AAPIs say, “Immigrants and Refugees Deserve Better than a Harmful Bill and a Fake National Emergency”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Fri­day, Feb­ru­ary 15, 2019

Wash­ing­ton, DC — The South­east Asia Resource Action Cen­ter (SEARAC), Nation­al Kore­an Amer­i­can Ser­vice & Edu­ca­tion Con­sor­tium (NAKASEC), and South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT) are grave­ly con­cerned by the steps tak­en last night by the Unit­ed States Con­gress and the pres­i­dent.

First, Asian Amer­i­can Pacif­ic Islander (AAPI) immi­grant fam­i­lies are deeply dis­ap­point­ed with the pas­sage of the Con­sol­i­dat­ed Appro­pri­a­tions Act of 2019 in both the House and Sen­ate yes­ter­day.

We under­stand the immense pres­sure that nego­tia­tors were under to pre­vent anoth­er gov­ern­ment shut­down. We sim­i­lar­ly need to keep our gov­ern­ment oper­at­ing. Nev­er­the­less, our orga­ni­za­tions are alarmed at the inclu­sion of $1.375 bil­lion for a phys­i­cal bar­ri­er (a total of 55 miles), an 11% increase in fund­ing for 45,274 Immi­gra­tion and Cus­toms Enforce­ment (ICE) deten­tion beds, and more enforce­ment agents. AAPI com­mu­ni­ties have made clear that any bill includ­ing any of these mea­sures is unac­cept­able. A full list of mea­sures that AAPI com­mu­ni­ties will not stand for can be found in this let­ter to con­gres­sion­al lead­ers.

Both the bor­der wall and the pres­ence of ICE are sources of ter­ror for all immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties. The wall is a sym­bol of hate for any immi­grant liv­ing with­in and out­side of the Unit­ed States, and it directs bil­lions of tax­pay­er dol­lars to sep­a­rat­ing fam­i­lies. Fur­ther­more, the bill does not place a lim­it on the num­ber of ICE deten­tion beds nor does it restrict the author­i­ty of the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty from trans­fer­ring or repro­gram­ming fund­ing inter­nal­ly, which enables ICE to con­tin­ue expand­ing immi­grant incar­cer­a­tion and depor­ta­tion at will.

Sec­ond, Pres­i­dent Trump intends to declare a “nation­al emer­gency” at the bor­der in order to jus­ti­fy the need for his bor­der wall. Make no mis­take, there is no nation­al emer­gency hap­pen­ing at the bor­der. Rather, there is a human­i­tar­i­an cri­sis hap­pen­ing at the bor­der, and it is a cri­sis that Pres­i­dent Trump and his Admin­is­tra­tion caused in its entire­ty. The president’s inten­tion to declare a “nation­al emer­gency” is a uni­lat­er­al rebuke of our demo­c­ra­t­ic process dri­ven by an irra­tional desire to fund an anti-immi­grant unnec­es­sary, and unpop­u­lar bor­der wall after Con­gress would not approve the $5.7 bil­lion the pres­i­dent ini­tial­ly demand­ed. Two-thirds of Amer­i­cans do not sup­port a nation­al emer­gency.

Suman Raghu­nathan, exec­u­tive direc­tor of South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT), said:

“In just the last 10 days we’ve been hear­ing first­hand about the cru­el treat­ment towards nine South Asian men cur­rent­ly on hunger strike in a deten­tion facil­i­ty in El Paso. Despite their asy­lum requests, they’ve been sub­ject to vio­lent force-feed­ing, soli­tary con­fine­ment, and con­stant threats of depor­ta­tion.  What’s par­tic­u­lar­ly dev­as­tat­ing is that we’ve seen sim­i­lar treat­ment occur pre­vi­ous­ly in this same facil­i­ty and we have received accounts of abuse of detainees in sev­er­al facil­i­ties across the coun­try. This bill does noth­ing to address the sys­temic issues with our deten­tion sys­tem, and only serves to per­pet­u­ate abu­sive sit­u­a­tions like the ones we are wit­ness­ing now.”

Jonathan Paik, direc­tor of the Kore­an Resource Cen­ter, a NAKASEC affil­i­ate, stat­ed: “This is a reck­less move and endan­gers the future of our coun­try. Our democ­ra­cy is in incred­i­ble dan­ger- this is the true nation­al emer­gency. We call on all our fel­low Amer­i­cans to resist these abus­es of pow­er and reclaim our democ­ra­cy!”

Quyen Dinh, exec­u­tive direc­tor of SEARAC, expressed:

“The South­east Asian Amer­i­can refugee com­mu­ni­ty has been dev­as­tat­ed by the expan­sion of our deten­tion and depor­ta­tion sys­tem, and our fam­i­lies con­tin­ue to be torn apart at unprece­dent­ed rates. Our orga­ni­za­tions under­stand that this is a dif­fi­cult posi­tion for our pol­i­cy­mak­ers to be in, and none of them should be forced to make this choice. But our com­mu­ni­ties elect­ed our pol­i­cy­mak­ers to rep­re­sent our inter­ests, and Asian Amer­i­cans have declared in no uncer­tain terms that we oppose the pas­sage of this bill and the president’s uncon­sti­tu­tion­al and false­ly jus­ti­fied nation­al emer­gency. We remain vig­i­lant and com­mit­ted to work­ing with our Con­gres­sion­al part­ners to pro­tect the rights of our refugees and immi­grants.”

 

Con­tact: Sophia Qureshi | sophia@saalt.org | 202–997-4211