SAALT Statement on 18th Anniversary of 9/11 Attacks

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 11, 2019 

Today, 18 years after September 11, 2001, we mourn the lives lost that day, and the thousands who were and continue to be violently targeted in the ensuing “War on Terror.”

Just four days after 9/11, Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh business owner, was planting flowers outside of his gas station in Mesa, Arizona when he was shot and killed.  We later learned that his shooter had reportedly told a waitress at Applebees “I’m going to go out and shoot some towel heads,” and “We should kill their children, too, because they’ll grow up to be like their parents.” This was the first of 645 incidents of violent backlash aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, and Arab Americans in just that first week after 9/11.

Over the last two decades, the federal government has enacted policies repeatedly justifying the racial profiling of South Asian, Muslim, and Arab American communities and those racialized as such. This includes the very creation of the Department of Homeland Security, the Patriot Act, the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, Countering Violent Extremism, and the Muslim Ban to name a few.  These state sanctioned policies were historically perfected on the backs of other communities of color, and we cannot separate them from the continued violence our communities face from organized white supremacist action. 

Earlier this year, a white supremacist killed 51 people at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. Just last month, a white supremacist shot and killed 22 people in a Walmart shopping center in El Paso, Texas. SAALT has documented over 500 acts of hate violence targeting our communities and over 270 instances of xenophobic political rhetoric since November 2016 alone.

Despite the parallel efforts to ban, deport, criminalize, and target our communities with violence, we still have opportunities to reclaim our power:

  • Demand that your Member of Congress REJECT the creation of NEW domestic terrorism charges to fight white supremacy. This would only serve to further harm communities of color who have always been the targets of such policies.  
  • Join the fight to repeal the Muslim Ban by supporting the No Muslim Ban Ever campaign and DEMAND Congress to pass the NO BAN Act. Stay tuned for more information on the September 24th Congressional hearing on the Muslim Ban.
  • URGE your Member of Congress to support the Khalid Jabara Heather Heyer NO HATE Act, a comprehensive bill that promotes more accurate hate crimes data collection and would provide support for hate crime victims and their families. It is named in honor of two recent victims of hate crimes, whose deaths were omitted from the FBI hate crimes statistics.

Contact: sophia@saalt.org

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SAALT Statement on the Rise of Hindu Nationalism

September 10, 2019

SAALT is deeply concerned by the actions of the Narendra Modi government of India and the impact of its Hindu nationalist agenda on not only communities living in the region but also South Asian Americans living in the U.S.  

Religious minorities and vulnerable populations in the region have faced high levels of discrimination and exclusion in India, particularly after Modi’s recent re-election.  In Kashmir, residents are living under a 37 day communications blockade and being stripped of both their political rights and human rights;  in Assam, the government has implemented a citizenship documentation system that deliberately excludes nearly 1.9 million people, mostly Muslims;  and across the country there has been a surge in the number of lynchings of minorities, mostly Muslims, Dalits and Christians, under Modi’s leadership. 

The Modi government is implementing a Hindu nationalist agenda, known as Hindutva, a political ideology that is divergent from the pluralistic practices and beliefs of Hinduism itself.  Hindutva, or right wing Hindu nationalism, is rooted in the alarming notion that Hindus are racially and culturally superior to others. Similar to white supremacy, which South Asians (including Hindus) in the United States contend regularly with, Hindutva threatens the rights, bodies, freedoms, and livelihoods of non-Hindus in India.    

The current situation in India, fueled by nationalism and Hindutva, has global implications. For example, over the past five years there has been a dramatic increase in the number of Indian nationals seeking asylum in the U.SPeople seeking asylum from persecution range from Sikh political activists to LGBT activists to those facing caste oppression. They flee to the U.S. seeking refuge from persecution in India, but often face brutal conditions upon arrival to the U.S. SAALT works to support asylum seekers who are caught in a cruel detention system. 

South Asians in the United States have a responsibility to speak up and take action, especially now given the dire situation in Kashmir and the upcoming trip by Prime Minister Modi to the United States. We urge South Asians to raise awareness about the implications and impact of Hindutva, and to lend your voices to the chorus of people raising concerns. We urge South Asian Americans to understand the connections between white supremacy and Hindutva, to unite around human rights, to support policies that uphold dignity and inclusion for all, and to denounce hate violence in all its forms.  

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SAALT Denounces Trump Administration attack on Immigrant Children

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

August 22, 2019

Washington, D.C.: On Wednesday, the Trump Administration announced a new rule that would give the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)  the power to hold immigrant families – including children – indefinitely. The new rule directly undermines the Flores Agreement, which for decades has provided some protections for children including minimum safety and custody standards and a requirement that they be released within 20 days.

The Trump Administration’s new rule would allow DHS to detain children indefinitely without oversight or basic standards of care.   At least seven children alone have died under DHS custody since last year.

The continued and relentless attacks on immigrant families – on immigrant children – are incomprehensible at this point.

Our representatives have repeatedly said they care about our communities while simultaneously funding aggressive immigration enforcement and deadly immigration jails.  Stopping the flow of money is critical to stopping Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda. There is no other humane option but to demand our elected officials #ClosetheCamps and #DefundHate immediately and without delay.

Contact:  sophia@saalt.org

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Remembering Oak Creek and all Survivors of Hate Violence

August 5, 2019 

On this day exactly seven years ago, a known white supremacist opened fire with a 9 millimeter semiautomatic handgun in the Oak Creek, WI gurdwara, and killed six people. We are still mourning the devastating impact of this violence today. Just this weekend, white male shooters claimed 31 lives in El Paso, TX and Dayton, OH. The El Paso shooter published an online manifesto inspired by the mass murder of Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand and echoing the Trump Administration’s daily onslaught of racist rhetoric and policy.    

There were 2,009 hate crimes in 30 of the country’s largest cities in 2018 – the highest number in the past decade. Last year marked the 5th consecutive increase in hate crimes, the steepest rise since 2015, according to police data analyzed by the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.

Statements and repeated condemnations are not enough.  White supremacist violence is killing people of color and immigrants. Any elected official refusing to acknowledge this problem and consider legislation that confronts this violence is complicit. We demand our elected officials and law enforcement agencies track the threat of organized white supremacy as a systemic issue and that they address the root causes of hate violence. We refuse to view these as isolated incidents and will continue working to dismantle all systems that perpetuate this violence, fueled by the illegitimate white supremacist claim to our nation’s stolen land.

We send love to our Sikh family and all survivors of hate on this extremely difficult day and fortify our commitment to “Chardi Kala” as we fight for justice.

Here’s what you can do today to support survivors of hate: 

*Donate to help survivors and families of victims. The El Paso Community Foundation is accepting donations here.

*Offer support locally in El Paso here.

*Connect with organizations like Hope Border Institute (@HopeBorder) and NM Comunidades en Acción y de Fé (@OrganizeNM) who are offering resources and organizing vigils for survivors who cannot seek medical treatment due to fear of being targeted by immigration authorities. 

* Write a letter to the editor or essay in your local newspaper about ongoing hate violence and how it affects us all

* Send a message of support to the Oak Creek Gurdwara

* Contact your public official and ask them to support the Khalid Jabara & Heather Heyer NO HATE ACT

#ElPasoStrong #RememberOakCreek

SAALT Joins Allies in Demanding NYPD Investigate attack on Hindu Priest as a Hate Crime

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 22, 2019

SAALT joins Sadhana, CAIR, and faith based allies in calling for the NYPD to investigate the attack on Swami Ji Harish Chander Puri in Queens, NY  as a hate crime.  

Swami Ji Harish Chander Puri was walking down the street wearing his traditional religious clothes in Glen Oaks, Queens not far from the Shiv Shakti Peeth temple around 11am last Thursday.  A man came up from behind him and started beating him.  

Eyewitnesses say the attacker shouted “this is my neighborhood,” during the incident. 

Puri had to be rushed to the hospital because of his injuries.  

This incident happened just days after President Trump tweeted about the four women of color Congresswomen known as “the Squad”:  “Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. ” Just days after that, crowds chanted “send her back” about Congresswoman Ilhan Omar at a Trump rally in North Carolina.

“There will be no end to hate violence unless we disrupt and dismantle the racist narratives and policies leading to this violence. This should start from the top, but instead the highest levels of government are encouraging this violence,” said Lakshmi Sridaran, SAALT’s Interim Co-Executive Director.

Racist political rhetoric from this administration is dangerous. It has a direct impact on communities of color across the country. SAALT’s Communities on Fire report found that one in 5 perpetrators of hate violence in the year after President Trump was elected cited Trump’s name, a Trump campaign slogan, or a Trump administration policy while committing the act of violence.

Contact: sophia@saalt.org

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Update on South Asian restaurant workers detained by ICE

July 11, 2019

Washington, D.C.: A community member reached out to SAALT last week alerting staff that several South Asian restaurant employees had been detained by ICE and taken to the Montgomery County Correctional Facility the week before.  

Given that the Trump Administration has announced imminent raids, SAALT issued a community alert to prepare our community members for future ICE raids in the coming days or weeks. 

Over 500 people responded to the alert, volunteering to help community members prepare by offering to assist with legal matters, provide language support, and to distribute Know Your Rights materials  in DC.

A community member providing direct support to the detained South Asian restaurant employees reached out to SAALT and said, “Two weeks ago, nine South Asian restaurant workers were detained by ICE at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility. Four were released the same day and the remaining five individuals were released at a later date.” 

South Asians are increasingly impacted directly by the Trump Administration’s anti-immigrant policies and SAALT strives to protect and defend our communities by examining and documenting the impact of these policies, creating educational resources, and making policy recommendations. 

There are over 600,000 undocumented Indians alone in the U.S. Between fiscal year 2015 to 2018, ICE arrested over 2,000 Indian and Pakistani migrants alone within the interior of the United States. The number of Indian migrants apprehended along the Southern border tripled from fiscal year 2017 to 2018Between October 2014 and April 2018, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) arrested over 17,000 South Asians.  South Asians go on to experience civil rights violations and human rights abuses in detention facilities and court rooms at the intersections of racism, islamophobia, and anti-immigrant sentiment. 

SAALT will continue to work to protect and defend South Asian communities in the US, especially at a time when immigrants are being targeted, whether at their workplaces, homes, restaurants, hotels, or along the border.

Restaurant Opportunity Center (ROC-DC), a restaurant workers’ rights organization, issued this statement, in response to the alert about the detained South Asian restaurant employees: 

ICE raids are a serious issue for immigrant workers all of the time but are especially prevalent in light of the most recent threats. There have already been multiple cases of ICE activity in our DC communities and that activity specifically targets restaurants and restaurant workers. Right now we need to come together as workers, employers and community members in DC to educate ourselves on our rights so that we are able to protect ourselves and each other in our workplaces, the streets and in our homes.

We do not want to create a culture of fear around these issues but instead empower people to know what their rights are and who their community is that is here to support them. ROC DC has been working with multiple other community organizations to provide know your rights materials & trainings to workers and employers in DC in preparation for any raids. We must continue to band together and fight back the racist attacks that seek to tear apart our communities and families.

Contact: Sophia@saalt.org 

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ACTION ALERT: ICE Raids Indian Restaurant in DC

UPDATE, July 10th

Earlier this week, we put out a call for volunteers to assist with an outreach effort to provide food and restaurant workers from the South Asian community with “know your rights” resources. The alert was prompted by community reports about an immigration enforcement action targeting workers in the restaurant industry over the past week in DC. Out of respect for those directly affected, we are not providing any additional information at this time. We will continue our work to protect and defend our communities, especially at a time when immigrants are being targeted, whether at workplaces and homes or at the border.

July 8, 2019

An Indian restaurant in DC was raided by ICE last week. Several Hindi speaking employees were taken to the Montgomery County jail in Maryland. 

Given the prospect of immigration raids in the DC area, we are calling for volunteers to join us for an outreach effort on July 13th and 14th.

SAALT is seeking volunteers to help with outreach, translation, and legal counsel. Click here for immediate steps you can take.

 

 

 

SAALT Welcomes Khalid Jabara and Heather Heyer NO HATE Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

June 27, 2019 

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  SAALT welcomes Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Senator Dick Durbin’s (D-IL)  introduction of the Khalid Jabara and Heather Heyer NO HATE Act.  Representatives Donald Beyer (D-VA) and Pete Olson (R-TX) introduced the companion bill in the House. The bill – which promotes more accurate hate crimes data collection and would provide support for hate crime victims and their families – marks a major step in hate crimes legislation. 

Khalid Jabara was killed on his doorstep in Tulsa, Oklahoma on August 12, 2016. One year later, on the same day, Heather Heyer was killed during a protest in Charlottesville, Virginia. Both deaths were prosecuted as hate crimes, yet neither were reported in official FBI hate crimes statistics. Both killings were motivated by white supremacy.  

A coalition of community and civil rights organizations have been working closely with Khalid and Heather’s families to ensure that families do not have to endure the same pain they have endured.  The first step to achieving this is understanding the systemic underpinnings of hate violence and instituting more effective ways to mandate hate crime data collection. Every level of government must be held accountable for addressing the spike in hate violence aimed at our communities. The Khalid Jabara and Heather Heyer NO HATE Act can play an instrumental role in laying this groundwork,” said Lakshmi Sridaran, Interim Co-Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT).  

SAALT has documented over 484 incidents of hate violence against South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, and Arab American communities around the country since  November 2015.  Read the latest hate report here

CONTACT: sophia@saalt.org

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Supreme Court Rules Against Citizenship Question on 2020 Census

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

June 27, 2019 

Washington, D.C. : The Supreme Court of the United States ruled 5-4 today against the addition of the citizenship question on the 2020 Census, upholding a lower court’s decision. Chief Justice Roberts asked the Commerce Department for further explanation of the justification for the question, saying the Trump Administration’s reasons for it were “contrived.” Today’s ruling will effectively block the question from being added for now, and given the short time frame before census forms must be printed, the Commerce Department must no longer waste time justifying this dangerous question.

“This is a victory, but it should never have come this far. The looming threat of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census has already posed a chilling effect among immigrant and communities of color who are increasingly being deported, denaturalized, and disenfranchised by this administration. Thankfully, in this instance, the Trump Administration’s tactics have been exposed and rejected. The Commerce Department must respect the Supreme Court’s decision and allow the Census Bureau to spend their limited time and resources preparing for a 2020 Census without the citizenship question. We will work to ensure our communities’ power is recognized by ensuring that every person regardless of their status is counted and no one is left behind in the 2020 Census,” said Lakshmi Sridaran, Interim Co-Executive Director of SAALT.

SAALT’s latest South Asian demographic snapshotfound that the South Asian population in the U.S. grew a staggering 40% in seven years, from 3.5 million in 2010 to 5.4 million in 2017.

The purpose of the Census is simple: to literally count each person living in the U.S. That count determines more than $800 billion in federal funding to states for education, infrastructure, hospitals, parks, public benefits, and so much more. A full count ensures that our rapidly growing and changing communities are represented and receive our fair share of public programs like Medicaid, school lunches, and programs for seniors.

Census Resource: https://www.countusin2020.org/resources

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SAALT Marks One Year Anniversary of Supreme Court Ruling Upholding the Muslim Ban

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 26, 2019

Washington, D.C.: On June 26, 2018, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of upholding the Muslim Ban, making it both legal and indefinite. Since the inception of the Muslim Ban, countless families have been separated, individuals have been denied critical medical treatment, family members have been unable to attend weddings, funerals, births; and many more have had no choice but to turn down opportunities of the so-called American dream. 

There is no humanity in the Muslim Ban, despite the Trump Administration’s assertion that waivers are granted in cases of undue hardship. The waiver process itself is a sham.  Only 5.1 percent of waivers requested are granted. The process to obtain a waiver and the way in which waiver requests are evaluated, is extremely opaque, even after numerous FOIA requests on the paltry numbers of waivers that have been granted. 

The Muslim Ban is hurting familes both in the U.S. and abroad. It is a fundamental part of our nation’s violent environment where families are routinely separated at the U.S. Mexico border and white supremacist hate violence thrives. Just this month, the body of six-year old Gurupreet Kaur was found in the Arizona desert, one mile from the nearest port of entry, where she and her mother were part of a group of migrants seeking asylum. As SAALT documented in its Communities on Fire report, 1 out of every 5 perpetrators of hate violence incidents referenced President Trump, a Trump Administration policy or a Trump campaign slogan while committing the act of violence. Since November 2016, SAALT has documented over 484 incidents of hate violence and over 252 incidents of xenophobic rhetoric aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern and Arab communites around the country. 

It’s increasingly clear that our communities cannot rely on the Executive or Judicial branches of our federal government to protect our rights. But, Congress has the power to terminate this racist and violent policy and has recently introduced legislation that would curtail executive authority for this and future bans.

Call your Member of Congress today (House: 202-225-3121, Senate: 202-224-3121)  and urge them to cosponsor the NO BAN Act (HR 2214/S1123), which will end this cruel policy and amend the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to ensure that no community can ever be targeted for their religion without accountability.

Contact: sophia@saalt.org

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