SAALT Urges Coronavirus-Related Support for India

As an orga­ni­za­tion that works with South Asians in the Unit­ed States, SAALT calls upon the Biden Har­ris Admin­is­tra­tion and Con­gress to take imme­di­ate action to address the glob­al health cri­sis unfold­ing in India and across South Asia as a result of the COVID–19 pan­dem­ic.  India has been aver­ag­ing over 2,000 report­ed COVID-19 relat­ed deaths dai­ly since late March. On Sat­ur­day, April 24th, India report­ed 324,000 new infec­tions – a glob­al record.  What­ev­er exist­ing med­ical infra­struc­ture has col­lapsed, as doc­u­ment­ed by haunt­ing images of hos­pi­tals run­ning out of beds, des­per­ate pleas for oxy­gen on social media, and news of over­whelmed cre­ma­to­ri­ums and grave­yards. And this is just what is being report­ed. The Indi­an gov­ern­men­t’s ongo­ing mis­treat­ment of minor­i­ty pop­u­la­tions in India makes it clear that mar­gin­al­ized com­mu­ni­ties are at an even greater risk of dying due to the pan­dem­ic. 

South Asians in the Unit­ed States have deep con­cerns about what is unrav­el­ing across India. SAALT joins the calls to action being made by many in the US and around the world to ask the Biden Har­ris Admin­is­tra­tion to:

  • Ensure access to and equal dis­tri­b­u­tion of any raw mate­ri­als need­ed for vac­cine pro­duc­tion, with­out threat of sanc­tion
  • Ensure the imme­di­ate and equi­table export and dis­tri­b­u­tion of oxy­gen, oxy­gen gen­er­a­tors, and oth­er des­per­ate­ly need­ed med­ical sup­plies.
  • Ensure that the Indi­an gov­ern­ment is prac­tic­ing eth­i­cal lead­er­ship that cen­ters pub­lic health includ­ing equi­table care, and access to vac­cines and test­ing for all peo­ple. Indi­vid­u­als his­tor­i­cal­ly mar­gin­al­ized and exclud­ed in India, includ­ing Dalit, Pas­man­da, Adi­vasi, Chris­t­ian, Mus­lim, Jew­ish, Sikh, Bud­dhist, Jain, and Kash­miri com­mu­ni­ties, must receive equal access.

Any and all that are inter­est­ed in sup­port­ing the Indi­an peo­ple can direct their resources and sup­port here or here, and sign on to sup­port efforts here

This state­ment is also endorsed by:
18 Mil­lion Ris­ing
Amer­i­cans for Kash­mir
Anoth­er Gulf Is Pos­si­ble
Apna Ghar, Inc.
Asian Amer­i­cans and Pacif­ic Islanders for Jus­tice (San Anto­nio)
Asian Pacif­ic Amer­i­can Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO
Asian Pacif­ic Amer­i­can Labor Alliance, Philadel­phia
Asian Pacif­ic Pol­i­cy & Plan­ning Coun­cil (A3PCON)
Asian Sol­i­dar­i­ty Col­lec­tive
Asso­ci­a­tion of Chi­nese Amer­i­cans, Inc.
Cen­ter for Ideas, Equi­ty, and Trans­for­ma­tive Change
COOLJC Region 8 (SJEREC)
Dalit Sol­i­dar­i­ty Forum
Equi­ty Mat­ters
Friends of Human Rights
Human Rights Cities Alliance Steer­ing Com­mit­tee
Immi­grant Alliance for Jus­tice and Equi­ty
India Civ­il Watch Inter­na­tion­al
Indi­an Amer­i­can Mus­lim Coun­cil
Inter­na­tion­al Com­mis­sion for Dalit Rights
Laal
Land Loss Pre­ven­tion Project
The Light­house | Black Girl Projects
Mal­colm X Grass­roots Move­ment
The Mis­sis­sip­pi Farm to School Net­work
Mis­sis­sip­pi Votes
MP Asso­ciates
Nation­al Asian Pacif­ic Amer­i­can Wom­en’s Forum (NAPAWF)
Nation­al Coun­cil of Asian Pacif­ic Amer­i­cans (NCAPA)
North Car­oli­na Asso­ci­a­tion of Black Lawyers
Reviv­ing the Islam­ic Sis­ter­hood for Empow­er­ment (RISE)
Rise Up India
Sap­na NYC
Sikh Coali­tion
South Asian Bar Asso­ci­a­tion of North Amer­i­ca (SABA)
South Asian Pub­lic Health Asso­ci­a­tion (SAPHA)
South Asian Sex­u­al and Men­tal Health Alliance (SASMHA)
South Asia Sol­i­dar­i­ty Ini­tia­tive (SASI)
Yale Envi­ron­men­tal Law Asso­ci­a­tion
Yale Law Lat­inx Law Stu­dents Asso­ci­a­tion
Yale Law School Asian Pacif­ic Amer­i­can Law Stu­dents’ Asso­ci­a­tion
Yale Law School Out­Laws
Yale Law School South Asian Law Stu­dents’ Asso­ci­a­tion
Yale Law School Yale Law Women
Yale School of Man­age­ment

SAALT Stands in Solidarity with Sikh Siblings

Today, SAALT grieves the loss of life in the lat­est mass shoot­ing in Indi­anapo­lis, Indi­ana: On Thurs­day, April 15th, 2021, the Indi­ana com­mu­ni­ty lost Matthew R. Alexan­der (32), Samaria Black­well (19), Amar­jeet Johal (66),  Jasvin­der Kaur (50),  Jaswinder Kaur Singh (70), Amar­jit Sekhon (49), Kar­li Smith (19), and John Weis­ert (74). Our hearts are heavy and mourn with the vic­tims’ fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers, who are undoubt­ed­ly reel­ing from the trau­ma of los­ing their loved ones. Of par­tic­u­lar note, four of the eight vic­tims were our Sikh sib­lings and fel­low com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers. 

Just after 11:00 PM EDT on April 15th, a now-iden­ti­fied gun­man entered an Indi­anapo­lis Fedex facil­i­ty where he was pre­vi­ous­ly employed, and opened fire, tak­ing the lives of those men­tioned above and injur­ing sev­er­al oth­ers, before tak­ing his own life. Since the inves­ti­ga­tion into the inci­dent and the gunman’s motive is ongo­ing, and we are await­ing more detailed facts, we must pri­or­i­tize those cur­rent­ly in recov­ery. Of utmost impor­tance are those left behind tend­ing to both their phys­i­cal wounds and the deep trau­ma of hav­ing to return to a work­place and com­mu­ni­ty where fel­low com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers were so trag­i­cal­ly tak­en. 

Such an act of mass vio­lence sends rever­ber­a­tions across Sikh and South Asian com­mu­ni­ties, evok­ing past pain and grief root­ed in decades of sim­i­lar vio­lent acts. Though the motive is still unclear, under­stand­ably this type of event trig­gers fear and uncer­tain­ty — much like what the com­mu­ni­ty faced after 9/11 and in the after­math of the killing of six Sikhs at a gur­d­wara in Oak Creek in 2012. SAALT stands in sol­i­dar­i­ty with our Sikh com­mu­ni­ty, in Indi­anapo­lis and across the coun­try, as we move towards heal­ing.

We are struck by the trend of vio­lence against immi­grant work­ers, who have not only tak­en on essen­tial work dur­ing a glob­al pan­dem­ic, but have also been par­tic­u­lar­ly vul­ner­a­ble to its health and eco­nom­ic con­se­quences as a result of their work. SAALT stands in sol­i­dar­i­ty with immi­grant and essen­tial work­ers, and hon­ors the care they have poured into our com­mu­ni­ty despite wide­spread big­otry.

We are also dis­heart­ened by the loss of both elders, who were pil­lars of strength and resilience, and of young peo­ple, who were bea­cons of hope and life. As SAALT stands in sol­i­dar­i­ty with our elders and young folks, we are remind­ed of the prac­tice of char­di kala: a Sikh spir­i­tu­al prac­tice that reminds us to cen­ter com­pas­sion, opti­mism, and courage, even in times of adver­si­ty and grief. For decades, the Sikh com­mu­ni­ty has shown that resilience is pos­si­ble even as they con­tin­u­al­ly face tragedy, and our sol­i­dar­i­ty hon­ors, cen­ters, and uplifts that always; this is the thread we hope our com­mu­ni­ty can cen­ter as we con­tin­ue to process our grief. If you are look­ing to sup­port Sikh sib­lings at this time of strife, please con­sid­er direct­ing your resources to the fol­low­ing orga­ni­za­tions:
- Sikh Coali­tion
- Sikh Amer­i­can Legal Defense & Edu­ca­tion Fund (SALDEF)
- Jakara Move­ment
- Kaur Life

SAALT Mourns the Murder of Eight in Atlanta and Calls for Investment in Community-Led Responses

On the night of Tues­day, 16 March, a 21-year-old white man attacked three spas in the metro Atlanta area, shoot­ing and killing eight peo­ple. Six of the eight vic­tims were Kore­an Amer­i­can women. This attack is the worst pos­si­ble out­come of the rise in coro­n­avirus-dri­ven anti-Asian hatred – anoth­er mass shoot­ing root­ed in white suprema­cy and goad­ed by politi­cians’ xeno­pho­bic rhetoric. 

The inci­dent is a hor­rif­ic peak in the big­otry we’ve all wit­nessed over the past year: once again, mar­gin­al­ized work­ing-class immi­grants are tar­get­ed at a time of glob­al cri­sis; once again, we wit­ness our nation’s inabil­i­ty to rec­og­nize the dom­i­nance of gen­dered white suprema­cist vio­lence and racism in all of its struc­tures; once again, our heal­ing is dis­rupt­ed.

Still, local police are not cat­e­go­riz­ing this mass shoot­ing as a hate crime, nor rec­og­niz­ing the sig­nif­i­cant role of both race and gen­der in the shap­ing of this tragedy. But we must be clear: sev­en of the eight vic­tims were women; six of the eight vic­tims were Asian Amer­i­can. It is clear the shoot­er (who has cit­ed “sex­u­al deviance” as his moti­va­tion for mur­der) also had some bias in his tar­get­ing, whether explic­it or implic­it. This, in turn, demands that we – as Asian and Pacif­ic Islander Amer­i­cans, as Amer­i­cans of col­or, as Amer­i­cans gen­er­al­ly – ques­tion how embed­ded anti-Asian rhetoric is in Amer­i­can cul­ture and how Amer­i­can cul­ture ben­e­fits from patri­ar­chal white suprema­cy and era­sure. And more specif­i­cal­ly, these inter­sec­tions point to the clear his­to­ry of dan­ger­ous sex­u­al­iza­tion of Asian women in the U.S. Last night’s shoot­ing can only be under­stood and approached as an act of race‑, class‑, and gen­der-based sex­u­al vio­lence.

Con­sid­er­ing these com­plex­i­ties, it is our respon­si­bil­i­ty as mem­bers and allies of the broad­er APIA com­mu­ni­ty to push for an inter­sec­tion­al analy­sis that under­stands the racism fac­ing Asian and Pacif­ic Islander Amer­i­cans, as well as the vio­lent and sex­u­al­ized misog­y­ny aimed at our East Asian and South­east Asian sis­ters. Our role in this moment is to both remem­ber the pain of our past com­mu­ni­ty expe­ri­ences with mass vio­lence, and hon­or and move towards the point of heal­ing and repa­ra­tion.

Below are some allies who have ties to the vic­tims, their fam­i­lies, and their com­mu­ni­ties; please fol­low them to stay updat­ed on calls to action and news.
- Asian Amer­i­cans Advanc­ing Jus­tice (AAAJ) — Atlanta
- Red Canary Song
- Sur­vived & Pun­ished
- Nation­al Asian Pacif­ic Amer­i­can Wom­en’s Forum (NAPAWF)

If you’d like to direct resources and sup­port to vic­tims’ fam­i­lies as well as orga­niz­ers on the ground, please use this form (https://bit.ly/georgiaAAPIcommunitycare).

SAALT mourns the loss of our Kore­an Amer­i­can sib­lings’ lives, and in their hon­or, reaf­firms our respon­si­bil­i­ty to pro­tect­ing oth­ers from sim­i­lar harm.

SAALT Statement on the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021

Yes­ter­day marked the intro­duc­tion of the U.S. Cit­i­zen­ship Act of 2021, by Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Sanchez (D‑CA-38) and Sen­a­tor Menen­dez (D‑NJ). The bill is a his­toric piece of leg­is­la­tion that pro­pos­es a path­way to cit­i­zen­ship for 11 mil­lion immi­grants, includ­ing more than 650,000 undoc­u­ment­ed South Asians. 

Among oth­er things, this bill address­es issues that are fun­da­men­tal to the well­be­ing of South Asian com­mu­ni­ties, includ­ing lan­guage that:

  • Creates an earned roadmap to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants, pro­vid­ing  Dream­ers, TPS hold­ers, and some farm­work­ers with an expe­dit­ed three-year path to cit­i­zen­ship, and giv­ing all oth­er undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants an eight-year path.
  • Reforms the family-based immigration system to keep families together by recap­tur­ing visas from pre­vi­ous years to clear back­logs, includ­ing spous­es and chil­dren of green card hold­ers as imme­di­ate fam­i­ly mem­bers, and increas­ing per-coun­try caps for fam­i­ly-based immi­gra­tion. It also elim­i­nates dis­crim­i­na­tion against LGBTQ+ fam­i­lies, pro­vide pro­tec­tions for orphans, wid­ows and chil­dren, and allows immi­grants with approved fam­i­ly-spon­sor­ship peti­tions to join fam­i­ly in the U.S. on a tem­po­rary basis while they wait for green cards.
  • Updates the employment-based immigration system, elim­i­nat­ing per-coun­try caps, improv­ing access to green cards for work­ers in low­er-wage indus­tries, giv­ing depen­dents of H‑1B hold­ers work autho­riza­tion, and pre­vent­ing chil­dren of H‑1B hold­ers from aging out of the sys­tem. The bill also cre­ates a pilot pro­gram to stim­u­late region­al eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment, and incen­tivizes high­er wages for non-immi­grant, high-skilled visas to pre­vent unfair com­pe­ti­tion with Amer­i­can work­ers. 
  • Supports asylum seekers and other vulnerable populations by elim­i­nat­ing the one-year dead­line for fil­ing asy­lum claims, reduc­ing asy­lum appli­ca­tion back­logs, increas­ing pro­tec­tions for U visa, T visa, and VAWA appli­cants, includ­ing by rais­ing the cap on U visas from 10,000 to 30,000.

We look for­ward to the pos­si­bil­i­ties this leg­is­la­tion presents. How­ev­er, we also urge Con­gress to address some of its harm­ful pro­vi­sions that exclude immi­grants who have been harmed by the racist crim­i­nal legal sys­tem, and hin­der immi­grants from access­ing health care and oth­er vital ser­vices on their path to cit­i­zen­ship. 

Pres­i­dent Biden and his admin­is­tra­tion must not only fol­low through with the above com­mit­ments but also trans­form the immi­gra­tion sys­tem to explic­it­ly account for cli­mate change, reli­gious per­se­cu­tion, and grow­ing right-wing fas­cism in South Asia. 

Amid mass depor­ta­tions of Black immi­grants, the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic, and ongo­ing inte­ri­or enforce­ment threats, SAALT will con­tin­ue to advo­cate to strength­en the bill and ensure that all immi­grants and their fam­i­lies have access to a humane immi­gra­tion sys­tem. A thought­ful immi­gra­tion pol­i­cy lifts us all. 

Statement on H‑4 EADs

On Tues­day, Jan­u­ary 26, the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty with­drew its pro­pos­al to rescind H‑4 work autho­riza­tions (EADs). This means that more than 100,000 H‑4 EAD recip­i­ents, the major­i­ty of whom are women of col­or, keep their abil­i­ty to work. This move to pre­serve the pro­gram sig­nals the Biden-Har­ris administration’s com­mit­ment to sup­port­ing immi­grant women work­ers who play an essen­tial role as we con­tin­ue to bat­tle the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic.

Despite this hope­ful news, SAALT con­tin­ues to hear from com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers who have been adverse­ly impact­ed by sig­nif­i­cant delays in the pro­cess­ing of H‑4 work autho­riza­tion doc­u­ments. These peo­ple must be pro­tect­ed, and the Biden admin­is­tra­tion must uni­lat­er­al­ly extend the valid­i­ty peri­od of all expired H‑4 EADs and resolve USCIS pro­cess­ing delays.

Hope­ful­ly, we will see these exten­sions come with the intro­duc­tion of the Cit­i­zen­ship Act of 2021 in the com­ing weeks. It seeks to for­mal­ize work autho­riza­tion for H‑4 EAD visa recip­i­ents, cre­ate an acces­si­ble and equi­table path­way to cit­i­zen­ship (espe­cial­ly for undoc­u­ment­ed essen­tial work­ers), and com­mit to a struc­tur­al trans­for­ma­tion of our bro­ken immi­gra­tion sys­tem that address­es and resolves back­logs. Pres­i­dent Biden and Con­gress must work togeth­er to pass clean immi­gra­tion and essen­tial work­er bills. 

Learn more about the cur­rent sta­tus of the H‑4 EAD rule, and take action: 

This is a long over­due moment of hope for immi­gra­tion pol­i­cy; let’s make it count and #ProtectH4EAD.

#ByeBan: SAALT Statement on the Rescission of the Muslim & African Bans

Since Jan­u­ary 27th, 2017, count­less fam­i­lies have been sep­a­rat­ed, detained, and refused fair treat­ment under the Mus­lim Ban – but as of yes­ter­day, hope and jus­tice feel near­er, as Pres­i­dent Biden has signed an exec­u­tive order to end the Ban, repeal­ing an explic­it­ly racist immi­gra­tion pol­i­cy and stand­ing with Arab, Black, and Mus­lim Amer­i­cans.

SAALT spent the last four years as a part of the No Mus­lim Ban Ever cam­paign, mobi­liz­ing com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers and elect­ed offi­cials to stand against the Ban, and stand up for our com­mu­ni­ty. Yesterday’s vic­to­ry is the fruit of our col­lec­tive resis­tance to white suprema­cy, and our con­tin­ued defense of (im)migrant rights.

With the rescis­sion of the anti-Black, xeno­pho­bic, and Islam­o­pho­bic pol­i­cy, SAALT and our allies now have a clear­er path to fight for the pro­tec­tion of all migrants and immi­grants, regard­less of their back­ground. Still, of course, the Mus­lim Ban is just one cog in a high­ly flawed immi­gra­tion sys­tem, which must be trans­formed in its entire­ty; the enact­ment of the Mus­lim Ban only high­light­ed the entrench­ment of Islam­o­pho­bia and xeno­pho­bia in Amer­i­can cul­ture. Therefore, it is critical that the 118th Congress pass and enact the No Ban Act to limit executive authority from issuing future discriminatory bans based on religion and national origin.

It’s equal­ly cru­cial for our com­mu­ni­ty to rec­og­nize that Pres­i­dent Biden’s rescis­sion of the Ban only marks the begin­ning of an ardu­ous heal­ing process – a chal­lenge which we must come togeth­er to address. This is why SAALT is pri­or­i­tiz­ing and prac­tic­ing restora­tive jus­tice strate­gies in our con­tin­ued fight against insti­tu­tion­al­ized Islam­o­pho­bia and xeno­pho­bia. Our col­lec­tive abil­i­ty to hold space for heal­ing will deter­mine the sus­tain­abil­i­ty of our move­ment, and we ask our com­mu­ni­ty to rec­og­nize the harms that these dis­crim­i­na­to­ry poli­cies have on the men­tal and phys­i­cal well-being of impact­ed com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers for gen­er­a­tions to come.

As hope and jus­tice draw near­er, we call on Pres­i­dent Biden and his admin­is­tra­tion to con­tin­ue show­ing sup­port for Black, Indige­nous and all oth­er com­mu­ni­ties of col­or, and con­tin­ue to con­demn and act against white suprema­cy and hatred.

SAALT staff and allies at a #NoMus­lim­Ban­Ev­er ral­ly out­side the Supreme Court of the Unit­ed States in April 2018.

Please reach out to sruti@saalt.org with any ques­tions or requests.

SAALT Statement on January 6th Events

Yes­ter­day, white suprema­cy was on full dis­play at the US Capi­tol and at gov­ern­ment build­ings across the nation. These attacks rep­re­sent a bla­tant and ille­gal attempt to deter democ­ra­cy and pro­mote white suprema­cist beliefs ​— which harm every­one. All of us have a duty to respond, not only with con­dem­na­tion, but with sus­tained action against the insti­ga­tors and their sup­port­ers.

Though Con­gress has cer­ti­fied the results of the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, they must do more. They must call for the removal of Pres­i­dent Trump and begin impeach­ment pro­ceed­ings ​imme­di­ate­ly. Repub­li­can lead­er­ship must ensure there is a peace­ful tran­si­tion of pow­er on and past Inau­gu­ra­tion Day​, and all mem­bers of Con­gress who incit­ed, encour­aged, or par­tic­i­pat­ed in this attack must be expelled for break­ing their Oaths of Office. Those respon­si­ble for yesterday’s attacks must be held ​equal­ly account­able under the law.  

We must also be care­ful about how to char­ac­ter­ize yesterday’s events. SAALT’s work on nation­al secu­ri­ty and immi­gra­tion issues since 9/11 has made it clear that label­ing acts of extrem­ist vio­lence as ter­ror­ism is dan­ger­ous and paves the way for the tar­get­ing of Black and Brown communities​, as seen through the War on Ter­ror frame­work. We can ​and must stand vig­i­lant against yesterday’s attacks with­out resort­ing to such char­ac­ter­i­za­tions by demand­ing that what hap­pened yes­ter­day is ​char­ac­ter­ized as white suprema­cist vio­lence. SAALT stands with our Black allies, who are right­ful­ly point­ing out the dou­ble stan­dards in how the white suprema­cists behind yesterday’s events are being treat­ed, as com­pared to the peace­ful pro­test­ers dur­ing last summer’s upris­ings.

“For our own com­mu­ni­ties, who were retrau­ma­tized by yesterday’s events, we are with you. The past four years have been a relent­less surge of poli­cies and attacks against the bod­ies and rights of so many com­mu­ni­ties, ours includ­ed. SAALT will con­tin­ue to press for the rever­sal of these xeno­pho­bic and racist poli­cies from the Trump era and push for bold solu­tions that will improve the lives of every­one.”

Sim­ran Noor, SAALT Board Chair

As South Asians, we also have work to do with­in our com­mu­ni­ties. There are reports of Indi­an Amer­i­cans being present at ​and encour­ag­ing yesterday’s attempt­ed  coup. Giv­en what we wit­nessed from the ​2020 Howdy Modi event in Texas fea­tur­ing Trump and Modi, this is no sur­prise. We have work to do with­in our own com­mu­ni­ties to raise aware­ness about the links between Hin­du nation­al­ism and white suprema­cy, and the dan­gers of ally­ing with the ele­ments who orches­trat­ed yesterday’s events. Sim­ply put: We can­not con­demn one fas­cist and excuse anoth­er. SAALT calls on its entire com­mu­ni­ty to hold these truths and stand unit­ed against nation­al­ism, fas­cism, and impe­ri­al­ism on all its fronts.

SAALT will con­tin­ue to share news and cov­er­age of the vio­lence, as well as help con­nect those affect­ed by the chaos with local resources. Please reach out to sruti@saalt.org with any ques­tions or requests.


FBI 2019 Hate Crimes Report: Highest Number of Hate Crime Murders Since 1991

Novem­ber 17, 2020: Yes­ter­day, the FBI released its 2019 Hate Crime Sta­tis­tics Report, show­ing the dead­liest year on record and the high­est num­ber of hate crime mur­ders since 1991. A total of 7,314 hate crime inci­dents were report­ed by law enforce­ment agen­cies. The FBI data illus­trates a slight decrease from last year’s report, and yet we know that com­mu­ni­ties of col­or, LGBTQ folks, and peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties con­tin­ue to be tar­gets of hate vio­lence by white suprema­cist indi­vid­u­als and insti­tu­tions.

Major findings of the report:

  • The FBI report cites the Sikh com­mu­ni­ty saw a slight decrease in the num­ber of report­ed anti-Sikh inci­dents in 2019, after a record 200 per­cent increase in 2018. And while crimes moti­vat­ed by anti-Mus­lim sen­ti­ment decreased, with 176 report­ed, over­all hate crime inci­dents tar­get­ing Mus­lims and those per­ceived as Mus­lims has been up since 2015. As of Novem­ber 1, 2020, SAALT and our part­ners have tracked 348 inci­dents of xeno­pho­bic or Islam­o­pho­bic rhetoric, and 733 inci­dents of hate vio­lence tar­get­ing Mus­lims and Asian Amer­i­cans, and those per­ceived as Mus­lim or Asian Amer­i­can, since Novem­ber 2015.
  • Racial­ly moti­vat­ed hate crime inci­dents made up the major­i­ty of hate crimes report­ed in 2019, with near­ly half of the inci­dents moti­vat­ed by anti-Black racism. The num­ber of anti-Black hate crimes was the high­est it’s been since 2011.
  • There were 51 hate crime mur­ders in 2019. 22 of those were the racial­ly moti­vat­ed mur­ders in the sin­gle El Paso shoot­ing last August. There was a nine per­cent increase in report­ed hate crime inci­dents against Lati­nos, and yet the dead­ly El Paso shoot­ing was cat­e­go­rized under “anti-oth­er race/ethnicity/ancestry” despite well doc­u­ment­ed anti-Mex­i­can sen­ti­ment. As report­ed in SAALT’s COVID report, the “oth­er” cat­e­go­riza­tion often obscures the true impact on com­mu­ni­ties. 
  • Of the known offend­ers, over 50% iden­ti­fied as white.

The num­bers depict a far from accu­rate pic­ture of the real preva­lence of hate vio­lence inci­dents in the U.S. The fed­er­al gov­ern­ment has yet to man­date hate crime report­ing at the state and local lev­els. Dur­ing an extra­or­di­nary year of upris­ings and state vio­lence against Black and brown com­mu­ni­ties, it is imper­a­tive for Con­gress to pass the Jabara-Hey­er NO HATE Act, (H.R. 3545; S. 2043), which helps close vast gaps in hate crime sta­tis­tics and improve data col­lec­tion on hate crimes by local, state, and fed­er­al law enforce­ment agen­cies. The bill also includes a restora­tive jus­tice com­po­nent which pro­vides an “alter­na­tive sen­tenc­ing” pro­vi­sion that would allow spe­cif­ic defen­dants super­vised release to under­take edu­ca­tion­al class­es or com­mu­ni­ty ser­vice direct­ly relat­ed to the harmed com­mu­ni­ty. 

Hate vio­lence tar­get­ing South Asian, Arabs, and Mus­lims is fueled by state sanc­tioned white suprema­cy. Poli­cies and prac­tices like the Mus­lim Ban, fam­i­ly sep­a­ra­tion, and ongo­ing police vio­lence endan­ger our com­mu­ni­ties because they embold­en white suprema­cists. From the con­stant van­dal­iz­ing of mosques, har­rass­ment of Mus­lim women, to the tar­get­ing of South Asians in their own neigh­bor­hoods, we have seen the very real and con­stant impact of this vio­lence. SAAT is com­mit­ted to advo­cat­ing for pol­i­cy and com­mu­ni­ty based solu­tions that address hate vio­lence from its root cause — by fight­ing all the man­i­fes­ta­tions of state sanc­tioned hate.

SAALT Marks Historic 2020 Election

Elec­tion win opens up greater poten­tial for push­ing poli­cies that mat­ter to South Asian com­mu­ni­ties
Novem­ber 9, 2020: SAALT con­grat­u­lates Pres­i­dent-elect Joe Biden and Vice-Pres­i­dent-elect Kamala Har­ris on their his­toric win and we look for­ward to the oppor­tu­ni­ty to push for pro­gres­sive and inclu­sive poli­cies for South Asian Amer­i­cans across the U.S with the new Admin­is­tra­tion. Despite attempts by the Trump Admin­is­tra­tion to thwart the demo­c­ra­t­ic process, the hard work of orga­niz­ers, poll work­ers, and vol­un­teers ensured greater account­abil­i­ty around vot­er sup­pres­sion than ever before. Ulti­mate­ly, this led to a clear and deci­sive vic­to­ry for the Biden cam­paign.

Lak­sh­mi Sri­daran, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of SAALT, said: “This elec­tion opens up greater poten­tial for push­ing the poli­cies that mat­ter to our com­mu­ni­ties. We will rely on the same vig­i­lance that pro­pelled his­toric vot­er turnout and accu­rate vote counts to hold this Admin­is­tra­tion account­able to our com­mu­ni­ties. This means a com­plete over­haul of our immi­gra­tion sys­tem that ensures a path­way to cit­i­zen­ship for all, COVID-19 relief pack­ages that include immi­grants of all sta­tus, increased lan­guage access resources, an end to deten­tion and the mil­i­ta­riza­tion of U.S. bor­ders, and the trans­for­ma­tion of polic­ing as we know it. We will cel­e­brate and heal, but we also know the work of undo­ing the immense harm of the last four years and affir­ma­tive­ly lay­ing the ground­work for mean­ing­ful sys­tems change requires inten­tion and polit­i­cal will. In order for this Admin­is­tra­tion to tru­ly acknowl­edge the Black and brown com­mu­ni­ties whose years of orga­niz­ing deliv­ered this weekend’s vic­to­ry, beyond rep­re­sen­ta­tion, we expect them to exer­cise that polit­i­cal will to the full extent on behalf of our com­mu­ni­ties.“

The his­toric vot­er turnout and inspring shifts of tra­di­tion­al­ly con­ser­v­a­tive states were a direct result of years of orga­niz­ing by Black and brown com­mu­ni­ties who felt the brunt of the Trump Administration’s xeno­pho­bic and racist polices and dan­ger­ous rhetoric. In par­tic­u­lar, a grow­ing and increas­ing­ly engaged South Asian pop­u­la­tion played a crit­i­cal role in Geor­gia. The South Asian pop­u­la­tion in the South tripled from 2000 to 2014, and of the top ten met­ro­pol­i­tan areas in the U.S. that expe­ri­enced the largest South Asian pop­u­la­tion growth, five were in the South. Groups like Georgia Muslim Voter Project, Asian Amer­i­cans Advancing Justice-Atlanta, and Project South, work­ing to imple­ment Stacey Abrams’ strat­e­gy of appeal­ing to dis­en­fran­chised vot­ers of col­or instead of rely­ing on the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Party’s usu­al out­sized focus on mod­er­ate white vot­ers, har­nessed the polit­i­cal orga­niz­ing pow­er of com­mu­ni­ties of col­or across the state. This crit­i­cal shift in pri­or­i­ties should inform the Biden-Har­ris Admin­is­tra­tion. 

How­ev­er, giv­en the nar­row mar­gin of vic­to­ry in this elec­tion that took days to deter­mine, it is clear that there remains defin­i­tive sup­port for racist and xeno­pho­bic poli­cies and that white suprema­cy is a dan­ger­ous force that will remain a threat to our com­mu­ni­ties. This is paired with the vio­lent Islam­o­pho­bia and Hin­du nation­al­ism aimed at many South Asian pop­u­la­tions. Dis­man­tling these inter­linked sys­tems of insti­tu­tion­al­ized vio­lence is an impor­tant part of the work we now have an oppor­tu­ni­ty to direct­ly address with the new admin­is­tra­tion, espe­cial­ly giv­en Vice Pres­i­dent Har­ris’ iden­ti­ty.  At SAALT, we look for­ward to con­tin­u­ing to build com­mu­ni­ty pow­er, strength­en­ing coali­tions across com­mu­ni­ties of col­or, and advo­cat­ing for just and equi­table fed­er­al poli­cies along­side the new Admin­is­tra­tion. 

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SAALT Releases Report Mapping Impact of COVID-19 on South Asian American Communities

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Washington, DC., September 29, 2020: South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT) released the report Unequal Con­se­quences: The Dis­parate Impact of COVID-19 Across South Asian Amer­i­cans today, high­light­ing the urgent need for fun­ders and pol­i­cy mak­ers to gath­er accu­rate dis­ag­gre­gat­ed data on South Asian com­mu­ni­ties in the U.S. to be able to under­stand and respond to the needs that have emerged since the onset of the pan­dem­ic.

The report exam­ines areas of the U.S. with among the largest South Asians pop­u­la­tions includ­ing New York, Chicago, Houston, Atlanta, and the Bay Area and Central Valley in California and draws pri­mar­i­ly on inter­views with com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers who are mem­bers of the Nation­al Coali­tion of South Asian Orga­ni­za­tions (NCSO), a nation­al com­mu­ni­ty sur­vey, and media reports. SAALT also launched an inter­ac­tive map and video tes­ti­mo­ni­als to fur­ther high­light the impact of the pan­dem­ic on South Asians.

Key find­ings of the report include:

  • South Asian Americans who were already vulnerable have been most directly impacted by the pandemic - whether due to their immi­gra­tion sta­tus, their expe­ri­ences with domes­tic vio­lence, liv­ing with under­ly­ing health con­di­tions, or unsafe work­ing envi­ron­ments. Every inter­vie­wee shared that, as a result, com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers are expe­ri­enc­ing men­tal health chal­lenges.
  • Data on COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are currently incomplete as sta­tis­tics are under count­ed in South Asian Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties, often labeled as “oth­er Asian” or “unknown” race cat­e­gories. 
  • South Asians are at high risk if they contract COVID-19; they are four times more like­ly than the gen­er­al pop­u­la­tion of hav­ing heart dis­ease or dia­betes, putting them at greater risk of coro­n­avirus-caused death. Oth­er com­pound­ing risk fac­tors include mul­ti-gen­er­a­tional hous­ing, lack of lan­guage acces­si­ble pub­lic health mate­ri­als and gov­ern­ment resources, and insuf­fi­cient pro­tec­tions based on employ­ment or immi­gra­tion sta­tus. 
  • Every survivor-support organization SAALT interviewed explicitly named a drastic increase in gender-based domestic violence.
  •  Government agencies have neglected to provide Limited English Proficient (LEP) community members with culturally appropriate services and language accessible information, imped­ing access to gov­ern­ment ser­vices and relief funds.
  • 85% of respondents to SAALT’s community survey are worried about immigration - specif­i­cal­ly being able to trav­el out­side of the U.S., as well as anx­i­ety over recent exec­u­tive orders tar­get­ing green cards, H‑1B work visas, and stu­dent visas.
  • South Asian American community organizations are filling in the gaps in access to health, food, hous­ing, and employ­ment as a rem­e­dy to fail­ing gov­ern­ment social infra­struc­ture. 

Lak­sh­mi Sri­daran, SAALT’s Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, said “One of the most impor­tant lessons from water­shed moments of cri­sis, like 9/11, the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, and now the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic, is that South Asian Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties have deeply divid­ed expe­ri­ences. The South Asian pop­u­la­tions in the U.S. who were pri­mar­i­ly tar­get­ed after 9/11, most impact­ed by this Admin­is­tra­tion’s racist poli­cies, and most vul­ner­a­ble to COVID-19 are also the pop­u­la­tions most mar­gin­al­ized with­in our own com­mu­ni­ties because of immi­gra­tion sta­tus, class, caste, reli­gion, and LGBT + iden­ti­ty. While devel­op­ing a shared nar­ra­tive across these dif­fer­ences is valu­able for build­ing col­lec­tive pow­er, only by cen­ter­ing the expe­ri­ences of these pop­u­la­tions do we tru­ly under­stand the mag­ni­tude and range of impact of these crises.”