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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House Passes Historic Dream and Promise Act

We’re tak­ing a moment today to pause and cel­e­brate what just hap­pened.

After years of immi­grant jus­tice orga­niz­ing by a broad coali­tion of com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers, allies and part­ners, elect­ed offi­cials have lis­tened.

The House vot­ed last night to pass the Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6), which offers per­ma­nent pro­tec­tions and a path­way to cit­i­zen­ship for over two mil­lion peo­ple. The bill passed the House yes­ter­day with no addi­tion­al anti-immi­grant amend­ments.

H.R. 6 will have a direct impact on the lives of peo­ple who came to the U.S. as chil­dren — Deferred Action for Child­hood Arrivals (DACA) recip­i­ents. It will make a dif­fer­ence in the lives of peo­ple who came to the U.S. because their coun­tries were rav­aged by war, dis­as­ter, or U.S. inter­ven­tion — those with Tem­po­rary Pro­tect­ed Sta­tus (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Depar­ture (DED).

In our com­mu­ni­ties alone, there are over 15,000 Nepalis with TPS and 4,500 South Asians with DACA sta­tus.

H.R. 6  will give them the abil­i­ty to plan a future for them­selves.

The road ahead isn’t easy. We are dis­turbed that this vic­to­ry in the House includ­ed long debates across both par­ties on the use of deeply flawed gang data­bas­es and unjust crim­i­nal con­vic­tions to deny pro­tec­tions to some immi­grants. Ulti­mate­ly, the tire­less polit­i­cal edu­ca­tion of Mem­bers on the part of advo­cates ensured that the bill passed the House with no harm­ful addi­tions. But, our work ahead will be to stop Con­gress from fund­ing this administration’s depor­ta­tion machine.

Before H.R. 6 becomes law, the Sen­ate must vote to pass H.R. 6 and Pres­i­dent Trump must sign it into law. We com­mit to ramp­ing up the pres­sure on our elect­ed offi­cials.  

Lak­sh­mi Sri­daran, Inter­im Co-Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of SAALT said, “ The Dream and Promise Act passed the House with­out addi­tion­al anti-immi­grant con­ces­sions.  This is the first step in bring­ing an end to this administration’s racist and xeno­pho­bic poli­cies and lay­ing a foun­da­tion for immi­grant jus­tice in fed­er­al pol­i­cy. When we refuse to com­pro­mise our val­ues, we keep the bar high­er and set the stan­dard for change. This must be the new path for­ward for addi­tion­al leg­is­la­tion and mea­sures to defund depor­ta­tion and restore pro­tec­tions for all immi­grant and com­mu­ni­ties of col­or.”

Con­tact: sophia@saalt.org

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ACTION ALERT: URGE CONGRESS TO PASS THE DREAM AND PROMISE ACT WITH NO HARMFUL ANTI-IMMIGRANT AMENDMENTS

June 3, 2019

Last month’s pas­sage of the Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6) by the House Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee is a his­toric mile­stone in the fight for immi­grant rights. It is sched­uled for a full floor vote in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives tomor­row, June 4th.

The Dream and Promise Act offers a path­way to cit­i­zen­ship for thou­sands of our com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers who are Deferred Action for Child­hood Arrivals (DACA) recip­i­ents and Tem­po­rary Pro­tect­ed Sta­tus (TPS) hold­ers.

As this his­toric leg­is­la­tion goes to the House, we need YOU to urge law­mak­ers to both sup­port this leg­is­la­tion, which would pro­vide per­ma­nent pro­tec­tions and a path­way to cit­i­zen­ship for over two mil­lion immi­grants, and reject any anti-immi­grant amend­ments or changes to the bill.

Please take a moment to call your Mem­ber of Con­gress and urge them to pass the Dream and Promise Act with NO harm­ful anti-immi­grant amend­ments.

There are over 15,000 Nepalis with TPS whose pro­tec­tion from depor­ta­tion will expire on June 24, 2019. NCSO mem­ber orga­ni­za­tion, Adhikaar has been lead­ing the fight to ensure that the thou­sands of Nepalis on TPS would be able to remain here in the U.S. with their fam­i­lies, rather than being deport­ed at the end of this month.

Over 4,500 South Asians in the U.S. are active DACA recip­i­ents (2,550 Indi­an recip­i­ents, 1,300 Pak­istani recip­i­ents, 470 Bangladeshi recip­i­ents, and 120 Sri Lankan recip­i­ents). The Dream and Promise Act would give them a per­ma­nent path to cit­i­zen­ship and access to in-state tuition and fed­er­al finan­cial aid.

It is crit­i­cal that law­mak­ers vote against any anti-immi­grant changes to the bill, regard­less of their sub­stance, includ­ing any addi­tion­al fund­ing for ICE and CBP as well as any fur­ther dis­cre­tionary pow­er to USCIS or DHS that would increase depor­ta­tions and deten­tion. Any anti-immi­grant amend­ments will serve only to delay the pas­sage of this vital leg­is­la­tion.

Lak­sh­mi Sri­daran, Inter­im Co-Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of SAALT said, “The Dream and Promise Act will give over two mil­lion immi­grants a fun­da­men­tal right — the right to build a life and plan for a future in this coun­try. We urge all Mem­bers of Con­gress to act bold­ly and pass this leg­is­la­tion with no anti-immi­grant amend­ments. It’s time for Con­gress to chip away at this administration’s racist poli­cies and vot­ing for H.R. 6 with­out delay is a step in the right direc­tion. It is our hope that this leg­is­la­tion will the be the first of many and lay a strong foun­da­tion for immi­grant jus­tice. ”

South Asians by the Numbers: Population in the U.S. has grown by 40% since 2010

May 15, 2019

SAALT released its lat­est South Asian demo­graph­ic snap­shot today, reveal­ing a com­mu­ni­ty in the U.S. that’s grow­ing almost as fast as it is chang­ing.

By 2065, Asian Amer­i­cans are on track to be the largest immi­grant pop­u­la­tion in the U.S. 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.

Key demo­graph­ic facts:

  • The Nepali com­mu­ni­ty grew by 206.6% since 2010, fol­lowed by Indi­an (38%), Bhutanese (38%), Pak­istani (33%), Bangladeshi (26%), and Sri Lankan pop­u­la­tions (15%).
  • There are at least 630,000 Indi­ans who are undoc­u­ment­ed, a 72% increase since 2010.
  • There are cur­rent­ly at least 4,300 active South Asian DACA recip­i­ents.
  • Income inequal­i­ty has been report­ed to be the great­est among Asian Amer­i­cans. Near­ly 10% of the approx­i­mate­ly five mil­lion South Asians in the U.S. live in pover­ty.
  • There has been a rise in the num­ber of South Asians seek­ing asy­lum in the U.S. over the last 10 years. ICE has detained 3,013 South Asians since 2017. U.S. Cus­toms and Bor­der Patrol arrest­ed 17,119 South Asians between Octo­ber 2014 and April 2018 through bor­der and inte­ri­or enforce­ment.

The South Asian com­mu­ni­ty in the Unit­ed States includes indi­vid­u­als who trace their ances­try to Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Mal­dives, Nepal, Pak­istan and Sri Lan­ka. The com­mu­ni­ty also includes mem­bers of the South Asian dias­po­ra – past gen­er­a­tions of South Asians who orig­i­nal­ly set­tled in oth­er parts of the world, includ­ing the Caribbean, Africa, Europe, Cana­da and the Mid­dle East, and oth­er parts of Asia and the Pacif­ic Islands. South Asian Amer­i­cans include cit­i­zens, legal per­ma­nent res­i­dents, stu­dents, H‑1B and H‑4 visa hold­ers, DACA recip­i­ents, and undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants.

SAALT’s Inter­im Co-Exec­u­tive Direc­tor Lak­sh­mi Sri­daran said, “As we wit­ness this unprece­dent­ed growth in our com­mu­ni­ties, it is more impor­tant than ever that the needs of the most vul­ner­a­ble South Asian pop­u­la­tions are met. South Asians are impact­ed by the full spec­trum of fed­er­al immi­gra­tion poli­cies — from deten­tion and depor­ta­tion to H‑4 visa work autho­riza­tion and denat­u­ral­iza­tion to the assault on pub­lic ben­e­fits. An accu­rate Cen­sus 2020 pop­u­la­tion count is essen­tial to dis­trib­ut­ing crit­i­cal fed­er­al fund­ing to our com­mu­ni­ties. A cit­i­zen­ship ques­tion on the cen­sus would chill thou­sands of com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers, result­ing in a severe under­count, with at least 600,000 South Asians in the coun­try not being count­ed and thou­sands more deterred. And, this means even few­er resources to the com­mu­ni­ties who need it the most.”

SAALT’s demo­graph­ic snap­shot is based pri­mar­i­ly on Cen­sus 2010 and the 2017 Amer­i­can Com­mu­ni­ty Sur­vey. We encour­age com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers, gov­ern­ment enti­ties, pol­i­cy­mak­ers, and jour­nal­ists  to use this data to bet­ter under­stand South Asian Amer­i­cans and help inform their engage­ment with this com­mu­ni­ty.

Con­tact: Sophia@saalt.org

# # #

Coalition Letter to House Homeland Security Committee: Concerns about Domestic Terrorism Hearing

May 8, 2019

Dear Chair­man Thomp­son and Rank­ing Mem­ber Rogers:

As civ­il lib­er­ties and com­mu­ni­ty-based orga­ni­za­tions, we sub­mit this state­ment for the record in response to the hear­ing on domes­tic ter­ror­ism in order to share our con­cerns about the rise of white suprema­cist and nation­al­ist vio­lence in the coun­try, and to remind the com­mit­tee that com­mu­ni­ties of col­or con­tin­ue to have their free­dom of speech and right to assem­bly cur­tailed under the guise of fight­ing domes­tic ter­ror­ism. Before adopt­ing any poli­cies to fight white suprema­cist and nation­al­ist vio­lence, we urge you to con­sid­er how these poli­cies will impact com­mu­ni­ties of col­or.

The term “domes­tic ter­ror­ism” itself has been heav­i­ly politi­cized and cri­tiqued. The politi­ciza­tion of this term has meant that rather than apply­ing a uni­form def­i­n­i­tion, it has instead been applied dif­fer­en­tial­ly and used in par­tic­u­lar to tar­get and crim­i­nal­ize com­mu­ni­ties of col­or and their free­dom of speech, move­ment, and assem­bly.   More specif­i­cal­ly, there has been and con­tin­ues to be, a sys­tem­at­ic bias in the way ter­ror­ism is framed such that it is more read­i­ly applied to cas­es where the alleged per­pe­tra­tor or plan­ner of a vio­lent act is Mus­lim.

Fur­ther­more, the term “domes­tic ter­ror­ism” has often been asso­ci­at­ed, par­tic­u­lar­ly by law enforce­ment, with Black and/or, Mus­lim and/or, Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties and their allies despite doc­u­ment­ed inci­dents of vio­lence per­pe­trat­ed large­ly by white suprema­cists and right-wing extremists.We are there­fore con­cerned that the reme­dies and inter­ven­tions that come out of this hear­ing will be used to increase tar­get­ing of mar­gin­al­ized com­mu­ni­ties.

A recent report pub­lished by South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT) doc­u­ments hate vio­lence and xeno­pho­bic polit­i­cal rhetoric aimed at South Asian, Mus­lim, Sikh, Hin­du, Mid­dle East­ern, and Arab com­mu­ni­ties from Elec­tion Day 2016 to Elec­tion Day 2017. The report draws a direct line between the Trump Administration’s anti-Mus­lim agen­da and increas­ing attacks, reveal­ing that of the 213 inci­dents of hate vio­lence doc­u­ment­ed, one in five per­pe­tra­tors invoked Pres­i­dent Trump’s name, his admin­is­tra­tion poli­cies, or his cam­paign slo­gans dur­ing attacks.[1]As the SAALT report made clear, state rhetoric, pol­i­cy, and vio­lence are key to under­stand­ing the rise of white nation­al­ist and white suprema­cist vio­lence. We urge the com­mit­tee to use this hear­ing, and sub­se­quent hear­ings, to exam­ine how gov­ern­ment poli­cies and insti­tu­tions and polit­i­cal rhetoric have fos­tered the rise of white nation­al­ist and white suprema­cist ter­ror.

We also urge com­mit­tee mem­bers to reject Coun­ter­ing Vio­lent Extrem­ism (CVE) pro­grams as a rem­e­dy to the rise in white suprema­cist vio­lence. Though often neu­tral on their face, CVE pro­grams have in prac­tice and since their incep­tion under the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion pro­filed, sur­veilled, and divid­ed Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties. To sim­ply include white suprema­cist groups with­in CVE would not alter the foun­da­tion of the pro­gram, but would strength­en and expand it – and this would like­ly result in Mus­lim youth and com­mu­ni­ties get­ting tar­get­ed even more than before.

More­over, CVE pro­grams are not only prob­lem­at­ic because of their almost exclu­sive focus on Mus­lims, but because they are based on debunked, pseu­do-sci­en­tif­ic the­o­ries that cer­tain “rad­i­cal” ideas lead to vio­lence.[2]As civ­il rights and civ­il lib­er­ties advo­cates have long argued, expand­ing CVE to include white suprema­cy will be inef­fec­tive in fight­ing ter­ror­ism, and harm­ful to com­mu­ni­ties of col­or.[3]CVE pro­grams pro­mote a nar­ra­tive of col­lec­tive respon­si­bil­i­ty of Mus­lim and oth­er mar­gin­al­ized com­mu­ni­ties, putting them at risk in a way that will not be felt by the major­i­ty White pop­u­la­tion.[4]

We cau­tion that white suprema­cist and right wing vio­lence are less like­ly to be pros­e­cut­ed as ter­ror­ism,[5]and urge the com­mit­tee to take steps to ensure that any report­ed data by rel­e­vant gov­ern­ment agen­cies is reli­able. Required report­ing would also track the num­ber of FBI assess­ments and inves­ti­ga­tions, of each domes­tic ter­ror­ist move­ment defined by the FBI. This data could be rev­e­la­to­ry, and should be made pub­lic.

Fur­ther­more, if the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty and FBI have the dis­cre­tion to define and give their opin­ion about each ter­ror­ist move­ment and con­duct a threat assess­ment – dis­cre­tion that would almost cer­tain­ly be biased if either of these agen­cies’ his­to­ries are any indi­ca­tion. There­fore, we are con­cerned that any efforts to “research” threats will lead to increased mon­i­tor­ing, sur­veil­lance, and desta­bi­liza­tion of com­mu­ni­ties of col­or and non-vio­lent activist groups.

Addi­tion­al­ly, we are wor­ried that action to address domes­tic ter­ror­ism could fur­ther embold­en the FBI’s sur­veil­lance of the Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ty. To date, the FBI main­tains a nation­wide net­work of over 15,000 infor­mants[6], many of them high­ly paid to infil­trate Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties. Accord­ing to Human Rights Watch, from 2001 — 2014, “near­ly 50 per­cent of the more than 500 fed­er­al coun­tert­er­ror­ism con­vic­tions result­ed from infor­mant-based cas­es; almost 30 per­cent of those cas­es were sting oper­a­tions in which the infor­mant played an active role in the under­ly­ing plot.”[7]It is unclear how these injus­tices will be addressed mov­ing for­ward and what the rec­om­men­da­tion will be regard­ing the use of infor­mants to uncov­er or man­u­fac­ture domes­tic ter­ror­ism plots. Thus, we urge Mem­bers of Con­gress to be explic­it about the role of infor­mants and what safe­guards will be put in place to make sure they are not vio­lat­ing the rights of already mar­gin­al­ized com­mu­ni­ties. Data on the num­ber of FBI infor­mants involved in domes­tic ter­ror relat­ed assess­ments and inves­ti­ga­tions should be col­lect­ed and made pub­lic.

We look for­ward to work­ing with the com­mit­tee to ensure that white suprema­cist ter­ror is addressed with­out adverse­ly impact­ing the very com­mu­ni­ties most often tar­get­ed by white suprema­cists. We do not believe that law enforce­ment or intel­li­gence agen­cies need addi­tion­al author­i­ties to address domes­tic ter­ror­ism, but they must be held account­able for ignor­ing some threats and inflat­ing oth­ers.

 

Signed,

South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT)

Jus­tice for Mus­lims Col­lec­tive

Defend­ing Rights & Dis­sent

Amer­i­can-Arab Anti-Dis­crim­i­na­tion Com­mit­tee (ADC)

Asian Amer­i­cans Advanc­ing Jus­tice

Asian Amer­i­can Resource Work­shop — Boston

Cam­paign to TAKE ON HATE

Cen­ter for Con­sti­tu­tion­al Rights

Coun­cil on Amer­i­can-Islam­ic Rela­tions (CAIR)

MPow­er Change

Nation­al Net­work for Arab Amer­i­can Com­mu­ni­ties

Project South

Prop­er­ty of the Peo­ple

Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Love Project

South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter

The Sur­veil­lance Tech­nol­o­gy Over­sight Project (S.T.O.P).

 

[1]Com­mu­ni­ties on Fire, South Asian Amer­i­cans Advanc­ing Togeth­er, Jan­u­ary 2018

[2]See Let­ter from Nicole Nguyen & Stacey Krueger, Researchers from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Illi­nois at Chica­go, to Mem­bers of Con­gress et al, Con­cern­ing the Ques­tion­able Use of Aca­d­e­m­ic Research to Sup­port CVE Ini­tia­tives (Octo­ber 5, 2016)
and Who Will Become a Ter­ror­ist? Research Yields Few Clues (Matt Apuz­zo, The New York Times, Mar. 27, 2016)

[3]See Let­ter from 53 Civ­il Rights and Lib­er­ties Orga­ni­za­tions Against Expand­ing CVE Pro­grams(Sep­tem­ber 7, 2017)

andState­ment:​ ​AMEMSA​ ​Groups​ ​Oppose​ ​Expansion​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Countering​ ​Violent​ ​Extremism​ ​Pro­gram(Sep­tem­ber 7, 2017)

[4]Are Mus­lims Col­lec­tive­ly Respon­si­ble?, 416Labs, Novem­ber 19, 2015

[5]Trevor Aaron­son, Terrorism’s Dou­ble Stan­dard: Vio­lent Far-Right Extrem­ists Are Rarely Pros­e­cut­ed as Ter­ror­ists, The Inter­cept, March 23, 2019

[6]Trevor Aaron­son, The Infor­mants, Moth­er Jones, July, 2011

[7]Illu­sion of Jus­tice: Human Rights Abus­es in US Ter­ror Pros­e­cu­tions, Human Rights Watch, July 21, 2014

13 year old in Critical Condition after Alleged Hate Crime in Northern California

May 3, 2019

Dear Friends, Com­mu­ni­ty Mem­bers, and Allies,

On April 23rd, 13 year-old Dhri­ti was walk­ing back home from the library with her father and broth­er, when a dri­ver plowed into them and sev­er­al oth­er pedes­tri­ans at a busy cross­walk in Sun­ny­vale, Cal­i­for­nia. Dhri­ti is in a coma after suf­fer­ing major brain injuries and is cur­rent­ly on life sup­port. At least sev­en oth­ers were injured in the crash, all of whom are in sta­ble con­di­tion.

Short­ly after the arraign­ment of the dri­ver, Sun­ny­vale Police Chief Phan Ngo said, “Based on our inves­ti­ga­tion, new evi­dence shows that the defen­dant inten­tion­al­ly tar­get­ed the vic­tims based on their race and his belief that they were of the Mus­lim faith.” The FBI and local law enforce­ment are both inves­ti­gat­ing the crash as a hate crime.

This trag­ic and dis­turb­ing news comes at a month when report­ed hate crimes have been at an all time high. In April alone, SAALT tracked 10 inci­dents of hate vio­lence and 6 instances of xeno­pho­bic polit­i­cal rhetoric. Just days after the Sun­ny­vale crash, a shoot­er killed one woman and injured three oth­ers at the Chabad of Poway syn­a­gogue in San Diego. The same shoot­er is accused of set­ting fire to a mosque in Escon­di­do, CA in March. Glob­al­ly, the impact of hate vio­lence in March and April has been shat­ter­ing. Ear­li­er this month, near­ly 300 peo­ple were killed in church­es and hotels in Sri Lan­ka on East­er Sun­day. The hor­rif­ic attack occurred just weeks after at least 50 peo­ple were killed by a white suprema­cist in New Zealand who named Trump as his “sym­bol of renewed white iden­ti­ty.”

SAALT’s “Com­mu­ni­ties on Fire” report draws a direct line between The Trump Administration’s anti-Mus­lim agen­da and increas­ing attacks, reveal­ing that of the 213 inci­dents of hate vio­lence doc­u­ment­ed, one in five per­pe­tra­tors invoked Pres­i­dent Trump’s name, his administration’s poli­cies, or his cam­paign slo­gans dur­ing attacks.

This hate survives—and in fact thrives—against a back­drop of racist poli­cies from the Trump Admin­is­tra­tion like the Mus­lim Ban and fam­i­ly sep­a­ra­tion. This hate knows no bor­ders, race, or creed. This hate is a threat to Mus­lims, and to those racial­ized as Mus­lims. Sim­i­lar to the mur­der of Srini­vas Kuchib­hot­la in Olathe, Kansas who was pro­filed as Mid­dle East­ern, Dhri­ti and her fam­i­ly were alleged­ly tar­get­ed because they were per­ceived as Mus­lim.

To Dhri­ti and her fam­i­ly, we stand with you, demand­ing jus­tice and an end to poli­cies and hate speech that have cre­at­ed an ecosys­tem for hate crimes to increase.

Donate to Dhriti’s health­care costs at:  https://www.gofundme.com/helpdhriti

Sin­cere­ly,

South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er

Alliance of South Asians Tak­ing Action

Coun­cil of Amer­i­can Islam­ic Rela­tions — San Fran­cis­co Bay Area 

South Asian Work­ers Cen­ter, Boston

Sad­hana: Coali­tion of Pro­gres­sive Hin­dus

Hous­ton Coali­tion Against Hate

Cal­i­for­nia Immi­grant Pol­i­cy Cen­ter

South Asian Youth Action

Nari­ka: Chang­ing the Way We Live Vio­lence-Free

Sikh Fam­i­ly Cen­ter