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

Successes from the #NoMuslimBanEver National Week of Resistance

The #NoMuslimBanEver National Week of Resistance was successful, and we’re grateful to everyone who participated. The week coincided with oral arguments in the Muslim Ban litigation in the 4th and 9th Circuits.  More than 45 national and local groups participated in the #NoMuslimBanEver campaign, there was strong turnout at the #NoMuslimBanEver rallies in Richmond, VA and Seattle, Washington, and the hashtag #NoMuslimBanEver trended during our 5/9 Twitter Town hall.

Oral arguments in the 9th Circuit (Seattle, WA)

On May 15, a three-judge panel in the 9th Circuit heard oral arguments in the case Hawaii v. Trump. Judges Michael Hawkins, Ronald Gould and Richard Paez reviewed District Judge Derrick Watson’s nationwide preliminary injunction blocking President Trump’s revised Muslim Ban and refugee ban.

Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall, arguing on behalf of the Trump administration, suggested that Supreme Court precedent should deter judges from second guessing “national security determinations that they’re sort of ill-equipped to do.” Judge Paez asked, “Would the Korematsu executive order pass muster under your argument?” and continued, “There was no reference to the Japanese in that executive order but look what happened.”

Wall also asked the judges not to begin a “wide ranging inquiry into subjective motivation” including Trump’s previous comments on Muslims because “the (executive) order on its face doesn’t have anything to do with religion and in operation doesn’t distinguish on the basis of religion.” Neal Katyal, a former Obama administration solicitor general representing the state of Hawaii, countered that Trump had never disavowed his previous comments and until the week prior had a press release on his campaign site calling for a “complete shutdown of Muslims.” Katyal noted that the executive order was rooted in discrimination and emphasized that “if you rule for him, you defer to the President in a way that history teaches us is very dangerous.” (CNNThe Guardian)

Our Twitter Town Hall on Islamophobia and Immigrants was held that same day and anchored by Avideh Moussavian (NILC), Ben Ndugga-Kabuye (BAJI), Lindsay Schubiner (Center for New Community), Patrice Lawrence (UndocuBlack) and Deepa Iyer (Center for Social Inclusion). The discussion explored the intersection of Islamophobia, anti-immigrant prejudice and anti-black racism.

Oral arguments in the 4th Circuit (Richmond, VA)

On May 8, an en-banc panel in the 4th Circuit reviewed the decision of Maryland District Court Judge Theodore Chuang, who held that the Muslim ban was likely unconstitutional and concluded that “the history of public statements [by President Trump] continues to provide a convincing case that the purpose of the second executive order remains the realization of the long-envisioned Muslim ban.” Judge Chuang blocked the Muslim Ban, but left intact the refugee ban.

Jeffrey Wall argued that the revised ban incorporated the concerns raised by judges in the Muslim Ban 1.0 litigation and noted that Trump “made it clear he was not talking about Muslims all over the world, that’s why it’s not a Muslim ban.” Omar C. Jadwat, a lawyer with the ACLU representing people and groups challenging the order, stated that the ban does not serve a valid national security rationale. He noted that the targeted countries are “not the list of countries you come up with” when determining those that pose the biggest threats to the U.S. (CNNThe Atlantic)

Our Twitter Town Hall on the Muslim/Refugee Ban was held the following day and anchored by Abed Ayoub (ADC), Asha Noor (CAIR-MI), Naureen Shah (Amnesty International) and Deepa Iyer (Center for Social Inclusion). The discussion explored the litigation, those impacted by the Muslim Ban and refugee ban, and local and national resistance efforts.

What’s next

If Trump loses in either the Fourth or Ninth Circuits, he would be unable to lawfully enforce the Executive Order and would have to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

According to Steve Vladeck, a CNN legal analyst and professor of law at the University of Texas School of Law, the real question will be “whether the two courts come out the same way. This issue may be bound for the Supreme Court no matter what, but it will certainly be heard by the justices if these lower courts disagree.”

Final Push of #NoMuslimBanEver National Week of Resistance

From the #NoMuslimBanEver Rally in Richmond, VA that congregated protestors from DC and the Richmond area, to the Twitter Town Hall on the Muslim/Refugee Ban anchored by Abed Ayoub (ADC), Asha Noor (CAIR-MI) and Naureen Shah (Amnesty International), the courts and the public have been hearing loud and clear that we as people of conscience will not stand for any kind of ban.

The final push of the National Week of Resistance comes on Monday May 15th at 8:30 AM PST with the second #NoMuslimBanEver Rally in Seattle outside of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The day continues with the final Twitter Town Hall focused on Islamophobia and Immigrants at 2 PM EST with Avideh Moussavian (NILC), Ben Ndugga-Kabuye (BAJI), Lindsay Schubiner (Center for New Community), and Patrice Lawrence (UndocuBlack).

5:15 #NoMuslimBanEver Final

Check out the Calendar of Events

  • May 15 | 8:30 – 10:30 AM PST: (Seattle, WA) Rally against the Travel Ban with Americans for Refugees and Immigrants at 1010 Fifth Ave Seattle, WA 98104.
  • May 15| 2 PM EST (Online) #NoMuslimBanEver Twitter Town Hall 
  • May 15 | 6:30 PM EST (NYC) “Muslim in New York” Panel at the Museum of the City of New York. Free Event, Register here.
    • Zain Abdullah, Anthropologist and associate professor of Religion at Temple University; author of Black Mecca: The African Muslims of Harlem (Oxford University Press, 2010)
    • Zaheer Ali, Oral historian at Brooklyn Historical Society (BHS) and Director of BHS’s new Muslims in Brooklyn project
    • Debbie Almontaser, Founder and CEO of Bridging Cultures Group
    • Vivek Bald, Scholar, documentary filmmaker, and author of Bengali Harlem and the Lost Histories of South Asian America (Harvard University Press, 2013)
    • Sarah Sayeed (moderator), Senior Advisor for the Community Affairs Unit at the New York City Mayor’s Office, former Program Director of the Interfaith Center of New York

Countdown to #NoMuslimBanEver National Week of Resistance

In only three days, the #NoMuslimBanEver National Week of Resistance will be kicking off on May 8th with a rally sponsored by Asian Americans Advancing Justice and partner organizations outside the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, VA.

On May 9 at 2 PM ET, we will be hosting our first Twitter Town Hall on the Muslim/Refugee Ban with Abed Ayoub (ADC), Asha Noor (CAIR-MI) and Naureen Shah (Amnesty International) moderated by Deepa Iyer (Center for Social Inclusion) and co-sponsored by 18 Million Rising and MPower Change. Stay tuned for our next Twitter Town Hall on May 15.

Check out our Calendar of Events to learn about local acts of resistance during the National Week of Resistance and submit your own campaign events here.

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Launching #NoMuslimBanEver Campaign on May 8 – 15

Check out the Calendar of Events for events in your area

Join us between May 8th – May 15th for a #NoMuslimBanEver campaign to raise awareness and continue the resistance against the Muslim and refugee bans. Let’s make sure that the courts and the country hear the voices of affected communities and allies in declaring: No Muslim Ban. Ever.

Background: 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.  Hearings are scheduled for May 8th in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (Richmond, VA) and May 15th in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (Seattle, WA).

Join us for a week of resistance between May 8 and May 15 to declare #NoMuslimBanEver. During this critical week, we must continue to raise our voices against discriminatory policies like the Muslim and refugee bans. Below are ideas and resources that you can use to organize discussions, rallies, direct actions, and forums. Let us know about your event by completing our submission form and checking the Calendar of Resistance.

Check out our #NoMuslimBanEver Campaign page to stay updated. 

Here are five ways you can raise awareness and make your voice heard. 

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