Candidate Profile: Melody Shekari, TN-28

“As the daughter of immigrants, I have watched firsthand our family’s fulfillment of the American Dream,” says Melody Shekari, “through hard work, struggle, and the many kindnesses of so many people, we have built a comfortable life in the US and have been able to give back to our community as well.”

As a proud first-generation Iranian American, and an accomplished attorney and community advocate, Shekari is running to represent the 28th District in Tennessee’s State House of Representatives. Born in Texas and raised in Chattanooga, Melody went on to earn a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Economics from Bentley University, a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Washington, and a Juris Doctor from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law.

Shekari decided to return to Chattanooga following her education and serve her community in various capacities, including as a board member on both the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee (ACLU) and the American Red Cross of Southeast Tennessee, as well as a founding member of the Empower Women PAC.

Advocating for the rights of all immigrants is a key issue to Melody and educating the immigrant community on these issues is vital: “As an attorney, I have become concerned with the infringement of the civil rights of all immigrants. I work with immigrant communities (including Iranian-Americans) to help them understand and advocate for their rights.” Melody is highly critical of President Trump’s Executive order, banning immigration from five Muslim majority countries, “I absolutely oppose Trump’s ban on immigration from Muslim countries. This is nothing more than blatant discrimination.”

In response to President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Melody has pledged to oppose any and all efforts at the state level that would undermine the tenants of the agreement. “By all accounts (even independent inspectors), Iran has been in compliance with this treaty.  There is no reason to rescind this agreement. What does it say to the world, if the US cannot be counted on to keep its word? We must continue to stand with our allies in support of the JCPOA,” says Melody.

In 2016, Melody decided to run for a House seat in Tennessee’s 3rd Congressional District. While she was ultimately not able to pull off an upset in this heavily Republican district, she did manage to win the Democratic nomination. Now, as she runs for a seat in the state legislature, she comes to the campaign with a unique set of skills honed on the trail in 2016.

With incumbent Democrat JoAnne Favors vacating her seat in the 28th district of the Tennessee House, a highly competitive field of five candidates is facing off in the Democratic primary. The winner will face Republican Lemon C. Williams in the November 6th general election.

Melody truly believes if she is elected she can institute change and improve the lives of her constituents, “I am running for State Legislature in Tennessee to make sure that every person can achieve his or her unique American Dream. There is nothing that cannot be achieved if we all work together. I want to move beyond today’s divisive partisan politics, and work with my colleagues to begin to get things done.”

To learn more about Melody’s campaign visit: http://www.melodyshekari.com/.

Melody’s primary election is set for August 2nd.

SCOTUS Just Approved Bigotry. Now What?

While we had hoped that justice and equality would triumph over hate and discrimination, we also suspected the Supreme Court, given its current makeup, would side with Trump. So we planned ahead. Our strategy is focused on terminating the ban through political organizing and legislative action.

Our Strategy Moving Forward

  1. Expose the lawmakers supporting Trump’s ban. The current Republican-led Congress has blocked a vote to repeal the Muslim Ban.
  2. Uncover the information that Trump is hiding. That is why we worked with Senator Chris Van Hollen to require Trump to turn over documents that will lay the groundwork for repeal. to lay the groundwork for a vote to repeal the ban.
  3. Organize to elect a new Congress this November that will vote to overturn the ban.
  4. Pass legislation to repeal the ban once and for all.

Have Questions on the Decision?

If you’re wondering what yesterday’s ruling means for you, we offer some answers in our FAQ. To see our legal analysis on the decision, look here.

Want to Get Involved?

We need your support. You can donate your time and you can donate your money. See where your representatives stand on the issue, and contact them. If you’ve been impacted by the ban, share your story with us.

Justice Kennedy’s retirement, announced today, raises the stakes even further for the upcoming elections. It’s crucial our community has a voice in November, so I hope you’ll be part of our efforts.

If our community is fully invested, we will overturn this ban. 

NIAC Action’s Voting Guide for the VA-10 Primary Elections

Washington, DC – One of the most hotly contested midterm elections in the country, the race for the Virginia 10 Congressional district, is considered a bellwether for Donald Trump’s chances of keeping his grip on Congress.

Comprised of Loudoun and Fairfax counties, VA-10 is home to one of the largest Iranian-American populations in the United States – with a community of over 6,000 Iranian Americans. Currently represented in Congress by Republican Barbara Comstock, the district has for years trended conservative. That changed in 2016 when VA-10 became one of 23 districts in the country where voters elected a Republican to Congress but favored Clinton over Trump for President – in this case by a whopping 10 point margin. This trend continued in the 2017 statewide elections in which voters overwhelmingly supported Democrats. Winning this seat is considered essential if Democrats are going to take the majority in the House.

On Tuesday, June 12, Virginia will hold its primaries and Democratic voters will decide who among a competitive field of hopeful challengers will go up against Rep. Comstock in the general election this fall. Earlier this year, NIAC Action questioned the leading candidates about their positions on issues important to our members. The candidates’ responses, and the incumbent’s positions on these issues, are summarized below.

Related: NIAC Action co-hosted a foreign policy candidate forum with leading Democratic candidates in VA-10.

The Candidates

Barbara Comstock (R): Barbara Comstock is the current Representative of Virginia’s 10th Congressional District. She previously served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 2010 to 2015, the Bush Administration, and worked as legal counsel for House Republicans during the impeachment of Bill Clinton. https://comstock.house.gov/

Allison Friedman (D): Friedman previously served in the State Department under the Obama Administration, working on issues focused on human rights, transportation infrastructure, and airport security. Friedman is the co-founder of a non-profit organization that combats human trafficking. https://alisonforvirginia.com/

Dan Helmer (D): Helmer is a U.S. Army veteran who served in Afghanistan, Iraq, and South Korea along with numerous domestic postings. He is a Rhodes Scholar and works as a business strategist advising private sector companies as well as US government agencies. https://www.helmerforcongress.com/

Lindsey Davis Stover (D): Stover is a small business owner who served as Chief of Staff to a Democratic lawmaker in the U.S. House and as a Senior Advisor in the Obama administration at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. https://lindseyforcongress.com/

Jennifer Wexton (D): Jennifer Wexton has served as the Virginia State Senator representing district 33 since 2014. She previously was Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney for Loudoun County and has worked in private practice and as a Special Justice in mental health commitment hearings.  https://jenniferwexton.com/

On the Muslim Ban

Congresswoman Comstock was initially critical of how Donald Trump’s first Muslim Ban was implemented but has refused to take a position on subsequent iterations of Muslim Ban. Comstock has declined to add her name to any of the multiple pieces of legislation that would rescind the ban but which have been stalled due to lack of Republican support.

Friedman: “Trump’s Muslim ban is wholly inconsistent with our values of open doors and immigration that enhances and enriches our country. Diversity — faith-based or otherwise — expands our understanding of the world and improves our culture. Trump’s Muslim ban is a racist and bigoted rejection of our promise of the American Dream. Furthermore, the ban does not make our country any safer. Country of citizenship is not a reliable indicator of terrorist activity, and the countries on the ban list are not even in line with the terrorism argument. In fact, closing our doors to certain nations and dividing families serves to radicalize more people, makes our country less safe, and weakens our standing in the eyes of the world.”

“I have spent much of my career mobilizing communities around policy issues. At People For the American Way, I led an effort against an anti-Muslim city council resolution and built a powerful coalition that led to apologies and retraction.  I worked closely with the Senate to to reject extreme judicial appointments, and at the State Department and then in a public-private partnership afterward, I developed deep relationships on both sides of the aisle. I am unique in this primary field in my understanding of both the processes and the people needed to protect our fundamental principles, and I have proven my ability to change minds on Constitutional values at both a local and federal level. I hope to take that experience to Congress and be an outspoken advocate of issues that affect the Iranian-American community. I would use my voice and my role as a Congresswoman to support any legal action against the ban, and would reach out to diaspora organizations and participate in demonstrations opposing the ban.”

Helmer: “I strongly oppose the Muslim ban.  It is illegal and contradicts our American values. I do not believe that the President’s Article II powers include the capacity to make categorical ethnic, religious, or nationality-based determinations of US-entry eligibility.  I will therefore support all efforts to limit the President’s authority to act unilaterally in matters related to immigration but not representing a clear and present danger to the national security of the United States.”

Stover: “The Muslim ban is reprehensible, discriminatory, and un-American. Not only does it unjustly target and malign harm [sic] American Muslims, it also betrays the rich diversity that makes our country strong. As a member of Congress, I will support legislation to rescind and defund the current version of the ban, as well as any other versions put forth. I will also reject any legislation that discriminates based on national origin or religion, and I will work across the aisle to sponsor legislation that safeguards anti-discrimination policies. Finally, I will prioritize passing or maintaining a clean DREAM Act, making clear that this country holds opportunity for all.”

Wexton: “I believe Donald Trump’s Muslim ban is not only unconstitutional, but racist, ineffective, and a hazard for our national security. Immediately after President Trump announced the Muslim Ban, I went to Dulles Airport in Northern Virginia, along with many other elected officials and activists, to protest its implementation. As a lawyer, I believe the ban is fundamentally unconstitutional. From a national security perspective this ban gives our enemies around the world a powerful propaganda and recruiting tool to use against us. Finally the ban is racist and unamerican. We are a nation of immigrants founded on religious liberty. Immigrants make enormous economic, cultural, and social contributions to America. We should be looking at how to welcome and integrate immigrants not ban them. As a member of Congress I will vote against any form of the Muslim ban and any other similar discriminatory policies. Furthermore I will use my platform as a US Congresswoman to speak out against the Muslim Ban and other forms of discrimination just like I do as a State Senator.”

On the Iran Deal

An endorsee of John Bolton’s PAC and Super PAC, Congresswoman Comstock opposed negotiations with Iran, voted to kill the Iran deal, and supported Trump’s efforts to withdraw from the agreement. “I commend the President for his decision to withdraw from the misguided ‘Iran deal’,” she said. “The ‘deal’, which had strong bipartisan opposition in 2015 has emboldened Iran to continue instability and funding of terrorism around the world, and provided them with billions of dollars through lifted sanctions.”

Friedman: “I believe the JCPOA is a vitally critical deal between the US and Iran that prevents Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, allows for continued Iranian growth, and prevents a costly and deadly war that the US cannot afford at this time or any other. I would vote against any efforts to remove the JCPOA, and would speak out firmly against any insincere voices that try to discredit its merits and importance to peace in the world.”

Helmer: “I am deeply committed to protecting our relationships within the Middle East.  I understand the JCPOA is critical for President Rouhani to produce peaceful change over time inside Iran and is essential for us preventing Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon. I will oppose any efforts by this or future administrations to undermine the nuclear accord. Furthermore, I will work proactively with my Congressional colleagues to broaden the scope of US-Iranian relations.  Only when the economic, educational, cultural, and political institutions of our two countries begin to make progress toward building a functional relationship will the JCPOA be truly secure. The long-term success of the agreement requires not only the signatures of the two governments but the intertwining and good will of the two nations those governments represent. I will also support a new AUMF that explicitly prohibits military action targeting Iran without explicit Congressional authorization.”

Stover: “As an Obama Alum, I am proud of the Administration’s work on JCPOA. The agreement significantly limits the ability of Iran to enrich uranium and plutonium to weapons-grade quality, and establishes an unprecedented system of independent verification. It also benefits from the support of five major nations, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, China, Russia — support that Iranian moderates need. The alternatives advanced by the agreement’s critics, including total denuclearization, stand at odds with post-revolutionary identity of Iran’s government. Given the agreement’s unequivocal support among US partners, these alternatives are only possible through the use of unilateral military force. Peaceful and stable relations between any two nations depends on mutual trust and respect.  While the fraught history between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran complicates the present debate, the JCPOA lays the foundation for progress”

“I will do my part to build public trust in the institutions that certify Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA from attack. As a condition of the agreement, the IAEA has unprecedented authority to inspect Iran’s nuclear facilities, and the organization has significantly expanded its staff, surveillance capacity, and its operating budget to meet the requirements of the JCPOA. I will also push the President to judge Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA using evidence collected by the IAEA and the US intelligence community, not speculation.”

Wexton: “I strongly support the JCPOA. This treaty has been successful at blocking Tehran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon and is a triumph for peaceful diplomacy as a means to settle international conflict and avoid war. The JCPOA is important first and foremost because it prevents war. The United States and our allies could not accept a nuclear armed Iran. This deal prevents that while also preventing what would be a costly, terrible, and devastating war. Furthermore the deal lifts economic sanctions for the good of the Iranian people and the the good of American influence. By lifting a total trade embargo the United States is able to better influence the people of Iran through trade and culture and serve as a moderating force. Finally, the deal is a victory for the moderate political forces within Iran and further empowers them. I strongly support the JCPOA and will protect it in Congress. As a Member of Congress I will support legislation that protects the JCPOA and oppose legislation that seeks to undermine it. Furthermore I will use my platform as a Congresswoman to advocate in favor of the JCPOA.”

Sanctions and Diplomacy

Comstock has supported broad sanctions against Iran and advocates for increasing broad sanctions against Iranians. “I will continue to support sanctions against Iran until the country takes real steps to implement change, and I trust we will work with our allies to stop the existential threat of an Iran with nuclear weapons.”

Friedman: “The Obama administration had demonstrated that even in the face of a regime that undermines US values and policy around the world, there is real value in diplomatic engagement on mutual interest such as the Iran deal. We should not be calling for additional sanctions on Iran when they are fulfilling their end of the JCPOA, and we should not be beating the drums of war as if they possess nuclear weapons. Further it is through diplomacy — not threats of the possibility of war — that we can we make meaningful progress on issues related to human rights. Sanctions should be used to pressure the Iranian government to stop any potential nuclear weapons program they might develop, but they should not be used to isolate Iran or prevent access to food or medicine for the Iranian people.”

Helmer: “Diplomacy must be our first approach to addressing tensions and conflicts. I am a supporter of the JCPOA and therefore believe that if Iran is party to a material breach of the terms of the agreement, economic sanctions should be re-imposed according to the terms of the deal. At the same time, I strongly oppose the imposition of new sanctions outside the confines of the JPCOA.  Such sanctions would undermine the Iranian public’s support the JCPOA and set back the progress made in recent years in US-Iranian relations.”

Stover: “We should be a leader in supporting peace and resolving tensions between the US and Iran.  I believe promoting a peaceful and stable Middle East depends, in part, on strengthening the position of Iranian moderates relative to their hardliner counterparts. Sanctions must play a role in US policy towards Iran, but only as one part of a wholistic  diplomatic strategy that promotes a peaceful, stable Middle East and protects US citizens and US allies at home and abroad.”

Wexton: “The JCPOA was an excellent example of what can be diplomatically achieved between the United States and Iran. I believe the United States should continue to be a leader in the world, and will support further diplomatic efforts like this in order to continue to improve the relationship between our two countries. I believe that sanctions against Iran should be considered with a very high level of scrutiny. Unfortunately, sanctions tend to harm civil society and common people as much if not more than they influence the regime to change its policies. Furthermore, by refusing to trade with Iran the United States is forfeiting in large part its ability to influence Iran through commerce and culture and pushing the country into the arms of more unfriendly actors like China and Russia. For these reasons I think the negative effects of sanctions must be weighed very heavily and considered very closely.”

Learn more about where to find your polling station, how to vote early, and other information you need to make sure you vote in the Virginia primaries here.

Paid for by NIAC Action, not authorized by any candidate or committee.

Attention: Virginia Voters

The Virginia Statewide Primaries are coming on Tuesday, June 12, 2018. With so many issues facing our community at stake, it’s important now more than ever that we turn out and VOTE! The Iranian-American community is grossly underrepresented in politics. If we want elected officials that represent the interests of our community, we need to get our voices heard at the polls. Ultimately, every vote cast can help deliver our message to Congress.

To have your voice heard in the primaries on Tuesday, June 12th, here is what you need to know to vote:

  • Make certain you are registered to vote. You can check your voter registration status and find your polling location at https://www.niacaction.org/beshkan/
    • In addition, same day voter registration, which was recently legalized across many states, is NOT legalized in Virginia; therefore, you MUST be registered before June 12th to vote
  • The address of your polling place is on the back page of the sample ballot booklet that your county elections official mailed to you. If you do not have the booklet, contact your county elections office. You can also check your polling location at https://www.niacaction.org/beshkan/
        • In most cases, Virginia voters are not required to show identification at their polling place. However, it is a good idea to bring identification with you when you vote for the first time.
  • Even if your name is not on the voter list at the polling place, you have the right to vote with a provisional ballot.
  • Voting is open from 7 AM – 8 PM on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 across the State of Virginia.

Let’s Send an Iranian American to Congress

Do you remember where you were on the night Trump first imposed his ban against Iranians? 

Kia Hamadanchy was working in the U.S. Senate. As he saw the nightmare unfold, he decided that enough was enough – we needed an Iranian American in Congress. That’s when he made up his mind to run for U.S. Congress to represent his hometown of Irvine, CA.

Kia is running in California’s 45th district – which has the second largest Iranian-American population of any district in the country. The incumbent is a Tea Party Republican who is in lockstep with Donald Trump. Like too many lawmakers, she ignores her Iranian-American constituents on core issues like Trump’s ban and preventing war with Iran.

What better message to deliver to Washington than sending the first Iranian American to Congress? 

>> Learn more about Kia and how you can help send him to Washington

NIAC Action is proud to announce our endorsement of Kia Hamadanchy for Congress because he stands firmly on the right side of the issues most important to our community: he has pledged to work to dismantle Trump’s shameful Muslim ban; he is an unapologetic defender of the Iran deal who supports diplomacy over war and sanctions; and he wants to foster greater ties between the American and Iranian people.

Already, Kia raised an impressive $200,000 in his first quarter. But he faces a crowded primary election and a tough battle in the 2018 general election. It is imperative that our community unite in support of his candidacy so we can finally have a pro-peace, civil rights champion representing the Iranian-American community in Congress.

To get the latest updates on Kia’s campaign and find out how you can help, visit his website at www.kiafororangecounty.com.

If you would like to contribute to Kia’s campaign you can make a donation here.

Urgent: Help us fight Trump’s new Iranian ban

Donald Trump just signed a new Muslim ban that will severely impact Iranians and their families in the U.S. We are analyzing the text of the order and will provide updates as they develop but it confirms what we have long warned: the Trump administration is making its Muslim ban against Iranians and other nationals permanent and will cement a racist and discriminatory campaign promise into official U.S. policy unless we convince the courts and Congress to intervene.

Effective today, all immigrant and nonimmigrant visas will be suspended for Iranians, except student visas (M and F visas) and student exchange students (J visas) – though such travelers will be subject to increased scrutiny. All entries of Syrian and North Korean nationals with visas of any class or green cards are barred. Immigrant visas and most non-immigrant visas to nationals of Chad, Yemen, Venezuela, Libya, and Somalia will also be suspended. Iraq and Sudan have been removed from the list of banned countries.

Additionally, there will be no longer be an exception for travelers with a bona fide U.S. relationship after October 18 – meaning family members of Iranian Americans will once again be banned. The new version of the travel ban is indefinite with no set expiration date.

We are mobilizing now to fight this latest ban with everything we’ve got:

  • Legal: Our legal counsel is working with our coalition partners as we speak on potential litigation to freeze and roll back Trump’s new ban.
  • Grassroots: we are organizing actions around the country with a coalition of civil rights organizations to mobilize popular opinion and increase public pressure against the ban. (You can sign up for rallies in Washington, DC or San Francisco right now).
  • Political: we are reaching out to lawmakers and their staff to urge them to introduce new legislation to rescind Trump’s new ban and to put political pressure on those in Congress who refuse to challenge this president’s heinous bans. We are also prepared to notify lawmakers about specific cases of affected travelers in case Congressional intervention is needed.

Additionally, if you or a family member are affected by the ban please contact our Legal Counsel, Shayan Modarres, at smodarres@niacouncil.org.

We will post our legal analysis and Question and Answers about the new ban on this page (niacouncil.org/noban) shortly. It will be updated frequently as the situation evolves, so please bookmark it.

We face a difficult road ahead but are confident through legal, political, and grassroots pressure we can once again put a freeze on Trump’s ban and ultimately dismantle it. But we need your support if we are going to succeed. Please donate $100, $250, or $500 today so that we have the resources needed to win.

In these challenging times, it takes an organized, motivated community to fight for our rights. We are not going to let Trump target the right’s of our community or any other community, and we’re glad to have your support and participation for the battle ahead.

Tell Trump: “No Backdoor Muslim Ban!”

 

Donald Trump’s illegal Muslim Ban Executive Orders have been knocked down by the courts twice. Now he is trying another way to implement his discriminatory agenda: new “extreme vetting” requirements in visa applications.

If approved, this policy would be devastating for our communities. It would let the Trump Administration gather huge amounts of personal data about visa applicants, including their social media history for the past five years and their travel history for the past fifteen years. The Trump Administration would then be able to use this vast amount of information to reject visas; if they wrongly reject someone’s visa application, it is very hard to fight that decision.

Collecting this social media information is particularly frightening. We have already seen cases where visas were denied because U.S. government officials misunderstood innocent social media posts. Collecting this information on such a vast scale is sure to lead to widespread rejection of visas for inappropriate reasons, and the language about who can be targeted for this information collection is so broad that it can encompass huge groups of people. Given this administration’s unchecked xenophobia and Islamophobia, this policy is sure to be used very heavily against Iranians and other individuals from countries targeted by Trump’s Muslim Ban Executive Order.

The Trump Administration is once again trying to push a Muslim Ban, this time by calling it “extreme vetting.” We should not be fooled. Take action today to protect our communities from this Backdoor Ban!

Asian Americans Advancing Justice, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and NIAC Action Condemn the Government’s Attempt to Make the “Backdoor Muslim Ban” Permanent

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Shayan Modarres
Phone: 202-780-9590
Email: Shayan@niacaction.org

Groups Announce the Launch of Portals to Facilitate Public Comment on the Troubling Proposal

Washington, D.C. – NIAC Action, Asian Americans Advancing Justice (“Advancing Justice”), and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (“CAIR”) strongly condemn the federal government’s proposal to make its “Backdoor Muslim Ban” permanent, and announce the launch of web portals to facilitate public comment.

In May of this year, the Department of State (“DOS”) asked for and received permission to implement a temporary measure allowing it to collect vast amounts of information from certain individuals applying for U.S. visas. Some of the most troubling aspects of the collection include a new, mandatory requirement that applicants provide all social media platforms and handles used in the last five years, as well as a new requirement that applicants provide the details of their domestic and international travel history (including the sources of funding for the travel) for the past fifteen years.

The government now seeks to make that temporary proposal permanent, but before they can do so, they are required to solicit and accept comments from the public about the proposal. NIAC Action, Advancing Justice, and CAIR have developed web portals to assist the public in navigating the comment process, and strongly encourage impacted communities to make their voices heard. NIAC Action’s portal is available here.

“We were confronted with the brutal consequences of stoking fear and racial animus in Charlottesville, Virginia,” said Shayan Modarres, Legal Counsel for NIAC Action. “Keeping America safe and upholding our values as a country requires decent people to stand up and forcefully reject any discriminatory policy which treats people differently based on their race, nationality or faith. No matter the different ways that President Trump attempts to fulfill his campaign promise of banning Muslims from the United States, we will continue to expose his intent and do whatever we can to prevent a Muslim ban from becoming the permanent policy of the United States of America.”

“Even in the best of times, this kind of unfettered discretion and ability to examine religious, social, and personal beliefs expressed through social media would lead to a dramatic increase in racial profiling,” said Christina Sinha, Staff Attorney and National Security & Civil Rights Program Manager at Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus. “But in times such as these, when the government has unapologetically shown blatant animus towards Muslim and immigrant communities, this proposal can only add up to one thing: a Backdoor Muslim Ban.”

“The Trump administration’s push to make permanent discriminatory ‘extreme visa vetting’ is nothing more than a ‘Backdoor Muslim Ban.’ As a nation, we have resisted the president’s unconstitutional Muslim Ban executive orders by rallying at airports and suing the president – we must now make our voices heard once again in this public call for comments,” said CAIR Director of Government Affairs Department Robert McCaw. “Today, the primary targets of these proposed extreme visa vetting standards are people of the Islamic faith from Muslim-majority countries – tomorrow, these same vetting standards could be used against any minority community wrongly vilified as a threat to national security.”

NIAC Action, Advancing Justice, and CAIR are committed to combating this proposal and every attempt by the Trump Administration to target our communities.

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Supreme Court Decision on Grandparent Ban Welcome, But Insufficient

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jamal Abdi
Phone: 206.369.2069
Email: Jamal@niacaction.org

Washington, D.C. – NIAC Action Executive Director Jamal Abdi issued the following statement after the Supreme Court reaffirmed that the Trump administration cannot impose the Muslim ban against grandparents and other family members of Americans:

“While John Roberts and the Supreme Court have taken further steps to temporarily limit Trump’s discriminatory ban, Republicans have blocked Congressional efforts to permanently limit or repeal the ban. Yesterday, Congress held its first ever vote on the Muslim ban. Unfortunately, 29 of 30 Republicans in the House Appropriations Committee voted down an amendment from Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) that would have affirmed the Supreme Court decision and prevented any taxpayer funding to impose the Muslim ban against grandparents, aunts, uncles and other family members of Americans.

“While today’s decision by the Supreme Court is welcome, it should now be apparent that the Trump administration will use any wiggle room to enforce its ban against Iranians and other nationals targeted by the ban. It is outrageous and indefensible that Trump would not view grandparents as bona fide relationships. Fortunately, this error has been corrected. However, American families continue to wait in limbo and monitor the back and forth of court rulings and administrative actions that contribute to a growing sense of insecurity.

“Congress has the power to put an end to the Muslim ban fiasco by rescinding Trump’s Executive Order and blocking taxpayer funding for it. Instead, Republican leadership in both chambers have blocked a vote on legislation to repeal the ban which was endorsed by nearly every Democrat but not a single Republican. Just last year, some Republicans expressed disgust with Trump’s rhetoric on the campaign trail. Now, they are collaborating with his efforts to undermine our Constitution and ban Muslims.

“Those targeted by this discriminatory ban deserve better. There should be tremendous pressure on any lawmaker shirking their duties and playing defense for Trump’s ban. The Iranian-American community will continue to push for a full repeal and to hold lawmakers accountable for their cowardice.”

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NIAC Action Statement on Congress Rejecting Amendments to Bar Muslim-ban Funding

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jamal Abdi
Phone: 206.369.2069
Email: Jamal@niacaction.org

Washington, DC – NIAC Action Executive Director Jamal Abdi issued the following statement regarding today’s vote to defund Donald Trump’s Muslim ban in the House Appropriations Committee:

“We applaud Representatives Mark Pocan and Barbara Lee for leading the charge against the Trump administration’s Muslim ban. By offering amendments to defund elements of the ban, Representatives Pocan and Senator Lee demonstrated real leadership in attempting to put an end to Congressional inaction and forego the need for further judicial intervention regarding the Muslim ban. The Pocan amendment, which came to a vote, was unfortunately defeated on a largely party line vote.

“We are gravely disappointed that nearly all of the Republican members on the committee voted to defend the Muslim ban. Specifically, all but one Republican member on the committee voted against the Pocan amendment, which would have simply ensured that no funds could be used to impose the ban against family members of U.S. persons, in accordance with a Supreme Court decision. It is unconscionable that lawmakers would vote to ban our grandparents from visiting us in the U.S.

“Congress cannot stand idly by while the Trump administration tears apart families, manufactures chaos and uncertainty at our borders, and severely disrupts American businesses, colleges and universities. This is not an issue that can simply be punted to the courts as Americans and their relatives abroad sit in limbo. Congress has the authority and the responsibility to weigh in on this crucial policy matter.

“There has not been a single vote in Congress on the Muslim ban until today and there has still not been a single hearing or investigation on the ban. Republican leadership has blocked a vote on legislation to rescind the ban in both the House and the Senate. Congress spent more time investigating steroids in baseball than they have spent on the Muslim ban.  Lawmakers must not abdicate their responsibility and hope that the courts will clean up Trump’s mess.

“Some lawmakers may want to avoid this issue because they are afraid to stand up to Donald Trump or they fear that some elements of their base support a Muslim ban. We will not give them a pass. The Iranian-American community will remember this vote and work to ensure that Members of Congress who have prioritized protecting Donald Trump over protecting American families and values are held accountable.”

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NIAC Action Urges Votes for Pocan and Lee Muslim Ban Amendments

NIAC Action urges Members of Congress to vote in favor of amendments to the Homeland Security Appropriations bill that would bar funding from being used to implement the Trump administration’s discriminatory and unconstitutional Muslim ban. An amendment will be offered during today’s markup from Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) to bar the Trump administration from banning close familial relations in line with the recent Supreme Court ruling, in addition to an amendment from Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) to bar funding for the implementation of the entire Muslim ban.
 

These amendments are urgently needed to protect American citizens and their loved ones from the discriminatory Muslim ban as well as to safeguard U.S. national security.

Last month, the Supreme Court overturned lower court injunctions against the Muslim ban, however, the court exempted individuals who have a “bona fide relationship” with a person or entity in the U.S. The Trump administration subsequently issued a directive that limits the Supreme Court exemption to “close familial relationships” which excluded grandparents, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, cousins, and siblings-in-law from the exemption. The U.S. District Court (Hawaii) then reimposed the exemption, ruling that grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins qualify as close familial relationships. The Trump administration announced it would appeal the Hawaii decision to the Supreme Court.

The Pocan Amendment would restrict funding in the DHS Appropriations bill from being used to implement the travel ban Executive Order against an individual who is a parent, spouse, fiancé, son, daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, or cousin of a United States citizen or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States. 
 
The Barbara Lee Amendment would restrict funding in the DHS Appropriations bill from being used to implement any element of the travel ban Executive Order. Not a single person has been killed in the US by a terrorist attack committed by people from the countries subjected to Trump’s ban. The Muslim ban makes America less safe by diverting resources away from real threats and instead arbitrarily cracking down on loved ones and the ability of U.S. businesses to freely recruit talent.
   
NIAC Action strongly encourages Members of Congress to vote for the Pocan Amendment and allow Americans to see their grandparents and other relatives, as well as to vote to defund this misguided ban altogether with the Barbara Lee Amendment.

 

Tweet at key lawmakers here to repeal the ban on Grandparents today: niacaction.org/grandparentsnotterrorists

Iranian grandparents are now banned from the U.S.

NIAC Policy Director Jamal Abdi and his grandmother

I was nine years old when I finally met my grandparents. After years of only seeing them in old photos and hearing about them in my dad’s stories about growing up in Tehran, they finally were able to make the trip to America and meet their grandchildren for the first time.

Donald Trump just announced that my grandparents are now banned from this country.

Beginning today, a new version of Trump’s Muslim ban will go back into effect. The Supreme Court ordered that Trump’s travel ban could go forward – but could not apply to people who have a “bonafide relationship” with an American. In response, Trump has released a directive that Iranians and other “banned” nationals would have to prove their “bona fide relationship” in order to apply for a visa.

Trump’s directive establishes the categories of relationships that are allowed in, and those who are not: Grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, fiancees and other extended family members are not serious enough relationships to enter the U.S., according to Trump’s new ban.

The bottom line: if your extended family member is Iranian, they are now banned from entering the U.S.

We are going to fight this with everything we’ve got. But we need your financial support in order to have the staff and resources necessary to seriously challenge this assault against our community and our country’s values.

DONATE to defeat Trump’s ban!

We are confronting this ban from every angle:

  1. NIAC volunteers and staff associates are continuously meeting with allies in Congress and their home districts to try to force a vote on legislation that will rescind and defund the Muslim Ban. We can no longer rely solely on the courts to fight this ban for us. We must rally our lawmakers to take a stand on this un-American ban.
  2. We organized our members in New Mexico to meet with Rep. Pearce and voice their concerns and USA Today ran a story about it. After hearing from our community Rep. Pearce – a Republican – publicly criticized Trump’s ban.
  3. We have a plan in Congress to force those who refuse to take our concerns seriously to finally take a public stand on the ban and be judged by their voters. NO MORE HIDING.
  4. NIAC has already requested documents and statistics from the Trump administration to build the foundation for a second wave of litigation against the ban.

NIAC staff and volunteers  are deployed across the country to defeat the Muslim Ban. But we need your financial support to continue representing the interests of our community. With your support we will remain ready to advocate for you.

Will you donate $50, $100, $1000 or an amount that’s right for you so that we can redouble our efforts to defeat Trump’s ban and make our Iranian grandparents welcome again?