Over 4.3 million South Asians live and work in the United States today. Individuals of South Asian descent have contributed enormously to American society in terms of constituting a vital part of the country’s workforce; becoming increasingly active participants in the political system; and enriching the cultural and religious diversity of the United States. Yet, policies and mistreatment, such as racial and religious profiling, discriminatory immigration policies, post‑9/11 backlash, and gender inequities, prevent many South Asians from fully and equally participating in American civic and political life.
SAALT’s policy and advocacy began in the days after September 11th, 2001, when the South Asian community experienced unprecedented levels of backlash in the form of profiling, discrimination, xenophobia and arbitrary detentions. Today, SAALT’s policy and advocacy work includes the following strategies:
- Monitoring federal, state, and local policies that could affect the South Asian community
- Presenting the needs and concerns of the South Asian community in meetings and communications with key legislative and administrative policymakers
- Developing community education tools on the impact of various policies to South Asian community members and community-based organizations
- Providing tools for South Asian community members to proactively respond to specific legislation and policy initiatives
- Participating in coalitions with ally organizations within and outside of the South Asian community that support policy change that would improve the lives of South Asians
As part of our work in articulating the policy priorities of the South Asian community, SAALT focuses its expertise on the following core issue areas:
In addition to these core issue areas, SAALT also endeavors to highlight various other issues of concern, including civil rights, data collection, economic justice, health care, LGBTIQ rights, and youth empowerment. Many of these issues are highlighted in A National Action Agenda. This groundbreaking document, a collaborative effort by the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations, analyzes a range of issues affecting the South Asian community and provides recommendations for policymakers, community-based organizations, stakeholders, allies, media, and the general public to meet these needs.
Articulating policy objectives rooted in the experiences of South Asians across the country and in all walks of life is a crucial step towards effectively addressing issues that impact our communities. SAALT’s policy work is driven by the needs and experiences of individual South Asians affected by various policy initiatives, as articulated by the community-based organizations that serve them. Presenting a comprehensive national policy agenda can also complement and amplify ongoing advocacy, organizing and educational efforts already being implemented at the local level.
To learn more about SAALT’s policy work, please contact Lakshmi Sridaran, Director of National Policy and Advocacy, at (301) 270‑1855 or firstname.lastname@example.org.