Administration Acts on Threat to Expand Muslim Ban

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 31, 2020

Earlier today, just days after the third anniversary of the Muslim Ban, the Trump Administration struck again by adding six more countries to this racist policy. Nationals of Myanmar, Nigeria, Kyrgyzstan and Eritrea will be banned from seeking immigrant visas and nationals of Sudan and Tanzania will be banned from the diversity visa lottery. While it is expected that Nigerians will be most impacted in number, it is also painful to see that Muslim refugees fleeing genocide in Myanmar will be turned away by our nation just as Jewish refugees were decades ago during the Holocaust.

“One thing is clear, the Muslim Ban was this administration’s first family separation policy just days after the presidential inauguration in 2017, and it has served as the foundational policy for targeting communities of color ever since. Since then, we have seen attacks on DACA, TPS, diversity lottery, green cards, public benefits, refugees, asylum seekers, pregnant women, and more to institutionalize a white supremacist agenda,” said Lakshmi Sridaran, SAALT’s Interim Executive Director.

Since January of 2017, SAALT has documented an uptick in white supremacist hate violence aimed at Muslims and those racialized as Muslim, including 350 incidents of hate and 200 instances of xenophobic or Islamophobic rhetoric from media outlets and elected officials. SAALT’s 2018 report “Communities on Fire” found that Muslim women wearing hijab and individuals with darker skin color were more frequently the targets of the most violent acts of hate. This runs parallel to today’s expansion of the Muslim Ban targeting Muslim majority African nations.

Congress has the power to end all of this by passing the NO BAN Act. This legislation would immediately rescind the Muslim Ban and limit the executive branch’s authority to exercise such wide and unchecked discretion in issuing racist policies. Today’s expansion of the Muslim Ban underscores the need to pass a clean NO BAN Act with zero exceptions because even the smallest opening can unleash such widespread destruction.

Contact: sophia@saalt.org
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On Third Anniversary of Muslim Ban, Asian American Organizations Say Pass NO BAN Act

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Washington, DC – Three years ago today, the Trump Administration placed a travel ban on several Muslim-majority nations that has continued to separate and displace thousands of Muslim families in the United States. The impact of the ban has also prevented individuals from accessing medical treatment, along with educational and professional opportunities.

To counteract the Muslim Ban, Congresswoman Judy Chu introduced the NO BAN Act last year, which would end this ban and any other bans based on religous discrimination. This year, as the White House threatens to expand the Muslim Ban to include an additional seven countries to the list, we stand united in urging Congress to pass H.R. 2214 NO BAN Act to ensure the Trump Administration’s agenda of discrimination can go no further.

Becky Belcore, Director of NAKASEC, said:

To deny entry into the United States based on religious affiliation or racial identity is racist and discriminatory. Trump’s first iteration of the Muslim Ban singularly targeted Muslim majority countries. This rumored expansion strikes at mainly non-white majority countries. Trump’s institution of the Muslim Ban is couched in moral bankruptcy, Islamophobia, and White Supremacy. We as a society and community must do better. We must reject these racist, anti-Muslim policies and ensure that such bans can never exist by passing the NO BAN Act!

Lakshmi Sridaran, Interim Executive Director of SAALT, said:

Institutionalized racism like the Muslim Ban has not only directly impacted thousands of Muslims whose lives were torn apart because of this racist ban, but it has emboldened white supremacists, sanctioning their violence aimed at black and brown communities. Since the Muslim Ban was announced, we have tracked at least 350 incidents of hate violence targeting Muslims and those racialized as Muslims, and 200 instances of xenophobic and/or Islamophobic rhetoric from media and elected officials. As this Administration threatens to expand the destructive Muslim Ban and issue additional bans on pregnant women and immigrants without health insurance, we must stop this from going any further by demanding Congress pass the NO BAN Act immediately.

Quyen Dinh, executive director of the SEARAC, said:

Southeast Asian American communities remain steadfast in our support of Muslim American communities and continue to denounce the Muslim Ban. We must protect the integrity of our immigration system by fighting against discrimination and intolerence with equity and justice. We stand with the Asian American and immigrant rights community by calling on Congress to pass the NO BAN Act to prevent further biases in our laws and ensure that communities across the country can continue to reunite with their loved ones.”

Contacts
Sam Yu, NAKASEC
syu@nakasec.org / 213-703-0992

Sophia Qureshi, SAALT
sophia@saalt.com / 202-997-4211

Elaine Sanchez Wilson, SEARAC
elaine@searac.org / 202-601-2970

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5 South Asian men in detention reach 75th day of hunger strike

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 16, 2020

JENA, LOUISIANA — Five South Asian men have reached the 75th day of a hunger strike in the GEO Group-operated LaSalle Detention Facility in Jena, Louisiana where they have been subjected to the tortuous procedure of forced-hydration and force-feeding. According to medical professionals, 75 days without adequate nutrition is when vital organs begin to fail.

Freedom for Immigrants(FFI) has filed two complaints with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) on behalf of the five men, demanding DHS address the systemic civil rights violations the men have faced under ICE custody. FFI alongside Detention Watch Network(DWN), South Asian Americans Leading Together(SAALT), local advocates, and medical professionals in the Louisiana area are warning the men are on the brink of death and call for their immediate release.

The first CRCL complaint calls on ICE to use its prosecutorial discretion to release all five men. Each of them have formal sponsors in the United States committed to supporting and housing them while they fight their asylum case.

The second complaint, submitted in collaboration with Physicians for Human Rights, addresses the significant delays in receiving critical medical records from ICE. Beginning in November, an FFI affiliated volunteer submitted multiple requests to ICE for these records, with the consent of the men engaging in hunger strikes. However, ICE has refused to release these records. Without this critical information, independent physicians cannot conduct an assessment of the medical treatment these men are receiving while in detention.

“Under ICE’s own policies, people in detention have the right to independent medical evaluation. However, staff at the LaSalle Detention Facility have denied our repeated requests, which were made in line with their policies, for accurate and updated medical records. This makes it impossible for us to have a clear understanding of the hunger strikers’ current medical conditions and completely negates their access to independent evaluations, which is especially crucial as they enter the critical time in their hunger strike when vital organ functioning begins to shut down,” said Dr. Catherine Jones, MD, a licensed physician in New Orleans.

External medical review of individuals on hunger strikes is critical given ICE’s long history of systemic medical neglect writ large and specific concerns with the treatment of hunger strikers in its custody. On October 2019, Dr. Parveen Parmar, a licenced medical professional, reviewed the medical records of a man who had been on hunger strike for approximately three months while detained at the El Paso ICE Processing Center. Upon review of the medical documents Dr. Parmar stated that it was “the worst medical care I have seen in my 10 years of practice.”

Per ICE’s own standards, individuals in their custody and their representatives are entitled to medical records. Freedom for Immigrants has identified licensed medical professionals in the area who are willing to review the medical records.

Statements:

“The men in Jena-LaSalle are on the brink of death. They would not have been forced to resort to a hunger strike if the conditions of their detention weren’t so brutal and they were released on bond. We are extremely disturbed by the patterns of abuse we’ve been tracking against South Asian asylum seekers in detention since 2014. No one should have to go to such great lengths simply to have their cases heard and to gain their freedom. They should not be in detention in the first place and the only legitimate alternative is release,“ said Lakshmi Sridaran, Interim Executive Director of SAALT.

“On a recent visit to the men on a hunger strike at LaSalle, I was verbally told one man being force-fed had a blood pressure that was life-threateningly low. Because we do not have access to his medical record, it is impossible to verify and ensure he is receiving the necessary medical attention. No one should be subject to torture for simply seeking a better life for themselves,” said Michelle Graffeo, a volunteer with a Freedom for Immigrants-affiliated visitation group in Louisiana.

“The growing number of hunger strikes in ICE prisons across the country are no coincidence. It is indicative of complete disbelief in a fair legal process and the lengths ICE is willing to go to indefinitely detain them. Some of these men have been locked up for nearly 2 years,. We are deeply concerned that ICE appears willing to let these men die in detention to make an example of them rather than be released to community, where each man has family or close friends willing to provide housing and support,” said Sofia Casini, southern regional coordinator at Freedom for Immigrants.

“These men are demanding freedom after months in abusive ICE custody. They are bravely protesting with the only measure that they have control over — their bodies, which even ICE is violently interfering with through forced-hydration and feeding. The answer here is clear and can be acted on immediately: ICE must release these men from its custody or risk responsibility for causing preventable deaths,” said Silky Shah, Executive Director of Detention Watch Network.

Contact: sophia@saalt.org

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