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Senator Mikulski Tells NIAC Members 'You Don't Have to Melt to Be American'

Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski, who recently won a fourth term to the US Senate, gave a warm welcome to her Iranian-American constituents at a meeting organized by NIAC on February 15.

Washington, D.C. Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski, who recently won a fourth term to the US Senate, gave a warm welcome to her Iranian-American constituents at a meeting organized by NIAC on February 15.

Participants at the meeting were all NIAC members that live in the state of Maryland. After an introduction to the Iranian-American community and NIAC’s Congressional breakfast series, participants took turns addressing issues they wanted to discuss with their Senator.

Senator Mikulski, who attended the meeting with her legislative director and another chief advisor, listened and offered her views on the various issues raised.

They ranged from the availability of health care for small businesses, affordable housing and education in Maryland, the national debt, academic and scholarly exchange with Iran, and the broader issue of U.S. foreign policy on Iran in light of current tensions.

Senator Mikulski recognized the Iranian-American community as one with “a strong ethnic heritage, a strong cultural heritage, and not a monolithic community.”

The Senator spoke about her record and support for legislation on health care, co-sponsoring the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit along with Senator Ted Kennedy. She also expressed support for making education affordable and accessible by extending Pell Grants, offering tax breaks and college tuition tax credits.

In light of U.S. tensions with Iran, the Senator was eager to discuss the issue with her Iranian-American constituents. She said that she was deeply troubled about Iran developing a nuclear weapon, and expressed the need for robust diplomacy.

Senator Mikulski asked for a regularity of meetings and thanked her constituents for taking the time to meet with her. She told the participants, “I view America as a mosaic, not a melting pot. You don’t have to melt to be American. Your heritage is part of your identity, part of your backbone. What makes us American is our respect for rule of law, the constitution and the belief in equality.

Senator Mikulski concluded the meeting by recognizing the challenges faced by Iranian Americans in the United States. “I know being Iranian American has been difficult. I want to acknowledge that.”

Jamal Rostami found meeting with his Senator rewarding and empowering. “This was a very nice experience where we can meet legislators in person and express our concerns on issues which are important to us, personally, and to our community at large, with our own tone, voice and sentiments. This way of communication seems to go much farther than when views are expressed by an organization through polls and numbers and electronic signature.”

NIAC Board member and Mikluski constituent Djamshid Foroughi also attended the meeting. “The opportunity provided to meet with Sen. Mikulski and other members of Congress is at the core of the benefits NIAC provides to its membership. Gaining political access, education, integration - through NIAC-based programs and initiatives - will undoubtedly lead to Iranian Americans becoming a determining political force in America's future,” he concluded.

 

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