TWO CITIZENSHIP DELAY CLASS ACTION PLAINTIFFS SWORN-IN AS U.S. CITIZENS
October 10, 2006
One hundred and forty three people from 42 different countries packed the courtroom in the federal building and became citizens of the United States of America.
Among them were two of the plaintiffs on the Citizenship Delay class action lawsuit being litigated by CAIR-Chicago, the National Immigrant Justice Center, and Competition Law Groups.
Mohammed Farah and Hassan Damra both waited nearly two and a half years after passing their citizenship examinations. The men are two of nine on a class action composed of similarly situated Muslim men experiencing citizenship delays.
The Citizenship Delay Project, sponsored by CAIR-Chicago, the Arab-American Action Network, the National Immigrant Justice Center, and Competition Law Groups, has encountered 145 Muslims experiencing similar delays in obtaining citizenship.
The class action lawsuit argues that Muslim men applying for citizenship are being discriminated against on the basis of their religion and gender.
Although all the men on the lawsuit have fulfilled the requirements to obtain their citizenship and none have criminal records, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has failed for years to issue decisions on their applications. The USCIS is supposed to decide on citizenship applications within 120 days.
In addressing the new citizens, the federal judge administering the oath ceremony stated,
For Mohammed and Hassan, their plight to become U.S. citizens may have been long and arduous, but they did so in the spirit of this country by standing up to injustice.
The coalition on the Citizenship Delay Project continues to advocate and represent individuals who have experienced unnecessarily lengthy delays in obtaining citizenship.
For more information on the CAIR-Chicago's Citizenship Delay Project, contact Civil Rights Coordinator Christina Abraham at firstname.lastname@example.org
copyright © 2006, cairchicago.org
FROM ONE STROGER TO THE NEXT?
By Sadiya Ahmed
October 20, 2006
Will Tony Peraica end the Stroger reign for Cook County Board President?
With the election right around the corner, Illinois is home to not only two of the hottest races for U.S. House of Representatives seats, and a phenomenally close gubernatorial race, but also Cook County's very own race for Board President.
Voters tend to focus on the high profile races, like the race in the sixth congressional district between Peter Roskam (R) and Tammy Duckworth (D) for a vacant seat in the House. The Cook County Board President race has been lurking in the shadows since the primary election held in March 2006.
Earlier this year, Forrest Claypool ran against incumbent John Stroger for the seat. Polls tipped in his favor a few weeks before the election, but the votes cast on Election Day named Stroger the winner. Interestingly enough, John Stroger suffered a stroke around election time. With his son, Todd Stroger, as his spokesperson, John Stroger announced that he would continue his job as Cook County Board President--though he made no public appearances.
On June 30, Todd Stroger delivered his father's resignation and announced the news to the media. The Democrats, faced with a vacant seat, looked within their own party and a few weeks later, nominated Todd Stroger as the replacement candidate for his father, with Tony Peraica as the Republican candidate.
Stroger is currently the Alderman for the 8th Ward in Chicago and is running for the vacant seat of Cook County Board President. After the Democratic Party's backing, Stroger has started campaigning heavily, though his position in the race has been controversial.
Stroger's platform includes: improvement and preservation of the Cook County Forest Preserve District, improvement and addition of new programs to the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center and the appointment of an Independent Inspector General to manage and investigate misconduct, fraud, etc., by Cook County government.
His long list of endorsements includes U.S. Senators Obama and Durbin, Mayor Richard Daley, and interim Cook County Board President Bobbie Steele. In addition he has endorsements from Representatives Rush, Jackson Jr., Lipinksi, Emanuel, and Schakowsky.
Peraica is the Republican candidate and currently holds one of the seats in the 16th District Cook County Board of Commissioners. An attorney by profession, Peraica has done nearly the impossible in local politics--he has made the race a hotly contested one. Cook County and Chicago politics have made the area an overwhelmingly Democratic one.
Peraica's platform includes: improvement of the county's budget with a vow to halt tax increases, new economic development programs that would target impoverished communities, plans to improve the Forest Preserves District in Cook County, "trimming the budget, privatizing key functions, eliminating duplicative and wasteful inefficiencies and creating a comprehensive and county wide health care delivery network".
Peraica's endorsements include The Chicago Tribune, The Gazette Newspapers, and many local elected officials. It is unclear whether the Democrats who where rooting for Claypool will now contribute their energy to electing Tony Peraica as Cook County Board president.
The race has clearly become a heated one where polls change frequently, with one candidate taking the lead one day only to have the other be ahead in the polls the next day. Oddly enough, though the Democrats carry the City of Chicago and most of Cook County, Peraica has taken the lead in many communities where former Claypool supporters or disenfranchised voters are saying that they want to rid the city of nepotism.
One of Stroger's biggest challenges this election is to ward off accusations of his "inheritance" of the seat. Voters are increasingly unhappy with the unofficial but widely held practice of "handing over the seat" to family members for city offices. If Stroger can survive those types of voters, he has the advantage of name recognition over Peraica, essentially a newcomer into the "big league" of politics.
Periaca may get support from former Claypool supporters but Stroger has name recognition. Which one will win?
Only voters can decide on Election Day.
*CAIR-Chicago is a non-partisan organization and does not endorse any candidates*
Sadiya Ahmed is CAIR-Chicago's Governmental Relations Coordinator and can be reached at email@example.com
copyright © 2006, cairchicago.org
A MARCH TOWARDS MARTIAL LAW?
By Sultan Muhammad
October 17, 2006
Moments ago President Bush signed the Military Commission Act Military Commissions Act of 2006 (H.R. 6166) into law, stating "This bill provides legal protections that ensure our military and intelligence personnel will not have to fear lawsuits filed by terrorists simply for doing their jobs.
[The] legality of the system I established was challenged in the court, and the Supreme Court ruled that the military commissions needed to be explicitly authorized by the United States Congress. And so I asked Congress for that authority, and they have provided it."
The Act passed the House on September 29th with 96% of Republicans supporting and 83% of Democrats opposing legislation that allows American citizens to be labeled "enemy combatants," incarcerated, and tortured. Senator Arlen Specter warned before he inexplicably voted for the bill that the Act would "take our civilization back 900 years."
Amidst a whirlwind of political sloganeering, mudslinging campaigns, and a Congressional scandal, the public debate concerning the recent passing of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 has remained eerily silent.
Are Mark Foley's pedophiliac perversions more important than the human rights of world citizens and the freedoms of the American people? Will Americans continue to be distracted by a media fixated on the lurid emails of a pervert while the Bill of Rights is under attack?
Without doubt Foley and those responsible for concealing his depravity deserve to be held fully accountable. However, press saturation on this saga has diverted attention from the most egregious affront to civil liberties since the Patriot Act.
Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont strongly opposed the Act stating, "this legislation is cutting down laws that protect all 100 of us, and now almost 300 million Americans. It is amazing the Senate would be talking about doing something such as this, especially after the example of Guantanamo. We can pick up people intentionally or by mistake and hold them forever."
Bruce Ackerman, a Yale professor of law and political science, says the Act "authorizes the President to seize American citizens as enemy combatants [and] once thrown into military prison, they cannot expect a trial by their peers or any other of the normal protections of the Bill of Rights."
Ackerman elaborates further, stating, "Ordinary Americans would be required to defend themselves before a military tribunal without the constitutional guarantees provided in criminal trials."
Law professor Marty Lederman explains the "really breathtaking subsection is subsection (ii), which would provide that UEC [Unlawful Enemy Combatant] is defined to include any person ‘who, before, on, or after the date of the enactment of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, has been determined to be an unlawful enemy combatant by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal or another competent tribunal established under the authority of the President or the Secretary of Defense.'
Read literally, this means that if the Pentagon says you're an unlawful enemy combatant -- using whatever criteria they wish -- then as far as Congress and U.S. law is concerned, you are one, whether or not you have had any connection to ‘hostilities' at all."
For legal residents who are not citizens, the Military Commissions Act is far more dangerous. The Act "encourages the justices to uphold mass detentions without the semblance of judicial review," says Ackerman, entirely denying immigrants access to federal habeas corpus.
"Habeas corpus does not give you any new rights, it just guarantees you have a chance to ask for your basic freedom," states Leahy, that is "gone for the 12 million lawful, permanent residents who live and work among us, to say nothing of the millions of other legal immigrants and visitors who we welcome to our shores each year.
[Gone] for another estimated 11 million immigrants the Senate has been working to bring out of the shadows with comprehensive immigration reform." The Act, he says, "not merely suspend[s]the great writ of habeas corpus, it would eliminate it permanently. We do not have to worry about nuances, such as how long it will be suspended. It is gone."
The Military Commissions Act is not a speculative notion. It is law, already being implemented and now codified. Consider Jose Padilla, held since May 2002 and designated an "enemy combatant" by President Bush.
Padilla was detained at the Chicago O'Hare airport in plain clothes without a weapon. In August major charges against him were dropped, yet he still remains in custody due to the indictment exposing him to multiple punishments for a single alleged crime.
Consider the recent release of 17 innocent detainees from Guantanamo Bay, who are now free but had been held as long as four years. The Associated Press reported, that Shah, a doctor from the eastern province of Paktia whose hands shook when he spoke said, "for four years they put me in jail in Cuba for nothing, [We] all were arrested because of false reports, and the Americans, without investigating, they arrested innocent people."
Rahman, another released detainee, was once kept awake for 38 hours while being questioned about terrorist ties. "The last time they tortured me like that was four months ago. They were kicking us all the time, beating us with their hands," he said.
If there is any question that there is a concrete potential for the repeat of a mass detainment program profiling Muslim Americans and peoples of immigrant communities, as with the World War II Japanese internment program, consider the $385 million dollar contract awarded to Kellogg, Brown and Root--a Halliburton subsidiary--to construct detention and processing facilities on American soil; again, significant news that we did not get in mainstream media.
Will Americans push for the repeal of the Military Commissions Act and avert Martial Law? Will Americans say no to the unilateral power grab of President Bush? Or will we continue to allow our rights to be openly subverted by the smokescreen politics of fear mongering?
Sultan Muhammad is the Communications Coordinator for CAIR-Chicago, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
copyright © 2006, cairchicago.org
October 9, 2006
The CAIR-Chicago Governmental Relations Department has been working diligently over the summer on a major voter education project. Former Voter Education Project Intern George Tobin and current Policy Research Intern Erin Hartnett, took the lead by heading one of the many electoral activities undertaken by the department this year.
The CAIR-Chicago Voter Education Guide 2006 highlights races throughout Illinois, from the hotly contested gubernatorial race between Governor Rod Blagojevich (D) and State Treasurer Judy Barr Topinka (R) to the vacant seat in the Sixth Congressional District with Tammy Duckworth (D) and State Senator Peter Roskam (R).
Voters need information on candidates in their districts so that when they go to the polls, they are able to make educated decisions to better serve their needs.
The aim of the Voter Education Guide is to provide constituents with information on all candidates running in state and congressional races, from the voting records of incumbents to their answers to a CAIR-Chicago produced questionnaire that candidates received. In addition, the guide includes contact information for all candidates, and procedure for first time voters as well as voters who have mastered the process.
Along with the Voter Education Project, CAIR-Chicago has been actively working to register people to vote since July. The New Americans Democracy Project (NADP), an electoral project geared toward increasing voter turnout at the polls in November 2006 is a joint effort of CAIR-Chicago and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) which has produced over 1,000 new Muslim voters in the southwest suburbs.
Haady Taslim, full-time organizing fellow for the NADP has been working with a group of volunteers to register eligible Muslim citizens to vote in the upcoming election. With over 1,000 people registered, the deadline for voter registration has passed and the campaign has shifted gears.
A comprehensive "Get Out the Vote" campaign is in the works with door knocking, phone banking, poll watching and organized mobilization to the polls.
Copies of the CAIR-Chicago Voter Education Guide 2006 will be made available a few weeks before the Election.
For more information on the Voter Education Project, political mobilization activities, or elections in general please contact the Governmental Relations Coordinator, Sadiya Ahmed, at email@example.com
*CAIR-Chicago does not endorse campaigns or candidates*
copyright © 2006, cairchicago.org
In the News
October 18, 2006
October 18, 2006
October 20, 2006
October 18, 2006
October 12, 2006
October 12, 2006
October 11, 2006
October 11, 2006
October 10, 2006
October 10, 2006
View reports of ongoing progress for cases with the Civil Rights Department in the "Progress Report" section.
Citizenship Delay Project - Religious Discrimination Delays Citizenship Process:
As a joint effort with the Arab American Action Network (AAAN), CAIR-Chicago is asking individuals who passed a citizenship examination and have been waiting for over 90 days, or have been waiting for a Green Card for permanent residence for over 90 days to contact us at either firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Travel Free Project - Muslim Americans Detained and Questioned When Traveling Outside of the U.S.:
As part of a potential class action law suit, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and CAIR-Chicago is asking anyone who has been detained and questioned on return to the US at any border crossing (land or airport) to please contact firstname.lastname@example.org immediately. It is important for Muslims who have faced this type of treatment to join the lawsuit so as to show that it is not an isolated case. The more people that join the case the more strength it will have to force positive changes in how Muslim Americans are treated in the future at our borders.
Also, if you are being consistently delayed, detained, or have otherwise had your rights violated while traveling, contact email@example.com.
Religious Discrimination at Standardized Testing Centers:
As part of a potential class action law suit, CAIR-Chicago is asking for anyone who has experienced any form of religious discrimination at a testing center to please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. An example of a possible form of religious discrimination includes requiring or requesting the removal of a headscarf for searches, or discriminatory remarks made by employees about Muslims or Islam.
The facts of the above case are as follows:
A Muslim student was asked to remove her headscarf on two separate occasions at a testing center before she began a standardized test required for graduate school. The supervisor and employees of the testing center refused to show her a written copy of the policy requiring Muslim women wearing a headscarf to be searched. A witness at the testing center also observed the employees making discriminatory remarks about Muslims while the victim was taking the test.
Please let us know if you or someone you know have experienced a similar incident and would like to take action to prevent such forms of religious discrimination at standardized testing centers in the future.
As we enter the final days of the blessed month of Ramadan, CAIR-Chicago's Ramadan Outreach effort ends successfully after having met with various Masjids and Islamic Centers in the Chicagoland area and beyond.
CAIR-Chicago embraces the special importance of the month of Ramadan, and as an institution that seeks to serve Muslims as a tool for community empowerment, we sought to connect with our former and future constituents by visiting various masjids to introduce our organization.
Click here to view a complete list of participating masjids.
Did You Miss the October 10th Voter Registration Deadline?
The deadline to vote in the Illinois Primary Elections passed on Tuesday, October 10, 2006. The election will be on Tuesday, November 7, 2006. Several hotly contested and exciting races are occurring this election, so don’t forget to register to vote!
There is a new law that allows you to register to vote even if you have missed the official deadline to register, click here for more information.
Are you an Undergraduate or Graduate Student Looking to Earn College Credit While Interning at CAIR-Chicago?
CAIR-Chicago, the local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), is currently offering 17 new internship opportunities. CAIR is the nation's largest Muslim civil rights organization. The organization's mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
All internships are unpaid. Internships last one semester and include a 12-hour/week commitment. Applicants should email a resume and cover letter to Dina Rehab, Outreach Coordinator, at: email@example.com.
clearly indicate which internship opportunity you are applying for in your cover letter. If you are applying for more than one position, please list in order of preference. All fall applications are due by August 28th (please note: fall internships run from August/September through December/January). Applications that do not list the above information will not be processed. If you have any questions, please email all inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Students interested in receiving class credit, should indicate so in their cover letters. Credit will be arranged during the first week of the academic semester.
Listing of all internships by department:
CIVIL RIGHTS INTERN
LAW CLERK (Law Students Only)
CHURCH PROJECT INTERN
FAITH CORE ONLINE MAGAZINE INTERN
GOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS INTERN
COMMUNITY ORGANIZING LEAD INTERN
VOTER EDUCATION PROJECT INTERN
POLICY RESEARCH INTERN
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY INTERN
EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT INTERN
PUBLIC RELATIONS INTERN
PUBLIC EDUCATION INTERN
HUMAN RESOURCES INTERN
MUSLIMS CARE PROJECT INTERN
Dina Rehab is CAIR-Chicago's Outreach Coordinator, she can be reached via email at email@example.com
For more information, please contact:
CAIR-Chicago (A Chapter of The Council On American-Islamic Relations)
28 E. Jackson Blvd, Suite 1410, Chicago IL 60604
Phone: 312-212-1520, Fax: 312-212-1530
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Website: www.cairchicago.org
Please email your comments and suggestions to email@example.com If you have received this email directly from
CAIR-Chicago and wish to unsubscribe from this mailing list, you may go to www.cairchicago.org , or simply reply to this