PRESS RELEASE: SAALT hosts Congressional Briefing “Detention, Hunger Strikes, Deported to Death”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEAESE

April 2, 2019

On April 2, SAALT and immi­grant jus­tice part­ners UndocuBlack Net­work, Deten­tion Watch Net­work, Unit­ed We Dream, Free­dom for Immi­grants, Sikh Coali­tion, Sikh Amer­i­can Legal Defense and Edu­ca­tion Fund (SALDEF) host­ed a Con­gres­sion­al Brief­ing on Capi­tol Hill to draw imme­di­ate atten­tion to the rise in South Asians seek­ing asy­lum in the U.S. to escape vio­lence, per­se­cu­tion, and repres­sion along­side migrants from African, South­east Asian, Cen­tral Amer­i­can, and Latin Amer­i­can coun­tries.

Lak­sh­mi Sri­daran, Inter­im Co-Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of SAALT opened the brief­ing say­ing, “We are all here today to say loud and clear that immi­gra­tion is a Black issue, immi­gra­tion is a Lat­inX issue, immi­gra­tion is a South Asian issue, immi­gra­tion is an LGBTQ issue. It is the prac­tice of sol­i­dar­i­ty and local orga­niz­ing that we hope to uplift today for Capi­tol Hill to see, to under­stand immi­grant deten­tion, and to address the litany of vio­la­tions and abus­es faced by detained indi­vid­u­als.”

A pan­el of expert com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers and advo­cates includ­ing Jen­nifer Apo­da­ca, of the Detained Migrant Sol­i­dar­i­ty Com­mit­tee in El Paso; Ruby Kaur, an attor­ney for two of the #ElPaso9; Deep Singh, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of Jakara Move­ment; Patrice Lawrence, Nation­al Pol­i­cy Direc­tor of UndocuBlack Net­work; Car­los Hidal­go, Immi­gra­tion Rights Activist and mem­ber of Free­dom for Immi­grants lead­er­ship coun­cil; and Sanaa Abrar, Advo­ca­cy Direc­tor of Unit­ed We Dream high­light­ed a series of abus­es and civ­il rights vio­la­tions doc­u­ment­ed in deten­tion facil­i­ties from Ade­lan­to, CA to El Paso, TX. They cit­ed cas­es of med­ical neglect, inad­e­quate lan­guage access, denial of reli­gious accom­mo­da­tions, retal­i­a­tion for hunger strikes, and the prac­tice of soli­tary con­fine­ment. Advo­cates urged Mem­bers of Con­gress and their staff to take imme­di­ate action through spe­cif­ic leg­is­la­tion, over­sight, and appro­pri­a­tions rec­om­men­da­tions.

Quotes from Mem­bers of Con­gress:

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Judy Chu (CA-27): “I want to com­mend SAALT for putting togeth­er today’s brief­ing to high­light the diverse com­mu­ni­ties impact­ed by the xeno­pho­bic poli­cies of the Trump Admin­is­tra­tion and our bro­ken immi­gra­tion and deten­tion sys­tem. Over the past few years, we have seen a spike in the num­ber of indi­vid­u­als seek­ing asy­lum from India, Bangladesh, Pak­istan, and Nepal who have suf­fered from neglect and abuse at the hands of our own fed­er­al gov­ern­ment. This is unac­cept­able. As Chair of the Con­gres­sion­al Asian Pacif­ic Amer­i­can Cau­cus, I will con­tin­ue to work with my col­leagues to push for greater trans­paren­cy, account­abil­i­ty, and over­sight of these facil­i­ties.”

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Karen Bass (CA-37), Chair of the Con­gres­sion­al Black Cau­cus: “The sep­a­ra­tion of immi­grant fam­i­lies is a vio­la­tion of human rights. This out­ra­geous pol­i­cy along with the Trump Administration’s attempt to deport indi­vid­u­als liv­ing in the Unit­ed States, many of whom now know the U.S. as their home, must be addressed imme­di­ate­ly. I look for­ward to work­ing with my col­leagues and the Tri-Cau­cus on a per­ma­nent solu­tion and a path to cit­i­zen­ship for many of the fam­i­lies impact­ed by these poli­cies.”

Rep Suzanne Bonam­i­ci (OR‑1) said: “Far too often, I hear from Amer­i­cans who are hor­ri­fied by the Trump administration’s treat­ment of peo­ple seek­ing safe­ty at our bor­der. I am grate­ful to South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er and oth­ers for bring­ing con­tin­ued atten­tion to the Trump Admin­is­tra­tion’s ter­ri­ble deten­tion and enforce­ment poli­cies. I saw first­hand how these poli­cies are hurt­ing peo­ple when I vis­it­ed detainees at a fed­er­al prison in Sheri­dan, Ore­gon. We must do every­thing we can to pro­tect the human rights of every indi­vid­ual. When I learned about the hunger strikes in El Paso, I joined Rep. Esco­bar in call­ing for an inves­ti­ga­tion of the con­di­tions at ICE deten­tion facil­i­ties. My col­leagues and I will con­tin­ue push­ing for strong over­sight that holds this admin­is­tra­tion account­able for its appalling treat­ment of those seek­ing refuge and asy­lum.”

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Grace Meng (NY‑6): “I want to thank SAALT for its lead­er­ship in stand­ing up for the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty, and I thank all the part­ner orga­ni­za­tions that are fight­ing tire­less­ly for those who have been unjust­ly abused in deten­tion facil­i­ties through­out the Unit­ed States. The U.S. has always been a nation of immi­grants but Pres­i­dent Trump’s poli­cies and rhetoric toward those who came to our coun­try in search of a bet­ter life has been cru­el and un-Amer­i­can. He has made the tar­get­ing of immi­grants a cen­tral part of his admin­is­tra­tion while per­sis­tent­ly lob­bing big­ot­ed, ver­bal attacks at immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties. From sep­a­rat­ing fam­i­lies to feed­ing only pork sand­wich­es to a Mus­lim detainee, the administration’s actions have been abhor­rent. Our found­ing fathers would be repulsed by what has been tak­ing place over the past two years. As a Mem­ber of the House Appro­pri­a­tions Sub­com­mit­tee on Home­land Secu­ri­ty, I will con­tin­ue to hold Pres­i­dent Trump and his admin­is­tra­tion account­able for the immi­gra­tion poli­cies that they have imple­ment­ed. My pri­or­i­ty is to end these inhu­mane immi­gra­tion enforce­ment prac­tices, and ensure that every­one is treat­ed with dig­ni­ty and respect.”

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mark Takano (CA-41): “I’m grate­ful for this strong coali­tion of immi­grant rights groups work­ing togeth­er to shed light on the injus­tices and cru­el­ty immi­grants are fac­ing under this Admin­is­tra­tion. I share with them extreme con­cern about how immi­grants, refugees, and asy­lum seek­ers are being treat­ed at the hands of our gov­ern­ment. Con­gress must con­tin­ue to exert its over­sight pow­ers to hold the Trump Admin­is­tra­tion account­able and bring human­i­ty back to our immi­gra­tion sys­tem.”

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Veron­i­ca Esco­bar (TX-16): “For the past two years, our coun­try has wit­nessed an unprece­dent­ed attack against our immi­grant com­mu­ni­ty. From sep­a­rat­ing fam­i­lies to force-feed­ing detainees, the Trump admin­is­tra­tion has con­stant­ly imple­ment­ed poli­cies that vio­late our laws and Amer­i­can val­ues. That is why, now more than ever, we need to raise our voic­es and share the sto­ries of those impact­ed by cru­el­ty in order to hold the admin­is­tra­tion account­able and ensure this pat­tern of abuse comes to an end.”

For a record­ed stream of the Brief­ing, please click here.

In Col­lab­o­ra­tion with:

Con­gres­sion­al Asian Pacif­ic Amer­i­can Cau­cus (CAPAC) | Con­gres­sion­al Black Cau­cus (CBC) | Con­gres­sion­al His­pan­ic Cau­cus (CHC) | Con­gres­sion­al LGBT Equal­i­ty Cau­cus | Con­gres­sion­al Pro­gres­sive Cau­cus (CPC) | Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Suzanne Bonam­i­ci (OR‑1) |Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Gil Cis­neros (CA-39) | Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Judy Chu (CA-27)| Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Veron­i­ca Esco­bar (TX-16) | Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Prami­la Jaya­pal (WA‑7) | Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Bar­bara Lee (CA-13) | Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Grace Meng (NY‑6) | Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Alexan­dria Oca­sio-Cortez (NY-14) | Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mark Pocan (WI‑2) | Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mark Takano (CA-41)

Hon­orary Co-hosts:

Sen­a­tor Ben Cardin (MD) | Sen­a­tor Kamala Har­ris (CA) | Sen­a­tor Jeff Merkley (OR)

Con­tact: sophia@saalt.org