One baby's constitutional battle, plus: Case Updates, Awards, Events, & More
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This past week, we witnessed the trial of Botham Jean's shooter, former police officer Amber Guyger. While a measure of justice was served with her conviction for his murder, many were understandably questioning her 10 year prison sentence, arguing that if their places were switched, he would have received a stiffer sentence simply due to his identity as a young, black male.

This imbalance is unfortunately all too familiar to us as American Muslims. As an organization, MLFA works to address and correct similar injustices that our community experiences.

In this issue, we update you on a number of cases that are moving forward with positive results, share a case that exposes the hurdles one baby has to face to fight for her rights (and her life), recognize CLCMA board member Sunny Azhar for his most recent achievement, and fill you in
on inspiring events coming to a city near you.

In faith and for justice,

Law Center Updates

Earlier this month, the government offered the full amount claimed by Plaintiff Haisam Elsharkawi in his lawsuit against the United States of America for tort damages under the Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA").  On behalf of Mr. Elsharkawi, CLCMA sought damages for false imprisonment/false arrest, negligence, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress based on his extensive and intrusive detention at an airport when leaving for religious pilgrimage. The Judge held last month that the allegations supporting these claims were "textbook pleading" and denied the government’s Motion to Dismiss these claims.  Two weeks later and shortly before discovery was about to begin, the government offered to concede the damages.

CLCMA Defends Immigration Win for Houston-Based Islamic Scholar Dr. Main Al-Qudah

Dr. Main Al-Qudah has been defending his immigration status through a long legal battle for almost two decades, by tenaciously fighting against the government’s efforts to block his ability to remain lawfully in the U.S.

Dr. Al-Qudah’s case exemplifies the persistence of the lawyers at the MLFA-funded Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America and its legal partners in defending Muslim immigrants against withholding of immigration status in violation of their clients’ constitutional rights to due process and fairness.

With the help of CLCMA and outside counsel, Dr. Al-Qudah recently received a favorable decision when the immigration judge granted his long-pending request for lawful permanent residence. CLCMA is now defending this win for Dr. Al-Qudah at the Board of Immigration Appeals, after the government challenged it.

It took three years and several levels of administrative appeals for the government to recognize that transportation worker Mohamed Al-Seraji does not pose a security threat.

The Muslim Legal Fund of America put Mr. Al-Seraji in touch with the attorneys at the Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America.  They helped him file administrative challenges, and eventually, a lawsuit in federal court.

On May 25, 2018, just a couple of days before his hearing was set to start, he heard surprising news: the TSA changed its mind. They were going to grant his application for a TWIC card after all.

CLCMA recently filed a federal court lawsuit in Washington, D.C., challenging the constitutionality of the process Mr. Al-Seraji endured and seeking damages for the three years he was not able to work in his chosen profession. He has no criminal record and the government never provided specific reasons for its three year denial of his TWIC card application.  

Case Spotlight
One Baby's Constitutional Battle:
How Government Overreach Can Impact our Rights - and Our Lives

CLCMA's Civil Department is pursuing a case on behalf of a baby born in Palestine to two U.S. citizens (Baby M) who is being denied multiple documents that would establish her right to U.S. citizenship due to her parents' status as citizens.

The government claims that it cannot issue these documents without "proof" of the child's relationship to her parents via a "suggested" DNA test – an unnecessary, burdensome requirement that runs contrary to the statutes passed by Congress. The child's parents applied for her paperwork so that she could seek medical care in the United States that is not available in her country.

CLCMA filed suit on behalf of Baby M's father as her "next friend," to compel the government to process her case in accordance with the law and cease the infringement on her constitutional rights. What is troubling in the government's actions is the expectation that Muslim Americans, and in this case, a Palestinian Muslim American family, have to jump through hoops and overcome hurdles not presented to others in the same situations.

Imposing unreasonable standards and requirements to prove blood relationship to a U.S. citizen parent, despite both parents being U.S. citizens married to each other, risks both this child's health and the health of our judicial process. CLCMA is proud to fight on Baby M's behalf, and hopefully prevent an unconstitutional precedent of allowing agencies to add requirements that are not included in the laws passed by Congress.

Awards & Recognitions
MLFA Congratulates Law Center Board Member Sunny Azhar on Immigration Award

With a common theme of immigration attorneys being the first responders to the escalating immigration issues of our day, attorney and CLCMA
Board Member Furqan Sunny Azhar was recognized with the annual Professional Excellence Award on September 25th, 2019.

This recognition is awarded to the immigration attorney who made significant contributions in the field through changing an area of law, reshaping an institution and/or organization, accomplishing works of great public service or otherwise making a lasting impact in the past year.

In a room of 100 immigration attorneys, colleagues, and friends, Mr. Azhar spoke about how members of the immigration sector learned from each other and worked to improve the lives of people who needed their help. Dallas Judge Clay Jenkins stated that where others fear to run into a burning building, immigration attorneys - like firemen - will rush in to do the difficult and necessary work needed to change lives.

Congratulations to Mr. Azhar from everyone at Muslim Legal Fund of America and Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America!

MLFA & CLCMA Staff strategizing, collaborating, and pursuing the work that makes justice possible.
Event Recap

On Sunday, September 29, 2019, MLFA was a proud sponsor of the Dallas theater production of the play "Not Without My Hijab" by our dear sister and supporter Halimah DeOliveira. This well-attended and highly-received event brought together Dallas folks young and old to witness the coming of age story of Aneesa, a Muslim girl in America who grappled with her faith and identity. Congratulations to Sr. Halimah and the Childhoodlost Theatre Group, and a huge shout-out to MLFA's Dallas-based volunteers for helping make this event successful! You can learn more about upcoming shows by following Sr. Halimah: @beyouinhd and find out how you too can make a difference by joining MLFA's Volunteer Network here.

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