Notorious El Paso Facility Continues Abuse of South Asian Asylum Seekers

Jan­u­ary 31, 2019

South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT) is deeply dis­turbed by reports of staff at the El Paso, TX deten­tion pro­cess­ing cen­ter force-feed­ing most­ly Indi­an and Cuban detainees in the midst of a hunger strike. Up to 30 detainees, the major­i­ty of whom have pend­ing asy­lum claims, went on a hunger strike after ver­bal and psy­cho­log­i­cal abuse at the hands of ICE and deten­tion cen­ter staff at the noto­ri­ous El Paso facil­i­ty.

These hor­ri­fy­ing reports are only the most recent in a series of unad­dressed civ­il rights vio­la­tions report­ed at the El Paso facil­i­ty since 2015, at which point SAALT, along with oth­er orga­ni­za­tions, pur­sued legal action. In 2015, most­ly Bangladeshi asy­lum seek­ers at the El Paso facil­i­ty went on hunger strike to protest the indef­i­nite delays in their cas­es after pass­ing “cred­i­ble fear” inter­views, an ini­tial and impor­tant step in the asy­lum process. SAALT, Desis Ris­ing Up and Mov­ing (DRUM), and the Nation­al Immi­gra­tion Project of the Nation­al Lawyers Guild filed an offi­cial civ­il rights com­plaint with the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty (DHS) over treat­ment of the asy­lum seek­ers.

DHS has yet to address the civ­il rights vio­la­tions at the El Paso facil­i­ty report­ed in 2015, and now more asy­lum seek­ers face vio­lence and abuse.

Suman Raghu­nathan, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of SAALT, issued the fol­low­ing state­ment:
“Indi­vid­u­als should not have to put their bod­ies and lives on the line to draw atten­tion to their indef­i­nite deten­tion. Our nation’s immi­gra­tion sys­tem should pro­vide pro­tec­tion from vio­lence and per­se­cu­tion, yet cur­rent prac­tices cre­ate an increas­ing­ly puni­tive asy­lum process, which only extends the vio­lence and per­se­cu­tion asy­lum seek­ers are flee­ing.”

Since 2015, SAALT has also doc­u­ment­ed reports of South Asian detainees in addi­tion­al facil­i­ties in Ore­gon, Cal­i­for­nia, and Geor­gia who have gone on hunger strikes to protest pro­longed deten­tion, denial of legal coun­sel, and a range of civ­il rights vio­la­tions from pro­vid­ing inad­e­quate med­ical care to with­hold­ing lan­guage inter­pre­ta­tion to deny­ing reli­gious accom­mo­da­tions.

SAALT is a nation­al, non­par­ti­san, non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tion that fights for racial jus­tice and advo­cates for the civ­il rights of all South Asians in the Unit­ed States.

Con­tact:  Sophia Qureshi,

Between Deals and Decisions, SAALT Reaffirms the Need for Real, Clean Solutions on Immigration

Jan­u­ary 22, 2019

The Supreme Court’s deci­sion today to omit hear­ing the Deferred Action for Child­hood Arrivals (DACA) case is wel­come news, as it keeps the pro­gram alive and allows cur­rent DACA recip­i­ents to con­tin­ue sub­mit­ting renew­al appli­ca­tions. While this is encour­ag­ing, the work ahead remains clear – we need a clean DREAM Act and per­ma­nent leg­isla­tive solu­tions that do not include harm­ful pro­vi­sions, as pro­posed by the Trump Admin­is­tra­tion last week­end.

The Administration’s immi­gra­tion “deal” from this week­end is no deal at all – it’s a sham. The Admin­is­tra­tion is claim­ing to rein­state two pro­grams – DACA and Tem­po­rary Pro­tect­ed Sta­tus (TPS) — that the Admin­is­tra­tion itself made a deci­sion to evis­cer­ate last year. These so-called pro­tec­tions to TPS and DACA hold­ers are half baked at best and do lit­tle to actu­al­ly pro­tect com­mu­ni­ties. The “deal” leg­is­la­tion that the Sen­ate will like­ly intro­duce this week excludes entire com­mu­ni­ties. Any­one with TPS sta­tus from Nepal, Guinea, Sier­ra Leone, Sudan, South Sudan, Yemen, Soma­lia and Syr­ia would not be pro­tect­ed.  The bill only cov­ers a frac­tion of all DREAM­ers and does not pro­vide per­ma­nent pro­tec­tion from depor­ta­tion. Most alarm­ing­ly, it includes a $5.7 bil­lion dol­lar bor­der wall and more bloat­ed increas­es to deten­tion beds and bor­der patrol agents.

“This ‘deal’ offers no con­ces­sions, no solu­tions, and will fur­ther under­mine the rule of law. It will inten­si­fy mil­i­ta­riza­tion on the bor­der and expand deten­tion, while con­tin­u­ing to hurt refugees and asy­lum seek­ers, DACA recip­i­ents, and TPS hold­ers. There are at least 450,000 undoc­u­ment­ed peo­ple from India alone, at least 25,000 Indi­an and Pak­istani DACA recip­i­ents, and near­ly 15,000 thou­sand Nepalis with TPS sta­tus who will be direct­ly impact­ed by this leg­is­la­tion,” said Suman Raghu­nathan, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT).

South Asians, along with all immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties, deserve a real immi­gra­tion over­haul that serves every­one. Once this sham bill is intro­duced, we will sup­port our com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers and part­ners to voice our oppo­si­tion.

CONTACT: Sophia Qureshi

Denaturalization Operation

Accord­ing to the Unit­ed States Cit­i­zen­ship and Immi­gra­tion Ser­vices (USCIS) fail­ure to com­ply with any eli­gi­bil­i­ty require­ment for nat­u­ral­iza­tion is sub­ject to revo­ca­tion of nat­u­ral­iza­tion. Most recent­ly, the Depart­ment of Jus­tice (DOJ) filed civ­il denat­u­ral­iza­tion com­plaints against Baljin­der Singh of New Jer­sey, Parvez Man­zoor Khan of Flori­da, and Rashid Mah­mood of Con­necti­cut under Oper­a­tion Janus. In Jan­u­ary 2018, Baljin­der Singh of New Jer­sey, whose fin­ger­prints were miss­ing from the cen­tral­ized dig­i­tal fin­ger­print repos­i­to­ry, was denat­u­ral­ized by the USCIS.

Accord­ing to the Immi­grant Legal Resource Cen­ter (ILRC), “Unit­ed States cit­i­zen­ship is not absolute—it may be “lost” in either of two ways: 1) Any cit­i­zen, by birth or nat­u­ral­iza­tion, may choose to aban­don it vol­un­tar­i­ly; or 2) if acquired through nat­u­ral­iza­tion, the gov­ern­ment may revoke cit­i­zen­ship if they can prove a per­son obtained cit­i­zen­ship ille­gal­ly. Expa­tri­a­tion is the vol­un­tary aban­don­ment of cit­i­zen­ship, while denat­u­ral­iza­tion is the revo­ca­tion of nat­u­ral­iza­tion and cit­i­zen­ship by the gov­ern­ment.

Denat­u­ral­iza­tion applies only to peo­ple who became cit­i­zens through the nat­u­ral­iza­tion process. The ratio­nale for denat­u­ral­iza­tion is that the indi­vid­ual should not have been grant­ed nat­u­ral­iza­tion in the first place. There­fore, the
gov­ern­ment may revoke cit­i­zen­ship if the indi­vid­ual ille­gal­ly pro­cured or pro­cured cit­i­zen­ship by ‘con­ceal­ment of a mate­r­i­al fact or by will­ful mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion.’ Once cit­i­zen­ship is lost, the per­son reverts back to their pre-nat­u­ral­iza­tion sta­tus.

In the past, denat­u­ral­iza­tion pro­ceed­ings were rare and usu­al­ly brought only against alleged war crim­i­nals and in oth­er extreme cas­es. How­ev­er, con­tin­u­ing their assault on immi­grants, fam­i­lies, and com­mu­ni­ties of col­or, the Trump admin­is­tra­tion has increased resources ded­i­cat­ed to pur­su­ing denat­u­ral­iza­tion in an effort to strip cit­i­zen­ship from
nat­u­ral­ized cit­i­zens.”

This resource, co-cre­at­ed by the ACLU and Immi­grant Legal Resource Cen­ter (ILRC), dis­cuss­es the Trump admin­is­tra­tion’s denat­u­ral­iza­tion oper­a­tion and describes the process of denat­u­ral­iza­tion, who the tar­gets are and the num­ber of cas­es as well as the his­tor­i­cal con­text for these efforts.

This practice advisory, cre­at­ed by the ILRC briefly describes these recent efforts to increase denat­u­ral­iza­tions, the legal grounds and process for denat­u­ral­iz­ing a cit­i­zen, and the con­se­quences of denat­u­ral­iza­tion.