SAALT Staunchly Opposes President Trump’s Separate and Unequal Policies Toward Muslims

Jan­u­ary 28, 2017

South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT), a nation­al South Asian advo­ca­cy orga­ni­za­tion, staunch­ly oppos­es the lat­est Exec­u­tive Order in the litany of divi­sive, un-Amer­i­can mea­sures issued by Pres­i­dent Trump this week. Today’s announce­ment effec­tive­ly bans Mus­lims, rejects refugees, and expands sur­veil­lance on Mus­lim-Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties, cre­at­ing sep­a­rate and whol­ly unequal stan­dards of law and jus­tice for mil­lions of Amer­i­cans.

“The ethos and impact of these Orders con­tra­dict Amer­i­ca’s found­ing val­ues and take us fur­ther away from our bedrock com­mit­ment to free­dom and civ­il lib­er­ties for all,” stat­ed Suman Raghu­nathan, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of SAALT. “Today’s announce­ment will crim­i­nal­ize peo­ple of col­or based on their reli­gion and nation­al ori­gin, and rein­forces a cli­mate of sus­pi­cion and increas­ing vio­lence aimed at Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties liv­ing in the U.S. Our nation is bet­ter than this.”

Today’s Exec­u­tive Orders block refugees enter­ing the U.S. from war-torn Syr­ia indef­i­nite­ly; sus­pends refugee admis­sions from oth­er coun­tries for 120 days; vague­ly sus­pends visa issuance to coun­tries of “par­tic­u­lar con­cern;” bans immi­grant and non-immi­grant entry of indi­vid­u­als from sev­er­al Mus­lim-major­i­ty coun­tries; and cre­ates an entry-exit track­ing sys­tem for all vis­i­tors to the Unit­ed States in addi­tion to requir­ing in-per­son inter­views for all non­im­mi­grant visa appli­cants.

A major­i­ty of Amer­i­can vot­ers do not sup­port the mea­sures announced today: in fact, 52% of Amer­i­cans oppose a ban on immi­grants and trav­el­ers who are Mus­lim. Pres­i­dent Trump’s deci­sion to trans­form his divi­sive and irre­spon­si­ble cam­paign rhetoric into pol­i­cy express­ly tar­gets mil­lions of our com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers nation­wide, and explic­it­ly runs counter to the will of the elec­torate. The most recent poli­cies will only serve to fur­ther divide us as a nation at the very moment when we must all come togeth­er as the resound­ing nation­al mes­sage rings of exclu­sion and racism.

The entry-exit pol­i­cy in par­tic­u­lar has a trou­bling prece­dent that dev­as­tat­ed South Asian Amer­i­can, Mus­lim, and Arab com­mu­ni­ties for much of the last 15 years, and was just dis­man­tled at the end of 2016. Under the guise of “nation­al secu­ri­ty,” the 2002 Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Entry-Exit Reg­is­tra­tion Sys­tem (NSEERS) forced immi­grants from Mus­lim-major­i­ty coun­tries to reg­is­ter at local immi­gra­tion offices for lengthy inter­ro­ga­tions. Over 83,000 indi­vid­u­als reg­is­tered; over 13,000 were placed into depor­ta­tion pro­ceed­ings, result­ing in zero ter­ror­ism-relat­ed con­vic­tions. Pres­i­dent Trump’s order reopens this wound at a time when our com­mu­ni­ties are increas­ing­ly under attack nation­wide.

Just this month, SAALT released “Power, Pain, Potential,” which doc­u­ments over 200 inci­dents of hate vio­lence and xeno­pho­bic polit­i­cal rhetoric aimed at South Asian, Mus­lim, Sikh, Hin­du, Mid­dle East­ern, and Arab Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties dur­ing the 2016 elec­tion cycle. An astound­ing 95% of these inci­dents were moti­vat­ed by anti-Mus­lim sen­ti­ment. Pres­i­dent Trump was respon­si­ble for 21% of the xeno­pho­bic polit­i­cal state­ments we doc­u­ment­ed. Just one week into his admin­is­tra­tion, the Pres­i­den­t’s rhetoric is now being imple­ment­ed via destruc­tive poli­cies. It is clear that this admin­is­tra­tion’s rhetoric and poli­cies serve only to crim­i­nal­ize and dehu­man­ize large seg­ments of our coun­try, and will con­tin­ue to embold­en neigh­bors to tar­get neigh­bors, Amer­i­cans to tar­get Amer­i­cans-all for the nar­row end of “mak­ing Amer­i­ca great again.”

As Black, Brown, indige­nous, immi­grant, and Asian Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties who have sur­vived sys­temic racism, intern­ment, and geno­cide, we will stand strong as a unit­ed front against any poli­cies root­ed in dis­crim­i­na­tion and divi­sive­ness. Work­ing with our part­ners in the Nation­al Coali­tion of South Asian Orga­ni­za­tions, we will forge a future dri­ven by the fun­da­men­tal val­ue that all peo­ple must be treat­ed equal­ly under the law. We must be bet­ter than this.

Con­tact: Vivek Trive­di