Washington, D.C. | www.adc.org | January 18, 2023 – This afternoon, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) and the American Muslim Bar Association (AMBA), along with Shi’a community organizations and allies met with senior officials from the White House, the U.S. State Department, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Customs & Border Protection (CBP), and U.S. Citizenship Immigration Services (USCIS), to discuss ongoing visa and travel issues impacting Shi’a scholars and community members traveling to the U.S. Members of the Shi’a community directly shared their experiences, and highlighted the broad impact that certain adverse policies have on their local communities. These issues significantly impact the ability of American Shi’a communities around the country to fully and freely practice their religion.
ADC National Executive Director Abed Ayoub said, “The Shi’a Muslim community in the U.S. is diverse, with a number of Arab Americans who practice the faith. We welcome this important step by the Biden Administration to hear the concerns from the community directly. It is our hope that these conversations continue and we work towards a resolution to our concerns.”
AMBA Board Chair Mohammad Ali Naquvi echoed the sentiment saying, “This conversation was an excellent first step for the Biden Administration to address the history of broad visa denials for Shi’a travelers, especially dozens of our scholars from abroad. These policies affect our religious freedom to practice our faith here in America. We look forward to further engagement with the administration to resolve this pressing issue.”
The meeting was the result of joint communication request by ADC and AMBA to the administration, preceded by years of concerns expressed by members of the American Shi’a community. ADC will continue partnering with faith based communities, and organizations such as AMBA, to address issues that have an impact on Arabs in the U.S., and to ensure all our community members have the right to practice their religions freely.