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Yasmine Taeb Discusses Pro-Refugee Advocacy at ECDC Conference

By Rebecca Harris, Yasmine Taeb, June 1, 2017

On a panel at the Ethiopian Community Development Council, Inc.'s annual conference, FCNL Lobbyist on Human Rights and Civil Liberties Yasmine Taeb emphasized the importance of bipartisanship and grassroots, community-based advocacy on behalf of refugees.

The panel, which took place on May 31, addressed the urgency of pro-refugee advocacy in the current political climate and covered techniques for local engagement in support of refugees. Alongside Taeb, it featured Kenn Speicher, a member of the executive committee of NOVA Friends of Refugees.

Providing updates on threats to the US Refugee Resettlement Program, Taeb discussed the progress of President Trump's Muslim ban executive order through the federal court system and the president's proposed changes to refugee funding. If passed, Taeb said, President Trump's proposed budget would cut funding for refugee resettlement programs by 31%.

Throughout her remarks, Taeb stressed the importance of grassroots mobilization. "It's imperative for members of Congress to hear from us, especially with funding on the line," she said. She suggested that constituents organize welcome dinners when refugees arrive in their communities and write letters to the editor on refugee assistance. "These are really very easy and effective ways of making sure our elected officials know we care about these issues," she said.

Noting that her program has met with more than three dozen Republican offices, despite FCNL's concern over a number of refugee-related policies advanced by the current administration, Taeb also stressed the importance of a bipartisan approach. "We've been able to have really thoughtful conversations with a lot of Republican offices," she said. "They're open to candid conversation."

Republican and Democrats alike know that "we have a tradition of welcoming people fleeing violence and persecution," Taeb said. "We can't close our doors."

Rebecca Harris

  • Program Assistant for Human Rights and Civil Liberties

Rebecca Harris works closely with Legislative Representative Yasmine Taeb on issues including the Syrian refugee situation, the United States’ “War on Terror,” military use of lethal drones, and the closure of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. As Program Assistant, she conducts research, meets with congressional staff, and drafts letters and other materials.

Yasmine Taeb

  • Legislative Director for Human Rights and Civil Liberties

Yasmine directs FCNL’s work on a number of human rights and civil liberties issues, including lobbying for increased resettlement of refugees, more transparency and oversight of the U.S. lethal drones program, calling for the closure of Guantanamo, and for the repeal of the 2001 AUMF, among other issues.