Tuesday, January 31, 2006

State of Detention

Annual State of Detention and 2005 in Review
From the President
Greater Cleveland Immigrant Support Network

Immigration is central to civil liberties,
international human rights
and global efforts for peace. Developing relationships
with the diverse
ethnic and racial groups creates pathways to deal with
poverty,
violence and other social ills. This is a critical
component for developing
real homeland security for hometowns everywhere.

Diplomacy is one tool that U.S. counter-terrorism
policy apparently
avoids. Instead, the government deploys divisive and
discriminatory
measures: special registration (in 2002-03, for men
from 26 nations with
large Muslim populations), roundup, detention,
deportation and spying on
Arab, South Asian and Muslim-Americans. Such tactics
cause alienation and
fear among immigrant communities.

The tactics of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement
(ICE) and the
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have failed to
uncover any actual
terrorism. Of the tens of thousands of Arab, Muslim
and South Asian men
that were subject to "special registration," no ties
to terrorism were
found.

Government cases alleging terrorist ties are often
unsubstantiated:
- Sami Al-Arian was aquitted in late 2005 by a Florida
jury for charges
linking him to terrorism.
- Yasser Hamdi, alleged Taliban loyalist, was offered
a deal by the US
government in which he gave up his US citizenship and
returned to
Saudi Arabia.
- Ahmed Omar Abu Ali claims he was tortured into
confessing to the
allegation of plotting to
assasinate the president.
- Capt James Yee, military chaplain, Guantanamo Bay,
Cuba, accused of
spying; now vindicated.
- Brandon Mayfield, Muslim convert, accused of ties to
Spanish train
bombing; now vindicated.
- Ahmed Hannan Koubriti and Ali-Haimoud accused of
terrorism in
Detroit; now free and filing suit against the
government for a cruel, three
year detention.
- Nuradin Abdi, accused Columbus, Ohio mall bomber,
was threatened to
obtain confession and abused in prison.
- Ashraf Al-Jailani of Kent, Ohio, legal US resident
of Yemeni origin,
was detained over three years, originally called a
“first-string al
Qaeda operative”. The government has retracted this
allegation and
recently deported him for a misdemeanor domestic
violence charge.
- Imam Fawaz Damra, emigrated from Occupied Palestine
in the 1980's and
was convicted in 2004 for omitting affiliations on
immigration forms.
He is said to have had ties to Palestinian Islamic
Jihad and the "Afghan
rebels". The Palestinian Islamic Jihad was not on the
US terrorist list
at the time of his omission and Damra supported the
Afghan rebels
simultaneous with President Reagan. Damra grew up in a
war zone and saw his
people brutalized by Israeli Defense Forces long
before the first
suicide bombings occurred. Damra has risen above the
violence, apologized
for anti-Jewish statements and has become an
interfaith leader in
Northeast Ohio, advocating for peace and nonviolence.
He know awaits removal
from the USA.
See Bill Moyer's interview with Fawaz Damra:
http://www.pbs.org/now/society/imam.html

Review the disturbing case of Dr. Dhafir as told by
Kathy Kelly of
Voices in the Wilderness
http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0916-14.htm

These represent several of the hundreds (possibly
thousands) of cases
of injustice that serve as temporary justification
that the government
is busy doing something to keep us safe while real
criminals go
undetected. As the Bush administration manipulates our
system of justice to
sacrifice the rights and freedoms of a few so-called
'”terrorists”,
our civil liberties, the rule of law and governmental
checks on power
are severely compromised.

GCISN works to counteract fear tactics with
“nonviolent civility”.
We broaden our own lives by shopping and dining in
ethnic
neighborhoods, attending mosque open house programs,
and conversing with those who
may be experiencing discrimination. These are simple
tasks that open an
eye to the world. Standing up for people of Muslim
faith, and Arab,
Asian, African, Latino or other affected groups is our
charge because many
of us are the embedded immigrants in this country.
Isn't this really
standing up for ourselves?

Don Bryant, president, GCISN

This is just a brief view of our philosophy and
projects. Please see
GCISN's "Year in Review" in the pages which follow.
******************************************************************
JOIN GCISN, PLEASE. DUES $1- $100 (sliding scale).
We're networking to establish Hometown Security
through intercultural interaction. PAY PAL @
www.WeAreAllImmigrants.blogspot.com
or mail to GSISN, PO Box 93553, Cleveland, OH 44101
*****************************************************************

NEXT DINNER/MEETING, 2/1/06, 4:30 PM, SAHARA
RESTAURANT, 12501 LORAIN AVE. I HOPE TO SEE YOU. INFO:
CALL 440-237-0673
*****************************************************************

Greater Cleveland Immigrant Support Network 2005 Year
in Review

This year GCISN has taken on many projects and
continued to inform 165
email subscribers and media contacts through
truth_force@yahoo.com
about local and national issues concerning
immigration, racial and ethnic
profiling, prisoner abuse, civil liberties, domestic
violence,
diversity, cultural events and more.

DETAINEE ADVOCACY
- corresponded and visited men and women detained in
Bedford Heights
jail; Seneca County, OH; York County, PA and other
facilities where
immigrants are detained under contract with US
Department of Homeland
Security (DHS) and the US Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (ICE). We
have advocated for their rights to due process, health
care, release or
return to their country of origin. We have contacted
family members,
attorneys, and/or spiritual advisers when requested.
- sponsored public demonstrations and programs to
publicize unjust
detentions, discriminatory and selective enforcement
of harsh immigration
laws and the heavy toll on families victimized by such
practices. Two
demonstrations were held at the A. Celebrezze Federal
Bldg. (Cleveland);
two programs to publicize Ashraf Al-Jailani's three
years of unjust
detention were presented at the Islamic Community
Center of Akron and
Kent. Extensive media coverage resulted from some
events.
- the Arab Gazette, Arab/English news printed a front
page article
written by GCISN president concerning the plight of
one detainee/deportee
and his family who were forced to sell their
restaurant. The article
also exposed huge federal expenditures for the massive
detention program
of ICE and DHS. No ties to terrorism were uncovered
through this
program.

ORGANIZATIONAL
- incorporated as a nonprofit membership organization,
501c3,
established a board of directors and elected officers.
The Board of Directors
includes, Kim Alabasi, Don Bryant (president), Brian
Fry, Vera Hall
(treasurer), Yasir Hamdallah, Yoshiko Ikuta, Mary Ann
Kerr (secretary),
Linda Park (vice president) Catherine Podojil and
Esther Sassaman, who has
taken a leave of absence while she pursues a graduate
degree in
Scotland.

LEGISLATIVE
- sent representative to Washington DC with the Farm
Labor Organizing
Committee (FLOC), Toledo, OH office delegation, to
lobby for fair
immigration policy and a guest worker program.
- organized a delegation of religious and community
activists and
immigration law experts to meet with aides to Senators
DeWine and Voinovich
to oppose the REAL ID Act and it's cumbersome and
anti-constitutional
provisions. For example, this act mandates states to
fund a new drivers
license and identification card and strips the right
of habeas corpus
from non-citizens, defined as “persons” and once
protected in the
Bill of Rights.
- sent legislative alerts to the email list on issues
of immigration,
poverty, and prisoner abuse.

IMMIGRANT AND FAMILY ADVOCACY
- held two fundraisers in early 2005 to help defray
legal expenses for
Michele Swensen Al-Jailani) to reunite with her three
children after
her husband's detention (see introduction) sent her
into poverty and
depression. The federal government scrutinized her
with searches,
surveillance, and seizure of personal property,
including her computer hard
drive. Over $2000 in legal fees are subsequently due.


- a panel discussion, "Families on the Front Line",
was presented by
GCISN for the Summer Supper Series at the Friends'
Meeting House (Peace
House), cosponsored by Cleveland Peace Action, Women
Speak Out For Peace
and Justice, and American Friends Service Committee.
- supported domestic violence victim, Mai Hamed, a
Palestinian Muslim
who was set ablaze by her husband, (now deceased).
Mai's hand's were
burned off and 90% of her body suffered 2nd and 3rd
degree burns.
Members assisted Mai and her mother (and caregiver)
with transportation,
applications for assisted housing, communications,
publicity that elicited
donations, set up a Key Bank Mai Hamed Relief Fund,
and organized an
exhibit of Mai's paintings for the Tremont Art Walk
and a subsequent
Domestic Violence Forum at the Inside-Outside Gallery.

- provided and initiated "letters of support" for Imam
Fawaz Damra, an
interfaith leader, who fell under unwarranted
governmental scrutiny
- assisted a Palestinian family, whose husband/father
was deported, by
escorting the children to IslamFest at a local mosque,
the teenage boys
to class at the Islamic Center, and the entire family
to two Cavalier's
basketball games.
- secured a community development grant ($1,100)
through the Catholic
Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) to help fund
Behind the Bars, a
project designed to establish and maintain family
unity and empowerment
in cases of detained or deported immigrant family
members. The grant
runs until, June, 2006. Please see
www.behindthebars.org
- purchased tickets for Muslim immigrants to attend
John Dear
nonviolence program at the Congregation of St. Joseph
Center
- provided advocacy for immigrants of Arab, Asian,
Ukranian and Central
American origin.

COALITION BUILDING
GCISN has established a working relationship with
community
organizations, including the Beit Hanina Palestinian
Social Club; Cleveland
Catholic Diocese; Cleveland Domestic Violence Center;
the Council on American
Islamic Relations, Cleveland office; Inter Religious
Task Force On
Central America; Islamic Center of Cleveland; Jewish
Community Federation
Subcommittee on Battered Immigrant Women; Women Speak
Out; and others.

MIGRANT RIGHTS
GCISN supports comprehensive immigration reform that
respects the
rights, contributions, and struggles of migrants and
their families

According to the UN Geneva Migration Group (GMG) there
are "185 million
international migrants in the world today, more than
double the figure
only 25 years ago. Factors that have contributed to
the increase in the
scale of international migration include globalization
and growing
disparities in living conditions both within and
between countries."

Most estimates indicate that are about 11 million
undocumented migrants
in the US, a 23%
increase since 2001. Migrants provide essential
services to the US
economy and society . They also contribute to the
development of their
countries of origin by supporting their families and
communities back home.
Such remittances are important for the economy of many
developing
countries and in some cases "surpasses the amount of
official development
aid received." (GMG)

Nevertheless, many migrants do not receive recognition
for their
contributions. The role of migrants in society is
often misunderstood.
Foreign professionals and workers play essential roles
in national economies.
In their overwhelming majority they are positive
contributors and not a
burden on the communities they live in.

"Many migrants, especially in low-paid jobs, face
discrimination,
living at the margin of society without access to
adequate housing,
education or health care. Often migrants only have
access to jobs that place
them in hazardous and exploitative work conditions.

GCISN has already forged ahead in 2006 on the issue of
immigration
reform, and human rights. Two members of GCISN will
join the Christian
Peacemaker Teams in Douglas, AZ, February 24, on the
US / Mexico Border to
observe, hear concerned voices and relate the impact
of immigration
laws on individuals and families in the US and Mexico.
www.cpt.org

JOIN GCISN, PLEASE. DUES $1- $100 (sliding scale).
We're networking to
establish Hometown Security through intercultural
interaction. PAY PAL
@ www.WeAreAllImmigrants.blogspot.com
or mail to GSISN, PO Box 93553, Cleveland, OH 44101

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