Muslim Advocates February 2024 Update

Thank you for your support and solidarity. Your donations, words of encouragement, and continued commitment to our mission have provided important inspiration and motivation for the work that lies ahead. This year has already revealed that the crisis in Palestine will likely continue and intensify. At Muslim Advocates, we are working to respond to related demands for support of the U.S. movement for the human rights of Palestinians, while anticipating where we will be needed next. In that spirit, we want to give you an update about some of our ongoing work and a preview of some projects we have coming up.

  • Marshaling Support for Student Activists: Together with Project ANAR, the CLEAR Project, and Law Students for a Free Palestine, we’ve been working over the past few months to support Black, Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and/or South Asian (BAMEMSA) student activists who are returning to their campuses from overseas for the start of the winter/spring 2024 academic term. We’ve developed and disseminated thorough, written guidance for such students nationwide about how to navigate their inspections by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and have also recruited a nationwide network of volunteer attorneys who are on-call in case CBP targets and detains any of these students because of their activism and/or BAMEMSA identity/ies. BAMEMSA student activists are on the front lines of a mass movement for the lives and human rights of Palestinians, and it’s a privilege and honor to work with our partners to support these brave and inspiring young people however we can. 
  • Fighting Discriminatory Questioning by Border Agents: We organized a diverse group of 12 prominent civil-rights and grassroots organizations to file an amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief last Friday, urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to reinstate the lawsuit of three Muslim-Americans targeted by border agents. Their targeting was part of a larger pattern and practice of biased and discriminatory questioning of travelers who are Muslim or whom the government wrongly perceives to be Muslim. The brief situates the plaintiffs’ experiences within the larger, decades-long context of biased and discriminatory targeting of BAMEMSA communities by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, based on harmful, false, and racialized tropes that wrongly equate Islam with putative dangerousness. Muslim Advocates prepared the brief, together with pro-bono attorneys from Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP.
  • Seeking Accountability at the Southern Border: Earlier this year, we teamed up with the National Immigration Project (NIP) to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to get more information about border arrests by CBP and related immigration prosecutions by a U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) in Texas. The FOIA request is inspired by troubling reports of discriminatory targeting by CBP and the USAO of migrants from Muslim-majority countries. We know, unfortunately, that such targeting is nothing new, and, together with NIP, we’re committed to exposing and resisting it, whenever and however it occurs.

With Ramadan fast approaching, we’re again preparing a suite of Know Your Rights and other resources that can help people request religious accommodations in schools, the workplace, and in prisons. Last year, we introduced you to Keeping the Faith, our new database of religious practices in state prisons, which will be an important part of our advocacy efforts during Ramadan 2024. We’ll share more updates soon on our work to defend the dignity and rights of imprisoned people and to support our abolitionist partners who are combating the cruelty of mass incarceration during Ramadan and beyond.