On Tuesday, January 26, the Department of Homeland Security withdrew its proposal to rescind H‑4 work authorizations (EADs). This means that more than 100,000 H‑4 EAD recipients, the majority of whom are women of color, keep their ability to work. This move to preserve the program signals the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to supporting immigrant women workers who play an essential role as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite this hopeful news, SAALT continues to hear from community members who have been adversely impacted by significant delays in the processing of H‑4 work authorization documents. These people must be protected, and the Biden administration must unilaterally extend the validity period of all expired H‑4 EADs and resolve USCIS processing delays.
Hopefully, we will see these extensions come with the introduction of the Citizenship Act of 2021 in the coming weeks. It seeks to formalize work authorization for H‑4 EAD visa recipients, create an accessible and equitable pathway to citizenship (especially for undocumented essential workers), and commit to a structural transformation of our broken immigration system that addresses and resolves backlogs. President Biden and Congress must work together to pass clean immigration and essential worker bills.
Learn more about the current status of the H‑4 EAD rule, and take action:
Since January 27th, 2017, countless families have been separated, detained, and refused fair treatment under the Muslim Ban – but as of yesterday, hope and justice feel nearer, as President Biden has signed an executive order to end the Ban, repealing an explicitly racist immigration policy and standing with Arab, Black, and Muslim Americans.
SAALT spent the last four years as a part of the No Muslim Ban Ever campaign, mobilizing community members and elected officials to stand against the Ban, and stand up for our community. Yesterday’s victory is the fruit of our collective resistance to white supremacy, and our continued defense of (im)migrant rights.
With the rescission of the anti-Black, xenophobic, and Islamophobic policy, SAALT and our allies now have a clearer path to fight for the protection of all migrants and immigrants, regardless of their background. Still, of course, the Muslim Ban is just one cog in a highly flawed immigration system, which must be transformed in its entirety; the enactment of the Muslim Ban only highlighted the entrenchment of Islamophobia and xenophobia in American culture. Therefore, it is critical that the 118th Congress pass and enact the No Ban Act to limit executive authority from issuing future discriminatory bans based on religion and national origin.
It’s equally crucial for our community to recognize that President Biden’s rescission of the Ban only marks the beginning of an arduous healing process – a challenge which we must come together to address. This is why SAALT is prioritizing and practicing restorative justice strategies in our continued fight against institutionalized Islamophobia and xenophobia. Our collective ability to hold space for healing will determine the sustainability of our movement, and we ask our community to recognize the harms that these discriminatory policies have on the mental and physical well-being of impacted community members for generations to come.
As hope and justice draw nearer, we call on President Biden and his administration to continue showing support for Black, Indigenous and all other communities of color, and continue to condemn and act against white supremacy and hatred.
Election win opens up greater potential for pushing policies that matter to South Asian communities
November 9, 2020: SAALT congratulates President-elect Joe Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris on their historic win and we look forward to the opportunity to push for progressive and inclusive policies for South Asian Americans across the U.S with the new Administration. Despite attempts by the Trump Administration to thwart the democratic process, the hard work of organizers, poll workers, and volunteers ensured greater accountability around voter suppression than ever before. Ultimately, this led to a clear and decisive victory for the Biden campaign.
Lakshmi Sridaran, Executive Director of SAALT, said: “This election opens up greater potential for pushing the policies that matter to our communities. We will rely on the same vigilance that propelled historic voter turnout and accurate vote counts to hold this Administration accountable to our communities. This means a complete overhaul of our immigration system that ensures a pathway to citizenship for all, COVID-19 relief packages that include immigrants of all status, increased language access resources, an end to detention and the militarization of U.S. borders, and the transformation of policing as we know it. We will celebrate and heal, but we also know the work of undoing the immense harm of the last four years and affirmatively laying the groundwork for meaningful systems change requires intention and political will. In order for this Administration to truly acknowledge the Black and brown communities whose years of organizing delivered this weekend’s victory, beyond representation, we expect them to exercise that political will to the full extent on behalf of our communities.“
The historic voter turnout and inspring shifts of traditionally conservative states were a direct result of years of organizing by Black and brown communities who felt the brunt of the Trump Administration’s xenophobic and racist polices and dangerous rhetoric. In particular, a growing and increasingly engaged South Asian population played a critical role in Georgia. The South Asian population in the South tripled from 2000 to 2014, and of the top ten metropolitan areas in the U.S. that experienced the largest South Asian population growth, five were in the South. Groups like Georgia Muslim Voter Project, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta, and Project South, working to implement Stacey Abrams’ strategy of appealing to disenfranchised voters of color instead of relying on the Democratic Party’s usual outsized focus on moderate white voters, harnessed the political organizing power of communities of color across the state. This critical shift in priorities should inform the Biden-Harris Administration.
However, given the narrow margin of victory in this election that took days to determine, it is clear that there remains definitive support for racist and xenophobic policies and that white supremacy is a dangerous force that will remain a threat to our communities. This is paired with the violent Islamophobia and Hindu nationalism aimed at many South Asian populations. Dismantling these interlinked systems of institutionalized violence is an important part of the work we now have an opportunity to directly address with the new administration, especially given Vice President Harris’ identity. At SAALT, we look forward to continuing to build community power, strengthening coalitions across communities of color, and advocating for just and equitable federal policies alongside the new Administration.
Washington, D.C.: As the Trump Administration intentionally fails to address a national health crisis that has already claimed the lives of over 120,000 people in the U.S., they continue to double down on criminalizing immigrant communities while still exploiting their labor to carry us through the pandemic. This week’s executive order extended the 60 day ban on the issuance of green cards announced in April and further expands the ban to H‑1B, H‑2B, L, and certain J non-immigrant visas through the end of the year. This primarily targets high-skilled and guest workers, undermining family reunification and diversity visa programs.
SAALT’s Executive Director Lakshmi Sridaran said,“Over 70 percent of H1B visa holders in the U.S. are from South Asian countries. Our community members and their families continue to be jeopardized because of these restrictions. If the goal was to protect U.S. workers, they would be given PPE, sick days, and healthcare in the midst of this deadly pandemic. From the Muslim Ban to targeting a range of immigrant populations from H‑1B visaholders to DACA recipients, this administration’s racist and anti-immigrant agenda underscores their abysmal failure in leadership.”
For more information on who will be impacted by this latest executive order, check out this fact sheet from the Center for Immigrant Rights Clinic at Penn State Law.
Earlier this week, we put out a call for volunteers to assist with an outreach effort to provide food and restaurant workers from the South Asian community with “know your rights” resources. The alert was prompted by community reports about an immigration enforcement action targeting workers in the restaurant industry over the past week in DC. Out of respect for those directly affected, we are not providing any additional information at this time. We will continue our work to protect and defend our communities, especially at a time when immigrants are being targeted, whether at workplaces and homes or at the border.
July 8, 2019
An Indian restaurant in DC was raided by ICE last week. Several Hindi speaking employees were taken to the Montgomery County jail in Maryland.
Given the prospect of immigration raids in the DC area, we are calling for volunteers to join us for an outreach effort on July 13th and 14th.
SAALT is seeking volunteers to help with outreach, translation, and legal counsel. Click here for immediate steps you can take.
SAALT’s 2018 report documents hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric aimed at our communities from Election Day 2016 to Election Day 2017. SAALT documented 302 incidents of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, and Arab communities in the United States, of which an astounding 82% were motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment. The 302 incidents are a more than 45% increase from the year leading up to the 2016 election cycle, levels not seen since the year after September 11.