Immigrant Rights

Most mem­bers of the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty cur­rent­ly in the U.S. were actu­al­ly born out­side the U.S., but as a dias­po­ra, each of our indi­vid­ual rights are reliant on jus­tice for (im)migrants, whether with­in or beyond the South Asian Amer­i­can population.

Our com­mu­ni­ty con­sists of peo­ple with vary­ing (im)migration sta­tus­es, includ­ing undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants, those with vul­ner­a­ble sta­tus like DACA and TPS (Tem­po­rary Pro­tect­ed Sta­tus) (like DREAM­ers and DACA recip­i­ents), spousal and child depen­dents, tem­po­rary work­ers on var­i­ous visas, refugees and asy­lum-seek­ers, per­ma­nent res­i­dents, and cit­i­zens. In 2021, the broad­er South Asian Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ty became more aware of anoth­er aspect of our (im)migration his­to­ry, with the cov­er­age of Dalit-Bahu­jan work­ers who were traf­ficked into the U.S. by upper caste South Asian Amer­i­cans (ok to say this?) to exploit work­er pro­tec­tions. As this sto­ry and many oth­ers demon­strate, the immi­gra­tion sys­tem and its poli­cies have neg­a­tive­ly affect­ed most South Asians, most often because of its inher­ent racist and xeno­pho­bic struc­tur­ing. For exam­ple, numer­ous mem­bers of the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty have faced obsta­cles in attain­ing per­ma­nent legal sta­tus and cit­i­zen­ship and suf­fered the impact of var­i­ous harsh enforce­ment ini­tia­tives, such as the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Entry-Exit Reg­is­tra­tion Sys­tem (NSEERS). South Asians have also been sub­ject­ed to dis­crim­i­na­to­ry pro­fil­ing through immi­gra­tion poli­cies that some­times result in their depor­ta­tion for low-lev­­el offens­es. Of course, these prac­tices also make it increas­ing­ly dif­fi­cult for South Asians to access the rights to which they are entitled.

SAALT active­ly advo­cates for (im)migrant jus­tice, through and beyond sup­port­ing:  a path to cit­i­zen­ship for undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants; elim­i­na­tion of the visa back­log; robust work­er pro­tec­tions; and enforce­ment pro­vi­sions that respect civ­il rights and due process. Guid­ed by input from South Asian com­­mu­ni­­ty-based orga­ni­za­tions, SAALT advo­cates for broad immi­gra­tion reform that address­es the needs of all South Asians. SAALT also devel­ops com­mu­ni­ty edu­ca­tion mate­ri­als ana­lyz­ing and con­tex­tu­al­iz­ing pro­posed legislation’s unique impact on South Asians.


SAALT’s Tes­ti­mo­ny and State­ments Regard­ing Immigration