October 2020 | By Yasmeen Altaji
CHICAGO — Biden for President Michigan, Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden’s official Michigan chapter, established a Chaldean/Assyrian Advisory Council on Tuesday in an effort to reach Chaldean and Assyrian voters in the state less than one month out from November’s presidential election.
Biden’s campaign hopes to sharpen its appeal to Michigan’s Chaldeans and Assyrians, a large minority community in a crucial swing state.
Talks of creating the council have been active for several weeks, according to council member Crystal Kassab Jabiro.
“One of our goals is to really share… a dignity of life approach that we see coming from the Biden council.” Jabiro said, describing the importance of spotlighting issues including women’s reproductive health and “equitable and affordable medical care.”
“Many [Chaldeans and Assyrians] are on Medicaid and Medicare. Many of them are low income,” she said.
Jabiro also expressed council-wide concerns with Trump’s demonstrated fight against Obamacare and its subsequent implications for the protected coverage of preexisting conditions, stating, “We feel like he’s coming for these people.”
The council also wants to bring voters’ attention to immigration policies, she said, citing ICE raids on Chaldean community hotspots in Detroit earlier in Trump’s presidency which resulted in the detention of more than 100 Iraqi nationals.
The Chaldean Chamber of Commerce estimates that 121,000 Chaldeans and Assyrians live in Michigan. In 2016, Trump won the state by a margin of only 0.2% — just over 10,000 votes.
To Steve Oshana, a member of the National Democratic Ethnic Coordinating Committee (NDECC), these numbers mean that the Chaldean/Assyrian vote could have a significant impact on Michigan’s election results.
“When you’re talking about an election being won or lost by fewer than 15,000 votes [in 2016] and you have [121,000] Chaldeans in Michigan — of those, maybe 30,000 eligible voters — that can make a huge difference,” Oshana said.
The Chaldean/Assyrian Advisory Council will work on several community outreach projects — including phone banking and “friend banking” — in an effort to mobilize voters in the community and encourage early voting, according to a statement released by the group on Tuesday.
The group also has plans to create a Chaldean/Assyrian Women for Biden council to be spearheaded by Jabiro. She confirmed the council is working on a town hall set to take place next week.