SAALT Condemns President Trump’s Anti-Immigrant Executive Orders

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jan­u­ary 25, 2017

South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT), a nation­al South Asian advo­ca­cy orga­ni­za­tion, is out­raged at the lat­est Exec­u­tive Orders issued by Pres­i­dent Trump. Today’s announce­ment on immi­gra­tion effec­tive­ly shuts down our bor­ders, threat­ens state and local poli­cies that pro­tect and wel­come immi­grants, and puts immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties in the crosshairs of poli­cies that tear apart fam­i­lies under the pre­text of “mak­ing Amer­i­can great.”

“Today’s Exec­u­tive Orders push the nation fur­ther away from core Amer­i­can val­ues of equal­i­ty and free­dom, sow fear in com­mu­ni­ties of col­or that already face increas­ing vio­lence, hos­til­i­ty and attacks, and make us and the coun­try less safe — all under the guise of nation­al secu­ri­ty,” stat­ed Suman Raghu­nathan, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of SAALT. “Walling off the coun­try will not make us safer. We expect this will be the first in a series of attacks against the free­dom of immi­grants and com­mu­ni­ties of col­or in the Unit­ed States.”

South Asians are the most rapid­ly grow­ing demo­graph­ic group in the coun­try, num­ber­ing over 4.3 mil­lion, with large growth in the undoc­u­ment­ed South Asian pop­u­la­tion in recent years, includ­ing 450,000 Indi­an-Amer­i­cans alone. India is cur­rent­ly the fourth-high­est send­ing coun­try for undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants after Mex­i­co, El Sal­vador, and Guatemala. We also know there are sig­nif­i­cant undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants orig­i­nal­ly from oth­er South Asian coun­tries includ­ing Pak­istan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and the Indo-Caribbean dias­po­ra.

Today’s announce­ment puts South Asian com­mu­ni­ties under fur­ther scruti­ny and attack in the Unit­ed States, par­tic­u­lar­ly through the alarm­ing revival of the “Secure Com­mu­ni­ties” pro­gram, which dep­u­tizes local author­i­ties as immi­gra­tion agents — a func­tion numer­ous police chiefs have already spo­ken out against. The pro­gram, pre­vi­ous­ly aban­doned due to con­cerns that it led to racial pro­fil­ing and oth­er abuse by law enforce­ment, autho­rizes local police to check the immi­gra­tion sta­tus of every indi­vid­ual arrest­ed and to enforce immi­gra­tion laws against the very com­mu­ni­ties they are sworn to pro­tect. This pol­i­cy sends a clear mes­sage to immi­grants that any con­tact with the police can lead to depor­ta­tion, and only serves to spur fear in immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties.

Today’s Exec­u­tive Orders also strip fed­er­al fund­ing for “sanc­tu­ary cities” that refuse to arrest or detain undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants liv­ing in the U.S. Many of these places of refuge are locat­ed in Cal­i­for­nia, New York, and Chica­go: areas with mas­sive South Asian Amer­i­can pop­u­la­tions as well as immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties writ large. The result deprives local­i­ties of crit­i­cal fund­ing nec­es­sary to meet the needs of their res­i­dents. This cru­cial fed­er­al fund­ing (from tax­pay­er dol­lars) is instead being fun­neled to hire more bor­der patrol agents to crim­i­nal­ize rather than pro­tect immi­grant and bor­der com­mu­ni­ties, all the while fuel­ing an increas­ing­ly pri­va­tized immi­gra­tion deten­tion sys­tem.

SAALT recent­ly released “Power, Pain, Potential,” the first com­pre­hen­sive report doc­u­ment­ing hate vio­lence and xeno­pho­bic rhetoric against South Asian, Mus­lim, Sikh, Hin­du, Arab, and Mid­dle East­ern com­mu­ni­ties dur­ing the 2016 elec­tion cycle. We found sky­rock­et­ing vio­lence against our com­mu­ni­ties nation­wide reach­ing lev­els only seen in the after­math of the events of 9/11. Pres­i­dent Elect Trump was respon­si­ble for over one in five, or 21%, of the xeno­pho­bic polit­i­cal rhetoric we tracked.

Due to today’s Exec­u­tive Orders, our com­mu­ni­ties — already expe­ri­enc­ing the full force of a ris­ing tide of hate vio­lence and the pro­lif­er­a­tion of white suprema­cist move­ments nation­wide — will have less recourse for pro­tec­tion from police, dimin­ished options to report inci­dents aimed at their fam­i­lies, and few­er places to find safe­ty and secu­ri­ty. In the face of these dev­as­tat­ing poli­cies, SAALT and our part­ners nation­wide will instead draw strength, uni­ty, and resilience from each oth­er, and work close­ly with our com­mu­ni­ties to ensure that we have an equal place in the U.S. and that our voic­es ring clear as we fight for equal­i­ty, pro­tec­tion, and dig­ni­ty for all.

Con­tact: Vivek Trive­di
vivek@saalt.org