August 7-11 What to Know and Do

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.

July 24-28: What to Know and Do

Image by Geoff Livingston via Flickr

Muslim & Refugee Bans 3.0 Legal Update

Earlier this month, U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson ruled against the Trump administration’s implementation of the Muslim and refugee bans, Judge Watson found that extended family, including grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins of persons in the United States, counted as “bona fide relationships” and that refugees who have an established relationship with American refugee sponsorship organizations could not be banned. The White House immediately appealed to the Supreme Court, seeking to reinstate its interpretation.

On July 19, the Supreme Court affirmed Judge Watson’s decision in part, finding that the administration could not impose a blanket prohibition on people from the six Muslim majority ban countries who have grandparents, aunts, uncles and other relatives in the U.S. But it also granted the government’s request to put on hold a part of the lower court’s order that would have made it easier for more refugees to enter the country. That order could have granted entry to about 24,000 refugees who were already working with resettlement agencies.

The National Immigration Law Center announced in a press release that although “family unity won today,” it will continue to litigate “to ensure that refugees can find the shelter they were offered by settlement agencies in the United States.”

The Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments for October 10. For additional information, please review this full timeline of the Muslim and refugee bans curated by HIAS and this legal implementation timeline created by Muslim Advocates and Penn State Law School.

Impact of the Ban

Meanwhile, “Trump Is Stealthily Carrying Out His Muslim Ban” through other insidious means like, “increasing administrative hurdles and cementing or even expanding the current travel restrictions that are not under review at the court.” The State Department is likewise intensifying “extreme vetting” practices by demanding that visa applicants submit years of personal data including social media account identifiers.

On July 18, the House of Representatives held a vote on Trump’s Muslim Ban. Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI) called for a vote in the Appropriations committee, hoping to block DHS funding for any implementation of the Muslim ban that would ban a grandparent, grandchild, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, or cousin of a U.S. person. The amendment failed because every Republican, except Charlie Dent, voted against it.

The ban has deeply wounded black and African persons and families because nearly half of the targeted countries are in Africa. Juweiya Ali, a 24-year-old U.S. citizen and a home health aide in Seattle, is the lead plaintiff in Ali v. Trump, a class-action lawsuit on behalf of four families seeking to reunite with their minor children. Ali’s 7-year-old son currently lives with his grandmother in Somalia and was in the final stages of receiving a visa when the ban was implemented. The child’s visa process has now been suspended indefinitely.

Essence reports that since the inception of the ban, “some 60,000 already issued visas—the result of years of screenings and paperwork—were revoked without warning, prompting travelers to file dozens of lawsuits against the current administration.”

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.

July 17 – 21: What to Know & Do

Image by Masha George via Flickr

Muslim & Refugee Bans 3.0 Legal Update

On July 14 federal district court judge Derrick Watson struck a blow to the Trump administration’s enforcement of the Muslim and refugee bans. The court ruled that the Trump administration’s interpretation of “bona fide relationship” was too narrow and “represents the antithesis of common sense.”

The judge found that the government cannot “exclude grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins of persons in the United States,” nor can it exclude refugees who “have a formal assurance from an agency within the United States that the agency will provide, or ensure the provision of, reception and placement services to that refugee, or are in the U.S. Refugee Admission Program through the Lautenberg Program.” The Muslim and refugee bans are still in effect, but the ruling narrows their reach. The Trump administration has appealed the decision directly to the Supreme Court.

Impact of Bans

Although the courts have limited implementation of the bans, a partial ban is still a ban. In addition, the bans have a chilling effect and discourage immigration to the U.S., especially from Muslim majority countries and refugees generally. The Washington Post reports that the number of refugees entering the U.S. in the first six months of 2017 is down 34% from the prior year and the number of Muslim refugees is down 40%.

Despite having a valid J-1 visa, Mohsen Dehnavi, an Iranian cancer researcher, and his family were sent back to Iran shortly after landing at Logan International Airport on July 12. Dehnavi was traveling to the U.S. to serve as a visiting scholar at Boston children’s hospital, which is affiliated with Harvard Medical School. CPB declared him “inadmissible” and denied a report that it was due to the Muslim Ban. However, because of conflicting interpretations of the SCOTUS ruling and “bona fide relationships,” arbitrary decisions are being made at airports and U.S. embassies across the world.

Targeted Deportations

More than 1,400 Iraqi nationals in the U.S. have been protected from deportation due to a nationwide injunction valid until at least July 24. Federal district court judge Mark Goldsmith halted deportations while he considers a class-action lawsuit on behalf of 114 Iraqis arrested in the Detroit area in June. There have also been ICE raids in the Nashville area targeting the Kurdish community; “officers have been knocking on doors and asking questions without warrants, surrounding people with vehicles and going to their workplaces.”

  • For the American Muslim Advisory Council’s resources, including Kurdish-language videos and an intake form, please visit https://www.amactn.org/ice
  • For Iraqi nationals facing removal, please complete this ACLU intake form. For attorneys willing to provide pro bono counsel, please complete this form.

 Take Action:

The Supreme Court and the Muslim and Refugee Bans

On June 26th, the Supreme Court of the United States decided to reinstate the Muslim Ban in part. “Muslim 3.0” went into effect 72 hours later on June 29th at 8 pm EST for nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. According to the Supreme Court ruling, individuals who can demonstrate a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the U.S. will not be affected by the ban. In addition, the US refugee program is suspended for 120 days unless an applicant can evidence a “bona fide relationship” with a person or entity in the United States.

Below are a few resources regarding implementation and analysis of Muslim Ban 3.0 and suggestions on how to resist. For more information, please see our new page “SCOTUS & Muslim Ban” for updates.

Tell Your Story:

Take Action:

June 12 – 16: What to Know & Do

Anti-Sharia Protest, Austin, TX

June 10 Anti-Muslim Protests 

On June 10th, Act for America, an anti-Muslim hate group, organized a series of national anti-Muslim protests called “March Against Sharia.” ACT members were outnumbered on Saturday by counter-protestors in several cities. In New York, three dozen people attended the “anti-sharia” rally, while the counter-protestors numbered in the hundreds. The counter-protestors, which included Muslim, Arab and South Asian community members, exclaimed slogans of inclusion and solidarity. Identity Evropa, a group of white nationalists, came to support the ACT rally in New York while Vanguard America, another white supremacist group, turned out in Harrisburg, PA.

In San Bernardino, a few hundred ACT protesters yelled slurs and rushed a group of counter-protesters. In St. Paul, 300 counter-protestors gathered outside the state capitol in response to the hate event happening inside. In Austin, the counter-protestors slightly outnumbered the anti-sharia protestors, and some held signs remembering those who lost their lives fighting Islamophobia and racism in Portland a few weeks ago.

The Southern Poverty Law Center updated a live blog documenting the rallies and standoffs between counter protestors and ACT. They also noted the presence of Oath Keepers armed with handguns at numerous protests. The SPLC considers the Oath Keepers to be one of the largest radical anti-government groups in the U.S.

pdx rally
Counter-Protest Rally, Austin, TX

June 14 CVE Hearing

On Wednesday, June 14, the Senate will be holding a hearing entitled “Ideology and Terror: Understanding the Tools, Tactics, and Techniques of Violent Extremism.” Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) programs chill civil and constitutional rights; encourage profiling and surveillance of innocent Muslims in America; are based on junk science; and have been widely denounced by civil society, including teachers and psychologists. For helpful resources on CVE programs, please visit the Brennan Center of Justice.

New Resource On Combatting Hate Violence

The Stop Hate Project, an initiative organized by the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, just released a new resource on combatting hate violence entitled, “Community Response Toolkit: When Hate Groups Come to Town.” The toolkit includes know your rights materials and best practices for community groups, law enforcement, and public officials for responding to hate violence.

New Resource On Human Rights & National Security

Amnesty International recently released a new resource entitled, “Human Rights in National Security: An Educator’s Toolkit.” The toolkit contains four modules, each providing lessons and resources on a key area of U.S. national security policy post-9/11, including drone strikes, global war, indefinite detention, torture, and surveillance.

Brutal Immigration Practices

In May, the Trump administration announced that it plans to end Temporary Protected Status in 2018 for about 580,000 immigrants from Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Haiti. TPS designation is granted to persons from countries embroiled in war, suffering from natural disasters and other adverse, temporary conditions. On June 7, Haitian and Central American activists announced they will be meeting this week with the Presidents of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, seeking an extension of TPS status.

On May 31, Vicente Caceres-Maradiaga, 46, died from acute coronary syndrome as he was transferred from a private detention center in Adelanto, CA to a hospital. He is the ninth person to die in ICE custody this fiscal year. There were only 10 deaths in all of fiscal year 2016. Christina Fialho, Executive Director of Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC), said, “I have no doubt that the increase in immigration detention deaths is directly connected to both the increase in the number of people detained and the effective elimination of federal standards on humane treatment.” (BuzzFeed)

What to Do

 

June 5-9: What to Know & Do

Image credit: Beth Nakamura (Oregon Live)

What to Know

  • U.S. embassies began a new, intensive process for vetting visas. The tougher scrutiny was rolled out following Trump’s March 6 memorandum requiring enhanced visa screening. Beginning on May 25, both visitors and would-be immigrants may be given a three page supplemental questionnaire asking for passport numbers, travel history over the past 15 years, travel funding, and usernames for all social media accounts for the past five years. Though “voluntary”, not answering the questionnaire could be cause for visa delay or denial.
  • On Thursday May 25th the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit refused to lift the nationwide injunction on the Muslim and refugee bans and concluded in its ruling that the revised order, “speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination.” Reflecting on the #NoMuslimBanEver National Week of Resistance, Laura Li writes why As an Asian American I support #NoMuslimBanEver and its importance especially during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. On June 1, the Trump administration formally asked the Supreme Court to review the litigation and reinstate the Muslim and refugee bans.

What to Do – Action Items

Here are a few ideas for countering ACT’s hate and bigotry on June 10.

  1. Share a statement of value
  2. Host an alternate community-centered event
  3. Organize a counter-protest
  4. Engage with the media
  5. Pressure ACT to cancel event 

Please contact Madihha Ahussain at Muslim Advocates or Lindsay Schubiner at the Center for New Community if you would be interested in additional information on how to resist these protests. The following counter rally and march has already been scheduled:

As an Asian American I support #NoMuslimBanEver

By Laura Li

As an Asian American woman, May holds particular significance as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, a time when we reflect and celebrate our diverse histories, what we have overcome and what we as a community will continue to fight for and resist. On May 8th I went down to Richmond, VA, with other Asian Americans to rally against the Muslim Ban, a hateful policy that tears families apart and codifies discriminatory profiling.

On January 27th and again on March 6th, the Trump Administration issued executive orders that barred travel from six Muslim-majority nations and suspended the refugee program for 120 days. After federal judges in Hawai’i and Maryland blocked the implementation of significant parts of the executive order, the federal government appealed. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals was scheduled to hear oral arguments that day by Jeffrey Wall, acting Solicitor General, and Omar Jadwat, a lawyer with the ACLU representing people and groups challenging the order.

The #NoMuslimBanEver Rally, organized by Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC and partner organizations, marked the beginning of the #NoMuslimBanEver National Week of Resistance. People held signs proclaiming #NoBanNoWall and “Love Thy Neighbor” and online the hashtag #NoMuslimBanEver was ubiquitous as people tweeted their support.

Asian Americans too have long histories of criminalization, incarceration and detention. From the Chinese Exclusion Act to Japanese American mass incarceration; we are intimately familiar with racial profiling as a means to criminalize our communities. Many of our families are also refugees. Since 1975, 1.2 million Southeast Asian refugees resettled in the U.S after fleeing war, but more than 13,000 Cambodian, Vietnamese and Laotian Americans have been served deportation orders. Southeast Asian Americans are five times more likely to be deported for criminal convictions, but many refugees facing deportation have been convicted of nonviolent crimes.

Though these issues are systemic in our communities, they are invisibilized due to the prevalence of the Model Minority Myth. Internalizing stereotypes about ourselves, we stay silent when we need to speak up. As Asian Americans we occupy a racial middle in America’s racial hierarchy. However, to quote Mari Matsuda, “the middle can dismantle white supremacy if it refuses to be the middle, if it refuses to abandon communities of black and brown people, choosing instead to forge alliances with them.”

We must wake up and realize that this ban does not just affect the six countries named in Muslim Ban 2.0, nor people who are Muslim — it has serious consequences for us all. Its basic premise assumes that being of a certain faith or from a certain country determines your level of threat and loyalty to the U.S. As Asian Americans, we cannot continue to stand idly by as the U.S. continues to turn away refugees and people because of hate and fear-mongering. Our very survival depended on people who recognized that our struggles were linked and advocated for us all.

As we marched around the courthouse, we were told our chants of “No Ban, No Wall, Our Cities Will Stand Tall” could be heard inside during the oral arguments. This message rang true on Thursday May 25th when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit refused to lift the nationwide injunction on the Muslim and refugee ban and concluded in its ruling that the revised order, “speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination.” The Ninth Circuit has yet to decide what will happen in the Hawai’i case, but I hope my fellow Asian Americans will be there to speak up when it does.

Originally posted on Medium on May 30, 2017