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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SAALT DENOUNCES ICE RAIDS AND FAMILY SEPARATION

For Immediate Release
Fri­day, June 21, 2019

Media Contacts
Sophia Qureshi, sophia@saalt.org
Lak­sh­mi Sri­daran, lakshmi@saalt.org

Fol­low­ing the Trump administration’s announce­ment this week, Immi­gra­tion and Cus­toms Enforce­ment (ICE) raids are expect­ed to impact fam­i­lies across the U.S. begin­ning this  Sun­day, June 23rd in the pre-dawn hours. Cities expect­ed to have the high­est lev­el of impact include: Chica­go, Atlanta, Bal­ti­more, Mia­mi, New Orleans, Hous­ton, San Fran­cis­co, Los Ange­les, Den­ver, Newark, New York City, and Wash­ing­ton, D.C. Around 2,000 fam­i­lies are being tar­get­ed, pri­mar­i­ly those with final orders for depor­ta­tion or those who missed a hear­ing, with “col­lat­er­al arrests” of oth­ers who might be in the vicin­i­ty.

Tar­get­ing chil­dren, youth and fam­i­lies in an effort to fur­ther crim­i­nal­ize immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties is mis­guid­ed and immoral. This is a bla­tant assault on fam­i­lies that will desta­bi­lize com­mu­ni­ties and harm chil­dren. Research by the Cen­ter for Law and Social Pol­i­cy found evi­dence of behav­ioral changes in chil­dren who had been sep­a­rat­ed from a par­ent or had come in con­tact with immi­gra­tion agents. It showed that chil­dren who have been sep­a­rat­ed from their par­ents fre­quent­ly exhib­it  signs of trau­ma, includ­ing anx­i­ety, depres­sion, fre­quent cry­ing, dis­rupt­ed eat­ing and sleep­ing, and dif­fi­cul­ties in school.

The ICE raids announce­ment comes on the heels of new reports of deaths and over­crowd­ing in deten­tion facil­i­ties, denial of beds and san­i­ta­tion for detained chil­dren, and con­tin­ued unwill­ing­ness by  ICE to reuni­fy fam­i­lies.

Lak­sh­mi Sri­daran, Inter­im Co-Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT) said, “The announce­ment of these raids fur­ther under­scores the need for sanc­tu­ary poli­cies across all cities to pro­tect our com­mu­ni­ties. SAALT is work­ing with our part­ners to quick­ly dis­sem­i­nate know your rights mate­ri­als in mul­ti­ple South Asian lan­guages to pre­pare com­mu­ni­ties if ICE comes to their door. We are also encour­ag­ing mem­bers of the South Asian legal com­mu­ni­ty to offer their exper­tise and aid for indi­vid­u­als impact­ed by these raids and for those cur­rent­ly detained.”

It is increas­ing­ly clear that Con­gress must cut fund­ing from both Cus­toms and Bor­der Patrol (CBP) and ICE, and imme­di­ate­ly redi­rect fund­ing to reuni­fy­ing fam­i­lies and clos­ing deten­tion facil­i­ties across the U.S.

The death of 6‑year-old Gurupreet Kaur

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 17, 2019

We are dev­as­tat­ed to learn of the death of 6‑year-old Gurupreet Kaur.

Gurupreet’s body was found by U.S. Bor­der Patrol agents in a remote desert out­side the Lukeville, Ari­zona point of entry on Wednes­day, June 12th, just days before her sev­enth birth­day.

She died of heat stroke in the Ari­zona desert where tem­per­a­tures were 108 degrees Fahren­heit, accord­ing to U.S. Bor­der Patrol and the Pima Coun­ty Office of the Med­ical Exam­in­er (PCOME).

Gurupreet and her moth­er were report­ed­ly among a group of five Indi­an nation­als who were dropped off by migrant traf­fick­ers in a remote area on the U.S.-Mexico bor­der. Her moth­er and anoth­er woman went in search of water, leav­ing Gurupreet with two oth­ers from the group. Gurupreet’s moth­er was found by a U.S. Bor­der Patrol agent 22 hours lat­er. Four hours after that, Bor­der Patrol agents found Gurupreet’s body.

Sev­en migrant chil­dren have died in immi­gra­tion cus­tody since last year. Hun­dreds more have died close to ports of entry while attempt­ing to make the per­ilous jour­ney through the desert along the U.S.-Mexico bor­der.

SAALT is send­ing a let­ter of inquiry to Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion Com­mis­sion­er, Kevin K. McAleenan this week, demand­ing an inves­ti­ga­tion into Gurupreet’s death and infor­ma­tion about her moth­er and the oth­er migrants in their group.  

As U.S. Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion has esca­lat­ed bor­der enforce­ment and aggres­sive­ly turned away migrants attempt­ing to cross at ports of entry, deaths have con­tin­ued to mount. Migrants are forced right back into the dan­ger­ous con­di­tions that CBP and oth­er fed­er­al agen­cies often blame on migrant traf­fick­ers and smug­glers.

Lak­sh­mi Sri­daran, Inter­im Co-Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of SAALT said, “U.S. bor­der mil­i­ta­riza­tion, forced migra­tion, and rejec­tion of migrants attempt­ing to cross at ports of entry have cre­at­ed an envi­ron­ment where a child like Gurupreet, can die in the desert, alone. Until this sys­tem is com­plete­ly defund­ed and a new one is cre­at­ed that upholds the dig­ni­ty of all migrants — we will con­tin­ue to see unspeak­able tragedies, not with­stand­ing the count­less deaths that go undoc­u­ment­ed. While ICE and CBP have expe­ri­enced unprece­dent­ed surges in their bud­gets, their treat­ment of migrants has plunged to new lows.

SAALT has been track­ing both the rise in the num­ber of South Asians cross­ing the bor­der over the last 5 years and their treat­ment in deten­tion facil­i­ties. Between Octo­ber 2014 and April 2018, Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion (CBP) arrest­ed over 17,000 South Asians.

Of the South Asians who end up in deten­tion facil­i­ties, SAALT has tracked a pat­tern of abuse includ­ing inad­e­quate lan­guage access, lack of reli­gious accom­mo­da­tions, med­ical neglect, use of soli­tary con­fine­ment, and unac­cept­ably high bond amounts.  

We urge our com­mu­ni­ties to stay engaged and active on this urgent issue.  

Stay updat­ed and active by fol­low­ing our updates and action alerts on Twit­ter (SAALTweets) and Face­book (facebook.com/talktosaalt).

You can also sup­port by donat­ing to these orga­ni­za­tions that pro­vide imme­di­ate assis­tance:

  • The Fron­ter­i­zo Fian­za Fund is a com­mu­ni­ty bond (fian­za) fund based in El Paso and serv­ing Far West Texas and New Mex­i­co. Many detained migrants have no chance to be released while they wait the months or years until their tri­al. When some­one does receive a bond, they are often way out of reach for most fam­i­lies, rang­ing any­where from $1,500–50,000.
  • The Flo­rence Immi­grant and Refugee Rights Project is the only orga­ni­za­tion in Ari­zona that pro­vides free legal and social ser­vices to detained men, women, and chil­dren under threat of depor­ta­tion.
  • The Refugee and Immi­grant Cen­ter for Edu­ca­tion and Legal Ser­vices (RAICES) pro­motes jus­tice by pro­vid­ing free and low-cost legal ser­vices to under­served immi­grant chil­dren, fam­i­lies and refugees in Cen­tral and South Texas.
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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

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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

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