This blog post was written by IARP intern Allie Harris.
On an unseasonably warm winter day in Minneapolis, over 5000 people gathered to show love. The MN Caravan of Love was a march in solidarity with immigrants, refugees, and all those impacted by the new travel restrictions.
I am honored to have been a part of this event. We marched, we chanted, we wrote love letters, but most importantly we loved one another as neighbors, friends, and family. Along the two mile route, flowers, balloons, and letters were handed to local immigrants. The streets echoed with “No hate. No fear. Refugees are welcome here.” Halfway through the route, the group stopped to hear speeches by inspirational individuals from countries affected by the executive order. They told stories of tragedy and of hope. The march concluded on the University of Minnesota campus with a celebration including more speeches, singers, and dancers.
What we know about The Executive Order:
- A ban on entry for 90 days of all immigrants and non-immigrants, for nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. This seems to be affecting US permanent residents (green card holders) as well
- Stops most refugee admissions for at least four months: 120-day pause in refugee admissions to the U.S with exceptions permitted for those fleeing religious persecution if their religion is a minority in their country of nationality
- Blocks refugees from war-torn Syria from entering the U.S. indefinitely.
- Caps total refugee admissions for fiscal year 2017 at 50,000- less than half of the 110,000 proposed by the Obama administration
Click here for the full executive order text with annotations.
How to protect yourself:
- If you are a non-citizen, even a green card holder (lawful permanent resident), it is recommended to not travel outside of the U.S. without consulting an immigration attorney during the 90-day period.
- If you are a non-citizen, even a green card holder, and you leave the U.S. you will most likely be denied reentry.
- If you are a green card holder and are outside of the U.S. fill out the USCIS G-28. It will officially appoint you an immigration attorney to represent you when you land. Have the form completed before boarding your flight. Here is link to the G-28.
- If you are a green card holder (lawful permanent resident) do not sign an I-407 at the airport or border. Instead ask for the supervisor who handles LPR admissions. If you sign the I-407, you will be giving up your green card. Here is a link to the I-407.
- Do not hesitate to call an immigration attorney to understand your specific case. We recommend that you call CAIR number: (408-986-9874 or 415-848-7711)
- Do not allow immigration officers in your home without a warrant. If they do have a warrant, make sure to have an immigration lawyer before speaking.
CAIR-MN’s 8 Know Your Rights Tips for travelers & immigrants:
- Do not leave the US if you are you here on a visa from the following countries Iraq Iran Libya Somalia Sudan Syria and Yemen
- Regardless of your immigration status contact CAIR are or a trusted immigration attorney before traveling outside the United States
- If you know of anyone traveling to the US have them contact CAIR our office or trusted immigration attorney near the airport of entry
- Do not submit any forms for immigration benefits without first contacting an attorney for review and guidance.
- Do Not speak with or sign any documents from law enforcements or any immigrants immigration officers without first contacting an attorney.
- Always carry valid immigration documents with you (ex.-green card or work permit).
- Keep copies of all your immigration documents in your car and at your home.
- Keep all foreign documents in a safe place and do NOT carry them with you.
January 28th, 2017
We are deeply troubled regarding the Executive Order targeting our refugee, immigrant, and Muslim communities. It flies in the face of the American values we hold dear. Religious freedom is a key tenet in our constitution, and the persecution of one faith threatens the protection of all faiths. The United States Constitution expressly protects individuals from persecution perpetrated by their own government. This includes bigotry based on faith, on nation of origin, and skin color.
This announcement is especially heart wrenching for our Syrian, Iraqi, Iranian, Libyan, Somali, Sudanese and Yemeni community members who are waiting to be reunited with a sister, brother, parent or child. These refugees are our coworkers, neighbors, friends, business owners, community leaders, and fellow American citizens and voters.
As an organization whose mission is to promote reconciliation between the people of the US and the people of Iraq in response to the devastation of the US invasion and occupation that has affected Iraqi families, society, and culture, we find this news horrifying. This announcement would bar many Iraqis who are eligible for the Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) and who face persecution due to their work alongside U.S. troops. The US government must not abandon the little responsibility it has taken regarding the consequences of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq.
We recommend that you take a look at the steps the Arab American Institute has outlined to stand against the ban here. We also recommend reaching out to CAIR with any legal questions at 612-206-3360 or email them at email@example.com. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us at IARP with any questions or concerns.
In the upcoming weeks, please reach out to your immigrant, refugee, Muslim, Arab, South Asian, and Latin American neighbors, and let them know you care and stand with them in solidarity.
Your IARP Team
What we know about the Executive Order:
- A ban on entry for 90 days of all immigrants and non-immigrants, for nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. This seems to be affecting US permanent residents (green card holders) as well.
- Stops most refugee admissions for at least four months: 120-day pause in refugee admissions to the U.S. with exceptions permitted for those fleeing religious persecution if their religion is a minority in their country of nationality.
- Blocks refugees from war-torn Syria from entering the U.S. indefinitely.
- Caps total refugee admissions for fiscal year 2017 at 50,000 – less than half of the 110,000 proposed by the Obama administration.
What is the current vetting system like?
Hello, my name is Nicole and I am currently a student at the University of Minnesota. I am a senior studying global studies with a focus in the Middle East and human rights and justice. I am also a French major and an Arabic minor. I am from Minneapolis, so it is exciting to be more involved in my community, and to pursue my passions locally. I am very thankful to have the opportunity to work with an organization that I strongly support.
IARP would like to show appreciation to all who have supported the window winterization project in Mosul. Working in partnership with the Critical Needs Support Foundation, IARP has been able to fund the winterization of 10 family homes. This project is focused on the Alkhadraa neighborhood which was liberated from ISIS in October of 2016. During the conflict, many homes and apartments suffered damage. In order to help these families prepare for the cold winter months, CNSF is sealing windows with heavy plastic. This simple service allows families to remain in their homes despite cold winter winds.
CNSF is an Iraqi non-governmental organization aimed at providing support to those impacted by the ongoing war with ISIS. CNSF also helps the people of Iraq through projects such as medical assistance, orphan support, and emergency relief. For more information on their projects, visit the CNSF website.
To help support other humanitarian projects, visit the Humanitarian Projects for Peace page.
Published with permission from Cathy Breen
Dec. 25, 2016
Karbala, Iraq–It is Christmas day, and I am in Karbala with dear friends. We awoke to a second day of rain, and pictures of flooding, especially in Baghdad, are being shown on TV. Yesterday, on Christmas-eve, several tents caught fire in a camp for the internally displaced near Mosel. As I write you, I am looking at the charred remains of one of the tents on TV. Angry people are describing what happened, lifting high the kerosene heaters for all to see. And, of course, the conflict in Mosel is foremost in the news. I am missing a translator this morning as my host is at work. But I would like to relate something from last week’s events.
Over the years, we have made many contacts in Najaf through our generous host there, Sami. These include doctors, dentists, hospital personnel and University deans. On one particular morning last week two presentations for me had been arranged, one at a Medical college, another at a college of Dentistry. As Voices for Creative Nonviolence we are eager to hear from young people, and rather than giving a presentation, I welcomed the opportunity for an open exchange.
One of the questions that repeatedly arose was “What will happen under Trump to all Muslims in America?”
“We want the U.S. to understand one thing” said a student. “Islam doesn’t mean terrorism.”
When asked if there was any interest in the US elections, a female student spoke up. “The elections were not important for us, but somehow the U.S. rules the world and I think the elections for the U.S. president should be worldwide. I was really disappointed in Trump.” Another student felt that it didn’t matter who was elected, the U.S. policy would remain the same.
Both Najaf and Karbala house holy Shia shrines and thousands of pilgrims visit both cities annually. They are two areas which, thank God, have remained for the most part safe and stable. It is one of the reasons we can travel here.
One of the first students to speak in the lecture hall of about 150 students said “On facebook I get the impression people think we are dodging bullets and bombs every day. We live a normal life.” Someone retorted, but not harshly, “And in Mosel or in other parts of Iraq?” And there was a feeling of agreement in the room that Najaf has been spared the violence, destruction and death that beset most other parts of the country.
“We have to start by changing the corrupt government,” said one, “a government the U.S. put in. But I don’t know how to bring about that change.”
On another day, we visited the Middle Euphrates Cancer Center which opened in 2014 and provides radiation and chemotherapy. Fifty percent of their patients come from the middle Euphrates area and they receive patients from the internally displaced population as well.
They have entered a critical period in terms of budget cutbacks. As the incidence of cancer increases throughout the country, the Ministry of Health (which provides 90-95% of their services) is cutting their budget by 50% in 2017. In 2013 the budget was 3.7 billion dollars. In 2016 the budget was $1,2 billion dollars. The salaries are fixed, but the cuts will affect drugs, equipment and specifically cancer care. Last week 85 items in their drug stock were depleted; 50% of their overall stock is depleted. The Minister of Health can only provide 6% of their needs. This is indeed distressing news.
Just prior we visited El Sadder hospital. Walking through the halls, clean but in a state of disrepair, I was reminded of the time of economic sanctions. In one of the sitting rooms, a doctor sat down next to me and immediately began to tell me of two great needs: 1. deficiency in orthopedic supplies and 2. the need for training for their technicians. Could they come to U.S. for a month or more of training? I asked to see the prosthetic unit and was taken there immediately.
A personable young man named Hussein, 21 years of age, who had lost an arm (and had extensive scarring on his face) at 10yrs of age due to an explosion approached me. He spent time in Arizona receiving treatment, and his English was excellent. Hussein has many contacts with Shriner’s Hospital in NY city. I was given an itemized list of items they need. It would be a wonderful thing if Shriners could contact this hospital for some type of interchange and/or assistance.
I struggled with mixed emotions during the visit, feeling like a visiting ‘dignitary of importance’¯ being escorted through the halls and units. I remembered back to a young 12-year-old quadruple amputee, Mohammed. Four or five years ago, his father and prosthetic technicians brought him to the house where I was staying in Najaf. Could I help him get a prosthetic arm? For months on end I showed his picture and told his story in the states and in Jordan as well, trying to find some organization that could help. Coming home from school at six years of age, Mohammed had stepped on an electrical wire from a pole downed by a U.S. bomb. All of my/our attempts proved futile. I still find it painful to remember this boy, who had not been able to feed himself, itch his nose or embrace a fellow human being since he was six years of age. This experience has made me very hesitant to receive similar requests.
Last night my host read to me from the Koran the account of Jesus’s birth. It was a special way to spend Christmas eve, assuring, that our faith traditions share much in common.
Hello, my name is Allie Harris. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies and finished my Master’s in Islamic Studies in June. After finishing my degree in Denver, I moved north to the Twin Cities. So far, I am loving Minnesota and I could not be more excited to be involved in IARP. I am lucky to have this opportunity to be more involved in my new community, continue in the field I am passionate about, and, hopefully, work on my Arabic language skills.
IARP has been grateful to partner with the Critical Needs Support Foundation (CNSF) on a Humanitarian Project for Peace to bring hygiene kits and sanitation products to IDP’s in Iraq. The recent kits were for the people of Mosul who have fled from IS (Daesh). The CNSF team are working tirelessly on the ground to identify and respond to those in need.
The most recent distribution consisted of:
68 hygiene kits in Al Haj Ali Village, south of Mosul, Ninewa Province
60 hygiene kits in Hamam Al Alil, south of Mosul near Al Qayyarah, Ninewa Province
270 Dignity Baskets in Alkhazer Camp, for displaced Iraqis feeling from Mosul (this distribution was funded in part by IARP and other humanitarian organizations).
The Dignity Baskets contained feminine hygiene products. The Hygiene Kits distributed in the villages each contained:
1x baby shampoo
1x lice shampoo
1x feminine hygiene kit
1x sponge pack for dish-washing
1x dish-washing liquid
1x plastic box
Here is a note from our partners at CNSF:
“Again, we thank you so much for your incredible support. You have helped us reduce risks to people’s health in a very simple but effective way. Disease can spread quickly, making an already difficult situation even more so. Most importantly, you are helping us protect their dignity.”
We are inviting for you to become a Partner for Peace and join our team of sustaining donors who generously give each month to IARP.
Becoming a Partner for Peace means you are making a commitment to partner with Iraqis and Americans working together to build a future free of hate, bigotry, and fear. Your interest in and support of our critical work means a great deal to all of us at IARP. Thank you.
Why become a Partner for Peace today?
Reason #1: We provide an artistic platform to Twin Cities-based Iraqis to share their stories. Safe spaces like these are needed now more than ever. Watch the Iraqi Voices films here: www.iraqiartproject.org/iraqi-voices/
Reason #2: We facilitate language, personal and professional exchanges in both Minnesota and Iraq.
Reason #3: We directly support humanitarian efforts on the ground in Iraq. In 2016, we partnered with the Critical Needs Support Foundation to distribute hygiene kits and supplies to Iraqis living in IDP camps. Learn more here: www.givemn.org/project/Water-For-Peace
Reason #4: We expose and share the diverse art and culture of Iraq and Iraqis in order to counter negative stereotypes. Learn more here: www.iraqiartproject.org/
“As Iraqi refugees, we have been through so much and film is a great outlet for us to express ourselves and gives us a cultural platform on which to reach a mainstream American audience. Through art, we can break down stereotypes and directly tell other Americans who we are and why we as new Americans are here.” – Jamal, Iraqi Voices participant
“As an Iraq War veteran and member of Iraq Veterans Against the War I am honored to be able to contribute to the work of IARP… I know I am responsible for contributing to the loss of so much for so many and the least I can do is find ways to take responsibility, demand the US pays reparations, and be grateful for every opportunity to reconcile this tragedy.” – Aaron Hughes, IARP Partner for Peace Team Member
Thank you to EVERYONE for making the premiere of OUR IRAQ a success!
OUR IRAQ is the 14th film in the Iraqi Voices series. A team of 10 local Iraqis created this film with Nathan Fisher and IARP. OUR IRAQ begins with a sweeping overview of thousands of years of ethnic and religious coexistence in the cradle of civilization. The film then dismantles caricatures of Iraqis and Muslims in the United States — an Iraqi-American sculptor rebuilds what extremists have destroyed, Muslims pray at a Catholic church in Minneapolis, refugees own a St. Paul neighborhood grocery, and a public school administrator becomes the first Muslim woman to win an election in Minnesota.
This event was organized in collaboration with the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota. It is part of their year-long series of public programming, “Global Minnesota: Immigrants Past and Present”, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.