Chicago Community Members Discuss Immigrant Rights in the South Asian Community
Chicago IL - Over 80 South Asian community members and allies gathered on May 26 for the One Community United Town Hall on Immigrant and Human Rights, a community forum presented by the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations (NCSO) at the Indo-American Center (IAC) near Chicago's historic Devon Avenue.
"At a time when anti-immigrant sentiment in this country is growing - with the passage of the recent law in Arizona and the calls for greater enforcement at the borders - it is vital for our communities to speak up to change the broken immigration system in the United States. Through town halls such as the one in Chicago, SAALT and our community partners seek to mobilize South Asians to engage in conversations and actions around immigration reform," said Vega Subramaniam, SAALT's Director of Programs and Partnerships.
Participants in the townhall observed how the current immigration system in the US does not provide basic protections that are widely considered human rights. Through guided discussions, participants discussed the problems that South Asian immigrants encounter in the immigration system - such as the inability to reunite with family members; change jobs easily; or obtain basic rights during deportation and detention.
"Forums like this town hall are critical to bringing about immigration reform that will best meet the urgent needs of our clients and our community overall," noted Kiran Siddiqui of the Hamdard Center.
At the close of the town hall, attendees and organizational representatives identified ways to take action on immigration policy change: participating in the national debate by sharing personal stories with Congress, working locally with Chicago organizations to advocate for just and humane immigration reform and more. One participant noted, "It was great for so many of us to come together and see how similar our struggles
are. I think we've built momentum to have influence over the immigration debate in our country today." Maryah Qureshi added, "As a board member of SAALT, I was thrilled to see so many individuals from across Chicago's diverse South Asian communities come together to discuss and take action on immigration reform, an issue of great concern for us locally and for South Asians across the United States."
One Community Unitedis a campaign on immigrant and civil rights coordinated by the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations (NCSO). The campaign seeks to promote community dialogue and elevate the call for humane immigration laws and strong civil rights protections. The NCSO is coordinated by South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) and includes 39 organizations around the country, including five based in Chicago: Apna Ghar; Indo-American Center; South Asian American Policy and Research Institute (SAAPRI); South Asian Progressive Action Collective (SAPAC); and The Hamdard Center.
Wednesday's town hall was also co-sponsored by: Albany Park Neighborhood Council; Arab American Action Network (AAAN); Arab American Family Services (AAFS); Asian American Institute; Coalition of African, Arab, Asian, European, and Latino Immigrants of Illinois (CAAAELII); Community Builders Chicago (CBC); Muslim Women Resource Center; Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR); Indo American Coalition for Immigration (IACI); and North American Association of Indian IT Professionals (NAAIIP).
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