Civil rights lawyer launches offer to Congress in Michigan’s thumb

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Civil rights lawyer and human rights activist Huwaida Arraf is running to represent Southeast Michigan in the United States House.

Arraf, a 45-year-old Democrat from Macomb Township, admitted that congressional constituency lines had not been finalized by the Michigan Redistribution Commission, but said she wanted to start speaking to voters before the elections. 2022 election. The Macomb County native wants to re-engage working-class communities that have distanced themselves from the Democratic Party, which led to strong Republican victories in the last election.

Related: With 9 maps on offer, Michigan redistribution enters final stage of public comment

“I am the daughter of working class immigrants and being a mom myself, I really know and understand the challenges that working class people face,” said Arraf. “Democrats, and the Democratic Party as a whole, need to invest a little more in getting our message out and what we offer to people in those areas that tend to be more rural or that seem overwhelmingly Republican. “

Arraf could run for a district that covers the thumb region of Michigan, which overwhelmingly supported former President Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020, or a more Democratic district comprising parts of southwestern Macomb County and the east of Oakland County.

It will depend on the map adopted by the independent redistribution commission, but Arraf said she expected to campaign on the thumb. This could pit her against U.S. Representative Lisa McClain, from the Township of R-Bruce, who was elected for her first term in 2020 with 66% of the vote.

Arraf said Democrats have been misrepresented in some circles as a party that favors wealthy elites over workers. She named the North American Free Trade Agreement, which was renegotiated into a new deal by Trump, as an example of political decisions that turned blue-collar workers into red voters.

“Some policies carried out by the Democratic Party have harmed some people and I don’t think we recognize it enough,” Arraf said.

She intends to focus on table issues like improving access to well-paying jobs, quality schools, safer neighborhoods, resilient infrastructure, clean air, clean water and affordable health care.

Arraf said she would have voted in favor of a $ 1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that was passed by the United States House last week. McLain and the rest of the Republican representatives from Michigan, with the exception of U.S. Representative Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, voted against the bill, which is expected to provide Michigan $ 10 billion in funding.

Related: Michigan Republican Fred Upton threatened by infrastructure vote in Congress

Arraf said she also supports a broader social spending bill being negotiated by Congress and the White House. Proposals such as universal child care and paid family leave are essential tools for improving the economy, she said.

“These are programs that enable ordinary Americans to be able to not only survive, but also prosper,” Arraf said. “I was talking to someone at my dentist’s office a few weeks ago and she was telling me that her husband couldn’t work. If he did, all his money would go to daycare. The choice was made not to work and to stay at home with the children. A lot of people don’t have the luxury of having two parents at home. What does a single parent do?

Arraf is a first generation American born to Palestinian Christians who immigrated to Michigan in 1975. Arraf and her husband co-founded the International Solidarity Movement, a Palestinian rights group that organizes protests against the Israeli military. in the West Bank.

Arraf criticized members of Congress for being “silent” on human rights violations by the Israeli government.

“It seems that whatever the Israeli government does, the United States is, for the most part, an uncritical supporter,” Arraf said. “We sometimes talk about the settlements, but we don’t do anything about it. It’s mostly lip service, and then Israel continues to take more land, to oppress more people.

Arraf said she wanted to prevent American taxpayers’ money from supporting human rights violations against Palestinians. Arraf would advocate “Palestinian freedom” as a congressman, but also said she wanted to stay focused on her Michigan constituents, rather than mainstreaming Israeli-Palestinian issues into her agenda.

“I think politicians often talk and listen more,” Arraf said. “I want to listen and think together about how we can create a better and better future for all of us. “

Her father was a union employee at General Motors and a small business owner, while her mother was a nurse. Arraf is a graduate of Roseville High School, University of Michigan, and studied at Hebrew University in Jerusalem before obtaining her law degree from American University in Washington DC

Arraf’s legal work has mainly focused on human rights. She worked as a lawyer for Goodman Hurwitz & James, a leading civil rights law firm based in Detroit.

She has also worked as a legal intern for U.S. Representative James Moran, D-Va., A New York State Court of Appeals attorney and has served as an advisor and consultant to human rights organizations.

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