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SAN Honors South Asian American Judges with ‘Community Solidarity’ Award

LOS ANGELES: The South Asian Network held its annual Spring Soiree in downtown Los Angeles, on last Thursday, honoring several South Asian American judges .

The community advocacy organization focuses much of its work on immigrant concerns, including access to health care, voter rights and engagement, and economic justice. The majority of SAN’s clients are low-income people with limited English proficiency.

SAN executive director Shikha Bhatnagar told the packed audience that the organization last year provided direct services to 150 victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. SAN also helped 170 people to obtain U.S. citizenship, and got 135 people enrolled in Covered California, for access to health care.

The organization also helped immigrants to understand the impact of the Trump administration’s proposed “public charge” rule, which would deny green cards to any immigrant who has sought any form of federal benefits.

Despite the myth of a model minority, one out of every nine non-citizen Indian Americans lives below the federal poverty line; 61 percent of immigrant Bangladeshis and 48 percent of immigrant Pakistanis receive some form of federal public aid.

Bhatnagar characterized the proposed rule as “heinous.”

Bhatnagar said, “We do all our work with a very small staff”. She told the story of gender violence program associate Nutan Kafle, who received a call from a young immigrant woman who was being sexually assaulted by her partner. Kafle drove 70 miles to rescue the woman that very day from her home. She then took her to a police station, spent countless hours waiting to file a police report, and then drove her to Artesia, Calif., where SAN is based, to get her into a safe space, and help with a long-term plan. “It was 10:30 at night when Nutan drove back to her own family in West L.A.,” said Bhatnagar, to loud applause from the audience.

“Our team is resourceful and compassionate,” said Bhatnagar, lauding her staff for their professionalism.

“We are living in interesting times,” said Bhatnagar, noting that many of the organization’s members live with the constant anxiety of deportation and other draconian measures championed by the current administration.

“We must fight for our rightful place in this country,” said Bhatnagar, urging the audience to channel their donation dollars back to organizations that support the South Asian American community.

“Your support changes lives,” she said.

SAN honored several Indian American and South Asian American judges, including those who are currently serving, with its “Community Solidarity” award. The honored judges included: Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Neetu Badhan-Smith, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ashfaq Chowdhury, California Court of Appeal for the Second District Halim Dhanidina, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Firdaus Dordi, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jay Gandhi, who serves in Central California; Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rupa Goswami, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Upinder Kalra, U.S. Magistrate Judge Shashi Kewalramani, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Sanjay Kumar, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rubiya Nur, and U.S. Magistrate Judge Alka Sagar.

(The South Asian Network held its Spring Soiree April 27 in Los Angeles, Calif. SAN provides a host of services to Indian Americans and other South Asian Americans, and advocates for immigrant concerns. Pictured are SAN staff (left to right): executive director Shikha Bhatnagar, program associate Nutan Kaflay, mental health therapist Ravina Wadhwan, community outreach coordinator Zainab Syeda, deputy director Saima Husain, and volunteer Shakun Chuggani. Photo: SAN)

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