The vision for America was seen through the eyes of its first immigrants, and it’s Constitution was born from experiences that shaped dreams of a better life.
Over the course of America’s history, the immigration story has evolved and seen its share of controversies and challenges, but 9/11 changed everything.
What hasn’t changed are the dreams of those who believed in America’s promise, and the belief that justice can and will prevail.
Since 2001, Muslim Legal Fund of America has been funding the work that makes justice possible. This means that for the past 17 years, MLFA has been working to educate, empower, and defend Muslims against injustices they face in direct opposition to America’s promise of life, liberty, and justice for all.
Despite the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal access and justice, many immigrants - especially Muslims - face harsh discrimination, unfair treatment, and legal difficulty, such as:
- Denaturalization / Citizenship revocations
- Excessive / Unwarranted detentions and delays
- Citizenship / Permanent Resident / Passport denials
Coupled with expensive legal costs to hire qualified attorneys who are skilled in immigration proceedings and federal litigation, American Muslim immigrants find themselves unable to challenge this unfair treatment effectively, if at all.
Ikram Khan is an immigrant with endurance.
A middle-aged man with a long, wavy beard and kind eyes, he speaks with conviction about his immigration case until he mentions his children, at which point his voice begins to break.
He hasn’t seen them since 2009.
“It’s a long time. You’re missing your kids. You cannot buy the memories which you have with your kids…” he laments.
When his kids ask him why he won’t return to be with them in Pakistan, he tells them he is here for them, for a better future. If he leaves now he may never be allowed back in. This is their best chance. He hopes to bring them to America one day, once he is granted citizenship, so he stays and fights against a system that has been intent on finding a reason to kick him out for the past 12 years.
Ikram’s case goes back to 2006, when he initially filed for naturalization. It is a process that should normally take 180 days, but in Ikram’s case, it dragged on for years. He was invited for an interview 2 years later in 2008 - but that was mysteriously cancelled. His case stagnated for another 5 years, despite trying everything he could to speed it up: he requested more interviews, contacted the immigration office, reached out to congressmen -- all to no avail.
He suspected that his case was languishing because he was Muslim.
“If you don’t stop the targeting of Muslims today, it’s going to go on and on. It is your legal right to defense.”
Muslim Legal Fund of America is funding the defense of Ikram Khan, and many others like him, who have been targeted and denied their rights simply on the basis of their faith.
Ikram Khan misses his kids, but he has faith in God and in America’s promise. He can’t buy back time or memories, but we can help invest in his future, by fighting to reunite him with his family - as citizens of America.
Help Ikram endure, and help him continue his fight. Together, we can Make Immigration Great Again.
Foad Farahi is an immigrant with integrity.
He came to America like many before him, on a student visa, looking to make a better future for himself. He worked as an Imam in Miami while he pursued his studies, hoping to one day become a doctor.
When it came time to renew his visa, the twin towers came crashing down on 9/11 - a horrific time for all. For Foad, he hesitated - should he stay, or should he leave? As a Kuwaiti-born son of a Syrian mother and an Iranian father, he felt like he didn’t belong anywhere. He could technically go to Iran - the only country that counted him a citizen - but as a practicing Sunni Imam who spoke no Farsi and had no connections, his prospects in that country seemed dire.
He decided he wanted to stay. As an Imam who flourished in interfaith circles, he felt like he belonged in America. And so he pursued his visa.
One day before the Presidential election of 2004, the FBI knocked on his door.
They offered him a green card, medical school expenses -- the American dream was about to become a reality!
But there was a catch: he had to spy on his community. If he refused, they insinuated that he would be deported to Iran.
And so began his difficult path in the U.S. immigration system. His American dream was quickly turning into a nightmare. But Foad was not giving up. His struggle is ongoing today.
Muslim Legal Fund of America is funding Foad’s case and his right to be in this country. America should welcome more people with his integrity, and our community should support leaders like him who stand up for their rights.
Foad continues to lead his congregation, bowing down in prayer -- and calls upon us all to stand up against injustice. Intimidation, blackmail, and entrapment are not what this country stands for - most immigrants come to America to escape those very elements abroad. Sixteen years later, and he is still fighting -- for himself, for his community, and to prevent this from happening to others.
With your help, we can continue to help Foad stand up against injustice and Make Immigration Great Again.
The Path Ahead
The Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA) has been committed to defending the rights of American Muslims who find themselves in situations like these. We help them fight for positive outcomes when the system fails them.
“And among those We created is a community which guides by truth and thereby establishes justice.” Surah Al-A’raf 7:181
Since President Trump took office, challenges Muslims face have increased exponentially. He campaigned for the Presidency of the United States by fanning the flames of bigotry and xenophobia against Muslims and immigrants alike.
Today, many immigrants that are attempting to take legal steps to become lawful permanent residents or naturalized citizens are facing extreme challenges. In fact, there has been a drastic increase of nearly 730,000 pending naturalization applications under President Trump’s administration. That is more than an 87% increase since 2015 under President Obama’s administration.
Prior to President Trump taking office, the Department of Justice filed an average of eleven denaturalization cases per year. Since January 2017, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has identified approximately twenty-five hundred cases to be examined for possible denaturalization, within only one year.
In June 2018, President Trump ordered the creation of the Denaturalization Task Force focused on revoking naturalized immigrants’ US citizenships. This task force is led by Stephen Miller, the mastermind behind the Muslim Ban and other cruel policies.
“We sent Our Messengers with clear signs and sent down with them the Book and the Measure in order to establish justice among the people…” Surah Al-Hadid 57:25
Clearly, this administration thrives on instilling fear in our communities, leaving many feeling vulnerable and confused. While the scope of these policies may seem limited at first glance, the potential for their dangerous expansion remains present, especially considering how the Islamophobic and xenophobic rhetoric continues to grow across the country.
These actions and policies do not just affect individuals -- they affect families.
The Way to Win
We’ve given you glimpses of two cases MLFA has been funding over the years. The stories of Foad Farahi and Ikram Khan precede the Trump era, in fact, and stemmed from policies enacted after 9/11. MLFA became involved after routine processes of immigration became suspiciously delayed for the families involved - and more needed to be done.
“You know, we’ve come up with this expression - when people tell us these cases, we say, “you’ve been CARRP’d!” Ira Kurzban, one of the lawyers working on both Foad and Ikram’s cases, explains.
This program (Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program) is a previously covert national security program enacted during the Bush presidency, essentially designed to delay and deny immigration rights to primarily Muslim applicants.
Ikram Khan, for example, was CARRP’d. Kurzban contends that the government will allow these cases to sit there - until they are sued. So Ikram Khan, a Pakistani cab driver who hasn’t seen his kids in 10 years - is suing the U.S. government.
What implications does this have on Making Immigration Great Again?
Kevin Gregg, also on Ikram’s legal team, explains:
“The U.S. government has significant resources - and they have very good lawyers. If the U.S. government has done something wrong that a community believes is wrong, there are very few options that a community has to redress that wrong: one is through voting, another is through protesting - but a very direct way to effect change is through litigation.”
“If Mr. Khan becomes a U.S. citizen, he will be a U.S. citizen for the rest of his life and will likely bring his family to the U.S. who he has not seen in almost 10 years at this point. And so that is effecting change not only on a larger scale, but also on an individual life. And that is one of the benefits of litigation.”
With the help of Muslim Legal Fund of America, he’s doing just that. MLFA retained Ira Kurzban and his team because they specialized in complex and controversial cases. Mr. Kurzban also happens to be the author of Kurzban’s Immigration Law Sourcebook, which started out as an outline for a course he taught in law school and is now in its 16th edition at 2200 pages - referred to by immigration judges and lawyers alike as the go-to book on immigration.
“Here we have an organization that is dedicated directly toward helping Muslims who are confronting a government who often is abusive. And unless you stand up to that abuse, you get trampled by it. That’s why MLFA and CLCMA are so important - because they play that role of being in a way the last defender of people’s rights in the Muslim community.” Ira Kurzban, author of Kurzban’s Immigration Law Sourcebook
Muslim Legal Fund of America is willing to take the fight for justice to the highest levels of America’s courts with the best representation on their side, because they are in it, to win it. MLFA believes that Muslims have a right to be in this country, and with your generous support, justice can and will prevail, God-willing.
Help us grow our capacity and continue the fight, for Foad, for Ikram, and for many others who believe in the American dream. Together, we can and will make it a reality.
Upholding the Promise of America
The U.S. government is spending millions in resources to unravel the American dream for so many. MLFA is ready to work harder, smarter, and faster to re-enforce what truly makes America great.
“...If you do not [become allies of one another], there will be fitnah on earth and great corruption.” Surah Al-Anfal 8:73
The American Muslim community must stand united against these policies. We must uphold America’s promise to immigrants. It is up to us to work together to demonstrate that as American Muslims, we believe in the American dream, and as Muslims, we are bound by our faith to respond to the call for justice. We must organize, we must advocate, and we must be prepared to fight where the battles matter the most - in America’s courtrooms.
Without everyone having an opportunity to realize the American dream, that promise that America made to immigrants has not been kept. In order to celebrate and affirm this promise, we need to be willing to enforce it for all.
Hear what Linda Sarsour has to say about the work of MLFA