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Deepa Iyer
Deepa Iyer, Writer, Activist, Trainer (, and Former Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)

An advocate of civil and immigrant rights for over a decade, Deepa Iyer served as Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) for nearly a decade, and as the chair of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) for two years. SAALT is the only staffed, national, non-profit organization dedicated to fostering civic and political engagement by South Asian communities in the United States. Ms. Iyer is regarded as an expert on the impact of post 9/11 policies, especially as they intersect with civil liberties and immigration. She has published articles about the effect of such policies on South Asian communities, and is the Executive Producer of a 26-minute documentary about bias and hate crimes before and after 9/11 She has been quoted in the Washington Post, National Public Radio, and in ethnic media. Ms. Iyer is an immigrant who moved to the United States from India when she was twelve. Currently, she blogs at, is at work on a book about the changing American racial landscape, and teaches at the University of Maryland.

Entries by Deepa Iyer

Justice for Some, But Not All: New Anti-Profiling Rules are Civil Rights Setback

(0) Comments | Posted December 10, 2014 | 6:28 PM

In the midst of our current national discourse to end the dehumanizing treatment of Black communities by law enforcement, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has a prime opening to send a clear message that profiling is not an effective or fair policing strategy. Instead, the DOJ's new anti-profiling...

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Being Inconvenient: "No Justice, No Peace" At America's Malls and Subways

(3) Comments | Posted December 1, 2014 | 5:17 PM

Since last Monday, when we learned about the grand jury's decision to not indict Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, people around the country of all races and backgrounds have sent two clear messages through acts of civil disobedience: Black lives matter...

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Growing Up to Be Like Yuri Kochiyama

(0) Comments | Posted June 3, 2014 | 5:15 PM

She may be best known in the public eye for the iconic picture that shows her cradling Malcolm X's head in her lap after he was killed in a Manhattan auditorium, but Yuri Kochiyama's life and legacy stood for much more, especially to Asian Americans....

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The Next 50 Years: Time for Culture Change on Racial Justice

(2) Comments | Posted April 10, 2014 | 4:56 PM

This week, four U.S. presidents and thought leaders are convening at the Civil Rights Summit in Austin, Texas to mark the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The agenda includes discussions around immigration, criminal justice, voting rights and economic...

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Standing With Sangeeta

(0) Comments | Posted December 20, 2013 | 1:17 PM

With Chaumtoli Huq*

You might not have heard of Sangeeta Richard, but you've certainly heard the numerous opinions and reactions that her case has sparked. Ms. Richard's experiences as a domestic worker in the home of her employer, Devyani Khobragade, an Indian diplomat living in New York City, are at...

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One Year After Oak Creek: Changing America's Racial Landscape

(0) Comments | Posted August 2, 2013 | 5:22 PM

This weekend, I am traveling to Oak Creek, Wisconsin, to take part in events that mark the anniversary of the devastating hate crime that occurred at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin a year ago. In the wake of the tragedy on August 5, 2012, when a gunman stormed into the...

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We Are Not Newcomers or Bystanders: Asian Americans and the Struggle for Immigration Reform

(1) Comments | Posted April 10, 2013 | 4:53 PM

Taking part in the immigrant rights rally in Washington D.C. on April 10th is significant for me, not only as an immigrant and an advocate for racial justice, but as an Asian American. Despite common perceptions, Asian Americans are neither newcomers nor bystanders in the struggle for equality of immigrants...

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Respecting the Family Unit in Immigration Reform

(28) Comments | Posted March 14, 2013 | 12:38 PM

The national conversation taking place around immigration is at its core about how we define ourselves as Americans, and about our relationships with one another. A critical issue that often escapes the limelight is that of the broken family-based immigration system which keeps loved ones apart, often for decades.

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Safe Communities Start With Each of Us

(0) Comments | Posted January 7, 2013 | 1:28 PM

A friend posted this on her Facebook feed last week: "This warning is to everyone but more specifically my hijab/niqab-wearing sisters -- please be careful, don't stand too close to the train tracks, we need to be on high alert."

Her warning was related to the gruesome...

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Racial and Religious Profiling: What Will Be the Toll on Our Children?

(2) Comments | Posted March 23, 2012 | 7:31 PM

Co-authored by Priya Murthy, Policy Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)

The last 10 years have been needlessly difficult for South Asians living in New York. South Asians, and in particular Sikhs and Muslims, have faced 10 years of profiling, 10 years of negative encounters...

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Macacas and Turban Toppers: Xenophobic Rhetoric and the 2010 Elections

(1) Comments | Posted November 3, 2010 | 11:36 AM

Over the past decade, immigrant and minority communities have become a political force, and candidates and elected officials are paying attention. In fact, communities of color are now a sizeable segment of the voting population, and an increasing number of minority candidates are seeking elected office. Yet, even as we...

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Time Magazine's Joel Stein Characterizes South Asians, SAALT Responds

(9) Comments | Posted June 30, 2010 | 8:58 AM

Joel Stein's take on how immigration patterns have changed the landscape of Edison, New Jersey ("My Own Private India", July 5, 2010) is offensive and misinformed, and definitely not funny. Relying on economic and educational stereotypes, Mr. Stein provides a cursory history of Indian immigration to Edison that neglects...

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Looking ahead to 9/11/2011: The Time for National Healing Begins Now

(6) Comments | Posted March 4, 2010 | 11:15 AM


In mid-February, people around the country marked the National Day of Remembrance to acknowledge the impact of Executive Order 9066, which led to the internment of 120,000 Japanese American citizens and residents during World War II on the basis of their national origin...

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