As the year draws to an end, and despite the numerous challenges we have faced as people of conscience, compassion, and justice, I am still filled with hope for what we can do together in the New Year. From the Muslim Ban, to undermining the middle class, to abandoning our global leadership, I am under no illusion regarding the dire situation our country, and in particular minority communities, face today. But my hope stems from witnessing first-hand the power of focused collective action that is underpinned by a steadfast belief in our fundamental values as Americans.
Combating Hate Crimes
This year, Emgage Foundation and Emgage Action led the way in combating hate crimes against Muslims and other religious minorities. Thanks to our partnership with the Muslim Public Affairs Council, we succeeded in passing the landmark Resolution 118 condemning hate crimes against Muslims and other groups in the U.S. Senate. We were also successful in passing a similar measure in the Pennsylvania State General Assembly, the first of its kind in the country. Following a successful Hill Day during the summer, we are now pushing for adoption of a similar resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as in other state assemblies. Understanding fully well that resolutions are not enough, we are pushing for increased protection of religiously-affiliated institutions and are thrilled to report that H.R.1730 mandating tougher punishment for those who threaten or attack houses of worship was recently adopted by the House of Representatives.
Defending Human Rights
Our issue advocacy also focused on defending human rights and protecting the most vulnerable. Perhaps nowhere is this more needed than in Myanmar, where over a million Rohingya are being ethnically cleansed. Long persecuted by their government, the Rohingya are now facing an unprecedented genocidal campaign at the hands of the Myanmar military. Emgage Action is actively pressing Congress and the White House to sanction those responsible for the atrocities and to allow for the voluntary and safe return of the displaced to their homes. Emgage Action is currently working with Congress on passage of S.2060 and H.R.4223 to send a clear signal to Myanmar that enough is enough. I encourage you to take a minute to urge your elected officials to support these bills by clicking here.
Our issue advocacy was not confined to Washington, D.C. Throughout the year, our chapters in electorally important states mobilized citizens and partnered with other constituencies to engage with elected officials on issues ranging from criminal justice reform to protecting DACA recipients. We also launched EmgageAction.org, a unique citizen-to-policymaker website where you can learn, engage, and influence your elected officials on issues that matter to you. Please visit the site and consider becoming a sustaining member.
Getting Out The Vote
2017 also marked an important year for our Get Out The Vote (GOTV) effort, where we mobilized hundreds of volunteers to phone bank and canvass with Muslim and other communities to ensure that they vote in local and state-wide elections. We were particularly active in the lead-up to the November gubernatorial elections in Virginia, where Emgage Action conducted thousands of phone calls and organized numerous door-knocking drives that contributed to the historic results there. We also co-sponsored a nationally televised debate between the top two Democratic candidates for governor that helped informed the electorate about their choices.
Informing the Electorate
As we move towards 2018 and the mid-term elections, I do not need to tell you how crucial your engagement in our political process will be. This is why Emgage PAC, the only national PAC of its kind, has been busy developing a new set of questionnaires and criteria to help you determine who deserves our support. We will judge candidates based on their positions on issues that are important to all of us, from healthcare to criminal justice to immigration to taxation. Please check out EmgagePAC.org to learn more.
Your Support Matters
As you can see, we have been busy, but this is only the beginning. We are mindful of the challenges that lie ahead, but ever more determined knowing that we possess all that we need to push back against the hate, fear-mongering, and divisiveness. I urge every one of you to become an Emgage Action member so we can leverage our numbers as we engage policymakers on key issues. Also please consider supporting Emgage Foundation so we can continue to educate voters and mobilize them to become more civically engaged.
Thank you all for your steadfast support and from our team of Emgagers, we wish you a Happy New Year.
Wa’el Alzayat, Emgage CEO