Posted by Guest on July 06, 2018 in Blog

By Johanna Mustafa, Yalla Vote Field Organizer: CA 
Yalla Vote in California joined the Islamic Society of Orange County on July 6th for a “Friday Ummah Night” of dialogue paired with an interactive workshop. As Yalla Vote Field Organizer in California, I joined community organizers Monica Curca, Executive Director of Activate Labs, and Jessica Bravo, Coordinator at Muslim Latino Collaborative, to address the detention and family separation of Latinx refugees and asylum-seekers.  

Jessica shared her personal experiences as an immigrant in California, while Monica shed light on the stark difference in treatment she witnessed when arriving to this country as a 5-year-old Romanian refugee with 10 siblings. The history of the “zero tolerance” crimmigration system, specifics of current policies, action steps to be taken, and hand-written letters from mothers in detention were shared with the audience. Yalla Vote’s presence emphasized that voting is not an alienated practice, but instead it is deeply intertwined with all aspects of society and governance: we cannot discuss immigration issues without a mention of the midterm election. Therefore, for Yemeni, Palestinian, Pakistani, and Mexican individuals we’ve met at the Islamic Society of Orange County, voting is not only a right, but a responsibility. The separation of Latinx families resonated strongly with the Muslim community also suffering from the separation caused by the travel ban on Muslim-majority countries.

Yalla Vote’s participation was met with great gratitude from the community, especially those who are most impacted by the current immigration system. I believe that the kind words and warm welcome of an elderly Yemeni woman whose Arabic “Thank you”, “God bless you”, and “may you be rewarded with good” help drive Yalla Vote to better serve the local communities and ensure that such voices are amplified at the polls in November.