Since its inception in 2000, South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) has been guided by the needs of our community. Over its twenty years, SAALT has responded to this guidance with varying strategies. This timeline takes you through the course of SAALT's existence, examining its different iterations, decision points, and shifts in strategy to be most responsive and accountable in our advocacy for South Asian Americans.
September 2000, The Founding of the Indian American Leadership Center: In its first iteration, SAALT was named the Indian American Leadership Center (IALC), founded in New York with a focus on leadership development for Indian American members of the South Asian American diaspora. The organization was led by Director Debasish Mishra and others from both social justice and business sectors, and aimed to provide opportunities for Indian American youth to become civic leaders.
October 2000, The First Ever Be the Change: Students at universities across the U.S. were organizing for a project called the National Day of Service, engaging their young communities in volunteer activities during the weekend of Gandhi’s birthday. SAALT was invited to participate as a host and provide curricula, speakers, and logistical coordination. The event evolved under SAALT’s hosting, changing its name to Be The Change and introducing South Asian American history and issues to the program.
July 2001, Desis Organizing: SAALT board members joined the Desis Organizing gathering, organized by a collective of South Asians in New York City, to learn about community organizing and policy issues.
11 September 2001, Attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon: Within hours of the attacks, an unprecedented wave of hate crimes, backlash, discrimination, and profiling began to affect the South Asian community.
September 2001, American Backlash: In the week following 9/11, incidents of hate violence targeting Muslims and those racialized and/or perceived as Muslims were at an all time high. SAALT’s report, American Backlash, was the first community-based documentation to exclusively examine hate violence, political rhetoric, and discrimination that affected South Asian Americans; it marked the beginning of SAALT’s published work with and on anti-hate advocacy.
October 2001, The Second Annual Be the Change
December 2001, Rebranding as SAALT: Following American Backlash, the board of the IALC decided to update its values and mission to be explicitly pan-South Asian. By the end of 2001, IALC was renamed “South Asian American Leaders of Tomorrow” — or SAALT — and had expanded its mission to include strategies for collective liberation such as policy analysis, advocacy, and community education. The organization then became a fully volunteer based group, with different Board members taking on various projects.
January 2002, Documentary, Raising Our Voices, Premieres: This 26-minute documentary, was produced by Omusha Communications and SAALT, and provided a look into how hate violence affects South Asian communities. Featuring survivors and organizations both pre- and post‑9/11, it continues to provide insights about the difficulties of reporting hate violence, the needs of survivors, and the possibilities for resolution that are not based in the criminal system. Board members took Raising Our Voices to different parts of the country, hosting viewings in over 100 venues, from community centers to universities to the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, sparking pan-diasporic discussions on 9/11 backlash and community healing in combating individual and state violence.
Mid-2002, Reconstitution of the Board: The SAALT Board, newly rebranded, reorganized itself to be explicitly social justice oriented. This is reflected in the backgrounds of new Board members, who had significant experience with community engagement, policy change, and advocacy.
October 2002, The Third Annual Be the Change
Fall 2002, SAALT on the Hill: SAALT board members advocated with government agencies and Congress around the impact of the post 9/11 backlash, immigration enforcement, and profiling, utilizing the American Backlash report and community conversations following screenings of Raising Our Voices. Advocacy focused on the importance of enforcing civil rights laws to protect the rights of South Asians, Arabs, Muslims, and Sikhs facing post 9/11 related discrimination.
August 2003, First SAALT Staff Hired: The SAALT Board named Deepa Iyer as the next Executive Director. Under Iyer, SAALT underwent a strategic planning process to clarify its mission, vision, and strategies; its focus areas were identified as building community partnerships and engaging in post 9/11 related advocacy.
October 2003, The Fourth Annual Be the Change
2003–2005, SAALT Exchanges: Now a staff-led organization, SAALT facilitated SAALT Exchanges in five cities (New York, NY; Edison, NJ; San Francisco, CA; Chicago, IL; Atlanta, GA) to learn more about community needs at local levels, building partnerships and relationships with local organizations across the country. Several themes emerged from these Exchanges, shaping SAALT’s direction: community members identified immigration and civil rights as key issues; community groups felt disconnected from each other and sought to be more connected; and the non-Indian South Asian community felt marginalized. SAALT’s programs and activities moving forward took into consideration these major themes.
October 2004, The Fifth Annual Be the Change
November 2004, Voting Rights: SAALT began election monitoring and exit polling through a partnership with the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF).
2005, Strengthening Relationships and Partnerships: As a direct result of SAALT Exchanges, capacity- and coalition-building became critical strategies for pan-South Asian advocacy: SAALT began to connect with South Asian American, Asian American, Arab, Muslim, and broader civil and immigrant rights organizations & community leaders across the U.S.. Many of these allies eventually would become members of the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations (NCSO).
August 2005, Moving to Takoma Park: SAALT found a new home in Takoma Park, Maryland, an immigrant sanctuary city that offers voting rights to non-citizens.
October 2005, The Sixth Annual Be the Change
November 2005, Elections Monitoring: SAALT continued its election monitoring and exit polling.
January to April 2006, Pan-Asian, Pan-Migrant, Pan-POC Coalitions: Now with over five years’ experience in policy advocacy, SAALT joined a number of national coalitions, including the Rights Working Group, the National Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans, and the Detention Watch Network. These partnerships enabled SAALT to raise awareness about South Asian communities, usually invisible, at broader policy-making tables.
April 2006, Immigrant Reform Protests: At a rally in Washington, D.C., SAALT joined the stage and demanded protections for immigrant rights. SAALT’s role in the protest is detailed by the Four Freedoms Fund, highlighting the organization’s specific demands and strategies for immigrant rights.
Summer 2006, SAALT Exchanges: Now named Chai Chats, the SAALT team hosted informal conversations to discuss needs and challenges in the South Asian American community. These events were held in San Francisco and Houston, among other areas with high South Asian American populations.
October 2006, The Seventh Annual Be the Change
November 2006, Monitoring Elections: Having advocated for voting rights over the past two years, Asian American Legal Defense Education Fund (AALDEF) invited SAALT to participate in its annual election monitoring project. SAALT later released a report about South Asian participation in the election.
March 2007, Night of 1,000 Conversations: In support of a campaign led by the Rights Working Group, SAALT conducted outreach for the Night of 1,000 Conversations, a casual and intimate event during which people across the country discussed the values of due process, inclusion, and fairness as they pertain to immigration reform and justice.
April 2007, The First National South Asian American Summit: SAALT coordinated a gathering of 150 community leaders in Washington, D.C. for a congressional briefing and workshops on advocacy and other topics.
May 2007, House of Representatives & UN Special Rapporteur: The members of the SAALT team, led by Executive Director Iyer, testified before the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship about immigration reform. SAALT also prepared materials for the UN Special Rapporteur’s Review of human rights in the United States.
June 2007, SAALT Circles: Another conversation-oriented program, SAALT Circles was launched to provide young organizers with the tools to host conversations about South Asian American identities and issues in their own communities.
July 2007, Campaigning to End Operation Meth Merchant: Operation Meth Merchant targeted small business owners of South Asian background in Georgia, in an alleged attempt to eradicate methamphetamine production. SAALT joined local activists and organizations (including Atlanta-based NCSO member, Raksha) to advocate on behalf of South Asian American business owners, their families, and their communities, developing campaigns to combat the federal government, and identify and provide legal resources to those targeted by Operation Meth Merchant.
July 2007, Building Community Strength: Providing a landscape of South Asian organizations as they existed then, this report combined testimonials from a survey and a series of interviews to examine South Asian American changemakers’ networks. It also laid the groundwork for the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations (NCSO).
October 2007, The Eighth Annual Be the Change
January 2008, The National Coalition of South Asian Organizations Comes Together: Thirty-four groups joined to create a formal constellation of South Asian American allied advocates. Together, they released a policy agenda that laid out a comprehensive policy platform for stakeholders, community members, and policy makers. Later, a set of policy recommendations emerged from the agenda, and were cited in allies’ advocacy decisions.
April 2008, Brochures on Naturalization: This series of brochures was published to provide tools for the naturalization process. It is available in English, Bangla, Hindi, and Gujarati.
April 2008, Demanding Justice for Migrant Workers on the Gulf Coast: SAALT joined a campaign for justice on behalf of the 500+ Indian and Arab workers who were exploited by Signal International Corporation in the U.S. Gulf Coast. In coalition with groups of workers, SAALT organized meetings with embassies and government agencies in D.C., supported briefings and meetings on the Hill, and convened a forum for workers, allies, and community members where participants discussed their challenges with the immigration system.
July 2008, Creation of Advocates for Community Empowerment: This program focused on building the capacity of women-led groups in the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations (NCSO), developing strategies to link social service delivery with social change, subgrants, and leadership opportunities. Over the course of the ACE program, SAALT trained over 40 women advocates.
October 2008, Briefing on South Asian Americans in New Jersey: As the result of the SAALT Exchange held in New Jersey in 2005, SAALT hired a part-time community organizer to work with community members in Edison to develop community education materials and work in partnership with South Asian and Asian American groups across the state. These efforts led to a briefing in New Jersey with Assemblyman Chivukula (the first South Asian to be elected to the New Jersey state Assembly), Kris Kolluri (the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Transportation) and Mark Murphy (from the Fund for New Jersey). Eventually, SAALT helped publish issue briefs detailing the concerns and needs of South Asian American residents.
October 2008, The Ninth Annual Be the Change
Late 2008, Name Changes: One final name change was made, and SAALT is officially organized under “South Asian Americans Leading Together.”
April & May 2009, National South Asian Summit: The second biennial Summit occurred, with 200+ community members meeting in D.C.. Later, SAALT would participate in two meetings to discuss the impact of the Summit, including meeting with the White House Religious Liaison to discuss and highlight issues of importance to faith-based communities.
May 2009, Advocates for Community Empowerment: A new cohort of five women-led organizations in the South Asian American community participated in the second ACE training.
June 2009, Reuniting Families Act: SAALT and its allies co-coordinated a briefing to Congress on the Reuniting Families Act.
July 2009, Washington DeSi: South Asian Americans in the National Capital: SAALT and the Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center (APALRC) published this report in response to the lack of information about the South Asian community in the Washington D.C. metropolitan region – home to the nation’s fifth largest South Asian population. APALRC and SAALT launched the South Asian Community Empowerment (SACE) project in early 2009 that included a multi-language needs assessment, focus groups, interviews, and relationship-building with community organizations. Washington DeSi: South Asians in the Nation’s Capital provides findings from surveys of nearly 200 South Asians living or working in D.C., as well as trends gathered from focus groups and interviews.
September 2009, Resources on the Health Insurance Reform Debate: In response to an increased focus on reforming the country’s health care and insurance systems from the Obama Administration, SAALT published two resources pertinent to the national dialogue on health care reform. “What You Need to Know About the Health Insurance Reform” answers questions about the debate; includes basic definitions for terminology; and provides ways for South Asian Americans to get involved in the discussion. “Health Care Issues Affecting South Asian Americans in the United States” provides information and resources on health issues impacting the community.
October 2009, The Tenth Annual Be the Change
January 2010, Census Awareness: SAALT launched a census awareness campaign, featuring a factsheet addressing how to fill out the census to ensure that it most accurately reflects community members’ racial and ethnic identities.
March 2010, Issue Briefs on Profiling: SAALT published three issue briefs to highlight the impact of racial and religious profiling on the South Asian American community. Read the briefs on surveillance, travel and immigration.
June 2010, Montgomery County Resources: In collaboration with APALRC, SAALT produced guides to health care, unemployment insurance, housing, and other social services. The resource brochures are available in English, Bangla, Urdu, and Hindi.
October 2010, From Macacas to Turban Toppers: SAALT released this detailed report to provide information on the use of xenophobic and racist political rhetoric by elected officials in the U.S..
October 2010, SAALT Circles D.C. Edition: SAALT Circles convened in D.C. for the first time, three years after its inception.
October 2010, The Eleventh Annual Be the Change
April 2011, National South Asian Summit: The third biennial Summit convenes, bringing over 250 community members to D.C. to discuss issues affecting South Asian Americans.
April 2011, The End of NSEERS: After years of advocacy from local, state, and national groups, including by SAALT and its allies, the NSEERS program was ended by the Obama Administration.
May 2011, Advocates for Community Empowerment: The third training was held for a new cohort of five women-led organizations in the South Asian American community.
June 2011, Community Hearing in New Jersey: To introduce and pass various resolutions about hate crimes and other related issues, the SAALT team gathered in New Jersey, where they also heard from South Asian American residents of the state about their needs and demands.
June 2011, Advocating for Mandeep Chahal: To help prevent the deportation of DREAMER, Mandeep Chahal, SAALT organized a strategic advocacy campaign.
September 2011, Ten Year Anniversary of 9/11: Ten years after the attacks on September 11th, a variety of allies team up with SAALT to demand change in racial profiling laws and guidances. Together, they produced Community Resilience, which presents the stories of success, resistance, and resilience of individuals, organizations, and communities in the decade after September 11th.
September 2011, “An America for All of Us”: SAALT produced a campaign against post‑9/11 backlash, hate crimes, and inequality, focused on the ten year anniversary of 9/11. The campaign included a short film, a toolkit for discussions, opinion editorials, and lawmaker-oreinted pledge.
October 2011, The Twelfth Annual Be the Change
October 2011, SAALT Circles Philly Edition: SAALT Circles convened in Philadelphia for the first time, four years after its inception.
November 2011, Building An America For All of Us: A Campus Workshop Guide: Tailored to student groups, this interactive workshop guide was developed to highlight discussion points and engaging exercises to explore the impact of the decade since 9/11 on the South Asian American community. It includes a facilitator’s guide and a cheat sheet; in 2020 these resources were updated to respond more broadly to Islamophobic hate on campus.
November 2011, Foreclosures: SAALT and Chhaya CDC worked together to release a “Know Your Rights” pamphlet following an increase in foreclosures.
January 2012, End Racial Profiling Act: SAALT published this factsheet on profiling, which includes information on the impact of profiling on the South Asian community, and how South Asian Americans can be protected by the passage of the End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA).
March 2012, In Our Own Words: SAALT released a report on the narratives of New York South Asians and the impacts of racial and religious profiling on their communities.
July 2012, Demographic Snapshot: SAALT published this factsheet, which documents the South Asian American population and their varying, and often intersecting, identities.
July 2012, We Build Community: SAALT led the first annual capacity-building training for members of the NCSO in the fundamentals of non-profit work.
May 2012, Young Leaders Institute: SAALT convened the first ever annual Young Leaders Institute (YLI), bringing together South Asian American youth leaders from across the country.
May 2012, Advocates for Community Empowerment: The fourth training was held for a new cohort of seven women-led organizations in the South Asian American community.
August 2012, Attacks on Oak Creek Sikh Community: A known white supremacist opened gunfire in Oak Creek, WI, killing 6 Sikh community members while they worshipped at their gurdwara. One more worshipper who sustained injuries died later from complications related to the attack in March of 2020. SAALT staff attended the community funeral, and has continued to support the local community, including attending the first and fifth anniversary 6Ks hosted by the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin.
September 2012, Hate Crimes Hearing: To support the historic hate crimes hearing hosted by Senator Dick Durbin after the tragedy in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, SAALT shared policy advocacy strategies with allied organizations and community members. SAALT also supported Oak Creek community members and Sikh American organizational partners who submitted testimony.
October 2012, The Thirteenth Annual Be the Change
November 2012, Election Education: SAALT created pamphlets for community members on election guidelines, how to get involved, and to ensure that community members know their rights on Election Day. The team also created a Field Fellow program, where fellows throughout the country engaged in outreach to South Asian Americans in their local areas through non-partisan voter education and registration drives.
April 2013, National South Asian Summit: The fourth biennial Summit convened, bringing over 375 community members to D.C. to discuss issues affecting South Asian Americans.
May 2013, Young Leaders Institute: The second annual Young Leaders Institute convened, bringing together 15 South Asian American youth leaders from across the country to discuss bias-based bullying.
May 2013, Advocates for Community Empowerment: The fifth training was held for a new cohort of seven women-led organizations in the South Asian American community.
June 2013, South Asian Americans & DACA: To provide more information on DACA, SAALT released a flyer with details about eligibility and application processes in English, Hindi, Urdu, and Bengali. Other tools for potential South Asian American DACA recipients and applicants were produced soon after, in 2014, including “Are you a DREAMer?” and “Why DACA Isn’t Enough.”
June 2013, Immigration Priorities: SAALT released a factsheet on immigration priorities, specifically for South Asian American communities.
July 2013, We Build Community: SAALT led the second annual capacity-building training for members of the NCSO.
September 2013, Civic Education & Immigration Town Halls: In gatherings in the Bay Area, Chicago, D.C., Detroit, Jersey City and Houston, SAALT discussed race and immigration-related challenges and stories within the South Asian American community.
November 2013, Post‑9/11 Timeline: SAALT published a working timeline of the major events following 9/11 that have impacted MASA communities.
October 2013, The Fourteenth Annual Be the Change
January 2014, Change in Leadership: In 2014, Suman Raghunathan became the next Executive Director of SAALT, marking the organization’s first transition in leadership.
March 2014, Hosting Campus Sessions: These programs were established in order to create leadership opportunities within the justice sector for South Asian American college students.
May 2014, Advocates for Community Empowerment: The sixth training was held for a new cohort of seven women-led organizations in the South Asian American community.
May 2014, #DACAmented: SAALT released a series of flyers that share stories of DACAmented youth to inspire more eligible South Asian Americans to apply, and to push government officials to better support the program and its participants.
May 2014, Immigration & Chicagoans: SAALT hosted a follow-up townhall to discuss how community members can get involved in advocating for immigration reform and justice.
May 2014, Young Leaders Institute: The third annual Young Leaders Institute convened, bringing together 13 South Asian American youth leaders from across the country to discuss LGBTQ justice and allyship.
May 2014, Hate Crimes Interagency Initiative: SAALT worked to support the development of a federal hate crimes interagency initiative that would address hate violence, including violence aimed at Muslim communities and other communities perceived or racialized as Muslim.
July 2014, We Build Community: SAALT led the third annual capacity-building training for members of the NCSO.
August 2014, Under Suspicion, Under Attack: SAALT publishes this report exploring the increased xenophobic rhetoric from political figures, along with incidents of hate violence against Muslim communities, and other communities perceived or racialized as Muslim.
October 2014, The Fifteenth Annual Be the Change
October 2014, Freedom Summer screening: In collaboration with AFL-CIO, SAALT hosted a free screening of the documentary Freedom Summer, which documents the summer of 1964 when civil rights activists worked to increase voter registration numbers for the African American community in Mississippi.
April 2015, Summit: The fifth biennial Summit convened, bringing nearly 400 community members together to discuss issues affecting South Asian Americans. The Summit was preceeded by an NCSO convening, where all organizations discussed the importance of values alignment and dedicated SAALT staff capacity to support the NCSO.
April 2015, Condemning Police Violence: SAALT issued its first organizational statement condemning police violence, following the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, who sustained a severe spinal cord injury while in police custody.
May 2015, Advocates for Community Empowerment: The seventh training was held for a new cohort of seven women-led organizations in the South Asian American community.
July 2015, We Build Community: SAALT led the fourth annual capacity-building training for members of the NCSO.
July 2015, Young Leaders Institute: The fourth annual Young Leaders Institute convened, bringing together 18 South Asian American youth leaders from across the country to discuss strategies for confronting anti-Black racism in South Asian American communities.
October 2015, The Sixteenth and Final Be the Change
November 2015, Congresional Briefing on Police Violence: Following the murder of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Senator Cardin and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh hosted a Congressional Briefing with an expert panel to make a renewed push for passage for the End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA) in Congress. SAALT presented at this briefing.
November 2015, Acts of Hate Database: SAALT established a database to begin documenting the anticipated increase in hate violence targeting South Asian Americans, following attacks in San Bernardino and Paris. The database also began documenting the effects of the 2016 election cycle on American Islamophobia.
December 2015, Updated Demographic Snapshot: This factsheet was published to document the population growth of South Asian American communities in metropolitan areas and immigrant gateway centers across the United States.
July 2016, Young Leaders Institute: The fifth annual Young Leaders Institute convened, bringing together 13 South Asian American youth leaders from across the country to discuss issues of immigrant rights and justice.
July 2016, We Build Community: SAALT led the fifth annual capacity-building training for members of the NCSO.
August 2016, Current Status of Immigration Policy: A “Know Your Rights” brochure is published to provide South Asian American DACA and DAPA recipients and applicants with information on the June 2016 split ruling on whether to uphold DAPA and expand DACA.
August 2016, Strategic Planning for 2017–2019: The SAALT team worked to develop a new vision, mission, and set of guiding principles. This was encompassed in a 3‑year strategic plan, published just prior to the 2016 Presidential Election; it indicated SAALT’s increasing focus on grassroots mobilization and anti-institutional work.
September 2016, Advocates for Community Empowerment: The seventh and final training was held for a new cohort of seven women-led organizations in the South Asian American community.
October 2016, Your Voice, Your Vote: Four weeks before Election Day 2016, SAALT released a guide to provide prospective voters with crucial information on the candidates’ stances on priority issues for all communities of color, including voting trends and information on how to cast votes.
October 2016, #BeyondTheWall and MTV: SAALT partnered with MTV and other organizations to install an interactive video in the heart of New York’s Hearld Square to serve as a digital forum to showcase perspectives on immigration reform, racial diversity, and multiculturalism in the U.S.
December 2016, Meeting with DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson: SAALT along with allies at DRUM, Arab American Institute, ACLU, and Open Society‑U.S. met with Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Jeh Johnson, to make the final case on the importance of dismantling NSEERS regulations at the end of Obama Administration in anticipation of the Trump Administration’s Muslim Ban. The Obama Administration made the final decision to dismantle the regulations later that month.
January 2017, Power, Pain, Potential: SAALT published this detailed report on the intersection of South Asian American demographic growth and hate violence; it records the direct impact of the Trump election on Muslims and those racialized as Muslim.
February 2017, Boycotting DOJ: In solidarity with allies, SAALT boycotted a meeting with the Department of Justice, headlined by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
March 2017, Congressional Briefing on Hate Violence: Using the research from the January publication, Power, Pain, Potential, SAALT organized a Congressional briefing to address the uptick in hate violence nationwide and highlight recommendations for change. SAALT was joined by eight members of Congressional leadership, and a number of allies and community partners from across the country. This followed an invitation from Senator Ben Cardin (D‑MD) for SAALT to join a roundtable discussion on the devastating impacts of the Trump Administration’s “Muslim Bans” where he announced an updated version of the “End Racial Profiling Act” to include religious profiling making the new name the “End Racial and Religious Profling Act (ERRPA).”
April 2017, Summit: The sixth biennial Summit convened, bringing over 300 community members together to discuss issues affecting South Asian Americans. This Summit was also preceeded by an NCSO convening, where discussions regarding the constellation’s structure, capacity, and values occurred.
July 2017, Young Leaders Institute: The fifth annual Young Leaders Institute convened, bringing together 16 South Asian American youth leaders from across the country to discuss strategies for combating Islamophobia in South Asian American communities.
July 2017, We Build Community: SAALT led the sixth annual capacity-building training for members of the NCSO.
September 2017, Congressional Briefing on Hate Violence: Following the 16th anniversary of 9/11, SAALT held a Congressional briefing to address the rising tide of violence aimed at Muslims and those racialized as Muslim by and under the current administration.
October 2017, Coalition for #NoMuslimBanEver: The #NoMuslimBanEver campaign organized formally as a coalition, and SAALT joined as a member.
February 2018, Communities on Fire: SAALT produces a detailed report on hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric aimed at South Asian American communities from Election Day 2016 to Election Day 2017. It details 302 incidents of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, and Arab communities in the United States — a more than 45% increase from the year leading up to the 2016 election cycle, levels not seen since the year after September 11.
March 2018, First Director of Community Partnerships: In response to feedback from NCSO members, SAALT hired its first Director of Community Partnerships, primarily dedicated to engaging the NCSO and building its capacity as a network.
April 2018, NCSO Summit: In response to an NCSO convening, where the structure, capacity, and values of the constellation were discussed, the first ever stand-alone NCSO summit was held. The two day convening was an opportunity to network and build power within a broad range of organizations serving South Asian American communities.
May 2018, NCSO Convening, Congressional Briefing, Lobby Day: The NCSO met with nearly 40 Members of Congress to advocate on policy priorities relating to domestic violence, immigration, and health.
May 2018, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights: The Executive Director of SAALT testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to discuss the high rates of hate- and bias-related crimes, specifically those targeting Muslims and those racialized as Muslim.
May 2018, Equality Labs & Unlearning Caste Supremacy: In response to the groundbreaking scholarship of allies at Equality Labs, all participants in both We Build Community and Young Leaders Institute programs received their trainings on the role of caste-based discrimination and casteism within the South Asian American community. The training was also held internally for all SAALT staff.
July 2018, We Build Community: SAALT led the seventh and final annual capacity-building training for members of the NCSO.
August 2018, Young Leaders Institute: The sixth and final annual Young Leaders Institute convened, bringing together 14 South Asian American youth leaders from across the country to discuss strategies for building community defense, taking on anti-immigrant policies and hate violence.
August 2018, Census 2020: With the leadership of DRUM, SAALT launched a campaign advocating against the inclusion of a citizenship question in the 2020 Census. Hundreds of community members, including NCSO organizations, submitted comments against the policy change in the Federal Register notice.
September 2018, Congressional Briefing: SAALT hosted a briefing with remarks from six Congressional members 17 years after 9/11 “Detentions, Deportations, and Diminished Civil Rights.” In response to Raja Krishnamoorthi’s attendance at the World Hindu Conference, SAALT disinvited him from the Congressional briefing.
October 2018, Midterm Election Voter Guide: SAALT published a resource to engage, educate, and mobilize the growing South Asian American electorate on key issues in Congressional districts with the highest South Asian American populations nationwide.
November 2018, Public Charge: SAALT launched a Public Charge campaign opposing the expansion of the proposed “public charge” rule that would deny permanent resident status to lower income immigrants who use government service such as housing and nutrition programs. SAALT joined AAPI organizations as part of the One Nation coalition and drove over 11,500 comments pushing back against the proposed rule.
December 2018, Guide to Legal Immigration Reform: SAALT produced this publication, which is widely shared for how it discusses the importance of fighting the greencard backlog in principled ways that do not divide populations based on status.
February 2019, Migrant Justice: Following an unprecedented 100-day hunger strike, led by South Asian migrants detained in the El Paso Service Processing Center, SAALT helped bring local and national allies (including Sikh Coalition, Detention Watch Network) together following a visit to El Paso to meet local leaders from Detained Migrant Solidarity Committee (DMSC) and Advocate Visitors with Immigrants in Detention (AVID). This network has remained in place, resulting in periodic releases of asylum seekers.
April 2019, Updated Demographic Snapshot: This factsheet was updated to document the change and growth in South Asian American communities across the United States.
April 2019, Congressional Briefing on Immigrant Detention: SAALT hosted a Congressional Briefing on Immigration Detention, and discussed the range of violations and injustices faced by migrants in detention, including Sikhs.
May 2019, Congressional Hearing on Caste in the Diaspora: SAALT co-hosted the first-ever Congressional Briefing on Caste in the United States, led by Equality Labs.
July to August 2019, Creating a Rapid Response Network: Following ICE enforcement activity targeting South Asian American restaurant workers in D.C., SAALT partnered with Justice for Muslims Collective to create a South Asian Rapid Response listserv, also known as SARR. The group now has over 600 legal and language volunteers who regularly provide support for detained migrants. After the creation of SARR, SAALT co-hosted 3 “Know Your Rights” training sessions, led by JMC for local DMV volunteers to distribute in-language materials to South Asian American-owned businesses.
August to September 2019, Hindutva on the Rise: On August 5th, Kashimiris were stripped of their semiautonomous status, and the Hindutva-led Modi Administration and government of India imposed a brutal blockade. Soon after, the government implemented a citizenship documentation system in Assam that deliberately excluded nearly 1.9 million people, mostly Muslims — and across India, there was a dramatic surge in the number of lynchings of minorities, mostly targeting Indian Muslims, Dalits and Christians. As the Modi government continued to implement a Hindu nationalist agenda, also known as Hindutva, SAALT began to organize with transnational allies, including Stand With Kashmir, to fight fascism.
September 2019, #NoMuslimBanEver: After years of advocacy, the House of Representatives finally convened a Congressional Hearing on the Muslim Ban. SAALT joined fellow members of the #NoMuslimBanEver campaign to prepare congressional staff for the hearing.
February 2020, Standing Against Hindutva: Following the pogrom against Muslims in Delhi, SAALT issued a statement, co-signed by at least two dozen NCSO members, condemning the violence and demanding the South Asian American community to unite against Hindutva and other forms of fascism.
February 2020, Lakshmi Sridaran, Executive Director: Lakshmi Sridaran was hired as SAALT’s new Executive Director, after serving as Interim for nearly one year and Director of National Policy and Advocacy at SAALT for five years preceding that.
February 2020, Census Bureau Engagement: SAALT hosted a webinar with Census Bureau representatives where NCSO members had the opportunity to ask questions and discuss changes to the census form and data collection methodology.
April 2020, South Asian Guide to Giving: In an effort to better support local South Asian American organizations addressing the greatest impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the SAALT team developed a South Asian Guide to Giving. The Guide highlights a number of ally organizations, leaders, and movements supporting the South Asian American diaspora. It has since become a weekly feature on SAALT’s social media pages, which highlights one organization in depth every week.
April to September 2020, Reporting on Coronavirus: Given the lack of disaggregated data recording the impact of COVID-19 on South Asian Americans, SAALT began collecting testimonials from community members, through surveys, interviews, and research. The report will be published in September 2020, and demonstrates the divided experiences of the pandemic across South Asian American communities along lines of caste, class, religion, and immigration status; hot spot geographies; and key issue themes. It is organized into a full report, factsheets, and an interactive map capturing testimonials and survey data from the community.
May 2020 Onwards, Mobilizing South Asians for Black Lives Matter: After the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police Department Officer Derek Chauvin, South Asian Americans across the country joined protests and actions demanding an end to systemic racism, racialized policing, and state surveillance. Since then, SAALT has reconvened its 2015 Young Leaders Institute class, which was dedicated to confronting anti-Black racism in South Asian American communities, to respond with learnings from their cohort. SAALT has brought on expert trainer and facilitator, Kaajal Shah, to develop a series of trainings and curriculum in response to the unprecedented request from South Asian American community organizations and professional associations to support political education efforts in becoming effective allies.
Fall 2020, Reorganizing for Abolition: A year after the last change in leadership, SAALT is once again fully staffed and shifting from a reformist to abolitionist organization. SAALT staff, board, and external facilitator will unveil a new vision, mission, and set of values that outline this next period in SAALT’s life. This rebranding will be translated into SAALT’s graphic identity as well, now using motifs of gradients to signify the complex and intersecting lives of South Asian Americans, as will be seen with a new website launching in winter 2021.
Fall 2020, A New NCSO: It has become clear that members of the NCSO can no longer be unified by identity alone, but that the network requires values alignment. This month, SAALT will announce changes to the NCSO membership model and launch an NCSO values alignment process.