New FBI hate crimes statistics show disturbing surge in hate crimes

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 13th, 2018

Earlier today, the FBI released its annual hate crimes statistics report for 2017. The data, while a vast underestimate of the violence our communities face, continues to show an increase in hate crimes for the third year in a row. The number of hate crimes reported to the FBI in 2017 went up to 7,175 from 6,121 in 2016, representing a 17% increase, a significant jump from the five percent increase between 2015 and 2016. This is an alarming upward trend of hate crimes – now consistently surpassing the spike immediately after September 11, 2001. The surge in hate crimes against Sikh and Arab Americans, which rose by 243% and 100% respectively since 2016 is particularly disturbing. And, while the overall number of hate crimes targeting Muslim Americans decreased by 11%, the 2017 total of 273 anti-Muslim hate crimes continues to be a historically high number. Since November 2016, SAALT’s data on incidents of hate violence aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, and Arab Americans show that over 80% of the documented incidents are motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment.

Underreporting of hate crimes by local law enforcement agencies to the FBI remains a major problem. According to ProPublica’s “Documenting Hate” project, thousands of local law enforcement agencies choose not to report hate crimes statistics to the FBI at all; of those that do participate, 88% reported zero hate crimes in 2016 closely mirroring the 87% who reported zero hate crimes in 2017. A separate ProPublica investigation revealed that 120 federal agencies have not complied with mandates to submit hate crime data to the FBI. In fact, the FBI itself does not consistently submit the hate crimes it investigates to its own database. We echo the concern shared by our partners at the Arab American Institute, identifying glaring omissions from the 2017 hate crimes statistics. In particular, the failure to include Srinivas Kuchibhotla’s 2017 murder at the hands of a white supremacist in Olathe, Kansas. His killer, Adam Purinton, was convicted on a federal hate crimes charge earlier this year.

The lack of political will on the part of the Department of Justice to collect this critical data combined with this administration’s flawed approach to understanding and addressing hate crimes makes us all less safe and places a burden of data collection on communities. Additionally, this administration’s continued refusal to acknowledge the growing problem of white supremacy ignores the primary motivation behind the violence targeting our communities. The 2017 FBI data shows that of the over 6,000 hate crimes where the race of the offender was reported, over 50% of the perpetrators were identified as white. SAALT’s data as illustrated in our 2018 report Communities on Fire report found that perpetrators of hate violence referenced President Trump, a Trump administration policy, or a Trump campaign slogan in one out of every five hate incidents documented. White supremacist violence, fanned by the flames of racist rhetoric and policies at the federal level, has devastated marginalized communities. Until this administration confronts this crisis, we will continue to face a surge in hate crimes aimed at our communities.

SAALT WELCOMES CHANGE IN CONGRESSIONAL LEADERSHIP

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 7th, 2018

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) joins our nation in celebrating a sea change of leadership in the House of Representatives and welcomes the prospect of significant policy changes to reflect the needs and priorities of our communities.

South Asian Americans, alongside immigrant and communities of color across the country, made their voices heard last night. The message is clear – the future we want is one that preserves dignity and inclusion for all. Voters chose to reject incumbents and candidates running on anti-immigrant platforms in California, Texas, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Our work begins today to ensure every elected official commits to safeguarding the rights of all Americans, including the over five million South Asians living in the U.S. We insist on accountability and strong, principled leadership for our communities.

South Asian Americans reaffirmed their role as constituents in pivotal Congressional districts. In several of the top 20 Congressional districts with the highest South Asian populations we saw unprecedented shifts – from the flip in Virginia’s 10th district where Democrat Jennifer Wexton defeated incumbent Barbara Comstock; to the election of Democrat Haley Stevens in Michigan’s 11th district, which voted for candidate Trump by a narrow margin in 2016; to Georgia’s 6th district in metro Atlanta that’s so close it hasn’t yet been called.

It was also a night of firsts in notable places. In Michigan, a state with thriving and powerful Arab American communities, Rashida Tlaib became the first Palestinian American woman elected to Congress. She joins Ilhan Omar, the nation’s first Somali American elected to the House, from Minnesota. Together they are the nation’s first Muslim women elected to Congress. Finally, Sharice Davids became one of the nation’s first Native American Members of Congress, and will represent Kansas’ 3rd district, the site of Srinivas Kuchibhotla’s murder at the hands of a white supremacist.

Our Midterm Election Voter Guide emphasized the importance of candidate positions on Civil Rights, Immigration, Hate Violence, and Census 2020. We ask you now to join SAALT in this next phase of holding our newly elected officials accountable to advancing and sustaining immigrant and civil rights by unequivocally rejecting an unconstitutional proposal on birthright citizenship and instead passing a clean DREAM Act; taking up the charge of confronting white supremacist hate violence targeting all of our communities; and eliminating the possibility of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census.

We will continue working with you to bridge grassroots power and priorities into a policy agenda. We remain committed to keeping our communities’ priorities at the forefront of those who aspire to represent us.

 

 

SAALT Responds to Devastating Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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, sophia@saalt.org

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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, sophia@saalt.org

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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, sophia@saalt.org

SAALT Denounces the Administration’s “Public Charge” Proposal to Criminalize Immigrants for Using Public Benefits

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Washington, D.C., South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) condemns the Department of Homeland Security announcement of new proposed “public charge” rules that would deny permanent resident status (“green cards”) to immigrants who use government services such as nutrition programs and housing assistance. The new rule would also weigh age, health, and employability as factors to deny green cards. SAALT, along with immigrant and civil rights, public health, and labor organizations, are denouncing these changes that threaten families and children’s health. The proposed rules would relegate immigrants who are not yet citizens to second-class status by condemning their use of critical public benefits programs.
If implemented, the public charge regulation would undermine the safety, health, and security of immigrant families. Rumors of the proposal have already sown fear among immigrant families, many of whom have foregone essential health and nutrition services for which they are eligible. The new rule would hit South Asian American communities particularly hard, as over 10% of green card recipients in FY 2016 were from South Asian countries. According to a recent Pew Research Center study, one in four immigrants in the U.S. from Bangladesh and Nepal and one in three immigrants from Bhutan already live in poverty. This new rule would put all of these individuals at great risk. The term “public charge” predates federal immigration law entirely. In the early 1800’s states would only free individual slaves on the condition that they never become a “public charge.” This framework is now being expanded to criminalize immigrant communities.
“This policy is about who this Administration considers a desirable immigrant. It is designed to instill fear in immigrant communities of color and relegate non-citizens and their families to second-class status. It will punish immigrants who rightfully access the public benefits to which they are entitled, it will punish parents for taking care of their children, and it will force immigrant families to choose between citizenship and basic needs. Rather than taxing the 1%, this Administration chooses to punish immigrant families over and over again. Today, on the one-year anniversary of Muslim Ban 3.0, we say no to more racist and anti-immigrant policies,” said Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT.
Once the rule is officially published in the Federal Register, the public will have 60 days to comment on the proposed rule before the Department of Homeland Security proceeds with final rulemaking. Stay tuned for SAALT’s campaign to channel public comments to the federal government opposing this discriminatory proposal.
CONTACT: Sophia Qureshi, sophia@saalt.org

SAALT Chicago Townhall: The Future of South Asians in the U.S.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Join us to learn about how we can all build The Future for South Asians in the U.S. on Saturday, October 6th in Niles, Illinois. South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) will be partnering with Chicagoland community organizations to host this critical forum addressing the impact of immigration policy in the U.S. on the South Asian community.

This exciting Town Hall will include:
  • A Resource Fair, featuring local South Asian community organizations.
  • A panel discussion on several key local and national policies that impact South Asian Americans

 

The Resource Fair will allow community members to connect with local organizations serving and working with South Asian American communities. Indo-American CenterSouth Asian Americans Policy and Research Institute (SAAPRI)Hamdard CenterApna Ghar, the Council on American Islamic Relations – Chicago (CAIR-Chicago), and more local organizations will be available to answer your questions aboutimmigration, health care, public benefits, and DACA.
There will also be a panel discussion with local advocates for the South Asian community, sharing how current national and state-level policies affect our communities, H4 visa holders, DACA recipients, and the DREAM Act. There will also be information about the 2020 Census, and how proposed changes will likely impact the South Asian community.
For a full list of our co-sponsors and speakers please visit and RSVP on our Eventbrite page for The Future of South Asians in the U.S. on Saturday, October 6th at Culver Elementary School.
We look forward to seeing you there!

CONTACT: Sophia Qureshi, sophia@saalt.org

SAALT hosts Congressional Briefing — 17 years after 9/11 ”Detentions, Deportations, Diminished Civil Rights”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 14, 2018
On September 13, South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) hosted a Capitol Hill Briefing in collaboration with the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC). Members of Congress and an expert panel of community leaders provided remarks marking the 17th anniversary of the tragic events of 9/11. This year’s anniversary fell at a time of rampant anti-immigrant and xenophobic policies aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, and Arab American communities. Members of Congress and community leaders discussed the intersection of hate violence, the Muslim Ban, and immigration enforcement. They also pointed to legislative and policy proposals to safeguard civil rights and protect immigrant communities.
As lead sponsor of H.R. 1566 NO HATE Act, Representative Don Beyer (VA-08) provided opening remarks emphasizing the relationship between hate violence and discriminatory and anti-immigrant policies advanced by the current administration. Representative Beyer reminded the audience that hate violence exists in every corner of our nation as he recounted recent incidents from his northern Virginia Congressional District.
Representative Grace Meng (NY-06) provided closing remarks commemorating the impact of 9/11 and the ensuing backlash against South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, and Arab American communities in New York City. She highlighted the story of Salman Hamdani, a young Muslim-American first responder on 9/11, whose name was left off the National September 11 Memorial in Manhattan.
“SAALT is committed to addressing the underlying factors that spur hate violence against our communities, including discriminatory policies and the growth in organized white supremacy. We are dedicated to working with Congressional leaders and our community partners to ensure the next decade sees a decline in hate violence,” stated Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT.

Honorary Co-hosts:
The Honorable Senator Jeffrey A. Merkley (OR)
Congressional Co-sponsors:
Representative Don Beyer (VA-08) – opening remarks
Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07)
Representative Ro Khanna (CA-17)
Representative Grace Meng (NY-06) – closing remarks
Representative Jan Schakowsky (IL-09)
Panelists:
Azza Altiraifi, Justice for Muslims Collective
Paromita Shah, National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild
Lakshmi Sridaran, South Asian Americans Leading Together

Quotes

Representative Don Beyer (VA-08): “I want to recognize SAALT’s crucial advocacy work – they have been instrumental in elevating South Asian American voices into conversations on the Hill. I am proud to have SAALT’s support on my bill, the NO HATE Act, which will help improve hate crime reporting.”
Representative Grace Meng (NY-06): “I’m proud of the tremendous work SAALT does on behalf of the South Asian community. We have a collective responsibility to ensure our communities are safe from violence, hate, and discrimination. I’m committed to ensuring that my constituents have the support and resources to keep our communities safe. I’m proud to partner with SAALT and am confident it will continue to play a pivotal role in keeping our communities safe.”
For a recorded stream of the Briefing, please click here.

17 Years After 9/11: Detentions, Deportations, Diminished Civil Rights

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 11, 2018

Today marks the 17-year anniversary of the tragic attacks of September 11, 2001. This anniversary falls at a time of rampant immigration enforcement and racial profiling policies directed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, and Arab American communities. Unsurprisingly, this escalation of brutal and discriminatory policies is accompanied by a rising tide of hate violence impacting our communities. Nearly two decades after the events of September 11th, hate violence targeting South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, and Arab American communities has now surpassed levels only seen immediately after that tragedy.

SAALT has already documented over 400 incidents of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric targeting our communities since the 2016 presidential election. Tragically, we can now draw a direct link between divisive political rhetoric and its role in spurring hate violence: one in five of the hate incidents documented in our 2018 report, Communities on Fire, involved perpetrators who verbally referenced President Trump, one of his administration’s policies, or one of his campaign slogans while committing an act of violence.

Since the events of September 11th, successive administrations have leveraged a ‘national security’ lens to advance anti-immigrant and xenophobic policies that target our communities and our place in this nation. This list of policies that seek to limit and exclude our rights includes but is not limited to the Patriot Act, the Countering Violent Extremism program, and the Muslim Ban. Several devastating policies aimed at immigrant communities have been unveiled in the last year alone. Examples include the decision to terminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for individuals from several countries including Nepal, Honduras, El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan; a wave of deportations of documented and undocumented residents; separating families and detaining children in cages; and denaturalizing American citizens. In short, we are in the midst of a campaign to create an America that is separate and unequal for the foreign-born and their families. The onslaught is slated to continue escalating through the administration’s plans to further criminalize immigrants for utilizing public benefits by issuing a ‘public charge’ rule and unconstitutionally including a question on citizenship status in the 2020 Census.

It appears this dangerous convergence of policies, rhetoric, and violence will not end soon. In April 2018, a Houston Muslim woman wearing a hijab was stabbed by an attacker yelling “Oh my God, it’s a r**head” “sand n******” and other racially derogatory terms. In July and August 2018, two California Sikh men wearing turbans were violently attacked in separate incidents. In one incident, the perpetrator yelled “Go back to your country!” SAALT continues to collect data on incidents of hate violence in our public, online database, and provides monthly updates on trends.

Later this week, SAALT will host a Congressional Briefing in collaboration with the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) to highlight the intersection between current incidents of hate violence, the Muslim Ban, and immigration enforcement. SAALT is committed to addressing the underlying factors that spur hate violence against our communities, including discriminatory policies and the growth in organized white supremacy. We are dedicated to ensuring the next decade sees a decline in hate violence and an effort to regain this nation’s core ideals of equality and justice.