Groups Team-Up to Safeguard Syrian-Americans

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Reports of increased F.B.I. visits prompt Muslim Legal Fund of America and Asian Law Caucus to issue guidelines for Syrians in America.

Asian Law Caucus and Muslim Legal Fund of America

Asian Law Caucus and Muslim Legal Fund of America

Community members should understand their legal rights during these types of situations.

The Muslim Legal Fund of America and the Asian Law Caucus are teaming up to provide Syrians in the United States with information about their legal rights in response to reports of increased scrutiny from and visits by federal law enforcement agents.

On August 13, the New York Times reported that F.B.I. agents are increasing the agency's surveillance of Syrians in America. The government is expressing concerns that US military strikes against President Bashar al-Asad's forces may spur retaliation attacks against US targets (see: http://bit.ly/nytsyrians).

The organizations published a community advisory to spread awareness about legal rights. The advisory includes phone numbers and website addresses for individuals who are being approached and who need help safeguarding their legal rights as a result.

"We've seen too many people put in prison because they spoke with the F.B.I. in good faith without an attorney," said Khalil Meek, Executive Director of MLFA. "Community members should understand their legal rights during these types of situations and seek legal representation."

Yaman Salahi, staff attorney with the Asian Law Caucus, said that even unintentional misstatements can be used against individuals attempting to help law enforcement.

"People who have nothing to hide should be the first to seek the advice of an attorney before walking into a meeting with law enforcement," said Yaman Salahi. "The stakes are very high. We want to make sure people in the community have an attorney's advice every step of the way."

MLFA and ALC are circulating an advisory document for Syrians and others being profiled and targeted by federal law enforcements. The advisory lists phone numbers for community legal groups that you can call for free legal help.

The advisory can be downloaded at https://www.mlfa.org/got-rights.

Advancing Justice - ALC was founded in 1972 as the nation's first legal and civil rights Asian American organization. Recognizing that social, economic, political and racial inequalities continue to exist in the United States, Advancing Justice - ALC is committed to the pursuit of equality and justice for all sectors of our society, with a specific focus directed toward addressing the needs of low-income, immigrant and underserved Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Visit: http://advancingjustice-alc.org.

The Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA) is a national civil liberties legal fund that defends the U.S. Bill of Rights by supporting legal cases involving civil liberty encroachments. Established in 2001, MLFA has defended freedom of speech, freedom of religion, right to a fair trial, due process of law and many of our nation's civil liberties. To learn more about MLFA, visit their website at http://www.mlfa.org.

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John Janney

John Janney
@MLFA
since: 09/2009
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Muslim Legal Fund of America
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