WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nov. 9, 2016) — South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) joins our community and much of the nation in grappling with the results of one of the most divisive, anti-immigrant, and xenophobic election campaigns in modern American history.
We call on President-Elect Trump to immediately renounce the hate-filled rhetoric used throughout his campaign and commit to safeguarding the rights and freedoms of all Americans, including the 4.3 million South Asians living in the U.S.
“The President-Elect must acknowledge the steady narrative of hate and fear used during his campaign has served as a rallying cry for violence and oppression against our communities,” stated Suman Raghunathan, executive director of SAALT. “At this early and urgent hour, the President-Elect must immediately reverse course and partner with South Asian organizations nationwide to protect our community’s civil liberties, to achieve immigration reform, and to understand that the only way to Make America Great is by ensuring the fundamental freedoms of everyone under the law.”
We’ve heard from many in our community, particularly Muslim and Sikh Americans, who have expressed concerns for their safety in the wake of the elections. Unfortunately, these fears are not misplaced. SAALT has tracked a disturbing uptick in hate violence and xenophobic rhetoric against our communities in the last year, with 200 instances occurring across the country since November 2015. Of the over 80 incidents of xenophobic rhetoric we’ve tracked, over 25 percent have been statements by the President-Elect, including calling for a “complete and total shutdown of Muslims entering the United States”. Our nation as a whole and our communities deserve better. We call on the President-Elect to partner with SAALT and the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations to prevent, detect, and respond to bias-motivated incidents of violence, and to denounce any hate directed at our communities.
The new administration must also abandon the anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric that were hallmarks of the campaign. Statements about “building a wall”, using a “deportation force”, and “extreme vetting” must be categorically renounced. The President-elect must instead prioritize engaging members of Congress to create a roadmap to citizenship, preserve family-based immigration systems, and put an end to the draconian immigration enforcement policies currently in place. With 450,000 undocumented Indian Americans alone, South Asians have a tremendous stake in fixing our broken immigration system, and we call on the new administration to pass immigration legislation that will defend our rights and expand opportunity for immigrant families.
If the President-elect governs in the manner in which he campaigned, he must be held accountable to the law and to the people of our country. Making America Great is only possible by making America better, day by day, together. SAALT stands ready in this important endeavor and remains undeterred in our demand for South Asian equality.