Elected Officials and Refugee families share a meal while discussing immigration issues at forum held in Little Arabia

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The Arab American Civic Council co-hosted the ‘Refugees Welcome Reception and Community Forum’ in partnership with Activate Labs this past Saturday, December 16th, to uplift the voices of refugee families and discuss current issues pertaining to immigration policies. With the participation of elected officials, refugee families, and community members, we engaged in a productive discourse on the Travel Ban, Islamophobia, hate speech, restorative justice and mental health programs in schools, housing costs, job growth, and more.

Our guest speakers included Senate President Kevin de Leon, Senator Josh Newman, Anaheim Mayor Pro Tem James Vanderbilt, Anaheim Councilman Dr. Jose F. Moreno, Anaheim Union High School District Trustee Al Jabbar, and Garden Grove Unified School Board Trustee Walter Muneton.

The program began with our refugee friends sharing their stories and experiences with resettlement and integration in the U.S., and proceeded with statements by elected officials in response to such experiences. Senators Newman and de Leon opened the floor by discussing the islamophobia and the Travel Ban. “In California, we celebrate who we are… We celebrate our diversity. We don’t ban it. We don’t deport it, and we don’t wall-it-off,” emphasized Sen. de Leon.

Mayor Pro Tem James Vanderbilt and Councilman Dr. Jose Moreno from the city of Anaheim followed by addressing local issues, and highlighting the importance of economic growth. Councilman Moreno reassured the constituents, stating that the City Council works with “nonprofits whose mission is to effectively integrate new immigrants into the fabric of their city.” He continued by explaining that the best thing for economic growth and development is the investment in immigrant entrepreneurship.

Furthermore, our community’s advancement is not complete without adequate education. School District Trustees, Al Jabbar and Walter Muneton discussed the importance of education to new immigrants, and introduced a few school programs in Anaheim and Garden Grove providing social services, and focusing on mental health and disciplinary issues. The Anaheim and Garden Grove School Districts are constantly developing their school programs and working closely with educators, principals, and administrators to ensure students receive adequate care. “It is crucial for parents not to be shy or scared. Go to the schools, ask questions, speak to the administrators, and demand justice,” said Trustee Muneton.

In the current political climate, advocacy for new immigrants and refugees is an absolute necessity. This event was organized to not only help positively change the narrative around immigrants, but also pave the way for policy change in the upcoming year.

Many thanks to our Refugees Welcome project funder the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) and additional funding from The Proteus Fund’s Security and Rights Collaborative. Thanks to Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva for donating gift cards to our refugee families.

Refugees Welcome reception to be held in Little Arabia after SCOTUS travel ban decision

The US Supreme Court today ruled President Trump’s travel ban on six Muslim-majority countries can go fully into effect. In the aftermath of this decision, advocacy for new immigrants and refugees is not an option, but an absolute necessity.

Join the Arab American Civic Council and Activate Labs for a Refugees Welcome Reception and Community Forum to uplift the voices of those most impacted by the current volatile political climate!

We are bringing refugee families with elected officials, under one roof, to speak about the challenges of integration, and the resources available to refugees and immigrants in the Greater LA area. We hope that this event not only help shift the refugee narrative from fear and hate to love and empathy, but also pave the way for policy change.

Confirmed elected officials speaking at the event:

  • State Senator Josh Newman
  • Anaheim Mayor Pro Tem James Vanderbilt
  • Trustee Al Jabbar, Anaheim Union High School District
  • Trustee Walter Muneton, Garden Grove Union School District
  • Anaheim City Council Member Dr. Jose Moreno

Join us as we share a meal with refugees and engage in a meaningful, productive discourse on issues related to the Travel Ban, Islamophobia, TPS, hate crimes, integration, deportation, family reunification, and more!

When: Saturday, December 16 from 2:00 – 4:00 PM
Where: Olive Tree Restaurant (518 S Brookhurst St, Anaheim, CA 92804)

Event is open to the public. Click here to register.

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Join us in celebrating #NationalVoterRegistrationDay!

The Arab American Civic Council is excited to once again participate in a national effort to engage and mobilize Americans in our political process by helping to register over a hundred thousand voters across the country on September 26, 2017, National Voter Registration Day.

First held in 2012 for that year’s presidential election, National Voter Registration Day has become a 50-state holiday where thousands of organizations and volunteers organize to ensure our family, friends, and neighbors are registered to vote.

Have you moved — even just across town — since the last election? Have you changed your name? Will you turn 18 by Election Day? Are you a newly naturalized citizen? Have you not voted in a while?

In all of these cases you may need to register or update your voter registration in order to make your voice heard at the ballot box this November. Click here to register to vote and use #NationalVoterRegistrationDay on social media to spread the word! 

Why register in 2017? States, cities, counties and towns across the country have big elections this fall. Primaries for next year’s state and national elections are just a few months away. National Voter Registration Day is the perfect opportunity to get involved no matter what party you support or which issues matter most to you.

We will be registering voters on September 26 at Olive Tree Restaurant, 518 S. Brookhurst St., Anaheim, CA 92804.

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Bilingual Guidebook for Refugees in Greater LA Released

guidebookThe Refugees Welcome Guidebook, a project by the Arab American Civic Council and Activate Labs, was officially released at the Refugees Welcome Ramadan Iftar dinner on Wednesday, June 21. The event, which was attended by more than 170 people including 28 refugees, took place at Olive Tree Restaurant in Anaheim’s Little Arabia District.

The bilingual guidebook (Arabic/English) seeks to support refugee resettlement by providing a multi-platform (app, website and print) hyper-local guide to support refugee integration in the Greater Los Angeles Area.

Click here to read/listen to Monica Curca, AACC special projects manager and founder/director of Activate Labs, on KPCC’s Take Two, and here for the Los Angeles Times/Daily Pilot article.

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These two young refugees from Iraq were present at the iftar dinner and had a message to America. Watch the video above to hear their message.

For more information about the Refugees Welcome Guidebook, please visit www.refugeeswelcomeguide.org.

Refugees will share a Ramadan meal with locals in Anaheim’s Little Arabia

13346871_590489667776132_5911829808826721626_nThe Arab American Civic Council will host a Ramadan iftar dinner to welcome refugee families into our communities on Wednesday, June 21, 2017 at Olive Tree Restaurant in Anaheim’s Little Arabia. The event is hosted in partnership with World Relief Garden Grove, The Beautiful Resistance, and A Country Called Syria.

13566943_601999199958512_4990025494384899396_nThe purpose of this event is to welcome newly-arrived refugee families and help them integrate into our community.

This event is the second of its kind. Last year, the Arab American Civic Council hosted a similar iftar dinner during the month of Ramadan at the same restaurant. See this KPCC report and this Los Angeles Times report from last year’s event.

Tickets can be purchased at this link.