#ICYMI: NIAC’s Annual Ruby Gala in New York

On September 26th, NIAC took New York by storm to host the organization’s annual Ruby Gala. From a diverse array of inspiring speakers to a lively cocktail hour, the evening brought together our dearest friends and our most valuable partners to celebrate the Iranian-American community’s successes over the past year. 

MSNBC’s Ari Melber, host of “The Beat with Ari Melber,” emphasized the notion that political power is in fact “zero sum” and that the Iranian-American community must work to build its power to ensure they have a seat at the table. 

New York Assemblyman and Congressional candidate Michael Blake took to the stage to share his own story of his Jamaican background, emphasizing the common struggles that immigrants of all creeds and countries face. Florida State Representative Anna V. Eskamani also wowed the crowd with her own family’s history of settling in the United States, of navigating her identity in a state with few Iranian-Americans, and lauded event attendees for their support in ensuring she became the first Iranian-American to serve in the Florida Legislature. 

NIAC President Jamal Abdi also shared his own story of his family’s immigrant journey and underscored the importance of our community doing everything possible to build the political power Iranian Americans need to secure a seat at the table: “NIAC is here to protect the American dream for everyone of us,” Jamal shared during his address. “We wake up every single morning and ask ourselves: what do we need to do today? What battle do we need to fight? What do we need to do  to protect the civil and human rights of Iranian Americans?”

Among the evening’s highlights was the awarding of NIAC’s Courage Award to J Street, which Dylan Williams, J Street’s Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, accepted on the organization’s behalf. NIAC is proud to work alongside J Street to advocate for Iran policies in the White House that will advance peace and diplomacy—not lead to war. J Street’s tireless dedication to peace, equality, and justice has made them an invaluable friend and partner, and we’re pleased to have had the chance to acknowledge the organization’s outstanding work.

Gathering so many amazing members of our community in one room to reflect on the successes we’ve secured and the challenges we’re working to overcome is always a highlight of our year. Particularly now, as we face a tumultuous political environment, our community’s solidarity ensures our community’s strength. A chance to gather around food, friends, and powerful words, to garner support and connect with our community, means that NIAC can continue to build on the foundation needed to secure political power and ensure our voices are heard all across the country, from New York to Washington DC. 

Missed the event? No problem! Check out our highlight reel of the night here and visit our events page to learn more about our upcoming galas in Washington DC and San Francisco!

#ICYMI: NIAC’s Annual Sapphire Gala in Los Angeles

On September 21st, NIAC was pleased to host its annual Sapphire Gala in Los Angeles. The evening was marked by an outstanding group of NIAC friends and allies, exceptional speakers, food and entertainment, and, of course, some laughter and levity, thanks to our master of ceremony, Iranian-American comedian K-von

We had the pleasure of hearing not one, but two incredible Congresswomen who work everyday to champion the priorities of the Iranian-American community and the progressive values our country so deserves. NIAC Research Fellow, Dr. Assal Rad, after remarks of her own, welcomed Congresswoman Katie Porter (CA-45) to the stage.

Congresswoman Porter regaled the audience with the importance of holding the White House accountable and with her experiences working with the Iranian-American community. She has been integral in the fight to protect our community against the discriminatory Muslim Ban. Moreover, she remains an ardent proponent of advancing peace and diplomacy by preventing war with Iran and advocating for the United States to return to the Iran nuclear deal.

NIAC President Jamal Abdi also took to the stage to share his own story: his family’s immigrant journey, navigating being Iranian and American, and underscoring the importance of our community doing everything possible to build the political power we need to secure our seat at the table. 

We were proud to give Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-48) NIAC’s first ever Courage Award. NIAC Board Member Siobhan Amin presented Congressman Waters with the award for her commitment to peace, equality, and justice. In today’s political environment, she has been an oasis of the sound policy needed to ensure our children and all future generations can live in a more peaceful world. We are fortunate to call Congresswoman Waters our friend and ally and to have had such an amazing keynote speaker captivate the room with her story about fighting for the foundational values of this country.

All of us at NIAC are so grateful to have the incredible support of our community. Even in the hardest times, we find strength through solidarity. This year has been marked by a flurry of politics that have impacted our community in undeniable ways. Only together—and of course assisted sometimes by good food, amazing friends, and powerful words—can we build political power for the Iranian-American community and ensure our voices are heard all across the country, from Los Angeles to New York to Washington DC. 

And make sure to check out our events page to learn more about our upcoming galas in Washington DC and San Francisco!

Norooz Pirooz!


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NIAC’s 2018 Holiday Book List

The holidays are a great time to catch-up on reading. At NIAC, we would like to share some of our personal favorite books related to Iran or written by an Iranian-American author. These books can also be the perfect gift for a loved one this holiday season. Additionally, if you shop through Amazon Smile and designate NIAC as your charity of choice, your book purchase can support our organization. Happy reading!

Memoirs & Literature by Iranian Americans

The Limits of Whiteness: Iranian Americans and the Everyday Politics of Race by Neda Maghbouleh uses the author’s own experiences and numerous case studies to delve into the complexities of Iranian-American identity and what it means to be a “white-passing” minority in modern America.

Lipstick Jihad: A Memoir of Growing up Iranian in America and American in Iran by Azadeh Moaveni tells the story of the author’s own journey to reconcile her American and Iranian identities as she grows up in both California and Tehran.

Prisoner: My 544 Days in an Iranian Prison—Solitary Confinement, a Sham Trial, High-Stakes Diplomacy, and the Extraordinary Efforts It Took to Get Me Out by Jason Rezaian is an upcoming memoir to be published in late January. It documents the experiences of the Washington Post’s Tehran bureau chief who was imprisoned for 18 months in a Tehran prison. Pre-order it today!

Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card by Sara Saedi is a young adult novel about Saedi’s experience as an undocumented Iranian immigrant growing up in the U.S., as she deals with issues of identity and coming-of-age with candid humor. The novel is soon to be adapted into an ABC comedy series, so keep an eye out!

Politics, International Studies, & Iran

Revolutionary Iran: A History of the Islamic Republic by Michael Axworthy offers an overview of major events and figures in Iranian political life since 1979.

A Social Revolution: Politics and the Welfare State in Iran by Kevan Harris explores the role that social policy and welfare organizations play in Iranian politics and social change.

A History of Modern Iran by Ervand Abrahamian offers a deeply incisive appraisal of Iranian history from the 19th century to the 1953 coup to the nuclear crisis, as he details Iran’s evolution from an agrarian, peasant society to a centralized state.

Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States by Trita Parsi examines the clandestine interactions between Iran and Israel both during the Shah era and after the revolution.

Nixon, Kissinger, and the Shah: The United States and Iran in the Cold War by Roham Alvandi explains the Shah’s efforts to establish Iranian regional primacy in the Persian Gulf, and discusses Iran’s shifting relationship with the U.S. during the Nixon era away from patron-client status.

The Oil Kings: How the U.S., Iran, and Saudi Arabia Changed the Balance of Power in the Middle East by Andrew Scott Cooper details how the Nixon administration colluded with the Shah to raise oil prices in return for the Shah buying military hardware.

ReOrienting the Sasanians: East Iran in Late Antiquity by Princeton-based historian Khodadad Rezakhani tells the story of the Sassanian Empire as a Central Asian power.

Power and Change in Iran: Politics of Contention and Conciliation, edited by Farideh Farhi and Daniel Brumberg, compiles various case studies analyzing contemporary Iranian politics and society, from the inner workings of the Iranian political system to human rights debates and social welfare systems.

Iranian Cuisine & Cookbooks

Cooking in Iran: Regional Recipes for Kitchen Secrets by renowned Iranian chef Najmieh Batmanglij is the product of the author’s five year long trip to Iran. Batmanglij takes her readers on a culinary journey across Iran, visiting different cities and provinces, and brings together the traditional recipes and surprising new dishes that she finds along the way.

Salt Fat Acid Heat, by Iranian-American chef Samin Nosrat, takes apart the four most basic elements of cooking. Nosrat teaches the reader that if they understand these fundamentals of cooking, they too can become a chef. This extremely successful book has also been adapted into a Netflix documentary series!

NIAC Calls on Bank of America to End Discriminatory Practices Against Iranian Americans

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jamal Abdi
Phone: 202-386-6408
Email: jabdi@niacouncil.org

Washington, DC – The National Iranian American Council is calling on Bank of America to immediately end discriminatory practices against Iranians and Iranian Americans and to conduct a full review of its procedures related to the suspension bank accounts held by individuals of Iranian descendant.

“Closing bank accounts on the basis of national origin or heritage is discriminatory,” said Jamal Abdi, NIAC Vice President for Policy. “If Bank of America is unable to comply with the myriad of U.S. sanctions on Iran without discriminating against persons of Iranian heritage, it needs to take that up with the U.S. government instead of passing the burden onto ordinary people.”

NIAC has received numerous inquiries and complaints from Iranian visa holders and permanent residents, as well U.S. citizens of Iranian descent, regarding closures of their bank accounts by Bank of America. In one case, and individual was unable to access their own funds when they needed to pay for medical expenses for their pregnant spouse. In other cases, Bank of America has closed accounts and sent reimbursement checks that have been lost in the mail.

“As tensions rise between the U.S. and Iran, we are concerned that ordinary Iranians and Iranian Americans will be caught in the middle,” said Abdi. “ We cannot allow entities like Bank of America to protect themselves at the expense of the rights and protections of their customers.”

Following the discriminatory measures taken by Bank of America in the wrongful closing and seizure of bank accounts belonging to Iranian Americans, NIAC delivered a letter to Bank of America CEO, Brian T. Moynihan, voicing the concerns of the Iranian-American community. NIAC had previously been in contact with Bank of America over related concerns in 2014 and received only perfunctory responses and no willingness by Bank of America to review or adjust its policies.

NIAC has addressed similar concerns with several banks and businesses that have engaged in discriminatory practices in the name of complying with U.S. sanctions on Iran, including other major banks and large corporations like Apple. In some cases, NIAC was able to help facilitate policy changes by the business, in other cases NIAC was able to secure necessary adjustments to U.S. sanctions policies.

NIAC is open to working with Bank of America to ensure that the rights of its customers are protected. NIAC will continue to to protect against violations of civil liberties targeting the Iranian-American community and ensure that all possible avenues for resolving such violations are pursued.

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NIAC Applauds Unanimous Supreme Court Ruling Rejecting Seizure of Ancient Iranian Artifacts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Trita Parsi
Phone: 202-386-6325
Email: tparsi@niacouncil.org

Washington, D.C. — The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) applauds today’s unanimous decision in the Supreme Court of the United States rejecting the seizure of ancient Iranian antiquities, ending an over decade-long legal battle.

NIAC has argued that victims of terror deserve to be heard – that they deserve justice. But in NIAC’s view, the artifacts do not belong to the government of Iran, but the people of Iran, and as a result they cannot be confiscated to compensate victims of terror. Depriving millions of Iranians across the globe – who have no ties to terrorism, and unequivocally condemn terrorism – access to these precious artifacts by selling off their history and heritage to the highest bidder is itself an unjust act. These artifacts have always belonged to the people, and now, after an 8-0 ruling by the Supreme Court, they can continue to be appreciated by the people.

Since 2006, NIAC has supported the opposition to the seizure of the Persepolis tablets — clay tablets written in Aramaic and other ancient languages dating back to the fifth century BC that contain important clues about the religion, administration, society, and economy inside the ancient Persian empire.

The Persepolis tablets have been under threat of seizure for years following a deadly 1997 attack by Hamas suicide bombers in a crowded pedestrian mall in Jerusalem. Victims of the attack and their families filed suit against the government of Iran for providing support to Hamas, and won a default judgment of $71.5 million. Iran did not pay, and the Plaintiffs have been trying to seize the Persepolis tablets, which they alleged were the property of Iran, to satisfy their judgement by auctioning off the artifacts on display at Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History and the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago.

NIAC helped the University of Chicago fight against the seizure of the Persepolis tablets in court, by filing a 2008 amicus brief with the federal appellate court, fought in the halls of Congress, and even fought in the White House. After a hard fought ten years by the University, we are relieved that the Persepolis tablets are finally safe.

MENA Category Rejected by Census Bureau Despite Clear Benefits

Washington, DC – The US Census Bureau once again declined to add a Middle East and North African (MENA) category for the 2020 census. Many Americans of Middle-Eastern descent, including Iranian Americans, have for decades sought the additional category so that the census more accurately reflects America’s mosaic of different cultures and the voices of Iranian Americans are not ignored by lawmakers.

According to the US Census Bureau guide on race and ethnicity,’ White’ refers to people from Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. Other racial categories also encompass massive geographic zones, for example, ‘Asian’ includes people from South and East Asia. In other words, an Irish American is labeled the same as an Iranian American, and an Indian American is categorized the same as a Japanese American. By including broad racial categories without making room for the reality of ethnic and regional diversity, the Census Bureau runs the risk of marginalizing minority groups by combining them into bigger and less meaningful racial categories.

Unlike other ethnicities, the Census Bureau does make a distinction between Hispanics/ Latinos and non-Hispanics/Latinos. According to the Census Bureau, “people who identify as Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish may be any race.” For example, an American of Afro-Colombian descent might report themselves as ‘Black or African American’ and ‘Hispanic or Latino’. Someone of primarily European ancestry who is also a Cuban American might report themselves as ‘White’ and ‘Hispanic or Latino’.

Adding this category did not happen overnight and was a result of a strong push by Latino advocacy groups throughout the 1970s which culminated in the category being added in the 1980 census. Ian Haney Lopez, a law professor at Berkeley, has written extensively on the legal construction of race in the US. According to him, race is an important census category but adding ethnicity can also have benefits. In 2009, Lopez wrote that “the census shows, for example, that 36 percent of Dominicans but only half that proportion of Cubans live below the poverty line in the United States. What is true of Latinos is true of other groups. No racial group is internally homogenous; whites, blacks, Native Americans, Asians, and Pacific Islanders all vary along internal fault lines.” In other words, this has allowed for a significantly more accurate and nuanced snapshot of Latino Americans.

Rather than limiting Iranian Americans to a racial category that includes 61% of the U.S. population, a MENA category could lead to the same benefits for Iranian Americans as the ‘Hispanic or Latino’ category created for Latino Americans. This is particularly important for communities that traditionally produce fewer elected lawmakers and are unknown or misunderstood by the broader population. However, some have expressed concerns about creating a MENA category during the Trump administration out of fear of its potential abuse. While these concerns are certainly justified, the information provided to the Census Bureau is private and protected by law (Title 13, U.S. Code, Section 9). NIAC believes that the benefits the category would bring to the Iranian-American community far outweigh the risks and will continue to advocate for its inclusion.

NIAC has long recognized the importance of being accurately counted as a community, especially in congressional districts where high numbers of Iranians reside but are often discounted by their elected representatives. In 2003, NIAC published a report with population estimates for states and congressional districts known to host large Iranian-American communities. However, this proved difficult since many Iranian Americans did not write-in their origin on the 2000 Census. Leading up to the 2010 Census, NIAC and other Iranian-American organizations partnered with the United States Department of Commerce to increase awareness about the 2010 Census and the option to write-in ethnicity. The idea behind self-identifying as Iranian American (or other MENA backgrounds) is that if enough respondents chose to do so then the Census Bureau might see the utility in creating a separate MENA category. NIAC Action and other Iranian-American groups recently encouraged Iranian Americans to submit public comments to the Office of Management and Budget in support of proposals for a MENA category on the census which could include the opportunity to check or write-in ‘Iranian’. However, these proposals have repeatedly been rejected by the Census Bureau, which says more research and testing is needed.

The 2018 Census will ask individuals who mark themselves as ‘White’ to also include their origins with the official prompt instructing respondents to “Print, for example, German, Irish, English, Italian, Lebanese, Egyptian, etc.” This is the first time the Census Bureau has sought clarification for the ‘White’ racial category and may be a result of an increase in Americans choosing to check the ‘Some Other Race’ category. But some critics warn this will only lead to confusing data.

FAQ on Iranian Earthquake Relief

As Iranian Americans, our hearts go out to all of those who were impacted by yesterday’s tragic earthquake that struck near the Iran-Iraq border. Initial reporting indicates that it is the deadliest earthquake of 2017, with hundreds dead and thousands injured, and many more who have lost everything. Like with prior earthquakes in Iran, the recovery and rebuilding is likely to be difficult.

Given the comprehensive trade embargo on Iran, Americans are likely to have questions regarding whether they will be able to assist in recovery efforts. While there are restrictions to navigate, the Treasury Department has licensed U.S. citizens to engage in certain activities to assist relief efforts in Iran following natural disasters. Below, we have detailed a brief Q&A, which we will update as the situation unfolds and we learn more about ongoing relief efforts.

The National Iranian American Council urges the Treasury Department to closely examine whether additional steps are needed to ensure that Americans can effectively contribute to relief efforts, and to issue any additional licenses necessary to ensure that U.S. sanctions do not stand in the way of urgent relief.

Frequently Asked Questions:

I am a resident of the United States and I want to help out with relief efforts in Iran, but don’t know if I can or how I can.  How can I help out with the earthquake relief?

While the United States imposes a comprehensive trade embargo with Iran, you can lawfully engage in certain activities to help out relief efforts related to the earthquake in Iran. You can do the following:

  • You can donate food, clothing, or medicine to Iran, provided that the donations are meant to relieve human suffering and are not directed to the Government of Iran, an Iranian bank, or any other restricted parties.  
     
  • You can make donations to a U.S. non-governmental organization (“NGO”) engaged in the provision of humanitarian services in or related to Iran, including in relief and reconstruction efforts related to the earthquake. U.S. persons would not be permitted to send funds directly to non-U.S. charitable organizations specifically intending those funds to be used for relief efforts in Iran.
     
  • You can seek license authorization from the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) to engage in any other humanitarian-related activities related to the relief efforts in Iran.   
     

I want to help out, but am nervous about running afoul of U.S. sanctions laws.  Are there things that I definitely cannot do to support the relief efforts in Iran?

Yes. The United States imposes a comprehensive trade embargo with Iran, so most transactions between the two countries are prohibited absent an applicable exemption or license authorization. Those activities outlined above are either exempt from the trade embargo or are otherwise authorized. However, certain activities remain prohibited. For instance, the following activities remain prohibited under U.S. law:

  • You cannot send funds directly to Iranian charitable organizations absent prior license authorization from OFAC.  Such activity is currently prohibited under U.S. law and could expose you to civil or criminal liability as a result.
     
  • You cannot send goods or technologies to Iran to help out with relief efforts other than those that fall under the OFAC exemption or those that are licensed by OFAC.  The export of any prohibited goods or technologies to Iran is prohibited – even if such goods or technologies are intended for use in aiding relief efforts related to the earthquake in Iran.

Should I contact a lawyer before deciding to send funds or make a donation to Iran?

Because the U.S. trade embargo with Iran is exceptionally broad and prohibits most dealings between the two countries – including what would be regarded as innocuous – it is always a good idea to speak to legal counsel before engaging in a transaction in or related to Iran.  However, due to the obvious need to act expediently to help out with relief efforts in Iran at this time, it would not necessarily be unreasonable to rely on the representations of a U.S.-based NGO providing humanitarian-related services to Iran that they are acting in compliance with U.S. sanctions laws.   

I am an American and saw a fundraiser for earthquake relief efforts on social media. Should I donate?
 
This depends both on what the funds will be used for and the credibility of the campaign. If the fundraiser is seeking donations for an Iranian or non-U.S. charity, you should NOT donate. If the fundraiser is for a U.S. organization that is planning relief efforts in line with U.S. sanctions regulations, you can consider donating to the campaign. However, you should also consider giving to U.S.-based organizations directly rather than using a social media platform.
 

Which U.S. charitable organizations might be planning relief efforts in Iran?

The following U.S. organizations have responded to previous natural disasters in Iran and are planning relief efforts in response to the 2017 earthquake:

We will update this list as additional information becomes available.

BREAKING: IAAB v. Trump Team Praises Ruling Blocking Muslim Ban 3.0

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, October 18, 2017
CONTACT: Yasmina Dardari | +1 407 922 8149 |
 yasmina@unbendablemedia.com 

Washington, D.C. – Early this morning, Judge Theodore D. Chuang of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland issued a ruling in Iranian Alliances Across Borders (IAAB) v. Trump,blocking the Trump administration from implementing Muslim Ban 3.0, which was scheduled to go into full effect today.  Judge Chuang’s ruling follows a hearing on Monday afternoon in his courtroom where the plaintiffs in IAAB v. Trump as well as two other related actions, requested a preliminary injunction.

In today’s ruling, which temporarily halts the implementation of the President’s order, Judge Chuang determined that Muslim Ban 3.0 likely violates the U.S. Constitution and federal immigration law.  Judge Chuang relied on the long litany of anti-Muslim statements and comments by President Trump, concluding that this latest version is an “inextricable re-animation of the twice-enjoined Muslim ban.”

The plaintiffs in IAAB v. Trump are represented by Muslim Advocates, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and Covington & Burling LLP, in consultation with the National Iranian American Council (NIAC).  

According to Shayan Modarres, legal counsel for the National Iranian American Council: “We applaud the court’s decision in blocking this unconstitutional third attempt at a Muslim Ban.  This latest travel ban is little more than a dangerous effort to target Iranians and Muslims, unjustified by any credible national security concerns. The ban will have a real impact on real people’s lives, robbing families of moments they can never get back. The National Iranian American Council is resolute in seeing this hateful and unconstitutional policy never becomes law.”

According to Johnathan Smith, legal director of Muslim Advocates: “Today’s ruling reaffirms that religious discrimination and bigotry have no place in our country.  We applaud Judge Chuang for recognizing that Muslim Ban 3.0 contravenes fundamental American values and does not make our country safer.  We, however, are well aware that our work is not finished. We will continue to advocate against this unjust and discriminatory policy until it is finally and permanently relegated to the dustbin of history.

“So, for today, we celebrate. Tomorrow, we continue the fight.”

According to Mana Kharrazi, executive director of Iranian Alliances Across Borders: “Today is such a proud day for youth we serve at IAAB. When our members connect with family members, friends and community members from across the Iranian diaspora, it changes futures, enriches lives, and roots them in a meaningful sense of community and responsibility. Our youth spoke up in court and they won. When grounded in community and sense of justice, the young people of IAAB can even beat the most powerful man in the world.

“We know that the ban is not totally gone and that graduations, weddings, and family gatherings will continue to be interrupted, and that our youth will continue to face harassment and hostility. So we will continue to speak out against the ban and religious discrimination in all its forms.”

According to Richard B. Katskee, legal director of Americans United:“The Muslim ban in all its versions has never been about making America safer or protecting our people. It’s about discrimination, plain and simple. The ban violates fairness and equal treatment—concepts that are at the core of religious freedom. We’re pleased that the courts have once again recognized that fact.”   

Judge Chuang’s ruling follows a temporary restraining order blocking implementation of Muslim Ban 3.0 issued by Hawaii Judge Derrick Watson in Hawaii v. Trump yesterday afternoon.

For more information, or for interview with a National Iranian American Council legal expert, please contact Yasmina Dardari at 407-922-8149 or by email at yasmina@unbendablemedia.com.

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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.

Muslim Advocates is a national legal advocacy and educational organization that works on the frontlines of civil rights to guarantee freedom and justice for Americans of all faiths. 

Iranian Alliances Across Borders is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, non-partisan organization founded in 2003. IAAB addresses issues of the Iranian diaspora by facilitating community building, developing ways to better understand what it means to be part of a diaspora community, and empowering members of the Iranian diaspora community to enhance connections with their new communities as well as maintain connections with their root community.

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.

NIAC Condemns Trump’s ‘Targeted’ Muslim Ban 3.0

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Trita Parsi
Phone: 202-386-2303
Email: tparsi@niacouncil.org

Washington, D.C. – The National Iranian American Council released the following statement regarding President Trump’s adjustments to the discriminatory Muslim Ban following 90 days of review:

“As many have warned, the Trump administration has now taken steps to make its Muslim ban targeting Iranians and other nationals permanent. Absent additional intervention from the courts, and a long-overdue intervention from the Republican-controlled Congress, the Trump administration will cement a racist and discriminatory campaign promise into official U.S. policy. This new Muslim Ban 3.0 is nothing but an extension of the same discriminatory policy first rolled out in January that is a fundamental challenge to American values of equality and tolerance. Once again, Trump has put his ego ahead of the security of the United States and the safety of the American people.

“Amending this ban does not change what its intent has been since its inception, which was clearly to ban Muslims. The Trump Administration has simply tried to make the President’s racist proclamation to ban all Muslims more palatable. The bottom line remains that Donald Trump is banning the family members of Iranian Americans and others from visiting the United States based on his own prejudice. By applying the ban to more people Trump has simply doubled down on his efforts to halt legal immigration, including temporary visits, to the greatest extent possible.

“This third iteration of the ban includes minor but wholly inefficient exceptions, including exempting Iranian students and exchange visitors from the ban under enhanced scrutiny. Family members will apparently be banned, in spite of a previous Supreme Court ruling preventing the Administration from banning persons with bona fide relations in the U.S. Iranian Americans who came to the land of the free never imagined that the U.S. would become a country that bars its doors and formally endorses and codifies xenophobic policies.

Trump’s new ban is not designed to make America safer, it’s designed to make Trump appear tougher. Banning entire nationalities from visiting the U.S. is absurd and will not make America more secure under any circumstances. The countries included in Trump’s latest ban are merely those with whom the US has bad relations, not from where threats have actually emanates. Iran, for instance, is a country that has very poor relations with the US and yet there is no credible threat from Iranians visiting the US. Not a single person has died on American soil due to an Iranian terror attack. 94% of all Americans killed on U.S. soil in acts of terror by a foreign national, were conducted by nationals of Saudi Arabia, UAE and Egypt. But the very real threat from radicalization taking place in Saudi Arabia is not addressed by Trump, nor is it eliminated by the information sharing that does take place between Washington and Riyadh. Trump’s new ban seems designed to make him look tough, but not designed to actually make America safer.

“In short, Trump’s new ban does not pass the 9/11 test: Had this measure been in place in 2001, it would not have prevented the 9/11 attack.  

“While it has long been telegraphed, the fact that restrictions on Iranians were continued indefinitely is a perfect demonstration of why these ‘bans’ are terrible homeland security policy. Trump himself has praised Iranian Americans as ‘one of the most successful immigrant groups in our country’s contemporary history.’ Secretary of State Tillerson described the Iranian people as a ‘very well educated, very sophisticated population’ just this week. And, despite the fact that no Iranians or any other nationals included in Trump’s ban were responsible for any terror-related deaths on U.S. soil, Trump keeps trying to ban Iranians.

“We are confident that the courts will see through this disingenuous tactic of expanding the ban in order to dilute its clearly discriminatory motive. Casting a wider net only validates what we and others have always maintained, which is that the Muslim Ban was but the first step in a wider initiative to implement Islamophobic, racist, and xenophobic policies that pander to the desires of Trump’s White supremacist base. These are not ‘targeted’ restrictions but arbitrary ones that do not keep the country safer and soil our national reputation.”

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NIAC Condemns Trump’s Immoral DACA Decision

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Shayan Modarres
Phone: 202-780-9590
Email: smodarres@niacouncil.org

Washington, D.C. – The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the Trump administration decision to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program today – a program with bipartisan support that has been wildly successful in every meaningful and measurable way. 

“Today will be judged as one of the most reprehensible days in American history,” said Shayan Modarres, Legal Counsel for the National Iranian American Council. “President Trump’s issuance of executive orders to ban Muslims from the United States, and removal of protections for DREAMers – that know no other home but America and are now confronted with dehumanizing uncertainty – is not draining the swamp, it is dumping the greatness of America down the drain.” 

In taking this immoral action, President Trump is removing protections for nearly 800,000 DACA recipients whose futures are now full of uncertainty and who could possibly face deportation. DACA recognized that these individuals are human beings and more American than a piece of paper could ever recognize. 

“As a community of recent immigrants, Iranian Americans are very familiar with confronting anti-immigrant sentiments and policies,” said Modarres. “In fact, we are still fighting against the Muslim ban and its multiple components like ‘extreme vetting.’”

Since 2010, NIAC has advocated for Congress to pass the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. DREAMers include Iranians like Mohammad Abdollahi, an undocumented immigrant who was denied entrance into college despite qualifying credentials. 

“Iranian Americans across the United States not only stand with DREAMers in unwavering solidarity, we quite literally are DREAMers,” said Modarres.  “We will not allow the Trump administration to take us backwards as a nation – we will not allow him to destroy centuries of steady American progress in a matter of months.”

NIAC calls on Congress to immediately pass legislation that will protect DREAMers and provide for a pathway to citizenship. NIAC further urges our elected representatives to resist any invitation to use these inspirational young people as a political bargaining chip – Congress must do the right thing and immediately act to protect these young people. 

Iranian American Organizations Condemn Violence and Bigotry Displayed by Hate Groups in Charlottesville, Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Shayan Modarres
Phone: 202-780-9590
Email: smodarres@niacouncil.org

Washington, D.C. – As organizations representing the Iranian-American community, we stand united in condemning – in the strongest possible terms – the violence and bigotry displayed by hate groups in Charlottesville, Virginia on Friday and Saturday.

We stand in solidarity with all who believe in the promise of America: that no matter where you come from or what you look like, we are all equal.

The display of hatred in Charlottesville, Virginia, that ultimately claimed three lives, has no place in America. The First Amendment allows for the freedom of expression, speech and peaceful assembly, but it does not tolerate or protect speech inciting violence, or the usage of shields and helmets, rifles, and other weapons in expressing that speech. And regardless of the illegality, as Americans, we stand unified against any person that prescribes to these hateful beliefs.

White supremacists, KKK, neo-Nazis or fascists are not patriots. They do not represent the ideals and values that America represents, nor the principles enshrined in our Constitution, and they must be unequivocally denounced and rejected by all who love this country and what it stands for.

President Trump’s failure of moral clarity and leadership as President of the United States must be denounced forthrightly and unequivocally. Morality knows no political party. Racism, bigotry, and violence of any form are intolerable and should be unequivocally condemned by our leaders.

We remain committed to combatting this hateful ideology, in all its forms, and will continue to work with our partners and allies in this fight towards equality and inclusiveness.

Iranian American Bar Association (IABA)
National Iranian American Council (NIAC)
Pars Equality Center
Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA)