AACC Urges End to Immigrant Detention on World Refugee Day

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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.



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.

Refugees Welcome Town Hall 1-2

During #WelcomingWeek, donate a guidebook to a refugee family

21077340_1849776345035826_6932310342870348676_nImmigrants and refugees contribute daily to our nation.

This #WelcomingWeek (Sept. 15-24) we celebrate refugees in the Greater LA Area by providing them with our updated Refugees Welcome Guidebook, a bilingual guide for Arabic-speaking refugees.

Hear us on OC Talk Radio’s The Raad Life show and KUCI’s Ask A Leader as we discuss the guidebook.

To donate a copy to a refugee family or to request your own copy, contact us at refugeeswelcomeguide@gmail.com.

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.