May 19, 2021

As’Salaamu Alaikum Community Members, 

As the blessed month of Ramadan winds down, CAIR-California (CAIR-CA) published our annual statewide legal report and continued catering to the needs of the community by advising on immigration applications, FBI/law enforcement interactions, and unemployment benefits. 

CAIR-CA’s ‘Annual Legal Report 2021’ detailed and summarized incidents of religious-based discrimination, anti-Muslim bias incidents, and immigration matters reported to all four CAIR-CA offices throughout the state – San Francisco Bay Area, (CAIR-SFBA), San Diego (CAIR-SD), the Greater Los Angeles Area (CAIR-LA), and the Sacramento Valley/Central California (CAIR-SV) in the prior calendar year. Our staff also responded to the community’s evolving needs during the pandemic by expanding our assistance to cover issues including unemployment benefits, stimulus payments, housing, and eviction defense. 

Of the 1,769 intakes in 2020, 771 were handled by CAIR-LA, 748 by CAIR-SFBA, 192 by CAIR-SV/CC, and 58 by CAIR-SD. The categories receiving the most incident reports for 2020 were immigration (61%), travel (8%), employment discrimination (5%), COVID-19 related (3%), and law enforcement harassment (5%). CAIR-CA’s immigration attorneys represented clients on matters as diverse as removal defense, naturalization, adjustment of status, family reunification, employment authorization, and asylum. Immigration attorneys assisted in a total of 1,305 immigration-related matters.  

Some of the stories of clients and communities that CAIR-CA’s legal team assisted include: 

  • CAIR-CA’s immigration attorneys assisted an undocumented minor from Mexico who experienced sexual abuse at the hands of a family member in the U.S. CAIR-CA attorneys prepared a U-visa application, gathered medical data, and other evidence of the harm she suffered. CAIR-CA’s immigration assistance provided her with future educational and employment opportunities. 
  • A Muslim family fled Myanmar in 2019 following Islamophobic attacks on their business by local militias and years of harassment because the wife had converted to Islam. CAIR-CA’s immigration attorneys represented the family in removal proceedings and bolstered their case for asylum with supplemental evidence of the persecution the family would face if they were not allowed to remain in the U.S. The case is currently pending a hearing in 2022. 
  • CAIR-CA’s civil rights attorneys filed a lawsuit against the County of Riverside and Riverside County Sheriff’s Department after a Muslim woman was denied a head covering while in custody. CAIR-CA attorneys were able to obtain a significant monetary settlement on her behalf and to ensure that Riverside County would amend their accommodation policies to ensure the distribution of religious arms-coverings to detainees upon request. 
  • CAIR-CA represented a community member who dealt with discriminatory treatment at the hands of an airline during travel because he was a practicing Muslim with an Arabic name. CAIR-CA’s advocacy led to the issuance of an official apology, monetary compensation for the client as well as immediate policy changes. The policy changes included blanket prohibitions on the recurrence of similar behavior against customers based on their perceived race, national origin, and religion, and relevant cultural competency training for all employees. 
  • CAIR-CA worked closely with the family of a student suspended from school for exercising his right to pray. The student was accosted by a School Resource Officer while he was praying quietly in a corner of the school library. The student had obtained permission to pray in that location, from his teacher and the school librarian. Nevertheless, his prayer rug was confiscated, he was sent to the Principal’s office, and he was told that students were no longer allowed to pray during school hours. Our team contacted school equity advocates to arrange a meeting with the superintendent’s office, the principal, and the teachers involved in the incident. At the conclusion of the meeting, the school agreed to expunge the disciplinary action from the student’s record and to amend their formal religious accommodations policies to ensure accommodations for Muslim students. 

And as always, the CAIR-SFBA team is here to protect and empower you and your family. If you find yourself a target of discrimination and harassment while traveling, at your workplace, at healthcare facilities, and on school premises, please reach out to us through our incident report form 

Please keep our team and our efforts in your duas and Eid Mubarak!  


Ammad Rafiqi, Esq. 

Civil Rights & Legal Services Coordinator