Elected and community leaders stand united in opposition to anti-refugee bill before US Senate

Public urged to encourage elected officials to keep doors open to Syrian and Iraqi refugees

DEARBORN, Mich.—Community leaders, individuals and elected officials came together today at the ACCESS headquarters—the largest Arab American nonprofit in the U.S.—to oppose the anti-refugee rhetoric and legislation that is causing Michigan and local communities to deny humanitarian efforts to refugees.  

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Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner speaks at a media conference Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015 at ACCESS headquarters—the largest Arab American nonprofit in the U.S.—to oppose the anti-refugee rhetoric and legislation that is causing Michigan and local communities to deny humanitarian efforts to refugees. Behind him (left to right) are: Fayrouz Saad, Director of Immigrant Affairs for the City of Detroit; State Rep. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit); ACCESS Executive Director Hassan Jaber; Cindy Estrada, UAW Vice President; and Donnell R. White, Executive Director of the Detroit Branch NAACP. See more photos here.

As HR 4038, a bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives that would deny thousands of Syrian and Iraqi refugees humanitarian relief in the U.S., goes before the Senate, local organizations and individuals are taking action to challenge the legislation.

The National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC), a program of ACCESS, and its Campaign to TAKE ON HATE are urging the public to contact their Senators through an easy-to-use form and encourage them to stop this irresponsible and dangerous legislation. HR 4038 will refuse entry to refugees when they are most in need, and while most are fleeing extreme violence and insecurity.  It profiles a distinct group based on fear-based rhetoric that disregards the traumatic experiences of individuals who are fleeing the same terror that this country is trying to protect itself against.  This bill only serves to further divide us and increases unfounded fears of refugees and immigrants.

Michigan State Representative Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit); Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner; Cindy Estrada, UAW Vice President; Fayrouz Saad, Director of Immigrant Affairs for the City of Detroit; Donnell R. White, Executive Director of the Detroit Branch NAACP and representatives from several local elected offices joined ACCESS, NNAAC and TAKE ON HATE to call for unity in the face of divisive, anti-refugee rhetoric.

“My grandmother escaped religious persecution in Russia to start a new life in America. That is the great American story that our country is built on. Once anyone is properly vetted they should have the same opportunities many of our ancestors have had,” Treasurer Meisner said.

State Rep. Chang, along with partners Welcoming Michigan and TAKE ON HATE, has launched a “Respect Michigan” pledge for elected officials to support a stance of a more unified state that won’t support hate rhetoric. The pledge calls on all elected officials serving in Michigan to live up to a standard of respect for Michigan’s diverse communities and encourages them to recommit their support for refugees.

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ACCESS Executive Director Hassan Jaber speaks to reporters on why the U.S. must continue to welcome all refugees at a media conference Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015 at ACCESS headquarters—the largest Arab American nonprofit in the U.S. See more photos here.

“We commend the courage and leadership of our local leaders who have stood strong against hate rhetoric and have advocated for unity at this time of crisis,” said Hassan Jaber, Executive Director of ACCESS. “They have responsibly spoken up for humanitarian efforts in light of growing opposition. We thank them for their support.”

City and state officials and community organizations present at the media conference included:

State Rep. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit)
Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner
Cindy Estrada, UAW Vice President
Fayrouz Saad, Director of Immigrant Affairs for the City of Detroit
Kary L. Moss, Executive Director of American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan
Donnell R. White, Executive Director of the Detroit Branch NAACP
ACCESS Executive Director Hassan Jaber
Campaign to TAKE ON HATE Campaign Manager and former State Rep. Rashida Tlaib
Welcoming Michigan
Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation
Michigan United
Detroit Jews for Justice

Join us in demanding that our elected officials stand with the millions of Americans who support and welcome refugees. Please click here to send a letter to your Senator today!


About the National Network for Arab American Communities

The National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC), a program of ACCESS, is a national consortium of 24 independent Arab American community-based organizations. Its mission is the development of Arab American community-based nonprofit organizations that understand, meet the needs and represent the concerns of Arab Americans at a local level while collectively addressing those issues at a national level.

About the Campaign to TAKE ON HATE

The Campaign to TAKE ON HATE opposes and stands against hate and bigotry toward all people. TAKE ON HATE is a multi-year, grassroots campaign that strives to address issues of bias and challenges the growing discrimination and persistent misconception of Arab and Muslim Americans, including refugees. For more information, visit www.takeonhate.org.

About ACCESS

Grounded in a grassroots commitment to serving our community, ACCESS has a 44-year history of providing health, education, employment and social services.  An Arab American nonprofit of excellence, ACCESS empowers communities in Southeast Michigan to improve their economic, social and cultural well-being and extends this mission nationally through advocacy, arts, culture and philanthropy. 

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