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.S. People 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.
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
For Immediate Release
Friday, June 21, 2019
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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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.
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)
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
South Asian Workers’ Center Boston
The Partnership For The Advancement of New Americans (PANA)
United We Dream
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.”
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) is excited to share our 2018 Midterm Election voter guide. In this critical election year, South Asian Americans have a stake in key policy questions that affect our communities. An important first step is understanding candidate stances on the issues that affect our community so we can hold them accountable for their policy positions and values—regardless of their party affiliation.
SAALT’s voter guide presents policy positions and values of candidates in the twenty Congressional districts with the highest number of South Asian Americans in the country. This guide also includes two additional races that feature a South Asian American candidate and a Congressional district whose Member holds a leadership position in the House of Representatives.
Each race shows the Democratic and Republican candidate positions on the issues of Immigration, Civil Rights, Hate Crimes, and the 2020 Census based on a series of questions. If your Congressional district is not featured in this guide, we encourage you to use the questions below to evaluate the candidates in your district. Scroll down, click through, read up, and even reach out to candidates yourself before you go to the polls on November 6th!
Are you mobilizing South Asian American voters for the 2018 Midterm Elections? Print and share this flyer to easily access SAALT’s non-partisan Voter Guide.
Meet the 60 members of the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations (NCSO), the nation’s largest network of community-based organizations that believe in common principles related to social change, and that provide services to, work with, convene, organize and advocate for South Asians in the United States.