SAALT condemns Trump Administration’s latest expansion of immigration restrictions

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.

Con­tact: sophia@saalt.org

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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 Demands Justice for George Floyd, Calls for Murder Charges

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On Mon­day, May 25th, four police offi­cers, includ­ing Offi­cer Derek Chau­vin and Offi­cer Tou Thao, mur­dered 46-year old George Floyd, in his home city of Min­neapo­lis, Min­neso­ta. George Floyd is the most recent vic­tim of state-sanc­tioned police bru­tal­i­ty aimed at Black peo­ple, mark­ing the 1,014th mur­der by U.S. police in the past year

Despite being in the midst of a pan­dem­ic that has left near­ly 100,000 peo­ple dead, the vio­lence tar­get­ing Black com­mu­ni­ties has con­tin­ued unabat­ed. Just three months ago, Bre­on­na Tay­lor, a Black woman, was killed by police offi­cers in her home in Louisville after they sur­veiled and assault­ed her. And, just weeks ago, the nation woke up to bystander doc­u­men­ta­tion of Ahmaud Arbery’s Feb­ru­ary mur­der at the hands of a white for­mer police offi­cer in Geor­gia. The inher­ent racism of the polic­ing sys­tem con­tin­ues to be exploit­ed by indi­vid­u­als to tar­get peo­ple of col­or, as doc­u­ment­ed this past Mon­day, when a white woman threat­ened a Black man in Cen­tral Park by say­ing she would call the police “and tell them there’s an African-Amer­i­can man threat­en­ing [her] life” when he calm­ly asked her to leash her dog accord­ing to the park’s rules.

“As South Asians and Asian Amer­i­cans, we must acknowl­edge, con­front, and dis­man­tle anti-Black­ness in our own com­mu­ni­ties,” said SAALT’s Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, Lak­sh­mi Sri­daran. “Our com­mu­ni­ties often rely on the racist crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem to address hate vio­lence aimed at our own com­mu­ni­ties while the root cause of this vio­lence is the gov­ern­ment and its poli­cies. And, like the afore­men­tioned Asian Amer­i­can Min­neapo­lis Offi­cer Tou Thao, we also have the pow­er to enact anti-Black­ness by trust­ing and rein­forc­ing the vio­lence of the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem. Dur­ing this time of cri­sis, as we see a rise in anti-Asian vio­lence in response to COVID-19, we must inter­ro­gate our reliance and belief in polic­ing and police, and con­front the anti-Black­ness that plagues our com­mu­ni­ties. SAALT is rein­vig­o­rat­ing its com­mit­ment to com­bat­ing anti-Black­ness with­in and across our com­mu­ni­ties by work­ing with exist­ing and new allies in Black and Brown com­mu­ni­ties.”

It is dur­ing times of cri­sis that racist sys­tems of polic­ing, enforce­ment, mon­i­tor­ing, and sur­veil­lance are for­ti­fied. Yet, there is hope for recourse and jus­tice and a world where police offi­cers are held account­able for mur­der. We’re urg­ing com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers to sign this Col­or of Change peti­tion, demand­ing that the four police offi­cers who killed George Floyd be charged with mur­der and to join Com­mu­ni­ty Resource Hub’s COVID-19 Polic­ing Track­er, to help track COVID-19 relat­ed sur­veil­lance.

SAALT calls on Biden campaign to condemn Islamophobia and Hindu Nationalist violence

Recent­ly, legit­i­mate con­cerns have arisen about Amit Jani, the AAPI Out­reach Coor­di­na­tor on Joe Biden’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, regard­ing his con­nec­tions to the BJP and sup­port of the Modi Admin­is­tra­tion, which has unleashed vio­lence aimed at Mus­lims, Dal­its, and oth­er minor­i­ty pop­u­la­tions. Amit Jani was a par­tic­i­pant in SAALT’s Young Lead­ers Insti­tute (YLI) in 2012. We hope that our alum­ni will always take a stand against hate vio­lence tar­get­ing South Asian com­mu­ni­ties in the U.S. and glob­al­ly. 

As a non-par­ti­san orga­ni­za­tion (c3), SAALT is pro­hib­it­ed from tak­ing posi­tions about peo­ple who are either run­ning for elect­ed office and/or con­nect­ed to polit­i­cal cam­paigns. Nev­er­the­less, we are allowed to ask a cam­paign to share its posi­tions on issues of con­cern to our com­mu­ni­ties. Our com­mu­ni­ties have been per­son­al­ly and direct­ly impact­ed by the ris­ing tide of state sanc­tioned anti-Mus­lim vio­lence and dis­crim­i­na­tion in India and Kash­mir as well as in the U.S. We ask the Biden cam­paign to con­demn Islam­o­pho­bia and Hin­du nation­al­ist vio­lence across the world and acknowl­edge the impact it has on South Asian com­mu­ni­ties every­where. 

As an orga­ni­za­tion root­ed in val­ues of dig­ni­ty and inclu­sion, we believe that South Asians hold­ing posi­tions of polit­i­cal influ­ence must be respon­sive to the most crit­i­cal issues in our com­mu­ni­ty, includ­ing Hin­du nation­al­ism and Islam­o­pho­bia. When it comes to hate vio­lence and dis­crim­i­na­tion, neu­tral­i­ty is not an option.

South Asian American Organizations Condemn Violence in Delhi

As mem­bers of South Asian orga­ni­za­tions in the U.S. that believe in the val­ues of dig­ni­ty, jus­tice and inclu­sion for all, we are hor­ri­fied by the vio­lence tar­get­ing Indi­an Mus­lims in Del­hi this week.  Since Sun­day, at least 40 peo­ple have been killed and hun­dreds more injured. We are struck by the heart wrench­ing footage of Mus­lims flee­ing their homes, stores and homes burnt to ash­es, the des­e­cra­tion of mosques and vio­lent attacks by mobs on Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties.

What is most alarm­ing is the role of the police in incit­ing the vio­lence and the speech of a local politi­cian from the Hin­du nation­al­ist BJP par­ty warn­ing pro­tes­tors of the bru­tal­i­ty  that would be unleashed on them if they failed to clear the streets before Trump’s vis­it. This is state sanc­tioned vio­lence, as chief offi­cers of the Del­hi police stood behind him in sol­i­dar­i­ty.

 As mem­bers of the Dias­po­ra we can­not be silent.

These events are hor­ri­fy­ing. And dis­turbing­ly, they are not entire­ly unex­pect­ed.  They come after a series of exclu­sion­ary and unjust actions tar­get­ing reli­gious and caste minori­ties and vul­ner­a­ble pop­u­la­tions, par­tic­u­lar­ly since the re-elec­tion of Modi. 

There have been wide scale protests through­out India since the gov­ern­ment passed the inher­ent­ly dis­crim­i­na­to­ry Cit­i­zen­ship Amend­ment Act, which active­ly cre­ates an uncon­sti­tu­tion­al, reli­gion-based cri­te­ria to grant cit­i­zen­ship to select immi­grants and lays the legal foun­da­tion to denat­u­ral­ize mil­lions of Indi­an minori­ties, effec­tive­ly cre­at­ing the largest net­work of con­cen­tra­tion camps in the world. The CAA, in con­junc­tion with the Nation­al Reg­is­tra­tion of Cit­i­zens (NRC) list, effec­tive­ly ren­ders India’s 200 mil­lion Mus­lims state­less

In Kash­mir, Indi­a’s ongo­ing mil­i­tary occu­pa­tion has inten­si­fied since August 5th, when com­mu­ni­ca­tions were cut and the region was placed under an intense crack­down. The Indi­an state has effec­tive­ly silenced Kash­miris and detained thou­sands of peo­ple includ­ing minors and many Kash­miris fear a set­tler-colo­nial project that would change the demo­graph­ics of the region from a Mus­lim-major­i­ty state to a Hin­du-major­i­ty state.

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, or right wing Hin­du nation­al­ism, which 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. 

These suprema­cist ide­olo­gies implic­it­ly and explic­it­ly sanc­tion hate — and put our com­mu­ni­ties in dan­ger- both in the U.S. and in the sub­con­ti­nent.  SAALT has doc­u­ment­ed more than 542 inci­dents of hate vio­lence in the U.S. tar­get­ing Mus­lims and those racial­ized as Mus­lim since Novem­ber 2015. 

The cur­rent sit­u­a­tion in India, fueled by nation­al­ism and Hin­dut­va, has glob­al impli­ca­tions. 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 reli­gious minori­ties to those fac­ing caste oppres­sion. The anti-Mus­lim mea­sures in India are a part of a tide of ris­ing Islam­o­pho­bia, and comes as the Trump Admin­is­ra­tion just expand­ed its own Mus­lim Ban.

As South Asian orga­ni­za­tions work­ing toward build­ing pow­er and capac­i­ty with our com­mu­ni­ties, we urge all 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.  

We urge South Asians to: ask their Mem­bers of Con­gress to join Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Bey­er, Raskin, Omar, Cas­tro, Tlaib, and Jaya­pal; and Sen­a­tors Sanders and War­ren in con­demn­ing the vio­lence tar­get­ing Indi­an Mus­lims, caste oppressed com­mu­ni­ties and Kash­miris (includ­ing co-spon­sor­ing House Res­o­lu­tion 745); to edu­cate them­selves and their own com­mu­ni­ties about the impli­ca­tions and impacts of Hin­dut­va; and show up to the protests at Indi­an con­sulates on Feb­ru­ary 28th and orga­nize their per­son­al net­works, tem­ples, and cul­tur­al insti­tu­tions to defund hate and stop sup­port­ing the BJP and RSS now. The time to stop geno­cide is now. 

Signed,

South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT)

Indi­an Amer­i­can Mus­lim Coun­cil (IAMC)

Equal­i­ty Labs 

Stand with Kash­mir

Hin­dus for Human Rights (HfHR)

Sad­hana: Coali­tion of Pro­gres­sive Hin­dus 

DesiQ Dias­po­ra (DQD)

Sakhi for South Asian Women

South Asia Sol­i­dar­i­ty Ini­tia­tive

Stu­dents Against Hin­dut­va (SAH)

Atlanta Kash­miri Com­mu­ni­ty

Alliance of South Asians Tak­ing Action

Burmese Rohingya Com­mu­ni­ty of Geor­gia 

The Sikh Coali­tion 

Coun­cil Of Peo­ples Orga­ni­za­tion 

API Chaya

Desis Ris­ing Up and Mov­ing (DRUM)

South Asians Build­ing Account­abil­i­ty & Heal­ing (SABAH)

India Home

Sikh Amer­i­can Legal Defense and Edu­ca­tion Fund (SALDEF)

Chhaya CDC

Coali­tion of Seat­tle Indi­an-Amer­i­cans (CSIA)

South Asian Work­ers’ Cen­ter — Boston

Nation­al Queer Asian Pacif­ic Islander Alliance (NQAPIA)

Jakara Move­ment

Adhikaar

South Asian Youth in Hous­ton Unite (SAYHU)

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SAALT welcomes new Executive Director and Board Chair

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The SAALT Board is extreme­ly hap­py to mark the begin­ning of the new year, the new decade, and this next era for SAALT with excit­ing news:

We are thrilled to wel­come Lak­sh­mi Sri­daran as SAALT’s new Exec­u­tive Direc­tor and Sim­ran Noor as SAALT’s new Board Chair.

Lak­sh­mi played a cru­cial role as SAALT’s Inter­im Exec­u­tive Direc­tor in the past year, man­ag­ing the organization’s oper­a­tions and infra­struc­ture while simul­ta­ne­ous­ly lead­ing on pol­i­cy and cam­paigns.

Lakshmi’s strong com­mit­ment to SAALT’s mis­sion and specif­i­cal­ly to build­ing move­ments for jus­tice across com­mu­ni­ties of col­or was deep­ened while serv­ing as Direc­tor of Nation­al Pol­i­cy and Advo­ca­cy at SAALT for over 4 years. She devel­oped SAALT’s pol­i­cy and leg­isla­tive agen­da focused on immi­gra­tion, racial pro­fil­ing, and com­bat­ing hate vio­lence. Dur­ing this time, she expand­ed the scope of SAALT’s coali­tion part­ners at the local and nation­al lev­els, includ­ing facil­i­tat­ing more influ­ence for South Asian Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties on Capi­tol Hill.

Before join­ing SAALT, Lak­sh­mi served as the Pol­i­cy Direc­tor for The Prax­is Project, a nation­al orga­ni­za­tion focused on health jus­tice in com­mu­ni­ties of col­or. Pri­or to that, Lak­sh­mi spent six years in New Orleans work­ing with direct­ly impact­ed com­mu­ni­ties on recov­ery and eco­nom­ic jus­tice issues imme­di­ate­ly after Hur­ri­cane Kat­ri­na. She comes to the Exec­u­tive Direc­tor role at SAALT with 15 years of expe­ri­ence work­ing in non­prof­its and holds a Mas­ters degree in City Plan­ning from Mass­a­chu­setts Insti­tute of Tech­nol­o­gy and a B.A. in Eth­nic Stud­ies from The Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley.

Sim­ran has over a decade of expe­ri­ence work­ing in the pub­lic pol­i­cy and non­prof­it worlds to advance racial, social and eco­nom­ic jus­tice. She cur­rent­ly runs her own strat­e­gy firm and works with orga­ni­za­tions to insti­tute process­es and pro­grams to achieve racial equi­ty. She’s a past Race For­ward fel­low and served as Vice Pres­i­dent for Pol­i­cy and Pro­grams for the Cen­ter for Social Inclu­sion. Sim­ran holds a dual bachelor’s degree in Amer­i­can Stud­ies and Polit­i­cal Sci­ence from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mary­land, Bal­ti­more Coun­ty and a dual mas­ters degree in Pub­lic Admin­is­tra­tion and Social Pol­i­cy from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia. Sim­ran has served on the SAALT Board since 2017 and her var­ied exper­tise in phil­an­thropy, move­ment build­ing, and orga­ni­za­tion­al devel­op­ment make her ide­al­ly sit­u­at­ed to move to the posi­tion of SAALT’s Board Chair.

“I could­n’t be more excit­ed to sup­port Lak­sh­mi and SAALT in the com­ing years. We look for­ward to con­tin­u­ing to posi­tion SAALT to be a nation­al leader in vis­i­bi­liz­ing the issues faced by South Asian com­mu­ni­ties and work­ing with awe­some local and nation­al part­ners to cre­ate more pow­er and jus­tice,” said Sim­ran.

2020 also marks SAALT’s 20 year anniver­sary. Since SAALT’s incep­tion, the threats and chal­lenges our com­mu­ni­ties face have diver­si­fied, but the need to stand strong, unit­ed, and orga­nized against injus­tice as a com­mu­ni­ty remains just as urgent.

“I am grate­ful for the oppor­tu­ni­ty to lead SAALT after being ground­ed in our com­mu­ni­ties and the issues we con­front over the last five years. I look for­ward to help­ing strength­en our move­ment and shift nar­ra­tives with­in and about South Asian Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties,” said Lak­sh­mi.

We are eager to have Lak­sh­mi and Sim­ran pro­vide the lead­er­ship this moment calls for as we ush­er in this new era and we will count on your sup­port to con­tin­ue to build com­mu­ni­ty pow­er at this cru­cial time.

Please join us in wel­com­ing Lak­sh­mi and Sim­ran by tweet­ing wel­come mes­sages to them at @SAALTweets, @lsridaran  and @SimranNoo.

Con­tact: Sophia@saalt.org

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Administration Acts on Threat to Expand Muslim Ban

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Jan­u­ary 31, 2020

Ear­li­er today, just days after the third anniver­sary of the Mus­lim Ban, the Trump Admin­is­tra­tion struck again by adding six more coun­tries to this racist pol­i­cy. Nation­als of Myan­mar, Nige­ria, Kyr­gyzs­tan and Eritrea will be banned from seek­ing immi­grant visas and nation­als of Sudan and Tan­za­nia will be banned from the diver­si­ty visa lot­tery. While it is expect­ed that Nige­ri­ans will be most impact­ed in num­ber, it is also painful to see that Mus­lim refugees flee­ing geno­cide in Myan­mar will be turned away by our nation just as Jew­ish refugees were decades ago dur­ing the Holo­caust.

“One thing is clear, the Mus­lim Ban was this administration’s first fam­i­ly sep­a­ra­tion pol­i­cy just days after the pres­i­den­tial inau­gu­ra­tion in 2017, and it has served as the foun­da­tion­al pol­i­cy for tar­get­ing com­mu­ni­ties of col­or ever since. Since then, we have seen attacks on DACA, TPS, diver­si­ty lot­tery, green cards, pub­lic ben­e­fits, refugees, asy­lum seek­ers, preg­nant women, and more to insti­tu­tion­al­ize a white suprema­cist agen­da,” said Lak­sh­mi Sri­daran, SAALT’s Inter­im Exec­u­tive Direc­tor.

Since Jan­u­ary of 2017, SAALT has doc­u­ment­ed an uptick in white suprema­cist hate vio­lence aimed at Mus­lims and those racial­ized as Mus­lim, includ­ing 350 inci­dents of hate and 200 instances of xeno­pho­bic or Islam­o­pho­bic rhetoric from media out­lets and elect­ed offi­cials. SAALT’s 2018 report “Com­mu­ni­ties on Fire” found that Mus­lim women wear­ing hijab and indi­vid­u­als with dark­er skin col­or were more fre­quent­ly the tar­gets of the most vio­lent acts of hate. This runs par­al­lel to today’s expan­sion of the Mus­lim Ban tar­get­ing Mus­lim major­i­ty African nations.

Con­gress has the pow­er to end all of this by pass­ing the NO BAN Act. This leg­is­la­tion would imme­di­ate­ly rescind the Mus­lim Ban and lim­it the exec­u­tive branch’s author­i­ty to exer­cise such wide and unchecked dis­cre­tion in issu­ing racist poli­cies. Today’s expan­sion of the Mus­lim Ban under­scores the need to pass a clean NO BAN Act with zero excep­tions because even the small­est open­ing can unleash such wide­spread destruc­tion.

Con­tact: sophia@saalt.org
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On Third Anniversary of Muslim Ban, Asian American Organizations Say Pass NO BAN Act

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Wash­ing­ton, DC – Three years ago today, the Trump Admin­is­tra­tion placed a trav­el ban on sev­er­al Mus­lim-major­i­ty nations that has con­tin­ued to sep­a­rate and dis­place thou­sands of Mus­lim fam­i­lies in the Unit­ed States. The impact of the ban has also pre­vent­ed indi­vid­u­als from access­ing med­ical treat­ment, along with edu­ca­tion­al and pro­fes­sion­al oppor­tu­ni­ties.

To coun­ter­act the Mus­lim Ban, Con­gress­woman Judy Chu intro­duced the NO BAN Act last year, which would end this ban and any oth­er bans based on religous dis­crim­i­na­tion. This year, as the White House threat­ens to expand the Mus­lim Ban to include an addi­tion­al sev­en coun­tries to the list, we stand unit­ed in urg­ing Con­gress to pass H.R. 2214 NO BAN Act to ensure the Trump Administration’s agen­da of dis­crim­i­na­tion can go no fur­ther.

Becky Bel­core, Direc­tor of NAKASEC, said:

To deny entry into the Unit­ed States based on reli­gious affil­i­a­tion or racial iden­ti­ty is racist and dis­crim­i­na­to­ry. Trump’s first iter­a­tion of the Mus­lim Ban sin­gu­lar­ly tar­get­ed Mus­lim major­i­ty coun­tries. This rumored expan­sion strikes at main­ly non-white major­i­ty coun­tries. Trump’s insti­tu­tion of the Mus­lim Ban is couched in moral bank­rupt­cy, Islam­o­pho­bia, and White Suprema­cy. We as a soci­ety and com­mu­ni­ty must do bet­ter. We must reject these racist, anti-Mus­lim poli­cies and ensure that such bans can nev­er exist by pass­ing the NO BAN Act!

Lak­sh­mi Sri­daran, Inter­im Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of SAALT, said:

Insti­tu­tion­al­ized racism like the Mus­lim Ban has not only direct­ly impact­ed thou­sands of Mus­lims whose lives were torn apart because of this racist ban, but it has embold­ened white suprema­cists, sanc­tion­ing their vio­lence aimed at black and brown com­mu­ni­ties. Since the Mus­lim Ban was announced, we have tracked at least 350 inci­dents of hate vio­lence tar­get­ing Mus­lims and those racial­ized as Mus­lims, and 200 instances of xeno­pho­bic and/or Islam­o­pho­bic rhetoric from media and elect­ed offi­cials. As this Admin­is­tra­tion threat­ens to expand the destruc­tive Mus­lim Ban and issue addi­tion­al bans on preg­nant women and immi­grants with­out health insur­ance, we must stop this from going any fur­ther by demand­ing Con­gress pass the NO BAN Act imme­di­ate­ly.

Quyen Dinh, exec­u­tive direc­tor of the SEARAC, said:

South­east Asian Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties remain stead­fast in our sup­port of Mus­lim Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties and con­tin­ue to denounce the Mus­lim Ban. We must pro­tect the integri­ty of our immi­gra­tion sys­tem by fight­ing against dis­crim­i­na­tion and intol­er­ence with equi­ty and jus­tice. We stand with the Asian Amer­i­can and immi­grant rights com­mu­ni­ty by call­ing on Con­gress to pass the NO BAN Act to pre­vent fur­ther bias­es in our laws and ensure that com­mu­ni­ties across the coun­try can con­tin­ue to reunite with their loved ones.”

Con­tacts
Sam Yu, NAKASEC
syu@nakasec.org / 213–703-0992

Sophia Qureshi, SAALT
sophia@saalt.com / 202–997-4211

Elaine Sanchez Wil­son, SEARAC
elaine@searac.org / 202–601-2970

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5 South Asian men in detention reach 75th day of hunger strike

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Jan­u­ary 16, 2020

JENA, LOUISIANA — Five South Asian men have reached the 75th day of a hunger strike in the GEO Group-oper­at­ed LaSalle Deten­tion Facil­i­ty in Jena, Louisiana where they have been sub­ject­ed to the tor­tu­ous pro­ce­dure of forced-hydra­tion and force-feed­ing. Accord­ing to med­ical pro­fes­sion­als, 75 days with­out ade­quate nutri­tion is when vital organs begin to fail.

Free­dom for Immigrants(FFI) has filed two com­plaints with the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty (DHS) Office of Civ­il Rights and Civ­il Lib­er­ties (CRCL) on behalf of the five men, demand­ing DHS address the sys­temic civ­il rights vio­la­tions the men have faced under ICE cus­tody. FFI along­side Deten­tion Watch Network(DWN), South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Together(SAALT), local advo­cates, and med­ical pro­fes­sion­als in the Louisiana area are warn­ing the men are on the brink of death and call for their imme­di­ate release.

The first CRCL com­plaint calls on ICE to use its pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al dis­cre­tion to release all five men. Each of them have for­mal spon­sors in the Unit­ed States com­mit­ted to sup­port­ing and hous­ing them while they fight their asy­lum case.

The sec­ond com­plaint, sub­mit­ted in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Physi­cians for Human Rights, address­es the sig­nif­i­cant delays in receiv­ing crit­i­cal med­ical records from ICE. Begin­ning in Novem­ber, an FFI affil­i­at­ed vol­un­teer sub­mit­ted mul­ti­ple requests to ICE for these records, with the con­sent of the men engag­ing in hunger strikes. How­ev­er, ICE has refused to release these records. With­out this crit­i­cal infor­ma­tion, inde­pen­dent physi­cians can­not con­duct an assess­ment of the med­ical treat­ment these men are receiv­ing while in deten­tion.

“Under ICE’s own poli­cies, peo­ple in deten­tion have the right to inde­pen­dent med­ical eval­u­a­tion. How­ev­er, staff at the LaSalle Deten­tion Facil­i­ty have denied our repeat­ed requests, which were made in line with their poli­cies, for accu­rate and updat­ed med­ical records. This makes it impos­si­ble for us to have a clear under­stand­ing of the hunger strik­ers’ cur­rent med­ical con­di­tions and com­plete­ly negates their access to inde­pen­dent eval­u­a­tions, which is espe­cial­ly cru­cial as they enter the crit­i­cal time in their hunger strike when vital organ func­tion­ing begins to shut down,” said Dr. Cather­ine Jones, MD, a licensed physi­cian in New Orleans.

Exter­nal med­ical review of indi­vid­u­als on hunger strikes is crit­i­cal giv­en ICE’s long his­to­ry of sys­temic med­ical neglect writ large and spe­cif­ic con­cerns with the treat­ment of hunger strik­ers in its cus­tody. On Octo­ber 2019, Dr. Parveen Par­mar, a licenced med­ical pro­fes­sion­al, reviewed the med­ical records of a man who had been on hunger strike for approx­i­mate­ly three months while detained at the El Paso ICE Pro­cess­ing Cen­ter. Upon review of the med­ical doc­u­ments Dr. Par­mar stat­ed that it was “the worst med­ical care I have seen in my 10 years of prac­tice.”

Per ICE’s own stan­dards, indi­vid­u­als in their cus­tody and their rep­re­sen­ta­tives are enti­tled to med­ical records. Free­dom for Immi­grants has iden­ti­fied licensed med­ical pro­fes­sion­als in the area who are will­ing to review the med­ical records.

State­ments:

“The men in Jena-LaSalle are on the brink of death. They would not have been forced to resort to a hunger strike if the con­di­tions of their deten­tion weren’t so bru­tal and they were released on bond. We are extreme­ly dis­turbed by the pat­terns of abuse we’ve been track­ing against South Asian asy­lum seek­ers in deten­tion since 2014. No one should have to go to such great lengths sim­ply to have their cas­es heard and to gain their free­dom. They should not be in deten­tion in the first place and the only legit­i­mate alter­na­tive is release,“ said Lak­sh­mi Sri­daran, Inter­im Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of SAALT.

“On a recent vis­it to the men on a hunger strike at LaSalle, I was ver­bal­ly told one man being force-fed had a blood pres­sure that was life-threat­en­ing­ly low. Because we do not have access to his med­ical record, it is impos­si­ble to ver­i­fy and ensure he is receiv­ing the nec­es­sary med­ical atten­tion. No one should be sub­ject to tor­ture for sim­ply seek­ing a bet­ter life for them­selves,” said Michelle Graf­feo, a vol­un­teer with a Free­dom for Immi­grants-affil­i­at­ed vis­i­ta­tion group in Louisiana.

“The grow­ing num­ber of hunger strikes in ICE pris­ons across the coun­try are no coin­ci­dence. It is indica­tive of com­plete dis­be­lief in a fair legal process and the lengths ICE is will­ing to go to indef­i­nite­ly detain them. Some of these men have been locked up for near­ly 2 years,. We are deeply con­cerned that ICE appears will­ing to let these men die in deten­tion to make an exam­ple of them rather than be released to com­mu­ni­ty, where each man has fam­i­ly or close friends will­ing to pro­vide hous­ing and sup­port,” said Sofia Casi­ni, south­ern region­al coor­di­na­tor at Free­dom for Immi­grants.

“These men are demand­ing free­dom after months in abu­sive ICE cus­tody. They are brave­ly protest­ing with the only mea­sure that they have con­trol over — their bod­ies, which even ICE is vio­lent­ly inter­fer­ing with through forced-hydra­tion and feed­ing. The answer here is clear and can be act­ed on imme­di­ate­ly: ICE must release these men from its cus­tody or risk respon­si­bil­i­ty for caus­ing pre­ventable deaths,” said Silky Shah, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of Deten­tion Watch Net­work.

Con­tact: sophia@saalt.org

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ICE initiates force-feeding process for South Asian asylum seekers on hunger strike

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Decem­ber 13, 2019

ICE agents are force-hydrat­ing at least five asy­lum seek­ers from India detained at Jena-LaSalle Deten­tion Facil­i­ty in Jena, Louisiana and force-feed­ing three South Asian men at the El Paso Pro­cess­ing Cen­ter in El Paso, Texas. The eight men have been on pro­longed hunger strike, some near­ing two months with­out eat­ing. 

The five men in Louisiana are being sub­ject­ed to forced hydra­tion, which is car­ried out by a team of five to six peo­ple who hold the per­son down while an IV is admin­is­tered. Local advo­cates say forced-hydra­tion began on Nov. 18 and that the men are expect­ed to face force-feed­ing by naso-gas­tric tube any day.

 All three men detained in El Paso, includ­ing one man who has been detained for near­ly three years, are cur­rent­ly being force-fed via naso-gas­tric tubes. 

Force-feed­ing, a prac­tice that has been denounced as tor­ture by the Unit­ed Nations, Physi­cians for Human Rights, the Amer­i­can Med­ical Asso­ci­a­tion, and the World Med­ical Asso­ci­a­tion, has been occur­ring in the El Paso facil­i­ty through­out the year. Since Jan­u­ary, local advo­cates report at least 16 peo­ple have been or are cur­rent­ly being sub­ject­ed to force-feed­ing prac­tices at that deten­tion facil­i­ty. All of them have been force-fed with tubes that are near­ly twice the size of the tubes denounced inter­na­tion­al­ly that were used in Guan­tanamo. Some of the men hunger strik­ing were deport­ed with­out a strict re-feed­ing pro­to­col, a process which accord­ing to Physi­cians for Human Rights, can lead to death. 

Mr. Singh (whose name has been changed to pro­tect his iden­ti­ty) is an Indi­an asy­lum seek­er cur­rent­ly in the Jena-LaSalle facil­i­ty who is flee­ing reli­gious per­se­cu­tion. In a writ­ten state­ment he said:

Since January 21st, 2019, I have been imprisoned inside four walls. For almost one year, I have been suffering. I have never in my entire life lived like this inside four walls nor am I accustomed to living in imprisonment. I do not know how long my asylum case will take, which is why I want to fight my case from outside this prison [...] I only have one demand: I want freedom and I want to fight my case from outside. 

Over 34,000 South Asian migrants have been appre­hend­ed at U.S. bor­ders since 2008. The num­ber of Indi­an migrants appre­hend­ed at the bor­der tripled from almost 3,000 in 2017 to near­ly 9,000 in 2018. SAALT and part­ners tracked a pat­tern of abuse towards South Asian migrants in deten­tion since 2014 that drove many to hunger strike includ­ing: inad­e­quate or non-exis­tent lan­guage access, denial of reli­gious accom­mo­da­tions, use of soli­tary con­fine­ment as a form of retal­i­a­tion, gross med­ical neglect, and high bond amounts result­ing in pro­longed deten­tion.

We are extremely disturbed by the patterns of abuse against South Asian asylum seekers in detention. No one should have to go to such great lengths simply to have their cases heard and to gain their freedom. They should not be in detention in the first place and the only legitimate alternative is release, said Lak­sh­mi Sri­daran, Inter­im Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of SAALT.

Full press release with coali­tion part­ners here.

Media con­tact: sophia@saalt.org

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