The Arab American Institute is a leading advocate protecting the rights and liberties of our community, and in so doing, upholding our Constitutional values. On an ongoing basis, the Arab American Institute works with members of Congress, their staff, White Office officials, and key policymakers in the administration to advance the policy concerns of the Arab American community.
We are committed to providing policy analysis and recommendations that can be used as tools by policy professionals, public servants and citizen-advocates alike to educate themselves on core issues facing Arab Americans, especially as the civil rights of the Arab American community have been undermined in the post 9/11 era of heightened national security.
In 2019, AAI's domestic policy priorities center around the following core areas: hate crime, the 2020 Census, free speech and the issue of Palestine, immigration, and securitization and surveillance.
Domestic Policy Issue Briefs
Click the title or image of each brief to access a downloadable version of our 2019 domestic policy issue briefs.
Counteracting Threats to our Communities
We must counteract the threat of hate crime against our communities. Regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, disability, or gender identity, Arab Americans have the right to live without fear of being targeted because of who they are or how they are perceived.
Hate crime is a direct threat to this fundamental right, one to which many communities across the United States, including Arab Americans, are susceptible. For these reasons, the Arab American Institute has prioritized hate crime prevention in our policy work.
To access our comprehensive report and interactive map on hate crime data collection and reporting, click here.
Protecting our Constitutional Right to Free Speech
The rights guaranteed in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution- freedom of speech, the press, association, assembly, and petition- are central to the functioning of our democracy. In the words of Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, "If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what is orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion or other matters of opinion." Indeed, the Supreme Court has long upheld a legal tradition that places political speech as the most protected, and perhaps most important, form of expression in our public discourse.
According to Supreme Court jurisprudence, the First Amendment also protects the right to participate in nonviolent collective actions such as economic boycotts.
Promoting Representation of Our Communities
The decennial census is a constitutionally mandated process and each administration has a responsibility to make sure hat the U.S. Census Bureau can conduct an accurate count of all persons residing in the United States. Decennial census data has many important applications, from apportioning seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, to redistricting state legislatures and school district assignment areas. Additionally data from the decennial census determines how the government spends over $600 billion a year in federal and state funding that goes to programs supporting public health, transportation, education, and community development in communities across the United States. A fair and accurate count on the decennial census is imperative to the functioning of our democracy.
To learn about Get Out the Count (GOTC) efforts ahead of the 2020 Census, click here.
Present Threats To Our Privacy and Civil Liberties
Securitization is the combined oversimplification and exaggeration of complex national security-related policy concerns. In recent decades, the U.S. government has exploited sociopolitical anxieties to justify a disproportionate response to terrorism at home and abroad. As a securitized community, Arab Americans face discriminatory national security policies and inordinate threats to constitutional rights, particularly those stemming from the First and Fourth Amendments.
Excessive surveillance of targeted communities, including Arab Americans and American Muslims, is one example of securitization in the domestic sphere. While the U.S. government has justified serious transgressions of constitutional rights in defense of national security throughout its history, this dynamic has only intensified since the tragic terrorist attacks on 9/11. National security frameworks, new surveillance technologies, and dragnet immigration policies have each posed distinct challenges to the civil rights and civil liberties of securitized communities.
The National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants Act
The National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants Act ('NO BAN Act") is a historic civil rights bill that would prevent faith-based discrimination in immigration as well as end the Muslim Ban, the Refugee Ban, and the Asylum Ban.
For more on the NO BAN Act, click here.
We also continue the necessary work elsewhere on the domestic policy landscape.
Please see Our 2017 "Advocacy Road Map: A Local Action Toolkit for How You Can Make A Difference" for information and action items related to core domestic policy issues that impact Arab Americans.
Below are additional resources and information on policy areas on which AAI works: