SABA Opposes Third “Muslim Ban” Issued by Trump Administration

For Immediate Release, September 25, 2017 

SABA Opposes Third “Muslim Ban” Issued by Trump Administration 

The South Asian Bar Association of North America maintains its opposition to the series of Executive Orders by President Trump aimed at restricting immigration from a number of Muslim-majority countries. The Executive Order issued last night continues the onerous restrictions on six Muslim majority countries, and adds restrictions to North Korea and Venezuela under the auspice of national security. 

The Administration portrays these restrictions as less arbitrary than those that came before it; however, they have failed to provide the American public with any information supporting their position.  “The ban remains so expansive as to vilify the entire populations of several countries and continues to focus on countries primarily based on their religious majorities,” said SABA President Rishi Bagga.  “Furthermore, the Administration has made this ban, for all intents and purposes, permanent.” Additionally, the exception for people with a bona fide relationship in the United States will expire in mid-October, making this immigration ban even more restrictive than its two previous iterations.  

SABA calls on our elected representatives to demand greater transparency from the Administration for its decision to not only continue its travel ban but to expand it. Because the Order provides some detail about the process, but not the results of that process, it is difficult to view these immigration restrictions as actually based in national security concerns rather than as racially and politically motivated. The reasons why these countries have been chosen and how their status might change is unknown. SABA will continue to stand against these increasing attacks on the ability to immigrate to the United States.  

SABA Toronto Disappointed MAGA Judge Will Remain on Bench

Toronto, September 12, 2017 – The Hearing Panel of the Ontario Judicial Council issued its decision in the complaint against Justice Bernd Zabel, who wore a “Make America Great Again” hat while presiding. The South Asian Bar Association of Toronto (SABA Toronto) filed a complaint with the OJC demanding that Justice Zabel be removed from the bench. SABA Toronto is disappointed by the OJC’s decision, which suspends Justice Zabel instead of removing him.

Even though the Hearing Panel found that Justice Zabel’s conduct deserved censure, it chose not to remove him, which was the only acceptable outcome. Judges by virtue of their position are supposed to exercise proper judgement. Justice Zabel did not do so in this situation. The reprimand does little to restore the public confidence in the administration of justice. It is the equivalent to slap on the hand.

Notwithstanding the Hearing Panel’s finding to the contrary, the public in Hamilton cannot have confidence that Justice Zabel will be impartial. Muslim and South Asian lawyers and litigants, in particular, will always wonder if Justice Zabel’s rulings are informed by his appreciation for a President who believes they should be barred from Western society. The courts in Hamilton serve a diverse population and they deserve to have confidence in the judges that preside there.

“Justice Zabel chose to wear the symbol of an avowed racist and sexist while presiding over our public courtrooms, and did so because he thought it was funny” says Ranjan Agarwal, Past President. “Litigants and lawyers alike cannot appear before him without fearing that he sympathizes with the President’s view, and they cannot get and will not get a fair hearing from him. It is disappointing that the Hearing Panel didn’t see [...]

By |September 12th, 2017|Blog, Canadian News, Legal News, People|Comments Off on SABA Toronto Disappointed MAGA Judge Will Remain on Bench|

SABA-NC Contributes to Flood Relief in South Asia

The South Asian Bar Association of Northern California is deeply concerned for the victims of the tragic and widespread flooding occurring across multiple countries in South Asia and pledges its support.

Widespread flooding caused by an extraordinarily strong monsoon season has devastated communities across Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh and Nepal, killing over 1,000 people and impacting millions. Mumbai has experienced the worst flooding since 2005 and rural communities across the region have seen crops destroyed by the flooding and forced thousands to abandon their homes.

To help aid these communities as they struggle to rebuild, SABA-NC is donating $5000 to  Mercy Relief, a regional non-profit providing relief aid to flood victims. Please consider similarly donating to Mercy Relief or any other non-profit assisting victims.

By |September 7th, 2017|Blog, Good Works, Local Events|Comments Off on SABA-NC Contributes to Flood Relief in South Asia|

SABA Urges Congress to Protect DREAMERS as DACA Program Being Rescinded

For Immediate Release, September 5, 2017  

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has announced that the Trump Administration will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allowed certain undocumented children present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012, to obtain work permits and apply for Social Security numbers without fear of penalty.  

“SABA North America strongly opposes President Trump’s decision to rescind DACA. These young people, brought to the United States as children, have shown a desire to conform with the law, and are likely to be punished for doing so,” said President Rishi Bagga. “DREAMERS were brought to the U.S. by their parents in hopes of a better life. As children, they did not choose to break the law. Most of these young men and women have never returned to the countries of their birth, and many do not even speak the language of their native countries.  Rescinding DACA effectually takes away these young people’s right to live in the only country they have ever known. ”  

When the DACA program ends, the 800,000+ registrants who relied upon the federal government’s representations by coming out of the shadows and willingly shared their information with the federal government will be in danger of deportation. In the vast majority of cases, DACA recipients who are gainfully employed in a variety of professions, including as doctors, lawyers, and engineers, will be unable to work legally in the United States. This number includes over 10,000 South Asian DACA recipients. 

As a part of his announcement, President Trump said that the program would not end for six months, challenging Congress to create a program to protect DACA recipients, also known as DREAMERS. But whether that will happen is unknown despite [...]

By |September 5th, 2017|Blog, DACA, DREAMer, immigration, Law, Legal News, People, Press Release, U.S. News|Comments Off on SABA Urges Congress to Protect DREAMERS as DACA Program Being Rescinded|

Statement by SABA President on Arpaio Pardon

Statement by SABA President Rishi Bagga on the pardoning of former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio

The South Asian Bar Association of North America is deeply concerned by President Trump’s pardon of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. While the President has wide latitude to pardon whomever he chooses, this particular choice signals a disregard for both the rule of law and the American justice system and suggests racial profiling is an excusable act.

Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt of court for ignoring a judge’s order – a crime that in itself disregards the rule of law.   He was ordered to stop detaining people solely because of suspicions that they might be undocumented, yet for years after the order, he continued to order his deputies to racially profile the residents of and visitors to Maricopa County.

By choosing to pardon Arpaio, President Trump signals his approval of Arpaio’s practices. Practices that kept thousands in fear based solely on the color of their skin.

Immigrants and minorities have often placed their faith in the court system to preserve their rights and protect themselves from illegal discrimination.  The decision to pardon Arpaio undermines that faith.

By |August 28th, 2017|Blog, Law, Legal News, Local Events, People, Press Release, U.S. News|Comments Off on Statement by SABA President on Arpaio Pardon|

SABA SoCal Supports Hate Crime Prosecution in Orange County Case

Statement of Support for Hate Crime Prosecution By Orange County District Attorney’s Office

For Immediate Release – August 4, 2017

LOS ANGELES, CA –The South Asian Bar Association of Southern California (SABA-SC),  National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), South Asian Bar Association of Northern California (SABA-NC), South Asian Bar Association of San Diego (SABA-SD), Muslim Bar Association of Southern California (MBASC), Iranian American Bar Association of Orange County (IABA-OC), Iranian American Bar Association of Los Angeles (IABA-LA), Asian Pacific American Bar Association (APABA), and Arab American Lawyers Association (AALA) commend the Orange County District Attorney’s Office for its decision to prosecute as a hate crime the recent attack on two Muslim women in Irvine, California.

On the evening of March 1, 2017, two (presently unidentified) Muslim women – one wearing a hijab, a head scarf or head covering commonly worn by Muslim women – were the victims of an attack while leaving a Target store in Irvine. Their assailant, 35-year-old Brandon Ricardo Pascual of Irvine, allegedly pulled up next to the women as they walked to their car and yelled an “anti-Muslim expletive.”  He reportedly proceeded to stop his car behind theirs, preventing them from leaving.  Shortly after Pascual drove off and the women were able to leave, and while they were stopped at a red light down the street, the women heard clanking noises against their car.  According to police, it was Pascual throwing coins at them through an open window.

On July 26, 2017, Irvine police arrested Pascual after they identified him using a combination of surveillance footage and partial license plate information recorded by the women.  The Orange County District Attorney’s Office charged Pascual with two felony counts of assault-hate crime with ability to cause injury.

We commend the Orange County District Attorney’s Office and Irvine police’s thorough investigation and fair treatment of victims, and encourage [...]

By |August 8th, 2017|Blog, Law, Local Events, People, Press Release, U.S. News|Comments Off on SABA SoCal Supports Hate Crime Prosecution in Orange County Case|

California court protects right of support for sponsored spouses

SABA members won a victory for sponsored spouses of immigrants, assuring that they will not be abandoned in a strange country with no resources. NAC member Neel Chatterjee and SABA-NorCal member Protima Pandey led the pro bono team that challenged a common family court practice of denying sponsored spouses from support that can had been promised to them.

To place this issue in context…Many immigrants to the U.S. return to their home country for arranged marriages. The spouses, typically women, leave their homes to join their spouse in the U.S. Exacerbating an already difficult transition, the newly-arrived spouses often have limited language skills and sometimes have a high school education or less.  To ensure that these spouses are cared for, the federal government requires a form, called an I-864, that basically requires that the spouse with immigration status must support their new spouse at an income of at least 125% above the poverty line for a period of 10 years, whether or not they remain married.

After coming here, the sponsored spouse will find themselves living with a stranger. Sometimes it works out. Other times, the spouses are abusive and the women are trapped. Even worse, when the abused, sponsored spouse wants to leave, the family courts would not enforce the I-864 commitment as part of a divorce proceeding.

On June 28, that changed. In an issue of First Impression, the California Court of Appeals said that a immigrant spouse has standing to enforce a support obligation created by an I-864 commitment in state court. This is a very important win for abused immigrant spouses, allowing them to get relief and providing options for leaving an abuser. It provides a safety net for a group of vulnerable individuals who are [...]

By |July 31st, 2017|Blog, Legal News, Local Events, People|Comments Off on California court protects right of support for sponsored spouses|

Post Convention Wrap-Up

For Immediate Release, July 21, 2017

SABA North America Celebrates Its 14th Annual Convention, Inaugural Lobby Day

WASHINGTON, D.C. – JULY 21, 2017 – The South Asian Bar Association (SABA) of North America celebrated its 14th Annual Convention, “Making Monumental Strides,” in Washington, D.C., July 13-16. In addition to our panels and networking events, this year we held the inaugural SABA Lobby Day to great success. SABA members spent the morning and afternoon on the Hill speaking with members of Congress and their staffers about issues of importance to the South Asian bar. We were gratified by the enthusiasm of our members and the warm reception we received by offices on both sides of the aisle and in both Houses of Congress.

Immediately following the Lobby Day, the Convention kicked off with a Welcome Reception, hosted by Covington and Burling, featuring Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA 27th District), Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY 14th District), Rep. Raja Krishanmoorthi (D-IL 8th District), and Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL 9th District), as well as Patrick McGlone, President of Washington, D.C. Bar Association.

Our Convention marks the change in leadership, with a swearing in ceremony for our new President and Executive Committee. SABA’s 2017-2018 incoming President, Rishi Bagga, emphasized the role of lawyers in responding to an increase on crimes against the South Asian community. “Most of us are the first generation of lawyers in our family” Bagga stated. “And as such, we have a responsibility to serve our community. We have a responsibility to counsel our community. We have a responsibility to advocate for our community. We have a responsibility to lead our community. This is not an option – it is our duty. Because our community’s future depends on us, our community’s [...]

Rishi Bagga, 15th SABA President

Orlando-Area Attorney Rishi Bagga Sworn In as President of the South Asian Bar Association of North America

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 15, 2017 – Rishi Bagga, attorney at The Law Office of Rishi S. Bagga, P.A., an Orlando-based law firm, was sworn in as the 15th President of the South Asian Bar Association of North America (SABA North America) at SABA’s Annual Convention in Washington, D.C.

As President of SABA, Bagga will lead an organization that includes more than seven thousand members located in the U.S. and Canada. In addition to serving as a board member for SABA for 3 years, Bagga is a past president of SABA Florida.

During the 2017 Convention in Washington, D.C., Bagga announced his agenda to grow SABA to address modern challenges faced by South Asian attorneys and South Asian community members. Bagga will leverage technology to facilitate dialogue between chapters and strengthen the link between the organization’s chapters. He also hopes to promote efforts to educate the community regarding their legal rights and strengthen partnerships with other South Asian professional organizations.

Bagga emphasized the role of lawyers in responding to an increase on crimes against the South Asian community. “Most of us are the first generation of lawyers in our family” Bagga stated. “And as such, we have a responsibility to serve our community. We have a responsibility to counsel our community. We have a responsibility to advocate for our community. We have a responsibility to lead our community. This is not an option – it is our duty. Because our community’s future depends on us, our community’s lawyers.”

As the founder of The Law Office of Rishi S. Bagga, P.A, Bagga represents small and mid-sized businesses throughout Florida. Additionally, he serves as General [...]

By |July 20th, 2017|Blog, Legal News, Local Events, People, Press Release, SABA Events, SABA Leadership|Comments Off on Rishi Bagga, 15th SABA President|

Congratulations Zahra Billoo, 2017 Public Interest Achievement Awardee

 We congratulate Zahra Billoo, civil rights attorney and Executive Director of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).

At the onset of 2017, Zahra joined the speaker lineup at the Women’s March on Washington and sued Donald Trump to challenge his “Muslim Ban” Executive Orders. In the course of her work at CAIR, Zahra is frequently seen at mosques and universities facilitating trainings and workshops as a part of CAIR’s grassroots efforts to empower the American Muslim community and build bridges with allies on civil rights issues. She also provides direct legal services for victims of law enforcement targeting and Islamophobia. Her work has been highlighted in local and national media outlets including the Christian Science Monitor, KTVU, MSNBC, NPR, and the San Jose Mercury News.

Among her awards and recognitions, Zahra has received the 2017 Human Rights Award from the Society of American Law Teachers, the 2014 Unsung Hero Award from the Nationals Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter, and the 2013 Trailblazer Award from the South Asian Bar Association of Northern California.

We are excited that she will be able to share her knowledge as a part of the Combatting Hate Crimes in Changing Times panel. There has been a tremendous increase in hate crimes in the past year against Muslims (and those perceived to be Muslims), South Asians, Arabs, Sikhs, Hindus, and Middle Eastern Americans. The current political climate, as well as the emergence of far right groups have contributed to this disturbing trend. The panelists will discuss the problem of hate crimes underreporting, the federal and state laws that are utilized to prosecute those suspected of perpetrating such crimes, applicable laws to pursue civil remedies against the alleged [...]

By |June 27th, 2017|Awards and Nominations, Blog, Convention Announcements, People, Press Release, SABA Events|Comments Off on Congratulations Zahra Billoo, 2017 Public Interest Achievement Awardee|