Sign this petition: Demand Congress act to repeal the Muslim ban!

In a decision that will forever stain our history and the legacy of the U.S. Supreme Court—alongside cases like Dred Scott, which upheld slavery, and Korematsu, which permitted the incarceration of Japanese-Americans—our nation’s highest court ruled in favor of Trump’s Muslim Ban. In doing so, it gave the green light to an administration that has made xenophobia, racism, and anti-Muslim bigotry its official policy.

From the Muslim Ban to policies like locking immigrant children and their parents in cages, Trump’s agenda is rooted in White Supremacy. He consistently endorses dangerous policies to harm, dehumanize, and exclude people of color.

Every day that Congress fails to take action, the Ban continues to block people from five Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. Those impacted are separated from their loved ones, denied educational and professional opportunities, life saving medical treatment, and family milestones. This policy is based on nothing other than Trump’s bigoted campaign promise to ban Muslims from entering the U.S.

Trump and the Supreme Court may allow policies that discriminate against people based on how they worship or where they come from, but Congress still has the power to #RepealTheBan, and should do so immediately. We urge you to support H.R. 4271 and S. 1979 and stand up against Trump’s Muslim Ban.

Click here to sign a petition telling Members of the US House of Representatives and the US Senate: Demand Congress act to repeal the Muslim ban!

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.

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.  

IMG_4659
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.

img_4718-e1525395839605.jpg
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.

IMG_4732
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.

1A7A0136.jpg

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.