South Asian community in the US bore the brunt of a spike in hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric during the presidential election similar to levels seen the year following the 9/11 terror attack, according to a report. The report “Power, Pain and Potential” released by South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a leading national South Asian American advocacy organisation, said from November 15, 2015 to November 15, 2016 (between the Paris attacks and the week after the Presidential elections), SAALT documented 207 incidents of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric aimed at South Asian communities.
As many as 140 incidents of hate violence and 67 instances of xenophobic political rhetoric have been reported in the US against the South Asian community during the 2016 election cycle, it said. “An astounding 95 per cent of incidents were motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment,” SAALT said, adding that its findings are consistent with the FBI’s 2015 hate crimes statistics, which disclosed a 67 per cent increase in hate crimes against Muslims from the previous year.
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Notably, President-elect Donald Trump was responsible for one in five (21 per cent) xenophobic political statements SAALT documented, a media release said. SAALT’s findings come at a time when South Asian Americans are among the fastest growing demographic groups in the country. According to the 2010 Census, 2.84 million Asian Indians lived in the United States, up from 1.67 million in 2000.
“I think that the hate violence statistics that we have tabulated … really typifies, unfortunately, the growing groundswell of hostility many of our community members continue to experience, even as our communities continue to grow rapidly (nationwide),” Raghunathan said. “The unprecedented violence we saw following the September 11 attacks has returned, electrified by a hostile 2016 presidential election,” said Suman Raghunathan, executive director of SAALT.
“With over 4.3 million South Asians in the US, policymakers must make it a first priority to address and dismantle the paradox of our communities living at the intersection of growth and hate,” she said. In its report SAALT said since 2000, unauthorised immigration from Asia has grown at rates much faster than from Mexico. “India is the country of origin with the greatest increase in unauthorised immigrants to the US with a 914 per cent increase since 1990,” it said. The lack of comprehensive immigration reform worsens conditions for undocumented immigrants, their families, and Americans at large, it said, adding that undocumented individuals and others with an uncertain immigration status face unique barriers when interfacing with public safety and law enforcement programmes.