Dear Community Members and Friends,
As many of you are spending extra time each night praying at home and the masajid, I want to share a story with you about a high school student who contacted our office in 2020.
He was 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.
The family reached out to our legal team for advice. 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.
This is but one of the many stories featured in CAIR California’s new statewide Annual Legal Report, which summarizes all civil rights and immigration intakes received by the four CAIR-CA offices – San Francisco Bay Area (CAIR-SFBA), San Diego (CAIR-SD), Greater Los Angeles Area (CAIR-LA), and Sacramento Valley and Central California Areas (CAIR-SV/CC) in 2020.
Looking back on the past year, in March 2020, CAIR-CA offices were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So our staff quickly transitioned to providing remote legal services.
Across the state, CAIR-CA employs more than 15 attorneys and legal advocates and worked with numerous law clerks and fellows in the past year. Together they responded to 1,769 intakes in 2020. 748 of those were in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The intakes received included complaints related to religious-based discrimination and anti-Muslim bias incidents, as well as requests for a broad range of immigration assistance. Our staff also responded to the community’s evolving needs in light of the pandemic by expanding assistance to cover issues such as unemployment benefits, stimulus payments, housing, and eviction defense.
In a year marked by mass uprisings against institutional white supremacy and a world-changing pandemic, American Muslims among other communities found themselves impacted by violence and suppression of civil rights. However, with your support, your local CAIR offices continued their stringent advocacy and representation of individuals, families, and social institutions to build a nation grounded in justice, equality, inclusivity, and religious harmony.
If you know someone who needs civil rights or immigration legal assistance, please advise them to contact us.
We have long taken pride in providing the highest quality, culturally competent, free, and low-cost legal services, and we are continuing that work through your support.
During this blessed month of Ramadan, consider giving your zakat or sadaqa gift of $5,000, $2,500, $1,000, $500, $250, $100, or any amount, to protect, empower, and elevate the lives of thousands of Muslims in our community.