SAALT Statement on the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021

Yes­ter­day marked the intro­duc­tion of the U.S. Cit­i­zen­ship Act of 2021, by Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Sanchez (D‑CA-38) and Sen­a­tor Menen­dez (D‑NJ). The bill is a his­toric piece of leg­is­la­tion that pro­pos­es a path­way to cit­i­zen­ship for 11 mil­lion immi­grants, includ­ing more than 650,000 undoc­u­ment­ed South Asians. 

Among oth­er things, this bill address­es issues that are fun­da­men­tal to the well­be­ing of South Asian com­mu­ni­ties, includ­ing lan­guage that:

  • Creates an earned roadmap to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants, pro­vid­ing  Dream­ers, TPS hold­ers, and some farm­work­ers with an expe­dit­ed three-year path to cit­i­zen­ship, and giv­ing all oth­er undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants an eight-year path.
  • Reforms the family-based immigration system to keep families together by recap­tur­ing visas from pre­vi­ous years to clear back­logs, includ­ing spous­es and chil­dren of green card hold­ers as imme­di­ate fam­i­ly mem­bers, and increas­ing per-coun­try caps for fam­i­ly-based immi­gra­tion. It also elim­i­nates dis­crim­i­na­tion against LGBTQ+ fam­i­lies, pro­vide pro­tec­tions for orphans, wid­ows and chil­dren, and allows immi­grants with approved fam­i­ly-spon­sor­ship peti­tions to join fam­i­ly in the U.S. on a tem­po­rary basis while they wait for green cards.
  • Updates the employment-based immigration system, elim­i­nat­ing per-coun­try caps, improv­ing access to green cards for work­ers in low­er-wage indus­tries, giv­ing depen­dents of H‑1B hold­ers work autho­riza­tion, and pre­vent­ing chil­dren of H‑1B hold­ers from aging out of the sys­tem. The bill also cre­ates a pilot pro­gram to stim­u­late region­al eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment, and incen­tivizes high­er wages for non-immi­grant, high-skilled visas to pre­vent unfair com­pe­ti­tion with Amer­i­can work­ers. 
  • Supports asylum seekers and other vulnerable populations by elim­i­nat­ing the one-year dead­line for fil­ing asy­lum claims, reduc­ing asy­lum appli­ca­tion back­logs, increas­ing pro­tec­tions for U visa, T visa, and VAWA appli­cants, includ­ing by rais­ing the cap on U visas from 10,000 to 30,000.

We look for­ward to the pos­si­bil­i­ties this leg­is­la­tion presents. How­ev­er, we also urge Con­gress to address some of its harm­ful pro­vi­sions that exclude immi­grants who have been harmed by the racist crim­i­nal legal sys­tem, and hin­der immi­grants from access­ing health care and oth­er vital ser­vices on their path to cit­i­zen­ship. 

Pres­i­dent Biden and his admin­is­tra­tion must not only fol­low through with the above com­mit­ments but also trans­form the immi­gra­tion sys­tem to explic­it­ly account for cli­mate change, reli­gious per­se­cu­tion, and grow­ing right-wing fas­cism in South Asia. 

Amid mass depor­ta­tions of Black immi­grants, the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic, and ongo­ing inte­ri­or enforce­ment threats, SAALT will con­tin­ue to advo­cate to strength­en the bill and ensure that all immi­grants and their fam­i­lies have access to a humane immi­gra­tion sys­tem. A thought­ful immi­gra­tion pol­i­cy lifts us all. 

SAALT Statement on January 6th Events

Yes­ter­day, white suprema­cy was on full dis­play at the US Capi­tol and at gov­ern­ment build­ings across the nation. These attacks rep­re­sent a bla­tant and ille­gal attempt to deter democ­ra­cy and pro­mote white suprema­cist beliefs ​— which harm every­one. All of us have a duty to respond, not only with con­dem­na­tion, but with sus­tained action against the insti­ga­tors and their sup­port­ers.

Though Con­gress has cer­ti­fied the results of the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, they must do more. They must call for the removal of Pres­i­dent Trump and begin impeach­ment pro­ceed­ings ​imme­di­ate­ly. Repub­li­can lead­er­ship must ensure there is a peace­ful tran­si­tion of pow­er on and past Inau­gu­ra­tion Day​, and all mem­bers of Con­gress who incit­ed, encour­aged, or par­tic­i­pat­ed in this attack must be expelled for break­ing their Oaths of Office. Those respon­si­ble for yesterday’s attacks must be held ​equal­ly account­able under the law.  

We must also be care­ful about how to char­ac­ter­ize yesterday’s events. SAALT’s work on nation­al secu­ri­ty and immi­gra­tion issues since 9/11 has made it clear that label­ing acts of extrem­ist vio­lence as ter­ror­ism is dan­ger­ous and paves the way for the tar­get­ing of Black and Brown communities​, as seen through the War on Ter­ror frame­work. We can ​and must stand vig­i­lant against yesterday’s attacks with­out resort­ing to such char­ac­ter­i­za­tions by demand­ing that what hap­pened yes­ter­day is ​char­ac­ter­ized as white suprema­cist vio­lence. SAALT stands with our Black allies, who are right­ful­ly point­ing out the dou­ble stan­dards in how the white suprema­cists behind yesterday’s events are being treat­ed, as com­pared to the peace­ful pro­test­ers dur­ing last summer’s upris­ings.

“For our own com­mu­ni­ties, who were retrau­ma­tized by yesterday’s events, we are with you. The past four years have been a relent­less surge of poli­cies and attacks against the bod­ies and rights of so many com­mu­ni­ties, ours includ­ed. SAALT will con­tin­ue to press for the rever­sal of these xeno­pho­bic and racist poli­cies from the Trump era and push for bold solu­tions that will improve the lives of every­one.”

Sim­ran Noor, SAALT Board Chair

As South Asians, we also have work to do with­in our com­mu­ni­ties. There are reports of Indi­an Amer­i­cans being present at ​and encour­ag­ing yesterday’s attempt­ed  coup. Giv­en what we wit­nessed from the ​2020 Howdy Modi event in Texas fea­tur­ing Trump and Modi, this is no sur­prise. We have work to do with­in our own com­mu­ni­ties to raise aware­ness about the links between Hin­du nation­al­ism and white suprema­cy, and the dan­gers of ally­ing with the ele­ments who orches­trat­ed yesterday’s events. Sim­ply put: We can­not con­demn one fas­cist and excuse anoth­er. SAALT calls on its entire com­mu­ni­ty to hold these truths and stand unit­ed against nation­al­ism, fas­cism, and impe­ri­al­ism on all its fronts.

SAALT will con­tin­ue to share news and cov­er­age of the vio­lence, as well as help con­nect those affect­ed by the chaos with local resources. Please reach out to sruti@saalt.org with any ques­tions or requests.


FBI 2019 Hate Crimes Report: Highest Number of Hate Crime Murders Since 1991

Novem­ber 17, 2020: Yes­ter­day, the FBI released its 2019 Hate Crime Sta­tis­tics Report, show­ing the dead­liest year on record and the high­est num­ber of hate crime mur­ders since 1991. A total of 7,314 hate crime inci­dents were report­ed by law enforce­ment agen­cies. The FBI data illus­trates a slight decrease from last year’s report, and yet we know that com­mu­ni­ties of col­or, LGBTQ folks, and peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties con­tin­ue to be tar­gets of hate vio­lence by white suprema­cist indi­vid­u­als and insti­tu­tions.

Major findings of the report:

  • The FBI report cites the Sikh com­mu­ni­ty saw a slight decrease in the num­ber of report­ed anti-Sikh inci­dents in 2019, after a record 200 per­cent increase in 2018. And while crimes moti­vat­ed by anti-Mus­lim sen­ti­ment decreased, with 176 report­ed, over­all hate crime inci­dents tar­get­ing Mus­lims and those per­ceived as Mus­lims has been up since 2015. As of Novem­ber 1, 2020, SAALT and our part­ners have tracked 348 inci­dents of xeno­pho­bic or Islam­o­pho­bic rhetoric, and 733 inci­dents of hate vio­lence tar­get­ing Mus­lims and Asian Amer­i­cans, and those per­ceived as Mus­lim or Asian Amer­i­can, since Novem­ber 2015.
  • Racial­ly moti­vat­ed hate crime inci­dents made up the major­i­ty of hate crimes report­ed in 2019, with near­ly half of the inci­dents moti­vat­ed by anti-Black racism. The num­ber of anti-Black hate crimes was the high­est it’s been since 2011.
  • There were 51 hate crime mur­ders in 2019. 22 of those were the racial­ly moti­vat­ed mur­ders in the sin­gle El Paso shoot­ing last August. There was a nine per­cent increase in report­ed hate crime inci­dents against Lati­nos, and yet the dead­ly El Paso shoot­ing was cat­e­go­rized under “anti-oth­er race/ethnicity/ancestry” despite well doc­u­ment­ed anti-Mex­i­can sen­ti­ment. As report­ed in SAALT’s COVID report, the “oth­er” cat­e­go­riza­tion often obscures the true impact on com­mu­ni­ties. 
  • Of the known offend­ers, over 50% iden­ti­fied as white.

The num­bers depict a far from accu­rate pic­ture of the real preva­lence of hate vio­lence inci­dents in the U.S. The fed­er­al gov­ern­ment has yet to man­date hate crime report­ing at the state and local lev­els. Dur­ing an extra­or­di­nary year of upris­ings and state vio­lence against Black and brown com­mu­ni­ties, it is imper­a­tive for Con­gress to pass the Jabara-Hey­er NO HATE Act, (H.R. 3545; S. 2043), which helps close vast gaps in hate crime sta­tis­tics and improve data col­lec­tion on hate crimes by local, state, and fed­er­al law enforce­ment agen­cies. The bill also includes a restora­tive jus­tice com­po­nent which pro­vides an “alter­na­tive sen­tenc­ing” pro­vi­sion that would allow spe­cif­ic defen­dants super­vised release to under­take edu­ca­tion­al class­es or com­mu­ni­ty ser­vice direct­ly relat­ed to the harmed com­mu­ni­ty. 

Hate vio­lence tar­get­ing South Asian, Arabs, and Mus­lims is fueled by state sanc­tioned white suprema­cy. Poli­cies and prac­tices like the Mus­lim Ban, fam­i­ly sep­a­ra­tion, and ongo­ing police vio­lence endan­ger our com­mu­ni­ties because they embold­en white suprema­cists. From the con­stant van­dal­iz­ing of mosques, har­rass­ment of Mus­lim women, to the tar­get­ing of South Asians in their own neigh­bor­hoods, we have seen the very real and con­stant impact of this vio­lence. SAAT is com­mit­ted to advo­cat­ing for pol­i­cy and com­mu­ni­ty based solu­tions that address hate vio­lence from its root cause — by fight­ing all the man­i­fes­ta­tions of state sanc­tioned hate.

Trump Administration is Dismantling DACA — Here’s What You Can Do About It:

Yes­ter­day, in response to the Supreme Court uphold­ing the Deferred Action for Child­hood Arrivals (DACA) pro­gram last month, the Trump Admin­is­tra­tion took expect­ed steps to dis­man­tle the pro­gram, releas­ing a memo that said it would not be accept­ing new DACA appli­ca­tions, reject­ing most advance parole requests, and lim­it­ing those with pend­ing renewals  to only one year instead of two years. 

For the over 5,000 South Asian DACA recip­i­ents, and the over 20,000 Indi­ans alone who remain eli­gi­ble for DACA, this will have a direct impact on any exist­ing renew­al appli­ca­tions and for any undoc­u­ment­ed South Asian youth who were hop­ing to apply for DACA.

We knew the Supreme Court vic­to­ry was tem­po­rary, allow­ing the Admin­is­tra­tion to retal­i­ate. We must con­tin­ue push­ing back, forg­ing ahead, and ensur­ing that we fight for poli­cies that sup­port all immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties with­out harm­ing oth­ers.

Here are things you can do right now:

SAALT welcomes Supreme Court’s decision to protect DACA

More than 700,000 young people can continue to live and work in the U.S. without fear of deportation.

Wash­ing­ton, D.C.:  The Supreme Court of the Unit­ed States’ ruled (5–4) to tem­porar­i­ly pro­tect Deferred Action for Child­hood Arrivals (DACA), cit­ing it had the author­i­ty to review the Trump Administration’s deci­sion to ter­mi­nate DACA, and deter­mined that the Admin­is­tra­tion end­ed the pro­gram ille­gal­ly. This major vic­to­ry is tem­po­rary because it still gives the Admin­is­tra­tion an oppor­tu­ni­ty to ter­mi­nate the pro­gram again on legal grounds.

But, today’s deci­sion means that hun­dreds of thou­sands of young peo­ple, includ­ing over 4,000 South Asian DACA recip­i­ents, can con­tin­ue to live, work, and study in the U.S. with­out fear of depor­ta­tion. And until the Trump Admin­is­tra­tion responds, peo­ple can con­tin­ue to renew appli­ca­tions for DACA and will soon be able to sub­mit new appli­ca­tions. 

“Although it is con­di­tion­al, today’s vic­to­ry is wel­come at a time when the war on Black com­mu­ni­ties feels end­less. It is a reminder that our work is not done, but togeth­er we can win. We have to keep demand­ing solu­tions that ben­e­fit us all — includ­ing push­ing for a per­ma­nent, leg­isla­tive solu­tion that ensures a path to cit­i­zen­ship for all immi­grants, defunds ICE, CBP, and the police and invests in com­mu­ni­ties, which are pil­lars of the Move­ment for Black Lives pol­i­cy agen­da, ” said Lak­sh­mi Sri­daran, SAALT’s Exec­u­tive Direc­tor. 

SAALT joins immi­grant jus­tice groups across the coun­try in advo­cat­ing that Mem­bers of Con­gress pass a per­ma­nent solu­tion that helps rather than harms immi­grants and com­mu­ni­ties of col­or. More than 200,000 DACA essen­tial work­ers — includ­ing 41,700 health care work­ers — are on the front­lines of the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic. At the bare min­i­mum, any new leg­is­la­tion, includ­ing COVID-19 relat­ed stim­u­lus pack­ages, should include reprieve from depor­ta­tion and exten­sions of DACA and TPS work per­mits and pro­tec­tion. SAALT is also push­ing for state and local lead­ers to pro­vide free COVID-19 test­ing and treat­ment for all, regard­less of immi­gra­tion sta­tus.

Please con­tact Sophia Qureshi at sophia@saalt.org for media requests.

SAALT Statement on the Rise of Hindu Nationalism

Sep­tem­ber 10, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

###

 

Remembering Oak Creek and all Survivors of Hate Violence

August 5, 2019 

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

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

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

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

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

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

*Offer sup­port local­ly in El Paso here.

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

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

* Send a mes­sage of sup­port to the Oak Creek Gur­d­wara

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

#ElPa­soStrong #Remem­berOakCreek

SAALT 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.

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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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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