NIAC Action is proud to endorse Iman Novin in his campaign for Walnut Creek City Council. Novin is an active member of the Iranian-American community, previously serving as President of the Persian Club at UC San Diego and participating in several Iranian-American community organizations including NIAC. Novin is running for office to “make a positive difference” in the community he lives in and loves.
Novin has significant experience in Walnut Creek, including by serving two terms on the Walnut Creek Planning Commission, Board of Directors for the Walnut Creek Chamber of Commerce and Board of Directors of the Trinity Center, a local non-profit focused on ending homelessness. As an Affordable Housing Developer, Novin has helped build “over 1,500 units of housing for lower income families, teachers, veterans and seniors throughout the Bay Area.”
Novin has concrete plans to build out his campaign with mailers, yard signs, digital media and social media. However, he needs the support of the Iranian-American community to help make a difference for Walnut Creek.
Paid for by NIAC Action for Iman Novin on Walnut Creek City Council 2018. Not authorized by a candidate or a committee controlled by a candidate
NIAC Action is proud to endorse Zahra Karinshak as the next Georgia State Senator of District 48. Karinshak is a first generation Iranian American, graduate of the prestigious U.S. Air Force Academy, veteran, former federal prosecutor and whistleblower attorney, and proud Georgian. She is dedicated to securing safe neighborhoods and schools, ensuring affordable access to high-quality healthcare, funding public education, growing the economy, and making Georgia a more tolerant place for immigrants.
Karinshak, whose father immigrated from Iran, pledges that she “will advocate for policies that promote the well being of all residents, with a particular eye on defending the rights of immigrants and those currently without voices.” She plans to fight back against discriminatory state bills in Georgia such as the “English only” legislation that targets immigrants.
She also supports the JCPOA and opposes broad sanctions that punish ordinary Iranians. “As a military veteran, I have a great appreciation for what it takes to maintain peace and order in the world. It is important for other nations to know that the United States keeps its word. It is also important that the United States maintain its commitment to international peace and security by working with international partners and allies,” wrote Karinshak.
“My two daughters inspired me to run. During the 2016 election, they observed that ‘no one is being kind to each other and you, mom, have to do something to bring us together.’ They are right,” added Karinshak.
Zahra is running as a Democrat in a State Senate district that is currently held by a Republican who has not been challenged for fourteen years. The district voted for Hillary over Trump by 6 points and is now an open seat, giving Zahra excellent odds to bring change to this seat and make history for our community.
Support Zahra Karinshak today!
NIAC Action is proud to endorse Mike Levin in his campaign to become the next Representative of California’s 49th Congressional district. Levin is a staunch opponent of the Muslim Ban which he views as a “false solution based on hysteria.” He supports the Iran nuclear deal and has warned that the U.S. effort to abrogate the accord is “a precipitous and ineffectual gesture” that threatens to “undermine American credibility throughout the world.”
Levin believes in treating immigrants with dignity and wants to “preserve the values and aspirations of so many immigrants like my grandparents, who dream of the uniquely American opportunity for self-improvement.” He is deeply critical of Congress’s failure to debate or hold hearings on the Trump’s Muslim ban, noting that the “Republican-led House convened a task force to evaluate terrorist threats from abroad prior to Trump’s election and did not find that nationals from Trump’s ‘banned’ list posed a threat.”
Levin is supportive of diplomatic engagement to resolve challenges regarding Iran. According to Levin, “the United States’ role and relevance can only be maintained through continued efforts to engage in constructive negotiations. The US must be willing to recognize and reward forward steps through diplomatic efforts.” While he supports sanctions under some circumstances, he recognizes that unilateral sanctions are not effective and instead “international consensus and joint action are necessary.”
Public education is very important to Levin and he will “advocate for our local public schools to get the resources they need to hire and keep excellent teachers, reduce class sizes, and invest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs.” He will also push to “eliminate tuition and fees at public four-year colleges and universities for students from families that make up to $125,000 per year, and would make community college tuition-free for all income levels.”
The 49th district has been represented since 2003 by Darrell Issa, a retiring Republican lawmaker whose platform has contradicted many of the Iranian-American community’s expressed priorities. It is critical to elect a Mike Levin, a representative who will finally take the concerns of the community seriously.
Support Mike Levin Today!
NIAC Action is excited to endorse Jennifer Wexton as the next U.S. Representative of Virginia’s 10th District. Wexton has proven that she is a fierce opponent of Donald Trump’s unconscionable Muslim ban and was among the first elected officials to protest the ban at Dulles Airport in Virginia. Wexton is also a strong supporter of the nuclear accord with Iran, which she described as a “a triumph for peaceful diplomacy as a means to settle international conflict and avoid war.” As a Member of Congress, she would be a strong fighter for the priorities of her district, including its large Iranian-American community.
In contrast, the incumbent Barbara Comstock has done nothing to rein in Trump’s ban on so many families in Virginia-10 and commended President Trump for withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal and snapping back sanctions that punish ordinary Iranians. Comstock even hosted a fundraiser with John Bolton, now Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor, who has repeatedly called for bombing Iran and who has accepted tens of thousands of dollars as a from the Mujahedin-e-Khalq cult while it was still designated a terrorist organization.
With Trump’s ban continuing to separate Iranian families and the drumbeat of war getting louder, the Iranian-American community needs a champion like Wexton on Capitol Hill. Wexton describes the ban as “not only unconstitutional, but racist, ineffective, and a hazard for our national security.” In Congress, Wexton “will vote against any form of the Muslim ban and any other similar discriminatory policies,” and use her platform to speak out against it just like she has done as a State Senator.
On foreign policy, Wexton will work to support the Iran nuclear deal and oppose legislation that seeks to undermine it, including new sanctions that risk impacting the deal. Wexton notes that “sanctions tend to harm civil society and common people as much if not more than they influence the regime to change its policies,” and that “the negative effects of sanctions must be weighed very heavily and considered very closely.”
Wexton has been a committed public servant throughout her career, including as a prosecutor, substitute judge, an attorney for at-risk children, and a State Senator. She was inspired to run for State Senate based on what she saw as a radical Republican agenda on social issues, and is now running for Congress because she is “concerned about the damage that can be done to our country and our Democracy by President Trump and the extreme Republican party that enables him.”
Support Jennifer Wexton today!
NIAC Action is proud to endorse Katie Porter in her campaign to become the next Representative of California’s 45th Congressional district. For the Iranian-American community, Porter’s strong opposition to Trump’s Muslim ban and commitment to overturn the discriminatory order is a sharp contrast to the incumbent, Mimi Walters – who has been a rubber-stamp for Trump’s policies. Moreover, Porter supports the Iran nuclear deal struck under President Obama as an alternative to war and will oppose efforts to destroy the vital diplomatic accord.
Porter is no stranger to the Iranian-American community. Her district is home to over 20,000 Iranian Americans – the second largest Iranian-American population of any Congressional district. The Iranian-American community, she says, “is woven into the fabric” of her family’s daily lives – including at her daughter’s school and the cub scout pack that Porter led for many years. As a result of this strong connection, Porter plans “to be an engaged committed partner to Iranian-American families and the community at large” as a Representative in Congress.
With so much at stake, the Iranian-American community needs a fighter like Porter in Congress. Porter argues that the ban was “created to enshrine discrimination into immigration policy.” As a representative in Congress, she will highlight the toll of the Muslim ban on families in her district and “fight for judges and a justice system that recognizes the unconstitutionality of discrimination.” On foreign policy, while working to protect the deal, she will support dialogue between the two countries and seek to “hold the regime to international human rights norms.” Critically, Porter notes that broad-based economic sanctions “have only served to strengthen regimes hand by depriving citizens of their ability to make a living.”
Porter brings a wealth of experience fighting entrenched interests via her experience as a Consumer Protection Attorney, including by “taking on Wall Street banks and powerful financial institutions who cheat middle-class families.” Given this experience and her strong knowledge of the Iranian-American community’s hopes and fears, we believe she will help ensure that the 45th District of California – home to so many Iranian Americans targeted by Trump’s policies – finally has representation that holds the President accountable.
Support Katie today!
NIAC Action is proud to endorse Harley Rouda as the next Congressman of California’s 48th Congressional district. Rouda opposes “Donald Trump’s backward attacks on immigrants” and is ready to work in Congress to end the Muslim Ban. He is also committed to supporting the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and America’s commitment to peace and stability abroad. Rouda describes Trump’s efforts to undermine the nuclear accord as “wrong, dangerous and unfair.” He says that the U.S. “must negotiate in good faith and that includes supporting the JCPOA.”
There is a lot at stake for the Iranian-American community in Rouda’s race given the incumbent he is seeking to replace – Dana Rohrabacher. In response to ISIS terror attacks on Tehran in 2017 that killed innocent civilians, Rohrabacher called the attacks “a good thing.” As Rouda has pointed out, Rohrabacher has failed to fully and sincerely apologize for the remarks.
Moreover, Rohrabacher has openly called for supporting violent ethnic separatists in Iran as well as the Mujahedin-e-Khalq cult group that was designated as a terrorist organization until 2011. Rohrabacher has refused to condemn President Trump’s Muslim ban or even hold a hearing on it, despite his perch on the House Foreign Affairs Committee that oversees the State Department.
Harley Rouda has long been dedicated to protecting the humanity of people in his community. Along with his wife Kaira, he worked to established the first homeless shelter for families in Columbus, Ohio and is a long-time supporter of Human Rights Watch, Planned Parenthood, and the Human Rights Campaign. Rouda also advocates for comprehensive immigration reform that includes reversing the Muslim ban and supporting student visas.
Rouda believes that “Donald Trump and his enablers, including Dana Rohrabacher, are moving our country backwards.” You can help him reverse Trump’s damage and put the country back on a path that benefits all Americans.
Support Harley Rouda today!
NIAC Action is proud to endorse Shireen Ghorbani as the next representative of Utah’s 2nd Congressional district. If elected, Shireen would become the first Iranian American in Congress, which she hopes will “start a movement for more people with deeper roots to the community to have a seat at the table.”
A proud first-generation Iranian American, Ghorbani is “particularly distressed by the the Muslim ban,” because “under this ban, families like my own are kept apart.” If elected, Shireen will “support Congressional efforts to defund and rescind the Muslim ban,” including the Statue of Liberty Values Act that has been introduced in the House of Representatives. Shireen believes that “this ban is misguided and harmful” with “no evidence that it makes us any safer.”
On foreign policy, Shireen says she feels considerably less safe with the current president’s “saber-rattling” without a broader plan. She also suggests Trump’s actions toward Iran are “distractions for a series of failed policies and scandals plaguing the administration.”
Hailing from outside of Bismarck, North Dakota, Shireen earned her Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Communication Studies in 2013 from St. Cloud State University. Shireen and her fiancé spent two years serving in the United States Peace Corps in the Republic of Moldova, an experience that has helped shape her campaign.
Shireen later went on to earn her Master of Arts in Communication Studies from University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and her Master of Philosophy in Organizational Communication and Policy from the University of Utah. She currently works as the Associate Director for Organizational Development and Communications for the University of Utah and is board chair of a local center that serves victims of sexual violence.
Ghorbani’s campaign is focused on building grassroots support and Shireen is refusing any corporate donations. Instead, she is focused on an “aggressive ground game” to propel her to victory.
Ghorbani’s positive agenda stands in sharp contrast to her Republican incumbent Chris Stewart this November. Stewart has defended the Muslim ban as “appropriate” and done nothing to rein in Trump or conduct oversight over the ban’s implementation. Moreover, Stewart cheered Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement and escalation of tensions that could lead to war.
Help make Shireen the first Iranian-American in the U.S. Congress!
Meet the eight exceptional candidates that NIAC Action is proud to endorse for the 2018 elections
Harley Rouda, CA- 48
Rouda is running against Dana Rohrabacher, who represents more than 8,000 Iranian Americans yet has celebrated ISIS terror attacks in Iran, authored legislation to prop up ethnic separatist groups to foment civil war in Iran, and publicly supports the MEK. Rouda would put an end to Rohrabacher’s dangerous pro-war agenda.
Katie Porter, CA- 45
Centered in Irvine, this district is home to the second-largest population of Iranian Americans yet is represented by a Tea Party Republican who supports the Muslim Ban. Porter will be a critical vote to help overturn the Muslim Ban and defend the rights of the 20,000 Iranian Americans in this district.
Jennifer Wexton, VA- 10
The incumbent, Barbara Comstock, is a close ally of Trump’s National Security Advisor John “Bomb Iran” Bolton – whose Super PAC endorsed and fundraised for her. Wexton would stand up for the 7,000 Iranian Americans in this district and stand against Trump’s war cabinet.
Mike Levin, CA- 49
Levin is running in this open seat vacated by Darrell Issa. He is strong on priorities like preventing war, opposing the Muslim Ban, and fighting for our community. He would represent a huge improvement for the 4,500 Iranian Americans in this district.
Shireen Ghorbani, UT- 02
Ghorbani is leading an impressive grassroots campaign that could turn this red district blue and make her the first Iranian American elected to Congress. The incumbent, Chris Stewart, is a hawk who opposed the Iran deal and argues the U.S. should focus on confronting Iran rather than groups like Al Qaeda.
Anna Eskamani, FL-HD47
Anna Eskamani is running for Florida House District 47 in Orlando and would become the first Iranian-American woman ever elected to a state legislature. She has been attacked for her Iranian heritage by her opponent and refused to back down.
Zahra Karinshak, GA-SD48
Zahra Karinshak is an Iranian-American Georgia native running for State Senate District 48. She’s in one of the most diverse districts in the country, but it is a red district that has been unchallenged for 14 years. She can change that.
Iman Novin, Walnut Creek City Council
Iman Novin is running for City Council in Walnut Creek, CA. Iman’s campaign is not just about a local election, but a broader movement to get more Iranian-Americans elected to public office.
Below you will find a toolkit to help you advocate against The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2017 (H.R. 392 & S. 281) and similar legislation when you meet with lawmakers. It will give you the strongest argument and provide you with details (what, when, why, how) that the lawmaker or staff may ask to help you respond to common questions in the best way.
.برای خواندن این متن به فارسی اینجا کلیک کنید
What is H.R. 392 Exactly?
The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2017 (H.R. 392 & S. 281) eliminates per-country limits for employment-based permanent residency which will decrease the backlog for a few countries but increase wait times for the majority of nationalities. H.R. 392 was inserted into the House version of the 2019 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations bill in committee, though has not been added to the Senate’s version of the bill. In order to become law, the House and the Senate would need to pass this language.
Strongest Argument against H.R. 392
H.R. 392 will increase wait times for a green card by years for nationals from smaller countries. This will disproportionately impact Iranians and other nationals from Muslim Ban countries because many find themselves on single-entry visas with their families banned. This means they will remain unable to visit family, potentially up to a decade. Furthermore, the State Department has described country caps as ‘a barrier against monopolization.’
For lawmakers and the media, your personal story about how this would impact you and your hopes and dreams in the United States is your most powerful argument.
Telling a Personal Story
If you or someone you know will be impacted by H.R. 392 then tell a personal story. Explain how the changes will impact your life. Maybe your parents are older or in poor health and you need to visit them. Perhaps you have not seen your brother or sister for over 5 years and now it seems it will be even longer if you decide to pursue permanent residency. Focus on how you want to have a positive influence in the U.S. Calmly emphasize your hardships as a result of the Muslim Ban and how this legislation will only make it worse. Then directly ask the lawmaker or staff for help and express your appreciation for any efforts they make in the future.
Additional Good Arguments
- Congress should not rush through any legislation that significantly reduces or eliminates per-country limits for permanent residency without undertaking basic steps to ensure that Iranians and other nationals that have nearly been locked out of the visa system entirely by the Trump administration are not further disadvantaged by changes ostensibly designed to level the playing field.
- An employment-based immigration system that is dominated by a few countries may reduce the diversity of skills for high-skilled immigrants. It is important to give the best and brightest from a variety of fields and countries the opportunity to immigrate to the U.S.
Responding to Common Arguments in Support of H.R. 392 & Questions
- Doesn’t H.R. 392 make the immigration system first come, first serve and therefore more fair all around?
- Answer: Legislation doesn’t exist in a vacuum and its effect will be that immigrants from Muslim Ban countries will be separated from their family for several additional years with no recourse.
- Can’t Iranians just apply for a multiple-entry visa or for their family members abroad to receive a waiver for the Muslim Ban?
- Answer: The consulate determines whether the number of entries granted on a visa and many Iranians are limited to single-entry visas. Publicly available information indicates that waivers under the Muslim ban receive a 2% approval rate at best.
Ensuring a Respectful Discourse: Common Arguments & Better Alternatives
- H.R. 392 will stop all immigration from countries other than India and China. This is an exaggeration and the lawmaker will see through it. The immigration process from other countries will slow down but will not come to a halt. It is best to focus on why this slowdown will particularly harm Iranians.
- Iranians are highly educated and the country needs them. It is good to highlight what Iranian immigrants bring to the table but it should be a side note rather than a main argument because the immigrant groups that the bill will benefit are also highly-skilled.
- Any comment that targets a group based on their origin. Any argument that has racist undertones or speaks badly about a particular nationality is unacceptable.
Opponents of H.R. 392 should continue to press their case through the finalization of the appropriations package in November or December in order to prevent passage.
Some legislators had hoped to finish the appropriations process prior to the end of September, raising the prospect that H.R. 392 could be included in a final spending package ahead of the November elections. However, that timeline appears likely to slip as legislators are particularly reluctant to engage in a divisive debate over funding for Trump’s border wall that is also included in the homeland security appropriation. This is positive for those in opposition to H.R. 392, as it appears unlikely that the bill would be rushed into law in September. While there is significantly less support for the measure in the Senate, which would need to sign off on the provision for it to become law, some new Senators have announced their support for the original measure (S. 281) in recent weeks.
How does H.R. 392 work?
It is not necessary to understand this section simply to advocate against the legislation. However, the more you understand the stronger your arguments will sound. Currently no single country can account for more than 7% of green card petitions in a given year. This benefits countries that already fall far below that 7% mark due to small populations or lower rates of emigration. But it creates a backlog for countries that produce a number of aspirant immigrants far greater than 7% such as India or China. Removing per-country limits will lessen the backlog for bigger countries by creating a single line for everyone but it will produce serious strains for nationals from smaller countries who will get stuck behind large numbers of nationals from big countries. This will negatively impact Iranians and other nationals already present in the U.S. but subject to the Muslim Ban. This is because wait times to file an adjustment of status application for a green card will be measured in years and potentially up to a decade for second and third preference categories, which would exacerbate the impact of the Muslim Ban by forcing applicants to choose between pursuing permanent residency or seeing family.
Current Co-Sponsors of the Senate Version of H.R. 392 known as S. 281
Below you will find a list of senators who have signed onto S. 281. Why does this matter? First, it demonstrates a renewed effort in support of the original legislation. Second, support from legislators in each party makes it appear non-controversial.
Sen. Flake, Jeff [R-AZ]
Sen. Blunt, Roy [R-MO]
Sen. Collins, Susan M. [R-ME]
Sen. Paul, Rand [R-KY]
Sen. Harris, Kamala D. [D-CA]
Sen. Moran, Jerry [R-KS]
Sen. Heitkamp, Heidi [D-ND]
Sen. Carper, Thomas R. [D-DE]
Sen. Wyden, Ron [D-OR]
Sen. Klobuchar, Amy [D-MN]
Sen. Cantwell, Maria [D-WA]
Who Should I Meet With?
You should meet with your Congressional representative for the district you live, work, or go to school in and also the senators who represent your state. You can use this website to find out who represents your area: https://whoismyrepresentative.com.
Meeting with Republican Offices
When meeting with Republican offices it is still important to make the Muslim Ban the primary focus of your argument against H.R. 392 but it is best to refer to it as the ‘travel ban’ which is the language typically used by Republicans. Additionally, it is best to reference your eagerness to pursue the economic opportunities and freedoms that the U.S. offers. If you received your graduate studies here then perhaps mention that you want to invest back into the country that provided you with your education. Always circle back to the way that H.R. 392 combined with the Muslim Ban will make these pursuits extremely difficult and separate you from your family indefinitely.
Week of Action
NIAC will organize a week of action to be held October 15-19. It will involve calling office directly, meeting Congressional staff in DC and respective districts, and delivering a petition. This effort is key in demonstrating a large and organized opposition to the legislation. Email Donna@niacaction.org for more info.
Legislation that would significantly lengthen wait times for Iranian nationals to secure highly-skilled immigrant visas is highly unlikely to pass ahead of midterm elections in November, NIAC Action staff has learned in conversations with senior Congressional aides. In spite of this, the legislation continues to gain sponsors and it is possible for the measure to pass prior to the end of the year.
Many Iranian Americans have been deeply concerned that Congress would pass legislation – H.R. 392/S. 281, “The Fairness for Highly Skilled Immigrants Act” – as part of the annual homeland security appropriation bill. In light of existing administration policies targeting Iranians, including the Muslim ban, such legislation could have a highly negative impact on Iranian nationals pursuing the American dream.
NIAC Action has come out in strong opposition to its passage, lobbying key lawmakers against it, calling on corporations to withdraw their support, and working with NIAC Action members and other grassroots advocates to set up local meetings with Congressional offices to share their perspectives.
At the time of publication, there seems to be little chance for passage of H.R. 392 as part of the funding bill this month, particularly given general reluctance to tackle divisive immigration debates ahead of the midterm elections. H.R. 392 was inserted into the House version of the homeland security appropriation in committee, though it has not been added to the Senate’s version of the bill. To become law, the H.R. 392 language would need to be approved by both chambers of Congress and signed by the President.
Some legislators had hoped to finish the appropriations process prior to the end of the month, raising the prospect that a debate over whether to include H.R. 392 in a final spending package would take place. However, that timeline appears likely to slip past the November 6 elections. Funding for Trump’s border wall – which is supported by some of the prominent organizations, like Immigration Voice, that are backing H.R.392 – was also included in the funding package and is a debate most lawmakers want to avoid.
This is positive for those in opposition to H.R. 392, as it appears unlikely that the bill would be rushed into law in September. While there is significantly less support for the measure in the Senate, some new Senators have announced their support for the measure in recent weeks.
The delay will give both proponents and opponents of the measure more time to make their case, as it is unlikely to be decided until after Congress returns to session following the November 6 midterms. We will be tracking this issue closely and will continue to provide updates as the picture in Congress becomes clearer.