Memo: JCPOA Giving Way to Destructive Tit for Tat

One year after the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iranian officials are now signaling they may follow suit and halt compliance with aspects of the accord.

Any potential Iranian non-compliance with elements of the JCPOA would be profoundly unhelpful and escalatory. However, such steps would not occur in a vacuum, but in the context of months of pressure from the White House aimed at provoking Iran into leaving the JCPOA. It is President Trump’s drive to undo his predecessor’s signature foreign policy achievement that has put us on the brink of resuscitating the Iranian nuclear crisis.

Worse still, a forthcoming crisis might not be contained. As a senior Trump adviser recently stated, if Iran halts complying with the JCPOA “the military option comes back on the table.”

JCPOA’s Quid Pro Quo Giving Way to Destructive Tit for Tat

The nuclear deal was based on a quid pro quo in which all sides would obtain real benefits.

  • Under the JCPOA, Iran rolled back its nuclear program while enhancing the ability of international inspectors to monitor and verify its nuclear activities. In return, Iran was provided sanctions relief as a means of reconnecting with global financial and economic networks.
     
  • The text of the JCPOA makes clear that Iran has stated it will treat the reintroduction or reimposition of sanctions “as grounds to cease performing its commitments under this JCPOA in whole or in part.”
     
  • The Trump administration has not only reneged on the JCPOA and sought to deny Iran the U.S. and sanctions relief it was due, but it has taken unprecedented additional actions such as designating Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization and terminating sanctions waivers for importers of Iranian oil.
     
  • Recently, the Trump administration further boosted those in Tehran arguing for leaving the JCPOA by revoking waivers for shipping out surplus heavy water and enriched uranium, while limiting the extension of waivers for critical nonproliferation work at Arak and Fordow to 90 from 180 days. This signals a disturbing intent to obstruct the nonproliferation side of the JCPOA.
     
  • In the face of the administration’s so-called “maximum pressure” campaign, Tehran has remained restrained for nearly a year and has sought to preserve the accord through cooperation with Europe and other global powers.
     
  • However, increased U.S. pressure has created an increasingly intolerable situation for Iran and has empowered hardline voices in Tehran who believe Iran should pursue a tit-for-tat strategy to raise the costs of U.S. actions against it.

The Looming Specter of War

Since taking over as National Security Advisor last year, Iraq-war architect John Bolton has been steering the U.S. closer to war with Iran.

  • On Sunday night, National Security Advisor John Bolton released a statement threatening “unrelenting force” in response to any Iranian attack against U.S. forces in the region.
     
  • Bolton’s alarmist statement comes in the backdrop of a routine deployment of a U.S aircraft carrier group to the Persian Gulf that was expedited and was reportedly based on vague intelligence regarding potential Iranian plots.
     
  • Last September, Bolton similarly asked the Pentagon to draw up plans for military strikes against Iran in the wake of alleged mortar attacks from Shia militias near U.S. compounds in Baghdad and Basra. Bolton’s request “definitely rattled people,” according to a former administration official. “People were shocked. It was mind-boggling how cavalier they were about hitting Iran.”
     
  • The administration has since appeared to be repeating the George W. Bush administration’s playbook for war with Iraq—inaccurately tying Iran to al-Qaeda, baselessly stating that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons, and politicizing intelligence assessments on Iran.
     
  • Bolton has long been bent on goading the U.S. and Iran into war and has a history of manipulating intelligence to advance his hawkish agenda. As the top arms control official for President George W. Bush, he claimed Iraq possessed WMD’s to justify the administration’s 2003 invasion.

Choice for the U.S.: Save the JCPOA or Follow Bolton’s Path to War

Rejoining the JCPOA is essential to blocking Iran’s paths to the bomb and addressing other U.S.-Iran disputes.

  • Due to the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the JCPOA, Iran’s compliance with the accord is no longer ensured and the nonproliferation benefits from the agreement risk being lost.
     
  • The U.S. is isolated from allies and former negotiating partners that continue to support the JCPOA, has empowered Iranian hardliners and ensured a more rigid negotiating posture from Iran, and now is following the playbook of an Iraq-war architect intent on provoking another disastrous war with Iran.
     
  • The choice to the U.S. is clear: ensure Iranian compliance with the nuclear deal by resuming America’s sanctions-lifting obligations, or follow Trump and Bolton’s disastrous path to war.
     
  • Already, most 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have stated they would return the U.S. to compliance with the JCPOA. Lawmakers should follow suit by clearly stating that the U.S. should return to compliance with the accord.

Halt Bolton’s War Push

Congress must send a clear message that Trump and Bolton do not have authorization to start a war with Iran.

  • The Prevention of Unconstitutional War with Iran Act (S. 1039/H.R. 2354), introduced by Sens. Udall, Paul and Durbin and Reps. Eshoo and Thompson, would prohibit the Trump administration from using funds to launch a war against Iran without Congressional approval.
     
  • The Repeal of the Authorization for Use of Military Force bill (H.R. 1274) from Rep. Barbara Lee would repeal the 2001 AUMF and prevent the Trump administration from exploiting the authorization to justify yet another war it was never intended to authorize.

NIAC Action Memo: IRGC Economic Exclusion Act (S. 925)

S. 925 — the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Economic Exclusion Act — would have minimal sanctions impact on the already heavily-sanctioned IRGC, Iran’s primary military force that has historically thrived amid broad sanctions on the Iranian economy. However, S. 925 would have a deleterious impact on the Iranian people while restricting a successor administration’s ability to de-escalate tensions with Iran.

The bill seeks to preempt efforts to return the United States into compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—the nuclear deal between the U.S., other major world powers, and Iran—by sanctioning all sectors of Iran’s economy, which would have a significant harmful impact on the livelihood of the Iranian people. In addition, the bill has the effect of undoing any benefit to Iran from adhering to the nuclear-related limitations outlined in the JCPOA, thus incentivizing Iran to halt its compliance with the accord and generating a new nuclear crisis in the Middle East. Proponents of diplomacy and the judicious but effective use of U.S. sanctions should reject this bill.

Disproportionate Harm to the Iranian People

S. 925 would have a significant deleterious impact on the livelihood of the Iranian people, as U.S. sanctions turn the Islamic Republic into an effective “hermit kingdom.” This bill:

  • Sets the groundwork for the effective closure of Iran’s airspace to civilian airlines; and
  • Cordons off Iran’s entire economy to the outside world, depriving an entire generation of Iranians social and economic opportunities

Meanwhile, the bill imposes little direct cost to the IRGC–its ostensible target. The IRGC is the most heavily-sanctioned entity in the entire world, and the U.S. has used multiple sanctions authorities to target it. Recognizing this, the bill targets Iranian parties with indirect, if not entirely attenuated, connections with the IRGC in the hopes of imposing additional costs. This includes broad sectors of the Iranian economy.

In doing so, however, this bill creates ripe opportunities for the IRGC to thrive, at the same time that its commercial competitors inside Iran are targeted for U.S. sanctions; cut off from the outside world; and forced into collapse. Sanctions have historically empowered hardline forces in Iran who use their proximity to the Iranian state to win state contracts, engage in smuggling operations, and direct sanctions evasion activities. If the U.S. wanted to impose direct costs on the IRGC, it would lift sanctions on Iran’s private sector and ensure their competitive edge, while maintaining sanctions on the IRGC.

The bill sets the stage for the effective closure of Iran’s airspace to civilian airlines.

Section 5 of the bill would add Section 315 to the Iran Threat Reduction Act so as to require the President to report on Iranian state-owned enterprises that engage in activities subject to sanctions under Executive Order 13224—the U.S.’s counter-terrorism sanctions authority. The bill notes that the Iran Airports Company—which is the holding and operating company for Iran’s civilian airports—is reported to facilitate activities for Mahan Air, an Iranian civilian airline that is sanctioned pursuant to E.O. 13224. As such, the bill argues that the Iran Airports Company is engaged in activities sanctionable under E.O. 13224 as a result of its support to Mahan Air and mandates the President to make a determination as to whether the Iran Airports Company should be designated under E.O. 13224. If designated, the effect would be the closure of Iran’s airspace to civilian air travel as foreign airlines would be at risk of sanctions for flying into civilian airports operating under the ownership or control of an entity designated pursuant to E.O. 13224.

Restraining a Successor Administration

The bill would undermine efforts for the United States to restore its credibility on the world stage by returning to compliance with the JCPOA. Specifically, the bill would impose terrorism-related authorities on broad sectors of Iran’s economy, all for the purpose of constraining a future administration from reaching diplomatic solutions with Iran.

The bill would block the President from being able to lift sanctions on certain designated Iranian parties, thereby negating the purpose of U.S. sanctions which is to effectuate a change of behavior.

Section 2 of the bill amends Section 301 of the Iran Threat Reduction Act so as to bar the President from waiving the application of sanctions with respect to a designated person unless the President makes certifications on IRGC activities. Unless the President certifies that the IRGC is reducing its material support to the Government of Syria or Hezbollah’s operations in Syria, the President would not be able to waive the sanctions. By amending the waiver provision in this manner, the bill conditions the lifting of sanctions with respect to a designated Iranian person not on the behavior of the sanctioned person itself but rather on the behavior of the IRGC. For instance, if an Iranian entity is determined to be owned or controlled by the IRGC and forces the divestment of the IRGC’s interest or control so as to remove the basis for its designation, this bill would prevent the President from lifting sanctions with respect to the Iranian entity unless the IRGC–as a whole–had reduced its material support to the Government of Syria. The likely effect of this amendment is not only to bar the President from waiving the application of sanctions but also to disincentive sanctioned parties from changing their behavior in ways that are otherwise consistent with U.S. interests.

The bill seeks to close off Iran’s telecommunications, mining, and manufacturing sector from the outside world.

Section 2 of the bill amends Section 301 of the Iran Threat Reduction Act to require the President to determine whether major operators in Iran’s telecommunications, mining, and manufacturing sectors are owned or controlled by the IRGC. If determined to be so, then such parties would be designated pursuant to multiple U.S. sanctions authorities and foreign parties and banks would be subject to U.S. secondary sanctions for dealing with them. In making such a determination, the bill permits the President to consider persons in which the IRGC has an ownership of less than 50 percent. The 50 Percent Rule—i.e., where sanctioned parties have a 50 percent or greater ownership interest—has long been OFAC’s governing standard as to whether a sanctioned party has a sanctionable interest in an entity, and adopting a new standard with respect to the IRGC threatens the judicious use of U.S. sanctions in the future.

The bill seeks to impose an effective boycott on any business—U.S. or foreign—with Iran.

Section 4 of the bill would add Section 313 of the Iran Threat Reduction Act, which requires the President to publish annual reports identifying (1) all foreign persons listed on the Tehran Stock Exchange, as well as a determination as to whether or not the IRGC or its officials, agents, or affiliates own or control the person; (2) foreign persons operating business enterprises in Iran valued at more than $100 million, as well as a determination as to whether or not the IRGC or its officials, agents, or affiliates own or control the person; and (3) Iranian financial institutions valued at more than $10 million, as well as a determination as to whether each Iranian financial institution has facilitated a significant transaction for or on behalf of the IRGC or whether the IRGC or its officials, agents, or affiliates own or control the Iranian financial institution. This bill is consistent with recent actions by the Trump administration in which Iranian parties have been designated for highly-attenuated connections with persons alleged to be affiliated with the IRGC. By requiring this report to be made public on U.S. government websites, the bill would also signal to foreign parties that all business with Iran is subject to sanctions risk, rendering Iran a no-go zone for the international business community.

New reporting requirements would limit the President’s discretion to impose sanctions in ways that undermine the Executive’s foreign policy prerogatives.

Section 3 of the bill requires the President to submit reports to Congress on a biannual basis regarding foreign persons determined to engage in transactions with designated Iranian persons. Sanctions are to be imposed with respect to any parties identified in the report. This reporting requirement is consistent with the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” strategy under which the success of U.S. sanctions policy with respect to Iran is predicated on the total number of Iranian parties added to U.S. sanctions lists rather than whether U.S. sanctions have caused the Government of Iran to abandon policies deemed anathema to U.S. interests. This is a myopic view of U.S. sanctions that threatens the effective use of the sanctions tool in the future.

NIAC Statement on Introduction of NO BAN Act and Release of Muslim Ban Data

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, April 10, 2019
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mana@niacaction.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On the heels of new data revealing the widespread impact of the Trump Administration’s Muslim Ban, and as legislation to repeal the ban gained its 100th cosponsor in the House and support from every Presidential candidate in the Senate, new legislation is being introduced in both chambers of Congress today to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to prevent any future discriminatory bans. NIAC applauds Representative Judy Chu (D-CA) and Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) and strongly supports the NO BAN Act (National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants Act).

In response, NIAC Action Executive Director Jamal Abdi issued the following statement:

“The introduction of the NO BAN Act presents a real opportunity for Congress to repeal the Trump administration’s reprehensible Muslim Ban—and help to prevent it from happening again by amending parts of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The Democratic majority in the House and any Republicans who claim independence from President Trump have a golden opportunity to end this shameful Muslim Ban. If Congress chooses to squander this moment then they will find themselves complicit in one of the most discriminatory policies of our time. And the timing couldn’t be better. The act’s introduction comes on the heels of statistics on the Muslim Ban released by the State Department last week, which illustrated the vast impact of the ban and the sham waiver process used by the Supreme Court to uphold it.

“19,163 Iranians were rejected from securing a waiver due to alleged failure to prove that the rejection would cause ‘undue hardship’ or that approval would be in the ‘national interest.’ By contrast, only 413 secured a waiver—meaning for every 47 Iranians considered for a waiver only one is issued. Moreover, only 7 Iranian nationals considered for a waiver were rejected due to national security concerns. While the overall waiver issuance rate is advertised at 6%, the rate for Iranians—the nationality most impacted by the ban—is an abysmal low 1.6%. This more closely resembles a lottery than a genuine waiver process.”

Abdi continued:

“The Trump administration’s own statistics unequivocally prove the waiver provision is a fraud. There is a story behind every rejection—a grandparent hoping to see their grandchild for the first time, a student hoping to return to their studies and finalize their degree, or a partner hoping to reunite with their beloved. Now, these rejections are happening at consulates around the world, out of sight of U.S. cameras.

“We commend Senator Coons and Representative Chu for their commitment to repealing the Muslim Ban and preventing such discriminatory policies from ever materializing again. We also commend Senator Van Hollen for his and his colleagues’ tireless efforts to seek out data on the Muslim Ban in an effort to hold the Trump administration accountable. But now it is up to Congress to build on this new momentum and pass legislation ending the Muslim Ban once and for all.”

We’re Proud to Endorse Parisa Dehghani-Tafti for Virginia’s Commonwealth Attorney of Arlington and the City of Falls Church

NIAC Action is thrilled to officially endorse Parisa Dehghani-Tafti for Virginia’s Commonwealth Attorney of Arlington and the City of Falls Church!

Parisa, a Democrat, announced her candidacy for the Commonwealth’s Attorney seat in December, after 20 years of experience as an attorney and public defender. Currently, she’s an adjunct law professor at Georgetown University Law Center and George Washington University School of Law. She also serves as a senior attorney and legal director of the Mid Atlantic Innocence Project, where she successfully won the first DNA exoneration case in Washington, DC. A dedicated criminal justice activist, Parisa has also been part of several other wrongful conviction cases before the Supreme Court of the United States.

Parisa’s criminal justice ambitions are largely shaped by her experiences working as a defense attorney for clients facing unjust criminal justice practices. She’s uniquely aware of the race and class bias in the criminal justice system, which often unfairly disenfranchises minorities and immigrant communities.

Her campaign is also endorsed and backed by former Governor Terry McAuliffe, Indivisible – Arlington, Arlington Action Group, Our Revolution – Arlington, New Virginia Majority, IBEW Local Union 26, Blue NoVA and Delegate Marcus Simon.

Parisa attended the University of California, Berkeley, where she studied Philosophy and Comparative Literature, and the New York University School of Law. She has lived in Arlington for 11 years with her husband, who is a civil rights lawyer and law professor. They have two children who attend Arlington Public Schools. Parisa serves as Press Chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee and she is a member of the Arlington branch of the NAACP and will be serving on its Criminal Justice Committee.

If you live in Arlington County or the City of Falls Church, you can vote for Parisa on June 11th!

If you’d like to support Parisa’s campaign by making a contribution, you can do so here. If you’d like to get involved with Parisa’s campaign by attending a debate between Parisa and her opponent, canvassing or hosting a meet and greet, visit this link.

Find out more about Parisa on her website and follow her on facebook!

NIAC Applauds Senators Harris, Sanders for Joining Warren in Backing JCPOA Return

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, March 20, 2019
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mana@niacaction.org

Washington, D.C. — Yesterday, reports emerged that 2020 presidential contenders Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders joined Elizabeth Warren in backing the United States’ return to the Iran nuclear deal, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

In response, NIAC Action Executive Director Jamal Abdi issued the following statement:

“We commend Senators Sanders, Harris, and Warren for committing to reversing Trump’s failed Iran policy, and for recognizing the urgent need to return to the JCPOA and the successes resulting from the diplomatic playbook first written under the Obama administration.

“Returning the U.S. to compliance with the JCPOA is a logical first step for the next U.S. president—and candidates like Harris, Sanders, and Warren know this. Their commitment to a policy centered on engagement with Iran advances the Obama administration’s multilateral diplomacy that successfully yielded real security gains. This starkly contrasts with Trump’s impetuous decision to withdraw from the accord and impose sanctions that do nothing more than devastate the Iranian people, increase the risk of a nuclear-armed Iran, and bolster the chance of a disastrous war.”

Abdi continued:

“Both Sanders and Harris elevate diplomacy as the way to address America’s many outstanding concerns with Iran. The reality is that without a return to the deal, the U.S. has no leverage to shape Iran’s calculations, including on human rights and regional issues. The Trump administration has clearly illustrated how America’s failure to abide by its JCPOA commitments has greatly hindered its ability to extract concessions from Iran. Worse yet, Trump has elevated war hawks to key positions in the administration, many of whom hope to drive the U.S. into war with Iran.

“As a JCPOA return emerges as the consensus position for 2020 candidates, we urge all those vying to replace Trump to publicly commit their support for a U.S. JCPOA return. Only by returning to the JCPOA can the U.S. ensure that Iran does not walk away from its far-reaching nuclear commitments and that the window for diplomacy with Iran remains open.”

BREAKING: DNC Adopts Resolution Calling on the U.S. to Re-Enter the Iran Nuclear Accord

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, February 20, 2019
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6319 | mana@niacaction.org

WASHINGTON, DC — Moments ago, the Democratic National Committee officially announced that it has adopted a resolution calling on the U.S. to re-enter the Iran nuclear accord, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The resolution, which was submitted by DNC Committeewoman Yasmine Taeb and adopted over the weekend, will ensure that re-entering the JCPOA is a key priority for the Democratic Party going forward, especially as the Party prepares its platform for the 2020 presidential election. NIAC Action, the political arm of the National Iranian American Council, endorsed Taeb in her race for the Virginia State Senate earlier this year.

VIEW THE RESOLUTION HERE: https://www.niacaction.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/JCPOA.pdf

“As President Trump and his warmongering advisors continue to stoke confrontation with Iran, it is vital that 2020 hopefuls push back on Trump’s reckless actions and voice support for returning to the nuclear accord. Hardly a week goes by without renewed efforts from the Trump Administration to push the nuclear accord toward collapse. If successful, Trump’s team may decimate the chances of any future administration restoring U.S. credibility by returning to the JCPOA. Worse, Trump may start a disastrous war with Iran,” explained Jamal Abdi, President of the National Iranian American Council.

“By prioritizing bringing the U.S. back into compliance with the JCPOA, the Democratic National Committee is recognizing both the danger of Trump’s approach and the urgent need to return to the accord – while signalling both to Iran and to U.S. allies that the days of this reckless foreign policy approach are numbered. Other lawmakers and 2020 hopefuls should follow the lead of the Democratic National Committee and lay out a competing vision to Trump’s bankrupt approach,” Abdi continued.

NIAC has worked to preserve the nuclear agreement by encouraging lawmakers and 2020 candidates to indicate that the U.S. will return to the deal under a new administration. The group’s first step in this effort was publishing a report last fall which outlined why Congress and 2020 Presidential candidates should commit to returning the U.S. to the Iran deal. Since then, presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar have both signaled that they favor returning the U.S. to the deal.

“We know saving the deal will not be easy— in fact, the Trump administration’s drive to destabilize Iran and trigger military action is already accelerating. Just this past week, the Trump Administration called on Europe to kill the nuclear agreement and Benjamin Netanyahu suggested Israel and Arab states are working towards a war with Iran. NIAC will continue working overtime to prevent war with Iran, including working with 2020 candidates and Congress,” added Abdi.

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NIAC Action is the grassroots, civic action organization committed to advancing peace and championing the priorities of the Iranian-American community. We are a nonpartisan nonprofit and the 501(c)4 sister organization of the National Iranian American Council, which works to strengthen the Iranian-American community and promote greater understanding between the U.S. and Iran.

NIAC Action Stands with Representative Ilhan Omar Against Partisan Attacks

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

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

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

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NIAC Action Calls for Norooz Resolution in California

Today, we sent a letter to California Assembly Member Nazarian to support ACR 2 and recognize Norooz on March 21, 2019 as “the beginning of the Persian New Year and would extend best wishes for a peaceful and prosperous Norooz to all Californians.”

Recognizing Norooz reflects the rich diversity of California. It would give recognition to the growing Iranian-American community and honor its many contributions to the fields of business, arts, education, civic life, and beyond. It would further reaffirm that Iranian Americans are an integral part of California and promote American values of cultural pluralism and inclusion.

Read the full letter that we sent below. 

Norooz Resolution – Final

NIAC Action Is Proud to Endorse Yasmine Taeb for Virginia State Senate

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Saturday, February 2, 2019
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | mana@niacaction.org

VIRGINIA — NIAC Action is proud to announce its official endorsement of Yasmine Taeb, candidate for Virginia’s 35th Senate District. Yasmine is waging a primary challenge against the Virginia Senate’s Democratic Minority Leader, Dick Saslaw.

“Yasmine has been on the front lines standing up for the Iranian-American community and against the bigotry that Trump rode to the White House. We are proud to have worked with her, and are thrilled to endorse her candidacy for State Senate today,” said Jamal Abdi, President of NIAC Action. “Whether leading marches against the Muslim ban, advocating for human rights, or blazing a trail at the DNC, Yasmine has the leadership and vision to give the 35th Senate district of Virginia a champion of its values and to make our community proud.”

Yasmine’s dedication to championing progressive values is a result of her own origins. At the age of six, she fled Iran with her family to escape the Iran-Iraq war. Being an Iranian-American immigrant has afforded her a unique, nuanced understanding of the needs of underrepresented groups. As a longtime Northern Virginia resident, Yasmine has worked diligently to highlight women’s issues and to eliminate unlawful discrimination. Her experience has emboldened her to advocate for the same marginalized communities regressive politicians like Northam and Saslaw have abandoned. 

Yasmine Taeb has joined other Virginia Democrats in calling for Governor Ralph Northam to resign after shocking photos emerged showing the governor in racist attire. Yasmine’s opponent, Dick Saslaw, was the only Democrat in the General Assembly to defend Northam, and characterized the outrageous photos as a mere youthful indiscretion. Saslaw’s attempt to excuse this behavior underscores the importance of bringing new leadership to Richmond.

As a lifelong activist committed to amplifying the voices of those frequently sidelined and marginalized by regressive politicians, Yasmine will stand firmly against the bigotry driving today’s politics. Yasmine serves as Senior Policy Counsel at the Center for Victims of Torture and has dedicated her career to public advocacy and service, including serving as a 2012 NIAC Congressional Fellow. Yasmine has been endorsed by more than 50 community leaders and local elected officials, including by the leaders of Indivisible, MoveOn, PCCC, and Demand Progress and by progressive groups such as the Progressive Democrats of America – VA, Our Revolution Northern Virginia, and Emgage PAC.

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NIAC Action Statement on New Legislation to Defund and Repeal Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, January 28, 2019
CONTACT: Brett Abrams | brett@unbendablemedia.com

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) introduced legislation to defund and repeal President Trump’s Muslim travel ban. In reaction to the legislation, Jamal Abdi, President of NIAC Action, the civic action arm of the National Iranian American Council, issued the following statement:

“With a Democratic majority in the House, the vote on repealing the Muslim Ban that was blocked by Paul Ryan for two years can finally move forward. It is crucial that the House majority make its voice heard that all walls are unacceptable — including a ban now taking place in the shadows — and to act instead of allowing the ban to become the status quo.

“The Muslim ban was Trump’s top priority upon entering office. Now, ending it must be a top priority for the 116th Congress. Sen. Murphy and Rep. Chu deserve tremendous credit for continuing to champion the effort to overturn the Muslim ban, and have the profound thanks of the Iranian-American community and all impacted groups.

“Meanwhile, the House’s power to investigate and subpoena the administration can yield immediate practical impacts. At last count, less than 3% of eligible waivers are being issued. Consular officials have revealed that the waiver process is a sham intended to shield a blanket ban from scrutiny. Only the most extraordinary cases seem to get through, and often only through public pressure.

“The new Congress can force the Administration to reveal what is going on with these waivers and force them to fix it until we can repeal the ban for good. They can investigate the ‘extreme vetting’ and other measures that have managed to reduce visas from Muslim majority countries writ large, not just the ones Trump was able to ban.

“With the new Congress, we can finally turn the tide against this abomination. But only if Speaker Pelosi and Congressional Democrats make tearing down Trump’s first wall a priority. And only if, instead of suffering in silence, those of us impacted and our allies who turned out to airports to stand with us two years ago make their voices heard once again.”

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Members of Congress Join Iranian-American and Muslim Groups, Civil Liberties Advocates To Announce Legislation to Repeal Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban

MEDIA ADVISORY FOR: Monday, January 28, 2019 — 6:00pm ET
CONTACT: Brett Abrams | brett@unbendablemedia.com

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Monday, January 28th, on the heels of the two-year anniversary of Trump’s January 27th, 2017 executive order banning entry into the United States for citizens from several Muslim-majority nations, Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) will hold a press conference to announce legislation to defund the latest version of the ‘Muslim Ban’ immediately. The members of Congress will be joined by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) as well as advocates from the National Iranian American Council Action (NIAC Action), MPAC, the ACLU, NILC, OXAM and members of communities impacted by the ban.

WHAT: Press conference announcing new legislation to defund the ‘Muslim Ban’
WHEN: Monday, January 28th. 6:00pm ET
WHERE: Capitol Hill. First St SE. CVC 217 South. Washington, DC 20004
SPEAKERS INCLUDE: Sen. Chris Murphy, Rep. Judy Chu, Rep. Ilhan Omar, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, and advocates from the MPAC, ACLU, NILC, OXFAM and the National Iranian American Council (NIAC Action)
FOR MORE INFORMATION: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/commemorating-two-years-of-resistance-no-muslim-ban-ever-tickets-55302585522
ON-THE-GROUND CONTACT: Adam Weinstein | 1-216-544-0898 | adam@niacaction.org

“As we commemorate the two-year anniversary of the Muslim Ban, we must remember that this unjust law has torn apart families, separated spouses, and extinguished dreams as President Trump’s allies in Congress stayed silent. Now, with a new Congress entering office, we can finally place a check on this presidency, beginning with repealing this un-American ban on our families,” explained Jamal Abdi, President of the NIAC Action. “The Muslim Ban’s origins, numerous statements by President Trump, and the implementation of these and other policies impacting targeted communities make clear this administration’s desire to implement a discriminatory policy as a part of a nationalist agenda – and its long past time that Congress stood up and told the President that they will not stand for this racist, un-American policy.”

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