Posted on April 22, 2016 in Press Releases

For immediate release

Contact: Jennifer Salan 202-429-9210


Arab American Leaders and Students Advocate for Justice

170+ in DC for Hill & Administration Meetings


April 22, 2016 (Washington) As part of its 18th Kahlil Gibran Spirit of Humanity Awards Gala, the Arab American Institute organized its annual advocacy days on Capitol Hill and the White House. This year, AAI partnered with the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the National Network for Arab American Communities (NAAC), and the Network of Arab-American Professionals (NAAP) to host Arab American Leadership Days: Advocating for Justice on April 19th and 20th.  

Arab American leaders from across the country convened for a congressional briefing on Tuesday, April 19 to discuss issues of concern to the Arab American community, including the increase in hate crimes against Arab Americans and American Muslims, the anti-refugee backlash, the Syrian humanitarian crisis, refugee resettlement and Palestine. Following the briefing, Arab American leaders met with Members of Congress and their staff.  

The following day, over 170 Arab Americans, including local leaders and students, gathered at the White House for a briefing by members of the Administration on issues of concern to the community. Officials from U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, National Security Council and Office of the Vice President took questions from participants. Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President, made closing remarks.

“For our community, these advocacy days are focused on justice at home and abroad and are part of our ongoing Yalla Vote campaign. Our community’s place at the political table has been hard fought and despite the hate filled rhetoric we’ve seen from some on the campaign trail this year we’re not going away. Indeed, we are organizing with renewed efforts because we have and always will be a critical part of our nation’s mosaic,” said Maya Berry, AAI Executive Director.

#YallaVote & Arab Americans

Launched in 1998, #YallaVote is the foundation of the Arab American Institute’s grassroots voter mobilization and education campaign. Arab Americans have one of the highest rates of voter participation among ethnic minorities with more than 88% of the community registered to vote. Arab Americans have a high likelihood of visiting a presidential candidate’s website, donating to a presidential candidate, and watching a Presidential debate. With high concentrations of Arab Americans living in some of the most politically contested states – including California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Texas, and Virginia – the high rate of political participation in the community make Arab Americans a key group during elections. In Michigan, Arab American voters represent about 5% of the vote.

Arab American voters have been shown to vote by candidate or issue, and less due to party loyalty. Recent immigrants and Arab American Muslims are the two groups most likely to switch parties. With 24% of the population identifying as independent voters, and the tendency of Arab Americans to eschew party loyalty, the community has put its support behind candidates of both parties during past election cycles. Those seeking office have learned that they cannot ignore such an active community in these key states and candidates from Bill Clinton to George W. Bush and Bernie Sanders have courted the bloc.