SABA Letter in Support of Judge Thapar

In advance of Judge Amul Thapar’s confirmation hearing today, we sent a letter to the Judiciary Committee expressing our support of his nomination. The full text of the letter is below.

April 25, 2017

The Honorable Charles E. Grassley, Chairman
Committee on the Judiciary
United States Senate
224 Dirksen Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Via Email: Ted_Lehman@judiciary-rep.senate.gov

The Honorable Dianne Feinstein, Ranking Member
Committee on the Judiciary
United States Senate
331 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Via Email: paige_herwig@Judiciary-dem.senate.gov

Re:  Nomination of Amul R. Thapar to be United States Circuit Judge for the Sixth Circuit

Dear Chairman Grassley and Ranking Member Feinstein:

The South Asian Bar Association of North America (SABA North America) proudly supports Judge Amul R. Thapar’s nomination to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Our organization serves as the umbrella for 26 regional SABAs throughout the United States and Canada. The rapidly growing South Asian American legal community in the U.S. makes significant contributions in public service, private practice and academia. Our members represent the spectrum of attorneys, from law firm partners and in-house counsel to public interest attorneys and those serving local and federal government.

Judge Thapar has been a groundbreaker throughout his legal career. He was one of the first South Asian U.S. Attorneys ever appointed. He went on to be the first South Asian Article III judge in United States history, at which time he was also the youngest judge.  If confirmed, Judge Thapar would only be the second United States Court of Appeals judge of South Asian descent. SABA North America recognized the ground-breaking nature of Judge Thapar’s career by awarding him our Pioneer Award in 2007.

Judge Thapar has distinguished himself as a leading jurist in the federal judiciary. He is well-known for [...]

SABA joins Korematsu Center in 9th Circuit Filing on Executive Order

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 21, 2017

SABA joins Korematsu Center in filing Ninth Circuit amicus brief in State of Hawai`i and Ismail Elshikh v. Trump et al.

NEW YORK – SABA North America joined the Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality (Korematsu Center), the children of litigants in the Japanese relocation and incarceration cases from World War II, civil rights organizations, and national bar associations of color in filing an amicus brief on April 21, 2017 in State of Hawai`i and Ismail Elshikh v. Trump et al., pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The brief supports a legal challenge to the Trump administration’s Executive Order 13780 (March 6, 2017), entitled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States”, which replaces Executive Order 13769 (January 27, 2017), of the same title.

The district court below held that the challengers had met their burden of establishing a strong likelihood of success on the merits that the Executive Order violates the First Amendment, that they would suffer irreparable injury if the restraining order was not granted, and the balance of equities and public interest was in their favor. On appeal, the federal government argues that the court should defer wholly to the executive branch because the Executive Order concerns immigration and courts have historically deferred to the executive branch on immigration issues and that the plaintiffs’ claims are not justiciable.

In their amicus brief, the Korematsu Center and joining amici assert that courts can and should review executive branch action on immigration. The “plenary power doctrine”—arguably conferring a blank check to the executive branch—is based on a string of overtly racist and outdated cases. During World War II, the federal government used arguments [...]

SABA Joins Korematsu Center Brief in IRAP v. Trump et al.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 19, 2017

SABA North America joins Korematsu Center in filing Fourth Circuit amicus brief in International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump et al.

NEW YORK – SABA North America joined the Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality (Korematsu Center), the children of litigants in the Japanese relocation and incarceration cases from World War II, civil rights organizations, and national bar associations of color in filing an amicus brief on April 19, 2017 in International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump et al., pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. The brief supports a legal challenge to the Trump administration’s Executive Order 13780 (March 6, 2017), entitled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States”, which replaces Executive Order 13769 (January 27, 2017), of the same title.

The district court below held that the challengers had met their burden of establishing a strong likelihood of success on the merits that the Executive Order violates the First Amendment, that they would suffer irreparable injury if the restraining order was not granted, and the balance of equities and public interest was in their favor. On appeal, the federal government argues that the court should defer wholly to the executive branch because the Executive Order concerns immigration and courts have historically deferred to the executive branch on immigration issues and that the plaintiffs’ claims are not justiciable.

In their amicus brief, the Korematsu Center and joining amici assert that courts can and should review executive branch action on immigration. The “plenary power doctrine”—arguably conferring a blank check to the executive branch—is based on a string of overtly racist and outdated cases. During World War II, the federal government used arguments similar to [...]

Judge Amul Thapar Nominated to 6th Circuit Court of Appeals

For Immediate Release, March 20, 2017

The South Asian Bar Association of North America (SABA) applauds the nomination of Judge Amul Thapar to the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Thapar became the first South Asian Article III judge when he was appointed as a United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Kentucky by President George W. Bush.

The 2010 winner of SABA’s Pioneer Award continues to traverse frontiers with this nomination to the appellate court.

“Judge Thapar is a respected and thoughtful jurist who has long served as role model for the South Asian and greater legal community,” said Vichal Kumar, President of SABA. “Despite being among the youngest judges in the federal judiciary, Judge Thapar quickly established a reputation as a top legal scholar among his peers. His nomination furthers SABA’s mission of ensuring a judiciary that reflects the diversity of our country and we anticipate that his eminent qualifications will earn him a swift confirmation.”

Prior to joining the bench, Judge Thapar served as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky from 2006-2007.  There, too, he was one of the first U.S. Attorneys of South Asian descent.  During that period, Judge Thapar was appointed to the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee (“AGAC”) and chaired the AGAC’s Controlled Substances and Asset Forfeiture subcommittee.  He also served on the Terrorism and National Security subcommittee, the Violent Crime subcommittee, and Child Exploitation working group.

Judge Thapar has also worked for the law firms of Williams & Connolly in Washington, D.C., and Squire, Sanders & Dempsey in Cincinnati, Ohio, and served as an Assistant U.S.  Attorney in both the Southern District of Ohio and the District of Columbia. Between 1994 and 1997, Judge Thapar served as [...]

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SABA DISAPPOINTED IN TERMINATION OF PREET BHARARA

For Immediate Release, March 11, 2017

President Donald J. Trump has fired Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New
York. This comes on the heels of Bharara stating that he would not comply with Attorney General Jeff Sessions demand yesterday that 46 U.S. Attorneys resign from their positions. Last year, then President-Elect Trump had specifically asked Bharara to remain in his position.

“Following previous reports that Mr. Bharara was asked to remain in his role as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, the South Asian Bar Association of North America is disappointed in the President’s decision to terminate him this morning,” said President Vichal Kumar. “A member, supporter and friend of SABA, Mr. Bharara’s legacy is one that South Asian legal professionals and the greater legal community can only hope to emulate. His dedication to public service throughout his career is exemplified by his devotion to protecting the rights of all communities and not shying away from the toughest challenges. We are proud of his accomplishments and wish him the best of luck.”

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SABA and NAPABA Condemn Second Attempt to Exclude Refugees and Implement a Muslim Ban

For Immediate Release
March 6, 2017

WASHINGTON — The South Asian Bar Association of North America (SABA) and National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) condemn President Trump’s new executive order that includes many of the discriminatory provisions of his earlier order, which also sought to stop refugees from entering the United States and halt immigration from several Muslim-majority countries. These orders, which are based on the misguided idea that certain religious and ethnic populations are more prone to violence, are incompatible with American values, and will not make our communities safer or our nation stronger. Notably, the order, continues to 1) suspend refugee admission for 120 days, 2) reduce and limit the number of refugee admissions, and 3) targets individuals from six Muslim-majority countries, suspending entry of individuals for 90 days, with some exceptions.

“The President’s Executive Action does nothing more than advance an anti-Muslim agenda espoused during the campaign under the guise of National Security,” said SABA President Vichal Kumar. “A refugee, by definition, is a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster. The supposed justification for this Executive Action punishes this person for the very same war and persecution that is causing them to leave in the first place.”

“The executive order is a continuation of the same policy that discriminates against and devalues refugees and members of the Muslim community,” said NAPABA President Cyndie Chang. “We must refuse to act out of fear and intolerance. We must not return to the dark chapters of our history where we judged people by the color of their skin, how they prayed, or where their family came from. We must stand up for our values of equity, justice, and [...]

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SABA EMPHASIZES THE NEED FOR A NATIONAL RESPONSE TO HATE CRIMES

For Immediate Release, March 6, 2017

The South Asian Bar Association (SABA) of North America wishes a speedy recovery to the Sikh man who was shot on March 4, 2017, in Kent, Washington. While he was in his driveway working on his car, an unidentified assailant approached him and told him “to go back to your own country.” During the altercation, the unknown man shot him and he is currently recovering from his injuries.

The incident is another in a list of targeted attacks against minority communities, including the murder of Srinivas Kuchibotla, the attempted murder of Alok Madasani, the bomb threats against Jewish community centers and the desecration of Jewish cemeteries and attacks on Mosques.

“We recognize the quick action by the State of Washington governmental officials and law enforcement in recognizing and condemning this incident as a hate crime,” said SABA North America President Vichal Kumar. “We are gravely concerned about the sharp increase in racial and religiously targeted crimes throughout the country, and call upon the federal government to take immediate public action to protect the public and denounce these heinous and bigoted acts.”

We encourage our communities not to stay silent, but to report hate incidents and crime through our partners The Sikh Coalition (http://www.reporthate.org) and South Asian Americans Leading Together (http://saalt.org/category/blog/hate-crimes/) or the Southern Poverty Law Center (https://www.splcenter.org/reporthate). Now more than ever, it is incumbent on us to stand together with other affected communities to combat hate.

By |March 6th, 2017|Blog, Local Events, People, Press Release, U.S. News|Comments Off on SABA EMPHASIZES THE NEED FOR A NATIONAL RESPONSE TO HATE CRIMES|

SABA CALLS FOR FULL INVESTIGATION OF OLATHE, KS SHOOTING

The South Asian Bar Association of North America (SABA) expresses its deepest condolences to the victims and their families who fell prey to the senseless acts of violence in Kansas. Reports and witnesses indicate that the motivation for these crimes was rooted in anti-Muslim hate, xenophobia and racism. While details continue to emerge, if true, we expect the governmental authorities to prosecute this act for what it is – a hate crime.

Grief. Fear. Disgust. Outrage. The emotions this incident have fostered run the spectrum for communities forced to acknowledge increasing hate incidents and violence. Reports released by South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) amongst others, have meticulously chronicled the disheartening rise of animosity, hostility and hatred towards our communities.

SABA President Vichal Kumar stated, “In response to the increasing vitriol towards our communities, our government must be our first line of defense. Governments must protect the rights of minorities and ensure the safety of all of its citizens.” Yet, in the face of senseless violence and apparent hate crimes, the calls for support, solidarity and protection by our government remain faint.

We urge the State of Kansas to protect its citizens, for this administration to condemn hate violence and for our communities to continue to stand in solidarity. We cannot be silent, we cannot condone and we cannot despair. We must continue to confront and root out the hate and divisiveness in our country. Another Srinivas Kuchibhotla should not have to lose his life, another Alok Madasani should not have to be wounded and another Ian Grillot should not have to risk his life to protect others from hate.

By |February 24th, 2017|Blog, Local Events, People, Press Release, U.S. News|Comments Off on SABA CALLS FOR FULL INVESTIGATION OF OLATHE, KS SHOOTING|

SABA Applauds Work Authorization for Immigrant Domestic Violence Survivors

For Immediate Release, February 22, 2017

South Asian Organizations Welcome the Introduction of Work Authorization for Immigrant Domestic Violence Survivors

South Asian American organizations including the South Asian Bar Association of North America (SABA), Apna Ghar, Inc., and Raksha, Inc., welcome the introduction of a federal immigration form that allows some immigrant domestic violence survivors to apply for independent employment authorization, enabling them to escape abusive relationships.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently issued Form I-765V, “Application for Employment Authorization for Abused Nonimmigrant Spouse,” which is confidential, preventing the abuser from learning of the application and allowing the applicant to seek safety and independence. The publication of this form fulfills a regulatory pledge made over 10 years ago and contrasts with many recent anti-immigrant actions that have undermined America’s historic leadership in offering sanctuary to refugees and other vulnerable immigrants.

Many immigrant domestic violence survivors are dependent on the immigration status of their abusive partner and are forced to remain in abusive relationships, because current regulations do not permit the survivors to work, thereby denying them the means to support themselves. Section 814(c) of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of 2005 was intended to address this problem, amending the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to provide eligibility for employment authorization to certain abused spouses of non-immigrants admitted under 15 separate immigration categories. More than 10 years later, the final rule implementing this section has finally become effective, and the application form was published on January 19, 2017.

Applicants using the new Form I-765 must provide evidence of their lawful entry, their marriage to the abuser (or, if divorced, that the divorce took place within the last two years and was connected to the abuse), the [...]

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SABA joins amicus in Lee v. United States

SABA joined over 40 other organizations in the Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC-led amicus brief in Lee v. United States. The brief asserts that non-citizen defendants who are misinformed about the deportation consequences of taking a guilty plea should be entitled to relief. Under current immigration laws, a conviction for even a minor non-violent offense, like simple drug possession, can subject non-citizens, including lawful permanent residents that have lived in the U.S. for decades, to mandatory deportation.

The consequences are devastating. Even when the sentences are suspended or simple probation, lawful immigrants can face permanent banishment from the U.S. and be sent to countries where they have no family, do not speak the language, and are at continuing risk of impoverishment, persecution, or death. The Supreme Court has mandated warnings before a non-citizen defendant pleads guilty to an offense that qualifies for automatic deportation.

The constitutional right to a warning is ineffective, however, unless defendants have access to a meaningful remedy that accounts for the full harms of deportation. Mr. Lee’s case illustrates the unfairness in ignoring those harms. After living in the U.S. lawfully for over 25 years, Mr. Lee pleaded guilty to possession of ecstasy. He told his attorney that he wanted to avoid deportation, and only agreed to a plea after his attorney advised (incorrectly) that he would not be deported to Korea. Despite the Sixth Circuit’s recognition that justice was not served by “exil[ing] a productive member of our society to a country he hasn’t lived in since his childhood for committing a relatively small-time drug offense,” the court found no prejudice and declined to grant Mr. Lee a remedy for his counsel’s ineffective assistance. The court concluded that it was irrational [...]

By |February 9th, 2017|Blog, Law, U.S. News|Comments Off on SABA joins amicus in Lee v. United States|