A large community need has developed for Muslims around legal services. Several not-for-profit organizations have attempted to cater to this important need, including especially CAIR and, with less fanfare, the American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee (ADC). The ADC held a workshop at the Islamic Cultural Association on Friday to provide legal services and to describe some common avenues for people to use to improve their immigration status in the United States.
A small but very deeply interested group listened intently as the immigration attorneys spoke on various means of legal immigration into the US, and then most of those present at the public discussion filtered into private discussions with the immigration attorneys to ask for specific advice on their private legal issues.
The ADC was represented by Attorney Reem Subei, and also present was Attorney Brad Thompson and ADC Michigan Director Fatina Abdrabboh. Abdrabboh is an attorney in her own right, and was a Harvard undergrad and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. She worked as an attorney in civil rights and immigration for nearly 2 years before beginning to work for the ADC.
The attorneys gave an overview of the rules for obtaining green cards, temporary protected status, and asylum, and also briefly discussed their efforts to protect the civil rights of their clients.
They explained that Temporary Protected Status (TPS) gives foreign nationals the right to live and work in the United States. It is a status available only to Syrians from Arab nationals. They explained that it is temporary, does not lead to a green card, and is more broadly available than asylum because it does not depend on the applicant’s status as a persecuted person. It is also independent of other immigration attempts.
Asylum, they explained, is available to people from a group persecuted in their home country.
The attorneys described some of the specific types of evidence they use to strengthen the applications for asylum and TPS.
There is some overlap of services between ADC and other Muslim institutions in Michigan. CAIR-MI for example has over the recent past focused on protecting Muslims through securing their legal rights in court, as evidenced by their having hired Lena Masry who has achieved great success in immigration and civil rights issues.
However, Director Abdrabboh explained to TMO that there is so much need for legal services that it is only beneficial to the community to have more than one institution serving legal needs. Also, ADC’s focus on ethnicity rather than religion means that it helps many Christian Arabs who face ethnic discrimination similar to that faced by Muslims generally—although CAIR will help non-Muslims who face similar issues, it is not a stated goal of the organization to do that.