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. 

#ByeBan: SAALT Statement on the Rescission of the Muslim & African Bans

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.

SAALT staff and allies at a #NoMus­lim­Ban­Ev­er ral­ly out­side the Supreme Court of the Unit­ed States in April 2018.

Please reach out to sruti@saalt.org with any ques­tions or requests.

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.


SAALT Releases Report Mapping Impact of COVID-19 on South Asian American Communities

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Washington, DC., September 29, 2020: South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT) released the report Unequal Con­se­quences: The Dis­parate Impact of COVID-19 Across South Asian Amer­i­cans today, high­light­ing the urgent need for fun­ders and pol­i­cy mak­ers to gath­er accu­rate dis­ag­gre­gat­ed data on South Asian com­mu­ni­ties in the U.S. to be able to under­stand and respond to the needs that have emerged since the onset of the pan­dem­ic.

The report exam­ines areas of the U.S. with among the largest South Asians pop­u­la­tions includ­ing New York, Chicago, Houston, Atlanta, and the Bay Area and Central Valley in California and draws pri­mar­i­ly on inter­views with com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers who are mem­bers of the Nation­al Coali­tion of South Asian Orga­ni­za­tions (NCSO), a nation­al com­mu­ni­ty sur­vey, and media reports. SAALT also launched an inter­ac­tive map and video tes­ti­mo­ni­als to fur­ther high­light the impact of the pan­dem­ic on South Asians.

Key find­ings of the report include:

  • South Asian Americans who were already vulnerable have been most directly impacted by the pandemic - whether due to their immi­gra­tion sta­tus, their expe­ri­ences with domes­tic vio­lence, liv­ing with under­ly­ing health con­di­tions, or unsafe work­ing envi­ron­ments. Every inter­vie­wee shared that, as a result, com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers are expe­ri­enc­ing men­tal health chal­lenges.
  • Data on COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are currently incomplete as sta­tis­tics are under count­ed in South Asian Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties, often labeled as “oth­er Asian” or “unknown” race cat­e­gories. 
  • South Asians are at high risk if they contract COVID-19; they are four times more like­ly than the gen­er­al pop­u­la­tion of hav­ing heart dis­ease or dia­betes, putting them at greater risk of coro­n­avirus-caused death. Oth­er com­pound­ing risk fac­tors include mul­ti-gen­er­a­tional hous­ing, lack of lan­guage acces­si­ble pub­lic health mate­ri­als and gov­ern­ment resources, and insuf­fi­cient pro­tec­tions based on employ­ment or immi­gra­tion sta­tus. 
  • Every survivor-support organization SAALT interviewed explicitly named a drastic increase in gender-based domestic violence.
  •  Government agencies have neglected to provide Limited English Proficient (LEP) community members with culturally appropriate services and language accessible information, imped­ing access to gov­ern­ment ser­vices and relief funds.
  • 85% of respondents to SAALT’s community survey are worried about immigration - specif­i­cal­ly being able to trav­el out­side of the U.S., as well as anx­i­ety over recent exec­u­tive orders tar­get­ing green cards, H‑1B work visas, and stu­dent visas.
  • South Asian American community organizations are filling in the gaps in access to health, food, hous­ing, and employ­ment as a rem­e­dy to fail­ing gov­ern­ment social infra­struc­ture. 

Lak­sh­mi Sri­daran, SAALT’s Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, said “One of the most impor­tant lessons from water­shed moments of cri­sis, like 9/11, the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, and now the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic, is that South Asian Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties have deeply divid­ed expe­ri­ences. The South Asian pop­u­la­tions in the U.S. who were pri­mar­i­ly tar­get­ed after 9/11, most impact­ed by this Admin­is­tra­tion’s racist poli­cies, and most vul­ner­a­ble to COVID-19 are also the pop­u­la­tions most mar­gin­al­ized with­in our own com­mu­ni­ties because of immi­gra­tion sta­tus, class, caste, reli­gion, and LGBT + iden­ti­ty. While devel­op­ing a shared nar­ra­tive across these dif­fer­ences is valu­able for build­ing col­lec­tive pow­er, only by cen­ter­ing the expe­ri­ences of these pop­u­la­tions do we tru­ly under­stand the mag­ni­tude and range of impact of these crises.”

September 11, 2020

19 years ago today, 3,000 peo­ple were killed on Sep­tem­ber 11, 2001. Our gov­ern­men­t’s response known as the “War on Ter­ror,” has cost more than 500,000 lives world­wide. This num­ber does not even include the lives lost to inter­per­son­al hate vio­lence ignit­ed by this state vio­lence.

Four days after 9/11, Bal­bir Singh Sod­hi, a Sikh busi­ness own­er, was plant­i­ng flow­ers out­side of his gas sta­tion in Mesa, Ari­zona when he was shot and killed. We lat­er learned that his shoot­er had report­ed­ly told a wait­ress at Apple­beesI’m going to go out and shoot some tow­el heads,” and “We should kill their chil­dren, too, because they’ll grow up to be like their par­ents.”

This was the first of 645 inci­dents of vio­lent back­lash aimed at South Asian, Mus­lim, Sikh, Hin­du, Mid­dle East­ern, and Arab Amer­i­cans in the first week after 9/11.

Inci­dents of hate vio­lence tar­get­ing our com­mu­ni­ties have con­tin­ued unabat­ed since since 9/11. SAALT has tracked 679 inci­dents since 2015 alone. Today we renew our com­mit­ment to fight­ing the deeply entrenched fed­er­al poli­cies that emerged from the “War on Ter­ror,” includ­ing the cur­rent Mus­lim Ban.

In those ear­ly days fol­low­ing 9/11, we didn’t stand by and watch as our com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers were harassed, tar­get­ed, and sur­veilled by the gov­ern­ment. We came togeth­er, raised our voic­es, and demon­strat­ed our pow­er. Out of that moment came the cre­ation of the Nation­al Coali­tion of South Asian Orga­ni­za­tions, the Nation­al South Asian Sum­mit, and the Young Lead­ers Insti­tute and long stand­ing coali­tion part­ner­ships work­ing toward sig­nif­i­cant pol­i­cy wins like the end of the 2002 Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Entry-Exit Reg­is­tra­tion Sys­tem (NSEERS) pro­gram all the way to the recent House pas­sage of the NO BAN Act

In the midst of this cur­rent pub­lic health tragedy that has dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly impact­ed Black and brown com­mu­ni­ties and has led to the death of near­ly 200,000 peo­ple in the U.S., we’ve simul­ta­ne­ous­ly seen a dra­mat­ic rise in COVID-relat­ed hate vio­lence attacks tar­get­ing Asian Amer­i­cans. In SAALT’s forth­com­ing COVID-19 report, we mark the dif­fer­ent forms of hate vio­lence, once again ignit­ed by our gov­ern­ment since the pan­dem­ic, which you can pre­view here.

This cur­rent cri­sis, like all crises, has rein­forced that we don’t all expe­ri­ence moments of cri­sis equal­ly. Depend­ing on class, immi­gra­tion sta­tus, caste, reli­gious or eth­nic back­ground, South Asians are tar­get­ed at dif­fer­ent scales and mag­ni­tudes. At SAALT we’re ded­i­cat­ed to acknowl­edg­ing these dis­parate expe­ri­ences, but also what unites us across com­mu­ni­ties. Ear­li­er this month in Irv­ing, Texas, a South Asian fam­i­ly received hate mail say­ing if Indi­an and Chi­nese immi­grants don’t stop tak­ing Amer­i­can jobs, “we will have no choice but to shoot mer­ci­less­ly immi­grants of Chi­nese and Indi­an descent…” White suprema­cists don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly dis­tin­guish with­in our com­mu­ni­ties with the same effi­cien­cy as our gov­ern­ment, which is why build­ing col­lec­tive pow­er is so crit­i­cal.

On this anniver­sary, we hon­or all the lives destroyed by hate vio­lence and state vio­lence, and ask you to join us in fight­ing racism and white suprema­cy in all its man­i­fes­ta­tions.

Learn about the impact of 9/11 on South Asian Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties by…
- Fol­low­ing the ways in which post‑9/11 poli­cies have changed over the decades, and SAALT’s chang­ing advo­ca­cy in response.
- Watch­ing “Rais­ing our Voic­es”, a doc­u­men­tary about post‑9/11 xeno­pho­bic back­lash.
- Read­ing our month­ly hate reports.

Take a stand against hate vio­lence by…
- Par­tic­i­pat­ing in bystander train­ing.
- Learn­ing about abo­li­tion and strate­gies to com­bat vio­lence that do not involve police.

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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