2022 was a uniquely challenging year for our community and for the nation. As the country faced the fallout from one of the most divisive political cycles ever witnessed, the Supreme Court signaled a new era in which hard-won protections were easily rolled back, upending decades of civil rights activism. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) confirmed that Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists (RMVEs) advocating for the superiority of the white race presented one of the most lethal domestic violence threats to our country.1
In California, vulnerable groups continued to experience a considerable increase in hate crimes and hate incidents. The most current statistics for the prior year indicate that hate crimes in some regions in our state have increased as much as 165% in just five years2 and in some of our largest counties, crimes against religious communities have increased significantly.3 American Muslims, who are perhaps the nation’s most diverse faith group,4 faced explicit discrimination due to their religion and other protected characteristics, like their race, ethnicity, and national origin. Our civil rights team across the state fought Islamophobia in the workplace, schools, prisons, airports, border crossings, and in our communities’ interactions with law enforcement.
At the same time, instability and unrest across the globe led to an unprecedented rise in the number of asylees, refugees, and immigrants to our state—making CAIR-CA’s immigration services more necessary than ever. In Afghanistan, for example, where the country is still reeling from the hasty 2021 Taliban takeover and the humanitarian crisis is rapidly worsening, Afghan refugees have increasingly sought CAIR-CA’s immigration assistance as they attempt to rebuild their lives in California—which serves as home to one of the country’s largest Afghan-American diasporas. Across the state, our immigration team has worked tirelessly to help Afghan arrivals navigate the complexities of the immigration and naturalization process. In 2022 alone, we added three attorneys and six case workers to respond to the heightened demand.
Our team recognized and rose to these challenges with tenacity and resolve. In partnership with local activists and organizations, CAIR-CA:
- Responded to the needs of our often-forgotten incarcerated Muslim brothers and sisters and worked with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department to ensure that fasting Muslim incarcerees had timely, quality meals during Ramadan and dates to break their fasts.
- Pushed back against bullying in schools and successfully advocated for better training aimed at building a welcoming environment for Muslim students in counties across the State.
- Ensured that workers had accommodations for prayer at work, including holding employers accountable for failing to accommodate requests for time off to attend Jummah prayers, a weekly Friday congregational service viewed by many Muslims as obligatory, and accommodating the wearing of the hijab in the workplace.
We know that the stakes are high for American Muslims and for all vulnerable communities. We also know that when we fight together, we can create a more equitable and safe world—a world where all Americans can live, learn, worship, and work in peace. CAIR-CA is committed to this vision, and we are staying in this fight—for as long as it takes.
Thank you for being a part of the good fight and supporting CAIR-CA’s work.
1 Federal Bureau of Investigation & Department of Homeland Security, Strategic Intelligence Assessment and Data on Domestic Terrorism, (2022), https://www.dni.gov/files/NCTC/documents/news_documents/2022_10_FBI-DHS_Strategic_Intelligence_Assessment_and_Data_on_Domestic_Terrorism.pdf.
2 Orange County Human Relations Commission, 2021 Orange County Hate Crimes Report (2022), https://www.ochumanrelations.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/Hate-Crime-Report-2021-_final.pdf.
3 See Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations, 2021 Hate Crime Report (2022), https://assets-us-01.kc-usercontent.com/0234f496-d2b7-00b6-17a4-b43e949b70a2/caa802e9-00f0-455e-9c44-db7ef7a06e4c/2021%20LA%20County%20Hate%20Crime%20Report.pdf (showing that religious crimes spiked 29% in the recorded year with a rate of violence that was the highest on record).
4 Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, American Muslim Poll 2022: A Politics and Pandemic Status Report (2022), https://www.ispu.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/AMP_2022_full_report.pdf?x46312.