TPS for Yemenis in the US must be extended and re-designated

tpssign-800-1The Arab American Civic Council joined more than a dozen prominent national advocacy, civil rights, and faith based organizations to endorse a Congressional ‘Dear Colleague’ letter authored by Rep. Debbie Dingell, which calls the Department of Homeland Security and Department of State to extend and re-designate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Yemenis in the United States.

The administration must renew the designation by July 5, 2018, or risk the lives of nearly 1,200 Yemeni men, women, and children who have came to the US for refuge.

The outbreak of war and dire situation in Yemen was the initial reason for the TPS designation in 2015, and the re-designation in 2017. However, the violence continues to heighten and over 22 million Yemenis are in need of humanitarian assistance. More than 3 million people are displaced, 200,000 of them seeking refuge abroad.

The letter states, in part:

“The case for extending TPS for the 18-month maximum allowed by the law, and re-designating TPS for eligible Yemenis, is statutorily clear.  The armed conflict renders the safe return of roughly 1,200 Yemeni TPS holders in the United States unfeasible and inhumane. The humanitarian crisis represents a “substantial, but temporary, disruption of living conditions” for Yemenis, and the civil war and loss of territory and vital infrastructure renders the Yemeni government “unable, temporarily, to handle adequately the return” of Yemenis (8 U.S.C. §1254a).

“Extending and re-designating TPS for Yemen is also clearly in the interest of America’s national security.  Since March 2015, the United States has been involved in a regional military campaign in support of the internationally recognized government and seeks, for the stability of Yemen and its neighbors, a negotiated settlement to the conflict and an amelioration of its resulting humanitarian crisis.  The sudden return of 1,200 Yemenis will not only further undermine the international humanitarian response in Yemen, but also undermine America’s standing amongst our allies and give antagonistic states and non-state actors in the region a needless propaganda boon.

“Current TPS recipients from Yemen residing in the United States have contributed greatly to the social and economic welfare of our communities.  Failing to extend TPS for Yemenis who have it and re-designate it for eligible individuals will many families in jeopardy and do much to undermine the security of the American homeland.”

The Arab American Civic Council urges the Orange County Congressional delegation to add their names to Rep. Dingell’s letter, in order to ensure the safety of Yemeni families in the United States.

In Washington, Arab Americans met for Congressional briefing and rallied against the Muslim Ban

img_4579.jpgOn April 24 the Arab American Civic Council Executive Director Rashad Al-Dabbagh and Transformative Leaders Fellow Johanna Mustafa traveled to Washington, DC for the National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC) Arab American Leadership Days, organized in part with the Arab American Institute, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, and the Network for Arab American Professionals.  

Rashad Al-Dabbagh providing an update on the Calfiornia Arab American community

Our cohort had the opportunity to rally against the Muslim Ban outside of the Supreme Court Offices in the wake of oral arguments on the Ban. After federal judges ruled against the Muslim Ban, many thought that the Supreme Court will strike it down. However, after last week’s oral arguments, it has become clearer the the Supreme Court is leaning towards upholding the Ban.

Following the rally against the Muslim Ban, we gathered to hear the latest policy discussions on key issues such as refugees, healthcare, census, and immigration; and heard community updates from each region. Experts from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the ACLU, Jewish Voice for Peace, Representative Betty McCollum’s office, and USAID, joined us to discuss the importance of fighting discrimination and surveillance under the current administration, and the importance of organizing the Arab American vote.

Rep. Keith Ellison

On Friday, April 27, Arab Americans from across the country converged for a Congressional breakfast briefing on Capitol Hill and heard directly from Representatives Keith Ellison (MN), Betty McCollum (MN), Hank Johnson (GA), and Brenda Lawrence (MI).

Rep. McCollum commented on the progress of her ”Promoting Human Rights By Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act,” which seeks to protect Palestinian children from abuse in Israeli military detention. Ellison emphasized the importance of advocacy, and encouraged Arab Americans to do more to tell their stories.

Rep. Lou Correa’s office

After the briefing delegations from each state met with their Representatives in Congress to advocate on issues they care about.  

Arab American Civic Council members and other California-based leaders then met with Rep. Lou Correa, Rep. Norma Torres’ office, and Senator Dianne Feinstein’s office. The issues that were discussed during those meetings included extending Temporary Protected Status for Syrians and Yemenis and nationals of other countries, refugee resettlement, concerns regarding surveillance of Arab, Muslim, and vulnerable communities, and anti-boycott bills the predominantly targets US Palestine solidarity activists.


3rd annual Arab American Heritage Gala a success

Close to 200 community members turned out for the Arab American Civic Council’s 3rd annual Arab American Heritage Gala on Saturday April 21, 2018 at the Great Wolf Lodge in Garden Grove.


Among this year’s extraordinary Arab American Heritage Gala awardees were philanthropist and co-founder of the Palestine Children Relief Fund Dr. Musa Nasir who received the Joseph R. Haiek Lifetime Achievement Award, refugee advocate and co-founder of Sabil USA Dr. Samar Abdelaziz who received the Spirit of Service Award, and Jewish Voice for Peace who received the Solidarity in Action Award.

We were honored to have doctoral candidate in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Riverside Loubna Qutami as the keynote speaker, actress and comedian Jennifer Jajeh and Oud player Clarissa Bitar who provided the entertainment for the evening.

Elected officials present at the gala were Congressman Lou Correa, Anaheim Mayor Pro Tem Dr. Jose Moreno, Fontana Councilman Michael Tahan, Garden Grove Councilwoman Kim Nguyen, Anaheim Union High School Trustee Al Jabbar, and Garden Grove Unified School District Trustee Walter Muneton. Additionally, the offices of State Senator Josh Newman, and State Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva were represented.

During the gala, the Office of State Senator Josh Newman presented a resolution to recognize April as Arab American Heritage Month, which was passed unanimously on the Senate floor on Thursday, April 10.

See photos from the event here.

Among the event’s sponsors were Comerica Bank, and PIMCO Foundation. Thank you to all those who sponsored, advertised, volunteered, and attended the gala to support the work of the Arab American Civic Council to empower the Arab American community in Orange County.

Loubna Qutami to Deliver Keynote Address at Arab American Heritage Gala

Loubna Qutami

The Arab American Civic Council is proud to announce that community organizer Loubna Qutami has been confirmed to deliver the keynote address at its 3rd annual Arab American Heritage Gala, which will be held on Saturday, April 21st at the Great Wolf Lodge in Garden Grove, CA.

Loubna is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Riverside. Her research is on transnational Palestinian youth movements before and after the 2011 Arab Uprisings. She received her Master of Arts Degree from the College of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University (SFSU), and is the first student to graduate through the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas’ Initiative at SFSU.

Much of Loubna’s research interests and methods are informed by her experience as a student and youth organizer. She was one of the active student leaders in the General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS) at SFSU who spearheaded the campaign to inaugurate the historic Palestinian Cultural Mural honoring Dr. Edward Said on the Cesar Chavez Student Center. Loubna had also long worked at the Arab Cultural and Community Center (ACCC) in San Francisco in varying positions until assuming the position of Executive Director in 2011. She is also a Founder and former National and International Board Member of the Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM). In 2011, Loubna assumed the position of the Movements International General Coordinator in the Movements Second International General Assembly in Istanbul, Turkey and completed her term in 2014.

The AACC is proud to work alongside such inspirational community leaders, and we want you to join us! So purchase your tickets today to help uplift our community and amplify our voices.

For sponsorship opportunities, or other questions, Email us.

CA State Senate adopts resolution commemorating Arab American Heritage Month

The Arab American Civic Council applauds the California State Senate for adopting Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 123, authored by State Senator Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) with unanimous support. SCR 123 commemorates the month of April as “Arab American Heritage Month” in California and recognizes the important contributions of Arab Americans to our state.

In addition to presenting SCR 123 on the Senate Floor today, Senator Newman also welcomed and introduced the following Arab American leaders in their respective regions:

  • Rashad Al-Dabbagh, Executive Director, Arab American Civic Council
  • Serge Bakalian, Founder and Executive Director, Arab Film and Media Institute
  • Basim Elkarra, Executive Director, CAIR-Sacramento (Council on American Islamic Relations)
  • Mirvette Judeh, Vice Chair, Arab American Civic Council
  • Maria Khani, Founder and Director, A Country Called Syria

The Arab American Civic Council will commemmorate Arab American Heritage Month during its upcoming gala on April 21st. Get your gala ticket here.