The Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee (MIRAc) condemns the politically-motivated arrest and indictment of Rasmea Yousef Odeh, Associate Director of the Chicago-based Arab American Action Network (AAAN), on an immigration-related charge. The sixty-five year old was arrested at her home in late October by agents from the Department of Homeland Security, alleging an immigration violation on a 20-year-old application. Immigration law should not be used as a weapon of political repression!
Rasmea, who has made it her life’s work to serve and help empower Palestinian and Arab families, is the victim of a witch-hunt by our federal law enforcement agencies, which continue to violate the civil rights of Arabs and Muslims with impunity. Rasmea is a leading member of Chicago’s Arab and Muslim communities, and her decade of service has changed the lives of thousands of people, particularly disenfranchised Arab women and their families.
As the Associate Director of the AAAN, Rasmea is responsible for coordinating an Arab Women’s Committee, which is active in defending civil liberties and immigrant rights. She is a mentor to hundreds of immigrant women, and is a well-known and respected organizer throughout Chicago, the U.S., and the world.
Earlier this year, Rasmea received the Outstanding Community Leader Award from the Chicago Cultural Alliance, which described her as a woman who has “dedicated over 40 years of her life to the empowerment of Arab women, first in her homes of Palestine, Jordan, and Lebanon…and then the past 10 years in Chicago.” Rasmea is a community icon who recently completed a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Governors State University. She was tortured by Israeli authorities while imprisoned in Palestine in the 1970s, and is a proud reminder of the millions of Palestinians who have not given up organizing for their rights of liberation, equality, and return.
It is appalling that our government is now attempting to imprison her once again. We condemn this attack on Rasmea, as well as the broader pattern of persecuting Arabs, Muslims and other immigrant communities.
We ask all of our supporters to sign the petition at http://www.iacenter.org/rasmeaodehpetition/ to demand that they Drop the Charges against Rasmea Odeh Now!