CAIR-Chicago Participates in Press Conference on the Sensenbrenner Bill

CAIR-Chicago’s executive director, Yaser Tabbara, made a statement today at a telephonic press briefing held by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR). The purpose of the press briefing was to inform and take questions from the media regarding the anti-immigrant bill proposed by U.S. Representative Sensenbrenner (“REAL ID” HR 418).

Provisions of HR418 include:

  • Barring states from issuing drivers licenses to the undocumented
  • Making it harder for people fleeing persecution to win asylum
  • Expanding the USA PATRIOT Act through sections 103 and 104

Participants in the press conference:
State Senator Miguel Del Valle; Fred Tsao, Policy Director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR); Sarah Rose Weinman, Policy and Program Liaison at the Midwest Immigrant and Human Rights Center, a Division of Heartland Alliance; and Yaser Tabbara, Executive Director of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago).

Yaser Tabbara’s press statement:

“Once again, Chicago Muslims are suffering the double wrath of unfocused and un-American legislative measures. Representative Sensenbrenner’s anti-immigrant proposed bill will take some of the most unconstitutional measures of the PATRIOT Act even further. Section 103 of HR 418 will raise the burden of proof on the accused – someone who traditionally does not have the burden of proof – to ‘Clear and convincing evidence.’ This proposed bill will reverse one of our society’s most essential cannons of democracy to ‘guilty until proven innocent.’

Another deeply problematic section of HR 418 is section 104 which is a follow up to 103 described above. This section puts this unfair burden of proof on immigrants residing in the US thus making them deportable. This section will set a dangerous precedence in that it would clearly violate the principal of defendants not having the burden of proof.

When applied, such language could have devastating effects, especially in light of the US department of Treasury’s refusal to provide the American Muslim community a list of ‘safe charities.’ It is completely possible that an American Muslim unknowingly donates to a charity that later is designated as a front for terrorist activities and be consequently prosecuted and convicted without having the US constitutional safeguards of the legal process.”

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