Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Muslim Americans' lawsuit claims Trump exclusion order is unconstitutional

Judy Chu Instagram
Lawyers like these with Rep. Judy Chu at LAX volunteered to help families of those impacted by
President Donald Trump's executive order placing restrictions Muslim immigrants and refugees.

A LAWSUIT was filed challenging the constitutionality of Donald Trump's Executive Order that calls for a temporary ban on the Muslim immigrants or refugees

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of more than 20 people challenging President Donald Trump's immigration ban on seven Muslim-majority countries as a First Amendment violation.

The Muslim civil rights advocates is calling Trump's Executive Order the Muslim Exclusion Order, reminiscent of the Chinese Exclusion Act.

The lawsuit charges that Trump's executive order singles out one religion, which could lead to the expulsion of all Muslims living in the United States when their legal status expires.

"Five judges have had the opportunity to weigh on the constitutionality of this executive order, and we're batting five for five," said Gadeir Abbas, one of the attorneys who filed the suit. "Five have found constitutional problems with this executive order so we hope to put an end to it once and for all."

A federal judge in Brooklyn issued the first injunction temporarily blocking implementation of part of the ban on Saturday. Judges in Virginia, Washington state, Texas and California followed suit. We 

The CAIR lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court Eastern District of Virginia, seeks a much more broader action that could potentially bring the executive order to a screeching halt, if not strike it dead completely.

The 27 plaintiffs contend that the Muslim exclusion order represents “the fulfillment of President Trump’s longstanding promise and boasted intent to enact a federal policy that overtly discriminates against Muslims and officially broadcasts a message that the federal government disfavors the religion of Islam, preferring all other religions instead.”

Filed in the U.S. District Court Eastern District of Virginia, the suit alleges the executive order violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which states the government cannot endorse one religion over another.

Trump signed the executive order Friday prohibiting Muslims from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the United States for 90 days. 

It went into effect immediately and within hours, spontaneous demonstrations involving thousands of protesters broke out in airports all over the country.

“This policy is blatant xenophobia parading as national security. Numerous studies have shown that refugees and immigrants commit fewer crimes than native-born citizens., said Rep. Judy Chu. "Yet Mr. Trump continues to rely on the false justification that the U.S. cannot risk admitting refugees, when the reality is that the U.S. already has one of the strictest refugee vetting policies in the world. 

"The refugees seeking asylum here are overwhelmingly women and parents who do not pose a threat to our country, but simply want a chance to live in peace, away from the horrors of war and refugee camps. For them, this policy is a death sentence."

Acting Attorney General  Sally Yates was removed from her post by Trump after she told her attorneys not to defend the executive order.

"My responsibility is to ensure that the position of the Department of Justice is not only legally defensible, but is informed by our best view of what the law is after consideration of all the facts," Yates said in a letter. "In addition, I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution's solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right."

'Powerless' premieres Thursday


THE FIRST U.S. TV show evolving around comic book superheroes to star an Asian/American debuts this evening on NBC.

Powerless is a comedy featuring Filipino/American Vanessa Hudgens in the role of Emily Locke. She’s the head of research and development charged with developing security products that will not only save the world, but save the troubled company she works for from extinction.

The story which takes place in a universe of superheroes and villains also features Indian/American actor Danny Pudi who was a regular on the NBC show Community and more recently was a voice in the film Smurf, the Lost Village. In Powerless, both Pudi and Hudgens set out to protect us all from the collateral damage caused by superheroes that the powerless are left to clean up.

Vanessa Hudgens
The show when originally conceived had Hudgens playing the role of an insurance adjuster handling claims caused by the destruction of superheroes. The show’s producers realized that concept was too limiting and made what they felt were necessary changes.

“We landed on security products because we still wanted to do the idea that they are working on stuff that makes everybody like you or me a little bit safer in a world where demigods are flying around in the sky, wrecking buildings, causing falling rubble and that sort of thing,” Executive Producer Patrick Schumacker told TV Guide.

Hudgens leads a team of scientists including Pudi, Ron Funches and Jennie Pierson. Her foil is the cousin of Bruce Wayne, Van Wayne as played by Alan Tudyk, whose ambitions get in Hudgens’ way.

“Emily’s the type of girl that’s good at almost everything,” Hudgens recently told TVGuide.com. “Van … is just the rich, spoiled guy who’s never had to work very hard in his life, and my character wants to change the world, so they clash a lot.”

Powerless is the first comedy from DC Comics. It can be seen Thursdays at 8:30 p.m./7:30 p.m. Central.

Kal Penn, Silicon Valley raising funds for refugees, ACLU

Kal Penn was on President Obama's staff.

IT APPEARS that U.S. courts will be one of the battlegrounds where immigrant rights advocates and Silicon Valley giants will fight against the immigration orders shot out of the White House.

The growing outrage against Donald Trump's Executive Order that bans immigrants from seven predominately Muslim countries, has helped The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) raise over $24 million since the order was signed last Friday.

That's according to Anthony Romero, the executive director of the civil liberties group. Romero told Yahoo News that in addition to the $24 million, more than 150,000 new members have joined the organization.

"I’ve never seen anything like this," Romero told Yahoo News. "People are fired up and want to be engaged. What we’ve seen is an unprecedented public reaction to the challenges of the Trump administration."

Many celebrities and Silicon Valley luminaries encouraged their social media followers to support the civil rights group. The ACLU was one of the organizations that filed a complaint in a New York City court that resulted in a stay on parts of the Executive Order. 

The same outrage that fueled the ACLU spike in donations was seen in Kal Penn's fundraising effort for Syrian refugees. Indian/American actor Penn started his online fundraising after a person on Twitter told him that he does not belong in America.

Penn, best known for his role in Harold and Kumar, also served as a public engagement adviser to former president Barack Obama. He shared the image of the racist tweet with a fundraising page link which was created under the name "Donating to Syrian refugees in the name of the dude who said I don't belong in America."

"We are better than the hateful people who tell us we don't belong in our own country, that American can't be a beacon of freedom and hope for refugees from around the world. We will turn their bigotry, along with the President's, into love," he wrote on the page. 

Penn's initiative soon went viral on social media and people began to donate under their own names and some on behalf of Steven Bannon, Melania Trump, Kellyanne Conway and the President Trump himself.

Soon after the initial target of $250,000 was reached within 24 hours, Penn posted a thank you message on the page saying, "Beautiful people - You just raised more than a quarter of a million dollars for refugees in less than 24 hours!"

Early this morning (Jan. 31), the amount had surpassed $750,000. "This is such a testament to how proud we are of our beautiful country and how fired up we are to #resist our new president's dangerous policies with solidarity and love. Thank you! The donor page remains open, so keep it up!"

Google has created a crisis fund that could raise up to $4 million for four immigrant rights organizations.

Google has confirmed a USA Today report that it is funding an initial $2 million for the fund that can be matched with up to $2 million in donations from employees. The money will go toward the American Civil Liberties Union, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, the International Rescue Committee and the U.N. Human Rights Commission.

Company executives are also donating separately to the effort.

Google says in a statement that it's concerned about the impact President Donald Trump's order to temporarily suspend immigration from seven Muslim majority nations will have on the company's employees and their families.

Google CEO Sundar Pichal

Google CEO Sundar Pichai, an Indian/American, wrote a memo to staff about the ban, which was obtained by Bloomberg.

“It’s painful to see the personal cost of this executive order on our colleagues,” Pichai wrote. “We’ve always made our view on immigration issues known publicly and will continue to do so.”

“We’re concerned about the impact of this order and any proposals that could impose restrictions on Googlers and their families, or that could create barriers to bringing great talent to the US. We’ll continue to make our views on these issues known to leaders in Washington and elsewhere.”

"The ACLU took Trump to court. Let's stand with them. Reply with donation receipts from today and I'll match to $25,000," venture capitalist Chris Sacca tweeted on Saturday. As replies poured in, Sacca doubled and tripled his match offer, then said he was "matching my own match and giving $150,000."

Other tech companies have offered support as well. Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said on Twitter that the company will provide "free housing to refugees and anyone not allowed in the U.S.," and ride-sharing service Lyft announced it would donate $1 million to the ACLU over the next four years.

Other major companies that took positions against the ban included Microsoft, Apple, Uber and Tesla.

Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella added his own statement via LinkedIn:

“As an immigrant and as a CEO, I’ve both experienced and seen the positive impact that immigration has on our company, for the country, and for the world. We will continue to advocate on this important topic.”


Monday, January 30, 2017

Google notes: Today is Fred Korematsu Day

Google's Doodle of the Asian/American hero Fred Korematsu.

By Louis Chan

THE TIMING couldn’t be better.

Asian/American civil rights icon Fred Korematsu is being honored today with a Google Doodle.

Fred Korematsu upon receiving the
Presidential Medal of Honor.

Anyone who goes to Google.com will see a Doodle of Korematsu, on what would have been his 98th birthday.

The Oakland native refused to comply with President Roosevelt’s Executive Order to report with other Japanese Americans on the West Coast after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

He was eventually arrested and convicted in federal court for violating a military order under Executive Order 9066. Korematsu’s case would become a test of the legality of the incarceration of Japanese Americans.

Many have compared today’s political climate for Muslims in the United States to that faced by Japanese/Americans during World War II. With President Trump’s executive order temporarily banning the immigration of those from seven predominantly Muslim countries, the Doodle takes on extra meaning.

The idea of a Doodle for Korematsu goes back to 2015 when a campaign was launched by 18 Million Rising. It’s been renewed every year since.

Korematsu’s conviction was upheld by both the appeals court and U.S. Supreme Court in 1944.

RELATED: More on Fred Korematsu
The conviction was finally vacated in 1983 by the Federal Court in San Francisco after evidence surfaced that the U.S. Government suppressed information that Japanese/Americans posed no military threat during World War II.

Everything came full circle in 1998 when President Bill Clinton awarded Korematsu the Presidential Medal of Freedom.


Analysis of Trump's temporary restrictions on refugees

WHEN PRESIDENT TRUMP signed an Executive Order placing restrictions on refugees and immigration from entering the U.S., it went into effect immediately.

However, it appears that detailed instructions were not given to the government employees at the airports on how to enforce the EO. According to the NYTimes, Trump’s plan received little or no legal review. The secretary of homeland security was not asked for guidance, and Customs and Border Protection officers were unaware.

The treatment of refugees or other people coming from the seven countries cited in the EO - Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen - was uneven depending on which airport you landed in. Some homeland security staff were harsh and others were more lenient. Some airports were lax and released the immigrants/refugees/permanent residents; others placed arriving passengers who were impacted by the EO back on planes and returned them from their countries they came from. Still others, unsure about the court decision in New York, released the detained passengers to their families and communities and there are reports that some of those who were detained are still under guard at the airports. Attorneys who tried to provide legal assistance were denied access and were not even given names of those affected.

Meanwhile, here is the National Immigration Law Center's final analysis on the immediate consequences of Trump’s order, which gives insight to the impact the travel ban will have on people from different countries.
If you are an Iranian national outside of the U.S. with a valid U.S. visa, you will not be able to enter the United States.
  • Iranian nationals who are also citizens of a 3rd country (e.g. Canada) will still be barred from entering the United States, according to the State Department.
  • U.S. permanent resident aliens (green card holders) from Iran who are outside of the United States will be barred from reentry, according to a Department of Homeland Security spokesperson.
    • Green card holders must apply for a case-by-case exemption from the Department of Homeland Security to be allowed reentry to the United States.
  • U.S. citizens will not be directly affected by the ban.
  • There is nothing to indicate that persons on valid visas inside the United States will be expelled so long as they do not leave the country and have a legal basis for remaining in the U.S.
The best bet is to remain cautious. If you are uncertain what your status is, consult an immigration attorney. If you don't need to travel out of the country - don't. Carry the phone number of your local ACLU office with you and exercise caution.

The possibility of the Trump administration adding more countries to the list is very likely. The stay issued by the New York judge and other courts around the country are only temporary. A final ruling is yet to come.

Kim Kardasian and Pope Francis agree: Trump's Muslim policy is senseless & sinful

It is not often you mention Pope Francis and Kim Kardashian in the same sentence.

UH, OH! Now Donald Trump is in deep doo-doo. Not only did his executive order for a temporary ban from seven countries that are predominantly Muslim get panned by Pope Francis, he's also incurred the wrath of social media queen Kim Kardashian.

Kardashian, an Armenian/American, who is a, uh ... I'm not sure what she does for a living ... is wildly popular. Nevertheless, she is known for promoting restaurants and nightclubs, setting fashion trends and posting her selfies which are sought by her eager fans. She is not known for political commentary but she posted this to her millions of followers:

I think the pop culture trend-setter made her point.

On the other end of the cultural spectrum, Pope Francis weighed in when responding to a question from a German youth group. Although he didn't mention Trump by name, it is pretty clear who he was referring to.

“The sickness or, you can say the sin, that Jesus condemns most is hypocrisy, which is precisely what is happening when someone claims to be a Christian but does not live according to the teaching of Christ. You cannot be a Christian without living like a Christian,” he said.

“You cannot be a Christian without practicing the Beatitudes. You cannot be a Christian without doing what Jesus teaches us in Matthew 25,” a reference to what is known as the Parable of the Judgment or the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats.

“It’s hypocrisy to call yourself a Christian and chase away a refugee or someone seeking help, someone who is hungry or thirsty, toss out someone who is in need of my help,” said the spiritual leader of world's billion Roman Catholics. Trump won 51% of the Catholic vote last November.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

1984? Week One of the Trump presidency

IT'S 2017 but it feels a helluva like George Orwell's "1984."
    Executive Orders and government policies based on fear and hate are coming out of the White House in a seemingly unending avalanche of Orwellian doublespeak and playground taunts.

    Trump's first week in office, he has ordered or opened the door the following:

    • Trump's inauguration crowd is bigger than Obama's, "period! No ifs, ands or buts, declared Trump media spokesman Sean Spicer
    • Millions of votes were cast in favor of Hillary Clinton by dead people according to Trump although there is no evidence to support his assertion. He has ordered an investigation.
    • Lies are just "alternative facts," says senior advisor Kelly Ann Conway. The phrase went viral.
    • Government agencies are being ordered to muzzle their communications to the public.
    • Torture is an effective method of interrogation (I thought we were the good guys.)
    • Deport millions of tax-paying immigrants and their families
    • Build that damn wall! Threaten a 20% tax that we consumers will end up paying.
    • Removed the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Pact (TPP). Advantage: China.
    • Revived the "black sites" where the U.S. imprisoned, interrogated enemy agents without any oversight.
    • Stopped funding health agencies in countries (mostly Africa) that advocated birth control to get a handle on its economic and social problems caused by overpopulation.
    • Make the free press the enemy. Senior Strategist told the media to "shut up."

    • Seeks to punish 'sanctuary' cities by stopping federal dollars going to those cities and counties.
    • *Stop any release to the public of information about scientific research, strides or anything that goes against Trump's Breitbart-inspired beliefs, ie. climate change.
    • Order new restrictions on immigrants and refugees from countries that are predominantly Muslim. (But only those countries where the President doesn't have business interests.)
    • Oh, yes. One more: Trump had a nice phone conversation with his buddy, Russian President Putin.
      In front of seven men, in the first few days of his administration, President Donald Trump signs an order to defund international agencies advocating birth control for women.

      It's breathtaking. Trump seems to have taken a statement made famous by former First Lady Michelle Obama and twisted it to suit his message: "When they go low ... we go lower!" 

      “There is no doubt that this a direct attack on the majority of the country. Trump’s unabashed advancement of right-wing policies reflects his gross neglect of what is profoundly American: to value diversity no matter faith, nationality, skin color—or any self or perceived identity,” declared Johanna Puno Hester, National President of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO (APALA) and Assistant Executive Director of the United Domestic Workers, AFSCME Local 3930.

      The stock market went up over 20,000 for the first time in history. That profit generated by money manipulators is not going to the hard-working people of America. It is going to shareholders, investment bankers and the Wall Street wolves who do nothing but move money from one account to another.

      These are the very same people who brought us criminal loans, massive foreclosures and the Great Recession.  

      Golden State Warriors: Happy Chinese New Year!

      ONE of the greatest things that occurs in the NBA on a daily basis is global outreach. There are many examples of how the league caters to fans all across the globe and the Golden State Warriors have been excellent ambassadors to the league through social media, summer visits to Asia and outreach to the local Asian/American communities.

      With a tremendous Chinese population in the San Francisco Bay Area and the loyal following they provide the Warriors and the NBA year after year, the league celebrates their holiday. Teams roll out special Chinese New Year uniforms and players get into celebrating with their fans with awesome shoes and gear. Curry and the Warriors wore their custom jerseys for Saturday night, Chinese Heritage Night.

      The NBA issued their video earlier this month observing the Year of the Rooster. This one featured Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Stephen  Curry wishing their fans a Happy Chinese New Year.

      Last year, Thompson toured San Francisco's Chinatown where he encountered fans and dragons.

      Judge stays part of Trump's refugee ban; AAPI clap back at Executive Order

      Canada will welcome refugees denied entry by the U.S.
      PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP has stirred up a hornets nest with his executive order banning refugees and people coming from seven countries from coming into the U.S.

      As his order went into effect, thousands of people began amassing at the country's airports protesting the presidential decree.

      The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) along with other humanitarian organizations filed a lawsuit Saturday morning on behalf of two Iraqi men who were detained at JFK International Airport in New York. 

      By the evening, in an emergency hearing, Federal Judge Ann Donnelly of the Eastern District of New York granted a stay that would prevent the government from deporting immigrants who are already in U.S. airports but are being detained. 

      The decision does not overturn the executive order so it leaves in place the ban on people who are currently abroad. What it does is “preserve the status quo” for people who came to the US in the immediate aftermath of the executive order, after having been granted visas allowing them to legally come to the US (before the order was signed).
      UPDATE includes number of people impacted and statement from AAAJ
      “It was an illegal detention, this was a discriminatory order from President Trump, and we will continue to fight for all of the refugees, immigrants and non-immigrants,” said Mark Doss, the supervising attorney for the International Refugee Assistance Project.

      One of the detained men, Hameed Khalid Darweesh, worked as an interpreter for the U.S. Army when it invaded Iraq in 2003 and later as a contract engineer for the U.S.

      For his safety, he was granted permission to come to the U.S. Upon his arrival at JFK Friday night, he was detained along with another traveler from Iraq named Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi. 
      Darkish was released first Saturday afternoon and then later in the day, Alshawi was also freed. An unknown number of people are detained at U.S. airports.

      When Judge Donnelly asked U.S. lawyers for a list of all those being detained, the attorneys said they didn't have the list and that it would take time. "Work it out," she responded.

      Besides the two men at JFK, there were reports of 11 more people detained at the airport.
      According to the Department of Homeland Security, hundreds of international travelers were impacted by Trump's executive order: 109 were in transit and denied entry; 173 were prevented from boarding flights to he U.S. All in all, 375 travelers were impacted.

      Trump's executive order signed Friday afternoon is supposed to make America safer from terrorists who come into the country as refugees.

      “We have an obligation as Asian Americans to speak up when the most shameful parts of our history stand to be repeated," said Karin Wang, vice president of programs and communications at Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles.

      "The unfair targeting of Muslim immigrants is a haunting reminder of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882: during a period of intense anti-Chinese violence and persecution, it was the only U.S. law ever to ban immigration of a specific ethnic group,” she stated in a press release.

      “The language in this executive order demonizing Muslims is reminiscent of the rhetoric that led to the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, which was one of the most flagrant violations of civil liberties in American history," said Megan Essaheb, assistant director of immigration and immigrants’ rights at Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC. 

      “We cannot forget the fear mongering and hysteria which lead to the incarceration during World War II where more than 110,000 innocent people, mostly U.S. citizens, were incarcerated solely on the basis of their national origin.”

      Since 9/11, the U.S. has admitted 784,000 refugees into the country. According to the Migration Policy Institute, during that time, exactly three refugees were found to have links to terrorism — so, approximately .00038 percent of refugees in the U.S. have had ties to terrorism. Two of these refugees were caught while trying to leave the country to join extremist groups abroad. All three are currently in prison.

      What's puzzling about Trump's ban is that the countries named in his ban, none were involved in the terrorist attack on 9/11. Most of those involved in that attack were from Saudi Arabia.

      The perpetrators of other recent attacks in the US that have been linked to Islamic extremism were also not from the seven countries:
      • The killer of 50 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando in June 2016 was a US citizen whose parents were Afghans
      • The two people who shot 14 dead in San Bernardino, California, in December 2015, were a U.S. and a Pakistani citizen
      • The Boston marathon bombers who killed three and injured many more were ethnic Chechens.
      Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that his country will welcome the refugees turned away by the U.S. He also intends to talk to Trump about the success of Canada’s refugee policy.

      Trudeau reacted to Trump’s ban of Muslims from certain countries by tweeting Saturday: “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada.”

      Meanwhile, the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR) has scheduled a press conference Monday, 1 p.m. in Washington D.C. to file their lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Trump's ban.

      Saturday, January 28, 2017

      Texas Mosque burned down

      Firefighters tried to douse the flames consuming the Islamic Center of Victoria, Center.

      Hours after President Trump signed an Executive Order banning refugees from seven Mid-East countries that are predominantly Muslim, a mosque in Victoria, Texas was burned to the ground.

      Flames engulfed the Islamic Center of Victoria, destroying the building in the predawn hours this morning (Jan. 28) as congregation members watched from the curb, overcome with emotion.

      “It’s a house of worship,” Shahid Hashmi told the Victoria Advocate. Hash  president of the center, watched the flames from across the street. 

      The mosque is home to more than 100 members and serves as a place of worship and community gathering, Hashmi said.

      Members of the mosque had planned to complete the day's remaining calls to prayer at the destroyed building this morning but fire investigators would not allow them near the burnt-out building while the cause of the fire is being investigated.

      "They said it ... is a restricted area for now for the investigation," Hashmi said. "So, we just prayed right here on this" sidewalk.

      And, members of the Victoria community, of all faiths, are invited to join members of the Victoria Islamic Center at 10 a.m. Sunday at the site of the destroyed mosque for a prayer service, he said.

      Although Hashmi said the mosque was burglarized Jan. 21, he was unwilling to speculate that the fire was the result of arson.
      Friday afternoon, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order temporarily banning Muslims from seven countries, refugees or immigrants, from entering the U.S. 

      Although there is no evidence the Trump's action and the mosque burning are linked, there has been a marked spike in hate crimes, especially against Muslims, since Trump won the presidency last November.

      Hashmi was reluctant to jump to conclusions, however. A Muslim man was arrested for suspicion of burning a mosque in Houston last year.

      Trump signs order banning refugees; Muslim Americans to file lawsuit

      Officers and attorneys of the Council of American-Islamic Relations during their press conference announcing their lawsuit against President Trump's executive order.
      WE SHOULD NOT BE SURPRISED. President Donald Trump did exactly what he promised he would do during the campaign. Any hope that Trump would moderate his views once he was elected should be thrown out the window.

      Trump signed an executive order Friday afternoon that bans all immigrants and visa holders from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days, and opens the door to expand the order to include Asian countries that have Muslim populations, such as India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

      It also bans all refugee admissions for 120 days — and bans Syrian refugees indefinitely.

      "On Holocaust Memorial Day, Trump restricted refugees from Muslim-majority countries. Make no mistake — this is a Muslim ban," Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, said in a statement.

      Shortly after the new restrictions were announced, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim/American civil rights organization in the country, announced its intention to challenge the executive order in court.

      "There is no evidence that refugees – the most thoroughly vetted of all people entering our nation – are a threat to national security," said CAIR National Litigation Director Lena F. Masri, Esq. "This is an order that is based on bigotry, not reality."

      The lawsuit, to be filed in the U.S. District Court – Western District of Virginia, will challenge the constitutionality of the order because its apparent purpose and underlying motive is to ban people of the Islamic faith from Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.

      "Our First Amendment is under attack. We, as attorneys, are foot soldiers of the American Constitution and took an oath to protect all from being targeted by the government because of their faith," said Attorney Shereef Akeel, Esq., who is also co-counsel on the lawsuit.

      "There is no evidence that refugees – the most thoroughly vetted of all people entering our nation – are a threat to national security," said CAIR National Litigation Director Lena F. Masri, Esq. "This is an order that is based on bigotry, not reality."

      Malala Yousafzai, the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize winner, said she was "heartbroken" in a statement condemning the Trump's latest Executive Order. Yousafzai, originally from Pakistan, said:

      “I am heartbroken that today President Trump is closing the door on children, mothers and fathers fleeing violence and war. I am heartbroken that America is turning its back on a proud history of welcoming refugees and immigrants — the people who helped build your country, ready to work hard in exchange for a fair chance at a new life.

      "I am heartbroken that Syrian refugee children, who have suffered through six years of war by no fault of their own, are singled-out for discrimination.

      "I am heartbroken for girls like my friend Zaynab, who fled wars in three countries — Somalia, Yemen and Egypt — before she was even 17. Two years ago she received a visa to come to the United States. She learned English, graduated high school and is now in college studying to be a human rights lawyer.

      "Zaynab was separated from her little sister when she fled unrest in Egypt. Today her hope of being reunited with her precious sister dims."


      "In this time of uncertainty and unrest around the world, I ask President Trump not to turn his back on the world’s most defenseless children and families.”

      Friday, January 27, 2017

      TGIF FEATURE: Songs of protest touch the heart and soul

      The celebrities who took part in the newest incarnation of "Where Is The Love."
      IN THESE TURBULENT TIMES, we all try to do what we can to fight the rising ugliness of racism, mysogeny and hate: Writers write, organizers organize, marchers march, speakers speak and singers sing.

      The Black Eyed Peas updated their video and lyrics to "Where's The Love" to make it more relevant to the times we are currently undergoing. Besides Filipino/American Apl.de.Ap, it featured a score of celebrities from the entertainment world including Hawaii-born Nicole Scherzinger, who is part Filipina.


      THE WOMEN'S MARCH held Jan. 21 inspired singer/songwriter MILCK, aka Connie Lim, who wrote a song "Quiet," that has become the unofficial anthem of The March. 

      Samantha Bee, host of Full Frontal, saw a lot of things that inspired and gave her hope, but one thing stood out: the #ICANTKEEPQUIET Choir of DC, a group of women who spent the weekend doing flash mob-style performances around the city on the day after Donald Trump's inauguration, surprising unsuspecting strangers with their soul-stirring a cappella empowerment anthem, "Quiet."  She brought the women onto her show to perform the moving song. (Go to the 4:25 mark to hear the song.)

      "The words of violence towards women ... about grabbing the pussy ... brought up a lot of issues for my friend, who was abused," Lim told Billboard. "She got really traumatized, she couldn't leave her house and when I was writing with her she shared her emotions with me. I said, 'Holy crap, this is not casual words to fly around. We need to step up and protect people and make them feel safe and loved again.' And then the Women's March became this beacon of light and hope, something for us to do that was positive." 


      100 AAPI organizations sign Letter of Resistance vs. Trump

      Filipino/Americans joined the Women's March in Oakland, California last Jaan. 21.

      In a strange way, Donald Trump is uniting us.

      The momentum from last weekend's Women's Marches across the country and supportive demonstrations around the world, the likes of which we haven't seen since the anti-Vietnam demonstrations of the 60s and 70s, is not faltering. On the contrary, the resistance is building. 

      Today, (Jan. 26), over a hundred Asian/American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) organizations have committed to resist President Trump and his Administration, by signing a Letter of Resistance. The signatories feature a variety of national organizations, local groups, and student organizations of South Asians, East Asians, Southeast Asians, Muslims, Buddhists that focus on a range of issues from worker rights and economic justice to health and racial justice advocacy.

      The joint statement rejects making racism, hate, xenophobia, and sexism normal, and details principles by which organizations will advocate, mobilize, and organize their respective constituencies together in our collective resistance and solidarity efforts. 

      Johanna Puno Hester, National President of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO and Assistant Executive Director of United Domestic Workers of American/AFSCME Local 3930, said: 

      GABRIELA-USA chair Irma Shauf-Bajar in a video
      stating organization's position.
      “It is so dangerous for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders – and any other communities of color and marginalized communities – to engage with the Trump administration. With an administration full of right-wingers and white supremacists whose statements and track records already have proven to be toxic for the new American majority and the planet as a whole, we need to lean on each other, collaborate, and co-conspire in the dark times ahead. Millions marched this weekend, including APALA members across the country, and we are ready to continue resisting.”

      “We need to come out in full force and resist this new administration, which has already promised to dismantle the rights of AAPI women and our communities," said Sung Yeon Choimorrow, Interim Executive Director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum. "Now more than ever, we need to reaffirm our solidarity with all who are fighting for justice, whether that’s across the street or across the nation.” 

      Below please find the statement in full and the complete list of signatories. We continue to welcome new co-conspirators to our collective resistance.

      As Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, We Will Resist

      We stand at a critical juncture in world history. The election of Donald Trump as president of the United States represents a direct threat to millions of people’s safety and to the health of the planet. As Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) committed to equality, inclusion, and justice, we pledge to resist any efforts by President-Elect Trump’s administration to target and exploit communities, to strip people of their fundamental rights and access to essential services, and to use rhetoric and policies that divide the American people and endanger the world.

      Mr. Trump’s campaign used explicit racial appeals to win the support of disaffected white voters, promising to restore their economic and social standing by deporting millions of immigrants, building a wall, creating a Muslim registry, banning Muslim immigration, and punishing Black dissent. He also engaged in deeply misogynistic language and behavior throughout his campaign. He insulted all people of color; people with disabilities; and women – all of whom amount to the majority of America. In the global arena, he has signaled at a new nuclear arms race, promised to expand the use of torture, and disparaged the United Nations.

      Since his election, Mr. Trump has chosen known white nationalists, corporate moguls, religious zealots, climate deniers, hawkish ex-generals, anti-Islam spokespersons, and anti-government crusaders to serve in his Administration. Right-wing extremists now dominate his party, which will control all three branches of the federal government and the majority of state legislatures, and are positioned to jeopardize the future of the Supreme Court for the next generation and beyond. Together this new realignment of forces seeks to turn back the clock on civil rights and environmental protections, to maximize corporate profits by privatizing the public sector, and to create a racially and culturally exclusive America.

      This is not business as usual, and we will not engage in business-as-usual tactics and strategies.

      As AAPIs, our lives are rooted in the long arc of U.S. history, which was born out of racial violence and has been shaped by the struggles for freedom of oppressed peoples domestically and internationally. Some of our ancestors first arrived in what is now the United States as subjects of European empire over 400 years ago. Some of us are indigenous to this country as our ancestors' lands were occupied and colonized by the United States as they sought to expand their global military and economic power. In the centuries since, AAPIs have faced indentured servitude, exclusionary immigration laws, bars to citizenship and land ownership, mass deportation, mass incarceration, war, sexual and gender-based violence, forced displacement, vigilante violence, surveillance, and racial and religious profiling.

      Today our movements include Southeast Asian refugees organizing to end criminalization and deportation; Muslims, Arabs, Sikhs and South Asians fighting surveillance, profiling, war, and hate violence; women reclaiming their bodies against trafficking, domestic violence, exploitation, and criminalization; low-wage workers standing up against wage theft, poor working conditions, and abusive employers; Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders building a generation to fight against generational poverty caused by loss of sovereignty, militarization of lands and people, forced displacement, and criminalization; and trans, gender-non-conforming, and queer people putting their bodies on the line to demand a different, more humane world. We have always fought injustice, and we are resolute to continue doing so.

      The majority of AAPI voters rejected Mr. Trump’s candidacy. Indeed, while Mr. Trump won the Electoral College – a problematic system with its own deep history rooted in slavery and racial inequities – he lost the popular vote.  And with only 58% of eligible voters casting ballots in this election, the vast majority of American voters did not vote to elect Mr. Trump. He and his Administration have no mandate to govern.

      For all of these reasons, we commit to the following principles and ask all AAPIs to join us:
      • We will center and stand up for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community members who are likely to face increased levels of hate violence, targeting, and policing. We will center and uplift the experiences and calls to action of undocumented immigrants, Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim, refugees, women, and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI) community members. We will also support the organizing and resistance strategies of AAPI groups and our allies closest to the ground in local communities.
      • We will defend all targets of bigotry, repression, and hate made by Mr. Trump’s Administration, or caused by the Trump Effect, with a broad principle of solidarity: “An attack on one is an attack on all.”
      • We will refuse to legitimate or normalize Mr. Trump’s Administration, which has already violated the core principles of American democracy by using explicit appeals to racial and religious bigotry, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and misogyny to gain political power. We will reject ideas, statements, and policies that strengthen the incoming Administration’s legitimacy, including divide-and-conquer tactics or strategies that position AAPIs as a racial wedge against other communities of color.
      • We will reject any attempts by the Trump Administration to use AAPIs to make a case for their legitimacy and diversity, and will not compromise our values and agency to gain a “seat at the table” in pursuit of narrow benefits. Nor will we conflate marginal visibility for genuine power and influence for our communities.
      • We agree to be transparent about our engagement with the Trump Administration, and to be held accountable for our organizational strategies and decisions.
      • We will raise awareness about how AAPI communities are affected by discriminatory and divisive rhetoric and policies, and will stand firm in opposing them.
      • We will support those who assume personal and organizational risk to defend democratic institutions and practices including human, civil, and constitutional rights, against unjust laws and actions by the government, any group, or individual.
      • We will seek unity in pursuit of shared goals, knowing that defending democracy will require various kinds of movements and tactics to weather the coming period of increased repression, and to build a more humane and sustainable world.
      • We will work tirelessly toward an inclusive and democratic vision that ensures the safety, self-determination, and wellbeing of all people, and we will model this in our resistance and solidarity efforts.

      Click here, for the complete list of signatories. For other organizations wishing to sign this Letter of Resistance, click here. 

      “Unity is the only way forward and will be our protection for one another in resisting a Trump presidency," said Irma Shauf-Bajar, chair of GABRIELA-USA, a Filipino/American organization that signed on  to the letter. ".... We must Rise, Resist, Unite!”