WASHINGTON, Jan 27: Top South Asian lawyers’ bodies have condemned US President Donald Trump’s executive orders on immigration, alleging that “these divisive actions” encourage racial and religious profiling and almost exclusively target communities of colour.
“The policies announced yesterday encourage racial and religious profiling and almost exclusively target communities of colour,” the South Asian Bar Association of North America (SABA) and the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) said in a joint statement.
There are 1.3 million undocumented Asia-Pacific Americans, including those brought to the US as children, whose families will be directly affected by these orders, the statement said.
Trump on Wednesday signed two executive orders on immigration – one of them entitled Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States, designed to enhance the immigration laws enforcement within the US.
The order calls for prioritising the deportation of undocumented immigrants who have been “convicted” or “charged with any criminal offence,” “have committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offence” – meaning anyone the authorities believe has broken any law — regardless of whether that person has been charged with a crime, or “have engaged in fraud or wilful misrepresentation in connection with any official matter.”
In recent months, Muslims, Sikhs, South Asian-Americans and Arabs have been targets of hate incidents and violence more than at any time since the aftermath of the September 11 attacks — with a noticeable increase in anti-immigrant bias.
The orders that breed distrust about immigrants will only serve to make these communities less safe, said the statement.
“The president’s actions demonise and stigmatise groups of people and further the divisions in our country, while reinforcing the fear and distrust permeating our communities,” said Vichal Kumar, president of SABA.
“With the stroke of a pen, these divisive actions have caused grave uncertainty, shock and grief amongst our must vulnerable. We must continue to provide safety and security for our communities and not allow these divisive actions to further tear us part,” he alleged.
“Actions like the president’s executive orders have been shown in the past to discourage victims from reporting crimes to law enforcement officials because of fear of prosecution based on immigration status and threatens the years of progress we have made towards creating safer communities,” said NAPABA president Cyndie Chang.
SABA and NAPABA alleged that these orders, along with the reportedly forthcoming executive actions to restrict immigration based on nationality and religion and to close the borders to refugees, represent a rejection of America’s core values as a country, which has always welcomed those who have been forced to flee homes to escape conflict or persecution.
“These actions also represent a step backwards in decades-long efforts to create trust between law enforcement agencies, immigrant communities, and the broader American public — which is a critical component of public safety for all Americans,” it said. (PTI)