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
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.
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.