Immigration Forum Thursday

June 30, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

ACCESS Press Release

ACCESS Executive Director Hassan Jaber will be one of the featured speakers at an immigration forum beginning at 5:30 p.m. Thursday July 1 at Hope of Detroit Academy. The school, at 4443 North Campbell St., was allegedly staked out earlier this year by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials.

Jaber joins host Congressmen John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) and Hansen Clarke (D-Mich.), who will speak about ICE’s recent enforcement actions at local elementary schools and against residents and U.S. citizens.

Representatives from the ACLU, Reform Immigration for America (RIFA), and individuals impacted by ICE’s actions also will speak about the adverse effects such actions have had on the immigrant community in Detroit.

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Syrian Singer Abu Ratib Pleads “Not Guilty”

February 4, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Michigan Islamic Examiner/Heather Laird

Abu Ratib January 26, 2010. In a Federal court hearing in Detroit on Monday January 25, 2010, singer Abu Raitb pleaded not guilty to the charges of making false statements to the FBI, false oath in a matter relating to naturalization and attempted unlawful procurement of naturalization.

Abu Ratib also known as Mohammed Masfaka is a beloved singer of Islamic songs. He has millions of fans throughout the Arab and Muslim world, and is respected by not only the common person but by government diplomats as well. He is considered by some Michigan residents to be one of the leading Islamic singers of all times, and is believed to have written more songs than the also popular Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) and Sami Yusuf.  He is the Chair of the International Union for Islamic Art.

After reading the nine-page indictment put forth by the FBI, one wonders what this case is really concerned with achieving. The document states questions asked and answered and some discrepancies in the answers. More specifically, the case mentions that Abu Ratib left off of his immigration papers a low-level job that he held for a short period of time. How many people in the United States everyday leave off previous employment on job applications. His other offense was not mentioning or mentioning incorrectly compensation. I am quite confident this happens everyday in the US as well. In fact, can everyone say Treasury Secretary?

All sarcasm aside, this is serious when it comes to immigration, and I would be on the first line of defense for my Country if you told me an immigrant left off their application that they were affiliated with some group that would harm United States citizens. But, this is not the case here. The government is saying that they knew he worked for an entity that was approved a 501(c)3 status – meaning an organization that already had some governmental scrutiny.  And, he did so here in the United States, so it was not covert or anything. How would or could he know that the government, because of its policies with Israel would change their opinion about their foreign policy? Holy Land Foundation was prosecuted and the first trial was declared a mistrial, the second received a conviction and now it is currently on appeal. So, we are prosecuting an individual because of guilt by association with a group that may or may not be considered affiliated with terrorism, but that the US Courts have not yet decided on, and not because we think “he” was a terrorist, but because he left off information from an application.

Why would we do this? The immigrant story is one that most of us are familiar with in folklore. People come to America to build a better life. They believe the will have certain unalienable rights that they do not have elsewhere. I am positive that the Masfaka family believed they would have in America what they could not find elsewhere. But, the reality for some immigrants is of another nature. Some immigrants are targeted as assets for the government. And because they are immigrants or of immigrant status can be intimidated or coerced into becoming informants or spies for the United States or have their citizenship revoked. They trust their new government. Aren’t we all raised to trust the authority in our midst – our police officers, our government. If you are a minority in the United States, a different reality exists. However, the majority is taught to trust government.

So, if you are an immigrant likely your first language is not English. You come to America wanting to be an American, and fill out your paperwork and then you are a citizen. The process is only not that simple. If the government at any time deems it necessary to use you, then they can very meticulously scrutinize every piece of paper and every conversation you have had to find a small detail left out here, a mistranslation there, etc., until an error is found or omission which to the government translates as a lie and you have now become a defendant.

What Masfaka seems to really be guilty of is not having legal representation with him at critical junctures in his immigration process. But, how many immigrants do not, and are not being prosecuted? We can presume many. This man was targeted, because of an Islamaphobic attitude that has been allowed to prevail in the United States. It is forbidden for Muslims to spy. For a man to take the stance of refusing to commit a sin in his faith is to stand for his freedom of religion. This is one of the positive rights that Americans are supposed to enjoy. It seems in this case, Masfaka may have taken that stand and is now being punished for it.

The result of this case has two very negative implications for the United States. First, it seems to tear at and shred our Constitution a little more. Not providing that blanket of freedoms that we promote as being unique to us. Second, this particular Defendant is Internationally known and beloved. And here we are again, post the Obama Cairo speech being seen as double-speak on the International scene. You say you want peace, but your actions appear to be targeting  and punishing people who do not fit the bill of terrorist.

Muslims will help their Country. No one wants corruption in the Muslim community. Why can’t we ask American Muslims to help in cleansing this Country of corruption instead of thinking the only way to do so is through seeming coercion and intimidation.

The Muslim community is praying for the Masfaka family that these charges are dropped. The American Muslim community prays for its Country in hopes that America can find a new approach and fight for all its citizens.

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The Day I Will Never Forget

December 31, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Nadja Dizdarevic

After Fajr prayers, I decided to go to sleep for a while, because I was up all night working on some brothers cases. These brothers (here in bosnia ) are detained in the immigration centre. I went to bed, but I could not sleep, for some reason I did not feel peace in my heart.

After half an hour of restlessness, I decided to get up. My children were surprised I was awake as I normally sleep longer on Mondays and Thursdays as I try and follow the sunnah for fasting on these days. I told them to go back to sleep, and I explained to them that I had to go to the immigration centre early so that I can get the brothers there to sign some legal documents. Soon I heard my mobile phone ring,

It was very bad news. Amar Hanci’s deportation was going to be deported to Tunisia at 2pm this day. I felt the wind and colour drain from me, and words cannot really describe how despondent I felt at that moment. I had been so busy with his case and had sought a temporary injunction from the international court of law in Strasbourg with the aim of prohibiting his deportation. Everything we had asked in the Bosnian court of law had been refused.

I realised I was not thinking rationally as I was so in shock that this brother would be deported. I begam to frantically make a list of organisations and NGOs that I could contact to help. I made a call to Strasboug, then London. I then got confirmation from Strasbourg that they expect the lawyer to act in an urgent procedure, but this was not enough for me. My heart was pounding so much knowing the suffering this brother will face that I could feel it through my whole body. The phone rang again.

It was Amar, and he was extremely distressed, talking and crying in one breath. He said the authorities won’t wait until 2pm, and they want to take him to the airport earlier. He asked me to come immediately. I was panicked myself, making calls to every institution I could letting them know that deportation had begun.
Amars wife was calling me crying and upset. I was scared to frighten her and cause her more distress, so I told her I am doing what I can with the help of Allah(Swt). When I got to the immigration centre, the gates were wide open with the van in the front yard. Even stranger was that I was asked to stay in the car fro 10 minutes. I have never been asked before to do this, as I am known to the authorities through my amnesty international work. I got out the car and asked to see the manager. I was afraid the authorities will take Amar in the van without giving me even the chance to see him or stop them.

From inside, I heard a sound so frightening and strange I was not aware it was even a human voice. My blood iced in my veins when I realised it was Amars voice painfully crying. I immediately demanded a meeting with the manager and they agreed. I was informed that brother Amar was in a bad state of health, doctors were around him giving him oxygen and medicines but nothing seemed to work, he was looking bad. I asked the manager to discuss this like a human being and forget our roles. I showed him the documentation I have, the reports, about brothers who have been deported and the torture they faced from the Tunisians when they went back.

I told the manager what I did in the morning, and that positive imminent news would arrive from Strasbourg. The manager became sympathetic and made some phonecalls, with the government agreeing to stay the deportation until the following Monday. I expressed my thanks to the staff and the manager in the centre for how they helped, emphasising that had they not intervened all these late actions would be for nothing.

After another long talk with the manager, he arranged for me to see Amar with the doctor and let him know the news. When I walked into where Amar was, his state of health and mental state shocked me, I had to hold onto the side of the bed to stop from fainting. Walahi I will never forget that scene and in my life I have already seen many terrible scenes. The brother was shaking uncontrollably, tears were streaming, his face was so white and his hands looked as if they were frozen. He begged to be killed rather than go back to the long torture that would await his return in Tunisia. He spent 3 days in a Tunisian prison before, and would rather be dead than have one more day of that torture. It took me a long time to get him to believe that the deportation is halted, and finally once he understood what I was saying he began to cry even more. It was not normal crying, but crying the likes of which I have never heard before. I took an oath with Allah(swt) in front of him that I would do all I could to stop the deportation, and that inshallah he would not be deported. He began to calm down, and asked that I contact his wife and mother in law to let them know what is happening.

I told him he should do this himself as it is better, and then in the meantime I will contact the organisations to pressurise the European court. Amars wife contacted me as she wished to see her husband but did not have the means. Whilst this was happening, I received notification from the court in Strasbourg that deportation has been stayed untl January 15, 2010 at 6pm. Allahu Akbar, how merciful Allah(swt) is!

I was crying now, but tears of relief and joy, but my children were scared that the deportation had happened and they were tears of sadness. They realised it was good news when I went into Sadja as a way of thanking Allah(swt) and they became happy themselves.

I then remembered to contact Amars wife and I arranged to drive her and her kids to see him. When I drove them back, they seemed happy and calm, but all I could see in my minds eye was Amars pain and desperation. I thank Allah(swt) on this day, where it ended well only because of His(swt) help. I fear for the next day that comes like this, and I ask you for your support and dua’ that these situations are resolved. These brothers need all of our help and dua’. We rely on Allah(swt), we trust in Him(swt) and we accept His(swt) decree, Ameen.

This article has been translated from the story of Sister Nadja Dizdarevic. She works tirelessly for these brothers who have been abandoned and let down by those in the Western countries living in comfort and ease. She has spent her time, money and suffered greatly for this from the authorities, having been physically attacked on several occasions ( I will provide a personal appeal from her later on). If you wish to donate to this cause, please contact me and I will pass on the sisters details / donation information.

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The Mythical European Umma

December 27, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Khaled Diab, Guardian

Muslims in Europe are secretly amassing an arsenal of the deadliest in biological weaponry: the demographic time bomb. The first phase of the Muslim invasion – or should I say reinvasion – of Europe has already begun with the deployment of an expeditionary force of womb-men: a fearsome army of mutant ninja warriors whose function is to go forth and multiply. Their turbo-charged and perhaps even genetically modified uteruses mass produce the deadly biological agent which is currently being stockpiled in Muslim homes across the continent.

And their mission: to create Eurabia – or, better said, since many European Muslims are not Arabs, to turn the EU into the European Umma. Having been driven out of Europe once and unable to reconquer it through force of arms, those crafty and cunning Muslims are back to do it through the Trojan horse of immigration and reproduction.

Some dismiss this demographic time bomb as being far-fetched and as fantastical as Saddam Hussein’s non-existent arsenal of WMD, but yet another smoking gun has been found in the Netherlands. Troubling evidence has emerged that Muhammad has become the most popular boy’s name in the country’s four biggest cities. And a similar situation is emerging in other European urban centres.

In fact, five centuries after the reconquest of Granada, that last Muslim stronghold, Eurabia has established its first de facto capital in Rotterdam. And when the number of Muhammads and other assorted Mohammedans become a majority over the coming century – as the great Bernard Lewis warned – they will form an army of mujahideen of Talibanesque horror which will subjugate the natives and make them live as second-class dhimmis under sharia law.

As far-fetched conspiracy theories go, the Eurabia myth is one of the most persistent and dangerous of recent years – and the Daily Telegraph fanned the controversy this month with its claims that it had carried out an investigation which revealed that the EU’s Muslim population would jump from the current 4-5% to an improbable 20% by 2050.The six-paragraph article gives no indication of how the projections were arrived at, nor the assumptions upon which they were based. In fact, as the BBC pointed out in a piece debunking a popular YouTube hit on “Muslim Demographics”, population projection is an inexact science. It cites, as an example, the projections made in the 1930s that the UK’s population would fall to 20 million by the end of the 20th century.

Most projections that foresee a massive increase in Europe’s Muslim population are based on certain assumptions which are hard to justify. They assume that recent immigration trends will continue indefinitely for decades to come, but this is unlikely as Europe continuously raises the immigration bar for non-EU citizens, and it is not far-fetched to expect that many European countries may call a halt to immigration or draw their future immigrants from certain more “desirable” countries. The projections also assume that European Muslims will continue to have a significantly higher fertility rate than the population at large. But evidence suggests that the fertility rates of Muslim women are gradually converging with those of the wider population. And there are signs that the fertility rate among the white population of some European countries, such as France, is recovering.

So, given that the only hard facts we can be sure of is that a small minority of about 4% of the EU’s population is Muslim, why is this fear of a coming Eurabia so strong in certain quarters? Many of the biggest proponents of the Muslim demographic time bomb myth are cheerleaders of and apologists for US imperialism in the Middle East, such as Bat Y’eor and Bernard Lewis.

Some Europeans, particularly from conservative and Christian circles and the intolerant wing of liberalism, have fallen for the myth for a variety of reasons. One is the relatively rapid shift in western Europe towards multicultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious societies in recent decades, which has caused a certain sense of alienation and insecurity, especially for those whose economic security has been undermined by neo-liberal economics and globalisation. Other reasons are the massive lifestyle and social changes. These have caused distress for traditionalists and people who still identify themselves as Christian: they have seen their religion die a slow death, while Islam seems to go from strength to strength.

Then, there is the plain old fear stoked by the overexposure given to the most intolerant Islamic fringe groups and individuals. Certainly, there are some European Muslims who want to live according to sharia and there is even a lunatic fringe who would like to see Europe incorporated into some fantastical global caliphate. But Muslims in Europe are not some unified, monolithic force. Not only are they ethnically diverse and from communities that are not the greatest fans of each other – consider the animosity between Moroccans and Algerians, for example – they are also as varied ideologically as the rest of the population.

Although Muslims tend to be more religious and conservative than the rest of society, there are also plenty of secular, non-practising, cultural and even non-believing Muslims. In addition, it is impossible to tell what kind of identities future European Muslims will have, but I suspect that the future cultural fault lines in Europe will not run along traditional religious lines, but will pit believers against non-believers, creating a kind unity of purpose between conservative Muslims and Christians intent on preserving faith in a “Godless Europe”. While Eurabia is a fantasy, Europe is almost certainly going to become more diverse in the future, and so a debate is worth having about how to adapt to this reality and what constitutes citizenship in an increasingly mobile world.

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Racial Profiling Still Pervasive: ACLU Report

July 13, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Chris Levister, Black Voice News.com

U.S. authorities detain and harass thousands of people each year solely on the basis of religion, race or nationality despite efforts by senior law enforcement officials and the government to stop it, the American Civil Liberties Union said.

An ACLU report said racial profiling was often applied to immigrants from South Asia and to North Africans suspected of being Islamic militants following the September 11, 2001, attacks carried out by Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda militants.

The report, submitted on Tuesday to the U.N. Committee to End Racial Discrimination, said profiling could involve harassment, detention, arrest or investigation. Many Latin American immigrants were also targeted for immigration violations while others, including Black Americans, were profiled as suspected drug offenders, said the report, which did not provide precise figures.

President Barack Obama’s government upholds the policy of the previous Bush administration that such profiling should end, but related laws contain a significant gray area, said Chandra Bhatnagar, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s human rights program.

According to 2003 federal guidelines, it is illegal to detain or investigate someone solely on the basis of race, religion or ethnicity, but there are exceptions in the context of national security and border control.

“While there is a political consensus regarding the problem and a need for a solution it has not translated into concrete action,” Bhatnagar said. He referred to the End Racial Profiling Bill first introduced in 1997, but which had not passed into law.

One factor that had increased the profiling of Latin Americans was a federal program to shift responsibility and resources for immigration enforcement to local and state authorities, according to the report.

Anecdotal evidence suggested that an increasing number of people had been targeted under profiling for possible immigration offenses over the past eight years, it said.

“Police officers who are often not adequately trained and in some cases not trained at all, in federal immigration enforcement, will improperly rely on race or ethnicity as a proxy for undocumented status,” the report said.

The involvement of local police in this was having a “devastating impact” on some communities, Bhatnagar said.

In April the ACLU of Southern California filed suit against Moreno Valley police and city officials and the state Board of Barbering and Cosmetology claiming racial profiling.

The suit filed on behalf of three Moreno Valley barbers in U.S. District Court in Riverside alleged that “five of the six barbershops selected as targets for raid-style inspections on April 2, 2008, were owned by, operated by, and primarily frequented by African Americans.”

The officers, city employees and members of the state Board of Barbering and Cosmetology allegedly targeted six shops in warrantless raids because of race, said lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union. The suit also alleges innocent clients waiting for haircuts and other services were detained, harassed and forced to produce identification.

ACLU alleged the officers and other agents targeted the businesses “based, in part or in whole, on the race of the barbers and their clientele.”

Police, city and state officials have denied the claims. The case has attracted national attention for what ACLU lawyers and many in communities of color call blatant evidence that racial profiling is still pervasive.

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The Time for Immigration Reform is Now

July 2, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Editor’s Note: This editorial was produced in association with New America Media (www.newamericamedia.org), a national association of ethnic media, and was published by ethnic media across the country this week to bring attention to the urgency of immigration reform.

The White House and members of Congress must move quickly on enacting a just and humane immigration reform package that will reunite families, reinvigorate the economy, and remove the term “illegal or undocumented immigrants” from the dialogue in this country. Ethnic media, which reaches over 60 million adults in the United States, calls on Congress to move decisively on immigration reform because there are few issues as important to the nation’s well-being as an overhaul of the inefficient, inhumane and economically debilitating immigration system. More importantly, we are also urging our readers and viewers to contact their Senators and Congressmen and let them know that immigration reform must be a national priority.

The immigration system is broken not just for 12 million undocumented immigrants, but also for specialized workers blocked from joining the American economy because of narrow quotas, and mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens who must wait for years before being reunited with their families.

Our nation needs comprehensive immigration policies that will replace a broken system of raids and roundups with one that protects all workers from exploitation, improves America’s security and builds strong communities. It’s time to end the division between workers, which has allowed big business to exploit both sides. Clearly, working-class citizens and immigrant workers have much in common – dreams of better homes, education for their families and quality healthcare.  There is more that brings us together, than separates us.  United we can be a strong force for change, changes that that bring more workforce safety and humane conditions.  

Immigration is often portrayed as an explosive, divisive issue. In reality it’s not. Since the repeal of the national origins quota system in 1965, which discriminated against certain immigrants, a consensus has been building towards an immigration system that respects the country’s core values. These include economic opportunity, equality under the law regardless of ethnic background, and an embrace of the world’s most innovative, energetic and ambitious workers. Now, with the country facing serious competition from workers abroad, it’s more important than ever to create a world-class immigration system. It’s for the good for families, good for communities and good for America.  

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