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Iranian American Know Your Rights Resolution Introduced in the House



Thursday, July 21, 2005

Iranian American Know Your Rights Resolution Introduced in the House

Washington, DC - At the urging of the Iranian American Political Action Committee (IAPAC), Congressman Marty Meehan (D-5th/MA) and  Congressman Christopher Shays (R-4th/CT) introduced resolution, H.Res.367 on July 19th condemning discrimination and bigotry against Iranian Americans. The resolution is a response to documented reports of discrimination targeting the Iranian American community, which, according to civil rights and liberties organizations, has increased over the past six months. Cosponsors include, Congressman Tom Feeney (R-24th/FL), Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-14th/NY), Congressman John Mica (R-7th/FL), Congressman Robert Simmons (R-2nd/CT) and Congressman Henry Waxman (D-30th/CA).

 The resolution acknowledges the diversity of the Iranian American community and their contributions to the social and economic fabric of American society. It outlines serious concerns over increasing reports of discrimination against Americans of Middle Eastern descent, including Iranian Americans. These include findings in the Inspector General’s Report of discriminatory enforcement of immigration laws, arrests followed by detentions for extended periods of time without charges, denials of access to counsel and abuse by prison guards of nationals of Iranian origin.

 It encourages Iranian Americans to “share their experiences with local, state and federal elected officials as well as others in their community to end stereotypes, correct misconceptions and convey instances of abuse against the Iranian American community.” The resolution also, “calls upon local and Federal law enforcement authorities to investigate and vigorously prosecute crimes committed against all Americans, including Iranian Americans, that are based on actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin or ethnicity.”

H.Res.367 is a component of the recently launched Iranian American Know Your Rights Campaign, which strives to educate Iranian Americans of their civil rights and liberties as well as educate mainstream America on the Iranian American community. Spearheaded by the National Legal Sanctuary for Community Advancement (NLSCA), the Iranian American Know Your Rights Campaign comprises a coalition of national organizations, which include the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Amnesty International USA, Iranian American Bar Association (IABA) and IAPAC. The purpose of the resolution is to resonate symbolically to alleviate fear and encourage Iranian Americans to step forward and share their stories.

 Ms. Dalia Hashad, of the ACLU’s Campaign Against Racial Profiling has emphasized the necessity for the Iranian American Know Your Rights Campaign and H.Res.367. “Iranian Americans are an integral part of the American community, just as important and committed to this country as any other group and yet, increasingly, we are seeing policies and practices that negatively target them. As with any form of discrimination, criminalizing Iranian Americans, simply because of their ethnic heritage, only hurts America,” said Ms. Hashad.

 To complement the coalition’s work, Congressman Meehan and Congressman Shays have introduced this resolution as a means of protecting the civil rights and liberties of all Americans, including Iranian Americans. Congressman Meehan, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, has expressed his concern over the growing reports of discrimination against Iranian Americans saying, “civil liberties violations contradict the principles upon which this country was founded and compromise our ability to establish an effective counterterrorism policy.”