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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