Posted by on April 23, 2010 in Blog

On Thursday, April 22, the Arab American Institute (AAI), in cooperation with the National Network of Arab American Communities (NNAAC), hosted over 80 Arab American leaders from across the country for an Arab American Leadership Day in Washington DC. The day included a White House Leadership Briefing, followed by a Capitol Hill Meet and Greet Lunch with members of Congress.

AAI worked closely with the White House Office of Public Engagement to organize the briefing with senior Administration officials to discuss issues affecting the Arab American community. Samuel Bagenstos, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice, explained the role of the Civil Rights Division under the Obama Administration and highlighted progress made on prosecuting hate crimes and enforcing other discrimination laws. Juliette Kayyem, Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Programs at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, gave an update on changes to aviation security measures and discussed reforming NSEERS and immigration enforcement. The Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, Cecilia Munoz, spoke about the policy framework for immigration legislation and encouraged all communities to participate in advancing comprehensive immigration reform. A discussion about foreign policy was led by Denis McDonough, Deputy Chief of Staff of the National Security Council, and focused on Administration efforts to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace and a responsible end to the Iraq war. Rick Wade, Deputy Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of Commerce discussed the 2010 Census in which he restated policy on protecting personal data that is collected by the Census Bureau. Mr. Wade also highlighted the role of Arab American organizations in the 2010 Census and thanked the participants for their support.

In the afternoon, Arab American leaders attended a Meet and Greet Lunch on Capitol Hill and met with their members of Congress and congressional staff. U.S. Representatives John Dingell (D-MI), Gary Peters (D-MI), Michael Honda (D-CA), Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Jim Moran (D-VA), Russ Carnahan (D-MO), Mike McMahon (D-NY), Nick Rahall (D-WV), and Barbara Lee (D-CA) attended the event and encouraged their constituents to continue their political and civic engagement.

Organizations represented at the April 22nd Arab American Leadership Day included the Arab American Institute (AAI), the National Network of Arab American Communities (NNAAC) and Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS), Chicago Advisory Council on Arab Affairs, Network of Arab American Professionals (NAAP), Arab American Family Support Center, and Arab American Family Services, along with Arab American political, business, and community leaders from 18 states across the country.