Civil Rights”

Sep­tem­ber 14, 2018
On September 13, South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT) host­ed a Capi­tol Hill Brief­ing in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Con­gres­sion­al Asian Pacif­ic Amer­i­can Cau­cus (CAPAC). Mem­bers of Con­gress and an expert pan­el of com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers pro­vid­ed remarks mark­ing the 17th anniver­sary of the trag­ic events of 9/11. This year’s anniver­sary fell at a time of ram­pant anti-immi­grant and xeno­pho­bic poli­cies aimed at South Asian, Mus­lim, Sikh, Hin­du, Mid­dle East­ern, and Arab Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties. Mem­bers of Con­gress and com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers dis­cussed the inter­sec­tion of hate vio­lence, the Mus­lim Ban, and immi­gra­tion enforce­ment. They also point­ed to leg­isla­tive and pol­i­cy pro­pos­als to safe­guard civ­il rights and pro­tect immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties.
As lead spon­sor of H.R. 1566 NO HATE Act, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Don Bey­er (VA-08) pro­vid­ed open­ing remarks empha­siz­ing the rela­tion­ship between hate vio­lence and dis­crim­i­na­to­ry and anti-immi­grant poli­cies advanced by the cur­rent admin­is­tra­tion. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Bey­er remind­ed the audi­ence that hate vio­lence exists in every cor­ner of our nation as he recount­ed recent inci­dents from his north­ern Vir­ginia Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict.
Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Grace Meng (NY-06) pro­vid­ed clos­ing remarks com­mem­o­rat­ing the impact of 9/11 and the ensu­ing back­lash against South Asian, Mus­lim, Sikh, Hin­du, Mid­dle East­ern, and Arab Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties in New York City. She high­light­ed the sto­ry of Salman Ham­dani, a young Mus­lim-Amer­i­can first respon­der on 9/11, whose name was left off the Nation­al Sep­tem­ber 11 Memo­r­i­al in Man­hat­tan.
“SAALT is com­mit­ted to address­ing the under­ly­ing fac­tors that spur hate vio­lence against our com­mu­ni­ties, includ­ing dis­crim­i­na­to­ry poli­cies and the growth in orga­nized white suprema­cy. We are ded­i­cat­ed to work­ing with Con­gres­sion­al lead­ers and our com­mu­ni­ty part­ners to ensure the next decade sees a decline in hate vio­lence,” stat­ed Suman Raghu­nathan, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of SAALT.

Hon­orary Co-hosts:
The Hon­or­able Sen­a­tor Jef­frey A. Merkley (OR)
Con­gres­sion­al Co-spon­sors:
Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Don Bey­er (VA-08) – open­ing remarks
Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Prami­la Jaya­pal (WA-07)
Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Ro Khan­na (CA-17)
Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Grace Meng (NY-06) – clos­ing remarks
Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jan Schakowsky (IL-09)
Azza Alti­raifi, Jus­tice for Mus­lims Col­lec­tive
Paromi­ta Shah, Nation­al Immi­gra­tion Project of the Nation­al Lawyers Guild
Lak­sh­mi Sri­daran, South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er


Representative Don Beyer (VA-08): “I want to rec­og­nize SAALT’s cru­cial advo­ca­cy work – they have been instru­men­tal in ele­vat­ing South Asian Amer­i­can voic­es into con­ver­sa­tions on the Hill. I am proud to have SAALT’s sup­port on my bill, the NO HATE Act, which will help improve hate crime report­ing.”
Representative Grace Meng (NY-06): “I’m proud of the tremen­dous work SAALT does on behalf of the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty. We have a col­lec­tive respon­si­bil­i­ty to ensure our com­mu­ni­ties are safe from vio­lence, hate, and dis­crim­i­na­tion. I’m com­mit­ted to ensur­ing that my con­stituents have the sup­port and resources to keep our com­mu­ni­ties safe. I’m proud to part­ner with SAALT and am con­fi­dent it will con­tin­ue to play a piv­otal role in keep­ing our com­mu­ni­ties safe.”
For a record­ed stream of the Brief­ing, please click here.

17 Years After 9/11: Detentions, Deportations, Diminished Civil Rights

Sep­tem­ber 11, 2018

Today marks the 17-year anniver­sary of the trag­ic attacks of Sep­tem­ber 11, 2001. This anniver­sary falls at a time of ram­pant immi­gra­tion enforce­ment and racial pro­fil­ing poli­cies direct­ed at South Asian, Mus­lim, Sikh, Hin­du, Mid­dle East­ern, and Arab Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties. Unsur­pris­ing­ly, this esca­la­tion of bru­tal and dis­crim­i­na­to­ry poli­cies is accom­pa­nied by a ris­ing tide of hate vio­lence impact­ing our com­mu­ni­ties. Near­ly two decades after the events of Sep­tem­ber 11th, hate vio­lence tar­get­ing South Asian, Mus­lim, Sikh, Hin­du, Mid­dle East­ern, and Arab Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties has now sur­passed lev­els only seen imme­di­ate­ly after that tragedy.

SAALT has already doc­u­ment­ed over 400 incidents of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric tar­get­ing our com­mu­ni­ties since the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. Trag­i­cal­ly, we can now draw a direct link between divi­sive polit­i­cal rhetoric and its role in spurring hate vio­lence: one in five of the hate incidents documented in our 2018 report, Communities on Fire, involved perpetrators who verbally referenced President Trump, one of his administration’s policies, or one of his campaign slogans while committing an act of violence.

Since the events of Sep­tem­ber 11th, suc­ces­sive admin­is­tra­tions have lever­aged a ‘nation­al secu­ri­ty’ lens to advance anti-immi­grant and xeno­pho­bic poli­cies that tar­get our com­mu­ni­ties and our place in this nation. This list of poli­cies that seek to lim­it and exclude our rights includes but is not lim­it­ed to the Patri­ot Act, the Coun­ter­ing Vio­lent Extrem­ism pro­gram, and the Mus­lim Ban. Sev­er­al dev­as­tat­ing poli­cies aimed at immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties have been unveiled in the last year alone. Exam­ples include the deci­sion to ter­mi­nate Tem­po­rary Pro­tect­ed Sta­tus (TPS) for indi­vid­u­als from sev­er­al coun­tries includ­ing Nepal, Hon­duras, El Sal­vador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan; a wave of depor­ta­tions of doc­u­ment­ed and undoc­u­ment­ed res­i­dents; sep­a­rat­ing fam­i­lies and detain­ing chil­dren in cages; and denat­u­ral­iz­ing Amer­i­can cit­i­zens. In short, we are in the midst of a cam­paign to cre­ate an Amer­i­ca that is sep­a­rate and unequal for the for­eign-born and their fam­i­lies. The onslaught is slat­ed to con­tin­ue esca­lat­ing through the administration’s plans to fur­ther crim­i­nal­ize immi­grants for uti­liz­ing pub­lic ben­e­fits by issu­ing a ‘pub­lic charge’ rule and uncon­sti­tu­tion­al­ly includ­ing a ques­tion on cit­i­zen­ship sta­tus in the 2020 Cen­sus.

It appears this dan­ger­ous con­ver­gence of poli­cies, rhetoric, and vio­lence will not end soon. In April 2018, a Hous­ton Mus­lim woman wear­ing a hijab was stabbed by an attack­er yelling “Oh my God, it’s a r**head” “sand n******” and oth­er racial­ly deroga­to­ry terms. In July and August 2018, two Cal­i­for­nia Sikh men wear­ing tur­bans were vio­lent­ly attacked in sep­a­rate inci­dents. In one inci­dent, the per­pe­tra­tor yelled “Go back to your coun­try!” SAALT con­tin­ues to col­lect data on inci­dents of hate vio­lence in our public, online database, and pro­vides month­ly updates on trends.

Lat­er this week, SAALT will host a Con­gres­sion­al Brief­ing in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Con­gres­sion­al Asian Pacif­ic Amer­i­can Cau­cus (CAPAC) to high­light the inter­sec­tion between cur­rent inci­dents of hate vio­lence, the Mus­lim Ban, and immi­gra­tion enforce­ment. SAALT is com­mit­ted to address­ing the under­ly­ing fac­tors that spur hate vio­lence against our com­mu­ni­ties, includ­ing dis­crim­i­na­to­ry poli­cies and the growth in orga­nized white suprema­cy. We are ded­i­cat­ed to ensur­ing the next decade sees a decline in hate vio­lence and an effort to regain this nation’s core ideals of equal­i­ty and jus­tice.

DACA: One year of uncertainty, one year of fighting back

Sep­tem­ber 5, 2018

Today is the one-year anniver­sary of this administration’s unnec­es­sary and destruc­tive deci­sion to expose over 800,000 DREAM­ers to depor­ta­tion by end­ing the Deferred Action for Child­hood Arrivals (DACA) pro­gram. This crit­i­cal pro­gram, which con­tin­ues to enjoy over­whelm­ing sup­port from the Amer­i­can pub­lic, has pro­tect­ed immi­grant youth for over six years from being forced out of the only coun­try they have ever known. The DACA pro­gram is an impor­tant life­line for immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties, includ­ing South Asians; there are at least 5,500 DACA recip­i­ents from India and Pak­istan alone, and an addi­tion­al esti­mat­ed 17,000 indi­vid­u­als from India and 6,000 indi­vid­u­als from Pak­istan who are eli­gi­ble for DACA.

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