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NIAC's Guide to Attending a Town Hall Meeting

Town halls are a great opportunity to communicate directly with your elected officials and an important way for Iranian Americans to make sure our representatives in the House and the Senate hear directly from us about the issues our community cares about most.

town hall

Town halls are a great opportunity to communicate directly with your elected officials and an important way for Iranian Americans to make sure our representatives in the House and the Senate hear directly from us about the issues our community cares about most.

If you are planning to attend a town hall, use this guide to help you make the most of it.  Let us know if you are planning to attend a town hall and we can help you coordinate and answer any questions you may have.

Checklist for attending a town hall:

1) Find out if your Representative or Senator is holding a town hall in your area--NIAC sends out alerts in key districts, but you can also consult your elected officials' websites for news on upcoming town halls.  Make sure to figure out where the town hall is located, what time to arrive, directions, parking info and how you will get there

2) Invite some friends to join you.

3) Come up with one or two questions that you would like to ask your elected official.

4) When you arrive at the town hall, make sure you get a chance to ask your question!  Sometimes the Representative/Senator’s staff will be there to take your questions beforehand, but sometimes it will just be a matter of raising your hand.

5) Be respectful, but don’t be afraid to express your opinion!

6) Let us know how it went--did you get to ask a question?  What was the response?

Need some help coming up with questions to ask your elected official?  Here are some ideas: 

1) Do you support an Iran policy that prioritizes human rights and, if so, what are you doing in Congress to support this priority?   

2) Are you in favor of broad sanctions against Iran that will impose pain on ordinary Iranians?  Do you support diplomacy with Iran? 

3) Under current sanctions, it is illegal for humanitarian organizations to work in Iran unless they get explicit authorization from the U.S. government, which is rarely provided.  Do you think it’s right for the U.S. government to deny Americans from working to help the Iranian people?  Would you support H.R.4303, the Stand with the Iranian People Act, which would allow American charities and relief organizations to work in Iran?   

4) What is your position regarding “the military option” with Iran?  What is the best way to make sure the U.S. does not go to war with Iran? 

5) What is your view on immigration policy for Iranians?  Do you believe allowing more Iranians and Iranian students to come to the U.S is mutually beneficial?  Currently, Iranian students studying in the U.S. are only granted single entry visas, meaning they cannot return home to visit their families, even in the case of an emergency, without losing their visa.  Would you support allowing Iranian students to have multiple entry visas? 

More information on issues and legislation important to the Iranian American community:

Human Rights

Lift the ban humanitarian aid to Iranians: support the Stand With the Iranian People Act (SWIPA - H.R.4303)

  • The United States’ dispute with Iran lies with the Government of Iran, not innocent Iranians
  • Currently it is illegal for American charities and relief organizations to provide humanitarian assistance to Iranians without a special license, which is often impossible to obtain
  •  SWIPA lifts the ban and allows Americans and the Iranian people to work together for humanitarian purposes
  • SWIPA also imposes travel restrictions against human rights abusers in the Iranian government and ends all US contracts with companies that provide Iran’s government censorship technology

Support Internet freedom for Iranians: cosponsor the Iranian Digital Empowerment Act: IDEA (H.R.4301)

  • Under current policies, it’s illegal for Americans to send software to Iranians
  • In March, the Obama Administration allowed an exception that would allow free instant messaging software to be available in Iran
  • But all other software is still banned without special permission, including anti-censorship and anti-surveillance software that would enable Iranians to communicate freely 
  • IDEA would allow Iranians to have access to anti-censorship and anti-filtering software that will allow them to access vital news and information on the Internet

Immigration

Address policies that unfairly target Iranian students: fix the single-entry visa policy

  • Iranians studying in the U.S. are only able to obtain a single-entry visa under current policies
  • This means that Iranian students cannot visit their family or travel abroad for the entire duration of their studies without losing their student visa, even in case of family emergency
  • This policy is causing more and more Iranian students to go to school somewhere else, rather than attending US universities
  • Iranian students shouldn’t be barred from visiting their families or attending international conferences, and they shouldn’t have to choose between a great education and their freedom to move around—the President and Congress must act to fix this

Stand up against discriminatory immigration proposals: oppose the STEP ACT (H.R.4441)

  • This legislation bans all visas for Iranians to study, work, or visit their family in the US
  • This bill labels Iranians, the vast majority of whom who have positive views of the U.S., as terrorists
  • At the Iranian people’s greatest moment of need, this bill imposes even greater burdens on Iranians seeking refuge

Support a path to citizenship for young Iranians: Support the DREAM Act (H.R.1751/S.729)

  • Iranians who are undocumented aliens but who were brought to the US when they were too young to have a choice in the matter should not face deportation
  • The DREAM Act would grant a green cards for undocumented aliens who came to the US as children, have lived in the US for at least 5 years, and have completed a two-year college degree or two years of military service
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The resolution also condemns the Iranian Governments  “use of its nuclear program to distract attention from its horrific abuses of the human rights of the Iranian people”.

 

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