NIAC Staff

NIAC Staff

NIAC Statement on First Congressional Hearing on the Muslim Ban

WASHINGTON DC – Today, the Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship held the first ever Congressional hearing on the Trump Administration’s discriminatory Muslim Ban. The hearing, which included witness testimony from impacted individuals, enabled Congress and the public to glean insight into the implementation of the nearly three-year-old Muslim Ban. 

In response to today’s hearing, NIAC Policy Director Ryan Costello issued the following statement:

“The Muslim ban has been impacting Iranian Americans since Donald Trump’s first week in office, but had to wait until today for a full hearing examining this fundamentally unjust policy. Thankfully, Reps. Zoe Lofgren and Ami Beraas well as the many Democrats on the subcommitteedelivered, pressing administration officials directly and allowing representatives of impacted communities the chance to explain the harm caused by this ban, which has separated families based on nothing more than bigotry.

“As the hearing made clear, the waiver process that enabled the ban to survive its challenge in the Supreme Court is nothing but a sham. Knowing that they were going to be held to account, the administration actually sped up processing of waivers under the ban over the last ten days in a bid to make the ban and waiver rate more defensible. Fortunately, legislators saw through this charade and rightfully pointed out the irrationality of the policy and the administration’s shameful efforts to shield scrutiny of its actions.

“Unfortunately, those Republican legislators in attendance continued their long track record of defending the ban and Trump, spending more time nitpicking Democrats for using the phrase ‘Muslim ban’ than examining the impact of the ban on impacted communities. History will recall their cowardice and partisanship in the face of Trump’s assault on our nation’s values and Constitutional safeguards.

“Ultimately, there is only one way to uphold America’s higher ideals and defend both Iranian Americans and all impacted communities: by repealing the ban. Until this ban is fully repealed, the shadow of near-insitutionalized discrimination will only continue to degrade the tolerance and values upon which the U.S. was built. Now that the hearing has laid bare the empty rhetoric and justifications underpinning the ban, we urge the House to pass legislation to end the ban once and for all.”

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A number of individuals impacted by the Muslim ban are available to speak to the press and media about their experiences. A summary of their stories can be found in PDF format here.

 

Call Your Members of Congress to Support the Khanna-Gaetz Amendment!

This is an emergency. We’ve never been this close to military action against Iran. Now is the time that we must reach out to our members of Congress to make sure they put a check on the warmongering administration. Given the seriousness of the situation, we need to act now, and calling is our most effective option.

This week, the House will vote on an amendment that would block an unauthorized war with Iran. With your help, we can put a concrete legislative roadblock between Trump and war with Iran.

Calling your House Representative is easy, just follow these steps:

  1. Call 1-844-ACT-NIAC to reach the Congressional Hotline and ask to be connected to your Representative.
    You can find out who your House Representative is by clicking here.
  2. Follow this script:
    “My name is XX and I’m a constituent from YYtown. I’m concerned that we are closer than ever before to a war with Iran, which would be a disaster for the United States, Middle East and people of Iran. I strongly urge the representative to cosponsor and vote for the Khanna-Gaetz amendment to the NDAA to block an Iran war. Will the representative cosponsor and vote for the Khanna-Gaetz amendment?“

 

Don’t have time to make a call? Fill out the action alert below to send an email to your representatives:

 

Tell 2020 Candidates: Repeal the Muslim Ban!

Pro-Peace Coalition Delivers Petition Urging Congress to Block Trump’s Path to War with Iran

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, June 11, 2019
Contact: Mana Mostatabi | 202-386-6325 x103 | mana@niacaction.org

Washington D.C. – Today, NIAC Action, Win Without War, MoveOn, J Street, Daily Kos, and CODEPINK delivered 249,000 petition signatures to the House Armed Services Committee members ahead of tomorrow’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) markup. The organizations called for the addition of an amendment to the NDAA that would prevent funding for a war with Iran without Congressional approval.

[View photos of the petition drop here: http://bit.ly/NoIranWarJun11]

“Make no mistake, the Trump administration’s decision to exit the Iran deal and re-impose sanctions has brought the U.S. closer to war with Iran,” said Donna Farvard, NIAC Action Organizing Director. “Congress must set up legal barriers to block Trump’s ability to start another disastrous war in the Middle East.”

“Donald Trump and his War Cabinet led by John Bolton have taken us closer to war with Iran than we’ve ever been. After nearly two decades of disastrous military misadventures in the Middle East, only a fool would think a war with Iran would be anything but catastrophic. The Trump administration’s march to war is a five-alarm fire that Congress needs to put out as soon as possible,” said Stephen Miles, Director at Win Without War.

“Before we wake up to find that Trump has declared war on a sovereign nation via Twitter, it is time for Congress to go on the record and act to prevent a war with Iran,” explained Iram Ali, Campaign Director at MoveOn. “It was Congress, after all, that passed the hard-fought multilateral Iran Deal—a historic, bipartisan win for diplomacy between Iran and the United States. By walking away from the Iran Deal, increasing sanctions, and being belligerent in their rhetoric and actions, Trump and his administration are intentionally manufacturing a military confrontation with Iran that we can not afford.”

“Pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans want to see Congress do everything in its power to make clear that the president has no authorization to use military force against Iran,” said J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami. “If the Trump administration does launch a new war of choice with Iran it will have disastrous consequences for the region, for US interests and for the American people.”

“The last thing this country needs is to enter yet another costly war that will lead to thousands more senseless deaths. Daily Kos calls on Congress to speak up and push back against Trump’s violent and dangerous rhetoric concerning Iran,” said Daily Kos Communications Director Carolyn Fiddler.

“While the Trump administration is building a case for war with Iran, the international community is desperately trying to save the JCPOA and dial down the conflict. It’s time for the Trump administration to listen to American people, the Iranians and the world community. All want to find a peaceful resolution and prevent another disastrous war in the Middle East,” said Lily Tajaddini, Iran Campaign Coordinator at CODEPINK.

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Support Voices for Peace!

 

Support Voices for Peace!

 

Take Action to Help Bring Bijan’s Killers to Justice

We demand justice for Bijan Ghaisar, who was killed by two U.S. Park Police Officers in November 2017.

The officers are Alejandro Amaya and Lucas Vinyard. Bijan was unarmed and sitting in his car, when Amaya and Vinyard shot him nine times through the driver’s seat window, including four shots to the head. Bijan died ten days later from those horrendous head wounds. Both men are still on the payroll of the U.S. Park Police.

You can find a good update and overview of the case from the Washington Post here.

Will you help us by filing a complaint against Officers Amaya and Vinyard? We are determined to have these officers removed from the U.S. Park Police.

Here’s how you can help:

  1. Go to the Park Police web page for filing a complaint.
  2. Scroll down to this line: “By emailing your complaint. Click here to email your complaint.
  3. Click on the link. Fill in the contact information on the form.
  4. For Subject of your email: Remove Officers Who Killed Bijan Ghaisar.
  5. In the Your Message box of the form, cut and paste the below message (see below).
  6. Please email info@avalaninstitute.com and let them know you submitted a complaint so they can document the campaign.

This complaint is filed against U.S. Park Police (USPP) Officers Alejandro Amaya and Lucas Vinyard for the unjust killing of an unarmed young man, Bijan Ghaisar, in November 2017.

I am requesting that these two officers be removed from the force immediately. Officers Amaya and Vinyard’s continued employment with a federal law enforcement agency is a significant and direct threat to the public’s safety, and I would fear for my life if they approached me anywhere in or around Washington, D.C, Virginia or Maryland.

On November 17, 2017, USPP Officers Alejandro Amaya (badge #40) and Lucas Vinyard (badge #642) aggressively pursued 25-year-old Bijan Ghaisar until they cornered him at the intersection of Fort Hood Road and Alexandria Avenue in Fairfax County and shot at him nine times — execution style — as he sat unarmed in his Jeep.

These out-of-control officers pursued Bijan after he was reported to be the victim of a minor traffic accident. A minor traffic accident. Bijan was hit by another driver from behind. No one was injured. Why was he pursued so aggressively? Why did they shoot at an unarmed man nine times?

The shooting was captured on dashboard video camera by the Fairfax County Police Department. The video shows that when he was shot, Bijan was sitting in his car after a chase by Officers Amaya and Vinyard — who approach his vehicle with guns drawn and begin shooting through the closed window.

What Officers Amaya and Vinyard did violated USPP use of force policy which states that force may only be used “when the officer has a reasonable belief . . . that the subject of such force poses an imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm to the officer or to another person.”

These actions also violate federal law set forth in the Supreme Court decision Tennessee v. Garner (1985), which states that deadly force can only be used when “the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.”

As the video footage shows, Bijan did not threaten anybody.

Officers Amaya and Vinyard shot at Bijan a total of nine times — hitting him four times in the head, and once in the wrist as he was trying to shield himself. He died 10 days later.

U.S. Park Police have since refused to provide any information to the public, Bijan’s family, or Congress as to why Bijan was killed.

The actions of officers Amaya and Vinyard, the killing of Bijan Ghaisar, and the silence of the Park Police make a mockery of the agency’s stated principles of “integrity, honor, and service.” I am writing to demand that you fire officers Amaya and Vinyard from the force immediately.

Memo: Trump’s Iran Policy Evokes Iraq War Lead-up

It is increasingly clear the Trump Administration is taking the U.S. down a dangerous path with Iran that is reminiscent of the propaganda campaign that preceded the disastrous 2003 invasion of Iraq.

President Trump’s latest decisions appear aimed at bating Iran into halting its compliance with the JCPOA in an apparent move to hasten the path to war. This is most likely the goal of Administration hawks like John Bolton, who has advocated for war both outside the administration and in the White House. A senior Trump official has also set the stage, telling the New Yorker that if Iran were to leave the JCPOA, U.S. military options will be “back on the table.”

Members of Congress must challenge the administration’s dangerous misinformation campaign and take steps to ensure that the Trump administration cannot lead the U.S. into an unauthorized and disastrous war against Iran.

Politicizing Intelligence on Iran’s Nuclear Program

A recent State Department report on international nuclear compliance raised strong concerns that the White House is politicizing assessments of Iran’s nuclear program.

  • The report strikingly makes no mention of continued Iranian compliance with the JCPOA, but instead uses a hypothetical to argue that Iran is at risk of violating the NPT. Last year, the same report both noted Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA and that its steps had resolved prior findings of NPT violations on the part of Iran.

  • “It’s piling inference upon inference here to try to create a scary picture,” a Congressional aide told Reuters about the report. A State Department source added: “There is significant concern that the entire sort of purpose … was to help build a case for military intervention in Iran in a way that seems very familiar.”

In January, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and CIA Director Gina Haspel confirmed that U.S. intelligence “continues to assess that Iran is not currently undertaking the key nuclear weapons-development activities we judge necessary to produce a nuclear device.”

  • Trump afterwards attacked the intelligence community, summoning Coats and Haspel for contradicting him and stating that “the Intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran.”
     
  • Since that time, Sec. Pompeo refused to answer a question from Rep. Abigail Spanberger on whether Iran was adhering to its commitments under the JCPOA. Moreover, this month Pompeo warned Iran to “[e]nd your pursuit of nuclear weapons,” while in February Bolton claimed “Iran continues to seek nuclear weapons.”

The IAEA has consistently confirmed Iranian compliance with the JCPOA in 14 consecutive reports since the deal was implemented in 2016.

  • The JCPOA’s Joint Commission, comprised of the EU, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom, also “welcomed and acknowledged Iran’s continued implementation of its nuclear-related commitments” at their most recent meeting in March.

Iran, al-Qaeda and the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force

The Trump administration has falsely asserted that there are strong ties between Iran and Al-Qaeda, echoing the George W. Bush White House’s false allegations that Saddam Hussein had close ties to the terrorist organization.

  • There is a well-established track record of hostility between Iran and al-Qaeda. Ironically, Iran was accommodating towards the 2001 U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan and, according to U.S. officials, played an active and constructive role in the Bonn process that created a new central government in Kabul.
     
  • Nevertheless, The Washington Times reported in February that “the administration is focusing increasingly on the unlikely alliance between Iran and al Qaeda, with what some sources say is an eye toward establishing a potential legal justification for military strikes against Iran or its proxies.”
     
  • Secretary of State Pompeo declined to answer questioning from Sen. Rand Paul on whether the 2001 authorization to use military force (AUMF) enables the President to attack Iran in recent Congressional testimony, while alleging that there is “no doubt there’s a connection” between Iran and Al Qaeda.
     
  • Ned Price, a former CIA analyst and spokesman, said that the Al-Qaeda claim may be part of a wider campaign by the Trump administration to establish “a rationale for regime change” in Tehran. He underscored that the CIA has had a “longstanding understanding of the consistently tense, and occasionally openly hostile, relationship between Iran and al-Qaeda.”

Trump’s Escalatory Moves Risk Breaking the Nuclear Deal

Iran’s continued adherence amid sanctions pressure cannot be counted upon indefinitely, and unprecedented moves like seeking to reduce Iranian oil exports to zero create an increasingly intolerable situation for Iran that may compel it to leave the JCPOA.

  • On May 2nd, the Trump administration will have to decide to renew waivers to continue international efforts to remove significant proliferation risks at Iran’s Arak reactor and deeply-buried Fordow facility. Failure to issue these waivers would be a departure from denying Iran benefits from the deal to outright obstruction of the nonproliferation benefits of the agreement.
     
  • The designation of Iran’s IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization – the first ever for a foreign state’s conscripted military service – raises significant concern that the rules of engagement with the IRGC have been altered. When questioned on whether the head of the IRGC Quds Force – Qassem Soleimani – would be treated the same as ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Pompeo responded affirmatively.

Congress Must Act to Constrain Trump’s War Powers

Amid the administration’s dangerous escalation against Iran, Congress must act to prevent an unconstitutional war whose consequences for the U.S. and global peace and stability would dwarf the costs of the Iraq War.

  • The Prevention of Unconstitutional War with Iran Act (S. 1039/H.R. 2354), introduced by Sens. Udall, Paul and Durbin and Reps. Eshoo and Thompson, would prohibit the Trump administration from using funds to launch a war against Iran without Congressional approval.
     
  • The Repeal of the Authorization for Use of Military Force bill (H.R. 1274) from Rep. Barbara Lee would repeal the 2001 AUMF and prevent the Trump administration from using it as legal justification to attack Iran 17 years after it was introduced.

NIAC Action Stands with Representative Ilhan Omar Against Partisan Attacks

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 13, 2019
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6319 | mana@niacaction.org

Washington, D.C. – Jamal Abdi, President of the National Iranian American Council, issued the following statement standing with Rep. Ilhan Omar against disingenuous partisan attacks:

“Rep. Omar has an important story to tell as a refugee from a country Trump banned. The fact that Trump and his allies are already seeking to ban her from Congress reveals yet again their own discriminatory and partisan intentions. Republicans who have joined Trump’s Islamophobia, defended his Muslim ban and excused his defense of neo-Nazis have no standing to demand anything of Rep. Omar, who has apologized for any harm her tweets have caused. We urge all legislators truly committed to combating racism and discrimination to stand with Rep. Omar amid this wave of disingenuous attacks. Our country faces real challenges – including anti-semitism and other forms of vile hatred that the president and his allies have exploited, perpetuated and even enacted into policy. – We look forward to working alongside Rep. Omar and the new Congress in seeking to address these serious issues in good faith.”

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