Council on American-Islamic Relations, Los Angeles (CAIR-LA)

Council on American-Islamic Relations, Los Angeles (CAIR-LA)

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, Los Angeles (CAIR-LA) is the largest American Muslim, non-religious, civil rights, and grassroots advocacy group in California. Our mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil liberties, promote justice, and empower American Muslims, and our vision is to be a leading advocate for justice

Council on American-Islamic Relations, Los Angeles (CAIR-LA)

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, Los Angeles (CAIR-LA) is the largest American Muslim, non-religious, civil rights, and grassroots advocacy group in California. Our mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil liberties, promote justice, and empower American Muslims, and our vision is to be a leading advocate for justice and mutual understanding. CAIR-LA serves the Southern California Muslim community made up of diverse ethnic backgrounds; our largest base of beneficiaries identifies as part of the Asian American community, specifically South and Southeast Asians. CAIR-LA has provided culturally and linguistically competent services to the community surrounding 1) policy, advocacy, and civic engagement, 2) immigration legal services, 3) civil rights legal services, 4) leadership development and youth empowerment, and 5) other community-informed programs. Most recently, CAIR-LA has been a leading voice for the Afghan refugee community, advocating for funding and resources to provide these families with paths to immigration and essential services. Beyond this, we recently launched a statewide project providing Afghan students and their families with programming for social engagement, mentorship, school support, mental health services, and other opportunities for upliftment and connection. For over 26 years, CAIR-LA has pivoted in response to domestic and international issues that impact our community members, including COVID-19, the Muslim Ban, and aftermath of the War on Terror – which have disproportionately affected our Asian American community members. Our presence within the community and relationship-building with partner organizations and legislators has allowed us to begin paving the way to best empower our community members.

About the Organization:

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, Los Angeles (CAIR-LA) is the largest American Muslim, non-religious, civil rights, and grassroots advocacy group in California. Our mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil liberties, promote justice, and empower American Muslims, and our vision is to be a leading advocate for justice and mutual understanding. CAIR-LA serves the Southern California Muslim community made up of diverse ethnic backgrounds; our largest base of beneficiaries identifies as part of the Asian American community, specifically South and Southeast Asians. CAIR-LA has provided culturally and linguistically competent services to the community surrounding 1) policy, advocacy, and civic engagement, 2) immigration legal services, 3) civil rights legal services, 4) leadership development and youth empowerment, and 5) other community-informed programs. Most recently, CAIR-LA has been a leading voice for the Afghan refugee community, advocating for funding and resources to provide these families with paths to immigration and essential services. Beyond this, we recently launched a statewide project providing Afghan students and their families with programming for social engagement, mentorship, school support, mental health services, and other opportunities for upliftment and connection. For over 26 years, CAIR-LA has pivoted in response to domestic and international issues that impact our community members, including COVID-19, the Muslim Ban, and aftermath of the War on Terror – which have disproportionately affected our Asian American community members. Our presence within the community and relationship-building with partner organizations and legislators has allowed us to begin paving the way to best empower our community members.

organizational budget

5 MILLION - 8 MILLION

existence for

26-30 YEARS

Organization benefits AAPIs residing in the following state(s):

New York • Pennsylvania

organizational budget

5 MILLION - 8 MILLION

existence for

26-30 YEARS

Organization benefits AAPIs residing in the following state(s):

New York • Pennsylvania

The Issue:

California is the most ethnically and racially diverse state in the country.1 The percentage of foreign-born residents in California is double the rest of the country. Nearly half of all children (48%) in California have at least one immigrant parent.2 In Los Angeles, that percentage shoots up to nearly 60%.3 As such, the wellbeing of immigrants will determine the future of LA. Yet immigrants face disproportionate vulnerabilities including food insecurity, poverty, and homelessness. They are often systematically excluded from receiving basic governmental aid and are frequent targets of bullying, harassment, and discrimination.  Many recent immigrant arrivals are from Asia.4 According to the US Department of Justice, the COVID-19 pandemic was accompanied by a 70% increase in violent hate crimes against Asian Americans.5 Over 80% of Asian students experienced verbal and/or physical bullying both online and in-person.6 For South and Southeast Asian women, these issues are compounded by sexism and Islamophobia. Women are systematically discriminated against because of their gender. Coupled with being visibly Muslim, some women are targeted at an even higher rate because of their religious expression. These issues of hate and discrimination are especially difficult to address and heal from when resources, tools, and knowledge are not easily accessible. Due to language/cultural barriers and social stigma, these women often do not know their rights, nor have the tools to address issues of discrimination when they arise. They endure fear, feelings of disempowerment, and lack of representation within the greater narrative around hate, bullying, discrimination, and similar sentiments around immigration issues. They often don’t feel comfortable engaging with systems of governance or believe that the system isn’t inclusive or accessible to them. Our community members need to feel safe and empowered within larger society, however because these issues are systematic, they cannot continue to be addressed on an individual level and require a large-scale policy change. While CAIR-LA is a voice for our community members, we want them to be empowered to enact change for themselves because collective mobilization is much more effective. By sharing our knowledge and tools, we can unite these women to speak up and out.

The Solution:

CAIR-LA will build the collective power and voice of South Asian women to combat issues of hate, discrimination, harassment, and immigration. We plan to host a 3-month series of trainings for a cohort of South Asian women to gain a comprehensive understanding of policy, advocacy, and civil rights so they can leverage their collective power to make themselves and their community seen and heard in the legislative realm on a local and state level. By the end of the cohort, these women will be equipped with the knowledge and resources necessary to amplify their voices and promote change at the local and state level. These materials will be presented in a culturally and linguistically appropriate manner, broadening their understanding of their rights as citizens and permanent residents and strengthening their trust in American institutions and democracy. Through CAIR-LA’s advocacy training, these women will be empowered through 1) unified connection and passion about issues faced by their community, 2) people power to hold decision makers accountable and enact the change that their people need, and 3) confidence to voice their priorities in an educated and informed manner. The culmination of the cohort will be an advocacy day at the California state capitol for these women to participate in in-person advocacy and to connect one-on-one with their state legislators. They will be able to speak directly with policymakers about their experiences, present solutions to the most pressing issues they face, engage with their representatives to garner support, and be a catalyst for change that will impact generations.  As we strive to serve the social justice needs of all Californians, CAIR-LA strongly believes that providing the means for disempowered communities to have an informed voice and collective action is an essential aspect of building a stronger region, state, and country. By giving community members the tools, knowledge, and resources to enact change provides a true grassroots path to the betterment of our collective society where we are all seen, heard, empowered, and united. 

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