Between October 2014 and April 2018, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) arrested over 17,000 South Asians (12,670 Indians; 1,752 Bangladeshis; 1,744 Nepalis, 659 Pakistanis, 292 Sri Lankans, 2 Bhutanese). These individuals have had largely harmful interactions with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), making it clear to SAALT that we had to track both the rise in the number of South Asians crossing the border over the last 5 years and their treatment in detention facilities.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, islamophobia, and unusually high bond amounts. Working with partners, including South Asian Left Activist Movement (SALAM), AVID in the Chihuahuan Desert, and La Resistencia, we are continuing to document and advocate against these violations of human rights and dignity.
Tamil Asylum Seeker’s Case Goes to Supreme Court
Starting in 2020, SAALT has supported Maynmai, a Tamil asylum seeker diaspora support network, advocating against the United States Supreme Court’s decision to deport Mr. Vijayakumar Thuraissigiam. Mr. Thuraisiggiam is a Tamil asylum seeker fleeing persecution and state-sanctioned violence in Sri Lanka. This decision highlights the need to defund law enforcement while halting deportations immediately. Through a series of authoritarian measures which undermine settled law, the Trump Administration is eviscerating protections for all asylum seekers, placing them at risk for the Administration’s political gain. In proposing and enacting these measures, the U.S. is complicit in the overseas murders of those who were seeking safety. Read Maynmai’s memo (available in Tamil here), outlining the Supreme Court Decision’s deeper context, its grave implications both domestic and international, and the demands made to counter its impact.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
- Join a rapid response network of South Asians across the U.S. committed to showing up to rallies, providing interpretation, translation, and/or legal counsel. Sign up here.
- Follow us for updates and action alerts on Twitter @SAALTweets and on Facebook
- Host a Know-Your-Rights presentation in your community with the Immigrant Legal Resource Center’s train-the-trainer toolkit. Collaborate with local community, cultural, or religious centers, public libraries, and other institutions to reach community members.
- Print and share the resources with members of your community. Pass them out at large events, leave them in grocery stores, restaurants, and other businesses and places community members frequent.
- Know legal support and resource networks as well as community bond relief programs to refer community members to. Have it written down and easily accessibly when needed. Share with community members through social media, WhatsApp, and other communication methods.
- If you are an attorney, sign up to join our legal support network to provide low-cost or probono support to detained immigrants.
- Learn about community led responses to ICE raids and arrests.
- 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.