We the undersigned strongly oppose any efforts to destabilize Iran and bring about its economic collapse. The people of Iran have struggled to achieve democratic rule and independence for more than a century, and while this noble struggle has both made positive strides and suffered setbacks, outside interference has invariably undermined their efforts and strengthened Iran’s authoritarian rulers
Today, the Iranian people’s struggle continues unabated. The Iranian government’s mismanagement and corruption have once again increased the people’s suffering and both political and economic frustration is on the rise. The Iranian government’s ability to adequately meet the demands of the people remains unclear.
Iran’s only chance to achieve a sustainable democracy that reflects the wishes of its people comes from a process driven by the people of Iran, for the people of Iran. In short, change must come from inside of Iran – not from Washington or anywhere else. It is also crucial to bear in mind that Iranians have a long history with the United States, one that is alive in the memory of even young Iranians, and would compel them to respond to any American destabilisation with wariness and hostility. However, efforts to bring about the collapse of the Iranian economy through external pressures and sanctions, or a US-sponsored regime change in Iran (in the image of Iraq) will not bring about democracy in Iran but rather destabilize the country and put democracy out of the reach of the Iranian people. That is what it did in Iraq, where after a decade of devastating instability with more than 500,000 dead, Iraq holds elections but is far from a democracy that reflects the hopes and aspirations of its people.
Support for violent organizations such as the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) – which has used terror to kill Iranians and Americans alike – by key advisors to and Members of the Trump administration raises serious concerns as to whether your administration’s objective is to support the Iranian people’s struggle for democracy and independence or to use their legitimate grievances to destabilize Iran and turn it into a failed state. Indeed, your administration’s treatment of Iranians by preventing them en masse from traveling to the United States, certainly did not reflect any positive intent towards the people of Iran.
We urge you to cease all efforts to destabilize Iran and repeat the costly mistake the US committed in Iraq. If you truly wish to help the people of Iran, lift the Travel ban, adhere to the Iran nuclear deal—the JCPOA—and provide the people of Iran the economic relief they were promised and have eagerly awaited for three years, as every independent media has reported.
Those measures, more than anything, will provide the Iranian people with the breathing space to do what only they can do – push Iran towards democracy through a gradual process that achieves the benefits of freedom and liberty without turning Iran into another Iraq or Syria.
Sign Our Open Letter to PompeoRead the petition
Join Prominent Iranian-Americans, including:
Farrokh Negahdar, Pro-reform Political Activist; Mohsen Kadivar, Professor, Duke University; Reza Aslan, Best-Selling Author; Sanam Naraghi, ICAN; Farshad Farahat, Actor; Ahmad Kiarostami, Kiarostami Foundation; Touraj Daryaee, Professor of History; Gholam Peyman, Inventor of Lasik; Mehran Kamrava, Professor, Georgetown University-Qatar; Farideh Farhi, Independent Scholar; Steven Saeed Nasiri, Nasiri Ventures; Hamid Dabashi, Professor, Columbia University; Asieh Namdar, Journalist; Ervand Abrahamian, Professor Emeritus, CUNY; Muhammad Sahimi, Professor, University of Southern California; Trita Parsi, President, NIAC; Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, Professor, University of London; Arang Keshavarzian, Professor, New York University; Nader Hashemi, Professor, University of Denver; Ali Kadivar, Professor, Boston College; Mahmoud Sadri, Professor, Texas Woman’s University; Ahmad Sadri, Professor of Sociology; Eskandar Sadeghi-Boroujerdi, University of Oxford; Jamal Abdi, Executive Director, NIAC Action; Danesh Moradigaravand, Research Associate at Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute; Arash Eshghi, Heriot-Watt University; Banafsheh Madaninejad, Southwestern University; Siobhan Amin; Ahmad Shams; Dianati Elmira; Mohammad Reza Salehpour, University of Texas; Mark Amin; Danesh Moradigaravand, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute; Seyed Hosseini, Retired Railroad Director; Masoud Loghmani; Ali Fatemi, DePaul University; Sahar Hooshdaran; Amirhassan Boozari, UCLA; Homayoon Kazerooni, University of California at Berkeley; Goudarz Eghtedari, Systems Scientist; Hadi Enayat, Aga Khan University; Ziba Mir-Hosseini, SOAS, University of London; Fatemeh Keshavarz-Karamustafa, Professor, University of Maryland; Sussan Siavoshi, Trinity University; Dina Esfandiary, CSIS; Yashar Salek; Parsa Sorbi, Persian TV Host; Kia Hamadanchy; Ardavan Moaveni; Ali Khademhosseini, UCLA; Mina Houtan, Houtan Foundation; Kevan Harris, UCLA; Mojtaba Mahdavi, University of Alberta, Canada; Noosheen Hashemi
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The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) is looking for a highly motivated and dedicated Office Administrator to join our team. The Office Administrator provides accounting and administrative support to NIAC and its staff to help advance our mission of strengthening the voice of Iranian Americans and promoting greater understanding between the American and Iranian people. S/he reports to the COO.
- Financial & Accounting: Assistant external accountant by coding expenses and revenues in QuickBooks Online. Process invoices and reimbursements for payment. Prepare checks for signature to pay bills/invoices as needed. Prepare bank deposits. Gather and organize account statements for reconciliation by accountant.
- Donation Processing & Database Management: Process donations and maintain donor records in EveryAction database. Provide ongoing maintenance of supporter records and account information to ensure clean and accurate data. Mail correspondence as appropriate to donors and supporters in coordination with Development Consultant. Provide donor database support to other staff members as needed.
- Reception & Inquiry Management: Welcome and direct visitors and route or respond to incoming calls and email inquiries as appropriate. Process mail.
- Recruit and Manage Interns: Place ads as needed to recruit for internships; maintain correspondence with applicants; interview, screen, and onboard interns.
- Document Management: Manages document retention and maintains an organized filing system for financial and other retained records.
- Office Upkeep: Maintain inventory of supplies and order office supplies and equipment as needed. Maintain office space appearance and arrange repairs as needed.
- Budgeting Support: Prepare budget for basic office supplies and services.
- Travel Logistics: Book airfare and lodging accommodations for traveling staff as requested.
- Employee Records: Assists the COO with employee onboarding, ensure timesheets are completed on time, and maintain accurate records for employee holiday requests.
- Organize Staff Gatherings: Plan in-house or off-site activities, such as intern appreciate lunches or holiday gatherings
- Meeting Management and Reporting: Assist with meeting agenda preparation, maintain and distribute accurate meeting notes, and assist with preparation of monthly reports to the Board
- Other Support: Provides support with additional administrative and other duties as required by the COO or Executive Director, and may support NIAC events as needed.
- Associate’s degree (Bachelor’s preferred)
- Experience with QuickBooks Online and/or general accounting experience
- Relevant work experience, preferably in a nonprofit setting
- Familiarity with the Iranian-American community and Persian (Farsi) language ability a major plus
- Proficiency with Microsoft Word and Excel
- Support for NIAC’s mission
- Strong attention to detail
- Highly organized with solid time management skills
- Highly responsible, takes initiative and finds ways to improve systems and outcomes
- Manages and communicates up effectively
- Excellent communications and customer service skills
Send cover letter and resume to David Elliott at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Office Administrator” in the subject line. No calls please.
Salary for the position is $35,000 – $42,000, depending on experience. Compensation includes Fortune 100-style benefits:
- Generous medical, dental, vision, long-term disability, and life insurance plan subsidies (a value of at least $3,600.)
- 15 days of annual paid leave and 12 paid holidays
- 401K with 2% company match
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jamal Abdi
Washington, D.C. – Jamal Abdi, the Vice President for Policy of the National Iranian American Council, issued the following statement in response to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement that he will address Iranian Americans in Simi Valley later this month:
“The quest for human rights and democracy in Iran can only be owned by the Iranian people. It cannot be owned by the U.S., Israel, or Saudi Arabia. It cannot be decided by Iran’s government or even Iranian exiles.
“What President Trump and Secretary Pompeo want is to exploit Iranian Americans and co-opt the Iranian people to provide legitimacy for the Trump Administration’s Iraq War redux for Iran. Just as the Bush Administration cultivated a few Iraqi exiles and talked about human rights to provide legitimacy for a disastrous invasion of Iraq, the Trump Administration appears intent on using Iranian exiles to advance dangerous policies that will leave the Iranian people as its primary victims.
“If Sec. Pompeo really wants the Iranian-American community to embrace the Trump agenda, he must start with a sincere apology and rescind Trump’s ban that is dividing Iranian Americans from their friends and loved ones in Iran. He should apologize for the Administration’s move to banish the most prominent Iranian-American national security official from policymaking decisions due to her heritage. Moreover, he should apologize for the decision to strip the Iranian people of their hope for relief from sanctions and greater connections with the outside world, instead ensuring they will be crushed between U.S. sanctions and resurgent hardline forces in Iran’s government that have benefited from Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear accord.
“It should be abundantly clear that Secretary Pompeo, who called for bombing Iran instead of negotiations, is no friend of the Iranian people. Similarly, Trump – whose national security advisor and lawyer have elevated the voices of an undemocratic, human rights abusing cult, the MEK, to become the next leadership of Iran – does not have the Iranian people’s best interests at heart. The Trump Administration’s close coordination with Benjamin Netanyahu and Mohammad Bin Salman, who are motivated by their own political gain and regional power dynamics rather than any love for democracy or the Iranian people, should dispel any notion this campaign is about helping ordinary Iranians.
“As Americans, we have a vital role to play in ensuring our democratically elected government does not start wars on false pretenses or destroy lives in our names. As Iranian Americans, our voices are particularly vital when it comes to the U.S. government’s efforts regarding our ancestral homeland. We will not be exploited or silenced at this critical moment in history.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jamal Abdi
Washington, D.C. – Jamal Abdi, Vice President for Policy of the National Iranian American Council, issued the following statement welcoming the appointment of Dr. Javaid Rehman as the next UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran:
“The appointment of Dr. Rehman to serve as the next Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran will ensure the continuation of important and neutral work aimed at holding Iran’s government accountable to its international human rights obligations. The recent arrest of Nasrin Sotoudeh, a prominent human rights lawyer who had previously been unjustly imprisoned in Iran, underscores the continuing failure of Iran to live up to its international obligations and the need for Dr. Rehman to pick up on the important work of his predecessors. The Special Rapporteur position had been vacant following the tragic passing of the last Special Rapporteur, Asma Jahangir, in February.
“NIAC was a key supporter of the reestablishment of the Special Rapporteur mandate in 2011 and has supported its subsequent extension in recent years. The reports produced by the Special Rapporteurs have helped document human rights abuses, including arbitrary arrests, discriminatory treatment of women and religious minorities, and deeply concerning executions. These balanced reports provide an important opportunity for the Rapporteur, backed by the UN and broader international community, to press Iran to abide by the recommendations of the report and move toward compliance with its human rights obligations.
“It is ironic that the appointment of Dr. Rehman follows the withdrawal of the U.S. from the UN Human Rights Council just last month. Rather than work through multilateral mechanisms that have proven successful at pressuring and engaging Iran, the Trump administration has chosen to isolate itself and reduce its leverage. Fortunately, the work of the Special Rapporteur for human rights in Iran will continue in spite of this administration’s preference for unilateral demands over patient and good-faith multilateral diplomacy.
“We urge Iran to comply with the requests of Dr. Rehman, including any requests for meetings with Iranian officials and visits to the country. Moreover, we urge Iran to fully implement the recommendations of Dr. Rehman and past reports.”
The Supreme Court’s Muslim Ban opinion can be divided into three parts: (1) the majority opinion, also known as the opinion of the Court; (2) concurring opinions that support the opinion of the Court but wish to expand upon it; and (3) the dissenting opinions that disagree with the opinion of the Court. The opinion of the Court was delivered by Justice Roberts and joined by Justices Kennedy, Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch to uphold the latest iteration of the Muslim Ban. This means that the case returns to the lower court for additional litigation but the Muslim Ban will remain in effect for the foreseeable future. The summary below is intended to provide a basic outline of the decision for a reader unfamiliar with law and some of the Court’s more complex arguments have been simplified for clarity.
- Summary of the Majority Opinion: It is within President Trump’s discretion to suspend the entry of aliens to the US if he determines their entry would be detrimental to US interests or if the policy is plausibly related to the Government’s stated objective which in this case is to protect the country’s national security. Therefore, Proclamation 9645 is lawful.
- The President has broad discretion under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to suspend the entry of aliens into the US. The INA §1182(f) gives the President “ample power” to restrict entry of aliens if their entry “would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.”
- The President is also not required to provide an end date for his suspension of entry and the existing vetting procedures do not address the failure of particular high-risk countries to provide reliable information.
- The INA distinguishes between admissibility, i.e. general eligibility to receive a visa, and allocation of immigrant visas. It is forbidden to discriminate based on nationality in the case of visa issuances but the President is permitted to restrict eligibility in the first place on the basis of nationality.
- When the Court strikes down a policy under rational-basis scrutiny it looks to see if the policy is divorced from any factual basis and this is not the case for the Proclamation because the Muslim-majority countries included in it were previously designated and a worldwide review process was undertaken by the Trump administration.
- The majority addressed the dissent’s reference to Korematsu v. United States, a Supreme Court case from 1944 that upheld the policy of placing Japanese Americans in internment camps, and determined that the set of facts between the two cases are entirely different. However, the Court took the opportunity to formally reject the Korematsu decision.
- Summary of Dissenting Opinions: Proclamation 9645 should fail the rational-basis scrutiny test because it is not rooted in facts and there is an extensive record of anti-Muslim animus among President Trump and others in his administration involved in the implementation of the Muslim Ban. Additionally, publicly available information suggests that the waiver process has not been applied adequately which further places the intent of the Muslim Ban into question because a significant number of individuals who do not pose a national security risk to the US should qualify for a waiver. Lastly, the record itself does not indicate that there is any evidence that the Muslim Ban was designed based on national security concerns.
- The dissent written by Justice Breyer and joined by Justice Kagan rejects the majority opinion that Proclamation 9645 was not significantly affected by animus against Muslims. It places significant emphasis on whether the waiver provision of the ban is being implemented fairly and Justice Breyer writes “How could the Government successfully claim that the Proclamation rests on security needs if it is excluding Muslims who satisfy the Proclamation’s own terms? At the same time, denying visas to Muslims who meet the Proclamation’s own security terms would support the view that the Government excludes them for reasons based upon their religion.” Justice Breyer expressed serious concern that the waiver provision is not being applied adequately both due to the lack of guidance provided to consular offices and based on publicly available information that shows low waiver issuances and dwindling visas even for categories that are permitted under the ban such as student visas.
- Justice Sotomayor wrote a separate dissent and was joined by Justice Ginsburg. It opens by asserting that “based on the evidence in the record, a reasonable observer would conclude that the Proclamation was motivated by anti-Muslim animus. That alone suffices to show that plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of their Establishment Clause claim.” The Establishment Clause of the Constitution forbids the government from favoring or disfavoring any one religion. Justice Sotomayor argued that the background of the ban is enough to convince a reasonable observer that it was enacted for the purpose of disfavoring Muslims. She accused the majority of downplaying the full record of President Trump’s hostility toward Muslims to simply gloss over a few of his most egregious anti-Muslim statements and then fail to address them in its analysis. The dissent questions the majority’s use of rational-basis scrutiny as a standard of review rather than heightened scrutiny which it argues should be applied in the case of a policy involving discrimination on the basis of religion.
- Justice Sotomayor contends, however, that even under rational-basis scrutiny, the Muslim Ban is unconstitutional because it is divorced from any factual context that could discern a relationship to a legitimate state interest. She asserts that the worldwide review process was conducted by officials who themselves have expressed hostility toward Muslims and the inclusion of North Korea and Venezuela in the ban was intended “precisely so the Executive Branch could evade criticism or legal consequences for the Proclamation’s otherwise clear targeting of Muslims.” Furthermore, former high-ranking national security officials have indicated that the ban does not enhance the security of the US and Congress has already erected a statutory scheme that adequately protects national security interests.
This Question & Answers page is designed to answer your questions in regard to Trump’s Muslim Ban 3.0 after the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold it on June 26th.
What has changed?
Unfortunately, not much. If you were impacted by the Muslim Ban last week then you are still impacted by it today. What has changed is how we are fighting the Muslim Ban. We have always focused on a dual strategy of legal challenges and legislative initiatives. That is why our sister organization, NIAC Action, will double-down with other allied organizations to lay the groundwork for legislative repeal of the Muslim Ban. We will win this fight but until that happens we will continue to provide you with guidance on the ban.
Who is still affected by the ban?
The issuance of immigrant visas (including “green card lottery” diversity visas) to nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, and North Korea is suspended indefinitely. Permanent residence applications are not being processed for the listed countries. This means no immigrant visas will be issued or processed. The entry of nonimmigrants from Iran is also suspended, with the exception of student visa holders (F and M visas), or exchange visitor visas (J visas). B-1/B-2 nonimmigrant visas are suspended for nationals of Libya and Yemen. Certain Venezuelan government officials and their families are also barred from entry on B-1/B-2 visas. No nonimmigrant visas will be issued to Syrians or North Koreans. Somalis are subject to additional scrutiny but remain eligible for nonimmigrant visas.
Who is not affected by the ban?
The ban does not apply to individuals from the included countries who have been granted asylum or are already admitted as refugees inside the US.
Iranians on F, M, and J visas should be subjected to standard visa issuance procedures and not affected by the Muslim Ban.
Certain nonimmigrants from Libya (except B-1/B-2 visas), Yemen (except B-1/B-2 visas) and Venezuela (except certain government officials and their families) will be permitted to enter.
The suspension of entry will not apply to travelers with other travel documents such as a transportation letter or advance parole document.
Section 3 of the Proclamation allows for case-by-case waivers for individuals otherwise barred from entry when the following conditions are met:
- A foreign national demonstrates undue hardship.
- Their entry would not pose a threat to national security or public safety.
- Their entry is in the national interest.
In practice it remains unclear what particular cases actually qualify for a waiver and the issuance of one is highly unpredictable. More information is provided in the section on waivers.
If I have a multiple-entry visa can I travel outside the U.S. and return?
This is by far one of the most common questions that U.S. visa-holders from the countries included in the Muslim Ban ask. The short answer is “yes” but do so with caution. For example, if you have a valid multiple-entry F1 visa then you can travel outside of the U.S. and return. We have heard of Iranian students with multiple-entry F1 visas who visited Iran since Muslim Ban 3.0 took effect and then returned to their studies in the U.S. without any issues. However, it is important to remember that U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents can deny you entry to the U.S. even if you have a valid visa. There is always a risk of being turned away at the border and this risk existed prior to the Muslim Ban but appears to have risen slightly.
If I have a multiple-entry student visa, what do I need to travel outside the U.S. and return?
Since the vast majority of individuals who ask this question hold student visas, the next question will address what an F1 multiple-entry visa holder needs to travel outside the U.S. and return.
- Valid passport with 6 months left before expiration with a valid multiple-entry visa stamped in it.
- Valid I-20 with a signature from your ISO advisor on page 2 that is less than one year old.
- Proof of financial support (e.g., award letters, bank statements).
- Proof of university enrollment (e.g., admission letter, university ID, class registration).
- Form I-901.
- Check with your international student services for their list of recommended documents before departing as this list is subject to change.
It is best to bring as much documentation as possible. Additionally, while it is unnecessary to document your reason for travel, it always helps to be able to provide proof where possible (e.g., a wedding invitation) in case you are subjected to secondary screening.
Did the Supreme Court clarify the waiver process?
No. One dissenting opinion, i.e., the opinion of a judge who disagreed with the majority ruling, argues that the available evidence suggests that the waiver process is a sham as so few are granted. This depiction is backed up by the testimonials of consular officers, who have described the waiver process as a “fraud.” As letters responding to Sen. Van Hollen’s queries have clarified, very few waivers have been granted – less than 2% of applicants from Muslim-majority countries under the ban received a waiver, almost all of which were granted after Congress requested information from the administration.
Section 3 of the Proclamation allows for case-by-case waivers for individuals otherwise barred from entry when the foreign national demonstrates (1) undue hardship, (2) that their entry would not pose a threat to national security, and (3) that their entry is in the national interest. It remains unclear what circumstances satisfy these criteria but a medical emergency of a close family member is one situation that could hypothetically qualify for a waiver. Some individuals with fiances and spouses who have been impacted by the Muslim Ban have incorrectly presumed that a close relationship with a US person on its own satisfies the waiver standard. This does not appear to be the case. NIAC Action will continue to challenge this in Congress. For now, we recommend that anyone who believes they have a compelling case for a waiver continue to apply for a visa. Individuals in the US can also ask their legislators to check in with the administration on individual visa applications, which could help secure a waiver for family members of friends.
Is this permanent? Will banned classes of Iranians never be able to come as a result of this Ban?
Muslim Ban 3.0 does not have a set expiration date and the Supreme Court decision held that “the President is not required to prescribe in advance a fixed end date for the entry restriction.” We are confident that we will eventually defeat the Muslim Ban and “extreme vetting” procedures legislatively. This will be done through NIAC Action’s support of political candidates who are dedicated to rescinding the ban, keeping the issue in the spotlight, and working with partner organizations and allied lawmakers on a legislative solution.
Will Green Card holders be affected?
Under the terms of the proclamation, entry suspensions will not apply to lawful permanent residents of the United States, commonly referred to as LPR’s or Green Card holders. However, green card applications are not being processed.
How does Muslim Ban 3.0 affect dual nationals?
Dual nationals who are traveling on a passport issued by a country other than the eight covered countries will not be affected. So if you are a citizen of an EU country, for example, and also hold an Iranian passport, as long as you are entering the US on a passport issued by the EU country you will not be affected by the proclamation. However, nationals of the seven banned countries under Muslim Ban 3.0 will still need a valid F, M, or J visa. Dual Iranian nationals with visas issued prior to October 18, 2017 will not have their visas revoked, but it remains to be seen whether they will be permitted to enter the United States, as the language of the proclamation is unclear on this point.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jamal Abdi, Vice President of Policy – 202.386.6408, email@example.com
Trita Parsi, President – 202.386.6325, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mahsa Payesteh, Outreach Director – 214.236.4440, email@example.com
Ryan Costello, Assistant Policy Director – 703.963.1901, firstname.lastname@example.org
Adam Weinstein, Policy Associate – 202.386.6319, email@example.com
Experts from the National Iranian American Council are available to discuss the Supreme Court’s outrageous decision to uphold Donald Trump’s Muslim ban and the necessity for Congress to take action to end the ban once and for all.
Iranians and their Iranian-American families in the U.S. have been the group most impacted by the ban. Families have been ripped apart with no end in sight and students have been unable to pursue their dreams. The Iranian-American community has been praised by the Trump White House as one of the most successful immigrant communities in the United States, yet will be barred on a permanent basis because of Trump’s ban and the Supreme Court’s morally hollow decision.
The following experts are available to discuss this dark day for American justice:
Jamal Abdi is Vice President for Policy for the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) and the Executive Director of NIAC Action. He leads NIAC’s advocacy and education on civil rights and immigration issues, as well as diplomacy with Iran. He formerly served as Policy Advisor on foreign affairs, immigration, and defense issues in the U.S. Congress. Abdi has written for The New York Times, CNN, Foreign Policy, and blogs at The Huffington Post. He is a frequent guest contributor in print, radio, and television, including appearances on Al Jazeera, NPR, and BBC News. Follow Jamal on Twitter: @jabdi
Trita Parsi, is the 2010 recipient of the Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order. He is the founder and president of the National Iranian American Council and an expert on civil rights and US-Iranian relations. He is the author of Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Iran, Israel and the United States (Yale University Press 2007) and A Single Roll of the Dice – Obama’s Diplomacy with Iran (Yale University Press 2012).
Parsi’s articles have been published in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Financial Times, Jane’s Intelligence Review, the Nation,The American Conservative, the Jerusalem Post, The Forward, and others. He is a frequent guest on CNN, PBS’s Newshour with Jim Lehrer, NPR, the BBC, and Al Jazeera. Follow Trita on Twitter: @tparsi
Mahsa Payesteh joined the National Iranian American Council as a Community Outreach Associate in January 2015 and works to empower and organize Iranian Americans to have a strong voice on the political issues that matter most to them.
Mahsa studied Psychology at The University of Texas at Dallas. She formerly worked as a Physical Therapy Assistant in Dallas, TX. Mahsa served as a volunteer NIAC Ambassador in Dallas for two years. She has always felt a strong connection to her Iranian heritage and has had a special interest in issues affecting the Iranian people. Following her experience volunteering at the 2014 Leadership Conference, Mahsa consequently decided to pursue a more active and permanent role with NIAC.
Ryan Costello joined NIAC in April 2013 as a Policy Fellow and now serves as Assistant Policy Director. In this role, Ryan monitors legislation, conducts research and writing, and coordinates advocacy efforts on civil rights and U.S.-Iran policy.
Ryan previously served as a Program Associate at the Connect U.S. Fund, where he focused on nuclear non-proliferation policy. He has published in American Foreign Policy Interests, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, CNN GPS, Foreign Policy, The Hill, Huffington Post and Roll Call. Ryan graduated from American University’s School of International Service with a Master of Arts in U.S. Foreign Policy, and from Ursinus College where he majored in history and international relations. Follow Ryan on Twitter: @RN_Costello
Adam Weinstein joined the National Iranian American Council as a Policy Associate in April 2017. In this role, Adam monitors legislation, policy briefs, and legal cases, conducts research and writing, and supports advocacy efforts. He focuses on national security, diplomacy, immigration and civil rights issues.
Adam served in the U.S. Marine Corps and was deployed to Afghanistan. He received his J.D. from Temple University in Philadelphia, where he focused on international law, national security law, and immigration law. He graduated from the University of Miami with a B.A. in International Relations.
Adam has written for Foreign Policy, CNN, The Diplomat, Newsweek, Haaretz, the Atlantic Council’s Iran Insight, the London School of Economics Middle East Centre and South Asia Centre, and the Huffington Post.
About NIAC: The National Iranian American Council is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening the voice of Iranian Americans and promoting greater understanding between the American and Iranian people. We accomplish our mission through expert research and analysis, civic and policy education, and community building.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jamal Abdi
Washington, D.C. – The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) issued the following statement following today’s Supreme Court decision upholding Presidential Proclamation 9645, commonly referred to as Muslim Ban 3.0 in the case of Hawaii v. Trump:
“The effort to end the Muslim Ban is far from over. We will do everything in our power to organize our community and collaborate with other communities to ensure that Trump’s shameful policy is repealed by Congress.
“The promise of a United States that is inclusive, diverse, tolerant, and free has been rendered hollow for millions of Muslims, Iranian Americans, and other impacted communities as a result of this outrageous decision. Having been failed by the President, the Congress, and now the Supreme Court, it is now up to the most powerful office in our democracy – the office of citizen – to rise to the occasion and elect representatives who have the political courage to repeal this policy that has cast a shadow over our nation.
“The Supreme Court has added Trump’s Muslim Ban to the list of American moral failures that future generations will lament. This travesty of justice is a far cry from the Supreme Court that struck down segregation and bans on same sex marriage. History will view this decision along with other outrageous decisions that upheld and solidified official government-sanctioned discrimination.”
“Donald Trump stared directly into a camera and boldly proclaimed that he would have a ‘total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States’. He then worked assiduously to enact that ban. Members of Congress, including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, and the future Vice President Mike Pence condemned issued full-throated rejections of a Muslim Ban or religious test on the campaign trail. However, when Donald Trump became President, spines weakened as the Republican Congress and establishment played defense for Trump’s bigotry.
“We have been betrayed by our elected officials. Rather than intervene and uphold their oaths to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, the Republican Congress has not held a single hearing on the Ban. Legislation to repeal and defund the Ban has been introduced and endorsed by nearly every Democrat in Congress but has been blocked by the Republican majority. The basic values and freedoms enshrined in America’s constitution have been reduced to the most vile of partisanship. Lawmakers of both parties have an obligation to protect their constituents against unconstitutional exercises of power. Instead, GOP lawmakers have run interference for the President to abuse his office and destroy our country’s bedrock values.
“The only solution now is to elect a new Congress that will repeal Trump’s Muslim Ban and stand up to this President’s egregious abuses of power. Today’s disappointing Supreme Court decision will only deepen the convictions of Americans on the right side of history, and will only reinforce the resolve of NIAC and other grassroots civil rights organizations to continue fighting for this country’s sacred principles.”
This is not over.
We are all proud of how Team Melli played in the World Cup, but we are also so proud of how this community was able to come together to support the Iranian national soccer team. With every new petition signature, we show Nike that Iranian-Americans are willing to unite in the face of discrimination against our people and community.
Though our petition has not received a response yet, we wanted to let you know that we are putting additional pressure on Nike. We have sent their CEO, Mark Parker, a letter detailing our concerns and asking for answers. You can find an excerpt of the letter below.
Over the past eighteen months, our community has been living under a Muslim Travel Ban that prevents our families from visiting us in the United States. With the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, we collectively worry about the prospect of a war with Iran. The World Cup is a rare chance to put aside the many political challenges of the moment and to celebrate what unites us – sport. This is a principle that so many of us have viewed as a core element of Nike’s brand and mission. I hope you understand how disappointing your decision is for our community, but, in the spirit of transcending what divides us and instead celebrating what unites us, we would like to request a meeting to discuss this issue further and help broker a resolution or understanding.
Nike’s statement to the press explained that “sanctions mean that, as a U.S. company, we cannot provide shoes to players in the Iran national team at this time.” However, many in the Iranian-American community believe that Nike made a political decision rather than one rooted simply in legal obligation. We fully understand that corporations are placed in the tenuous position of navigating a labyrinth of U.S. sanctions laws. However, like most of the Iranian-American community, we too do not understand Nike’s legal rationale in this particular situation.
We would be interested to learn in more detail why Nike made this decision so that we can communicate it to our community and, as appropriate, conduct our own outreach with U.S. government agencies to address this challenge and prevent similar issues from arising in the future.
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Recent complications in shipping gifts to friends and family in Iran may finally have been resolved. Following NIAC’s correspondence with several government agencies detailing our concerns and urging a solution, we are pleased to report that the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Customs and Border Protection have taken steps to restore the ability to ship permissible items to Iran via the U.S. Postal Service.
Since late 2017, NIAC received reports from Iranian Americans who had shipments to Iran turned away from the U.S. Postal Service (“USPS”) in spite of long-standing U.S. policy to permit mail and low-value gifts to be shipped to Iran.
NIAC requested clarification from relevant government agencies and subsequently requested a formal rule change to rectify the situation. The United States Census Bureau and U.S. Customs and Border Protection have now confirmed with NIAC that the USPS has been advised by both agencies to “forego rejecting or returning gift items [intended for Iran that are] within the scope of the United States Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control’s (“OFAC”) general license, where the only issue is the lack of evidence that the mailer has filed electronic export information.”
In short, it appears that government agencies have reverted back to the enforcement of regulations that existed prior to August 2017. Iranian Americans should once again be able to ship permissible items to Iran via the U.S. Postal Service.
NIAC would like to extend our gratitude towards all agencies involved in rectifying this situation – in particular, the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
We do still believe more must to be done to ensure that Iranian Americans are not inadvertently barred from sending shipments to Iran in line with U.S. policy. While the Postal Service has been advised to not reject or return items shipped to Iran, the policy that such items technically require a “Electronic Export Information” filing remains in place. While this should no longer have practical implications, NIAC is continuing to engage relevant government agencies to eliminate this policy altogether to prevent further complications in the future.
If you have sought to ship items to Iran and had those packages denied transfer or returned in recent weeks, please contact us through email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or through our main office phone (202-386-6325).
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Trita Parsi
Washington, D.C. – Trita Parsi, President of the National Iranian American Council, issued the following statement regarding Nasrin Sotoudeh’s unjust arrest and detention in Evin Prison:
“NIAC strongly condemns the Iranian judiciary’s detention of Sotoudeh and calls for the immediate release of her and all prisoners of conscience. Nasrin Sotoudeh, Iran’s most prominent human rights lawyer, has been arrested at her home and transferred to Evin Prison earlier today. Sotoudeh has dedicated her life to human rights and faced unjust imprisonment in the past. In 2012, after three years of confinement she went on multiple hunger strikes and her weight was reduced to 95 pounds. That same year she received the European Union’s highest human rights award, the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Following her release, Sotoudeh was barred from the practice of law for three years but it was reduced to nine months.
“Most recently Sotoudeh has represented several young women who have been arrested for removing their hijabs as a form of protest in public. Her current arrest comes without a formal charge and was first reported on her husband’s Facebook page but later confirmed by the New York Times and BBC Persian. Iran’s Judiciary continues to terrorize its citizens with fabricated charges, zero due process, and inhumane prison conditions. Sotoudeh has devoted her life to defending the human dignity of her clients and now finds herself torn from her family and imprisoned. This is absolutely unacceptable and it is incumbent on Iran’s highest authorities to facilitate her release immediately.
“Many have feared there would be a worsening human rights situation and an emboldening of hardline elements in Iran with the heightening of tensions with the United States. Indeed, we have seen this pattern in the past and are concerned that Sotoudeh’s arrest is evidence this trend is repeating. Lost in much of the discourse over the Trump Administration’s withdrawal from the JCPOA and announcement of new sanctions and escalatory measures has been the impact these external actions may have on the political dynamics inside of Iran. The blame of course lies with those actors inside Iran who are seizing on this opportunity to advance an agenda that is anathema to Iran’s human rights obligations and to the wishes of the Iranian people. At the same time, the U.S. must carefully consider how our actions create opportunities for such elements and reduce our ability, as well as the international community’s ability, to hold Iran accountable to its human rights obligations.”