March 27, 2023
Suman Raghunathan
Suman Raghunathan, executive director, SAALT.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Feb. 22, 2017) — South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national South Asian advocacy organization, resolutely objects to the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) memoranda implementing President Trump’s executive orders on interior and border enforcement.

We believe these memos further relegate South Asian and all immigrant communities to second-class citizenship, questioning our very place in the quintessential nation of immigrants.

These policies massively expand and accelerate detentions and deportations, trample upon due process by in many cases removing the requirement for hearings and convictions prior to deportation, deputize local law enforcement to serve as immigration enforcement authorities, and increase the profiling and targeting of immigrant communities already under siege in the wake of recent and controversial executive orders released by this administration.

“The scale of the President’s anti-immigrant policies is extreme, and the new administration appears hell-bent on targeting and demonizing immigrant communities through orders that actively undermine safety and public trust in law enforcement,” stated Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT. “Short-circuiting due process is not a crackdown on crime, but a crackdown on rights and our very founding values as a nation, and these measures must be opposed by all communities of color.”

The President’s policies deeply affect the South Asian American community, the most rapidly growing demographic group in the United States at over 4.3 million. The undocumented South Asian population has grown significantly in the US in recent decades. India is the country of origin with the greatest increase in unauthorized immigrants to the United States with a 914% increase since 1990. Currently there are 450,000 undocumented Indian-Americans in the US alone, making India the fourth-highest sending country for undocumented immigrants after Mexico, El Salvador, and Guatemala.

As documented in our recent report, “Power, Pain, Potential,” hate violence against our communities has skyrocketed to levels not seen since the backlash immediately after the events of 9/11. At a time when immigrant communities need to feel confident in engaging with local law enforcement to report such incidents, the President’s draconian policies will instead force vulnerable communities to turn inward based upon their fear of profiling and deportation at the hands of the authorities. Overall public safety will likely plunge as a result, as entire communities continue to lose trust in the very law enforcement professionals tasked with keeping them safe. As such, public safety does not increase, but instead cripples under the weight of these short-sighted anti-immigrant policies.

Our communities are at the crosshairs. SAALT will continue to fight for the core rights and protections for our communities at the national, state and local levels with our 55 community partners of the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations. We will remain unbowed.

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