President's Corner

Spring 2005

Dear Friend,

Three years after the tragedy of September 11 th, another tragedy continues to unfold – dividing us as a nation. Innocent men, women and children who are Middle Eastern, Muslim or South Asian wake up every day knowing that they may face discrimination, violence and intimidation in the U.S. In many ways, this tragedy is a silent one, because those who are targeted are often afraid to come forward. We are appealing to you to help give voice to this tragedy that threatens the very principles of our democracy for generations to come.

  • Imagine your 9-year old child being harassed and physically attacked by his own teacher because of his ethnic heritage and now suffering from posttraumatic stress syndrome.
  • Imagine being suddenly terminated from the job you had performed admirably for 30 years – simply because of your country of birth.
  • Imagine being 63 years old, coming to the U.S. on a 10-year visa for medical treatment and being placed in detention and removal proceedings while you are in intensive care – clinging to life.
  • Imagine being forced to return to a country where you are certain to face persecution, torture or death – even though you have done absolutely nothing wrong.
  • Imagine your brother, son, husband or father just disappearing – placed in 24-hour lockdown for weeks on end, with no way to contact you as to his whereabouts.

These are but a few of the daily tragedies faced by those who come from the 24 nations singled out by our government. Making up one-third of the world, these human beings are Baha’i, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh and non-religious. Together, they are writing the next chapter of the civil rights movement. Since September 2001, a small group of volunteer attorneys, law clerks and community organizers have helped these targeted individuals reclaim their dignity and safety. We have represented over 600 people in court and advocated for their rights on Capitol Hill, in the media and in public forums. Our testimony, along with that of other advocates before Congress, was instrumental in fully suspending the “Special Registration” program persecuting those from the 24 countries. We are intent on building a unity of purpose among those who are victimized and those who care about democracy and social justice.

We are now ready to build upon our unique expertise and move forward with the creation of the National Legal Sanctuary for Community Advancement (NLSCA), a new nonprofit organization. As we anticipate the continued political scapegoating of those defined as enemies in the so-called “war on terrorism,” we know that our work has just begun. NLSCA is the only organization of its kind in the nation, and w e need your help to continue providing critical legal services and educating the public about the dangerous policies our government is instituting. Please walk with us in this urgent struggle by making a generous donation today.

Warmest wishes,

Banafsheh Akhlaghi, Esq.

President and CEO



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