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NEWS: Senate Majority Leader McConnell Announces the Senate Will Vote on Targeted COVID-19 Relief Bill

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced the Senate will vote on a targeted COVID-19 Relief Bill as soon as this week. The bill includes:

  • A $300 per week federal unemployment benefit through the end of the year
  • Another round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) 
  • $105 billion for elementary, secondary and post-secondary education
  • $29 billion for the development of COVID-19 medical countermeasures and vaccines
  • $16 billion for coronavirus testing
  • $15 billion for child care
  • Liability protections from coronavirus-related lawsuits

Several weeks have now passed since many relief programs from the CARES Act expired and millions of Americans continue to struggle amidst the pandemic. This bill does not include funding for state and local government, second stimulus check, SNAP benefit increase, and much more.

Senate GOP Targeted Relief Package Summary

Protesting While Muslim: Before Kaepernick there was Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf

For many of us who are trying to move towards a more inclusive and open society for everyone, it is essential that we know the benefits and importance of protest. I want to highlight a significant figure within U.S. history whose protest we see continues on today.

In 2016, San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to protest the National Anthem by not standing. His reasoning was in support of the Black Lives Matter Movement and against the killing of African Americans by the police. Although this was a controversial move, he received widespread support and praise for his actions from all over the nation and world. While corporate America and politicians such as Iowa Congressman Steve King who equated sitting during the National Anthem to a terrorist organization, “This is activism that’s sympathetic to ISIS.” Enduring the harsh words of our elected officials was just the beginning of the effects of Kaepernick’s protest. Unfortunately, his own employer the National Football League has treated him as a pariah. Even this current administration has waded into this issue, on the night of May 2nd, President Donald Trump said he’s the reason Colin Kaepernick hasn’t been signed yet, citing teams’ apparent fear of getting a nasty tweet from him afterwards. After having lead his team to the Super Bowl and NFC championships, he is now, as a free agent, unable to get a contract with any football teams. 20 years ago, almost to the day, another sports athlete, pro-basketball player Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf refused to stand for the National Anthem. His treatment has been a cautionary tale for our athletes.

Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, formerly Chris Jackson, embraced Islam in 1991 when he was a student at my alma mater Louisiana State University (LSU). Interestingly, this is also the school that basketball great Shaquille O’Neal graduated in 2000, so LSU was a feeder school for some of our most talented basketball players. Abdul-Rauf was signed as a star player for the Denver Nuggets, but he was also known for one of the most accurate free-throw shooting records ever. In early 1996 Abdul-Rauf had been trying to avoid controversy regarding the National Anthem by staying in the locker or facing away, finally he decided to stop standing for the anthem. His reasoning for not standing was the result of his becoming more politically aware of the national and global repercussions of US policies noting “the flag in many countries represents “oppression and tyranny.”

The National Basketball Association (NBA) swiftly took action against Abdul-Rauf, suspending him from the team. The suspension was lifted after 72 hours with Abdul-Rauf agreeing to stand with his hands in prayer. Although there was no rule about standing for the anthem, the NBA fined him, suspended him, and tried to end his career. The Nuggets traded him and he wasn’t picked up by any other NBA team. He moved around, playing internationally, but never getting another opportunity to play for the NBA in the US. Abdul-Rauf also received death threats and his house was destroyed due to his actions. These appear to be similar tactics being used against Kaepernick, but now that there is social media and other outlets support for his protest is better mobilized.

Abdul-Rauf has endured and to this day he repeats what he said when he was being faced with the loss of his career, wealth, and standing as an athlete, “I have no regrets. This is what I believed and I’m not wrong for the stance that I took.” He has read the works of Arundhati Roy, the Indian political activist and author, and her words encouraged and opened his eyes, “Once you see something, you can’t unsee it. So to be silent, to say nothing, is just as political an act of speaking out. Either way you’re accountable. So we’re not saved through our silence, actually, the politics of silence is a negative one, we’re still accountable.” Finally, Abdul-Rauf was recently speaking in Houston, TX about his life and career, something he does much more now that others are comparing Kaepernick’s activism to his, he notes that for him protesting doesn’t conflict with his Muslim faith, “You can’t be for God and for oppression.”

Other resources about Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf:

  1. http://www.what-happened-to-mahmoud-abdul-rauf.com/
  2. https://www.thenation.com/article/mahmoud-abdul-rauf-the-nba-player-who-was-colin-kaepernick-twenty-years-before-colin-kaepernick/
  3. https://theundefeated.com/features/abdul-rauf-doesnt-regret-sitting-out-national-anthem/

Sources

  1. http://progressive.org/magazine/season-dissent/
  2. http://www.foxsports.com/nfl/story/roger-goodell-responds-to-president-trumps-colin-kaepernick-comments-032317
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahmoud_Abdul-Rauf
  4. https://www.thenation.com/article/mahmoud-abdul-rauf-the-nba-player-who-was-colin-kaepernick-twenty-years-before-colin-kaepernick/
  5. Ken Denlinger. “NBA lifts ban after anthem accord.” The Times-Picayune, March 15, 1996, A 1, A 10.
  6. https://www.thenation.com/article/mahmoud-abdul-rauf-the-nba-player-who-was-colin-kaepernick-twenty-years-before-colin-kaepernick/
  7. https://theundefeated.com/features/abdul-rauf-doesnt-regret-sitting-out-national-anthem/

​Poligon Celebrates the Passage of the NO BAN Act in the House of Representatives

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 21, 2021
Contact: media@poligonnational.org

​Poligon Celebrates the Passage of the NO BAN Act in the House of Representatives

Washington, D.C. – Poligon Education Fund released the following statement applauding the passage of the NO BAN Act (H.R. 1333) in the House of Representatives: 

Poligon celebrates the bipartisan passage of the H.R. 1333, the National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants (NO BAN) Act in the House of Representatives today, with a final vote count of 218-208. The legislation would prevent future Muslim bans and limit the President’s authority to suspend and restrict immigrants from entering the U.S. based on national origin or religious background. 

Our fight against the Muslim and African travel bans started in 2017 and continues to be an integral part of our advocacy efforts and policy priorities. While President Biden’s repeal of the Muslim Ban on Day One of his administration was a welcoming step, advancing the NO BAN Act in Congress and signing it into law would not only ensure future President’s cannot ban a marginalized community, but also begin to right the wrongs that have been inflicted on the immigrant community in the past 4 years.

As we uplift today’s win in the House, we look towards advancing the bill in the Senate and moving it to the President’s desk to be signed into law. We call on our community members, impacted families, and allies to join us and our coalition partners in securing the NO BAN Act’s passage. The bill’s advancement stopped in the Senate last year, and we cannot allow this to happen again. Tens of thousands of immigrants separated by the Muslim and African bans and Diversity Visa recipients face an unnecessary and cruel burden of having to re-apply for consideration. Immigrants’ lives continue to be at stake. We must make the NO BAN Act a reality and protect Muslim, African, and all marginalized immigrant communities for generations to come.

### Poligon Education Fund is a national non profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to strengthening Muslim American engagement with Congress through training, education, and advocacy. Learn more at www.poligonnational.org.

​Poligon Demands Systemic Change and Transformative Justice After Chauvin Guilty Verdict

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 21, 2021
Contact: media@poligonnational.org

​Poligon Demands Systemic Change and Transformative Justice After Chauvin Guilty Verdict

Washington, D.C. – Poligon Education Fund released the following statement in response to the April 20th conviction, charging former Officer Derek Chauvin with murder: 

Nine minutes, one year, and a few more minutes. This is what the cycle of police violence and lack of accountability looks like in the United States. Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes before he took Floyd’s life. The system took 330 days to convict Chauvin of a murder the whole world watched, and only a few minutes after the reading of Chauvin’s guilty verdict we learned of another state sanctioned police killing that took the life of 15 year old Ma’Khia Bryant. 

We cannot call the April 20th conviction of Derek Chauvin justice; we call it accountability. Chauvin is only one officer. He is where we start. The whole system must follow for true transformative justice, where George Floyd and Daunte Wright can embrace their daughters and granddaughters. A world where Ma’Khia Bryant and Adam Toledo are not robbed of their childhood. While the jury’s verdict was a historical, surreal moment for many of us, presenting a moment of relief and proof that accountability is possible, it is not lost on us that Chauvin’s conviction does not absolve policing as a whole. It demonstrates that the system, when in danger, will sacrifice one of its own to avoid true accountability and transformation.

We continue to demand justice for Daunte Wright, Adam Toledo, and the many more young black and brown people who should have been with us today. As allies to the Black-led liberation movement, we reaffirm our unwavering solidarity and fight for racial justice. It is time to protect, center, and listen to our Black siblings as they continue to lead us in the fight for transformative justice. In doing so, we stand firm in holding elected officials to the promises made in 2020 and demanding meaningful policies that divest from violence and invest in our communities. We uplift the Movement for Black Lives’ BREATHE Act, a bold piece of legislation recognizing community power and shifting how we envision community-care and safety. 

Our hearts go out to the family of George Floyd and the people who continue to fight in defense of Black and Brown lives. To our Black and Brown siblings who have endured generational and collective trauma, anger, exhaustion and pain as a result of violent policing, we stand by you. We recognize, honor, and hold space for your fight towards collective liberation.

### Poligon Education Fund is a national non profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to strengthening Muslim American engagement with Congress through training, education, and advocacy. Learn more at www.poligonnational.org.

​COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout: CDC & HHS Guidelines & Resources

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Here’s everything you need to know about COVID-19 Vaccines

With increased vaccine distributions nationwide following the passage of the American Rescue Plan, Poligon is here to provide resources, policy updates, as well as educational content on COVID-19.

[Breaking] Every person age 16 and up can now get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Have some general questions about receiving the vaccine? 
Read this FAQ from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Read what fully vaccinated people need to know
Read about how to talk to your family and friends about COVID-19

Read about how to get a COVID-19 vaccine when you are uninsured

Here’s where you can find out more about the J&J Vaccine:

No Ban Now, No Ban Ever

With the NO BAN Act in Congress, we have a real chance at ending religious discrimination in immigration laws. Thanks to you, the Muslim & Africa Bans gained traction all the way to Congress. The House Judiciary Committee will consider the NO BAN Act for markup this week, marking a major milestone in our progress towards the passage of this necessary bill.

March 26th, 2021

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You may have heard of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, a comprehensive legislation known as the “American Rescue Plan”. You may also have questions about this new legislation, and how it will impact you as we continue to navigate living under a global pandemic. 

The American Rescue Plan Explained:

Where does the funding go?
The bill intends to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in the following areas:

What is NOT included in the bill?

  • The $15/hour minimum wage was cut from this legislation.
  • Earners above $80k fall outside the income cap for direct financial aid.
  • The Unemployment Insurance benefit was reduced from $400 to $300.

What are the challenges of the bill?

  • The IRS is challenged to administer billions of dollars worth of tax refunds and checks shortly before the tax filing deadline.
  • Many Americans without bank accounts or home addresses do not know they qualify for EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit), CTC (Child Tax Credit), or CDCTC (Child & Dependent Care Tax Credit), delaying their access to direct financial assistance.

Why does the implementation of the bill matter?

If you haven’t already received the $1,400 stimulus payment, you can track your payment via the “Get My Payment” tool at IRS.gov. 

Who is eligible to receive the third payment? People who:

  • Filed a 2020 tax return
  • Filed a 2019 tax return if their 2020 return has not been submitted or processed yet. 
  • Did not file a 2020 or 2019 tax return, but registered for the first Economic Impact Payment using the special Non-Filers portal last year. 
  • Are federal benefit recipients as of December 31, 2020, who do not usually file a tax return and received Social Security and Railroad Retirement Board benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Veteran benefits. 

At Poligon, we advocate for the inclusion of Black, Indigenous, and all people of color in policy decision-making and implementation. We must hold our elected officials accountable for following through on their claims and legislation. While the American Rescue Plan aims for healthy social and economic recovery, we must ensure the application of the American Rescue Plan provides equitable policy measures at the state, local, and federal level for our communities to truly begin to recover from this pandemic. 

Check our COVID-19 Policy Updates Center for more information!

Poligon Condemns Boulder and Atlanta Shootings, Demands Gun Control

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 23, 2021
Contact: media@poligonnational.org
Poligon Condemns the Atlanta and Boulder Mass Shootings and Urges Congress to Adopt a Community-Centered Policy Response 
Washington, D.C. – Poligon Education Fund released the following statement in response to the deadly mass shootings in Atlanta, Georgia on March 16th and Boulder, Colorado on March 23rd: 
At a time when our communities are collectively grieving and healing from the deadly anti-Asian violence inflicted on our siblings in Georgia, leaving eight people dead, we find ourselves grieving another heart wrenching loss of ten victims today. We stand in unconditional solidarity with the survivors and families who endure unimaginable pain and call for immediate community centered responses addressing gun violence and race-based hate crimes. We stand firm against all systemic oppression, white supremacy, xenophobia, gender-based violence, and racial and religious discrimination. We demand immediate gun control measures and recognize gun violence as the arm magnifying all forms of hate. Our nation has witnessed seven mass shootings in the past week alone. 
As Congress moves forward to address gun reform, we urge our representatives to look past party divisions and center the victims and survivors in their response. We call on the Senate to pass the Bipartisan Background Check Act and the Enhanced Background Checks Act. All communities deserve to live in safe neighborhoods, without fear and the threat of hate and violence. The Senate Judiciary hearing on gun reform earlier today is a welcome step towards safer communities.
A community centered solution puts people’s safety and lived experiences first. It does not manifest in the form of more militarized and discriminatory law enforcement. We urge our Members of Congress to center the most impacted in their policy responses and invest resources in communities, including but not limited to, mental health services and equitable community services. We reject increased policing, surveillance, and carceral solutions that disproportionately impact Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities.
### Poligon Education Fund is a national non profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to strengthening Muslim American engagement with Congress through research, education, and advocacy. Learn more at www.poligonnational.org.

February Newsletter

Salaam, and welcome to our February 2021 Newsletter.
Here’s a quick look at our eventful month!
LEGISLATIVE UPDATES
American Rescue Plan Passed in the House
Despite some compromises, the House voted on Saturday to send the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package to the Senate. This bill will increase access to vaccinations, COVID-19 testing, and PPE. It extends Unemployment Insurance, food assistance, and stimulus checks, and provides financial support for small businesses and school reopening plans.

We are getting closer to sending much needed relief to struggling families. Join us and our partners at the Coalition of Human Needs in urging the Senate to pass this relief package.This bill will provide aid to millions of U.S. households – to put more money in the pockets of low to no-income families, cut childhood poverty in half and protect families against eviction and hunger. 

NO BAN Act Reintroduced in Congress 
Poligon joined over 100 Muslim and immigrants’ rights organizations in supporting the reintroduction of the NO BAN Act in the House of Representatives. We proudly advocated for and endorsed Rep. Judy Chu’s (D-CA-27) introduction of the bill in 2019 and again in the 117th Congress. Read our full statement here.

The bill is currently co-sponsored by 137 Representatives, and is included in the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021.
Tell Congress to Pass the NO BAN Act Today!
CONGRESSIONAL ADVOCACY TRAININGS
Congressional Advocacy Training with Muslim Urban Professionals (Muppies) 
Poligon’s Policy & Advocacy Manager, Johanna Mustafa and Board Member, Nadia Mozaffar delivered one of our signature Congressional Advocacy Trainingsin collaboration with the D.C. chapter of Muppies. Muppies is a global nonprofit organizations dedicated to empowering and advancing Muslim professionals to be leaders in their careers and communities.

Our virtual training highlighted our community’s progress in civic engagement spaces and presented strategic advocacy tools that can help our community build on our collective progress in 2021. To request a training, email us at events@poligonnational.org. Congressional Advocacy Training with the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIOGC)
We partnered with CIOGC, and joined the Council for the launch of their 2021 Congressional Talk Series to deliver an advocacy training for community members in Illinois. Our training shared some of the nuts and bolts of how to be better advocates, including legislation tracking, organizing meetings with Members of Congress, coalition building, and more. Our Policy and Advocacy Manager, Johanna Mustafa, and Training Facilitator, Karimah Whitaker addressed the community alongside Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (IL-14), and Congresswoman Marie Newman’s (IL-03) Chief of District Affairs, Shadin Maali. To request a training, email us at events@poligonnational.org. 

EVENTS
Celebrating a Faithful Democracy As Black History: A Town Hall Gathering
Poligon joined the Faithful Democracy Coalition in celebrating the impact of Black History on our democracy. Panelists discussed how the For the People Act would carry that history forward with transformational federal democracy reforms. The town hall looked at the racial equity lens of the bill, how it compliments the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and the urgency of passage to safeguard our democracy. Watch the virtual town hall here.
Interfaith Leadership Summit
Poligon Policy and Advocacy Manager, Johanna Manager spoke on an interfaith panel addressing religious discrimination. The summit was organized by the Interfaith Council of Metropolitan Washington, and aimed to promote religious freedom, challenge religious discrimination, and enhance community efforts in combating faith-based hate violence. The panel discussion included diverse religious leaders, civil rights organizations, and community members.
#BlackHistoryMonth Highlights
Instagram Takeover with Portland City Councilman Pious Ali 
We were honored to have Councilman Pious Ali of Portland City join us as a guest speaker and takeover our Instagram page for look into a day in his life. He was joined by community leader Adilah Muhammad to reflect on Black Muslim contributions to our past, present, and future. Find the full takeover on our Instagram page!

GIVE BACK TO THE COMMUNITY
As we approach the holy month of Ramadan, consider supporting Poligon’s operations and advocacy efforts so that we can sustain our work and better represent the American Muslim community on Capitol Hill! Can you donate $20, $50, or $100 today to help to ensure every American Muslim voice is heard in Congress in 2021?

We thank you for your continued support. 
Join Our Board of Directors
Poligon is seeking a Treasurer to join our Board of Directors. If you are interested in helping us amplify American Muslim voices in Congress, this is the position for you! Please send your resume and a short statement of interest to info@poligonnational.org

Tell Congress: Pass the NO BAN Act

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Throughout American history, immigration policies have been used to target Jews, Catholics, Mormons and Muslims, among others. With the NO BAN Act in Congress, we have a real chance at ending religious discrimination in immigration laws.

We join over 100 Muslim and immigrants’ rights organizations in applauding the reintroduction of the NO BAN Act, in the House of Representatives on Thursday, February 25. Poligon proudly advocated for and endorsed Rep. Judy Chu’s (D-CA-27) introduction of the bill in 2019 and again in the 117th Congress. The bill is co-sponsored by 137 House Representatives, championed in the Senate by Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), and is included in President Biden’s U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021. Read Poligon’s full statement here.
We will never forget the countless American families ripped apart by the #MuslimBan and #AfricanBan — we must ensure this discriminatory policy never happens again. Your letter can make a difference.
Tell your Representative to co-sponsor and vote yes on the NO BAN Act today!

The NO BAN Act will:

  • Prevent any president from banning people because of their faith or national origin.
  • Impose limitations on executive authority to suspend or restrict immigrants from entering the U.S.
  • Prohibit religious discrimination in immigration laws, specifically those without statutory basis.

Here’s a sample call script to get you started:
Hello, my name is ______ and I’m a constituent of Representative _____. I’m calling to ask you to vote to pass the NO BAN Act. Banning individuals on the basis of religion and ethnicity does not represent American values and it violates our Constitution. I urge Representative _____ to vote “YES” on supporting the No Ban Act. Will the Representative do so?

Have questions? Email us at info@poligonnational.org.