SAALT Opposes Administration’s “Public Charge” Rule Published in Federal Register Today, Encourages Community Members to Submit Comments

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The Department of Homeland Security published a new proposed “public charge” ruletoday that would deny permanent resident status (“green cards”) to lower income immigrants who use government services such as nutrition programs and housing assistance. The proposed rule was officially published in the Federal Register, triggering a 60-day period for the public to comment before the Department of Homeland Security proceeds with final rulemaking.
This rule punishes people for using the public benefits they are entitled to and is set up to prevent as many immigrants as possible from becoming legal permanent residents. It’s the latest in a series of attacks on all immigrant communities and their children. The rule directly impacts immigrants who are applying to become Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR’s or green card holders) or looking to extend or change the category of a nonimmigrant visa. If finalized, the Bangladeshi community would be the hardest hit among South Asian Americans. Nearly 61% of non-citizen Bangladeshi American families receive public benefits for at least one of the four federal programs including TANF, SSI, SNAP, and Medicaid/CHIP, according to a 2018 Migration Policy Institute Report. The same report showed that 48% of non-citizen Pakistani families and 11% of non-citizen Indian families also receive public benefits. Additionally, the proposed rule would flag all immigrant households of four earning less than $63,000 under negative scrutiny for the “public charge” test.
The impact of the rule would be felt across the South Asian American community, as over 10% of green card recipients in FY 2016 were from South Asian countries. Nearly 472,000 or 10% of the approximately five million South Asians in the United States live in poverty, according to a recent Pew Research Center study. In 2015, eight of nineteen Asian American groups had poverty rates higher than the U.S. average. Among those, Pakistani (15.8%), Nepali (23.9%), Bangladeshi (24.2%), and Bhutanese (33.3%) Americans had the highest poverty rates among South Asian American groups. The same study showed that Bangladeshi and Nepali communities had the lowest median household incomes out of all Asian American groups, which fell far below the $63,000 threshold. We encourage South Asian Americans to visit SAALT’s campaign page and easily submit a comment opposing the discriminatory “public charge” rule before December 10.
CONTACT: Sophia Qureshi, sophia@saalt.org

SAALT Releases Groundbreaking Voter Guide to Educate, Mobilize South Asian American Community in Preparation for 2018 Midterm Elections

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Washington, D.C., Today South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) released its 2018 Midterm Election Voter Guide, the only resource designed to engage, educate, and mobilize the growing South Asian American electorate in Congressional districts nationwide.
At over 5 million strong, South Asian Americans are the second-most rapidly growing demographic group nationwide, across longstanding community strongholds and newer regions in the South. As a result, South Asian Americans occupy an increasingly significant position in the American electorate. In this critical election year, South Asian Americans have a stake in key policy questions that affect our communities, and are deeply impacted by issues spanning immigration, civil rights, hate crimes, and the 2020 Census.
The Guide is a voter education tool that equips South Asian Americans and all voters with the crucial information they need to cast informed votes this November. SAALT’s non-partisan 2018 Midterm Election Voter Guide does not endorse any candidate—rather; it analyzes House of Representatives candidates’ positions on four critical issues for South Asian Americans in twenty Congressional Districts with the highest South Asian American populations. The Guide also includes analysis on two additional races that feature a South Asian American candidate and a Congressional district whose Member currently 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 upon their responses to a series of questions. SAALT reached out to all candidates with a questionnaire and analyzed publicly available information on their voting records on federal legislation, public statements, and policy platforms to develop our analysis. For all incumbent candidates, SAALT analyzed only their voting record on key legislation to determine their policy positions. All questions are included in the Guide to allow voters to assess a candidate’s positions themselves even if a particular Congressional district is not featured.
SAALT will be distributing its 2018 Midterm Election Voter Guide far and wide in partnership with its 62 community partners in the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations (NCSO), national allies, as well as over social and traditional media. The Voter Guide will be unveiled in-person at this weekend’s The Future of South Asians in the U.S. regional town hall in Niles, Illinois in partnership with Chicagoland NCSO organizations. On Saturday, October 6th from 1-4 pm, this powerful and topical forum will address the impact of U.S. immigration policy on the South Asian American community. The Voter Guide will continue to serve as a critical community education tool that keeps the focus on the important issues impacting our nation on the road to the November 2018 elections and beyond.
CONTACT: Sophia Qureshi, sophia@saalt.org

SAALT Denounces the Administration’s “Public Charge” Proposal to Criminalize Immigrants for Using Public Benefits

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Washington, D.C., South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) condemns the Department of Homeland Security announcement of new proposed “public charge” rules that would deny permanent resident status (“green cards”) to immigrants who use government services such as nutrition programs and housing assistance. The new rule would also weigh age, health, and employability as factors to deny green cards. SAALT, along with immigrant and civil rights, public health, and labor organizations, are denouncing these changes that threaten families and children’s health. The proposed rules would relegate immigrants who are not yet citizens to second-class status by condemning their use of critical public benefits programs.
If implemented, the public charge regulation would undermine the safety, health, and security of immigrant families. Rumors of the proposal have already sown fear among immigrant families, many of whom have foregone essential health and nutrition services for which they are eligible. The new rule would hit South Asian American communities particularly hard, as over 10% of green card recipients in FY 2016 were from South Asian countries. According to a recent Pew Research Center study, one in four immigrants in the U.S. from Bangladesh and Nepal and one in three immigrants from Bhutan already live in poverty. This new rule would put all of these individuals at great risk. The term “public charge” predates federal immigration law entirely. In the early 1800’s states would only free individual slaves on the condition that they never become a “public charge.” This framework is now being expanded to criminalize immigrant communities.
“This policy is about who this Administration considers a desirable immigrant. It is designed to instill fear in immigrant communities of color and relegate non-citizens and their families to second-class status. It will punish immigrants who rightfully access the public benefits to which they are entitled, it will punish parents for taking care of their children, and it will force immigrant families to choose between citizenship and basic needs. Rather than taxing the 1%, this Administration chooses to punish immigrant families over and over again. Today, on the one-year anniversary of Muslim Ban 3.0, we say no to more racist and anti-immigrant policies,” said Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT.
Once the rule is officially published in the Federal Register, the public will have 60 days to comment on the proposed rule before the Department of Homeland Security proceeds with final rulemaking. Stay tuned for SAALT’s campaign to channel public comments to the federal government opposing this discriminatory proposal.
CONTACT: Sophia Qureshi, sophia@saalt.org

SAALT Chicago Townhall: The Future of South Asians in the U.S.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Join us to learn about how we can all build The Future for South Asians in the U.S. on Saturday, October 6th in Niles, Illinois. South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) will be partnering with Chicagoland community organizations to host this critical forum addressing the impact of immigration policy in the U.S. on the South Asian community.

This exciting Town Hall will include:
  • A Resource Fair, featuring local South Asian community organizations.
  • A panel discussion on several key local and national policies that impact South Asian Americans

 

The Resource Fair will allow community members to connect with local organizations serving and working with South Asian American communities. Indo-American CenterSouth Asian Americans Policy and Research Institute (SAAPRI)Hamdard CenterApna Ghar, the Council on American Islamic Relations – Chicago (CAIR-Chicago), and more local organizations will be available to answer your questions aboutimmigration, health care, public benefits, and DACA.
There will also be a panel discussion with local advocates for the South Asian community, sharing how current national and state-level policies affect our communities, H4 visa holders, DACA recipients, and the DREAM Act. There will also be information about the 2020 Census, and how proposed changes will likely impact the South Asian community.
For a full list of our co-sponsors and speakers please visit and RSVP on our Eventbrite page for The Future of South Asians in the U.S. on Saturday, October 6th at Culver Elementary School.
We look forward to seeing you there!

CONTACT: Sophia Qureshi, sophia@saalt.org

SAALT hosts Congressional Briefing — 17 years after 9/11 ”Detentions, Deportations, Diminished Civil Rights”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 14, 2018
On September 13, South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) hosted a Capitol Hill Briefing in collaboration with the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC). Members of Congress and an expert panel of community leaders provided remarks marking the 17th anniversary of the tragic events of 9/11. This year’s anniversary fell at a time of rampant anti-immigrant and xenophobic policies aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, and Arab American communities. Members of Congress and community leaders discussed the intersection of hate violence, the Muslim Ban, and immigration enforcement. They also pointed to legislative and policy proposals to safeguard civil rights and protect immigrant communities.
As lead sponsor of H.R. 1566 NO HATE Act, Representative Don Beyer (VA-08) provided opening remarks emphasizing the relationship between hate violence and discriminatory and anti-immigrant policies advanced by the current administration. Representative Beyer reminded the audience that hate violence exists in every corner of our nation as he recounted recent incidents from his northern Virginia Congressional District.
Representative Grace Meng (NY-06) provided closing remarks commemorating the impact of 9/11 and the ensuing backlash against South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, and Arab American communities in New York City. She highlighted the story of Salman Hamdani, a young Muslim-American first responder on 9/11, whose name was left off the National September 11 Memorial in Manhattan.
“SAALT is committed to addressing the underlying factors that spur hate violence against our communities, including discriminatory policies and the growth in organized white supremacy. We are dedicated to working with Congressional leaders and our community partners to ensure the next decade sees a decline in hate violence,” stated Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT.

Honorary Co-hosts:
The Honorable Senator Jeffrey A. Merkley (OR)
Congressional Co-sponsors:
Representative Don Beyer (VA-08) – opening remarks
Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07)
Representative Ro Khanna (CA-17)
Representative Grace Meng (NY-06) – closing remarks
Representative Jan Schakowsky (IL-09)
Panelists:
Azza Altiraifi, Justice for Muslims Collective
Paromita Shah, National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild
Lakshmi Sridaran, South Asian Americans Leading Together

Quotes

Representative Don Beyer (VA-08): “I want to recognize SAALT’s crucial advocacy work – they have been instrumental in elevating South Asian American voices into conversations on the Hill. I am proud to have SAALT’s support on my bill, the NO HATE Act, which will help improve hate crime reporting.”
Representative Grace Meng (NY-06): “I’m proud of the tremendous work SAALT does on behalf of the South Asian community. We have a collective responsibility to ensure our communities are safe from violence, hate, and discrimination. I’m committed to ensuring that my constituents have the support and resources to keep our communities safe. I’m proud to partner with SAALT and am confident it will continue to play a pivotal role in keeping our communities safe.”
For a recorded stream of the Briefing, please click here.

17 Years After 9/11: Detentions, Deportations, Diminished Civil Rights

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 11, 2018

Today marks the 17-year anniversary of the tragic attacks of September 11, 2001. This anniversary falls at a time of rampant immigration enforcement and racial profiling policies directed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, and Arab American communities. Unsurprisingly, this escalation of brutal and discriminatory policies is accompanied by a rising tide of hate violence impacting our communities. Nearly two decades after the events of September 11th, hate violence targeting South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, and Arab American communities has now surpassed levels only seen immediately after that tragedy.

SAALT has already documented over 400 incidents of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric targeting our communities since the 2016 presidential election. Tragically, we can now draw a direct link between divisive political rhetoric and its role in spurring hate violence: one in five of the hate incidents documented in our 2018 report, Communities on Fire, involved perpetrators who verbally referenced President Trump, one of his administration’s policies, or one of his campaign slogans while committing an act of violence.

Since the events of September 11th, successive administrations have leveraged a ‘national security’ lens to advance anti-immigrant and xenophobic policies that target our communities and our place in this nation. This list of policies that seek to limit and exclude our rights includes but is not limited to the Patriot Act, the Countering Violent Extremism program, and the Muslim Ban. Several devastating policies aimed at immigrant communities have been unveiled in the last year alone. Examples include the decision to terminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for individuals from several countries including Nepal, Honduras, El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan; a wave of deportations of documented and undocumented residents; separating families and detaining children in cages; and denaturalizing American citizens. In short, we are in the midst of a campaign to create an America that is separate and unequal for the foreign-born and their families. The onslaught is slated to continue escalating through the administration’s plans to further criminalize immigrants for utilizing public benefits by issuing a ‘public charge’ rule and unconstitutionally including a question on citizenship status in the 2020 Census.

It appears this dangerous convergence of policies, rhetoric, and violence will not end soon. In April 2018, a Houston Muslim woman wearing a hijab was stabbed by an attacker yelling “Oh my God, it’s a r**head” “sand n******” and other racially derogatory terms. In July and August 2018, two California Sikh men wearing turbans were violently attacked in separate incidents. In one incident, the perpetrator yelled “Go back to your country!” SAALT continues to collect data on incidents of hate violence in our public, online database, and provides monthly updates on trends.

Later this week, SAALT will host a Congressional Briefing in collaboration with the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) to highlight the intersection between current incidents of hate violence, the Muslim Ban, and immigration enforcement. SAALT is committed to addressing the underlying factors that spur hate violence against our communities, including discriminatory policies and the growth in organized white supremacy. We are dedicated to ensuring the next decade sees a decline in hate violence and an effort to regain this nation’s core ideals of equality and justice.

DACA: One year of uncertainty, one year of fighting back

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 5, 2018

Today is the one-year anniversary of this administration’s unnecessary and destructive decision to expose over 800,000 DREAMers to deportation by ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. This critical program, which continues to enjoy overwhelming support from the American public, has protected immigrant youth for over six years from being forced out of the only country they have ever known. The DACA program is an important lifeline for immigrant communities, including South Asians; there are at least 5,500 DACA recipients from India and Pakistan alone, and an additional estimated 17,000 individuals from India and 6,000 individuals from Pakistan who are eligible for DACA.

Continue reading

The Fight Continues: No Muslim Ban Ever!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 26, 2018

Washington D.C– Over a year and three iterations at state-sponsored discrimination later, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled earlier today to uphold the Trump Administration’s divisive and damaging Muslim Ban. This is a troubling first in modern times for our nation: one that openly codifies inequality before the law.

In response, Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together, said: “Greenlighting persecution of communities due to their appearance or how they pray is unacceptable and un-American, and cannot be the law of our land. Today’s decision joins our nation’s past shameful decisions on Korematsu and Dred Scott by upholding discrimination. With this ruling, the highest court has turned its back on our communities who are already on the front-lines of state-sanctioned hate, violence and division.”

“As we see immigrants portrayed and treated as subhuman, hate violence at historic levels, and challenges to due process and core rights for all, we face a critical question as to who we are and what we stand for as a nation. We know hate violence targeting our communities will continue to rise nationwide, amplified by today’s decision. SAALT chooses to build a nation where families are not torn apart, where children are not detained in cages, where differences are not criminalized for political gain. Today, as the government chooses to separate families and places our communities in the cross hairs of hate, we vow to continue the fight for justice, dignity, and full inclusion. Our communities have a place in this nation regardless of today’s decision, and we will fight to protect them.”

 

Our elected and appointed officials should know we will continue to mobilize our communities, and will not stop till we have equality and justice for all.

SAALT

Report | Communities on Fire: Confronting Hate Violence and Xenophobic Political Rhetoric

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, and Arab communities are the target of increasing levels of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric in the United States, with record attacks since the election of President Trump in November, 2016, South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) said in a report released today. The uptick in anti-Muslim attacks runs parallel to the surge in this administration’s anti-Muslim policies and rhetoric.

The report, Communities on Fire,” 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.

SAALT’s report draws a direct line between this 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.

“Our nation prides itself on the freedom for people of all religious traditions to practice their faith without fear or intimidation,” said Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT. “However, through its policies and rhetoric, this administration’s incessant demonization of Islam has created an environment of hate and fear-mongering for Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim. Deadly shootings, torched mosques, vandalized homes and businesses, and young people harassed at school have animated an acutely violent post-election year. This administration must break eye contact with white supremacy if our nation is to live up to its highest ideals of religious freedom.”

The report also underlines the way intersectionality informs hate – both the identities of victims targeted and the systems that criminalize our communities. Women who identify or are perceived as South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, or Arab were the targets of attack in 28% of the 213 documented hate incidents post-election. Women who wear hijab or head scarves are particularly vulnerable, accounting for 63% of the documented hate incidents targeting women. The report discusses the intersection of immigration, racial profiling and surveillance, and criminal justice policies that compound against our communities.

“The growth of white supremacist hate groups and mounting attacks on our communities are proof positive that this administration’s anti-Muslim agenda is not making America great, it’s making Americans afraid,” Raghunathan said. “The daily decay of our democracy can only be repaired by dignity and full inclusion for all Americans, regardless of faith, race, or national origin. SAALT and our allies are going to go the distance to see this demand realized.”

CONTACT: Vivek Trivedi – vivek@saalt.org

One Year of the Muslim Ban. One Year of Resistance.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Saturday, January 27, 2018 is the one-year anniversary of the Trump administration’s first Muslim Ban, a blatantly Islamophobic order barring entry of immigrants and refugees from seven majority-Muslim countries. This administration’s divisive rhetoric and policies, including several iterations of the Muslim Ban, have led to increasing attacks aimed at Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim in the United States.

To mark one year of this administration’s immoral Muslim Ban, Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), released the following statement:

“No one should fear for their safety because of their country of origin, how they pray, speak, or dress. Yet that is exactly what this administration attempted to accomplish one year ago today when it signed into the law its first Muslim Ban. Over the year, through a combination of hateful rhetoric, toxic tweets, and polluted policies, including four iterations of the Muslim Ban, this administration has made every effort to institutionalize Islamophobia.

A forthcoming report by SAALT reveals the deadly consequences of this administration’s anti-Muslim agenda. 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, Arab, and Middle Eastern individuals in the U.S., of which an astounding 82% were motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment. It is enough to simply be perceived as Muslim to be a target of attack. This marks a 45% increase in hate violence from the year leading up to the presidential election, levels of violence not seen since the year after September 11.

While the White House does everything it can to normalize hate, our communities continue to normalize resistance to this administration’s anti-Muslim agenda. One year ago we took to the airports and streets in defiance of the Muslim Ban. Today the struggle continues, and our communities are mobilizing nationwide in defiance of division and in furtherance of equality, fairness, and respect. Every day, for as long as it takes, we will demand that our nation’s values are rooted in celebrating differences, not criminalizing them.

The Muslim Ban has no place in our society—not one year ago, not now, not ever.”

***

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) is a national, nonpartisan, non-profit organization that fights for racial justice and advocates for the civil rights of all South Asians in the United States. Our ultimate vision is dignity and full inclusion for all.

CONTACT: Vivek Trivedi – vivek@saalt.org