AACC Urges End to Immigrant Detention on World Refugee Day

Vigil 1

On Wednesday, June 20th, the Arab American Civic Council stood in solidarity with the families at the border to mourn family separation and demand an end to their inhumane detention. We joined community leaders from different organizations including Activate Labs, World Relief-Southern California, and CAIR-LA at the Theo Lacy Detention Center in Orange to center the voices of refugees and immigrants and unite in these difficult times.

It has been over a month since the implementation of the “zero tolerance” policy instituted by the Trump administration. The policy prosecuted all immigrants entering the country through the U.S – Mexico border, and as a result, separated children from their parents. Over 2,000 children have been taken away from their families and are being held in “tender age facilities”.

Community leaders and advocates are organizing to end the detention and welcome the refugee families who came escaped persecution and oppression in their home countries.

On Wednesday morning, President Trump signed an executive order to end the family separation. However, families continue to be detained, and many children may not be reunited with their parents. The harm that has been caused is irreparable, and more needs to be done.

Monica Curca, who comes from a family of Romanian refugees, and is the Executive Director of Activate Labs, led the crowd and highlighted the fact that “instead of being housed and treated like refugees, [families] are actually re-traumatized re-persecuted here in this country”.

Jessica Bravo, another community leader, was “speaking up for kids who can’t speak up for themselves”. She came to the U.S. when she was only 3 years old and is temporarily protected under DACA. As the Muslim Latino Coordinator at OCCORD, she rallied the crowd to take action and utilize the power of consumerism by boycotting companies that accommodate the detention of immigrants. “It makes me think I could have been one of those children and it agitates me enough to make a call for action”.

“It’s a scary process to leave your place to come to somewhere you don’t know and try to make it happen and live the American Dream”. – Maria Jimenez, Orange County resident and daughter of undocumented immigrant parents.

AACC Program Coordinator, Johanna Mustafa, reminded the crowd that “this is continuation of a long history of criminalizing, persecuting, and dehumanizing people of color. Family separation is not a foreign concept in this country, and it is time we put an end to it”.

Saturday, June 30th is a national day of action calling for end of family separation. Find an event near you here.



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.

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.

Actress and Comedian Jennifer Jajeh to Perform at Arab American Heritage Gala

Jennifer Jajeh

Jennifer Jajeh is a Palestinian-American actress and comedian who performs on stages internationally. Locally, she’s made appearances at the Comedy Store Hollywood, Flappers, and The Ice House to name a few. Before settling in La, she toured the globe for five years, performing her critically acclaimed one woman show, “I Heart Hamas: And Other Things I’m Afraid to Tell You” directed by W. Kamau Bell, host of CNN’s “United Shades of America”.

2017 was a huge year for Jennifer: she made her television debut on the Emmy award winning show, “Transparent”. She also published a comedic essay in Saqi Books’ “Don’t Panic, I’m Islamic”, the UK Sunday Times Best Humour Book of 2017. Check her out at www.jenniferjajeh.com and follow her on Twitter @jenjajeh to keep track of what she’s up to next.

Tickets to attend our 3rd annual Arab American Heritage Gala on Saturday April 21, 2018 can be purchased at this link.

For sponsorship opportunities, or other questions, Email us.

Arab American Civic Council Mourns the Passing of Joseph Haiek


Los Angeles, 1/25/ 2018 – It is with a profound sense of loss and sadness that the Arab American Civic Council mourns the passing of Mr. Joseph Haiek, who passed away this morning, January 25, 2018, at 10am in Cairo, Egypt.

Haiek developed pneumonia during a trip to Egypt where, accompanied by his daughter Caterina he traveled to celebrate his 85th birthday in December and received a prestigious award from the Association of Egyptian American Scholars.

Joseph R. Haiek was born in 1932, Jerusalem, Palestine, and immigrated to the United States with his family in 1967. He is the publisher and founder of The News Circle Publishing House in Los Angeles 1972, covering news, views and culture on Arab Americans as well the Arab World. He published the Arab American Affairs Magazine (The News Circle), 84 pages magazine in English, from 1972 to 2008, and the Arab American Almanac series, six editions. The first edition of the Arab American Almanac was published in 1974. It is the most comprehensive reference book on Arab Americans in the United States. The current 6th edition of the Almanac contains 608 pages. Haeik also founded the Arab American Press Guild in 1985 and the Arab American Historical Foundation in 2005. He preserves an important collection of Arab American historical books, publications, letters, photographs and video clips. He produced a video in 2003 about Arab Americans in Los Angeles that includes Arabic music.

In May of 2011, Haiek was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor at Ellis Island, NY. for his selfless activism in preserving the Arab American culture and identity for over 45 years.

“Sometimes we are fortunate and blessed on our life’s journey to meet truly transformative figures who touch us deeply in their own unique gentle way. Joseph Haiek was such a man and by example showed many of us the true meaning of giving and being of service to others;” said Raad Ghantous Chairman of the Arab American Civic Council’s board of directors. “Our duty to Joe now is to responsibly follow in his footsteps and continue the important work he championed!”

The Arab American Civic Council presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award during its inaugural Arab American Heritage Gala on April 24, 2016 to honor his long years of leadership and dedication to the Arab American community and documentation of the community’s history.

Funeral arrangements are pending and will be held in Los Angeles in the next two weeks.