Kal Penn: The administration’s latest actions on immigration

From an email today by Kal Penn and Organizing for Action:

The White House just issued a new version of their earlier travel ban targeting Muslims and refugees. Remember the one that was halted by the courts because it’s almost certainly unconstitutional? Well today, they released an executive order that’s essentially the same dangerous, discriminatory ban as the first one.

The senior policy adviser who helped write the original executive order even said so himself — he promised last week the new ban would have “the same basic policy outcome” as the first one, with only “minor technical differences.”

First, let’s be clear: These bans make our country less safe, not more so. No refugee since 9/11 — when we implemented a new vetting system — has been convicted of domestic terrorism. Neither has any immigrant from the countries that the ban targets. The problems with the first travel ban were neither minor nor technical — the problem was that it fundamentally violated everything we stand for.

That’s exactly what I was thinking when I received a text message from my buddy whose friend’s father had just been turned away from boarding a flight to L.A. because of his Iraqi background. He was traveling to visit his son, a refugee. Unfortunately, my friend’s story was not an isolated incident; it was precisely what our president promised. The thing is, this doesn’t represent who we are.

We all love our incredible country. The opportunities we’ve had as the sons and daughters of immigrants speak to just how great America is. In the days and weeks following the new administration’s un-American executive order, millions of people rallied around the country to turn something awful into something positive. We got together, created fundraisers, offered legal and translation services to refugees, immigrants, and visitors who were stuck in detention limbo, and really showed the world some of the best of who we are. These too, were not isolated incidents. Faith groups got together with each other, student groups rallied, people donated small amounts here and there to crowd-fund massive donations. All of this reaffirmed everything we believe about who we really are as a people. Something special was happening.

We don’t slam the door shut on people because of where they were born or how they worship. We stand up for each other. We want to help.

These bans, walls, and discriminatory, predatory policies are going to require a bigger, more organized response if we hope for a better path forward. We’re going to have to commit ourselves to the effort. But if these first experiences are anything to go by, I know we’re up for it.

OFA is building the fight to protect our core values and our vulnerable communities. If you’re like me and you think the administration’s new version of this ban is yet another kind of unacceptable, then let’s not accept it — join me in this fight.



Kal Penn

Advancing Justice Condemns Executive Order Banning Immigrants and Refugees

Email today from Advancing Justice:

Today, President Trump issued an executive order banning immigrants and refugees from predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States.

“We condemn today’s executive orders condoning fear and ignorance in the name of national security,” said Elica Vafaie, National Security and Civil Rights Attorney at Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus. “It’s a direct affront to communities still reeling from the spike in anti-Muslim violence and hate incidents since the election season.”

The executive order ends the Syrian refugee program and seeks to prioritize refugees that are religious minorities in their country. President Trump has stated that Christian Syrian refugees will be given priority to come to the U.S.

The order also suspends temporarily the entire refugee program and greatly reduces the number of refugees that will be welcomed to our country.

In addition, the executive order effectively bans all entry of both immigrants and nonimmigrants from Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Sudan for a 30 day period without any assessment of actual security threats.

The ban has the potential to be extended indefinitely if those countries fail to meet certain requirements. The executive order extends to United States Legal Permanent Residents and may also apply to individuals with dual citizenship (for example, a citizen of both France and Iran).

Asian Americans Advancing Justice has already received community inquiries expressing confusion and fear that individuals may not be able to travel, reunite with family members, or enroll in educational programs.

“We have an obligation as Asian Americans to speak up when the most shameful parts of our history stand to be repeated. The unfair targeting of Muslim immigrants is a haunting reminder of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882: during a period of intense anti-Chinese violence and persecution, it was the only U.S. law ever to ban immigration of a specific ethnic group,” said Karin Wang, vice president of programs and communications at Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles.

“The language in this executive order demonizing Muslims is reminiscent of the rhetoric that led to the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, which was one of the most flagrant violations of civil liberties in American history,” said Megan Essaheb, assistant director of immigration and immigrants’ rights at Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC.

“We cannot forget the fear mongering and hysteria which lead to the incarceration during World War II where more than 110,000 innocent people, mostly U.S. citizens, were incarcerated solely on the basis of their national origin.”

The focus of this executive order on travel and immigration does not prohibit in any way the revival or creation of a new discriminatory registry program. If anything, we have seen in this first week that the new administration is delivering on campaign promises and is advancing discriminatory blanket policies that equate entire regions, ethnicities, and faiths as national security concerns.

“This executive order is based entirely on a false and biased assumption that people of a particular religion or nationality pose a greater national security risk and should be subject to racial and religious profiling,” said Laboni Hoq, litigation director at Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles.

“This policy and rhetoric jeopardizes our core values as a nation. As we did with the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), we will take up the baton to ensure that our civil rights and civil liberties are not violated or endangered in any way.”

Asian Americans Advancing Justice calls on all Americans to speak out against attempts to repeat shameful parts of our nation’s history with these new executive orders and to reject hateful rhetoric and policies.

SAALT Condemns President Trump’s Anti-Immigrant Executive Orders

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national South Asian advocacy organization, is outraged at the latest Executive Orders issued by President Trump.

Today’s announcement on immigration effectively shuts down our borders, threatens state and local policies that protect and welcome immigrants, and puts immigrant communities in the cross-hairs of policies that tear apart families under the pretext of “making American great.”

“Today’s Executive Orders push the nation further away from core American values of equality and freedom, sow fear in communities of color that already face increasing violence, hostility and attacks, and make us and the country less safe – all under the guise of national security,” stated Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT.

“Walling off the country will not make us safer. We expect this will be the first in a series of attacks against the freedom of immigrants and communities of color in the United States.”

South Asians are the most rapidly growing demographic group in the country, numbering over 4.3 million, with large growth in the undocumented South Asian population in recent years, including 450,000 Indian Americans alone.

India is currently the fourth-highest sending country for undocumented immigrants after Mexico, El Salvador, and Guatemala. We also know there are significant undocumented immigrants originally from other South Asian countries including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and the Indo-Caribbean diaspora.

Today’s announcement puts South Asian communities under further scrutiny and attack in the United States, particularly through the alarming revival of the “Secure Communities” program, which deputizes local authorities as immigration agents – a function numerous police chiefs have already spoken out against.

The program, previously abandoned due to concerns that it led to racial profiling and other abuse by law enforcement, authorizes local police to check the immigration status of every individual arrested and to enforce immigration laws against the very communities they are sworn to protect. This policy sends a clear message to immigrants that any contact with the police can lead to deportation, and only serves to spur fear in immigrant communities.

Today’s Executive Orders also strip federal funding for “sanctuary cities” that refuse to arrest or detain undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. Many of these places of refuge are located in California, New York, and Chicago: areas with massive South Asian American populations as well as immigrant communities writ large.

The result deprives localities of critical funding necessary to meet the needs of their residents. This crucial federal funding (from taxpayer dollars) is instead being funneled to hire more border patrol agents to criminalize rather than protect immigrant and border communities, all the while fueling an increasingly privatized immigration detention system.

SAALT recently released “Power, Pain, Potential,” the first comprehensive report documenting hate violence and xenophobic rhetoric against South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Arab, and Middle Eastern communities during the 2016 election cycle. We found skyrocketing violence against our communities nationwide reaching levels only seen in the aftermath of the events of 9/11. President Elect Trump was responsible for over one in five, or 21%, of the xenophobic political rhetoric we tracked.

Due to today’s Executive Orders, our communities – already experiencing the full force of a rising tide of hate violence and the proliferation of white supremacist movements nationwide – will have less recourse for protection from police, diminished options to report incidents aimed at their families, and fewer places to find safety and security.

In the face of these devastating policies, SAALT and our partners nationwide will instead draw strength, unity, and resilience from each other, and work closely with our communities to ensure that we have an equal place in the U.S. and that our voices ring clear as we fight for equality, protection, and dignity for all.

NAKASEC, KRC, KRCC: We Will Keep All Families Together, Safe and Strong

The National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC), the Korean Resource Center (KRC) and the Korean American Resource & Cultural Center (KRCC) reject the Trump administration’s decision to begin construction of a U.S. – Mexico border wall, ramp up immigration enforcement measures, and attack sanctuary cities.

These destructive and mean spirited executive orders will do nothing to make our country safe, create good jobs, or foster an inclusive America. Rather they will waste limited taxpayer resources to militarize our borders, tear families apart, and breed a climate of fear and hate.

Our message is clear. Immigrants and refugees make America vibrant, strong, and prosperous. Our response to the Trump administration is that we will oppose these ineffective and dangerous actions that will strip away our rights and criminalize communities.

We will reach out, educate, and organize our community members towards humane solutions for our broken immigration system.  As Korean and Asian Americans, as immigrants, and as women, we will work in strong partnership with our brothers and sisters from the indigenous, Muslim, Black and other targeted communities to protect and our human rights and keep all families together, safe and strong.

To defend, protect and empower our community, NAKASEC and affiliates will immediately:

  • Launch a 24 Hour Immigrant Rapid Response Hotline to answer questions and assist community members in crisis.
  • Connect community members to needed legal and mental health resources.
  • Hold “Know Your Rights” trainings in Los Angeles, Orange County, Chicago and Northern Virginia for community members to come learn about legal protections, share stories, and plan next steps together.
  • Work with other communities to organize and advocate for the safety and well-being of all immigrants, refugees and vulnerable communities at the local, state and federal levels.

For questions or more information please contact us:
24 Hour Hotline Number: 1-844-500-3222 (DACA)
NAKASEC (Virginia): 703.256.2208
KRC (Los Angeles & Orange County): 323.937.3718
KRCC (Chicago): 773.588.9158

Advancing Justice Condemns Executive Orders on Immigration

The new administration announced today the signing of several  inhumane and draconian executive orders intended to endanger immigrants and create fear in immigrant communities.

The executive orders include a promise to withhold federal funding to sanctuary cities, triple the number of immigration enforcement officers, add 500 border patrol officers, resurrect the controversial Secure Communities program, and implement mandatory detention of children and families at the border.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice (Advancing Justice), an affiliation of five civil rights organizations, released a statement regarding the administration’s announcement:

Advancing Justice is outraged by these targeted attacks on our communities that seek to scapegoat and marginalize immigrants, refugees, Muslim Americans and other communities of color.  These harmful policies will waste billions of dollars, cause harm in communities across the country, and undermine our American values of liberty, due process, and equality.

The announcement to triple interior enforcement officers, double border patrol, vastly increase the detention of immigrants and threaten funding to sanctuary cities are particularly offensive.  States and localities have a legal right under the U.S. constitution to adopt policies that welcome immigrants and refugees and ensure equal access to vital services. The administration’s action is a direct attack on the policies of more than 360 counties and cities that have policies seeking to disentangle local law enforcement from immigration enforcement and encourage vibrant immigrant communities that make our country strong.

The executive orders are aimed at creating fear in our communities, including fear of local police, which will undermine community policing efforts by eroding trust in local law enforcement.  It also will encourage racial profiling by law enforcement, subjecting anyone who “looks like an immigrant” to being targeted by police. Advancing Justice will resist these executive orders and all policies and practices that profile, target, and criminalize people of color, immigrants, refugees, and religious minorities.

Moreover, Asian Americans Advancing Justice warns that the new administration’s executive order will be used to coerce local law enforcement to violate the Constitution. Federal courts have held that immigration detainer requests violate the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure because they are not based on a finding of probable cause and signed by a judge.  Federal funding cannot be conditioned on requiring state or localities to violate Constitutional rights.

We are deeply troubled by the direction of our country and this Administration’s apparent desire to appease his anti-immigrant and white supremacist supporters. President Trump lost the popular vote; further, Asian American voters overwhelmingly did not vote for Trump. His election did not give him a mandate on immigration. As we saw this past weekend during the largest one-day protest in this nation’s history, the majority of Americans are with us in welcoming immigrants and refugees and oppose the targeting of Muslims or people based on their national origin and harsh immigration enforcement policies.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice will use every means necessary to defend sanctuary cities and oppose these shameful executive orders.