SAALT Demands An Action Plan That Protects All Afghans

This week’s news revolves around two truths: Our Afghan com­mu­ni­ties, both here in the U.S. and in Afghanistan, are in dire need of imme­di­ate and sus­tained sup­port that ensures their and their loved ones’ safe­ty in a time of cri­sis – and the Biden administration’s cur­rent rushed with­draw­al plan from Kab­ul has com­pro­mised this. 

As fam­i­lies and indi­vid­u­als leave Afghanistan, many are land­ing in our inhu­mane deten­tion cen­ters along­side the grow­ing num­ber of Hait­ian refugees, and addi­tion­al­ly fac­ing the numer­ous and entrenched injus­tices of this cru­el sys­tem. 

What is most unfor­tu­nate is that our Afghan sib­lings could have expe­ri­enced far less harm, had the evac­u­a­tion process begun ear­li­er – whether it was on May 6, when refugee rights advo­ca­cy groups (includ­ing Human Rights First, the Inter­na­tion­al Refugee Assis­tance Project, No One Left Behind, and the Luther­an Immi­gra­tion and Refugee Ser­vice) met with White House offi­cials and called for a mass evac­u­a­tion plan that did not rely on a severe­ly back­logged SIV pro­gram, or lat­er on June 24th, when Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Seth Moul­ton unveiled a detailed evac­u­a­tion plan to ensure safe­ty for over 17,000 Afghans to Guam. 

As a coun­try with the resources to sup­port evac­u­a­tion and evac­uees, we can and must move now to mit­i­gate harm. Most impor­tant­ly, this is com­pound­ed by the truth that our inter­ven­tion and con­tin­ued pres­ence in Afghanistan, dri­ven fore­most by the desire to uphold U.S. occu­pa­tion, has desta­bi­lized the coun­try and direct­ly put Afghans at fur­ther risk. As such, we have the respon­si­bil­i­ty to change our course of action. 

If we want to ensure the end of a long, violent, and terrible war, we must move with an unwavering commitment to human rights. We at SAALT, following the leadership of Afghan community members and allies in the Evacuate Our Allies coalition, are calling on President Biden to prioritize safe for all Afghans by:

  • Keeping the Kabul airport open for as long as necessary, and allowing military, charter, and commercial airflight.
  • Working with the Department of Defense and the State Department to ensure safe passage for Afghans to and through the airport, and onto flights.
  • Putting out a call for individuals certified for consular services, while continuing consular processing.
  • Providing necessary information to evacuees in as many culturally-relevant languages as possible, including Dari, Pashto, Urdu, and Arabic.
  • Centering the evacuation of vulnerable populations, including refugees, SIV applicants and their families, immigrant visa applicants and their family members (beyond spouses and minor children), P2 referrals, Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs), women’s rights activists and other human rights defenders, religious minorities, women, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and other marginalized groups.
  • Expedite the processing of visas for all of the populations listed above and waive all associated fees.
  • Ensure safe arrival of Afghans in the U.S. by facilitating humanitarian parole using DHS parole authority – whether at ports-of-entry or in advance.

As we approach the 20th anniver­sary of 9/11, the news may right­ful­ly focus on the U.S.’s impe­r­i­al his­to­ry and haste of this war, but what Pres­i­dent Biden does today and tomor­row can ensure that next week’s news also speaks to our nation’s will­ing­ness to rec­og­nize the con­se­quences of this “War on Ter­ror” and the cost that our South Asian, Mus­lim, Sikh, and Arab com­mu­ni­ties have paid as a result both here and abroad, and active­ly work to dis­man­tle the racism and mil­i­tarism baked into all sys­tems of our fed­er­al gov­ern­ment.

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.