‘South Asian, Sikh, other communities facing xenophobia since 9/11’

Pramila Jayapal

Pramila Jayapal introduces resolution to support those targeted by government for their faith, race, national origin

Indian American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal has introduced a Congressional Resolution acknowledging the hate, discrimination, racism, and xenophobia that South Asian, Sikh and other immigrant communities continue to experience two decades after the September 11 attack.

Joined by three other House members Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Judy Chu, Jayapal’s resolution also acknowledges that thousands of individuals were targeted by the government on account of their faith, race, national origin, and immigration status.

Introduced on Sept 10, the resolution puts forward a series of recommendations to support those affected by the hateful profiling and targeting that has occurred during the 20 years since the 2001 terrorist attack, according to a media release.

Read: Pramila Jayapal demands reversal of Trump’s ‘xenophobic’ immigration policies. (December 17, 2020)

“We must fully condemn all manifestations and expressions of racism, xenophobia, discrimination, scapegoating, and ethnic or religious bigotry while also finally acknowledging the climate of hate that Arab, Muslim, Middle Eastern, South Asian, and Sikh communities have experienced in the two decades since September 11, 2001,” said the Congresswomen.

“As we acknowledge that our own government implemented harmful policies that unfairly profiled and targeted Arab, Muslim, Middle Eastern, South Asian, and Sikh communities, we must also celebrate that these very communities have met these challenges with unwavering courage, strength, compassion, and resilience while uniting in the aftermath to advocate for civil and human rights — work which continues to this day to benefit all Americans.”

The proposed steps include:

Creating an interagency task force to work with community-based organizations to review these government policies, investigate and document their impact, and dismantle those policies which continue to profile and unfairly target these communities.

Holding hearings by congressional and civil rights bodies to explore the findings and recommendations of this interagency task force in consultation with and centering community-based organizations.

Allocating resources to community-based organizations outside and independent of law enforcement that center the experiences and demands of Arab, Muslim, Middle Eastern, South Asian, and Sikh communities to support the needs of victims of hate and state violence, including language support, mental health, comprehensive support, system navigation, and crisis response and recovery.

Calling on the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the National Institute of Health, and the National Science Foundation to work together to study the impact of hate, government targeting, and profiling on physical and mental health.

Read: Pramila Jayapal introduces bill to extend healthcare to immigrants (May 12, 2021)

“Arab, Muslim, Middle Eastern, South Asian, and Sikh communities have long experienced discrimination and violence in the US, which intensified after the attacks,” the resolution notes.

“Just during the first week after the attack, community organizations documented 645 incidents of bias and hate against Americans perceived to be of Middle Eastern or South Asian descent.

“This climate of hate also led to bullying and violence in their everyday lives and in their workplaces, businesses, community centers and houses of worship.

“The government also targeted Arab, Muslim, Middle Eastern, South Asian and Sikh communities with overreaching policing, surveillance, and criminalization policies that resulted in wrongful interrogation, coercion, detention, deportation, arrest, and incarceration.

“Principles like due process, presumption of innocence, and evidence of wrongdoing were replaced with humiliation, mob mentality, and guilt by association. Border officials and government authorities also cast aside constitutional rights and engaged in discriminatory searches and seizures.

“Additionally, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and immigration authorities arrested and detained as many as 1,200 Muslims immediately after the September 11 attack, and none of these “special interest” detained people were ultimately indicted for terrorist activity.

“This hate and government targeting impacted the ability of these communities to exercise their constitutionally protected rights including to organize, speak, travel, and worship freely,” the resolution says.

The resolution is endorsed by local, state, and national organizations including American Immigration Lawyers Association, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), DRUM – Desis Rising Up & Moving, Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Sikh Coalition and South Asian Americans Leading Together.

“Twenty years ago, our Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, Sikh, and South Asian communities experienced the acute pain of racist hate violence fueled by our country’s deeply entrenched polices of imperialism, surveillance, and racial profiling,” said Lakshmi Sridaran, the Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT).

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“We are hopeful that this resolution will center the accountability of Members of Congress to rescind the policies of the War on Terror and truly ensure the safety of all communities of color.”

“Sikh, Muslim, Arab, Middle Eastern, and South Asian communities in the United States faced not only the shock and horror of 9/11 that all Americans experienced, but then an additional wave of targeted hate and discrimination for weeks, months, and years afterwards,” said Nikki Singh, the Senior Policy and Advocacy Manager at Sikh Coalition.

“This resolution is an important recognition that our communities have persevered in the face of harmful bias from individuals and institutions over the past two decades–and that concrete policy action is still needed to even begin to repair the damage done.”

A copy of the resolution is available here.

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