(WASHINGTON, DC., 3/6/20) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today issued community guidance about significant changes in language and possible scope of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Nonprofit Security Grant Program related to possible overlap with controversial Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) practices.
CAIR, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, said Muslim community institutions should thoroughly review the Notification of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) prior to submitting applications given that recent changes to the grant may force compliance with, and involvement in, other federal policies and practices.
The Washington-based civil rights group is advising community leaders to beware of the changes and contact CAIR and other experts for continued guidance.
CAIR Alert: Community Guidance for Department of Homeland Security Nonprofit Security Grants and CVE Programming Concerns
In a statement, CAIR National Research and Advocacy Director Abbas Barzegar said:
“In light of the rise of white supremacist violence and increased hate crimes against vulnerable ethnic and religious communities, the DHS nonprofit security grant is a critical tool to protect the public. However, new language in the call for applications regarding intelligence sharing, applicant screening and compliance with other federal agencies raises major concerns for communities who have been targeted by the government itself.
“Imagine a house of worship that serves as a sanctuary site for undocumented communities being offered security on the condition it cooperates with ICE. At best this is a bureaucratic oversight or mistake. At worst it is a callous attempt to coerce communities to cooperate with federal law enforcement in ways they normally would not.”
The DHS Nonprofit Security Grant Program prioritized increasing the capacity of civil society in the areas of risk assessment, resilience building and crisis planning — all items directly related to securing the safety of at-risk communities and institutions.
However, the 2020 NOFO goes beyond the mandate and scope of the previous years’ programs to simply build up the security capacity of awardee institutions. This year, the DHS grant programs have all prioritized “intelligence and information sharing” as well as cooperation with federal law enforcement as a targeted outcome of the grant program.
These changes most likely are intended to target civil society institutions such as sanctuary churches that explicitly oppose DHS policing priorities. In effect, the new DHS provisions produce a de facto quid pro quo that pits the security of vulnerable communities against cooperation with law enforcement.
In short, this grant program could be used to enlist civil society organizations in activity that should remain in the purview of law enforcement.
CAIR is continuing to examine the potential implications of this new language for grant applicants and will issue updated guidance as it becomes available.
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.
La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.
CONTACT: CAIR National Research and Advocacy Director Abbas Barzegar, 202-742-6413, firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, email@example.com; CAIR Communications Coordinator Ayan Ajeen, firstname.lastname@example.org