House Passes Historic Dream and Promise Act

We’re tak­ing a moment today to pause and cel­e­brate what just hap­pened.

After years of immi­grant jus­tice orga­niz­ing by a broad coali­tion of com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers, allies and part­ners, elect­ed offi­cials have lis­tened.

The House vot­ed last night to pass the Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6), which offers per­ma­nent pro­tec­tions and a path­way to cit­i­zen­ship for over two mil­lion peo­ple. The bill passed the House yes­ter­day with no addi­tion­al anti-immi­grant amend­ments.

H.R. 6 will have a direct impact on the lives of peo­ple who came to the U.S. as chil­dren — Deferred Action for Child­hood Arrivals (DACA) recip­i­ents. It will make a dif­fer­ence in the lives of peo­ple who came to the U.S. because their coun­tries were rav­aged by war, dis­as­ter, or U.S. inter­ven­tion — those with Tem­po­rary Pro­tect­ed Sta­tus (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Depar­ture (DED).

In our com­mu­ni­ties alone, there are over 15,000 Nepalis with TPS and 4,500 South Asians with DACA sta­tus.

H.R. 6  will give them the abil­i­ty to plan a future for them­selves.

The road ahead isn’t easy. We are dis­turbed that this vic­to­ry in the House includ­ed long debates across both par­ties on the use of deeply flawed gang data­bas­es and unjust crim­i­nal con­vic­tions to deny pro­tec­tions to some immi­grants. Ulti­mate­ly, the tire­less polit­i­cal edu­ca­tion of Mem­bers on the part of advo­cates ensured that the bill passed the House with no harm­ful addi­tions. But, our work ahead will be to stop Con­gress from fund­ing this administration’s depor­ta­tion machine.

Before H.R. 6 becomes law, the Sen­ate must vote to pass H.R. 6 and Pres­i­dent Trump must sign it into law. We com­mit to ramp­ing up the pres­sure on our elect­ed offi­cials.  

Lak­sh­mi Sri­daran, Inter­im Co-Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of SAALT said, “ The Dream and Promise Act passed the House with­out addi­tion­al anti-immi­grant con­ces­sions.  This is the first step in bring­ing an end to this administration’s racist and xeno­pho­bic poli­cies and lay­ing a foun­da­tion for immi­grant jus­tice in fed­er­al pol­i­cy. When we refuse to com­pro­mise our val­ues, we keep the bar high­er and set the stan­dard for change. This must be the new path for­ward for addi­tion­al leg­is­la­tion and mea­sures to defund depor­ta­tion and restore pro­tec­tions for all immi­grant and com­mu­ni­ties of col­or.”

Con­tact: sophia@saalt.org

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ACTION ALERT: URGE CONGRESS TO PASS THE DREAM AND PROMISE ACT WITH NO HARMFUL ANTI-IMMIGRANT AMENDMENTS

June 3, 2019

Last month’s pas­sage of the Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6) by the House Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee is a his­toric mile­stone in the fight for immi­grant rights. It is sched­uled for a full floor vote in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives tomor­row, June 4th.

The Dream and Promise Act offers a path­way to cit­i­zen­ship for thou­sands of our com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers who are Deferred Action for Child­hood Arrivals (DACA) recip­i­ents and Tem­po­rary Pro­tect­ed Sta­tus (TPS) hold­ers.

As this his­toric leg­is­la­tion goes to the House, we need YOU to urge law­mak­ers to both sup­port this leg­is­la­tion, which would pro­vide per­ma­nent pro­tec­tions and a path­way to cit­i­zen­ship for over two mil­lion immi­grants, and reject any anti-immi­grant amend­ments or changes to the bill.

Please take a moment to call your Mem­ber of Con­gress and urge them to pass the Dream and Promise Act with NO harm­ful anti-immi­grant amend­ments.

There are over 15,000 Nepalis with TPS whose pro­tec­tion from depor­ta­tion will expire on June 24, 2019. NCSO mem­ber orga­ni­za­tion, Adhikaar has been lead­ing the fight to ensure that the thou­sands of Nepalis on TPS would be able to remain here in the U.S. with their fam­i­lies, rather than being deport­ed at the end of this month.

Over 4,500 South Asians in the U.S. are active DACA recip­i­ents (2,550 Indi­an recip­i­ents, 1,300 Pak­istani recip­i­ents, 470 Bangladeshi recip­i­ents, and 120 Sri Lankan recip­i­ents). The Dream and Promise Act would give them a per­ma­nent path to cit­i­zen­ship and access to in-state tuition and fed­er­al finan­cial aid.

It is crit­i­cal that law­mak­ers vote against any anti-immi­grant changes to the bill, regard­less of their sub­stance, includ­ing any addi­tion­al fund­ing for ICE and CBP as well as any fur­ther dis­cre­tionary pow­er to USCIS or DHS that would increase depor­ta­tions and deten­tion. Any anti-immi­grant amend­ments will serve only to delay the pas­sage of this vital leg­is­la­tion.

Lak­sh­mi Sri­daran, Inter­im Co-Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of SAALT said, “The Dream and Promise Act will give over two mil­lion immi­grants a fun­da­men­tal right — the right to build a life and plan for a future in this coun­try. We urge all Mem­bers of Con­gress to act bold­ly and pass this leg­is­la­tion with no anti-immi­grant amend­ments. It’s time for Con­gress to chip away at this administration’s racist poli­cies and vot­ing for H.R. 6 with­out delay is a step in the right direc­tion. It is our hope that this leg­is­la­tion will the be the first of many and lay a strong foun­da­tion for immi­grant jus­tice. ”

Getting in Touch with the Netroots (pt.7)

Final ses­sion of Net­roots (for me with my flight home this after­noon, every­one else looks to be get­ting down with the offi­cial part-ay tonight by Dai­lyKos), and its about a core issue, immi­gra­tion reform. It’s great that we have a ses­sion about this top­ic, which is so impor­tant to the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty, but I’m a lit­tle bummed to see that, while it has a pret­ty good turnout, its not burst­ing at the seams. This is the only ses­sion I could find that dealt explic­it­ly with immi­gra­tion reform (there have def­i­nite­ly been oth­ers that touched upon it) and I had real­ly hoped that more of the Nation would come out about this.

Any­ways, the pan­el has rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Break­through, Amer­i­ca’s Voice, FIRM and SEIU. Thus far, its been most­ly con­text-set­ting and talk­ing about what each orga­ni­za­tion is doing in the area. Nico­la from fIRM shared that what got their orga­ni­za­tion into online orga­niz­ing was actu­al­ly sto­ry­telling. After the New Bed­ford raids, they need­ed a way to get the sto­ries out to peo­ple since the media was­n’t pay­ing any atten­tion. Now they’re work­ing to build social net­work­ing tools that are more respon­sive and are able to “go offline.” Joaquin from SEIU showed advo­ca­cy efforts SEIU has under­tak­en to high­light the plight of DREAM Act stu­dents fac­ing depor­ta­tion.

Since this is my final post from Net­roots, I’ll bring togeth­er some of my obser­va­tions and thoughts from the week­end. Being here at Net­roots and see­ing the groundswell of sup­port and resources that exist in the pro­gres­sive move­ment is def­i­nite­ly an amaz­ing thing. It can feel, some­times, that we’re the lit­tle guy and we’re out­gunned and out-resourced by “the oth­er side” which obvi­ous­ly shifts debate to debate and issue to issue. Its not that Net­roots has shown me that we’re drown­ing in easy, acces­si­ble resources. Instead, it showed me how pro­gres­sives have and con­tin­ue to fight against entrenched elites using what­ev­er’s avail­able and chang­ing the rules of the game. Its that spir­it of “nev­er say die” that I will take back with me. A lot of the peo­ple here aren’t nec­es­sar­i­ly involved and active in the same issues, there is def­i­nite­ly inter­est and will to work togeth­er to make things hap­pen in each oth­ers’ areas. Ulti­mate­ly, we have to use what­ev­er tools are out there to make things like immi­gra­tion or health­care reform, strength­en­ing civ­il rights, fight­ing racial pro­fil­ing hap­pen. Peo­ple all over Amer­i­ca are suf­fer­ing right now and it’s up to us to bring these issues up and bring about progress.

SAALT Policy Connection (May 2009)

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SAALT Policy Connection  (May 2009)

In This Issue

Immigration Policies

Hate Crimes Legislation Passes House!

Health Care Reform and the South Asian Community

At the Table: Meetings with Policymakers

Community Resource: Race and Recession

Support SAALT!

South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT) is a nation­al non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tion whose mis­sion is to pro­mote the full and equal civic and polit­i­cal par­tic­i­pa­tion of South Asians in the Unit­ed States. SAALT is the coor­di­nat­ing enti­ty of the Nation­al Coali­tion of South Asian Orga­ni­za­tions (NCSO), a net­work of 36 orga­ni­za­tions that serve, orga­nize, and advo­cate on behalf of the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty across the coun­try.

The SAALT Pol­i­cy Con­nec­tion is a month­ly e‑newsletter that focus­es on cur­rent pol­i­cy issues. To learn more about SAALT’s pol­i­cy work, con­tact us at saalt@saalt.org.

Immigration: Policies from the Administration and Congress

Fed­er­al pol­i­cy­mak­ers are con­tin­u­ing to con­sid­er immi­gra­tion poli­cies that will affect South Asian com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers. With over 75% of the com­mu­ni­ty born out­side of the U.S., South Asians pos­sess a range of immi­gra­tion sta­tus­es, includ­ing tem­po­rary work­ers, green card hold­ers, asy­lum-seek­ers, depen­dent visa­hold­ers, and undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants. Any changes in immi­gra­tion poli­cies will affect the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty. In order to pro­mote the full inte­gra­tion of South Asians into this coun­try’s econ­o­my and soci­ety, just and humane immi­gra­tion reform is nec­es­sary.

The Admin­is­tra­tion:

In recent weeks, the Oba­ma Admin­is­tra­tion made var­i­ous state­ments and insti­tut­ed sev­er­al poli­cies relat­ing to immi­gra­tion:

  • In April, Admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials stat­ed its com­mit­ment to immi­gra­tion reform, includ­ing legal­iza­tion of near­ly 12 mil­lion undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants dur­ing 2009.
  • Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty (DHS) Sec­re­tary Janet Napoli­tano has stat­ed that DHS will prioritize enforcement raids and prosecutions on abusive employers who know­ing­ly hire undoc­u­ment­ed work­ers. How­ev­er, work­site raids may still con­tin­ue which impact the lives of many immi­grants work­ing in var­i­ous sec­tors of the econ­o­my.
  • Dur­ing a hear­ing before the Sen­ate Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee in ear­ly May, DHS Sec­re­tary Napoli­tano stat­ed her com­mit­ment to review profiling and searches of electronic devices at the border that have affect­ed many Mus­lims and South Asians return­ing from trips abroad, as doc­u­ment­ed in recent reports by the Asian Law Cau­cus and Mus­lim Advo­cates.
  • DHS has con­tin­ued and expand­ed imple­men­ta­tion of a trou­bling enforce­ment pro­gram, “Secure Com­mu­ni­ties” that would allow immigration status checks be conducted for individuals who are apprehended by local police at the time of arrest. It will also allow immi­gra­tion author­i­ties to place “detain­ers” (noti­fi­ca­tion to immi­gra­tion author­i­ties pri­or to release from jail that can lead to deten­tion). Such pro­grams raise cause for con­cern giv­en that checks may done, regard­less of guilt or inno­cence, and fur­ther open the door for pro­fil­ing. For more infor­ma­tion about Secure Com­mu­ni­ties and the neg­a­tive impact on immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties, check out this fact­sheet by the Nation­al Immi­gra­tion Law Cen­ter.

On June 8, President Obama will be meeting with various members of Congress to discuss immigration and immi­grant rights advo­cates as well as com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers will be look­ing to see what next steps may be decid­ed fol­low­ing the meet­ing

Con­gress:

Con­gress has also recent­ly re-focused its atten­tion on find­ing solu­tions to address the bro­ken immi­gra­tion sys­tem:

  • Var­i­ous Sen­a­tors, includ­ing Robert Menen­dez of New Jer­sey, Kirsten Gilli­brand and Charles Schumer of New York, and Edward Kennedy of Mass­a­chu­setts, have intro­duced the Reuniting Families Act. This bill strives to reduce fam­i­ly visa back­logs that keep many South Asians sep­a­rat­ed from loved ones abroad, by reclas­si­fy­ing spous­es and chil­dren of green card hold­ers as “imme­di­ate rel­a­tives”, rais­ing per-coun­try visa allo­ca­tions, and allow­ing unused visas from pre­vi­ous years to be applied to the back­log. Community members are urged to contact their Senators to encourage them to support this bill.
  • In April and May, Sen­a­tor Charles Schumer of New York, chair of the Sen­ate Immi­gra­tion Sub­com­mit­tee, held hear­ings on immi­gra­tion issues focused on bor­der secu­ri­ty poli­cies and com­pre­hen­sive immi­gra­tion reform.
  • On June 3, the Sen­ate Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee will hold the first-ever hear­ing on the Uniting American Families Act (H.R. 1024), which would allow U.S. cit­i­zens and green card hold­ers to spon­sor their same-sex part­ners for fam­i­ly-based immi­gra­tion. This bill would be a vital step towards coun­ter­ing dis­crim­i­na­tion that exists in the cur­rent immi­gra­tion sys­tem against LGTBIQ South Asians in bina­tion­al cou­ples.
  • The DREAM Act, which would allow cer­tain undoc­u­ment­ed stu­dents to legal­ize their sta­tus if they attend col­lege or join the mil­i­tary, has been intro­duced in the House and Sen­ate.

Civil Rights: Hate Crimes Legislation Victory

South Asian com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers often con­front bias and dis­crim­i­na­tion in the form of hate crimes as a result of post‑9/11 back­lash, anti-immi­grant sen­ti­ment, and xeno­pho­bia. In a recent vic­to­ry in the move­ment towards pre­vent­ing hate crimes and pro­tect­ing its sur­vivors, the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives passed the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (H.R. 1913) in May. This Act expands cur­rent fed­er­al hate crimes laws to include vio­lence moti­vat­ed by gen­der, gen­der iden­ti­ty, sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion and dis­abil­i­ty. It would also pro­vide greater resources to state and local law enforce­ment inves­ti­gat­ing and pros­e­cut­ing hate crimes. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration and community members are urged to contact your Senators to encourage them to support this bill (S. 909).

Health Care Reform and the South Asian Community

Health care reform has jumped to the top of the agen­da for Con­gress and the Oba­ma Admin­is­tra­tion. The need for afford­able cov­er­age and lin­guis­ti­cal­ly and cul­tur­al­ly acces­si­ble health care is vital for the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty. In fact, approx­i­mate­ly 20 per­cent of South Asians lack health cov­er­age plans leav­ing afford­able health care out of reach for many com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers. In addi­tion, lin­guis­tic and cul­tur­al bar­ri­ers pre­vent many lim­it­ed Eng­lish pro­fi­cient South Asians from being able to com­mu­ni­cate effec­tive­ly with health care pro­fes­sion­als and obtain emer­gency assis­tance when need­ed. To get a back­ground on health issues affect­ing South Asians, check out the health sec­tion of the Nation­al Action Agen­da, a pol­i­cy plat­form devel­oped by the Nation­al Coali­tion of South Asian Orga­ni­za­tions, and a recent piece in SAMAR by Sap­na Pandya and Pratik Saha of the South Asian Health Ini­tia­tive at New York Uni­ver­si­ty.

Pres­i­dent Oba­ma has urged Con­gress to enact health care reform before the end of 2009 and con­vened a White House Forum on Health Care Reform. To learn more about the White House­’s com­mit­ment to health care reform, vis­it www.healthreform.gov. The Sen­ate Finance Com­mit­tee are expect­ed to start work­ing on a health care reform bill in mid-June.

Community Issues at the Table

As part of SAALT’s pol­i­cy work, we par­tic­i­pate in var­i­ous meet­ings and brief­in­gs with gov­ern­men­tal agen­cies and leg­is­la­tors at the local, state, and fed­er­al lev­el to raise issues about poli­cies that affect the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty. Dur­ing April and May, SAALT par­tic­i­pat­ed in the fol­low­ing meet­ings to con­vey the con­cerns of South Asians regard­ing var­i­ous pol­i­cy ini­tia­tives:

  • Roundtables with Various Government Agencies during South Asian Summit: Com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of South Asian orga­ni­za­tions had an oppor­tu­ni­ty to dia­logue with var­i­ous gov­ern­ment agen­cies at the South Asian Sum­mit in late April. Par­tic­i­pat­ing agen­cies includ­ed the Depart­ments of Health and Human Ser­vices, Home­land Secu­ri­ty, Hous­ing and Urban Devel­op­ment, Jus­tice, and Office on Vio­lence Against Women. Dur­ing these meet­ings, par­tic­i­pants raised local issues of con­cern and learned about the agen­cies’ pol­i­cy pri­or­i­ties for this year.
  • White House Religious Liaison Meeting: SAALT met with the Reli­gious Liai­son at the White House Office of Pub­lic Engage­ment in May to dis­cuss and high­light issues of impor­tance to faith-based com­mu­ni­ties. SAALT iden­ti­fied issues rang­ing from dis­crim­i­na­tion and harass­ment on the basis of reli­gion to the need for greater fund­ing and sup­port for faith-based insti­tu­tions at the meet­ing. For more infor­ma­tion, please con­tact us at saalt@saalt.org.

Community Resource Spotlight: Race and the Recession

A new report from the Applied Research Cen­ter, “Race and Recession: How Inequity Rigged the Economy and How to Change the Rules” tells the sto­ries of peo­ple of col­or who are dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly affect­ed by the reces­sion. It uncov­ers root caus­es of long-term racial inequri­ties that fed into the eco­nom­ic cri­sis and pro­pos­es struc­tur­al solu­tions to change a sys­tem that threat­ens future gen­er­a­tions. Read the report online and check out the “Race and Reces­sion” video to learn more and take action.

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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)