Posted on July 20, 2018 in Countdown

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DREAMers Countdown: It’s been 318 days since President Trump moved to end DACA. The courts did step in to block the move, but Congress has yet to provide a permanent fix. TWEET THIS

Our Arab American Hate Crime Report is Here

Did you know that the federal government eliminated anti-Arab hate crime from the FBI’s national data collections in 1992, only to reintroduce the category in 2015, more than two decades later? Neither did we, that is, until we started researching for our new report released this week! Underreported, Under Threat: Hate Crime in the United States and the Targeting of Arab Americans is a groundbreaking resource on a critical issue: the lasting threat of targeted violence against Arab Americans, and the broader shortcomings of local, state, and federal responses to hate crime in our communities. The report provides a historical overview of anti-Arab bigotry, case studies into specific hate crimes targeting Arab Americans, and a discussion of government data on anti-Arab hate crime between 1991 and 2016. We have also created a comprehensive resource guide on hate crime in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, complete with an easy-to-understand rating system to rank and compare states based on their overall response. We’re proud of this work and excited for the advocacy it will surely promote. Give it a look here!

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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

There's a positive trend growing in American communities: giving non-citizens the right to vote in local elections. Last November, San Francisco passed a proposition allowing non-citizens to vote in school board elections; this week, officials opened the voter registration process to non-citizens. This revolutionary decision is not entirely unique, and that's a good thing. As it turns out, several cities have already implemented similar policies in their local elections. Maryland has been a leader in this effort: Takoma Park implemented a non-citizen voting policy for all local elections, up to the mayoral race, in the '90s, and several other Maryland cities have followed suit. New York incorporated non-citizen voting for school board elections in 1968, and continued their policy until they ended school board elections in 2003. Many other cities are also considering such policies. Allowing non-citizens to vote is good for democracy. Giving all residents a say in how their local government operates and who represents them is a basic tenant of a true democracy. Voters are more engaged & invested in their communities, and that translates into stronger communities. As we see a push for more voter suppression laws in some states, these changes to expand the right to vote are a bright spot in our democracy.

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Israel Passes Overtly Discriminatory Law

You may have heard, Israel passed the “nation state” bill, which declares “the right to national self-determination in Israel is unique to the Jewish people,” and strips Arabic from its status as an official language. The bill once included even more crude language about creating housing communities exclusive for Jews, but the language was ultimately softened. Don’t be fooled, though, housing discrimination is still the norm in Israel, where “admission committees” reject applicants they deem not “culturally suitable” (with the endorsement of the Israeli Supreme Court no less), and where religious leaders openly call on Israelis to not rent homes to non-Jews. By the way, if you want to know what the intent of this bill is, you don’t have to guess, because one of its Likud sponsors in the Knesset already told us: “to prevent even the slightest thought, let alone attempt, to transform Israel to a country of all its citizen.” There is a silver-lining, though: The bill merely puts on paper what is already Israeli policy in practice, so at least people can stop pretending now that Israel is a liberal democracy that respects human rights.

PS: Here is our Deputy Director drawing an analogy for what it would be like if this happened in the US.

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You Positive It Was Double Negatives?

Unless you were cast away on a deserted island (pun very intended), you didn’t not hear (double negative for “did hear”, in case you’re not following) Trump, at that joint press conference with Putin in Helsinki, say that he didn’t have any reason to believe “why it would be” Russia that’s behind election-time hacking in 2016. After universal condemnation from the entire political spectrum, Trump backtracked, claiming what he really meant to say is no reason why it “wouldn’t” rather than “would” be Russia, even though the context of the remark makes that explanation implausible. But to smooth things out, Trump invited Putin to DC. “Say that again?” That’s the quote from the Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, who found out about Trump’s invitation for Putin from the press (the way all intelligence officials should find out about their president’s moves). Coats went on to say: “Okaaaaay, that’s going to be special.” Clearly, things aren’t not not normal in America.

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Protecting Democracy from Protectors of Democracy

The past term the Supreme Court took on a number of important election-related cases, which are fully discussed in our analysis published this week. What you need to know is that these decisions will make the electoral process more hostile to minority voters and to those currently out of power. Beginning in 2018, state lawmakers have an explicit green light to aggressively purge voters from the polls, even if they are disproportionately minority voters. Legislative bodies with a recent history of discriminatory intent in racial gerrymandering will be nonetheless presumed innocent of bad faith when creating new districts. And now, bringing suits which challenge political gerrymanders will be more onerous. These holdings further stress the importance for advocacy organizations to vigorously support more inclusive voting laws such as adopting automatic or same-day voter registration policies, which would eliminate many of the burdens faced by marginalized voters. Only civic participation can curb the trend in courts and legislatures of undermining electoral democracy across the country.