Muslim Americans March for Immigration Reform Nationwide

May 1, 2006

In solidarity with immigration activists around the country, the Muslim Public Affairs Council as well as the Council on American-Islamic Relations - Los Angeles (CAIR-LA), the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, the L.A. Latino Muslim Association, the Muslim American Society - Los Angeles, and the Muslim Students Association - West (MSA West) joined millions calling for comprehensive immigration reform in at least a dozen cities across the country.

In Los Angeles, Muslim Americans joined more than one million people who attended two Immigrants' Rights marches in downtown and along Wilshire Blvd. on May 1, 2006. The nationwide day of action calling for immigration reform has been described in recent days as one of the largest rallies in American history. Hundreds of thousands of documented and undocumented individuals marched in solidarity, demanding rights for the estimated 11 million undocumented individuals currently residing in the United States.

Representatives from MPAC, CAIR-LA and MSAwest were present, carrying signs with slogans such as "Muslims Support Liberty & Justice For All" and "Muslims and Catholics United for Justice".

Mobilizing local Muslim communities around the issue of immigration has brought Muslim Americans into the fold of activism with people from diverse racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds around common issues of concern. Among the most controversial components of HR 4437 is a provision which seeks to criminalize people individuals and institutions for providing humanitarian assistance to undocumented individuals. This would include physicians, educators, and members of the clergy.

SEE: "Muslim Americans Join May 1st Immigration Marches Nationwide", 4/27/06)

SEE ALSO: "After Immigration Protests, Goal Remains Elusive" (New York Times, 5/3/06)


Islam's message is one of social justice, economic fairness, and fair treatment in the workplace. The Qur'an urges the proper treatment and respect of workers. Several Muslim leaders discussed the relevance of the Qur'an to the struggle for dignity in the workplace with union leaders and other religious leaders during the "Islam and Labor: Forging Partnerships Conference," held November 10, 2001 in Washington, DC. Co-convened by the National Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), the conference sought to build relationships between Muslims, interfaith committees and labor communities. As the Prophet Muhammad is quoted as saying, "None of you has faith unless you love for your brother what you love for yourself."

It is against this backdrop that American Muslim organizations call for a comprehensive immigration reform that includes provisions for a pathway to lawful permanent residence for the undocumented currently in the United States, a temporary worker program that matches willing workers with willing employers, and a reduction in the current backlogs in family-based immigration to the United States.

SEE ALSO: "A Muslim Perspective on Illegal Immigration" (Orange County Register, 4/15/06)

The United States has always been a nation of immigrants, but today the country has more than 33 million foreign-born residents, the largest number since the U.S. Census started keeping such statistics in 1850. In 2003, foreign-born residents made up 11.7 percent of the population, the highest percentage since 1910. And over the past 16 years, the newcomers, many of them undocumented, have poured into places in the South and Midwest that have not seen sizeable numbers of new immigrants in generations.

On December 16, 2005, the House of Representatives passed HR 4437, the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005. The bill was introduced by Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI). The Sensenbrenner bill is an inadequate enforcement-only bill that fails to address comprehensive immigration reform. In particular, it does not include any provision for a guest worker program, an earned legalization program, nor a reduction in the backlogs for family-based immigration. Instead, the bill criminalizes undocumented people for unlawful presence in the United States, and criminalizes people who work or volunteer with faith-based organizations for helping someone in need, who turns out to be undocumented.

Related Links:
- HR 4437 Congressional Bill (requires PDF)
- Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles
- Immigrants Solidarity Network



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