Posted on in Arab American Institute

David Ramadan (R)

I spent many days in January campaigning in South Western Virginia for two of my Republican friends: Greg Habeeb and Bill Stanley. Habeeb, a Lebanese American, and Stanley were running in a Special Election to replace two Republicans who are now members of Congress. On Tuesday the 11th, the citizens of South Side VA casted their votes and sent my two Republican friends to Richmond with a decisive 60+ % of the vote. The messages we heard from the voters as we worked the polls were familiar and consistent: cut spending, smaller government, fiscal responsibility, create jobs and repeal Obamacare. The following morning I attended Senator Stanley’s and Delegate Habeeb’s swearing in ceremonies at the beginning of the legislative session. Later in the evening, as a guest of the First Family, I attended Governor McDonnell‘s State of the Commonwealth Address to the General Assembly followed by a reception at the Executive Mansion. Some of the Governor’s priorities included:

  • Create new job-creating tools and resources to help start, grow, and recruit new businesses
  • Implement major reforms and more accountability in higher education to make college more affordable and accessible for our students
  • Reform government by prioritizing spending, eliminating or consolidating targeted agencies

The Governor is obviously in sync with Virginians. President Obama can and should adopt Governor McDonnell’s priorities. Americans sent a clear message to the President in November; Virginians reaffirmed the message in January; it is time for the President to listen and serve the best interest of Americans instead of Governing from the left on a liberal agenda of Tax & Spend.


Jean AbiNader (D)

Having just returned from a visit to Morocco with US security experts, and watching the events in Tunisia, I feel quite strongly that the President cannot back down from US engagement with the Arab/Muslim worlds. Over the past two years, the USG has demonstrated that it has the same challenges in hearing Arab and Muslim voices as the preceding Bush administration. While words may have weight with some constituencies, the lack of credible US actions that go beyond regime maintenance has eroded the US capacity to be a player in the region.

While the US rightly focuses on economic issues, the safety and stability of communities suffering from increasing energy and food prices, and the imperiled political space where dialog generates solutions rather than acrimony, it should not and cannot ignore that these are global issues brought on by mismanagement of very basic structural deficits in governance, accountability, economic growth for jobs, the distribution of economic opportunities, and satisfying very diverse citizen identity issues. The US indeed looks like the rest of the world and should act for domestic solutions that do not deny our global identity.

Whether dealing with immigration, controlling the deficit, reducing the footprint of government bureaucracy, providing support for social services, or realigning spending priorities, the President and Congress should never forget who their employers are and the quality of our links to the world.


Sherine El-Abd (R)

Now ending his second year in the White House, President Obama has succeeded in disappointing Republicans, Democrats and independents! We continue to see the lack of experience and leadership skills which have caused and grown many of the problems our nation is facing. On the domestic side, his health care agenda is misguided and he needs to understand that the majority of the American people are against it. His bailouts were unwise and misdirected and have not scratched the surface in creating jobs. People are hurting, there are no jobs to be found and you cannot find one person who has either lost his job or knows somebody (in most cases several) who are jobless! Not one sound economic policy out of this administration.

On the proposed Islamic Center to be built near Ground zero, he was all over the place making statements that he would take back the following day; not exactly the qualities of a true leader. Our foreign policy leaves a lot to be desired. We continue to support radical and dictator regimes and we are not working on keeping our allies in our corner. The Middle East is now a volcano that has started to erupt and this administration is just watching!


Linda Sarsour (D)

When asked about the state of our country, the first thing that comes to mind is ‘broken yet fixable.’ Our country is broken, fragmented, and divided by racism and dangerous political rhetoric that pins political parties, communities, and various sectors of society against one another. Today, securing our nation translates to trampling over constitutional rights; and more money is being spent on wars and separating families through deportations rather than on education and preparing our children for an increasingly competitive world.

We also live in the land of the free and home of the brave: a country full of opportunity and one that takes pride in its diversity; a place for people to flee political and religious persecution. We are the United States, looked upon as leaders in the eyes of our allies and others worldwide. In order for the United States to maintain its credibility and role as the world’s leader, it must redefine that role. We must become honest brokers in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, invest more funding in education and job creation; we must overhaul our current immigration system – keep families together and ensure due process. Not to mention, fixing our immigration system and ending our wars will strengthen our economy. We can only be strong when we come together, work together, sacrifice together, and put our differences aside. I ask that President Obama take more risks, voice his intolerance for racism and politically charged rhetoric from government officials, and to reframe our priorities based on human rights.


Rashida Tlaib (D)

My parents immigrated to the United States over thirty years ago with hopes of freedom and equal opportunities for a better life. They could have never imagined that their daughter would be elected to the Michigan House of Representatives, let alone the first Muslim woman elected to the Michigan Legislature, and, in the same year, witness the historic election of the first African-American President of the United States, a child of an immigrant father, a Kenyan Muslim.

As President Obama contemplates his State of the Union, I hope the spirit of his 2008 campaign resonates in his message: the message of hope and change.

For me, Obama's message meant that being Muslim in America was no longer a disadvantage in applying for a job, joining the military, teaching our children, or running for office. Our core American values of fairness and justice are fundamental to social and economic prosperity for our country. President Obama needs to understand that means fixing our broken immigration system - a system that has targeted, humiliated and undermined the fundamental principles our country was built upon.

For our country to truly heal from the spread of hate towards immigrants in America, President Obama needs to reform our nation's most important gateway: federal immigration laws.