SAALT Responds to Devastating Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting

Octo­ber 29, 2018

We are dev­as­tat­ed by the fatal shoot­ing at Tree of Life or L’Simcha Con­gre­ga­tion in Pitts­burgh, PA claim­ing 11 lives and injur­ing many more. As a racial jus­tice orga­ni­za­tion, we stand against white suprema­cy and big­otry in all its forms, and reaf­firm our sol­i­dar­i­ty with the Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty in Pitts­burgh and with Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ties all over the U.S.

This is the third doc­u­ment­ed inci­dent of white suprema­cist vio­lence tar­get­ing a com­mu­ni­ty in a house of wor­ship in the last six years. In 2015, a white suprema­cist shot and killed nine Black wor­ship­pers at an Epis­co­pal church in Charleston. In 2012, a known white suprema­cist shot and killed six Sikh Amer­i­cans at the Oak Creek gur­d­wara in Wis­con­sin.

Just last week, a gun­man killed a Black woman and Black man at a gro­cery store in Louisville, KY, after first attempt­ing to enter a Black church.

We are in the midst of an alarm­ing trend — white suprema­cist vio­lence is inten­si­fy­ing as open­ly divi­sive poli­cies and poi­so­nous polit­i­cal rhetoric are rolled out with grim con­sis­ten­cy. While the tar­gets of this vio­lence, poli­cies, and rhetoric are numer­ous, we know fear is inten­si­fy­ing in our com­mu­ni­ties.   Since Novem­ber 2016, SAALT has doc­u­ment­ed 416 inci­dents of hate vio­lence and xeno­pho­bic polit­i­cal rhetoric against Mus­lim, Sikh, South Asian, Arab, and Mid­dle East­ern com­mu­ni­ties alone. One in five per­pe­tra­tors of the hate vio­lence inci­dents from Novem­ber 2016 to Novem­ber 2017 ref­er­enced Pres­i­dent Trump, a Trump pol­i­cy, or a Trump cam­paign slo­gan.

Suman Raghu­nathan, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of South Asian Amer­i­cans (SAALT), offered the fol­low­ing state­ment:

“In a trag­ic para­dox, South Asian Amer­i­cans and Mus­lim, Arab, and South Asian com­mu­ni­ties are grow­ing rapid­ly even as they are increas­ing­ly tar­gets of vio­lence. This is not only unac­cept­able, it’s un-Amer­i­can.   Any attack on com­mu­ni­ties based upon how they pray, their skin col­or, or their per­ceived nation­al­i­ty is an attack on our nation’s core val­ues.  We remain a part of this nation’s fab­ric, and are not going any­where.  We stand in uni­ty with all com­mu­ni­ties fight­ing for the nation we love at this crit­i­cal time.”

CONTACT: Sophia Qureshi,


In her 15 year career, Sophia Qureshi has focused on expand­ing the poten­tial for jour­nal­ism and sto­ry­telling by build­ing bridges between dif­fer­ent worlds — jour­nal­ism, non­prof­its, think tanks, grass­roots groups, and artis­tic venues.

Sophia has held posi­tions at the Unit­ed Nations, CNN, Al Jazeera, and The Cen­ter for Pub­lic Integri­ty (CPI), estab­lish­ing jour­nal­ism part­ner­ships between com­mer­cial and non-prof­it worlds.

She is a founder of Sub­con­ti­nen­tal Drift – a nation­wide South Asian Amer­i­can coali­tion that fos­ters and pro­vides a sup­port­ive and col­lab­o­ra­tive com­mu­ni­ty for cre­ative expres­sion, engage­ment, and pos­i­tive social change.

She is a polit­i­cal sci­ence grad­u­ate of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Geor­gia, and has a master’s degree from George­town Uni­ver­si­ty in inter­na­tion­al devel­op­ment and com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

She loves multi­gen­er­a­tional epic fam­i­ly saga nov­els, noon chai, graph­ic jour­nal­ing, answer­ing meta­phys­i­cal ques­tions posed by tod­dlers, and yes, yoga.

SAALT Opposes Administration’s “Public Charge” Rule Published in Federal Register Today, Encourages Community Members to Submit Comments


The Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty pub­lished a new pro­posed “public charge” rule­to­day that would deny per­ma­nent res­i­dent sta­tus (“green cards”) to low­er income immi­grants who use gov­ern­ment ser­vices such as nutri­tion pro­grams and hous­ing assis­tance. The pro­posed rule was offi­cial­ly published in the Federal Register, trig­ger­ing a 60-day peri­od for the pub­lic to com­ment before the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty pro­ceeds with final rule­mak­ing.
This rule pun­ish­es peo­ple for using the pub­lic ben­e­fits they are enti­tled to and is set up to pre­vent as many immi­grants as pos­si­ble from becom­ing legal per­ma­nent res­i­dents. It’s the lat­est in a series of attacks on all immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties and their chil­dren. The rule direct­ly impacts immi­grants who are apply­ing to become Law­ful Per­ma­nent Res­i­dents (LPR’s or green card hold­ers) or look­ing to extend or change the cat­e­go­ry of a non­im­mi­grant visa. If final­ized, the Bangladeshi com­mu­ni­ty would be the hard­est hit among South Asian Amer­i­cans. Near­ly 61% of non-cit­i­zen Bangladeshi Amer­i­can fam­i­lies receive pub­lic ben­e­fits for at least one of the four fed­er­al pro­grams includ­ing TANF, SSI, SNAP, and Medicaid/CHIP, accord­ing to a 2018 Migration Policy Institute Report. The same report showed that 48% of non-cit­i­zen Pak­istani fam­i­lies and 11% of non-cit­i­zen Indi­an fam­i­lies also receive pub­lic ben­e­fits. Addi­tion­al­ly, the pro­posed rule would flag all immi­grant house­holds of four earn­ing less than $63,000 under neg­a­tive scruti­ny for the “pub­lic charge” test.
The impact of the rule would be felt across the South Asian Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ty, as over 10% of green card recip­i­ents in FY 2016 were from South Asian coun­tries. Near­ly 472,000 or 10% of the approx­i­mate­ly five mil­lion South Asians in the Unit­ed States live in pover­ty, accord­ing to a recent Pew Research Cen­ter study. In 2015, eight of nine­teen Asian Amer­i­can groups had pover­ty rates high­er than the U.S. aver­age. Among those, Pak­istani (15.8%), Nepali (23.9%), Bangladeshi (24.2%), and Bhutanese (33.3%) Amer­i­cans had the high­est pover­ty rates among South Asian Amer­i­can groups. The same study showed that Bangladeshi and Nepali com­mu­ni­ties had the low­est medi­an house­hold incomes out of all Asian Amer­i­can groups, which fell far below the $63,000 thresh­old. We encourage South Asian Americans to visit SAALT’s campaign page and easily submit a comment opposing the discriminatory "public charge" rule before December 10.
CONTACT: Sophia Qureshi,

SAALT 2018 Midterm Election Voter Guide

South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT) is excit­ed to share our 2018 Midterm Elec­tion vot­er guide. In this crit­i­cal elec­tion year, South Asian Amer­i­cans have a stake in key pol­i­cy ques­tions that affect our com­mu­ni­ties. An impor­tant first step is under­stand­ing can­di­date stances on the issues that affect our com­mu­ni­ty so we can hold them account­able for their pol­i­cy posi­tions and values—regardless of their par­ty affil­i­a­tion.

SAALT’s vot­er guide presents pol­i­cy posi­tions and val­ues of can­di­dates in the twen­ty Con­gres­sion­al dis­tricts with the high­est num­ber of South Asian Amer­i­cans in the coun­try. This guide also includes two addi­tion­al races that fea­ture a South Asian Amer­i­can can­di­date and a Con­gres­sion­al dis­trict whose Mem­ber holds a lead­er­ship posi­tion in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

Each race shows the Demo­c­ra­t­ic and Repub­li­can can­di­date posi­tions on the issues of Immi­gra­tion, Civ­il Rights, Hate Crimes, and the 2020 Cen­sus based on a series of ques­tions. If your Con­gres­sion­al dis­trict is not fea­tured in this guide, we encour­age you to use the ques­tions below to eval­u­ate the can­di­dates in your dis­trict. Scroll down, click through, read up, and even reach out to can­di­dates your­self before you go to the polls on Novem­ber 6th!

Are you mobi­liz­ing South Asian Amer­i­can vot­ers for the 2018 Midterm Elec­tions? Print and share this fly­er to eas­i­ly access SAALT’s non-par­ti­san Vot­er Guide.

SAALT Releases Groundbreaking Voter Guide to Educate, Mobilize South Asian American Community in Preparation for 2018 Midterm Elections


Wash­ing­ton, D.C., Today South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT) released its 2018 Midterm Election Voter Guide, the only resource designed to engage, edu­cate, and mobi­lize the grow­ing South Asian Amer­i­can elec­torate in Con­gres­sion­al dis­tricts nation­wide.
At over 5 mil­lion strong, South Asian Amer­i­cans are the sec­ond-most rapid­ly grow­ing demo­graph­ic group nation­wide, across long­stand­ing com­mu­ni­ty strong­holds and new­er regions in the South. As a result, South Asian Amer­i­cans occu­py an increas­ing­ly sig­nif­i­cant posi­tion in the Amer­i­can elec­torate. In this crit­i­cal elec­tion year, South Asian Amer­i­cans have a stake in key pol­i­cy ques­tions that affect our com­mu­ni­ties, and are deeply impact­ed by issues span­ning immi­gra­tion, civ­il rights, hate crimes, and the 2020 Cen­sus.
The Guide is a vot­er edu­ca­tion tool that equips South Asian Amer­i­cans and all vot­ers with the cru­cial infor­ma­tion they need to cast informed votes this Novem­ber. SAALT’s non-par­ti­san 2018 Midterm Election Voter Guide does not endorse any candidate—rather; it ana­lyzes House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives can­di­dates’ posi­tions on four crit­i­cal issues for South Asian Amer­i­cans in twen­ty Con­gres­sion­al Dis­tricts with the high­est South Asian Amer­i­can pop­u­la­tions. The Guide also includes analy­sis on two addi­tion­al races that fea­ture a South Asian Amer­i­can can­di­date and a Con­gres­sion­al dis­trict whose Mem­ber cur­rent­ly holds a lead­er­ship posi­tion in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.
Each race shows the Demo­c­ra­t­ic and Repub­li­can can­di­date posi­tions on the issues of immi­gra­tion, civ­il rights, hate crimes, and the 2020 Cen­sus based upon their respons­es to a series of ques­tions. SAALT reached out to all can­di­dates with a ques­tion­naire and ana­lyzed pub­licly avail­able infor­ma­tion on their vot­ing records on fed­er­al leg­is­la­tion, pub­lic state­ments, and pol­i­cy plat­forms to devel­op our analy­sis. For all incum­bent can­di­dates, SAALT ana­lyzed only their vot­ing record on key leg­is­la­tion to deter­mine their pol­i­cy posi­tions. All ques­tions are includ­ed in the Guide to allow vot­ers to assess a candidate’s posi­tions them­selves even if a par­tic­u­lar Con­gres­sion­al dis­trict is not fea­tured.
SAALT will be dis­trib­ut­ing its 2018 Midterm Election Voter Guide far and wide in part­ner­ship with its 62 com­mu­ni­ty part­ners in the Nation­al Coali­tion of South Asian Orga­ni­za­tions (NCSO), nation­al allies, as well as over social and tra­di­tion­al media. The Vot­er Guide will be unveiled in-per­son at this weekend’s The Future of South Asians in the U.S. region­al town hall in Niles, Illi­nois in part­ner­ship with Chicagoland NCSO orga­ni­za­tions. On Saturday, October 6th from 1-4 pm, this pow­er­ful and top­i­cal forum will address the impact of U.S. immi­gra­tion pol­i­cy on the South Asian Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ty. The Vot­er Guide will con­tin­ue to serve as a crit­i­cal com­mu­ni­ty edu­ca­tion tool that keeps the focus on the impor­tant issues impact­ing our nation on the road to the Novem­ber 2018 elec­tions and beyond.
CONTACT: Sophia Qureshi,