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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FBI Releases 2018 Hate Crimes Report: Hate in the U.S. is getting deadlier

Novem­ber 12, 2019

Wash­ing­ton, D.C.: The Fed­er­al Bureau of Inves­ti­ga­tion (FBI) released its annu­al hate crimes report for 2018 ear­ly this morn­ing. The report doc­u­ment­ed 7,120 hate inci­dents in 2018, down slight­ly from 7,175 in 2017. Despite the minor decrease, hate vio­lence was more dead­ly and vio­lent than it has been since the surge of vio­lence against com­mu­ni­ties after the Sep­tem­ber 11th attacks in 2001.

Major find­ings of the report:

  • 2018 was the deadliest and most violent year for hate since 2001. There were 24 hate crime relat­ed deaths and 3,099 vio­lent crime offens­es in 2018.
  • Hate crimes towards Sikhs in the U.S. TRIPLED from 20 inci­dents in 2017 to 60 inci­dents in 2018.
  • There were 82 Anti-Arab hate crimes recorded in 2018 -  the second-highest total since the FBI added an anti-Arab category in 2015.
  • There were 188 anti-Muslim hate crimes recorded, down slight­ly from last year but the fifth-highest total on record.
  • There were 14 anti-Hindu hate crimes record­ed in 2018 — down from 15 in 2017.
  • Of the known offenders, over 50% identified as white​ 

Data col­lec­tion and under­re­port­ing of hate vio­lence remains a sig­nif­i­cant prob­lem. The Fed­er­al Bureau of Jus­tice Sta­tis­tics reports an aver­age of 250,000 hate crimes every year in the U.S. That’s 35 times more than what the FBI doc­u­ment­ed in 2018. Only 13% of the over 16,000 par­tic­i­pat­ing law enforce­ment agen­cies report­ed any hate crimes in their juris­dic­tions. Dis­turbing­ly, the mur­ders of Khalid Jabara, Srini­vas Kuchib­hot­la, and Heather Hey­er in 2016 and 2017, like so many oth­er hate crimes, have not been includ­ed in offi­cial FBI sta­tis­tics. The vast major­i­ty of crimes are going unre­port­ed.

And as we saw in 2017, white suprema­cy con­tin­ues to be a pri­ma­ry moti­va­tion behind hate vio­lence in the US. In both 2017 and 2018, over 50% of known offend­ers of report­ed hate crimes iden­ti­fied as white.

Of the over 500 inci­dents of hate vio­lence tar­get­ing South Asians, Mus­lims, Sikhs, Hin­dus, Mid­dle East­ern, and Arab Amer­i­cans thatSAALT has doc­u­ment­ed since Novem­ber 2016, at least 80% have been moti­vat­ed by anti-Mus­lim sen­ti­ment. In SAALT’s 2018 report “Com­mu­ni­ties on Fire,” one in every five per­pe­tra­tors of hate vio­lence ref­er­enced Pres­i­dent Trump, a Trump admin­is­tra­tion pol­i­cy, or Trump cam­paign slo­gan.

White suprema­cist vio­lence, fanned by the flames of racist rhetoric and poli­cies at the fed­er­al lev­el like the Mus­lim Ban and fam­i­ly sep­a­ra­tion, con­tin­ues to dev­as­tate Black and brown com­mu­ni­ties. Anti-Black hate crimes account­ed for more than 25% of vio­lent hate crimes report­ed in 2018 and the major­i­ty of inci­dents moti­vat­ed by race.

The cur­rent Admin­is­tra­tion con­tin­ues to pro­mote rather than address the root caus­es of this vio­lence. Com­pre­hen­sive data col­lec­tion is a crit­i­cal com­po­nent of doc­u­ment­ing the prob­lem, but acknowl­edg­ing and active­ly com­bat­ing white suprema­cy is the most impor­tant step to ensur­ing this vio­lence does­n’t con­tin­ue to wreak hav­oc on peo­ple’s lives.

Con­tact: sophia@saalt.org

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SAALT Statement on 18th Anniversary of 9/11 Attacks

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Sep­tem­ber 11, 2019 

Today, 18 years after Sep­tem­ber 11, 2001, we mourn the lives lost that day, and the thou­sands who were and con­tin­ue to be vio­lent­ly tar­get­ed in the ensu­ing “War on Ter­ror.”

Just 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 Apple­bees “I’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 just that first week after 9/11.

Over the last two decades, the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment has enact­ed poli­cies repeat­ed­ly jus­ti­fy­ing the racial pro­fil­ing of South Asian, Mus­lim, and Arab Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties and those racial­ized as such. This includes the very cre­ation of the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty, the Patri­ot Act, the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Entry-Exit Reg­is­tra­tion Sys­tem, Coun­ter­ing Vio­lent Extrem­ism, and the Mus­lim Ban to name a few.  These state sanc­tioned poli­cies were his­tor­i­cal­ly per­fect­ed on the backs of oth­er com­mu­ni­ties of col­or, and we can­not sep­a­rate them from the con­tin­ued vio­lence our com­mu­ni­ties face from orga­nized white suprema­cist action. 

Ear­li­er this year, a white suprema­cist killed 51 peo­ple at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. Just last month, a white suprema­cist shot and killed 22 peo­ple in a Wal­mart shop­ping cen­ter in El Paso, Texas. SAALT has doc­u­ment­ed over 500 acts of hate vio­lence tar­get­ing our com­mu­ni­ties and over 270 instances of xeno­pho­bic polit­i­cal rhetoric since Novem­ber 2016 alone.

Despite the par­al­lel efforts to ban, deport, crim­i­nal­ize, and tar­get our com­mu­ni­ties with vio­lence, we still have oppor­tu­ni­ties to reclaim our pow­er:

  • Demand that your Mem­ber of Con­gress REJECT the cre­ation of NEW domes­tic ter­ror­ism charges to fight white suprema­cy. This would only serve to fur­ther harm com­mu­ni­ties of col­or who have always been the tar­gets of such poli­cies.  
  • Join the fight to repeal the Mus­lim Ban by sup­port­ing the No Mus­lim Ban Ever cam­paign and DEMAND Con­gress to pass the NO BAN Act. Stay tuned for more infor­ma­tion on the Sep­tem­ber 24th Con­gres­sion­al hear­ing on the Mus­lim Ban.
  • URGE your Mem­ber of Con­gress to sup­port the Khalid Jabara Heather Hey­er NO HATE Act, a com­pre­hen­sive bill that pro­motes more accu­rate hate crimes data col­lec­tion and would pro­vide sup­port for hate crime vic­tims and their fam­i­lies. It is named in hon­or of two recent vic­tims of hate crimes, whose deaths were omit­ted from the FBI hate crimes sta­tis­tics.

Con­tact: sophia@saalt.org

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Remembering Oak Creek and all Survivors of Hate Violence

August 5, 2019 

On this day exact­ly sev­en years ago, a known white suprema­cist opened fire with a 9 mil­lime­ter semi­au­to­mat­ic hand­gun in the Oak Creek, WI gur­d­wara, and killed six peo­ple. We are still mourn­ing the dev­as­tat­ing impact of this vio­lence today. Just this week­end, white male shoot­ers claimed 31 lives in El Paso, TX and Day­ton, OH. The El Paso shoot­er pub­lished an online man­i­festo inspired by the mass mur­der of Mus­lims in Christchurch, New Zealand and echo­ing the Trump Administration’s dai­ly onslaught of racist rhetoric and pol­i­cy.    

There were 2,009 hate crimes in 30 of the coun­try’s largest cities in 2018 — the high­est num­ber in the past decade. Last year marked the 5th con­sec­u­tive increase in hate crimes, the steep­est rise since 2015, accord­ing to police data ana­lyzed by the Cen­ter for the Study of Hate & Extrem­ism at Cal­i­for­nia State Uni­ver­si­ty, San Bernardi­no.

State­ments and repeat­ed con­dem­na­tions are not enough.  White suprema­cist vio­lence is killing peo­ple of col­or and immi­grants. Any elect­ed offi­cial refus­ing to acknowl­edge this prob­lem and con­sid­er leg­is­la­tion that con­fronts this vio­lence is com­plic­it. We demand our elect­ed offi­cials and law enforce­ment agen­cies track the threat of orga­nized white suprema­cy as a sys­temic issue and that they address the root caus­es of hate vio­lence. We refuse to view these as iso­lat­ed inci­dents and will con­tin­ue work­ing to dis­man­tle all sys­tems that per­pet­u­ate this vio­lence, fueled by the ille­git­i­mate white suprema­cist claim to our nation’s stolen land.

We send love to our Sikh fam­i­ly and all sur­vivors of hate on this extreme­ly dif­fi­cult day and for­ti­fy our com­mit­ment to “Char­di Kala” as we fight for jus­tice.

Here’s what you can do today to sup­port sur­vivors of hate: 

*Donate to help sur­vivors and fam­i­lies of vic­tims. The El Paso Com­mu­ni­ty Foun­da­tion is accept­ing dona­tions here.

*Offer sup­port local­ly in El Paso here.

*Con­nect with orga­ni­za­tions like Hope Bor­der Insti­tute (@HopeBorder) and NM Comu­nidades en Acción y de Fé (@OrganizeNM) who are offer­ing resources and orga­niz­ing vig­ils for sur­vivors who can­not seek med­ical treat­ment due to fear of being tar­get­ed by immi­gra­tion author­i­ties. 

* Write a let­ter to the edi­tor or essay in your local news­pa­per about ongo­ing hate vio­lence and how it affects us all

* Send a mes­sage of sup­port to the Oak Creek Gur­d­wara

* Con­tact your pub­lic offi­cial and ask them to sup­port the Khalid Jabara & Heather Hey­er NO HATE ACT

#ElPa­soStrong #Remem­berOakCreek

SAALT Joins Allies in Demanding NYPD Investigate attack on Hindu Priest as a Hate Crime

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 22, 2019

SAALT joins Sad­hana, CAIR, and faith based allies in call­ing for the NYPD to inves­ti­gate the attack on Swa­mi Ji Har­ish Chan­der Puri in Queens, NY  as a hate crime.  

Swa­mi Ji Har­ish Chan­der Puri was walk­ing down the street wear­ing his tra­di­tion­al reli­gious clothes in Glen Oaks, Queens not far from the Shiv Shak­ti Peeth tem­ple around 11am last Thurs­day.  A man came up from behind him and start­ed beat­ing him.  

Eye­wit­ness­es say the attack­er shout­ed “this is my neigh­bor­hood,” dur­ing the inci­dent. 

Puri had to be rushed to the hos­pi­tal because of his injuries.  

This inci­dent hap­pened just days after Pres­i­dent Trump tweet­ed about the four women of col­or Con­gress­women known as “the Squad”:  “Why don’t they go back and help fix the total­ly bro­ken and crime infest­ed places from which they came. ” Just days after that, crowds chant­ed “send her back” about Con­gress­woman Ilhan Omar at a Trump ral­ly in North Car­oli­na.

“There will be no end to hate vio­lence unless we dis­rupt and dis­man­tle the racist nar­ra­tives and poli­cies lead­ing to this vio­lence. This should start from the top, but instead the high­est lev­els of gov­ern­ment are encour­ag­ing this vio­lence,” said Lak­sh­mi Sri­daran, SAALT’s Inter­im Co-Exec­u­tive Direc­tor.

Racist polit­i­cal rhetoric from this admin­is­tra­tion is dan­ger­ous. It has a direct impact on com­mu­ni­ties of col­or across the coun­try. SAALT’s Com­mu­ni­ties on Fire report found that one in 5 per­pe­tra­tors of hate vio­lence in the year after Pres­i­dent Trump was elect­ed cit­ed Trump’s name, a Trump cam­paign slo­gan, or a Trump admin­is­tra­tion pol­i­cy while com­mit­ting the act of vio­lence.

Con­tact: sophia@saalt.org

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Update on South Asian restaurant workers detained by ICE

July 11, 2019

Wash­ing­ton, D.C.: A com­mu­ni­ty mem­ber reached out to SAALT last week alert­ing staff that sev­er­al South Asian restau­rant employ­ees had been detained by ICE and tak­en to the Mont­gomery Coun­ty Cor­rec­tion­al Facil­i­ty the week before.  

Giv­en that the Trump Admin­is­tra­tion has announced immi­nent raids, SAALT issued a com­mu­ni­ty alert to pre­pare our com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers for future ICE raids in the com­ing days or weeks. 

Over 500 peo­ple respond­ed to the alert, vol­un­teer­ing to help com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers pre­pare by offer­ing to assist with legal mat­ters, pro­vide lan­guage sup­port, and to dis­trib­ute Know Your Rights mate­ri­als  in DC.

A com­mu­ni­ty mem­ber pro­vid­ing direct sup­port to the detained South Asian restau­rant employ­ees reached out to SAALT and said, “Two weeks ago, nine South Asian restau­rant work­ers were detained by ICE at the Mont­gomery Coun­ty Cor­rec­tion­al Facil­i­ty. Four were released the same day and the remain­ing five indi­vid­u­als were released at a lat­er date.” 

South Asians are increas­ing­ly impact­ed direct­ly by the Trump Admin­is­tra­tion’s anti-immi­grant poli­cies and SAALT strives to pro­tect and defend our com­mu­ni­ties by exam­in­ing and doc­u­ment­ing the impact of these poli­cies, cre­at­ing edu­ca­tion­al resources, and mak­ing pol­i­cy rec­om­men­da­tions. 

There are over 600,000 undoc­u­ment­ed Indi­ans alone in the U.S. Between fis­cal year 2015 to 2018, ICE arrest­ed over 2,000 Indi­an and Pak­istani migrants alone with­in the inte­ri­or of the Unit­ed States. The num­ber of Indi­an migrants appre­hend­ed along the South­ern bor­der tripled from fis­cal year 2017 to 2018Between Octo­ber 2014 and April 2018, Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion (CBP) arrest­ed over 17,000 South Asians.  South Asians go on to expe­ri­ence civ­il rights vio­la­tions and human rights abus­es in deten­tion facil­i­ties and court rooms at the inter­sec­tions of racism, islam­o­pho­bia, and anti-immi­grant sen­ti­ment. 

SAALT will con­tin­ue to work to pro­tect and defend South Asian com­mu­ni­ties in the US, espe­cial­ly at a time when immi­grants are being tar­get­ed, whether at their work­places, homes, restau­rants, hotels, or along the bor­der.

Restau­rant Oppor­tu­ni­ty Cen­ter (ROC-DC), a restau­rant work­ers’ rights orga­ni­za­tion, issued this state­ment, in response to the alert about the detained South Asian restau­rant employ­ees: 

ICE raids are a seri­ous issue for immi­grant work­ers all of the time but are espe­cial­ly preva­lent in light of the most recent threats. There have already been mul­ti­ple cas­es of ICE activ­i­ty in our DC com­mu­ni­ties and that activ­i­ty specif­i­cal­ly tar­gets restau­rants and restau­rant work­ers. Right now we need to come togeth­er as work­ers, employ­ers and com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers in DC to edu­cate our­selves on our rights so that we are able to pro­tect our­selves and each oth­er in our work­places, the streets and in our homes.

We do not want to cre­ate a cul­ture of fear around these issues but instead empow­er peo­ple to know what their rights are and who their com­mu­ni­ty is that is here to sup­port them. ROC DC has been work­ing with mul­ti­ple oth­er com­mu­ni­ty orga­ni­za­tions to pro­vide know your rights mate­ri­als & train­ings to work­ers and employ­ers in DC in prepa­ra­tion for any raids. We must con­tin­ue to band togeth­er and fight back the racist attacks that seek to tear apart our com­mu­ni­ties and fam­i­lies.

Con­tact: Sophia@saalt.org 

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SAALT Welcomes Khalid Jabara and Heather Heyer NO HATE Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

June 27, 2019 

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  SAALT wel­comes Sen­a­tor Richard Blu­men­thal (D‑CT) and Sen­a­tor Dick Durbin’s (D‑IL)  intro­duc­tion of the Khalid Jabara and Heather Hey­er NO HATE Act.  Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Don­ald Bey­er (D‑VA) and Pete Olson (R‑TX) intro­duced the com­pan­ion bill in the House. The bill — which pro­motes more accu­rate hate crimes data col­lec­tion and would pro­vide sup­port for hate crime vic­tims and their fam­i­lies — marks a major step in hate crimes leg­is­la­tion. 

Khalid Jabara was killed on his doorstep in Tul­sa, Okla­homa on August 12, 2016. One year lat­er, on the same day, Heather Hey­er was killed dur­ing a protest in Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia. Both deaths were pros­e­cut­ed as hate crimes, yet nei­ther were report­ed in offi­cial FBI hate crimes sta­tis­tics. Both killings were moti­vat­ed by white suprema­cy.  

A coali­tion of com­mu­ni­ty and civ­il rights orga­ni­za­tions have been work­ing close­ly with Khalid and Heather’s fam­i­lies to ensure that fam­i­lies do not have to endure the same pain they have endured.  The first step to achiev­ing this is under­stand­ing the sys­temic under­pin­nings of hate vio­lence and insti­tut­ing more effec­tive ways to man­date hate crime data col­lec­tion. Every lev­el of gov­ern­ment must be held account­able for address­ing the spike in hate vio­lence aimed at our com­mu­ni­ties. The Khalid Jabara and Heather Hey­er NO HATE Act can play an instru­men­tal role in lay­ing this ground­work,” said Lak­sh­mi Sri­daran, Inter­im Co-Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT).  

SAALT has doc­u­ment­ed over 484 inci­dents of hate vio­lence against South Asian, Mus­lim, Sikh, Hin­du, Mid­dle East­ern, and Arab Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties around the coun­try since  Novem­ber 2015.  Read the lat­est hate report here

CONTACT: sophia@saalt.org

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Supreme Court Rules Against Citizenship Question on 2020 Census

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

June 27, 2019 

Wash­ing­ton, D.C. : The Supreme Court of the Unit­ed States ruled 5–4 today against the addi­tion of the cit­i­zen­ship ques­tion on the 2020 Cen­sus, uphold­ing a low­er court’s deci­sion. Chief Jus­tice Roberts asked the Com­merce Depart­ment for fur­ther expla­na­tion of the jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for the ques­tion, say­ing the Trump Administration’s rea­sons for it were “con­trived.” Today’s rul­ing will effec­tive­ly block the ques­tion from being added for now, and giv­en the short time frame before cen­sus forms must be print­ed, the Com­merce Depart­ment must no longer waste time jus­ti­fy­ing this dan­ger­ous ques­tion.

“This is a vic­to­ry, but it should nev­er have come this far. The loom­ing threat of a cit­i­zen­ship ques­tion on the 2020 Cen­sus has already posed a chill­ing effect among immi­grant and com­mu­ni­ties of col­or who are increas­ing­ly being deport­ed, denat­u­ral­ized, and dis­en­fran­chised by this admin­is­tra­tion. Thank­ful­ly, in this instance, the Trump Administration’s tac­tics have been exposed and reject­ed. The Com­merce Depart­ment must respect the Supreme Court’s deci­sion and allow the Cen­sus Bureau to spend their lim­it­ed time and resources prepar­ing for a 2020 Cen­sus with­out the cit­i­zen­ship ques­tion. We will work to ensure our com­mu­ni­ties’ pow­er is rec­og­nized by ensur­ing that every per­son regard­less of their sta­tus is count­ed and no one is left behind in the 2020 Cen­sus,” said Lak­sh­mi Sri­daran, Inter­im Co-Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of SAALT.

SAALT’s lat­est South Asian demo­graph­ic snap­shotfound that the South Asian pop­u­la­tion in the U.S. grew a stag­ger­ing 40% in sev­en years, from 3.5 mil­lion in 2010 to 5.4 mil­lion in 2017.

The pur­pose of the Cen­sus is sim­ple: to lit­er­al­ly count each per­son liv­ing in the U.S. That count deter­mines more than $800 bil­lion in fed­er­al fund­ing to states for edu­ca­tion, infra­struc­ture, hos­pi­tals, parks, pub­lic ben­e­fits, and so much more. A full count ensures that our rapid­ly grow­ing and chang­ing com­mu­ni­ties are rep­re­sent­ed and receive our fair share of pub­lic pro­grams like Med­ic­aid, school lunch­es, and pro­grams for seniors.

Cen­sus Resource: https://www.countusin2020.org/resources

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SAALT Marks One Year Anniversary of Supreme Court Ruling Upholding the Muslim Ban

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 26, 2019

Wash­ing­ton, D.C.: On June 26, 2018, the Supreme Court of the Unit­ed States ruled in favor of uphold­ing the Mus­lim Ban, mak­ing it both legal and indef­i­nite. Since the incep­tion of the Mus­lim Ban, count­less fam­i­lies have been sep­a­rat­ed, indi­vid­u­als have been denied crit­i­cal med­ical treat­ment, fam­i­ly mem­bers have been unable to attend wed­dings, funer­als, births; and many more have had no choice but to turn down oppor­tu­ni­ties of the so-called Amer­i­can dream. 

There is no human­i­ty in the Mus­lim Ban, despite the Trump Administration’s asser­tion that waivers are grant­ed in cas­es of undue hard­ship. The waiv­er process itself is a sham.  Only 5.1 per­cent of waivers request­ed are grant­ed. The process to obtain a waiv­er and the way in which waiv­er requests are eval­u­at­ed, is extreme­ly opaque, even after numer­ous FOIA requests on the pal­try num­bers of waivers that have been grant­ed. 

The Mus­lim Ban is hurt­ing familes both in the U.S. and abroad. It is a fun­da­men­tal part of our nation’s vio­lent envi­ron­ment where fam­i­lies are rou­tine­ly sep­a­rat­ed at the U.S. Mex­i­co bor­der and white suprema­cist hate vio­lence thrives. Just this month, the body of six-year old Gurupreet Kaur was found in the Ari­zona desert, one mile from the near­est port of entry, where she and her moth­er were part of a group of migrants seek­ing asy­lum. As SAALT doc­u­ment­ed in its Com­mu­ni­ties on Fire report, 1 out of every 5 per­pe­tra­tors of hate vio­lence inci­dents ref­er­enced Pres­i­dent Trump, a Trump Admin­is­tra­tion pol­i­cy or a Trump cam­paign slo­gan while com­mit­ting the act of vio­lence. Since Novem­ber 2016, SAALT has doc­u­ment­ed over 484 inci­dents of hate vio­lence and over 252 inci­dents of xeno­pho­bic rhetoric aimed at South Asian, Mus­lim, Sikh, Hin­du, Mid­dle East­ern and Arab com­mu­nites around the coun­try. 

It’s increas­ing­ly clear that our com­mu­ni­ties can­not rely on the Exec­u­tive or Judi­cial branch­es of our fed­er­al gov­ern­ment to pro­tect our rights. But, Con­gress has the pow­er to ter­mi­nate this racist and vio­lent pol­i­cy and has recent­ly intro­duced leg­is­la­tion that would cur­tail exec­u­tive author­i­ty for this and future bans.

Call your Mem­ber of Con­gress today (House: 202–225-3121, Sen­ate: 202–224-3121)  and urge them to cospon­sor the NO BAN Act (HR 2214/S1123), which will end this cru­el pol­i­cy and amend the Immi­gra­tion and Nation­al­i­ty Act (INA) to ensure that no com­mu­ni­ty can ever be tar­get­ed for their reli­gion with­out account­abil­i­ty.

Con­tact: sophia@saalt.org

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