Statement on House Judiciary Hearing on Discrimination and Civil Rights of Muslim Arab and South Asian Communities

Feb­ru­ary 25, 2022

Dear Chair­man Nadler and Rank­ing Mem­ber Jordan,

As orga­ni­za­tions that work with­in Mus­lim, Arab and South Asian com­mu­ni­ties at the local and nation­al lev­el, we are pleased to see the House Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee hold­ing an impor­tant March 1st Hear­ing on Dis­crim­i­na­tion and Civ­il Rights of Mus­lim, Arab, and South Asian com­mu­ni­ties. We rec­og­nize the tremen­dous work orga­ni­za­tions have done to advo­cate for con­gres­sion­al hear­ings that cen­ter the ero­sion of civ­il lib­er­ties for our communities.

How­ev­er, as orga­ni­za­tions who are work­ing with impact­ed com­mu­ni­ties, we are con­cerned about the fram­ing of the hear­ing. We write to offer rec­om­men­da­tions for future hear­ings per­tain­ing to our com­mu­ni­ties. Such hear­ings are part of the offi­cial his­tor­i­cal record and often end up paint­ing a nar­ra­tive and push­ing pol­i­cy rec­om­men­da­tions that fail to clear­ly name state vio­lence, struc­tur­al Islam­o­pho­bia, and the War on Ter­ror poli­cies as the dri­vers of indi­vid­ual acts of inter­per­son­al vio­lence. South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT) issued reports in 2017 and 2018 doc­u­ment­ing the direct cor­re­la­tion between polit­i­cal rhetoric, fed­er­al poli­cies, and the increase in inci­dents of hate vio­lence, which con­tin­ues today.

Increas­ing­ly, we have found that the lim­it­ed frame­work of civ­il rights and civ­il lib­er­ties that often focus­es exclu­sive­ly on secu­ri­ty and dis­crim­i­na­tion does not ade­quate­ly cap­ture the broad impacts of sys­temic vio­lence on our com­mu­ni­ties, which include eco­nom­ic, health, hous­ing, and edu­ca­tion, among oth­er social deter­mi­nants. This lim­i­ta­tion has con­tin­ued to fail in com­pre­hen­sive­ly and sub­stan­tive­ly address­ing the scope and mag­ni­tude of the vio­lence our com­mu­ni­ties have expe­ri­enced in the twen­ty years after 9/11.

We reit­er­ate the requests in our state­ment for the record to the House Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee in response to your April, 2019 Hear­ing on Hate Crimes and White Nation­al­ism to once again take the fol­low­ing rec­om­men­da­tions in plan­ning hearings:

  • Broad­en the frame of “civ­il rights and lib­er­ties” to bet­ter under­stand how state vio­lence, struc­tur­al Islam­o­pho­bia, and the War on Ter­ror poli­cies are the dri­vers of indi­vid­ual acts of inter­per­son­al violence.
  • Engage more direct­ly and much fur­ther in advance with com­mu­ni­ty-based orga­ni­za­tions, grass­roots and advo­ca­cy orga­ni­za­tions at the local lev­el in devel­op­ing the frame­work for a hear­ing and iden­ti­fy­ing witnesses.
  • Hold mul­ti­ple pan­els that cen­ter sur­vivors, impact­ed com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers, and com­mu­ni­ty-based organizations.
  • Ensure such hear­ings are not gov­ern­ment plat­forms for Islam­o­phobes, big­ots, and racists to pro­mote their hate­ful agen­das as if they are a legit­i­mate jux­ta­po­si­tion to com­mu­ni­ty-based testimony.
  • Offer more lead time for orga­ni­za­tions to sub­mit state­ments for the record.
  • Cre­ate space to hear direct­ly from one group rather than group­ing Mus­lim, Arab, and South Asian iden­ti­ties togeth­er. Often in such group­ings, impor­tant racial, gen­der, eth­nic, class, caste, and reli­gious iden­ti­ties are erased.
  • Invite grass­roots and com­mu­ni­ty-based groups to speak who hold an abo­li­tion­ist and trans­for­ma­tive jus­tice frame­work to address state, insti­tu­tion­al, and inter­per­son­al forms of vio­lence. We want to ampli­fy the Mus­lim Abo­li­tion­ist Futures grass­roots pol­i­cy agen­da call­ing for abol­ish­ing the War on Ter­ror and build­ing com­mu­ni­ties of care and hope such hear­ings mov­ing for­ward include pro­gres­sive pol­i­cy rec­om­men­da­tions that tie togeth­er the var­i­ous, inter­sect­ing, and com­plex root caus­es of vio­lence rather than priv­i­leg­ing nar­row, reformist pol­i­cy agendas.

As groups on the front­lines of defend­ing our com­mu­ni­ties tar­get­ed by puni­tive gov­ern­ment poli­cies, our orga­ni­za­tions hope there is a rad­i­cal shift in how such hear­ings are car­ried out. Sur­vivors of state vio­lence, hate vio­lence, and big­otry deserve hon­est inquiries and true jus­tice from their elect­ed offi­cials. Con­gress must hold sub­se­quent hear­ings that com­pre­hen­sive­ly and sub­stan­tive­ly con­front and address these issues.

Signed,
Jus­tice For Mus­lims Col­lec­tive
South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT)
Mus­lim Abo­li­tion­ist Futures Network

View as a PDF here.

Call to Action: Protect Immigrant Women’s Ability to Work

​93% of immi­grants who are on H‑4 visas and have work per­mits or employ­ment autho­riza­tion doc­u­ments (EAD) are South Asian women.  Many of them are essen­tial work­ers, pro­vid­ing crit­i­cal ser­vices dur­ing this pan­dem­ic, but they’re not able to work because of delays in pro­cess­ing the renew­al of their work per­mits. Join us in urg­ing Mem­bers of Con­gress to ask Pres­i­dent-Elect Biden to extend the valid­i­ty of all expired H‑4 EAD work per­mits on day one of his administration.

Here are 4 ways you can step up and advocate for our communities' EAD recipients:

  • If you have less than a minute, spread the word to your loved ones and community members via WhatsApp. Click­ing on the link will also allow you to copy and paste the mes­sage to oth­er plat­forms, such as Sig­nal or SMS.
  • If you have three minutes, send our pre-written letter to your Members using democracy.io. This form uses your address to deter­mine your elect­ed offi­cials and their con­tact infor­ma­tion. You can use SAALT’s pre-writ­ten let­ter (which is also avail­able in full under the image at the bot­tom of this page), or edit it and write your own, as well as tag it under “Immi­gra­tion” to ensure it catch­es the eyes of your Representatives.
  • If you have five minutes, tweet at your Members by clicking here and tagging them. You can find the name of your Rep­re­sen­ta­tives here, then find their Twit­ter accounts.
  • If you have more than five minutes, and have experienced difficulties with EAD processing due to USCIS delays, tell us your story here. Hear­ing the human impact of this issue is essen­tial for jour­nal­ists and law­mak­ers to under­stand why it’s so urgent that the incom­ing Biden Admin­is­tra­tion extends work per­mits for all those on H‑4 visas. If you know loved ones or com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers who have sim­i­lar sto­ries, ask them to detail their expe­ri­ences, too.

SAALT, along­side our allies Asian Amer­i­cans Advanc­ing Jus­tice AAJC, NAPAWF, and Rak­sha, are work­ing with Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Bon­nie Wat­son Cole­man to demand that the incom­ing Biden Admin­is­tra­tion pro­tects our com­mu­ni­ties’ EAD recip­i­ents by extend­ing the valid­i­ty peri­od of all expired H‑4 EADs to resolve pro­cess­ing delays. For more infor­ma­tion, or to ask any fur­ther ques­tions, please con­tact the SAALT’s Pol­i­cy Man­ag­er Mah­noor Hus­sain at mahnoor@saalt.org.

Dear Con­gressper­son:

I am a res­i­dent of your dis­trict, and am writ­ing to request that you sign on to Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman’s letter to Pres­i­dent-elect Joe Biden and his Admin­is­tra­tion, demand­ing imme­di­ate relief to the many fam­i­lies adverse­ly impact­ed by sig­nif­i­cant delays in the pro­cess­ing of work autho­riza­tion doc­u­ments (EADs) for peo­ple on H‑4 visas. These delays in EAD renewals are caus­ing laps­es in work autho­riza­tion and job loss­es affect­ing many peo­ple, most­ly women of col­or, in my town. This is why I respect­ful­ly request that you ask Pres­i­dent-elect Joe Biden and his Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty to pub­lish a Fed­er­al Reg­is­ter notice on day one of their admin­is­tra­tion to extend the valid­i­ty peri­od of all expired H‑4 EADs.

As you know, in 2015, after sev­er­al years of advo­ca­cy by com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers, includ­ing var­i­ous South Asian women’s orga­ni­za­tions, the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty (DHS) issued a rule allow­ing cer­tain H‑4 depen­dent spous­es of H‑1B visa hold­ers to legal­ly seek employ­ment in the US. Once an H‑1B hold­er is spon­sored for employ­ment-based law­ful per­ma­nent res­i­dent (LPR) sta­tus (oth­er­wise known as a green card) his or her H‑4 visa-hold­ing spouse may apply for work autho­riza­tion. This rule pre­sent­ed an impor­tant step towards rec­ti­fy­ing gen­der dis­par­i­ties in our immi­gra­tion sys­tem as around 95% of H‑4 visa hold­ers who have secured work autho­riza­tion are women. Before the rule was grant­ed, many women on H‑4 visas described depres­sion and iso­la­tion in mov­ing to a new coun­try and not being allowed to work out­side of the home.

These women on H‑4 visas work in a vari­ety of fields includ­ing as essen­tial health­care work­ers, includ­ing in research and devel­op­ment roles at phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies; these women play tremen­dous­ly impor­tant roles as we con­tin­ue to bat­tle the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, women are los­ing and will con­tin­ue to lose their jobs until this is put right, dis­rupt­ing the lives of their fam­i­lies and the func­tion­ing of employ­ers in our dis­tricts. I respect­ful­ly request that you co-sign Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Bon­nie Wat­son Coleman’s let­ter to Pres­i­dent Elect Joe Biden before Decem­ber 9, 2020 and stand with the H‑4 EADs in our com­mu­ni­ty.

Sin­cere­ly,
Your Con­stituent

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. 

SAALT welcomes new Executive Director and Board Chair

Image

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Con­tact: Sophia@saalt.org

###

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

###

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 

###

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

###

The death of 6‑year-old Gurupreet Kaur

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 17, 2019

We are dev­as­tat­ed to learn of the death of 6‑year-old Gurupreet Kaur.

Gurupreet’s body was found by U.S. Bor­der Patrol agents in a remote desert out­side the Lukeville, Ari­zona point of entry on Wednes­day, June 12th, just days before her sev­enth birthday. 

She died of heat stroke in the Ari­zona desert where tem­per­a­tures were 108 degrees Fahren­heit, accord­ing to U.S. Bor­der Patrol and the Pima Coun­ty Office of the Med­ical Exam­in­er (PCOME).

Gurupreet and her moth­er were report­ed­ly among a group of five Indi­an nation­als who were dropped off by migrant traf­fick­ers in a remote area on the U.S.-Mexico bor­der. Her moth­er and anoth­er woman went in search of water, leav­ing Gurupreet with two oth­ers from the group. Gurupreet’s moth­er was found by a U.S. Bor­der Patrol agent 22 hours lat­er. Four hours after that, Bor­der Patrol agents found Gurupreet’s body. 

Sev­en migrant chil­dren have died in immi­gra­tion cus­tody since last year. Hun­dreds more have died close to ports of entry while attempt­ing to make the per­ilous jour­ney through the desert along the U.S.-Mexico border. 

SAALT is send­ing a let­ter of inquiry to Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion Com­mis­sion­er, Kevin K. McAleenan this week, demand­ing an inves­ti­ga­tion into Gurupreet’s death and infor­ma­tion about her moth­er and the oth­er migrants in their group. 

As U.S. Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion has esca­lat­ed bor­der enforce­ment and aggres­sive­ly turned away migrants attempt­ing to cross at ports of entry, deaths have con­tin­ued to mount. Migrants are forced right back into the dan­ger­ous con­di­tions that CBP and oth­er fed­er­al agen­cies often blame on migrant traf­fick­ers and smugglers.

Lak­sh­mi Sri­daran, Inter­im Co-Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of SAALT said, “U.S. bor­der mil­i­ta­riza­tion, forced migra­tion, and rejec­tion of migrants attempt­ing to cross at ports of entry have cre­at­ed an envi­ron­ment where a child like Gurupreet, can die in the desert, alone. Until this sys­tem is com­plete­ly defund­ed and a new one is cre­at­ed that upholds the dig­ni­ty of all migrants — we will con­tin­ue to see unspeak­able tragedies, not with­stand­ing the count­less deaths that go undoc­u­ment­ed. While ICE and CBP have expe­ri­enced unprece­dent­ed surges in their bud­gets, their treat­ment of migrants has plunged to new lows.

SAALT has been track­ing both the rise in the num­ber of South Asians cross­ing the bor­der over the last 5 years and their treat­ment in deten­tion facil­i­ties. Between Octo­ber 2014 and April 2018, Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion (CBP) arrest­ed over 17,000 South Asians.

Of the South Asians who end up in deten­tion facil­i­ties, SAALT has tracked a pat­tern of abuse includ­ing inad­e­quate lan­guage access, lack of reli­gious accom­mo­da­tions, med­ical neglect, use of soli­tary con­fine­ment, and unac­cept­ably high bond amounts. 

We urge our com­mu­ni­ties to stay engaged and active on this urgent issue. 

Stay updat­ed and active by fol­low­ing our updates and action alerts on Twit­ter (SAALTweets) and Face­book (facebook.com/talktosaalt).

You can also sup­port by donat­ing to these orga­ni­za­tions that pro­vide imme­di­ate assistance: 

  • The Fron­ter­i­zo Fian­za Fund is a com­mu­ni­ty bond (fian­za) fund based in El Paso and serv­ing Far West Texas and New Mex­i­co. Many detained migrants have no chance to be released while they wait the months or years until their tri­al. When some­one does receive a bond, they are often way out of reach for most fam­i­lies, rang­ing any­where from $1,500–50,000.
  • The Flo­rence Immi­grant and Refugee Rights Project is the only orga­ni­za­tion in Ari­zona that pro­vides free legal and social ser­vices to detained men, women, and chil­dren under threat of deportation.
  • The Refugee and Immi­grant Cen­ter for Edu­ca­tion and Legal Ser­vices (RAICES) pro­motes jus­tice by pro­vid­ing free and low-cost legal ser­vices to under­served immi­grant chil­dren, fam­i­lies and refugees in Cen­tral and South Texas.
###

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. ”