Zoom interview with stranded Diversity Visa lottery winners
Image by Dr. Debbie Almontaser via Huffington Post

Minnesota Mosque Bombed

This weekend someone threw a bomb into the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Minneapolis. While no one was hurt, the mosque was badly damaged, and worshipers and leaders are shaken by the attack. Governor Mark Dayton, Lt. Gov. Tina Smith and other elected officials visited the site and spoke with mosque leaders on Sunday. Dayton remarked, “if the roles were reversed, it would be called a terrorist attack. And that’s what it is, an act of terrorism.”

Faith leaders, like Rev. Curtiss DeYoung, CEO of the Minnesota Council of Churches, condemned hate violence, noting that “an attack on a mosque is an attack on a synagogue is an attack on a church is an attack on all faith communities.”

Leaders at the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center have setup a a Gofundme page to raise money to repair the damage from the bombing.

Ambassador of “Religious Freedom”

On July 27, the White House nominated Sam Brownback, the Republican governor of Kansas, to be ambassador at large for international religious freedom. Under Brownback, Kansas was the first state to withdraw from the federal refugee resettlement program. Muslim civil liberties groups have expressed concerns about the nomination. Brownback has a history of “rushing to sign anti-Islam legislation designed to vilify Muslims” and should be barred from holding the post, said the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim advocacy organization in the U.S.

“America First” Anti-Muslim Protests

ACT for America, the nation’s largest anti-Muslim grassroots organization, has scheduled another series of anti-Muslim rallies across the country under the banner “America First.” The rallies are scheduled to take place on September 9 and seek to exploit the 9/11 anniversary to promote bigotry & racism.

The paradigm of “America First” has been widely embraced by white nationalists, a core constituency of ACT for America. They previously convened rallies in June, and attracted anti-government militias, white nationalists, and skinhead groups. Imagine2050 provides more information here, including how you can push back against these rallies.

Thousands of Diversity Visa Winners Stranded by Muslim Ban

Thousands of visa lottery winners from the six targeted countries who were expecting to immigrate to the U.S. for permanent residency have been turned away because of the Muslim Ban. The “diversity visa” lottery program is a pathway to U.S. residency for citizens from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the U.S.

The ban will expire on Sept. 27, three days before their eligibility for green cards expires. According to Reuters, “given the slow pace of the immigration process, the State Department will likely struggle to issue their visas in time.” For Yemenis, the situation has been extremely difficult. Since the U.S. does not have a diplomatic outpost there, Yemenis have to travel to other countries, many to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia located 4,000 miles away, in order to obtain their visas. Yemenis in Malaysia, Djibouti, Jordan, Egypt, Algeria and elsewhere are now in limbo as many have already sold their assets in Yemen and are living on their last dime. Yemeni officials have initiated talks with the State Department to find a way to help diversity lottery winners get to the U.S., but a State Department official declined to comment.

To aid these lottery winners, a Launchgood Campaign: Yemenis Affected By Trump’s Muslim Ban was launched to help this community get food, pay their rent and all else failing, a ticket home.

In addition, on August 4, Jenner & Block, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of the District of Columbia, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, and the National Immigration Law Center filed a federal lawsuit challenging the U.S. State Department’s refusal to process visa applications for winners of the U.S. Diversity Visa Program lottery from the six countries targeted by President Trump’s Muslim ban. The plaintiff writes in the ACLU’s blog, “My wife and I are frozen, unable to make decisions about what to do next. I don’t know when to give notice to my work or if we should sell our house. I can no longer envision what the future holds for us.”

ICE in the Courtrooms

California officials say U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have shown up twice at California labor dispute proceedings searching for undocumented workers who reported their employers for labor violations. Since November, ICE agents have been targeting the Van Nuys and Santa Ana locations of the Labor Commissioner’s Office looking to apprehend undocumented workers, sometimes arriving 30 minutes in advance of employer meetings and dispute proceedings. Julie Su, the state’s labor commissioner and the agency’s head, suspects employer retaliation and that employers accused of underpaying employees routinely tip off ICE about the status of their workers.

Action Items

We encourage people to plan events and discussions between now and October to raise awareness of the impact of the bans, and to center the stories and perspectives of the communities most affected. Send us information about your event for the NoBanNoWallNoRaids community calendar.

  • August 15 will be a National Day of Action around DACA and a coalition of organizations is circulating a statement of support declaring that We Are With Dreamers. You can read the statement and sign-on at bit.ly/WithDreamers.
  • Refugee Council USA provides an August Recess Toolkit with letters, alerts, and talking points about major refugee issues Congress needs to address.
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