Executive Summary: “Together We Rise” Inaugural Report from South Asian SOAR

An inau­gur­al report by South Asian SOAR, launch­ing in July 2022.

A note from our leadership

SOAR is an organization that is co-created by and for survivors and community leaders — and this report is a reflec­tion of that phi­los­o­phy. We cre­at­ed Togeth­er We Rise with our mem­ber­ship of 30+ front­line orga­ni­za­tions to ampli­fy their voic­e­sand ultimately generate increased funding, improve research & data collection, and drive policy changes that accurately grasp and meet survivors’ needs.

“Survivors are being failed by the system…We don’t have enough resources, or it’s so obsolete that what is there is not working anymore. That’s the challenge that we are facing here.”

— Anti-Vio­lence Pro­gram Advo­cate

Collective Statement from South Asian Leaders on Abortion & Reproductive Justice

Wash­ing­ton, D.C. — 24 May 2022

The recently leaked draft majority opinion from SCOTUS threatens an alarming reversal of federal protections for abortion rights. Amidst grief and rage, we know — as South Asian survivors, immigrants, community-based organizations, and movement leaders — that we must act swiftly and unitedly to protest and prevent this from passing.

Build­ing upon decades-long attacks on repro­duc­tive jus­tice, the pend­ing deci­sion to over­turn Roe v Wade could gut abor­tion rights in near­ly half of the Unit­ed States. Unde­ni­ably, this would have a dev­as­tat­ing impact on South Asian fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties — espe­cial­ly on sur­vivors, immi­grants, queer and trans peo­ple, and work­ing class peo­ple.

“Abortion restrictions in this country have always targeted, and fall hardest on, people of color and low-income people. They are meant to keep people like us powerless and in our place. Abortion bans are racial violence. They are gender-based violence. Abortion bans are class warfare.” - Shiv­ana Jorawar, Esq., Co-Direc­tor, Jaha­jee Sis­ters

In the face of these unprece­dent­ed restric­tions, it is imper­a­tive that we push for bold solu­tions that ensure afford­able and acces­si­ble abor­tions for every­one. With­out the right to abor­tion, the health and well-being of preg­nant peo­ple, entire fam­i­lies, com­mu­ni­ties, and future gen­er­a­tions are at risk.

In con­trast to mod­el minor­i­ty stereo­types, South Asians face per­va­sive sys­temic bar­ri­ers includ­ing eco­nom­ic, legal, lan­guage, and cul­tur­al hur­dles to access­ing repro­duc­tive health­care. Though there is a dearth of data on abor­tion rates among South Asians, a recent study found that Indi­an Amer­i­can women in New York City have the high­est rate of abor­tion amongst Asian Amer­i­cans.

“South Asians are especially vulnerable - without access to resources in the multitudes of languages we speak, and the shame and stigma that comes with accessing reproductive health care, we are marginalized further without policies that support people’s whole lives, including better access to hospitals and clinics, healthcare provided by people our communities trust, insurance that actually covers our real needs, and policies that eliminate barriers to care because of racism and inequities.” - Sharmin Hos­sain, Cam­paign Direc­tor, Lib­er­ate Abor­tion

In 2012, Savi­ta Halap­panavar, a South Asian den­tist liv­ing in Ire­land, trag­i­cal­ly died after being denied a time­ly abor­tion. In 2014, Purvi Patel, a South Asian woman from Indi­ana, was one of only two women to be pros­e­cut­ed under the statewide feti­cide bill. Her case demon­strates the vio­lent hypocrisy of the U.S. gov­ern­ment, which has a well doc­u­ment­ed his­to­ry of forced ster­il­iza­tions of women of col­or, par­tic­u­lar­ly Black women, while at the same time crim­i­nal­iz­ing abor­tion, as demon­strat­ed through racist sex-selec­tive abor­tion bans. If those in pow­er were to pri­or­i­tize well-being, they would address the short­age of baby for­mu­la, lack of paid fam­i­ly leave, denial of access to health­care, and the short­age of afford­able and free child­care in this coun­try.

“This moment is painstakingly triggering for survivors who are all too familiar with stolen consent and the violation of bodily autonomy. The fight for reproductive justice and survivor justice are intricately interconnected as both are working to advance a world abundant with care, resources, and choices.” - Denise Beek, Chief Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Offi­cer, me too. Inter­na­tion­al

For South Asian sur­vivors who live at the inter­sec­tion of mul­ti­ple oppres­sions, the con­se­quences will be even more grave. Peo­ple in abu­sive rela­tion­ships are far more vul­ner­a­ble to sex­u­al assault, birth con­trol sab­o­tage, repro­duc­tive coer­cion or con­trol, and mis­in­for­ma­tion about their repro­duc­tive rights, and homi­cide, fre­quent­ly by a part­ner, is the lead­ing cause of mater­nal death dur­ing preg­nan­cy and the post­par­tum peri­od.

"As organizations in the southern states, we face some of the toughest abortion restriction policies. This rollback of rights is extremely concerning because it threatens the livelihoods for survivors and people who already have limited access to resources, transportation, and healthcare." - Aparna Bhat­tacharyya, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of Rak­sha and SOAR Board Mem­ber

With­in South Asian com­mu­ni­ties, the pre­vail­ing stig­ma, shame, and silence that hin­der dis­cus­sions of sex­u­al and repro­duc­tive health are iso­lat­ing and dan­ger­ous. Unless we nor­mal­ize our choic­es and needs, we are jeop­ar­diz­ing the phys­i­cal and emo­tion­al health and safe­ty of South Asians.

As we mobi­lize in the com­ing weeks and months, we look to the South Asian, Indo-Caribbean, Black, Brown, Lat­inx, Indige­nous, and Asian lead­ers at the fore­front of the repro­duc­tive jus­tice move­ment. Across the South Asian & Indo-Caribbean dias­po­ra, HEART to Grow is sus­tain­ing a repro­duc­tive jus­tice fund for Mus­lims, Jaha­jee Sis­ters is lead­ing actions and host­ing con­ver­sa­tions on abor­tion access, and Sakhi for South Asian Women and oth­er gen­der-based vio­lence orga­ni­za­tions are increas­ing access to con­tra­cep­tion for sur­vivors.

“Make no mistake -- banning abortion does not end the need for abortion care. Abortion is normal, common and one of the safest medical procedures. Banning abortion will not only have devastating effects on women, pregnant people and their whole families but it will have the greatest impact on low-income people of color. As a movement, we are prepared for what's to come and I'm proud to say that we are stronger than ever. We won't give up.” - Dr. Meera Shah, Chief Med­ical Offi­cer of Planned Par­ent­hood Hud­son Pecon­ic, Med­ical Direc­tor of Whole Women’s Health Alliance of South Bend, Indi­ana, and Sakhi Board Mem­ber

This is not only a fight to save Roe v. Wade, but also a pivotal moment to reimagine the future of reproductive justice and freedom for all. We must act to ensure that abortion is legal, accessible, affordable, and supported for everyone regardless of income, race, gender, sexuality, caste, religion, and more.

The solidarity and voices of South Asians are needed, now more than ever, to take action, speak out, donate, and to protect choice and freedom for ourselves and the generations to come.

Organizational & Individual Signatories

  • AFSSA (Texas)
  • Ashiyanaa (Mary­land)
  • Daya (Texas)
  • Jahajee Sisters (New York)
  • Raksha Inc. (Geor­gia)
  • Sakhi for South Asian Women (New York)
  • Sanctuary for Families (New York)
  • SEWA-AIFW (Min­neso­ta)
  • South Asian SOAR (Nation­al)
  • Manavi (New Jer­sey)

SAALT Demands An Action Plan That Protects All Afghans

This week’s news revolves around two truths: Our Afghan com­mu­ni­ties, both here in the U.S. and in Afghanistan, are in dire need of imme­di­ate and sus­tained sup­port that ensures their and their loved ones’ safe­ty in a time of cri­sis – and the Biden administration’s cur­rent rushed with­draw­al plan from Kab­ul has com­pro­mised this. 

As fam­i­lies and indi­vid­u­als leave Afghanistan, many are land­ing in our inhu­mane deten­tion cen­ters along­side the grow­ing num­ber of Hait­ian refugees, and addi­tion­al­ly fac­ing the numer­ous and entrenched injus­tices of this cru­el sys­tem. 

What is most unfor­tu­nate is that our Afghan sib­lings could have expe­ri­enced far less harm, had the evac­u­a­tion process begun ear­li­er – whether it was on May 6, when refugee rights advo­ca­cy groups (includ­ing Human Rights First, the Inter­na­tion­al Refugee Assis­tance Project, No One Left Behind, and the Luther­an Immi­gra­tion and Refugee Ser­vice) met with White House offi­cials and called for a mass evac­u­a­tion plan that did not rely on a severe­ly back­logged SIV pro­gram, or lat­er on June 24th, when Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Seth Moul­ton unveiled a detailed evac­u­a­tion plan to ensure safe­ty for over 17,000 Afghans to Guam. 

As a coun­try with the resources to sup­port evac­u­a­tion and evac­uees, we can and must move now to mit­i­gate harm. Most impor­tant­ly, this is com­pound­ed by the truth that our inter­ven­tion and con­tin­ued pres­ence in Afghanistan, dri­ven fore­most by the desire to uphold U.S. occu­pa­tion, has desta­bi­lized the coun­try and direct­ly put Afghans at fur­ther risk. As such, we have the respon­si­bil­i­ty to change our course of action. 

If we want to ensure the end of a long, violent, and terrible war, we must move with an unwavering commitment to human rights. We at SAALT, following the leadership of Afghan community members and allies in the Evacuate Our Allies coalition, are calling on President Biden to prioritize safe for all Afghans by:

  • Keeping the Kabul airport open for as long as necessary, and allowing military, charter, and commercial airflight.
  • Working with the Department of Defense and the State Department to ensure safe passage for Afghans to and through the airport, and onto flights.
  • Putting out a call for individuals certified for consular services, while continuing consular processing.
  • Providing necessary information to evacuees in as many culturally-relevant languages as possible, including Dari, Pashto, Urdu, and Arabic.
  • Centering the evacuation of vulnerable populations, including refugees, SIV applicants and their families, immigrant visa applicants and their family members (beyond spouses and minor children), P2 referrals, Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs), women’s rights activists and other human rights defenders, religious minorities, women, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and other marginalized groups.
  • Expedite the processing of visas for all of the populations listed above and waive all associated fees.
  • Ensure safe arrival of Afghans in the U.S. by facilitating humanitarian parole using DHS parole authority – whether at ports-of-entry or in advance.

As we approach the 20th anniver­sary of 9/11, the news may right­ful­ly focus on the U.S.’s impe­r­i­al his­to­ry and haste of this war, but what Pres­i­dent Biden does today and tomor­row can ensure that next week’s news also speaks to our nation’s will­ing­ness to rec­og­nize the con­se­quences of this “War on Ter­ror” and the cost that our South Asian, Mus­lim, Sikh, and Arab com­mu­ni­ties have paid as a result both here and abroad, and active­ly work to dis­man­tle the racism and mil­i­tarism baked into all sys­tems of our fed­er­al gov­ern­ment.

#WeCanDoThis

In part­ner­ship with We Can Do This, a cam­paign run by the US Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices, SAALT is shar­ing in-lan­guage pub­lic edu­ca­tion tools, trans­lat­ed by our allies at Respond: Cri­sis Trans­la­tion, that you and your com­mu­ni­ty can use to advo­cate for #Vac­cinEquity and ensure our col­lec­tive safe­ty from the coro­n­avirus.

Want to learn more? Vis­it www.vaccines.gov.

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.