Kevin Vodak, CAIR-Chicago’s Staff Attorney, participated in a panel discussion in immigrant and human rights at WorldChicago’s Fulbright Scholar Conference on Saturday, April 2, 2011. The conference, held at the National Museum of Mexican Art, was entitled Democracy and Human Rights: An Exploration.
Addressing this prestigious group of international scholars, Vodak discussed the challenges and human rights violations Muslim immigrants face in the United States. He highlighted the Special Registration program instituted in 2002 that required males from 24 Muslim countries as well as North Korea to report to U.S. immigration offices where they were subjected to interrogations and background checks. The Department of Homeland Security later admitted that this program, which resulted in the deportation of at least 13,000 people, provided absolutely no information about terrorist activity.
Attendees engaged in the discussion, and in fact, some shared stories of the challenges they faced acquiring a visa and entering the United States as Fulbright Scholars. Vodak noted that immigration is a significant issue in the participants’ own countries and “many of the comments stressed the need for an international effort to address immigration issues.”
Gerald Hankerson, CAIR-Chicago’s Outreach Coordinator, praised WorldChicago’s efforts in organizing this event. “It provided an important opportunity for international partners to share their current projects and best practices,” said Hankerson.