378 petitions

Update posted 5 hours ago

Petition to Donald Trump, Jim McGovern, Department of Homeland Security, Seth Moulton, Elizabeth Warren, Edward Markey, Tim Kaine

They Stood with Us: Save Iraqi Family Under Immediate Threat for Working with U.S. Troops

Mohammed, a 64-year-old Iraqi, and his family are in grave danger because of their affiliation with the U.S. military and desperately need to be granted refugee status in the United States before it’s too late. Multiple generations of Mohammed’s family have risked their lives for U.S. forces and to bring freedom and safety to Iraq. Two of his sons served as interpreters for the U.S. Army, and his brother interpreted for the Marine Corps. All three of them had their lives threatened, and one son was shot in the face by militia. Mohammed’s brother was shot, killed, and left dead in a dumpster when the militia found out about his work. Please sign my petition asking the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to expedite processing of the family’s refugee case that was recently approved on a conditional basis.  Three of Mohammed’s children (the two interpreter brothers and one of their sisters) have already been resettled in recognition of their sacrifices for the United States. But Mohammed, his wife, and his three other children (including a 10-year-old daughter) remain in Iraq, where they are in hiding due to their history of support for the U.S. and the deteriorating security situation in Iraq.  While they wait for their case to be finalized, they remain a prime target for terrorist organizations.  After over six years of vetting, they continue to fear for their lives and the risk of being them being killed because of their affiliation with the U.S. is increased the longer their case is delayed. Mohammed and his family firmly believe in the importance of U.S. national security – the family collectively made the decision to defend it at great personal risk.      Yet, last year, the family received a devastating denial of their refugee case with no explanation.  American citizens rallied behind the family and over 22,000 signatures were gathered on asking USCIS to review the decision in light of the sacrifices the family has made for the U.S.  USCIS considered the entirety of the evidence and made a wrong right by overturning their previous denial.  We are incredibly grateful for the USCIS officials who took a hard look at the case and put this family back on track for refugee resettlement to the US.  However, it is important to remember that the ordeal is not over until the day the family safely escapes Iraq, lands stateside, and clears customs.    Mohammed and his family have been through enough.  They have had family members killed and wounded and they have had their family torn apart.  All of this is because of their loyalty to the U.S. It is time to bring the rest of the family to new home in the U.S.  They deserve to be reunited and should no longer fear daily for their lives.  Sign my petition to ask USCIS to finalize their case.  We made a promise to protect this family. We cannot let this family die at the hands of our common enemy.

Peter Farley
93,096 supporters
Update posted 2 days ago

Petition to Judiciary of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Help Me Bring Home My Parents From an Iranian Prison

My father, Karan Vafadari, and his wife, Afarin Neyssari, have been imprisoned in Iran on sham charges since July 2016. Karan is an Iranian-American businessman who returned to Iran to be with his elderly mother who lived alone, and Afarin is a US resident promoting Iranian culture as an art gallery owner in Tehran. They were at the Tehran airport when the Iranian Revolutionary Guard arrested them. Despite the fact that their due process and human rights were repeatedly violated after their arrest, including a 1 month stint in solitary confinement, they respected the legal channels in Iran, certain that their innocence would soon lead to their release. But after refusing to allow them to choose their own lawyers, Iran’s judiciary sentenced Karan to 15 years in prison and Afarin to 10 in a secret trial in Tehran. Now my parents have nowhere to turn. What you can do to help: There are many ways you can help besides signing this petition.   1) Share this petition on social media encouraging people to sign it. Let Karan and Afarin know that the world has not forgotten them. Here’s a sample message: Iran has imprisoned American citizen Karan Vafadari and US permanent resident Afarin Neyssari without due process on sham charges. Sign and share this petition to raise your voice against this injustice. #FreeKaran #FreeAfarin   2) Write to/call Iran’s UN mission in New York (H.E Gholamali Khoshroo, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic to the United Nations) and tell them that Iran should release Karan Vafadari and Afarin Neyssari, who have been issued ludicrous sentences on sham charges without due process. This can be done over and over again in various ways with different statements to show that Americans have not forgotten about their fellow citizens in need. Please be respectful. ADDRESS622 Third Ave., 34th floorNew York, NY 10017, USAPHONE: +1 (212) 687.2020FAX: +1 (212) 867.7086   3) Tweet messages like: “@HassanRouhani @JZarif should take a position on #FreeKaran and #FreeAfarin, good people who have been issued ludicrous prison sentences without due process.” to Iranian officials. The more times we do this, the better. About Karan and Afarin:When Karan returned to Iran to be with his dying mother, he met Afarin. Afarin owned and operated Aun Gallery to promote Iranian culture from inside Tehran. My dad’s favorite way to spend time with his family has always been a road trip: we might drive from our home in Georgia to the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee, or from Tehran to see an ancient Persian site like Persepolis. Timeline:20 July 2016: Afarin is arrested at the airport in Tehran. She calls Karan, who is also arrested when he arrives at the airport September 2016: After about a month in solitary confinement, being accused of spying, and being told to spy on one another (they refused), Karan and Afarin are moved to around within 2-A of Evin January 2017: Karan and Afarin see a lawyer for the first time after 5 months of imprisonment. There has been no evidence to suggest they might be a threat to national security (because they are not). The charges of spying are downgraded because it was always blatantly false. December 2017: Judge Salavati finally names a price for bail, which is astronomically high January 2018: Karan and Afarin find a way to put bail for Afarin. Salavati tells the lawyer: “If I wanted her released, I wouldn’t have set bail so high.” January 2018: Salavati delivers a verdict: 15 years for Karan, and 10 years for Afarin. There is still no evidence of wrongdoing. Charges: The legal system has been very opaque. Even the state-approved defense lawyer has not yet been granted access to the docket to know how to even defend Karan. This is the best I can piece together the charges:Afarin is found guilty of using Aun Gallery to subvert the Islamic Republic. They have [falsely] claimed that she took foreign investment and thus was manipulated to use it against Iran’s best interest.Afarin is found guilty of spreading un-Islamic art. All of her events and art at the Gallery were approved and certified by the government. This is also a sham charge.Karan is found guilty of owning a “house of vice and prostitution.” A former ambassador from Italy to Iran was so outraged by this charge, that he wrote an open letter in Karan’s support. As a Zoroastrian, Karan’s behavior in the privacy of his own home is ostensibly protected by Iran’s constitution. About Me:My parents raised me, my younger sister, and older brother in Columbus, GA. Last year, I asked the love of my life to marry me! Lily (who was born and raised in Alabama) and I met while we studying engineering at MIT, and we have been delaying our wedding so that Karan and Afarin might have a chance to be with us. Useful links:   Farsi Translation:   فراخوان براى آزادى كارن و آفرین پدرم، کارن وفاداری و همسرش، آفرین نیساری، از تيرماه ١٣٩٥ در ایران براساس اتهاماتى ساختگي در زندان حبس شده اند. کارن یک ایرانی-آمریکایی است که به ایران بازگشت تا از مادرپيرش که تنها زندگی می کرد نگهدارى كند. آفرین يك ایرانی با كارت اقامت آمریکایی است. او صاحب يك گالری هنرى در تهران است كه هدفش تشویق فرهنگ وهنرايراني است. سپاه پاسداران آن ها را زمانى كه قصد سفراز ایران را داشتند در فرودگاه تهران دستگیر مي كند.  علیرغم پرونده سازی ونقض قوانين حقوقی آن ها و حقوق بشر از جمله حبس در سلول انفرادی، آنها به نظام حقوقی ایران احترام می گذارند، زیرا مطمئن بودند كه بی گناهیشان خيلى زود منجر به آزادی آنها خواهد شد. اما متاسفانه قوه قضاییه ایران پس از اجازه ندادن به آن ها برای انتخاب وکلای خود، پشت درهاى بسته، در دادگاهى محرمانه کارن را به ١٥ سال و آفرين را به ١٠سال زندان محکوم کرد. حال والدین من دستشان ازهمه جا كوتاه كسى يا جايى نيست كه به آن روى بياورند. شما چه كمكى می توانید بكنيد: علاوه بر امضای این نامه راه های بسیاری وجود دارد که شما می توانید کمک کنید. ١) اين فراخوان را پخش كرده وازهمه بخواهيد كه آن را امضا کنند. بكذاريد کارن و آفرین بدانند که مردم دنيا آنها را فراموش نکرده اند. اين نمونه اى از یک پیام است: قوه قضائي ایران کارن وفاداری، شهروند ایرانی آمریکایی و آفرین نیساری، ساکن ایران و دارنده کارت اقامت دائم در ایالات متحده را بدون وكيل و بدون هيچ مدركي زندانی و محکوم به حبس کرده است. خواهش ميكنم این نامهء تقاضا براي آزادي آن ها را امضا کنید و به اشتراک بگذارید تا صدای شما در برابر این بی عدالتی شنيده شود. ٢) از طريق نامه يا تلفن از غلامعلی خشرو، سفیر و نماینده دائمی جمهوری اسلامی ایران در سازمان ملل بخواهيد تا خواستارآزادى کارن وفاداری و آفرین نیساری بشود، و نشان دهيد كه هموطن خود را فراموش نکرده ايد. آن ها بيگناهند و بدون وكيل انتخابی خود و بر خلاف قانون پشت درهاى بسته محكوم شده اند.   ٣) پیام های ارسالی مانند: " “@HassanRouhani @JZarif مقامات ایرانی بايد درمقابل #FreeKaran و #FreeAfarin، افراد بي گناهي که بدون محاکمه بی رحمانه برايشان مجازات صادر شده است، موضع بگیرند. هر چه اين كار را بيشتر انجام دهیم، بهتر است. درباره کارن و آفرین: هنگامی که کارن به ایران می رود تا مادر پيرش تنها نباشد، با آفرین آشنا ميشود. آفرين موسس «گالری آن» ميباشد. هدف او ترویج و شناساندن فرهنگ ایرانیان است. راه های مورد علاقه پدرم برای صرف وقت با خانواده اش سفربا ماشين بود: چه از خانه مان در جورجيای آمریکا تا کوه های اسموکی در تنسی، چه از تهران تا تخت جمشيد. ٣٠ تير ١٣٩٥: آفرین در فرودگاه تهران دستگیر می شود. او به کارن تلفن مي كند. وقتی کارن نزدش می رود او را نیز دستگیر می كنند. شهريور١٣٩٥: بعد از بيشتراز یک ماه در سلول انفرادى و اتهام به جاسوسی و سعى برقبولاندن آن ها به جاسوسی علیه یکدیگر (كه آن ها زير آن فشار ايستادگى كردند)، به بخش 2A اوین منتقل مى شوند. بهمن ١٣٩٥ : کارن و آفرین برای اولین بار پس از پنج ماه حبس، یک وکیلی را می بینند. هيج مدركى وجود ندارد که نشان دهد آن ها ممکن است تهدیدی برای امنیت ملی باشند (چون اتهام بدون مدرك است). اتهامات جاسوسی و.... کاهش می یابد، زیرا ساختگى و دروغ است. آذر ١٣٩٦: قاضی صلواتی بالاخره حاضربه اعلان وثیقه ميشود، اما مبلغ آن آنقدر زياد است كه غيرقابل باورمي باشد. دى ١٣٩٦ : کارن و آفرین بالاخره راهی برای سپردن وثیقه برای آفرین كه شرايط بسيار وخيمى دارد، پیدا می کنند. قاضی صلواتی به وکیل می گوید: "اگر من می خواستم بگذارم آزاد شوند، چنين وثیقه بالايى نمى گذاشتم." دى ١٣٩٦ : قاضی صلواتی حکم صادر می کند: ١٥ سال برای کارن و ١٠ سال برای آفرین. براساس هیچ شاهد يا مدركى. اتهامات: سیستم حقوقی در ایران بسیار مخدوش وغیر شفاف است. حتی به وکیل تسخیری نيز اجازه دسترسی به پرونده داده نشده تا بتواند از کارن دفاع کند ودر دادگاه نمايشى حق صحبت كردن نداشت. این بهترین است که ميتوانم اتهامات را خلاصه کنم اتهامات را می توانم به شرح ذیل خلاصه کنم. : آفرین از گالری هنری خود برای فروپاشی جمهوری اسلامی استفاده كرده است. آن ها ادعا مى كنند [به دروغ] که اواز خارجی ها پول گرفته خود را و به این ترتیب ازاوو از آن عليه منافع ایران استفاده شده کرده است. آفرین گناه كزده است به اتهام گسترش هنر غیر اسلامی محکوم شده است. همه اين اتهامات ساختكى است. تمامی برنامه ها و فعالیت های آفرین در گالری آن مجوزقانونى داشته و توسط دولت تایید شده بود. کارن به این اتهام که خانه اش محل "خانه فساد و فحشا" بود، گناهکار شناخته شده است. سفیر پیشین ایتالیا در ایران از این اتهام خشمگین شده و نامه ای سرگشاده در حمایت از کارن نوشت درباره من: والدینم من، خواهر کوچکترم و برادر بزرگترم را در کلمبوس، در ایالت جورجیا بزرگ كردند. سال گذشته، ازعشقم خواستم تا با من ازدواج کند؛ لیلی (که در آلاباما متولد و بزرگ شده). ما زمانی كه در دانشگاه MIT دررشته مهندسی تحصیل می کردیم، ملاقات کردیم. اما، ما عروسیمان را به تعویق انداختیم تا کارن و آفرین بتوانند با ما باشند.        

Cyrus Vafadari
12,643 supporters
Started 2 days ago

Petition to L. Francis Cissna, Carl C. Risch, Kirstjen M. Nielsen

Decriminalize Music: Reform the P1 Visa Application Process

For the past couple of decades, immigration reform has been an issue at the forefront of US politics. In particular, we've seen much debate surrounding our temporary worker visa program, especially the H-1B and H-2A/B categories. One visa category which has not garnered as much attention is the P visa, for non-immigrant entertainers, including musicians. While entertainers' visas may not seem as immediately significant as other immigration reform issues, the fact remains that throughout the last three administrations, countless international artists, especially musicians, have been unable to perform in the US, whether because their visa petitions took too long to process or were denied outright for unclear reasons, or because they lacked the time or the money to invest in the application process; or, quite simply, because they were unaware of all the bureaucratic hoops they needed to jump through. One of the most recent and highest profile examples occurred during the 2017 South by Southwest music festival, in which apparent confusion over the necessary visas for foreign performers led to numerous bands being detained and/or deported. Yet the problems extend back much further, as illustrated by this New York Times article from 2012 focusing on the visa issues plaguing several international artists, including flamenco singer Pitingo and the Hallé orchestra (Manchester, England). In fact, nearly every international musician who has ever entertained a hope of performing in the US has a tale of frustration and disappointment to share. The process is so tedious and costly that as a result, many bands are choosing to forgo the US market completely. Simply put, throwing needless obstacles in the way of foreign entertainers' entry into the country costs money - American money. Foreign musicians who tour the US, and their management and crew, pay for flights, vans/buses, gasoline, food, and lodging, and in some cases may opt to purchase equipment or musical instruments, all in addition to the usual revenue tourists bring to the country. Mid-size to large American festivals, such as the aforementioned SXSW or even Maryland Deathfest, an annual metal festival in Baltimore, bring hundreds, even thousands, of people to the area, all of whom are spending money (there’s no doubt that the city of Baltimore enjoys a financial windfall every year due to this event); while in the case of a tour, local venues both small and large, along with surrounding businesses like bars, restaurants, and hotels, stand to benefit, as do American promoters. While it's often come to be accepted that lesser-known international bands may not see much of a profit when they explore the American market, it would appear that the economies that would benefit the most from an easier route to entertainer visas are American, and often local. There's no reason to treat foreign musicians like criminals or terrorists. The majority are ordinary men and women, many of whom maintain part- or full-time jobs in their home countries to supplement the meager profits they see from trying to sell their music. In today's world of online streaming and illegal downloads, what money they do earn must by necessity come from live performances. Most, if not all, truly want to do the right thing, entering the country legally, spending 3-4 weeks at most performing and meeting their fans, and then returning home. Unfortunately, our current P visa system makes it nearly impossible for any but the wealthiest and most popular groups to meet the needlessly strict requirements. It is in everyone's best financial interest to begin seriously reforming this draconian system, and will do much to increase goodwill toward the US abroad. Simple, common sense changes could go a long way toward streamlining and democratizing the P visa process, particularly for the P1 visa most commonly used by musical groups. I would propose starting with the following: Increase USCIS staffing to better and more quickly accommodate applicants, and especially, hire more workers specifically for the purpose of vetting P visa applications. Ideally, those handling P1 visas should have some basic knowledge of the entertainment industry, especially regarding the unique challenges faced by musicians. Turnaround time from submission of materials to determination of visa approval or denial should NOT exceed three (3) months. Eliminate the requirement for interviews at US embassies for P1 visa applicants. If the applicant has already obtained the necessary consultation letter from the American Federation of Musicians, then as long as they can provide proof of identification, completed form DS-160, planned itineraries, and confirmation from American promoters or venue owners, etc., there should be no need for this step. As previously mentioned, most artists have at least one other job in addition to their activities as musicians; traveling to their country's US embassy means a day of work lost. Most of the process, if not all, should be able to be done online or through the mail. Reduce costs for P visas. If the US embassy interview requirement cannot be eliminated entirely, then the interview fees must be significantly reduced. While $190 per person might not seem like a lot of money to a big-name artist, it is not insignificant to most working, touring groups - and if you are a band of four or more musicians, the costs quickly add up. Additionally, the costs for AFM consult letters should also be significantly reduced from the current price of $250. Bear in mind that all these costs are in addition to whatever money the band may have to spend on hiring translators or other services to help guide them through the process, as well as the costs to mail all materials. Most importantly, understanding that the term "internationally recognized" is subjective and problematic, it must be eliminated from P1 visa requirements. It should be clear to anyone that record sales are no longer an accurate metric for determining a band's success in a certain country, but even awards, prizes, endorsements, and media coverage will skew heavily towards only the most popular musicians in the most popular genres of music. Musicians in lesser-known genres such as heavy metal may have very little in the way of traditional media to prove to a USCIS agent who is unfamiliar with the genre that their application is worthy of approval. It is very easy to prove that a foreign band has been established for a certain number of years, and has a sizable, passionate, and active fan base in the US, by submitting social media links, such as the band's promotional Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram profiles. Most musicians would be more than happy to provide these links to help prove their reputation and worthiness for visa approval and a simple perusal by an agent should reveal all necessary information. Beyond that, whether or not the band is internationally recognized or renowned enough to play in the US, is something that they need to determine themselves. Most musicians are intelligent and savvy enough to be able to identify their biggest markets. If, after years of activity, they have determined that it makes financial sense to explore the US market, then that risk should be on them, and is not really the US government's concern. Finally, RFEs should be issued only under the most extraordinary circumstances. The task of the USCIS agent reviewing a P1 visa application should primarily be to simply confirm the identity of the musicians, whether they are who they say they are according to their band’s social media profiles, details of their performances, and whether they intend to come only to play the shows in question without staying on for a longer period of time or engaging in any other activities. Requests for Evidence should only be issued in cases where the agency suspects fraud, or significant criminal risk to US citizens if the musicians in question enter the country. RFEs beyond information that should have already been submitted at the time of the original application cost musicians extra time and money, and can mean that they are waiting in limbo for their visa to be approved right up until a day or two before they are supposed to depart for the US. By and large, most musicians are NOT a threat to national security and we need not treat them as such. Over and above all, we can reform the P visa system and make it more tolerable both for foreign bands and their American fans simply by maintaining respect for musicians, and indeed all artists. America must learn to value art, not criminalize it.

Samantha G.
8 supporters
Update posted 3 days ago

Petition to Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute

Disbarment of Aaron Schlossberg

Aaron Schlossberg can be observed in a video harassing customers and employees at a restaurant in Manhattan over speaking Spanish, he then proceeded to yell at people (assuming their legal status in the United States) that he would be contacting ICE. Someone in position of power as an attorney, Mr. Schlossberg has demonstrated his inability to grasp the severity of his unethical behavior. You can actually watch him in action here: Please stand up to racism and bigotry by signing and sharing this petition.  We are sending out a printout of the full petition to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Governor Cuomo's office, the Judiciary Committee and others that might be able to assist us with this process. You can also take a stand by completing this form  Please print as many as you can so that the First Judicial Department may review his licensing.  If you are planning on attending any events, take a few extra forms with you, if you need a form mailed to you I will gladly print it and send it your way. Furthermore it would be really important for Mr. Schlossberg actions, past and present are reviewed to evaluate whether hate crimes have been committed and his ability to practice law should be suspended until such determination is made. I would like to provide the district attorney's office an opportunity to evaluate the situation and let us know.  

Tamara Sanchez
36,209 supporters