NIAC Action Statement on Delay to NO BAN Vote

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, March 12, 2020
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mana@niacaction.org 

Jamal Abdi, Executive Director of NIAC Action, issued the following statement on the decision to delay the vote on the NO BAN Act:

“We are disappointed that the vote on the NO BAN Act has been delayed. We understand the need to pass urgent legislation to address the Coronavirus crisis and hope Speaker Pelosi and Leader Hoyer understand that the Muslim Ban is a crisis that threatens the fabric of our country and from which many American families have deserved relief for over three years. We urge Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Hoyer to uphold their commitment to repeal Trump’s Muslim Ban and publicly commit to vote on the NO BAN Act as soon as Congress returns to legislative business. 

“The Muslim Ban is a racist policy the President implemented to address an imaginary crisis for political purposes. National origin or religious affiliation doesn’t pose a threat, but global pandemics do. Now that this administration is dealing with a real crisis that may necessitate temporary restrictions on travel, the reckless frivolity of the Muslim Ban and the inability of our institutions to check the executive is on full dangerous display. Trump’s racist Muslim ban – and other orders abusing Presidential immigration authorities – undermine public confidence in our institutions and divert resources from addressing real problems and its past time for Congress to step in. It is vital that the House halt discriminatory orders based on bigotry, while maintaining authorities to respond to real public health emergencies like the Coronavirus, by passing the NO BAN Act.”

“We call on Speaker Pelosi, Leader Hoyer and all legislators of good conscience to uphold their commitment to pass the NO BAN Act once the House returns to session.” 

Statement on House Passage of Kaine War Powers Resolution

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, March 11, 2020
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mana@niacaction.org

Ryan Costello, Policy Director of NIAC Action, issued the following statement on the House of Representatives passing Sen. Kaine’s resolution (S.J.Res. 68) requiring the administration to withdraw U.S. forces from hostilities with Iran in a 227-186 vote:

“Bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate have passed legislation clarifying that President Trump does not have authorization for war with Iran. This reflects the American people’s wishes, who have twice watched the President lead us to the edge of a new and disastrous war with Iran in recent months.

“While opponents of the resolution chose to spend much of their time claiming there are no hostilities with Iran and that Iran had been deterred, events in the region demonstrated the continued danger of tensions boiling to full-blown war. Yet again, U.S. and Iranian-backed forces appear to be exchanging fire in Iraq, despite the American people’s desires to avoid yet another war of choice in the Middle East. We know from experience that the administration is likely to shoot first and figure out its legal justification later. Only by returning to the nuclear deal and the negotiating table can we ensure that the threat of war is once again put on ice.

“The choice for President Trump is clear. If he truly wants to end America’s endless wars rather than start new ones, he should sign the resolution and prove his intentions to a skeptical American public and Congress. A veto would only demonstrate his desire to keep an unconstitutional war with Iran on the table.

“Senators Kaine, Durbin, Paul and Lee, along with Speaker Pelosi and key voices like Reps. Ro Khanna and Barbara Lee, deserve tremendous credit for working across the aisle to send on legislation clarifying Congress’ role in matters of war and peace after the January crisis with Iran. So too do all legislators who saw through the administration’s fearmongering and backed legislation to rein in their reckless war push, and the countless Americans and allied organizations who told President Trump loud and clear: no war with Iran.”

Meet the Husband and Wife team running to represent the Democratic Party of Orange County

Meet Iyad Afalqa and Samila Amanyraoufpoor, the husband and wife team running to represent the people of California Assembly District 74 in the Democratic Party of Orange County Central Committee!

Both Samila and Iyad are union professors whose immigrant experiences have shaped their views and involvement in politics.

Samila Amanyraoufpor is an Iranian-American professor at Cal State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) and Cal State University, Los Angeles. Having lived through the 1979 revolution and the Iran-Iraq War, she has always had a deep understanding and appreciation for politics. At the core of her activism is her commitment to strengthening civic engagement. We see that now as she is a member of the CSUDH Chapter of the California Faculty Association (CFA) and serves as the chair of their union’s Political Action Committee (PAC).

Iyad Afalqa, a Palestinian-American, is also a professor at CSUDH, specializing in Health Care Management, Policy and Strategic Management. Iyad views politics as an opportunity to make an impact in his community. Born in Jerusalem, Iyad spent his formative years living in the West Bank under Israeli occupation, an experience that shaped his political outlook.

Iyad is currently serving his first term as the Co-President of CSUDH Chapter of the CFA and comes with years of experience within the Democratic party, having served within the ranks of the Democratic Party in WI, NV and CA in different capacities; as 2016 DNC elected Delegate and a 2016 U.S. Presidential Campaign Healthcare Advisor; as a4th-term CADEM E-Board; Delegate; as a Chair of a Statewide Caucus; and in an Affirmative Action Committee. Currently, he is the President of the California Democratic Council, which represents 500+ Clubs state-wide.

When we asked Samila and Iyad why they are running, they pointed to the need for change from within the local party. Some of these seats have been held by the same people for the last four decades. And currently, over 80% of the Central Committee does not reflect the racial diversity of Orange County. Considering the demographic shift in the county over that time, they believe that now is the opportunity to elect a new generation of diverse community leaders that reflect the county itself.

Over the years, Samila and Iyad have also taken actions to stand up for the Iranian-American community. In 2015, they joined NIAC’s grassroots efforts to ensure the U.S.-Iran Nuclear Deal withstood Congressional review, focusing on lobbying now-former Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez. More recently, they have held over a dozen meetings with elected officials to advocate against the Muslim ban.

Progressive values are what drive these candidates. Their priorities include rent control, immigration reform such as abolishing ICE, Medicare for All, and the Green New Deal. Ultimately, they believe in holding elected officials accountable and people powered campaigns that are devoid of corporate, developer, or police union money.

If you live in CA Assembly District 74 and want to vote for Samila and Iyad, you can find their race on your primary ballot under “Democratic County Central Committee”. You must be a registered Democrat to find this race on your ballot. If you are not registered with the Democratic Party, you can change your party affiliation by re-registering to vote at the polls on election day. The California primaries will be held on March 3. Polls will be open from 7 AM to 8 PM.

NIAC Action Commends Senate on Passage of War Powers Resolution

Ryan Costello, Policy Director for NIAC Action, issued the following statement on the Senate’s passage of the Kaine resolution S.J.Res. 68 guarding against an unauthorized war with Iran in a 55-45 vote:

“President Trump does not have authorization for an Iran war. Sen. Tim Kaine deserves tremendous credit for working across the aisle to clarify that fact today by passing a bipartisan resolution ruling out an unauthorized Iran war. All Senators who supported the resolution and voted against poison pill amendments from those eager to start a war with Iran should be commended. 

“We are concerned by some of the language that was inserted into the resolution today. However, the fundamental message of the resolution – that the President does not have authorization for an Iran war – is clear. Congress has been clear and consistent on that score since last summer when bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate first supported amendments ruling out an unauthorized war with Iran. It is particularly meaningful that both chambers of Congress acted once again in the wake of the President taking us to the brink of war in January following the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. 

“We urge the Trump administration to recognize that in order to go to war with Iran, they would need to make a convincing case to Congress and the American people. Rather, the administration has lied about its war authorizations and sought to trigger a war through rash and unlawful escalation in the Middle East.

“The work for Congress is not over. We urge the House of Representatives to pass the Kaine resolution and send it on to the President’s desk. Additionally, the Senate should consider and pass the strong Iran war powers legislation passed by the House in recent weeks. The American people do not want a new front in the forever war with Iran. It is the duty of Congress to reflect the aspirations of the American people and protect its Constitutional authorities from being trampled by the President.”

Halt Washington’s Sanctions Addiction: Support Omar’s Sanctions Oversight Bill

We know the true impact of sanctions – many of us hear from our friends and family who are struggling as a direct result of the sanctions. Food and life-saving medicine are increasingly difficult to come by. The Trump administration has abused the use of sanctions, using them as a tool to strangle the Iranian people and undermine any path to diplomacy. But Congress can step in and put a check to these abuses. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has introduced the “Congressional Oversight of Sanctions Act,” mandating greater Congressional oversight to sanctions to protect against harm to civilian populations.

Take action today to ask your representative to support the “Congressional Oversight of Sanctions Act”!

 

NIAC Action’s Recommendations for Judiciary Markup on NO BAN Act and Access to Counsel Act

National Iranian American Council (NIAC) Action is pleased that two bills of importance to the Iranian-American community – the NO BAN Act (H.R. 2214) and the Access to Counsel Act (H.R. 5581) – will be marked up by the Judiciary Committee tomorrow. NIAC Action strongly supports each bill as key steps to guard against discriminatory immigration orders, and urges the committee to pass them while rejecting any efforts to water the bills down. 

NO BAN Act

Since January 27, 2017, when President Trump made good on his campaign promise to impose a Muslim ban, tens of thousands of lives have been thrown into chaos. Since that time, the Iranian-American community and NIAC Action have joined with allies across the nation to fight against the Trump administration’s blatantly discriminatory and unjust ban that has targeted Iranian nationals and deeply impacted countless Iranian Americans:

  • Iranian nationals and Iranian Americans continue to be this policy’s largest target. According to data on the ban’s implementation through September 2019, Iranians account for 68% percent of visas rejected under the ban. 31,077 Iranians have had their nonimmigrant and immigrant visas rejected under the ban, out of a cumulative refusal total of 45,662. 
  • The waiver approval rate for Iranians has only increased marginally to 6% despite efforts to speed up the processing of visas to produce more favorable numbers in advance of a Congressional hearing on the topic in September 2019. 

  • All of these numbers represent the human stories of families and friends separated from one another, all due to an order that is rooted in a discriminatory campaign promise. 

The administration’s track record of discrimination and bigotry began with the implementation of the Muslim Ban. The legislation being marked up tomorrow goes a long way toward reining in the administration’s discriminatory policies while preventing any future president from abusing their powers. It represents a clear step toward justice and the culmination of the desires of both the Iranian-American community and the vast majority of Americans. 

Not only would the NO BAN Act immediately repeal the administration’s Muslim Ban, but it would prevent President Trump, or any future President, from further abusing the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and imposing blanket, discriminatory bans that only harm people and do not make Americans safer. In the INA’s current form, the 212(f) statute does not codify what factors determine whether an aliens’ entry is “detrimental” to U.S. interests, what restrictions are “appropriate,” and how long those restrictions should last. The NO BAN Act would remedy these gaps by curtailing the broad and unspecific language in the law and mandate the government to meet a more stringent standard in suspending entry based on “credible facts” and connected to “specific acts” that have actually occurred. For more on this, please see our memo: How the Trump Administration has Abused the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to Ban Muslims from the U.S.

The NO BAN Act is a strong bill, and we urge members to avoid substantive changes that might water it down or undermine its intent. We hope this mark-up builds momentum toward passage, helping to end the ban and ensure that it is the last discriminatory ban instituted in the United States.  

Access to Counsel Act

The Access to Counsel Act is a straight-forward bill that ensures Americans, green card holders and foreign nationals with valid visas who are held for secondary questioning for more than one hour are given access to legal counsel.

This issue has become especially pertinent to the Iranian-American community over the last several months. Since August 2019, dozens of Iranians students have been deported upon arrival in the United States. Many of those deported were unable to call an attorney or their universities, depriving them of advice as they were interrogated and eventually deported. In one case, a border patrol officer even refused to allow a student to call her university by claiming the authoritarian Iranian government would not allow her to make such a call. Similarly, in early January, hundreds of Iranian Americans were detained for hours based on their national heritage following a discriminatory order issued by the Seattle Field Office. Passage of the Access to Counsel Act would have helped guard against these cases and protect the rights of Americans.

In light of the continued concerning threats to civil liberties targeting individuals of Iranian heritage, we urge the committee to pass the bill as written and ensure that access to counsel be made available to both immigrant and nonimmigrant visa holders detained for secondary questioning. 

Below you will find some additional materials on the Ban as well as more information of the recent deportation of Iranian students: 

Recommended Sources

NIAC: Deportations and Detentions of Iranians: What We Know and What Congress Can Do
National Immigration Law Center: Understanding the Muslim Ban and How We’ll Keep Fighting It

NIAC Action Joins 40+ NGOs in Letter Urging Senators to Vote “Yes” on Kaine War Powers Resolution

February 11, 2020

Dear Senators,

We are a diverse group of national organizations focused on strengthening diplomacy, safeguarding the rule of law, protecting refugees, and promoting human rights and public welfare, and together we represent millions of people and communities across the United States.

We write to urge you to vote “YES” on the war powers resolution sponsored by Senator Tim Kaine (S.J.Res.68) to terminate the unauthorized use of U.S. Armed Forces from hostilities against Iran or any part of its government unless explicitly authorized by a declaration of war or specific authorization for use of military force against Iran.

Last month, the House passed its own version of an Iran war powers resolution, as well as additional measures to rein in unilateral action by President Trump for war with Iran and further safeguard the constitutional separation of powers. We urge the Senate to swiftly follow suit and pass legislation that will then be sent back to the House and to Trump’s desk for signature.

The United States has moved to the brink of a major regional war with Iran twice in the last year. Concerningly, the administration has consistently stated that it has the authorization for war with Iran even though Congress has never authorized such action, angering both Republican and Democratic lawmakers. Moreover, deep concerns persist regarding the administration’s treatment of intelligence concerning alleged threats from Iran, which has undermined public trust.

By passing S.J.Res.68, the Senate can take an urgent and critical step in uniting with the House in reasserting Congress’s constitutional role in matters of war and peace and reflecting the aspirations of a pro-diplomacy public who unequivocally oppose another catastrophic war of choice.

Sincerely,

About Face: Veterans Against the War
Beyond the Bomb
CAP
Center for Constitutional Rights
Center for International Policy
CODEPINK
Common Defense
Council for a Livable World
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
Defending Rights & Dissent
Demand Progress
FCNL
Foreign Policy for America
Franciscan Action Network
Freedom Forward Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ Government
Information Watch
Indivisible
Institute for Policy Studies
New Internationalism Project
J Street
Just Foreign Policy
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
NIAC Action
Peace Action
Peace Corps Iran Association
Peace Direct
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Project South
Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans
Rachel Carson Council
Rethinking Foreign Policy, Inc.
RootsAction.org
September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows
Tri-Valley CAREs, Livermore, CA
Truman National Security Project
Union of Concerned Scientists
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
United for Peace and Justice
VoteVets
Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility
Win Without War
Women’s Action for New Directions
World BEYOND War

NIAC Action Statement on Passage of Legislation Prohibiting Unauthorized War with Iran 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, January 30, 2020
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mana@niacaction.org

NIAC Action Policy Director Ryan Costello issued the following statement on the House of Representatives passing legislation to clarify that no authorization for an Iran war exists, prohibit funds for an unauthorized Iran war, and repeal the 2002 authorization to use military force against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Rep. Khanna’s amendment passed in a 228-175 vote, while Rep. Lee’s amendment passed 236-166: 

“Today, the House of Representatives took decisive action to clarify that President Trump does not have authorization for an Iran war and to rescind the 2002 authorization for war against Iraq which has been abused by the administration. The American people do not want a new disastrous and endless war with Iran. Given that President Trump’s disastrous Iran strategy brought us to the brink of full-blown war with Iran in both June 2019 and January 2020, Congress must continue to move expeditiously to rein in the administration’s reckless Iran approach.

“Such action would not be necessary if the President had stuck with the Iran nuclear deal and sought to build on it. Nor would it be necessary if this was an administration that respects the Constitution, sets realistic policy goals with Iran and heeds the wishes of the American people on only using military force as a last resort. Instead, we have a reckless President previewing unauthorized airstrikes at Mar-a-Lago while he keeps Congress in the dark. 

“Reps. Ro Khanna and Barbara Lee deserve tremendous credit for their steadfast leadership in pushing this needed legislation forward once again. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel also deserve credit for moving swiftly following President Trump’s latest escalations. Now the Senate, once it is finished with impeachment proceedings, must take up this legislation and pass it in order to send a clear and united message that the White House does not have authorization for an Iran war.”

Ardavan Fairfax County School Board

Introducing Ardavan Mobasheri, Candidate for Fairfax County School Board

Ardavan Fairfax County School BoardWe are pleased to introduce Ardavan Mobasheri, candidate for Fairfax County School Board – Dranesville District. 

Ardavan is an Iranian-American engineer, career educator, husband and father of two from Great Falls, Virginia. He is a member of the Virginia ACLU and is the Managing Director and Chief Investment Officer of Acima Private Wealth. And he is running as the only Independent candidate for the open seat on the Fairfax County School Board for Dranesville District.

Fairfax County has a population of over one million people and is made up of nine districts. One member from each district is elected, and Ardavan is one of three candidates running to represent the Dranesville District of Fairfax County. If you are receiving this email, it is because you are in his district and will have the opportunity to vote for Ardavan in the general election on November 5, 2019

Learn more about Ardavan by checking out his campaign website

If you are interested in volunteering for his campaign or working at the polls the day of the election, please sign up here

Electing Iranian-American candidates is a key part of building political power for our community. We hope to see you at the polls on election day!

Organizational Letter Supporting Sen. Durbin’s (D-IL) RELIEF Act

October 16, 2019
To: Members of the U.S. Senate

Dear Honorable Senators,

As organizations representing immigrant communities who would be harmed by H.R. 1044/S. 386, the so-called Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act, we write to express our support for the compromise offered by Sen. Dick Durbin in the Resolving Extended Limbo for Immigrant Employees and Families (RELIEF) Act.

Many of our groups warned in September that H.R. 1044/S. 386 would not actually fix the green card backlog, and instead would reduce the diversity of the green card process and pit one group of immigrants against others to fight over a broken and inherently unequal system. 

Today, we encourage the Senate to instead support and pass the RELIEF Act to address the green card backlog. The bill recognizes that the backlog stems from too few green cards to meet the actual demand, which can only be sufficiently addressed by expanding the overall number of green cards available, which the bill would do. Moreover, it includes key provisions to protect the diversity of the green card process and minimize the negative repercussions of only removing the country caps. The RELIEF Act does not offer a zero-sum approach that prioritizes one group of immigrants to the exclusion of all others. Moreover, we know that such a formulation can pass, as it is based on the bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed the Senate in 2013.

The green card backlog is a long-standing, complex problem. The RELIEF Act offers a balanced approach that can fix it faster for everyone in the backlog, unlike H.R. 1044/S. 386. We encourage you to cosponsor the RELIEF Act today and oppose H.R. 1044/S. 386 moving forward.

Sincerely,

18 Million Rising
All of Us
Council on American-Islamic Relations
Justice for Muslims Collective
MPower Change Action Fund
National Iranian American Council Action
Project South
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
United Chinese Americans
United Macedonian Diaspora
United We Dream

A major victory on our work to protect green card diversity

Last week, we scored a major victory on our work to protect the green card process for Iranians and other communities. Recently NIAC Action assembled a coalition of immigrant-advocacy organizations to send a letter to the Senate urging them to oppose H.R.1044/S.386, the so-called “Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act.” This bill, if passed, would effectively block many immigrant communities’ paths to a green card⁠—and Iranians would be particularly impacted. 

This bill was on a path to sail through Congress under the radar until NIAC Action and our allies stepped up to stop it.

Last week, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) drew a firm red line against passing this bill in a private letter to the bill’s lead, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT). In the letter, Sen. Durbin cited the coalition’s concerns that this bill exasperates the green card backlog and pits one group of immigrants against others to fight over a broken immigration system. Durbin’s letter could prove decisive in winning the battle against this unfair bill.

Now Durbin plans on introducing his own bill that would clear the current backlog by increasing the number of green cards authorized each year; the solution we proposed in our coalition letter.

Unfortunately, proponents of this bill have attacked Sen. Durbin and employed tactics to intimidate Iranians from voicing their concerns—one group has even encouraged their members to report Iranians who publicly oppose the bill to ICE. We will not allow anyone to silence our voices and we will not allow special interests to turn immigrant groups against one another. And now, we are winning.

However, the fight to protect green card diversity is just revving up. We need everyone to support  Durbin’s efforts by make it abundantly clear  that we will not yield, so please call your Senator today and support our campaign to protect green card diversity.
 

📞 Call your Senator

➡️ Donate directly in support of our campaign to protect fair immigration
 

Sen. Durbin cannot be the only senator stepping up and fighting back. Take action today and help us secure the additional Senate allies we need to ensure the immigration system is fair for all.