House Passes Historic Dream and Promise Act

We’re tak­ing a moment today to pause and cel­e­brate what just hap­pened.

After years of immi­grant jus­tice orga­niz­ing by a broad coali­tion of com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers, allies and part­ners, elect­ed offi­cials have lis­tened.

The House vot­ed last night to pass the Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6), which offers per­ma­nent pro­tec­tions and a path­way to cit­i­zen­ship for over two mil­lion peo­ple. The bill passed the House yes­ter­day with no addi­tion­al anti-immi­grant amend­ments.

H.R. 6 will have a direct impact on the lives of peo­ple who came to the U.S. as chil­dren — Deferred Action for Child­hood Arrivals (DACA) recip­i­ents. It will make a dif­fer­ence in the lives of peo­ple who came to the U.S. because their coun­tries were rav­aged by war, dis­as­ter, or U.S. inter­ven­tion — those with Tem­po­rary Pro­tect­ed Sta­tus (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Depar­ture (DED).

In our com­mu­ni­ties alone, there are over 15,000 Nepalis with TPS and 4,500 South Asians with DACA sta­tus.

H.R. 6  will give them the abil­i­ty to plan a future for them­selves.

The road ahead isn’t easy. We are dis­turbed that this vic­to­ry in the House includ­ed long debates across both par­ties on the use of deeply flawed gang data­bas­es and unjust crim­i­nal con­vic­tions to deny pro­tec­tions to some immi­grants. Ulti­mate­ly, the tire­less polit­i­cal edu­ca­tion of Mem­bers on the part of advo­cates ensured that the bill passed the House with no harm­ful addi­tions. But, our work ahead will be to stop Con­gress from fund­ing this administration’s depor­ta­tion machine.

Before H.R. 6 becomes law, the Sen­ate must vote to pass H.R. 6 and Pres­i­dent Trump must sign it into law. We com­mit to ramp­ing up the pres­sure on our elect­ed offi­cials.  

Lak­sh­mi Sri­daran, Inter­im Co-Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of SAALT said, “ The Dream and Promise Act passed the House with­out addi­tion­al anti-immi­grant con­ces­sions.  This is the first step in bring­ing an end to this administration’s racist and xeno­pho­bic poli­cies and lay­ing a foun­da­tion for immi­grant jus­tice in fed­er­al pol­i­cy. When we refuse to com­pro­mise our val­ues, we keep the bar high­er and set the stan­dard for change. This must be the new path for­ward for addi­tion­al leg­is­la­tion and mea­sures to defund depor­ta­tion and restore pro­tec­tions for all immi­grant and com­mu­ni­ties of col­or.”

Con­tact: sophia@saalt.org

###

ACTION ALERT: URGE CONGRESS TO PASS THE DREAM AND PROMISE ACT WITH NO HARMFUL ANTI-IMMIGRANT AMENDMENTS

June 3, 2019

Last month’s pas­sage of the Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6) by the House Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee is a his­toric mile­stone in the fight for immi­grant rights. It is sched­uled for a full floor vote in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives tomor­row, June 4th.

The Dream and Promise Act offers a path­way to cit­i­zen­ship for thou­sands of our com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers who are Deferred Action for Child­hood Arrivals (DACA) recip­i­ents and Tem­po­rary Pro­tect­ed Sta­tus (TPS) hold­ers.

As this his­toric leg­is­la­tion goes to the House, we need YOU to urge law­mak­ers to both sup­port this leg­is­la­tion, which would pro­vide per­ma­nent pro­tec­tions and a path­way to cit­i­zen­ship for over two mil­lion immi­grants, and reject any anti-immi­grant amend­ments or changes to the bill.

Please take a moment to call your Mem­ber of Con­gress and urge them to pass the Dream and Promise Act with NO harm­ful anti-immi­grant amend­ments.

There are over 15,000 Nepalis with TPS whose pro­tec­tion from depor­ta­tion will expire on June 24, 2019. NCSO mem­ber orga­ni­za­tion, Adhikaar has been lead­ing the fight to ensure that the thou­sands of Nepalis on TPS would be able to remain here in the U.S. with their fam­i­lies, rather than being deport­ed at the end of this month.

Over 4,500 South Asians in the U.S. are active DACA recip­i­ents (2,550 Indi­an recip­i­ents, 1,300 Pak­istani recip­i­ents, 470 Bangladeshi recip­i­ents, and 120 Sri Lankan recip­i­ents). The Dream and Promise Act would give them a per­ma­nent path to cit­i­zen­ship and access to in-state tuition and fed­er­al finan­cial aid.

It is crit­i­cal that law­mak­ers vote against any anti-immi­grant changes to the bill, regard­less of their sub­stance, includ­ing any addi­tion­al fund­ing for ICE and CBP as well as any fur­ther dis­cre­tionary pow­er to USCIS or DHS that would increase depor­ta­tions and deten­tion. Any anti-immi­grant amend­ments will serve only to delay the pas­sage of this vital leg­is­la­tion.

Lak­sh­mi Sri­daran, Inter­im Co-Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of SAALT said, “The Dream and Promise Act will give over two mil­lion immi­grants a fun­da­men­tal right — the right to build a life and plan for a future in this coun­try. We urge all Mem­bers of Con­gress to act bold­ly and pass this leg­is­la­tion with no anti-immi­grant amend­ments. It’s time for Con­gress to chip away at this administration’s racist poli­cies and vot­ing for H.R. 6 with­out delay is a step in the right direc­tion. It is our hope that this leg­is­la­tion will the be the first of many and lay a strong foun­da­tion for immi­grant jus­tice. ”

South Asians by the Numbers: Population in the U.S. has grown by 40% since 2010

May 15, 2019

SAALT released its lat­est South Asian demo­graph­ic snap­shot today, reveal­ing a com­mu­ni­ty in the U.S. that’s grow­ing almost as fast as it is chang­ing.

By 2065, Asian Amer­i­cans are on track to be the largest immi­grant pop­u­la­tion in the U.S. 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.

Key demo­graph­ic facts:

  • The Nepali com­mu­ni­ty grew by 206.6% since 2010, fol­lowed by Indi­an (38%), Bhutanese (38%), Pak­istani (33%), Bangladeshi (26%), and Sri Lankan pop­u­la­tions (15%).
  • There are at least 630,000 Indi­ans who are undoc­u­ment­ed, a 72% increase since 2010.
  • There are cur­rent­ly at least 4,300 active South Asian DACA recip­i­ents.
  • Income inequal­i­ty has been report­ed to be the great­est among Asian Amer­i­cans. Near­ly 10% of the approx­i­mate­ly five mil­lion South Asians in the U.S. live in pover­ty.
  • There has been a rise in the num­ber of South Asians seek­ing asy­lum in the U.S. over the last 10 years. ICE has detained 3,013 South Asians since 2017. U.S. Cus­toms and Bor­der Patrol arrest­ed 17,119 South Asians between Octo­ber 2014 and April 2018 through bor­der and inte­ri­or enforce­ment.

The South Asian com­mu­ni­ty in the Unit­ed States includes indi­vid­u­als who trace their ances­try to Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Mal­dives, Nepal, Pak­istan and Sri Lan­ka. The com­mu­ni­ty also includes mem­bers of the South Asian dias­po­ra – past gen­er­a­tions of South Asians who orig­i­nal­ly set­tled in oth­er parts of the world, includ­ing the Caribbean, Africa, Europe, Cana­da and the Mid­dle East, and oth­er parts of Asia and the Pacif­ic Islands. South Asian Amer­i­cans include cit­i­zens, legal per­ma­nent res­i­dents, stu­dents, H‑1B and H‑4 visa hold­ers, DACA recip­i­ents, and undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants.

SAALT’s Inter­im Co-Exec­u­tive Direc­tor Lak­sh­mi Sri­daran said, “As we wit­ness this unprece­dent­ed growth in our com­mu­ni­ties, it is more impor­tant than ever that the needs of the most vul­ner­a­ble South Asian pop­u­la­tions are met. South Asians are impact­ed by the full spec­trum of fed­er­al immi­gra­tion poli­cies — from deten­tion and depor­ta­tion to H‑4 visa work autho­riza­tion and denat­u­ral­iza­tion to the assault on pub­lic ben­e­fits. An accu­rate Cen­sus 2020 pop­u­la­tion count is essen­tial to dis­trib­ut­ing crit­i­cal fed­er­al fund­ing to our com­mu­ni­ties. A cit­i­zen­ship ques­tion on the cen­sus would chill thou­sands of com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers, result­ing in a severe under­count, with at least 600,000 South Asians in the coun­try not being count­ed and thou­sands more deterred. And, this means even few­er resources to the com­mu­ni­ties who need it the most.”

SAALT’s demo­graph­ic snap­shot is based pri­mar­i­ly on Cen­sus 2010 and the 2017 Amer­i­can Com­mu­ni­ty Sur­vey. We encour­age com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers, gov­ern­ment enti­ties, pol­i­cy­mak­ers, and jour­nal­ists  to use this data to bet­ter under­stand South Asian Amer­i­cans and help inform their engage­ment with this com­mu­ni­ty.

Con­tact: Sophia@saalt.org

# # #

Coalition Letter to House Homeland Security Committee: Concerns about Domestic Terrorism Hearing

May 8, 2019

Dear Chair­man Thomp­son and Rank­ing Mem­ber Rogers:

As civ­il lib­er­ties and com­mu­ni­ty-based orga­ni­za­tions, we sub­mit this state­ment for the record in response to the hear­ing on domes­tic ter­ror­ism in order to share our con­cerns about the rise of white suprema­cist and nation­al­ist vio­lence in the coun­try, and to remind the com­mit­tee that com­mu­ni­ties of col­or con­tin­ue to have their free­dom of speech and right to assem­bly cur­tailed under the guise of fight­ing domes­tic ter­ror­ism. Before adopt­ing any poli­cies to fight white suprema­cist and nation­al­ist vio­lence, we urge you to con­sid­er how these poli­cies will impact com­mu­ni­ties of col­or.

The term “domes­tic ter­ror­ism” itself has been heav­i­ly politi­cized and cri­tiqued. The politi­ciza­tion of this term has meant that rather than apply­ing a uni­form def­i­n­i­tion, it has instead been applied dif­fer­en­tial­ly and used in par­tic­u­lar to tar­get and crim­i­nal­ize com­mu­ni­ties of col­or and their free­dom of speech, move­ment, and assem­bly.   More specif­i­cal­ly, there has been and con­tin­ues to be, a sys­tem­at­ic bias in the way ter­ror­ism is framed such that it is more read­i­ly applied to cas­es where the alleged per­pe­tra­tor or plan­ner of a vio­lent act is Mus­lim.

Fur­ther­more, the term “domes­tic ter­ror­ism” has often been asso­ci­at­ed, par­tic­u­lar­ly by law enforce­ment, with Black and/or, Mus­lim and/or, Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties and their allies despite doc­u­ment­ed inci­dents of vio­lence per­pe­trat­ed large­ly by white suprema­cists and right-wing extremists.We are there­fore con­cerned that the reme­dies and inter­ven­tions that come out of this hear­ing will be used to increase tar­get­ing of mar­gin­al­ized com­mu­ni­ties.

A recent report pub­lished by South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT) doc­u­ments hate vio­lence and xeno­pho­bic polit­i­cal rhetoric aimed at South Asian, Mus­lim, Sikh, Hin­du, Mid­dle East­ern, and Arab com­mu­ni­ties from Elec­tion Day 2016 to Elec­tion Day 2017. The report draws a direct line between the Trump Administration’s anti-Mus­lim agen­da and increas­ing attacks, reveal­ing that of the 213 inci­dents of hate vio­lence doc­u­ment­ed, one in five per­pe­tra­tors invoked Pres­i­dent Trump’s name, his admin­is­tra­tion poli­cies, or his cam­paign slo­gans dur­ing attacks.[1]As the SAALT report made clear, state rhetoric, pol­i­cy, and vio­lence are key to under­stand­ing the rise of white nation­al­ist and white suprema­cist vio­lence. We urge the com­mit­tee to use this hear­ing, and sub­se­quent hear­ings, to exam­ine how gov­ern­ment poli­cies and insti­tu­tions and polit­i­cal rhetoric have fos­tered the rise of white nation­al­ist and white suprema­cist ter­ror.

We also urge com­mit­tee mem­bers to reject Coun­ter­ing Vio­lent Extrem­ism (CVE) pro­grams as a rem­e­dy to the rise in white suprema­cist vio­lence. Though often neu­tral on their face, CVE pro­grams have in prac­tice and since their incep­tion under the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion pro­filed, sur­veilled, and divid­ed Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties. To sim­ply include white suprema­cist groups with­in CVE would not alter the foun­da­tion of the pro­gram, but would strength­en and expand it – and this would like­ly result in Mus­lim youth and com­mu­ni­ties get­ting tar­get­ed even more than before.

More­over, CVE pro­grams are not only prob­lem­at­ic because of their almost exclu­sive focus on Mus­lims, but because they are based on debunked, pseu­do-sci­en­tif­ic the­o­ries that cer­tain “rad­i­cal” ideas lead to vio­lence.[2]As civ­il rights and civ­il lib­er­ties advo­cates have long argued, expand­ing CVE to include white suprema­cy will be inef­fec­tive in fight­ing ter­ror­ism, and harm­ful to com­mu­ni­ties of col­or.[3]CVE pro­grams pro­mote a nar­ra­tive of col­lec­tive respon­si­bil­i­ty of Mus­lim and oth­er mar­gin­al­ized com­mu­ni­ties, putting them at risk in a way that will not be felt by the major­i­ty White pop­u­la­tion.[4]

We cau­tion that white suprema­cist and right wing vio­lence are less like­ly to be pros­e­cut­ed as ter­ror­ism,[5]and urge the com­mit­tee to take steps to ensure that any report­ed data by rel­e­vant gov­ern­ment agen­cies is reli­able. Required report­ing would also track the num­ber of FBI assess­ments and inves­ti­ga­tions, of each domes­tic ter­ror­ist move­ment defined by the FBI. This data could be rev­e­la­to­ry, and should be made pub­lic.

Fur­ther­more, if the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty and FBI have the dis­cre­tion to define and give their opin­ion about each ter­ror­ist move­ment and con­duct a threat assess­ment – dis­cre­tion that would almost cer­tain­ly be biased if either of these agen­cies’ his­to­ries are any indi­ca­tion. There­fore, we are con­cerned that any efforts to “research” threats will lead to increased mon­i­tor­ing, sur­veil­lance, and desta­bi­liza­tion of com­mu­ni­ties of col­or and non-vio­lent activist groups.

Addi­tion­al­ly, we are wor­ried that action to address domes­tic ter­ror­ism could fur­ther embold­en the FBI’s sur­veil­lance of the Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ty. To date, the FBI main­tains a nation­wide net­work of over 15,000 infor­mants[6], many of them high­ly paid to infil­trate Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties. Accord­ing to Human Rights Watch, from 2001 — 2014, “near­ly 50 per­cent of the more than 500 fed­er­al coun­tert­er­ror­ism con­vic­tions result­ed from infor­mant-based cas­es; almost 30 per­cent of those cas­es were sting oper­a­tions in which the infor­mant played an active role in the under­ly­ing plot.”[7]It is unclear how these injus­tices will be addressed mov­ing for­ward and what the rec­om­men­da­tion will be regard­ing the use of infor­mants to uncov­er or man­u­fac­ture domes­tic ter­ror­ism plots. Thus, we urge Mem­bers of Con­gress to be explic­it about the role of infor­mants and what safe­guards will be put in place to make sure they are not vio­lat­ing the rights of already mar­gin­al­ized com­mu­ni­ties. Data on the num­ber of FBI infor­mants involved in domes­tic ter­ror relat­ed assess­ments and inves­ti­ga­tions should be col­lect­ed and made pub­lic.

We look for­ward to work­ing with the com­mit­tee to ensure that white suprema­cist ter­ror is addressed with­out adverse­ly impact­ing the very com­mu­ni­ties most often tar­get­ed by white suprema­cists. We do not believe that law enforce­ment or intel­li­gence agen­cies need addi­tion­al author­i­ties to address domes­tic ter­ror­ism, but they must be held account­able for ignor­ing some threats and inflat­ing oth­ers.

 

Signed,

South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT)

Jus­tice for Mus­lims Col­lec­tive

Defend­ing Rights & Dis­sent

Amer­i­can-Arab Anti-Dis­crim­i­na­tion Com­mit­tee (ADC)

Asian Amer­i­cans Advanc­ing Jus­tice

Asian Amer­i­can Resource Work­shop — Boston

Cam­paign to TAKE ON HATE

Cen­ter for Con­sti­tu­tion­al Rights

Coun­cil on Amer­i­can-Islam­ic Rela­tions (CAIR)

MPow­er Change

Nation­al Net­work for Arab Amer­i­can Com­mu­ni­ties

Project South

Prop­er­ty of the Peo­ple

Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Love Project

South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter

The Sur­veil­lance Tech­nol­o­gy Over­sight Project (S.T.O.P).

 

[1]Com­mu­ni­ties on Fire, South Asian Amer­i­cans Advanc­ing Togeth­er, Jan­u­ary 2018

[2]See Let­ter from Nicole Nguyen & Stacey Krueger, Researchers from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Illi­nois at Chica­go, to Mem­bers of Con­gress et al, Con­cern­ing the Ques­tion­able Use of Aca­d­e­m­ic Research to Sup­port CVE Ini­tia­tives (Octo­ber 5, 2016)
and Who Will Become a Ter­ror­ist? Research Yields Few Clues (Matt Apuz­zo, The New York Times, Mar. 27, 2016)

[3]See Let­ter from 53 Civ­il Rights and Lib­er­ties Orga­ni­za­tions Against Expand­ing CVE Pro­grams(Sep­tem­ber 7, 2017)

andState­ment:​ ​AMEMSA​ ​Groups​ ​Oppose​ ​Expansion​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Countering​ ​Violent​ ​Extremism​ ​Pro­gram(Sep­tem­ber 7, 2017)

[4]Are Mus­lims Col­lec­tive­ly Respon­si­ble?, 416Labs, Novem­ber 19, 2015

[5]Trevor Aaron­son, Terrorism’s Dou­ble Stan­dard: Vio­lent Far-Right Extrem­ists Are Rarely Pros­e­cut­ed as Ter­ror­ists, The Inter­cept, March 23, 2019

[6]Trevor Aaron­son, The Infor­mants, Moth­er Jones, July, 2011

[7]Illu­sion of Jus­tice: Human Rights Abus­es in US Ter­ror Pros­e­cu­tions, Human Rights Watch, July 21, 2014

13 year old in Critical Condition after Alleged Hate Crime in Northern California

May 3, 2019

Dear Friends, Com­mu­ni­ty Mem­bers, and Allies,

On April 23rd, 13 year-old Dhri­ti was walk­ing back home from the library with her father and broth­er, when a dri­ver plowed into them and sev­er­al oth­er pedes­tri­ans at a busy cross­walk in Sun­ny­vale, Cal­i­for­nia. Dhri­ti is in a coma after suf­fer­ing major brain injuries and is cur­rent­ly on life sup­port. At least sev­en oth­ers were injured in the crash, all of whom are in sta­ble con­di­tion.

Short­ly after the arraign­ment of the dri­ver, Sun­ny­vale Police Chief Phan Ngo said, “Based on our inves­ti­ga­tion, new evi­dence shows that the defen­dant inten­tion­al­ly tar­get­ed the vic­tims based on their race and his belief that they were of the Mus­lim faith.” The FBI and local law enforce­ment are both inves­ti­gat­ing the crash as a hate crime.

This trag­ic and dis­turb­ing news comes at a month when report­ed hate crimes have been at an all time high. In April alone, SAALT tracked 10 inci­dents of hate vio­lence and 6 instances of xeno­pho­bic polit­i­cal rhetoric. Just days after the Sun­ny­vale crash, a shoot­er killed one woman and injured three oth­ers at the Chabad of Poway syn­a­gogue in San Diego. The same shoot­er is accused of set­ting fire to a mosque in Escon­di­do, CA in March. Glob­al­ly, the impact of hate vio­lence in March and April has been shat­ter­ing. Ear­li­er this month, near­ly 300 peo­ple were killed in church­es and hotels in Sri Lan­ka on East­er Sun­day. The hor­rif­ic attack occurred just weeks after at least 50 peo­ple were killed by a white suprema­cist in New Zealand who named Trump as his “sym­bol of renewed white iden­ti­ty.”

SAALT’s “Com­mu­ni­ties on Fire” report draws a direct line between The Trump Administration’s anti-Mus­lim agen­da and increas­ing attacks, reveal­ing that of the 213 inci­dents of hate vio­lence doc­u­ment­ed, one in five per­pe­tra­tors invoked Pres­i­dent Trump’s name, his administration’s poli­cies, or his cam­paign slo­gans dur­ing attacks.

This hate survives—and in fact thrives—against a back­drop of racist poli­cies from the Trump Admin­is­tra­tion like the Mus­lim Ban and fam­i­ly sep­a­ra­tion. This hate knows no bor­ders, race, or creed. This hate is a threat to Mus­lims, and to those racial­ized as Mus­lims. Sim­i­lar to the mur­der of Srini­vas Kuchib­hot­la in Olathe, Kansas who was pro­filed as Mid­dle East­ern, Dhri­ti and her fam­i­ly were alleged­ly tar­get­ed because they were per­ceived as Mus­lim.

To Dhri­ti and her fam­i­ly, we stand with you, demand­ing jus­tice and an end to poli­cies and hate speech that have cre­at­ed an ecosys­tem for hate crimes to increase.

Donate to Dhriti’s health­care costs at:  https://www.gofundme.com/helpdhriti

Sin­cere­ly,

South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er

Alliance of South Asians Tak­ing Action

Coun­cil of Amer­i­can Islam­ic Rela­tions — San Fran­cis­co Bay Area 

South Asian Work­ers Cen­ter, Boston

Sad­hana: Coali­tion of Pro­gres­sive Hin­dus

Hous­ton Coali­tion Against Hate

Cal­i­for­nia Immi­grant Pol­i­cy Cen­ter

South Asian Youth Action

Nari­ka: Chang­ing the Way We Live Vio­lence-Free

Sikh Fam­i­ly Cen­ter

 

Standing with the Victims and their Families in Sri Lanka

April 22, 2019

At least 290 peo­ple in Sri Lan­ka were killed and more than 500 injured from the hor­rif­ic attacks on East­er Sun­day in St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colom­bo, Zion Church in Bat­ticaloa, and three hotels in the cap­i­tal city of Colom­bo: the Shangri-La, the Cin­na­mon Grand and the Kings­bury.

Our hearts are aching for the vic­tims and their fam­i­lies. We are stand­ing with them in this time of immense tragedy and with all of our Sri Lankan com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers here in the U.S.

Mur­der is wrong. Tar­get­ing peo­ple because of how they choose to wor­ship is wrong.  This is true whether it be church­es in Sri Lan­ka, mosques in New Zealand, or a syn­a­gogue in Pitts­burgh.  

The Sri Lankan gov­ern­ment has said that Nation­al Thowheed Jamath is respon­si­ble for the mur­ders. As the inves­ti­ga­tion ensues, it is crit­i­cal that Mus­lims are not crim­i­nal­ized in the process.

No one should lose their life or loved ones from acts of hate. We must stand strong and unit­ed against hate in all its forms.

 

Men who Sustained 80-day Hunger Strike Released from El Paso Detention Facility

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

April 17, 2019

Jasvir Singh and Rajan­deep Singh were released from the Otero Coun­ty Pro­cess­ing Cen­ter last week almost three months after ini­tial reports that they were among nine Sikh men on hunger strike whom ICE agents were force feed­ing in the El Paso Ser­vice Pro­cess­ing Cen­ter.

El Paso and Las Cruces based com­mu­ni­ty groups and nation­al advo­ca­cy orga­ni­za­tions launched a coor­di­nat­ed cam­paign to demand ICE cease force feed­ing and release the men.   

ICE released both men on bond after con­sis­tent pres­sure from local Rep. Veron­i­ca Escobar’s office and local and nation­al advo­cates, and days after a Con­gres­sion­al Del­e­ga­tion from the House Com­mit­tee on Home­land Secu­ri­ty vis­it­ed and toured facil­i­ties in El Paso where they exam­ined immi­gra­tion poli­cies and oper­a­tions along our south­ern bor­der.

Three of the men who had orig­i­nal­ly been among the nine on hunger strike remain in deten­tion. While on hunger strike at EPSPC they report­ed reg­u­lar phys­i­cal, ver­bal, and psy­cho­log­i­cal abuse at the hands of facil­i­ty guards.

Jasvir and Rajan­deep sus­tained a hunger strike for near­ly 80 days to protest their con­di­tions and treat­ment in deten­tion. They had been held in the EPSPC since Novem­ber 2018.  Ini­tial­ly they were part of a group of 13 men in the EPSPC, ten from India and three from Cuba, who began hunger strik­ing at the end of Decem­ber.

Four of the men tak­ing part in the hunger strike were deport­ed and returned to India in ear­ly March. A fifth man who agreed to stop his hunger strike in Jan­u­ary in return for much need­ed surgery, was also deport­ed.

Quotes:

Jen­nifer Apo­da­ca of the Detained Migrant Sol­i­dar­i­ty Com­mit­tee who led advo­ca­cy efforts in El Paso said, “ICE always had the dis­cre­tion to release peo­ple but refused to use it. It shouldn’t have tak­en an angry con­gres­sion­al del­e­ga­tion to secure their release. Instead, they con­tin­ue to ignore the com­plaints of abuse and tor­ture and turn a blind eye at the con­di­tions of deten­tion and prison spaces that house more than 52,000 peo­ple as they await their fate in our bro­ken and biased immi­gra­tion courts. All of this could have been avoid­ed. It is time to abol­ish the deten­tion and depor­ta­tion machine.

Nathan Craig from Advo­cate Vis­i­tors with Immi­grants in Deten­tion (AVID) vis­it­ed the hunger strik­ers reg­u­lar­ly in the El Paso facil­i­ty. He said, “From their ini­tial asy­lum requests, to their treat­ment while hunger strik­ing, to their var­i­ous hear­ings, all of these men expe­ri­enced sub­stan­tial dis­crim­i­na­tion based on the lan­guage they speak and the way they dress. Unfound­ed val­ue judge­ments by and prej­u­dices from U.S. gov­ern­ment offi­cials and con­trac­tors result­ed in sig­nif­i­cant neg­a­tive con­se­quences for these men’s asy­lum claims. Inad­e­quate, or com­plete lack of, inter­pre­ta­tion was a chron­ic prob­lem.  All of the men told me about how they were sub­ject­ed to fre­quent racial and eth­nic slurs while detained. Sad­ly, more than the facts of their cas­es, these men’s asy­lum claims have been struc­tured by prej­u­dice on the part of immi­gra­tion offi­cials and their con­trac­tors. This must change. Wrong­do­ing at all stages of the process must be inves­ti­gat­ed. Jus­tice must be brought for those men still in the US, and those men already deport­ed must be afford­ed the oppor­tu­ni­ty to return to the US to pur­sue jus­tice for what is wide­ly rec­og­nized as tor­tur­ous treat­ment in deten­tion.”

Lak­sh­mi Sri­daran, Inter­im Co-Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT), a nation­al advo­ca­cy orga­ni­za­tion for South Asians that led nation­al advo­ca­cy efforts said,  “We are relieved that Jasvir and Rajan­deep have final­ly been released, but it should not have tak­en this long. And, we remain deeply con­cerned for the three men who remain in deten­tion — we fear they could be deport­ed back to India and into the dan­ger­ous con­di­tions they fled. We also know there are thou­sands more peo­ple housed in deten­tion facil­i­ties across the coun­try, suf­fer­ing from the same litany of abuse and due process vio­la­tions that our gov­ern­ment refus­es to acknowl­edge and address. It is clear that our nation’s entire under­stand­ing of deten­tion must be over­hauled. As a start, we need Con­gress to pass leg­is­la­tion that will hold facil­i­ties account­able with penal­ties and even the threat of shut­ting down for their repeat­ed pat­terns of non­com­pli­ance.”

Con­tact: Sophia@saalt.org

# # #

Statement of Concern Regarding April 9 Congressional Hearing on Hate Crimes and White Nationalism

April 8, 2019

Dear Chair­man Nadler and Rank­ing Mem­ber Collins,

We write to share our con­cerns with you and mem­bers of the House Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee regard­ing the April 9 hear­ing on Hate Crimes and The Rise of White Nation­al­ism. We believe these are urgent issues and that Con­gress should be pay­ing close atten­tion, espe­cial­ly in light of the rise of hate crimes in the Unit­ed States and the role that domes­tic white nation­al­ist groups have here at home, and on a glob­al scale.

On Tues­day, April 9, Con­gress is hold­ing a hear­ing on hate vio­lence and white nation­al­ism.  Accord­ing to the announce­ment, the House Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee plans to “exam­ine hate crimes, the impact white nation­al­ist groups have on Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties and the spread of white iden­ti­ty ide­ol­o­gy.” We believe these are urgent issues and that Con­gress should be pay­ing close atten­tion, espe­cial­ly in light of the rise of hate crimes in the Unit­ed States and the role that domes­tic white nation­al­ist groups have here at home, and on a glob­al scale.

As orga­ni­za­tions work­ing with Mus­lim, South Asian, Sikh, and Arab com­mu­ni­ties, we are deeply aware of how hate vio­lence has become a per­va­sive issue affect­ing our com­mu­ni­ties and oth­er mar­gin­al­ized com­mu­ni­ties. We are heart­ened to know that the wit­ness list for Tuesday’s hear­ing includes Dr. Abu Sal­ha whose two Mus­lim daugh­ters and son-in-law were mur­dered in a bru­tal hate crime in Chapel Hill, North Car­oli­na in 2015.

How­ev­er, Tuesday’s hear­ing fails to com­pre­hen­sive­ly address the scope and mag­ni­tude of hate vio­lence that dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly impacts Black, Mus­lim, Sikh, South Asian, and Arab Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties. Nor does the hear­ing uti­lize an oppor­tu­ni­ty  to unearth the com­plex moti­va­tions behind white nation­al­ism or its effects, includ­ing hate vio­lence. Apart from Dr. Abu Sal­ha, it is not sur­vivor-cen­tered, and the GOP wit­ness list includes sev­er­al indi­vid­u­als whose actions and insti­tu­tions have helped cat­alyze hate crimes, not abate them. For exam­ple, the wit­ness list includes Can­dace Owens, Direc­tor of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions at Turn­ing Point USA, who tweet­ed “LOL” after the Christchurch mas­sacre and who was list­ed as an inspi­ra­tion in the man­i­festo released by the white suprema­cist who is respon­si­ble for the mas­sacre of at least 50 Mus­lims in New Zealand. The list also includes Mor­ton Klein, pres­i­dent of the Zion­ist Orga­ni­za­tion of Amer­i­ca who used the slur “filthy Arabs” just last year. It is impor­tant that white nation­al­ism and white suprema­cy are not treat­ed as redeemable ide­olo­gies.

It is unfath­omable as to why wit­ness­es who espouse hate­ful posi­tions and rep­re­sent racist insti­tu­tions would be includ­ed giv­en their active dis­crim­i­na­tion  against Mus­lims and Arabs. Addi­tion­al­ly, the hear­ing does not  thor­ough­ly exam­ine  the var­i­ous and dom­i­nant strands of white nation­al­ism, includ­ing zion­ism; the con­nec­tion between polit­i­cal rhetoric, state poli­cies, and the rise in hate crimes; nor does it include sur­vivors who expe­ri­enced hate vio­lence since the 2016 elec­tion; or gov­ern­ment offi­cials who should be held account­able for how fed­er­al agen­cies and law enforce­ment enti­ties are active­ly address­ing white nation­al­ism and hate vio­lence.

We demand that Con­gress hold sub­stan­tive hear­ings that cen­ter sur­vivors and that unequiv­o­cal­ly reject white nation­al­ism, white suprema­cy, Islam­o­pho­bia, racism, and hate vio­lence in all its forms. Sim­i­lar Con­gres­sion­al hear­ings have fall­en short of exam­in­ing the depth of white suprema­cist hate vio­lence and our com­mu­ni­ties con­tin­ue to pay the price. The 2017 FBI hate crimes sta­tis­tics revealed an increase in hate crimes for the third year in a row, a 17% increase from the pri­or year. This is an alarm­ing upward trend in hate crimes – now con­sis­tent­ly sur­pass­ing the spike imme­di­ate­ly after Sep­tem­ber 11, 2001. Sur­vivors of hate vio­lence and big­otry deserve hon­est inquiries and true jus­tice from their elect­ed offi­cials. Con­gress must hold sub­se­quent hear­ings that com­pre­hen­sive­ly con­front and address the pro­lif­er­a­tion of white suprema­cist and white nation­al­ist hate vio­lence.

Signed,

Amer­i­can — Arab Anti-Dis­crim­i­na­tion Com­mit­tee (ADC)

Arab Amer­i­can Asso­ci­a­tion of New York (AAANY)

Arab Amer­i­can Bar Asso­ci­a­tion

Arab Resource and Orga­niz­ing Cen­ter (AROC)

Asian/Pacific Islander Domes­tic Vio­lence Resource Project (API DVRP)

Cen­ter for Con­sti­tu­tion­al Rights (CCR)

Coun­cil on Amer­i­can-Islam­ic Rela­tions (CAIR)

DRUM — Desis Ris­ing Up & Mov­ing

HEART Women & Girls

Jus­tice For Mus­lims Col­lec­tive

Mus­lim Anti-Racism Col­lab­o­ra­tive

Mus­lim Social Jus­tice Ini­tia­tive

Nation­al Net­work for Arab Amer­i­can Com­mu­ni­ties (NNAAC)

Nation­al Queer Asian Pacif­ic Islander Alliance (NQAPIA)

Project South

Sikh Coali­tion

South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT)

South Asian Work­ers’ Cen­ter Boston

The Part­ner­ship For The Advance­ment of New Amer­i­cans (PANA)

Unit­ed We Dream

Statement on New Zealand attack: Standing with our communities.

March 15, 2019

We all woke up today to the hor­ri­fy­ing news out of New Zealand. We are shak­en.

Our hearts are bro­ken.

We are mourn­ing and stand­ing with the vic­tims and fam­i­lies impact­ed by this act of mass vio­lence, and all our Mus­lim broth­ers and sis­ters world­wide. We offer our love, sup­port, and sol­i­dar­i­ty.

White suprema­cy, xeno­pho­bia, and Islam­o­pho­bia fueled the shooter’s attack, which killed 49 peo­ple in two mosques dur­ing Fri­day prayers in Christchurch.

As many of our com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers in the US go to Fri­day prayers in their local mosques today, we encour­age every­one to seek the sup­port they need. We’ve includ­ed a list of men­tal health resources and com­mu­ni­ty actions below.

Islam­o­pho­bia and white suprema­cy are a glob­al phe­nom­e­non. We know that Islam­o­pho­bia and its rip­ple effects in the US are real and con­tin­ue to deeply affect our com­mu­ni­ties’ safe­ty and sense of belong­ing in the US. More than one in four hate vio­lence inci­dents we doc­u­ment­ed in our Com­mu­ni­ties on Fire report were fueled by anti-Mus­lim sen­ti­ment.

We also know the pow­er of the polit­i­cal bul­ly pul­pit is real, and has a real impact. Of the hate vio­lence inci­dents we doc­u­ment­ed, one in five per­pe­tra­tors invoked Pres­i­dent Trump’s name, his administration’s poli­cies, or his cam­paign slo­gans as they vio­lent­ly attacked our com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers. We remain ever com­mit­ted to fight­ing Islam­o­pho­bia and white suprema­cy.

Suman Raghu­nathan, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er, said, “Hous­es of wor­ship should be places of refuge and peace, not scenes of a mas­sacre. We are stand­ing with Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties every­where as the world mourns and we seek to keep our com­mu­ni­ties safe. As hard as it is not to cave into fear at times like these, we have no choice but to keep fight­ing against Islam­o­pho­bia in all its forms.”

 

Men­tal health sup­port from the Mus­lim Well­ness Foun­da­tion

NYC vig­il

Trag­ic Events toolk­it from the Fam­i­ly and Youth Insti­tute

Fundrais­er to sup­port the fam­i­lies of the vic­tims

Immigration Advocates Warn of Physical and Mental Harm to Hunger Strikers in El Paso Detention Facility

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

March 15, 2019

EL PASO, TX — Immi­gra­tion advo­cates and med­ical experts are deeply con­cerned over the ongo­ing hunger strike at the El Paso Ser­vice Pro­cess­ing Cen­ter and the dire sit­u­a­tion fac­ing peo­ple held in indef­i­nite deten­tion, espe­cial­ly as their health dete­ri­o­rates.

The “El Paso 9” have been sub­ject­ed to bru­tal force-feed­ings, mis­treat­ment and retal­ia­to­ry actions by U.S. Immi­gra­tion and Cus­toms Enforce­ment (ICE) and pri­vate con­trac­tors fol­low­ing their hunger strike, which began in late Decem­ber 2018. At least two of the “El Paso 9” have entered the 11th week of their hunger strike.  

Of the group of men who were on hunger strike or sup­port­ing the hunger strike, two have been deport­ed, three have been trans­ferred to the Otero Coun­ty Pro­cess­ing Cen­ter in New Mex­i­co, and four remain detained at the El Paso Pro­cess­ing Cen­ter, two of whom are still on hunger strike and are in med­ical iso­la­tion.

Nathan Craig, a vol­un­teer with Advo­cate Vis­i­tors in Deten­tion, who recent­ly vis­it­ed one of the hunger strik­ers in El Paso, said, “At this point, hav­ing not eat­en since Decem­ber, he can bare­ly walk and hold up his head. In his frail state, think­ing and talk­ing are slow and labo­ri­ous. He must be afford­ed the oppor­tu­ni­ty to recu­per­ate out­side of deten­tion so that he can pre­pare for his mer­its hear­ing and cross-exam­i­na­tion.

Physi­cians for Human Rights (PHR), which has long argued that force-feed­ing against an individual’s wish­es is uneth­i­cal and inhu­mane, says pre­cau­tions must be tak­en to ensure those on hunger strike receive ade­quate med­ical atten­tion and accom­mo­da­tions. PHR also rec­om­mends that Con­gress fund alter­na­tives to deten­tion pro­gram­ming that rep­re­sent a long-term solu­tion to pre­vent human rights vio­la­tions doc­u­ment­ed in immi­gra­tion deten­tion. Below is an offi­cial state­ment by Physi­cians for Human Rights:

Hunger strik­ing is a non­vi­o­lent form of protest under­tak­en when oth­er means of express­ing griev­ances are unavail­able, and hunger strik­ers must be pro­tect­ed from any and all reprisals. Physi­cians for Human Rights calls for all pre­cau­tions to be tak­en to ensure that hunger strik­ers receive need­ed med­ical atten­tion, and that accom­mo­da­tions be made to ensure appro­pri­ate trans­port so that they are not injured. Not eat­ing may result in light­head­ed­ness, so wheel­chairs should be pro­vid­ed as need­ed.

“Exten­sive med­ical research shows that immi­gra­tion deten­tion is harm­ful and strong­ly cor­re­lat­ed with neg­a­tive men­tal health out­comes, while pro­longed or indef­i­nite deten­tion vio­lates the right to be free from tor­ture and oth­er cru­el, inhu­mane, or degrad­ing treat­ment.

“The U.S. immi­gra­tion deten­tion sys­tem has repeat­ed­ly demon­strat­ed a dan­ger­ous lack of account­abil­i­ty and trans­paren­cy, and the recent hunger strikes are just one more exam­ple illus­trat­ing this dire sit­u­a­tion. As a long-term solu­tion, PHR strong­ly rec­om­mends the use of alter­na­tives to deten­tion that are humane and cost-effec­tive and that have been proven to ensure com­pli­ance with immi­gra­tion enforce­ment.

In a sep­a­rate com­ment, Altaf Saa­di, MD, a neu­rol­o­gist at UCLA and a mem­ber of Physi­cians for Human Rights’ Asy­lum Net­work, said,

Pro­longed deten­tion caus­es sig­nif­i­cant med­ical harm to indi­vid­u­als due to both denial and delays in med­ical care, inad­e­quate staffing, puni­tive approach­es to men­tal health needs like the mis­use of iso­la­tion, and harm­ful con­di­tions of con­fine­ment more broad­ly like poor and over­crowd­ed liv­ing con­di­tions. The human toll of deten­tion is com­pound­ed for those already vul­ner­a­ble and suf­fer­ing from trau­ma based on per­se­cu­tion they have endured in their home coun­tries. We don’t want more patients join­ing the list of those whose deaths have been linked to sub­stan­dard care in deten­tion, nor do we want to see the last­ing impacts of deten­tion-relat­ed psy­cho­log­i­cal harm.”

ICE has threat­ened the hunger-strik­ing men with depor­ta­tion despite the dete­ri­o­ra­tion of their health.

Immi­gra­tion and civ­il rights groups are demand­ing the imme­di­ate release of the men and for them to be able to address their asy­lum cas­es out­side of deten­tion, as they should have been able to do from the begin­ning.

Lak­sh­mi Sri­daran, Direc­tor of Nation­al Pol­i­cy and Advo­ca­cy for South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT) said, “These asy­lum seek­ers, like so many before them, resort­ed to a hunger strike to draw atten­tion to the litany of abus­es they face at the hands of ICE on top of the indef­i­nite delays in adju­di­cat­ing their asy­lum cas­es.  We demand the imme­di­ate release of all of the detained indi­vid­u­als so they can be cared for by their com­mu­ni­ty. And, we demand an imme­di­ate inves­ti­ga­tion into the civ­il rights vio­la­tions, retal­i­a­tion, and med­ical neg­li­gence at the El Paso Pro­cess­ing Cen­ter, a facil­i­ty that SAALT and our part­ners have been mon­i­tor­ing and lodg­ing com­plaints about over the last five years. We know the treat­ment of detained indi­vid­u­als in El Paso is a micro­cosm of con­di­tions across deten­tion facil­i­ties in this coun­try.”

Media con­tact: Sophia Qureshi, sophia@saalt.org, 202–997-4211

###

Free­dom for Immi­grants 

Advo­cate Vis­i­tors with Immi­grants in Deten­tion (AVID), in the Chi­huahuan Desert

South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT)

Defend­ing Rights & Dis­sent

Nation­al Immi­gra­tion Project of the NLG

Detained Migrant Sol­i­dar­i­ty Com­mit­tee

Ruby Kaur -Kaur Law Pllc

La Resisten­cia