Posted on January 25, 2017 in Arab American Institute
Standing up for a diverse and welcoming country
Since 9/11, anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bigotry have remained a consistent phenomenon. The 2016 election cycle brought a fresh wave of bigotry directed toward immigrants and communities of color in the United States that we are still fighting. The Arab American Institute and many of our allies are focused on urgent measures to safeguard historically-disenfranchised communities against the federal government’s aggressive, discriminatory policies that aim to undermine existing protections. The President has furthered a nativist agenda via extremist rhetoric, executive orders, administrative regulations, and legislation.
Many of the concerning immigration proposals and policies are reflective of a fear-mongering and xenophobic approach to policy making disguised in a cloak of “national security interests,” such as the various iterations of the Muslim & Refugee Ban, the proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, the recession of DACA, funding threats against sanctuary cities, and the dramatic increases in ICE raids, citizenship removals, and deportations. When immigration policy is used as a tool to discriminate against immigrants based on their national origin, ethnicity, or religion, it is at odds with American values. The determination of immigration status must follow due process, enforcement of immigration laws must be performed humanely, and our immigration policy must uphold the equal protection and application of laws for all.
There are numerous opportunities for local communities to push back on the xenophobic policies of the Trump Administration. These actions will send a clear message that a compassionate approach to immigration policy is in line with American ideals, and the habitual denigration of immigrants and explicit denial of the United States as a nation of immigrants are not.
As part of AAI's Advocacy Roadmap - we are organizing around
FOUR LOCAL & NATIONAL ACTIONS TO STAND AGAINST BIGOTRY:
STAND AGAINST THE MUSLIM BAN
Target: U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, and community organizations.
(1) Hold events to encourage cooperation and understanding between mosques/ Islamic centers and other prominent community organizations. Collaborate with Muslim communities to facilitate cultural awareness events as part of an effort to promote greater inclusivity.
(2) Meet with your Members of Congress to inform them of your opposition to the Muslim Ban and the moral imperative to take proactive steps to combat discriminatory immigration policy. As we await a Supreme Court decision on the Muslim Ban, Congress has the power to nullify Trump’s xenophobic Proclamation with legislation.
STAND FOR A ROBUST REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT PROGRAM
Target: U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, governors, state legislators, mayors, city councils, and refugee resettlement organizations.
(1) Meet with your Members of Congress to urge them to oppose xenophobic actions such as the Refugee Ban, and to support greater refugee resettlement efforts to match our historical commitment to those in danger around the world. Encourage local cities to be welcoming cities for resettlement. In the face of unprecedented human-made and natural disasters around the world, the United States should meet a moral obligation of accepting and resettling refugees commensurate with our ability to do so. Despite America’s historical role of a land of opportunity, the Trump Administration pledged to accept no more than 45,000 refugees annually, the lowest number since 1980. Last year the Administration also imposed a Refugee Ban, blocking over 24,000 refugees from entering the country. After the ban lifted, still 40% fewer refugees were accepted than before.
(2) Identify advocacy groups, refugee support organizations, and fellow citizens to help illustrate the positive impacts refugees have had, or could have, on your community. Consider writing Op-Eds in local publications to garner support for refugees in your area. Call on community members to volunteer and donate to refugee resettlement agencies.
(3) Contact your governor, state legislators, mayor, and city council to express desire for your state and city to participate in refugee resettlement to welcome refugees. While the federal government controls the overall level of refugees accepted into the United States, each community can play a part in making refugees who are accepted feel welcomed in our country. You can show local officials that your community support refugees by organizing letter writing campaigns, and requesting in-person meetings.
STAND FOR FAMILY REUNIFICATION AND DIVERSITY VISAS
Target: U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, and community immigrant support organizations.
(1) Meet with your members of Congress to oppose Trump’s immigration policies. In an effort to discourage legal immigration, the President presented a desired immigration policy which ends diversity visas and severely limits family reunification.
(2) Work with immigrant support organizations to highlight the contributions of those who have come to the U.S. through family reunification and diversity visas. Show the integral role that open-hearted immigration plays in our country by informing elected officials of community members who have benefitted from welcoming immigration policy. Long-standing visa programs, such as family re-unification and diversity visas, have contributed to the unique creativity, diversity, and stability of America’s immigrants.
STAND FOR STATE AND LOCAL SANCTUARY POLICIES TO SEND A CLEAR MESSAGE OF INCLUSIVITY
Target: Governors, state legislators, mayors, city councils, and local police departments.
(1) The current administration’s frustration with the pushback of local jurisdictions on enforcing their immigration policies has been clear throughout the President’s term. This became official when the Department of Justice sued California for laws which the President claims prevent federal immigration officials from deporting immigrants. Meet with your mayor and members of your city council to express desire for your city to become a sanctuary city– especially if your governor cooperates with federal immigration officials beyond legal necessity. Use the draft city council resolution provided in the resources section.
(2) If any local police departments participate in ICE’s 287(g) program, which deputizes local officials to enforce federal immigration policy, meet with those police agencies to express the illegal racial profiling and civil rights violations that are inherent in an institutionalized search for undocumented immigrants.