The Critical Ethnic Studies Association opposes the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s arrest and indictment of Rasmea Odeh, a 65-year old community activist serving Arab and Muslim communities across the greater Chicago area and a leader supporting the rights of women, immigrants, and oppressed peoples across the world. Rasmea has committed her life to building strong communities and working towards social justice as the Associate Director of the Arab American Action Network, founder of the Arab Women’s Committee, and recipient of numerous community awards for her work on asylum, immigration, and women’s rights. It is clear that Rasmea’s arrest and indictment reflect nothing more than the growing repression against those struggling for Palestinian people’s rights under international law. We join over 70 organizations and 3,000 individuals who have signed statements in support of Rasmea Odeh.
Rasmea was charged for alleged inconsistencies in her 1994 immigration application over 20 years ago. These charges fall amongst a growing pattern of administrative practices that single out community leaders working for Arab and Muslim community rights and empowerment and those who support the international human rights of Palestinians. Deportations and expedited removals have more than doubled in the last decade and we have watched with deep concern and growing dismay as immigration agencies shift their work to function and serve forms of federal criminal enforcement that are based on racial profiling. This partnership is often denied or expressed as necessary exceptions to the rule of law; however, growing programs such as 287(g) and Secure Communities are not only a direct strategy of racial violence against immigrant communities operating through the fiction of safety and security, but they are also used to build this nation’s history of draconian punishment practices that produce anti-Black racism in policing and incarceration.
In 1969, Rasmea was arrested by Israeli occupation forces for her community organizing. She was then sentenced by a military court which convicts over 99% of Palestinians who appear before it. This resulted in her incarceration for 10 years in Israeli prisons. She served her time and was then released. She has already suffered in Israeli jails and it is unthinkable that the Department of Homeland Security is attempting to put her through a second round of punishment and criminalization only to use her case as a tactic of intimidation against Arab and Muslim individuals and groups working to serve their communities and fight for social justice.
We are particularly outraged that DHS would target a sixty-five year old woman who has had such a positive impact on the lives of thousands of disenfranchised recent immigrant women, and who has earned such great respect in Greater Chicago.
We believe that current U.S. immigration claims couched in “fraud” are part of a long history of surveillance and sabotage of Arab and Palestinian activists in the United States, from Operation Boulder under the Nixon administration, to increased spying and profiling following 9/11, to the prosecution of the Holy Land Five. Rasmea’s political indictment also throws into relief the sharing of policing technologies and methodologies between the U.S. and Israeli regime of mass detention and mass incarceration.
CESA is dismayed to hear that another Palestinian American leader, community member, and mentor is under attack by U.S. immigration agencies. We lift-up the work of organizations such as the Arab American Action Network, all of the organizations supporting Rasmea’s legal case, and those campaigns working against the silencing of social justice and human rights activists.
Critical Ethnic Studies Association,
Working Group 2013-2014
To help support the legal defense for Rasmea’s case, donations should be made online through the organization that has agreed to help coordinate - Committee to Stop FBI Repression. You must also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, noting the amount and its designation to Rasmea in order for the funds to be allocated to the right place. Donations are not tax deductible.
For tax deductible support in the amount of $100 or more, you must pay by check to “NLG Foundation” with the memo line “Rasmea Defense Fund,” and mail to: 3148 W 63rd Street Floor 2, Chicago IL 60629 with ATTN: Rasmea Defense Fund written on the envelope.
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