I’m sure you are all aware of the important progress we recently achieved when the Department of Homeland Security announced the suspension of the thirty-day and annual call-in registrations, a major part of the discriminatory special registration program. This gives me an important opportunity to share with you the extraordinary but often quiet and behind the scenes efforts of ADC’s outstanding legal team.
ADC was the leading Arab American organization spearheading our community’s response to the INS “Special Call-In Registration” program. In doing so, we worked closely with other national civil rights organizations, including the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the American Immigration Law Foundation (AILF), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), over 20 member organizations of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), and the National Immigration Forum. ADC was among the groups to first challenge Special Registration in court, bringing suit against the government. Additionally, we were a founding organization of the Department of Homeland Security Rights Working Group (RWG). Through our work within the RWG, we were able to reach a positive resolution with the Civil Rights Office at the Department of Homeland Security in ending most of the problematic provisions related to the special registration program, culminating in the termination of call-in registration. Of course, ADC has no intention of resting on this victory. Our response, both to the media and directly to the DHS has emphasized our ongoing concern regarding the still in place point of entry registration system, the requirement for exit interviews and of course the potential deportation of thousands of people as a result of the flawed and badly implemented Special Registration program. We are going to continue to take the lead in not only providing direct assistance to those who have been subject into unlawful discrimination, but in reversing or correcting government policies and practices that subject members of our community to unacceptable abuse.
Over the last two years since September 11th, ADC has worked tirelessly to protect the civil rights of Arab- and Muslim-Americans and immigrants particularly in light of recent U.S. government policies and directives. The number of discrimination cases has quadrupled since 9/11 – be it at the airports, housing, immigration or employment. ADC’s Legal team has spearheaded numerous initiatives related to civil and immigration rights. Much of this work, which lies at the heart of ADC’s anti-discrimination mission, goes unheralded, or is the subject of confidentiality. However, we were extremely proud that two of our attorneys, Kareem Shora and Carol Khawly, were awarded the 2003 American Immigration Lawyers Association’ Human Rights Award for their advocacy work on behalf of immigrants.
I would like to remind you that ADC’s legal work, like all of our efforts, ultimately depends on the support of our members and chapters. Our legal staff does a remarkable job, but the fact is we still lack the resources to fully meet the challenges our community is facing. For more information on the outstanding work of our Legal Department, please click here.
To Join ADC or make an additional contribution which will help us maintain and expand our work in behalf of the Arab American community, please click here.
Together, I know we can meet any challenge, no matter how difficult, but we need your support.
Mary Rose Oakar, ADC President