South Asian Migrants in Detention

South Asian Migrants in Deten­tion: A Fact­sheet

This fact sheet pro­vides an overview of trends in South Asian migra­tion along the U.S. South­ern bor­der, con­di­tions many South Asian migrants face in deten­tion facil­i­ties, spe­cif­ic deten­tion cas­es SAALT has tracked since 2014,  and num­bers of undoc­u­ment­ed Indi­ans.

Men who Sustained 80-day Hunger Strike Released from El Paso Detention Facility

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

April 17, 2019

Jasvir Singh and Rajan­deep Singh were released from the Otero Coun­ty Pro­cess­ing Cen­ter last week almost three months after ini­tial reports that they were among nine Sikh men on hunger strike whom ICE agents were force feed­ing in the El Paso Ser­vice Pro­cess­ing Cen­ter.

El Paso and Las Cruces based com­mu­ni­ty groups and nation­al advo­ca­cy orga­ni­za­tions launched a coor­di­nat­ed cam­paign to demand ICE cease force feed­ing and release the men.   

ICE released both men on bond after con­sis­tent pres­sure from local Rep. Veron­i­ca Escobar’s office and local and nation­al advo­cates, and days after a Con­gres­sion­al Del­e­ga­tion from the House Com­mit­tee on Home­land Secu­ri­ty vis­it­ed and toured facil­i­ties in El Paso where they exam­ined immi­gra­tion poli­cies and oper­a­tions along our south­ern bor­der.

Three of the men who had orig­i­nal­ly been among the nine on hunger strike remain in deten­tion. While on hunger strike at EPSPC they report­ed reg­u­lar phys­i­cal, ver­bal, and psy­cho­log­i­cal abuse at the hands of facil­i­ty guards.

Jasvir and Rajan­deep sus­tained a hunger strike for near­ly 80 days to protest their con­di­tions and treat­ment in deten­tion. They had been held in the EPSPC since Novem­ber 2018.  Ini­tial­ly they were part of a group of 13 men in the EPSPC, ten from India and three from Cuba, who began hunger strik­ing at the end of Decem­ber.

Four of the men tak­ing part in the hunger strike were deport­ed and returned to India in ear­ly March. A fifth man who agreed to stop his hunger strike in Jan­u­ary in return for much need­ed surgery, was also deport­ed.

Quotes:

Jen­nifer Apo­da­ca of the Detained Migrant Sol­i­dar­i­ty Com­mit­tee who led advo­ca­cy efforts in El Paso said, “ICE always had the dis­cre­tion to release peo­ple but refused to use it. It shouldn’t have tak­en an angry con­gres­sion­al del­e­ga­tion to secure their release. Instead, they con­tin­ue to ignore the com­plaints of abuse and tor­ture and turn a blind eye at the con­di­tions of deten­tion and prison spaces that house more than 52,000 peo­ple as they await their fate in our bro­ken and biased immi­gra­tion courts. All of this could have been avoid­ed. It is time to abol­ish the deten­tion and depor­ta­tion machine.

Nathan Craig from Advo­cate Vis­i­tors with Immi­grants in Deten­tion (AVID) vis­it­ed the hunger strik­ers reg­u­lar­ly in the El Paso facil­i­ty. He said, “From their ini­tial asy­lum requests, to their treat­ment while hunger strik­ing, to their var­i­ous hear­ings, all of these men expe­ri­enced sub­stan­tial dis­crim­i­na­tion based on the lan­guage they speak and the way they dress. Unfound­ed val­ue judge­ments by and prej­u­dices from U.S. gov­ern­ment offi­cials and con­trac­tors result­ed in sig­nif­i­cant neg­a­tive con­se­quences for these men’s asy­lum claims. Inad­e­quate, or com­plete lack of, inter­pre­ta­tion was a chron­ic prob­lem.  All of the men told me about how they were sub­ject­ed to fre­quent racial and eth­nic slurs while detained. Sad­ly, more than the facts of their cas­es, these men’s asy­lum claims have been struc­tured by prej­u­dice on the part of immi­gra­tion offi­cials and their con­trac­tors. This must change. Wrong­do­ing at all stages of the process must be inves­ti­gat­ed. Jus­tice must be brought for those men still in the US, and those men already deport­ed must be afford­ed the oppor­tu­ni­ty to return to the US to pur­sue jus­tice for what is wide­ly rec­og­nized as tor­tur­ous treat­ment in deten­tion.”

Lak­sh­mi Sri­daran, Inter­im Co-Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT), a nation­al advo­ca­cy orga­ni­za­tion for South Asians that led nation­al advo­ca­cy efforts said,  “We are relieved that Jasvir and Rajan­deep have final­ly been released, but it should not have tak­en this long. And, we remain deeply con­cerned for the three men who remain in deten­tion — we fear they could be deport­ed back to India and into the dan­ger­ous con­di­tions they fled. We also know there are thou­sands more peo­ple housed in deten­tion facil­i­ties across the coun­try, suf­fer­ing from the same litany of abuse and due process vio­la­tions that our gov­ern­ment refus­es to acknowl­edge and address. It is clear that our nation’s entire under­stand­ing of deten­tion must be over­hauled. As a start, we need Con­gress to pass leg­is­la­tion that will hold facil­i­ties account­able with penal­ties and even the threat of shut­ting down for their repeat­ed pat­terns of non­com­pli­ance.”

Con­tact: Sophia@saalt.org

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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

 

NAKASEC, SAALT, and SEARAC Welcome Introduction of American Dream and Promise Act

Wash­ing­ton, D.C.: Asian Amer­i­can orga­ni­za­tions wel­come the intro­duc­tion of the Amer­i­can Dream and Promise Act. The bill, intro­duced by Reps. Lucille Roy­bal-Allard (D‑CA 40), Nydia Velazquez (D‑NY 7), and Yvette Clarke (D‑NY 9), pro­vides a major­i­ty of undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants eli­gi­ble for the Deferred Action for Child­hood Arrivals (DACA) pro­gram and indi­vid­u­als with sta­tus under the Tem­po­rary Pro­tect­ed Sta­tus (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Depar­ture (DED) pro­grams a path­way to cit­i­zen­ship.

There are more than 11.5 mil­lion undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants, 1.7 mil­lion of whom are Asian Amer­i­can. The top five coun­tries of ori­gin for Asian Amer­i­can undoc­u­ment­ed indi­vid­u­als are India, Chi­na, South Korea, the Philip­pines, and Viet­nam. The leg­is­la­tion would pro­tect over 2 mil­lion indi­vid­u­als from deten­tion and depor­ta­tion by cre­at­ing a per­ma­nent path­way to cit­i­zen­ship for these pop­u­la­tions. Fur­ther­more, approx­i­mate­ly 120,000 Asian Amer­i­can DREAM­ERs and 15,000 Nepali Amer­i­cans who cur­rent­ly live in the Unit­ed States through the TPS pro­gram would ben­e­fit from the process cre­at­ed in this bill.

Quyen Dinh, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of SEARAC, states:

We applaud the lead­er­ship of Reps. Roy­bal-Allard, Velazquez, and Clarke for intro­duc­ing this bill. It is an impor­tant step for immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties and, if passed, would pro­vide more than 9,000 Viet­namese Amer­i­cans with a per­ma­nent path­way to cit­i­zen­ship. Our com­mu­ni­ties are hope­ful that this act will cre­ate a strong foun­da­tion and pave the way for addi­tion­al leg­is­la­tion that lib­er­ates all mem­bers of our com­mu­ni­ties from the fear height­ened deten­tions and depor­ta­tions inflict. And as Con­gress moves this bill for­ward, we must ensure that we do not divide immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties into those deserv­ing and unde­serv­ing of pro­tec­tions by uti­liz­ing only mod­el immi­grant nar­ra­tives. SEARAC will con­tin­ue to work with mem­bers of Con­gress to pass the Amer­i­can Dream and Promise Act and fix our fun­da­men­tal­ly bro­ken immi­gra­tion sys­tem to cre­ate humane immi­gra­tion process­es that pro­tect South­east Asian Amer­i­can fam­i­lies from the trau­ma of deten­tion and depor­ta­tion and reunite our fam­i­lies in the Unit­ed States.”

Suman Raghu­nathan, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of SAALT, states:

We wel­come the intro­duc­tion of the Amer­i­can Dream and Promise Act, sets out to pro­vide a long await­ed path­way to cit­i­zen­ship for over two mil­lion indi­vid­u­als, includ­ing those with DACA, TPS, and DED. The South Asian com­mu­ni­ty in the Unit­ed States alone has over 23,000 Dream­ers and 15,000 Nepali Amer­i­cans with TPS who will direct­ly ben­e­fit from this leg­is­la­tion. While Con­gress embarks on this impor­tant step, we will con­tin­ue to fol­low the lead­er­ship of DACA, TPS, and DED hold­ers, who advo­cate for poli­cies that would uplift all — rather than leg­is­la­tion that would ben­e­fit one immi­grant com­mu­ni­ty at the expense of anoth­er. We must not allow any com­pro­mis­es that would under­mine this hard work and deliv­er this bill’s pro­tec­tions for the price of increased enforce­ment and oth­er harm­ful and unnec­es­sary addi­tions. We look for­ward to build­ing on this leg­is­la­tion to improve our entire­ly bro­ken immi­gra­tion sys­tem to ensure that all immi­grant fam­i­lies are pro­tect­ed from deten­tion, depor­ta­tion, and denat­u­ral­iza­tion.

Birdie Park, DACA Recip­i­ent with NAKASEC, states:

We are excit­ed about for­ward motion in Con­gress for immi­grant youth, TPS hold­ers, and those with DED. We call upon our mem­bers of Con­gress to be coura­geous and not nego­ti­ate any­thing harm­ful for our com­mu­ni­ties onto this bill.”

 

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.

Daily Buzz 3.11.09

1. Bol­ly­wood hits col­lege cam­pus­es

2. Bob­by Jin­dal: Tak­ing Us Back­wards- A South Asian woman says “No thanks”

3. To go with the great Op-Ed in the Bal­ti­more Sun, anoth­er piece about how deten­tion and depor­ta­tion hurts immi­grant chil­dren

4. Dha­ka res­i­dent describes the BDR mutiny

5. Gam­bling and the Asian Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ty

Call out for Guest Bloggers in March for the SAALT Spot – FOCUS ON IMMIGRATION RAIDS AND DETENTION

SAALT wants to hear from activists and com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers about the rel­e­vant issues of the day through our blog, the SAALT Spot.

For the month of March, we are focus­ing on the top­ic of immi­gra­tion raids and deten­tion and their impact on the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty. You don’t need to be an immi­gra­tion expert; we are inter­est­ed in what peo­ple through­out the coun­try and com­mu­ni­ty are think­ing and talk­ing about.

Things you can con­sid­er when com­pos­ing a blog post:

-Immi­gra­tion enforce­ment has been on the rise in recent years and include both work­place and res­i­den­tial raids. In fact, a recent raid, the first since Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s inau­gu­ra­tion, took place on Feb­ru­ary 24th in Belling­ham, WA, where 28 work­ers were arrest­ed by Immi­gra­tion and Cus­toms Enforce­ment at a engine man­u­fac­tur­ing plant.

-Immi­gra­tion raids tear fam­i­lies apart, often sep­a­rat­ing U.S. cit­i­zen chil­dren from their immi­grant par­ents.

-There are now approx­i­mate­ly 400 deten­tion and depor­ta­tion facil­i­ties all around the coun­try (an inter­ac­tive map can be found here).

-A group of the Indi­an guest work­ers who allege they were exploit­ed by their employ­er in the Gulf Coast and are engaged in a strug­gle for jus­tice were caught up in an immi­gra­tion work­place raid in North Dako­ta. 23 work­ers were arrest­ed dur­ing that raid.

- Oth­er sto­ries of South Asians in deten­tion and depor­ta­tion pro­ceed­ings like Har­vey Sachdev, a diag­nosed schiz­o­phrenic deport­ed to India who has since gone miss­ing

As the issue of work­place raids and immi­gra­tion deten­tion con­di­tions becomes the top­ic of Con­gres­sion­al leg­is­la­tion and con­ver­sa­tions around the coun­try, blog posts could focus on:

-How have immi­gra­tion enforce­ment pro­ce­dures affect­ed South Asians?

-What issues and pro­vi­sions should South Asians look for in gov­ern­ment leg­is­la­tion and poli­cies that address immi­gra­tion enforce­ment?

-How can the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty make our posi­tions heard around immi­gra­tion enforce­ment poli­cies?

Ide­al­ly, blog posts will be between 1–3 para­graphs and each guest-blog­ger will write 2–3 entries in the course of the month. If you want to link to inter­est­ing arti­cles or blog posts, please include them in the text of the com­po­si­tion. All entries should be emailed to mou@saalt.org on the Tues­day of each week in Feb­ru­ary that you can con­tribute. Entries may be edit­ed for length.

Mentally Ill Man with Open Case, Deported back to India 2 days After Obama Inaugurated, is Now Missing

This case came to our atten­tion through Dim­ple Rana at Deport­ed Dias­po­ra. In a trag­ic turn of event, Har­vey Sachdev, who has lived in the Unit­ed States for more than 40 years, was deport­ed to India even though his case is still open on appeal. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, Sachdev suf­fers from schiz­o­phre­nia and has been miss­ing since his arrival in New Del­hi. Read the press release about Sachde­v’s case below.

Want to do some­thing to to demand human rights for immi­grants who are in deten­tion and who reg­u­lar­ly face due process vio­la­tions? Take a minute to sign this peti­tion to Pres­i­dent Oba­ma encour­ag­ing him to con­sid­er these vio­la­tions as he staffs and restruc­tures the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty (the Exec­u­tive agency that over­sees many key oper­a­tions includ­ing Immi­gra­tion and Cus­toms Enforce­ment) here <http://www.rightsworkinggroup.org/?q=DHSPetition>

PRESS RELEASE:
Men­tal­ly Ill Man with Open Case, Deport­ed 2 days After Oba­ma Inau­gu­rat­ed, is Now Miss­ing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednes­day, Jan­u­ary 28, 2009

For more infor­ma­tion, con­tact:
Neena Sachdev, nks29@cox.net
Greg Pleas­ants, JD/MSW, (213) 389‑2077, ext. 19, gpleasants@mhas-la.org
Dim­ple Rana, (781) 521‑4544, dimple.scorpio@gmail.com

Wash­ing­ton DC Area Fam­i­ly of Men­tal­ly Ill Man Fears for His Life as He is Miss­ing in India Fol­low­ing Depor­ta­tion
ICE exe­cutes depor­ta­tion of schiz­o­phrenic man on Jan­u­ary 22nd, despite his case still being under review, that he is the son, broth­er and father of U.S. cit­i­zens and that his depor­ta­tion could result in his death.

Wash­ing­ton D.C.  —  Jan­u­ary 28, 2009 — The Sachdev fam­i­ly is liv­ing a night­mare as Immi­gra­tion and Cus­toms Enforce­ment (ICE) deport­ed their fam­i­ly mem­ber, Har­vey Sachdev, to India on Jan­u­ary 22nd. Har­vey was a res­i­dent of the Unit­ed States for near­ly 40 years, and is diag­nosed with schiz­o­phre­nia. Har­vey is a son, a broth­er and a father of U.S. cit­i­zens. His case is still open on appeal before the Fourth Cir­cuit court. Nev­er­the­less ICE deport­ed him to India on Jan­u­ary 22nd, 2009.

The trau­ma of Har­vey’s pro­longed deten­tion and recent depor­ta­tion made him high­ly unsta­ble. He is now miss­ing in New Del­hi, India, a city of 11 mil­lion peo­ple. It is an unfa­mil­iar city to him, where he has no fam­i­ly and no access to med­ica­tion. Accord­ing to his broth­er and sis­ters, “Our broth­er’s depor­ta­tion is like­ly a death sen­tence for him, and we also fear our moth­er’s life. The stress and the wor­ry has put her life in per­il.”

Hav­ing pushed his depor­ta­tion date back sev­er­al times, ICE ini­tial­ly noti­fied the fam­i­ly of the sched­uled depor­ta­tion, but failed to con­firm it, so nec­es­sary arrange­ments could be made in India. After repeat­ed calls on the day of his depor­ta­tion, ICE only told the fam­i­ly he was no longer in deten­tion. The fam­i­ly also repeat­ed­ly attempt­ed to get con­fir­ma­tion from the India Con­sulate Offices and Embassy, which had to issue trav­el doc­u­ments, but received no infor­ma­tion.

Har­vey came to the U.S. with his par­ents at the age of twelve. He was vale­dic­to­ri­an of his high school and earned a schol­ar­ship to col­lege. Trag­i­cal­ly, in his late teens he devel­oped schiz­o­phre­nia and has bat­tled men­tal ill­ness for all of his adult life.

Due to his men­tal ill­ness, he was con­vict­ed of inap­pro­pri­ate and aber­rant but non-vio­lent crimes. The most seri­ous was inde­cent expo­sure, but he was not guilty of any phys­i­cal con­tact with any per­son, nor of any vio­lence. There is no indi­ca­tion that any court thought that the pun­ish­ment for his crimes should result in depor­ta­tion to a coun­try that he can’t remem­ber, where he has no friends or fam­i­ly or any con­nec­tion what­so­ev­er.

His par­ents and his fam­i­ly are U.S. cit­i­zens. Two of his fam­i­ly mem­bers are serv­ing in the mil­i­tary, with one com­plet­ing two tours of duty in Iraq. He mar­ried a U.S. cit­i­zen and has a U.S. cit­i­zen daugh­ter who is now twen­ty-two years old.

Mr. Sachdev is men­tal­ly ill and requires care, which his fam­i­ly is able and will­ing to pro­vide. He has no one in India and does not have the abil­i­ty to sur­vive on his own.

Greg Pleas­ants, JD/MSW, an Equal Jus­tice Works Fel­low and Staff Attor­ney at Men­tal Health Advo­ca­cy Ser­vices, Inc. states that “Peo­ple with men­tal and devel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties who are deport­ed can also face a grave risk of harass­ment and even per­se­cu­tion in their home coun­tries — harass­ment and per­se­cu­tion based sole­ly on their dis­abil­i­ties.”

“With­out fam­i­ly or med­ical sup­port, depor­ta­tion can become a death sen­tence. Sui­cide and attempt­ed sui­cide are not uncom­mon among deport­ed peo­ple with men­tal ill­ness­es. Access to med­i­cine can be lim­it­ed and peo­ple are often deport­ed with­out any infor­ma­tion on their med­ical back­ground.  Depor­ta­tion of the men­tal­ly ill is cru­el and unusu­al pun­ish­ment,” says Dim­ple Rana of Deport­ed Dias­po­ra, an orga­ni­za­tion work­ing with peo­ple deport­ed from the U.S.

For more infor­ma­tion, con­tact:
Neena Sachdev — Har­vey Sachde­v’s sis­ter, nks29@cox.net
Greg Pleas­ants, JD/MSW — Equal Jus­tice Works Fel­low and Staff Attor­ney at Men­tal Health Advo­ca­cy Ser­vices, Inc. (213) 389‑2077 ext. 19, gpleasants@mhas-la.org
Dim­ple Rana, Co-Founder and Direc­tor, Deport­ed Dias­po­ra, (781) 521‑4544, dimple.scorpio@gmail.com

Night of 1,000 Conversations is here!

Tonight, “con­ver­sa­tions” (ie. gath­er­ings of peo­ple that meet to share sto­ries) are being held in com­mu­ni­ties across the coun­try. SAALT is excit­ed to be par­tic­i­pat­ing in one such con­ver­sa­tion being held in Wash­ing­ton, DC. The ulti­mate goal of A Night of 1,000 Con­ver­sa­tions is to get peo­ple talk­ing about how gov­ern­ment poli­cies affect the every­day lives of Amer­i­cans. The focus of the con­ver­sa­tion tonight (at the All Souls Church, Uni­tar­i­an near the Colum­bia Heights metro, for those of you in the DC area) is shar­ing the expe­ri­ences of dif­fer­ent immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties around poli­cies and issues like back­logs in the cit­i­zen­ship and nat­u­ral­iza­tion process; inhu­mane deten­tion and depor­ta­tion pro­ce­dures; home and work­place raids and more. SAALT is work­ing with All Souls Uni­tar­i­an Social Jus­tice Min­istries, Amer­i­can Arab Anti-Dis­crim­i­na­tion Com­mit­tee, CASA de Mary­land, Vir­ginia New Major­i­ty and Rights Work­ing Group to orga­nize this con­ver­sa­tion and we wel­come any­one in the Wash­ing­ton, DC area to attend. The event goes from 6:30pm — 9:00pm and begins with iftar/dinner and includes a pan­el dis­cus­sion with experts and affect­ed com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers fol­lowed by small group dis­cus­sions. One of the fea­tured pan­elists is jour­nal­ist Laila Al-Ari­an, the author of Col­lat­er­al Dam­age, who will dis­cuss the deten­tion of her father, Sami Al-Ari­an. If you would like to attend this event, please join us! The iftar and remarks will begin prompt­ly at 6:30pm.

Map of loca­tion

Fly­er for Night of 1,000 Con­ver­sa­tionsTo learn more about Night of 1,000 Con­ver­sa­tions, vis­it www.nightof1,000conversations.org 

 

. (This web­site also lists con­ver­sa­tions hap­pen­ing in oth­er loca­tions around the coun­try.)