Dispatch from New Jersey: Town Hall and Legislative Visits!

In an effort to get the local South Asian com­mu­ni­ty engaged around immi­gra­tion reform, SAALT-NJ, along with com­mu­ni­ty part­ners, held a  ‘Town Hall for South Asians on Immi­gra­tion & Civ­il Rights’ in Jer­sey City on July 27th at the Five Cor­ners Library.   The event, part of the One Com­mu­ni­ty Unit­ed cam­paign, was the sec­ond in a series of com­mu­ni­ty forums that will be held nation­wide as a part of the cam­paign.

The town hall brought togeth­er not only a diverse group of folks with­in the com­mu­ni­ty, but also a diverse coali­tion of local com­mu­ni­ty part­ners, includ­ing: Amer­i­can Friends Ser­vice Com­mit­tee, Andolan, Asian Amer­i­can Legal Defense and Edu­ca­tion Fund, the Coun­cil on Amer­i­can-Islam­ic Rela­tions (CAIR-NJ), Govin­da San­skar Tem­ple, Man­avi, New Jer­sey Immi­grant Pol­i­cy Net­work, and the Sikh Coali­tion.

Although the focus of the dis­cus­sion at large was around immi­gra­tion reform, the con­ver­sa­tion cov­ered a vari­ety of issues, such as the effects of visa lim­i­ta­tions and back­logs on low-income work­ers and women fac­ing vio­lence in the home; and deten­tion cen­ters and the grow­ing num­ber of detained immi­grants. The con­ver­sa­tion was at once chal­leng­ing and emo­tion­al, as par­tic­i­pants shared per­son­al sto­ries illus­trat­ing how immi­gra­tion laws have neg­a­tive­ly impact­ed their lives and the lives of their loved ones.   Nev­er­the­less, the con­ver­sa­tion end­ed on a pos­i­tive note with ways to stay involved with the cam­paign, and to get more civi­cal­ly engaged around the immi­gra­tion reform con­ver­sa­tion.

In fact, on August 19th, SAALT mem­bers, along with coali­tion mem­bers from NJIPN and New Labor, con­duct­ed an in-dis­trict meet­ing with Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Don­ald Payne’s office in Newark, New Jer­sey.  Par­tic­i­pants met with a senior staff mem­ber at the Rep­re­sen­ta­tive’s office to dis­cuss issues around immi­gra­tion and health­care reform.

The del­e­ga­tion high­light­ed key con­cerns to both the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty and the immi­grant com­mu­ni­ty at large, such as (1) the increase in deten­tion and depor­ta­tions post 9–11 and its impact on immi­grant fam­i­lies in the US; (2) fam­i­ly- and employ­ment-based visa back­logs and the need for just and humane immi­gra­tion reform to pre­vent fam­i­lies from being torn apart in the process; and  (3) more con­crete mea­sures in place for immi­grant inte­gra­tion to address issues such as lin­guis­tic and cul­tur­al bar­ri­ers in access­ing ser­vices, and, as a result, becom­ing active and par­tic­i­pat­ing mem­bers of the com­mu­ni­ty.

The meet­ing was a great expe­ri­ence – it illus­trat­ed to the mem­bers present the sig­nif­i­cance of civic engage­ment, and how impor­tant it is to reach out to our respec­tive rep­re­sen­ta­tives about issues con­cern­ing us. In a polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic cli­mate that seems so anti-immi­grant, it was cer­tain­ly refresh­ing to be able to sit down with the Rep­re­sen­ta­tive’s office to active­ly advo­cate for issues that deeply impact the immi­grant com­mu­ni­ty.  I look for­ward to meet­ing with oth­er local offices in the com­ing month and encour­age oth­ers to try to sched­ule meet­ings with your respec­tive Rep­re­sen­ta­tives while they are home for August recess.

To learn more about SAALT-NJ’s work, please email qudsia@saalt.org

Look­ing for ways to get involved? Here are some ideas:

• Call your mem­ber of Con­gress to express your sup­port for immi­gra­tion reform and strong civ­il rights poli­cies. Find out who your mem­ber of Con­gress is by vis­it­ing www.house.gov and www.senate.gov.

• The Cam­paign to Reform Immi­gra­tion for Amer­i­ca has launched a text mes­sag­ing cam­paign that sends alerts to par­tic­i­pants when a call to action, such as call­ing your Congressman/woman, is urgent­ly need­ed. To receive text mes­sage alerts, sim­ply text ‘jus­tice’ to 69866.

• Stay in touch with local and nation­al orga­ni­za­tions that work with the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty.

• Share your immi­gra­tion or civ­il rights sto­ry with SAALT by fill­ing out this form or send­ing an email to saalt@saalt.org.

SAALT in May: Community Events, New Faces, SAALT Speaks

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SAALT Community Connection - May 2009

In This Issue

SAALT Speaks

New Faces in SAALT

Community Calendar

Be the Change

Summit Wrap-Up

Support SAALT in 2009!

The SAALT Com­mu­ni­ty Con­nec­tion is a month­ly e‑newsletter that focus­es on com­mu­ni­ty news and events. To learn more about SAALT’s com­mu­ni­ty and pol­i­cy work, con­tact us at saalt@saalt.org

South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT) is a nation­al, non-prof­it ded­i­cat­ed to fos­ter­ing full and equal par­tic­i­pa­tion by South Asians in all aspects of Amer­i­can civic and polit­i­cal life through a social jus­tice frame­work that includes advo­ca­cy, coali­tion-build­ing, com­mu­ni­ty edu­ca­tion, and lead­er­ship devel­op­ment.

SAALT Speaks on First 100 Days, Immigration, and Citizenship

  • lavPriya Murthy, Pol­i­cy Direc­tor, appeared as a guest on WPFW Pacifica Radio in April to dis­cuss immi­gra­tion and civ­il rights issues affect­ing South Asians.
  • Deepa Iyer, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, appeared as a guest on Beneath the Surface radio show on KPFK 90.7FM in Los Ange­les, CA with Hamid Khan to dis­cuss cit­i­zen­ship and immi­gra­tion reform on April 23rd.
  • Deepa Iyer spoke on the Applied Research Cen­ter’s “Race in Review: First 100 Days” con­fer­ence call on April 28th.
  • Lavanya Sithanan­dam, SAALT Board Mem­ber, appeared on “That Fresh Radio Piece” on May 18th on WMUC 88.1FM in Col­lege Park, MD to dis­cuss the effects of recent immi­gra­tion enforce­ment efforts and raids on the chil­dren she sees as a pedi­a­tri­cian in Tako­ma Park.

Upcoming:

  • Deepa Iyer will be speak­ing at Georgia State University at the Immi­gra­tion & Human Rights Sym­po­sium on June 17th, 2009.
  • Deepa Iyer will be speak­ing at the “Know Your Community: A Discussion of Issues and Trends Affecting Asian Pacific Americans in Washington DC and Beyond" spon­sored by the Asian Pacif­ic Amer­i­can Bar Asso­ci­a­tion — Wash­ing­ton DC on June 3rd.

New Faces at SAALT

SAALT wel­comes Aaditi Dubale as the new SAALT Fel­low! She will be work­ing on Be the Change 2009, our Nation­al Day of Ser­vice, as well as sup­port­ing fundrais­ing and devel­op­ment efforts. Aadi­ti can be reached at aaditi@saalt.org.

SAALT also wel­comes our sum­mer interns:

Ashley Vij from George Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty
Niralee Shah from Williams Col­lege
Zara Haq from Amer­i­can Uni­ver­si­ty Wash­ing­ton Col­lege of Law

SAALT bids a fond farewell to Aparna Kothary, Fundrais­ing and Devel­op­ment Assis­tant. Aparna’s work at SAALT advanced the devel­op­ment of an indi­vid­ual mem­ber base, helped us to iden­ti­fy new fundrais­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties, and expand­ed Be the Change — our Nation­al Day of Ser­vice.

Community Calendar

BTC09May 30th - New Jersey SAALT Circle Service project
Join the SAALT Cir­cle for a com­mu­ni­ty ser­vice project with ‘The Shar­ing Place’, a food pantry at St. Pauls’ Luther­an Church in Jer­sey City.  We’ll be prepar­ing, pack­ing, and serv­ing break­fast and lunch to the local com­mu­ni­ty.  Come out and BE THE CHANGE!


The Shar­ing Place — St. Luther­ans Church

440 Hobo­ken Avenue (five cor­ners) in Jer­sey City, NJ


Please RSVP by May 26th at
qudsia@saalt.org. Space is lim­it­ed — sign up now!

August 14th - August 16th: Transgress, Transform, Transcend - A Nation­al Con­fer­ence of Les­bian, Gay, Bisex­u­al, Trans­gen­der, and Queer (LGBTQ) Asian Amer­i­cans, South Asians and Pacif­ic Islanders (API)

Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton in Seat­tle, WA
Reg­is­tra­tion infor­ma­tion is avail­able online at: http://www.nqapia.org

Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund presents The Asian American Vote 2008

Dur­ing the 2008 Pres­i­den­tial Elec­tions, 16,665 Asian Amer­i­can vot­ers were sur­veyed as part of AALDE­F’s nation­al mul­ti­lin­gual exit poll.  The exit poll was the largest non­par­ti­san sur­vey of its kind in the nation and was con­duct­ed in twelve Asian lan­guages and Eng­lish across 39 cities in 11 states.  At these spe­cial pre­sen­ta­tions across the coun­try, com­par­a­tive infor­ma­tion will be giv­en about the Asian Amer­i­can vote in the Pres­i­den­tial and Con­gres­sion­al elec­tions, con­cerns about key issues, first-time vot­ers, and pro­files of the Asian Amer­i­can vote by eth­nic­i­ty, par­ty enroll­ment, nativ­i­ty, age, and Eng­lish pro­fi­cien­cy.  For more information or to attend any of these presentations, contact jyang@aaldef.org or call 800.966.5946, www.aaldef.org

  • June 8 at 12:30 PM — The Mass­a­chu­setts Asian Amer­i­can Vote (Boston, MA)
  • June 8 at 5:30 PM (Low­ell, MA)
  • June 11 at 6:30 PM — The Mary­land Asian Amer­i­can Vote (co-spon­sored by SAALT) (Rockville, MD)
  • June 12 at 2:00PM — The Asian Amer­i­can Vote (mul­ti­state) (co-spon­sored by SAALT)(Wash­ing­ton, DC)
  • June 17 and 18 at 6:30 PM- The Vir­ginia Asian Amer­i­can Vote (co-spon­sored by SAALT) (Rich­mond, VA)
  • June 18 at 11:30 AM (co-spon­sored by SAALT) (Annan­dale, VA)
  • August 8 (time TBA) — The Chi­nese Amer­i­can Vote (San Fran­cis­co, CA)

Check out events on SAALT's Community Calendar.calendar

SAALT staff are avail­able to speak at your stu­dent orga­ni­za­tion meet­ings, con­fer­ences, and com­mu­ni­ty events on top­ics includ­ing immi­grant rights, South Asians in Amer­i­ca, civic engage­ment, and immi­gra­tion. Please email us at saalt@saalt.org for more infor­ma­tion.

Get Ready for Be the Change 2009 - National Day of Service!

BTC09What are you doing on Saturday, October 3rd?

1) Host a Be the Change event on your campus — If your cam­pus tra­di­tion­al­ly hosts a Be the Change event or if you would like to start one on your cam­pus, please fill out this form by May 30th and we will send you a planning guide and connect you to the national event.

2) Host a Be the Change event in your city- Join or start a plan­ning team in your city. As a mem­ber of the plan­ning team, you will be coor­di­nat­ing ser­vice events, recruit­ing vol­un­teers, and con­nect­ing with oth­er plan­ning teams around the coun­try. Please fill out this form by May 30th and we will connect you with others in your city who are interested in planning a Be the Change event.  Our core cities this year are: Wash­ing­ton DC, New York City, South Bay, San Fran­cis­co, Atlanta, and Boston. We also wel­come oth­er cities to hold Be the Change events.

3) Join SAALT as a National Partner for Be the Change- If your orga­ni­za­tion, pro­fes­sion­al asso­ci­a­tion, or youth group would like to part­ner with SAALT, local­ly or nation­al­ly, please email us at btc2009@saalt.org by May 30th.

South Asian Summit Roundup

summitDid you miss the Summit?

  • Lis­ten to pod­casts of the ses­sions here
  • View pic­tures from the Sum­mit here
  • Hear from par­tic­i­pants in Sum­mit Snap­shots here
  • Read entries from the SAALT Spot about the Sum­mit here

Make A Donation to
Support SAALT's Work in 2009 Today!

Are you a SAALT mem­ber yet?


If not, we urge you to become a member today. By becom­ing a SAALT mem­ber, you not only receive ben­e­fits (such as our annu­al newslet­ter and dis­counts at events and gath­er­ings), but the sat­is­fac­tion of being part of a nation­al non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tion that address­es civ­il and immi­grant rights issues fac­ing South Asians in Amer­i­ca.

Do you know some­one who would be inter­est­ed in learn­ing about SAALT? For­ward them this email by click­ing here:

Forward this email


South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT) is a nation­al, non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cat­ed to fos­ter­ing full and equal par­tic­i­pa­tion by South Asians in all aspects of Amer­i­can civic and polit­i­cal life through a social jus­tice frame­work that includes advo­ca­cy, coali­tion-build­ing, com­mu­ni­ty edu­ca­tion, and lead­er­ship devel­op­ment.

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)