Posted on June 29, 2017 in Press Releases

ARAB AMERICAN INSTITUTE

For immediate release: June 29, 2017

Contact: jsalan@aaiusa.org / 202-429-9210 

 

AAI Statement on DOJ Hate Crime Summit 

Today, the Arab American Institute joined dozens of civil rights, religious, education and professional organizations to participate in the Department of Justice’s Hate Crime Summit entitled, "Identifying, Prosecuting, and Preventing Hate Crimes: What Works?” Upon conclusion of the event, AAI Executive Director Maya Berry issued the following statement: 

“We attended today’s summit because the prevention and prosecution of hate crimes is a priority. We were pleased to be there with fellow civil rights advocates and Department of Justice career professionals who have worked for years to successfully prosecute hate crimes. During our day-long discussions, we, along with our allies, reiterated our concern that the Trump Administration must do more to stem the rising tide of hatred we are witnessing in our nation. Beyond the horrific attacks on individuals, hate crimes target communities. The investigation and prosecution of crimes is an absolute necessity, but prevention requires that we do more, especially when Administration rhetoric and policy single out and target vulnerable communities. The data shows that impacted communities, including Muslims, Arabs and South Asians, are paying a high price due to the increase in bigotry we are witnessing. 

Additionally, it is important to note that this hate crimes summit was convened as part of the Department of Justice's Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety. That task force was announced to "combat illegal immigration and violent crime.” That immigrant criminalization frame is false, takes a draconian approach to immigration enforcement, and spreads fear and despair in the process. It does not build community trust, a necessary component for hate crime reporting. 

Further, while work on hate crimes is critical, it cannot be separated from: the administration’s deep cuts to civil rights budgets, efforts to defend the discriminatory Muslim and refugee ban, the backing off police and mass incarceration reforms, mass deportations, rolling back protections for transgender students and much more. Combatting hate crimes cannot be a fig leaf to cover misdeeds—it requires a megaphone of justice to make it real.

We will continue to rely on DOJ career civil servants for the successful prosecution of hate crimes and protection of rights. We will continue to oppose government policies that undermine our aspirational values and wrongly target impacted communities. We will continue to demand that Trump Administration officials, including the President, use their bully pulpit to advance justice and the constitutional values of equality. Should they do so, we will gladly echo their call. When they do not, we will continue to oppose them."

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Founded in 1985, the Arab American Institute (AAI) is a nonprofit organization committed to the civic and political empowerment of Americans of Arab descent.  AAI provides policy, research and public affairs services to support a broad range of community activities. For more information please visit aaiusa.org