Four Democrats have introduced a measure in U.S. Congress that ethnic community advocates say would help legal immigrants reunite with their families and end decade-long waiting times for legal immigrant visas.
Sen. Robert Menendez, D-NJ, along with co-sponsoring Sens. Kristen Gellibrand, D-NY, Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and Charles Schumer, D-NY, introduced the Reuniting Families Act on Friday, May 22.
The bill would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act, which has not been updated in 20 years. According to the bill, the amendment is to “promote family unity.”
It would reform the family-based immigration system and reduce detainment time for illegal immigrants by, among other things, retaining unused visas allocated by the congress from previous years and changing the classification of “immediate relatives.”
According to the current legislation, the state department can issue up to 226,000 family-preference visas each year.
According to state departments statistics, from 1998 to 2008, an average of over 73,000 visas each year were not used. A total of over 800,000 family visas were not used in the last 10 years.
Under the new bill, any unused family or employment visa would “roll over,” or be available for the next year. Any visas that were unused from 1997 to 2007 would be placed back into the availability pool.
Spouses and children of current green card holders would have the benefit of being be classified as immediate relatives, which, like the immediate relatives of citizens under current law, would immediately qualify them for a visa.
The bill would also give the U.S. attorney general more power to waive barriers for immigrants.
To track the status of this bill, visit www.opencongress.org/bill/111-s1085/show.
New travel regulations in effect June 1, Arab Americans meet with Homeland Security Secretary
Arab American community leaders met with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Tuesday to discuss the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) and U.S.-Canadian border issues.
Beginning June 1, U.S. citizen travelers returning to the states from Bermuda, Mexico, Canada or the Carribean must have a passport, passport card or other federally approved document including an enhanced driver’s license to enter the country by land or sea. The requirement went to effect for air travel on January 23.
Documents required for lawful permanent residents have not changed and they may still use their permanent resident card when traveling.
The discussion was led by an update on the project from Napolitano who gave time for open discussion and questions. Both American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee Michigan and ACCESS representatives raised concerns about the profiling of Arab Americans at the U.S-Canadian border, and offered to help put an end to the profiling approach.
The two groups said they were confident Napolitano took the concerns seriously and intends to take action on the issue.
The WHTI, a result of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, is meant to strengthen border security and allow the Homeland Security Department to quickly identify a traveler by using standard documents. Exceptions to the new documentation requirements can be made if a person is part of the Trusted Traveler Program. Children under the age of 16, or under the age of 19 if traveling with a group, can still present an original copy of their birth certificate, Consular report of Birth Abroad, or a Certificate of Naturalization when arriving by land or sea. Members of the U.S military can present a military identification card for travel by land, sea or air if traveling on official orders.
For more on the new travel regulations, visit www.getyouhome.gov or www.michigan.gov/sos.
Candidate pushing for community absentee voter presence
DEARBORN — City Council candidate Ali Sayed is pushing an effort to get voters traveling oversees this summer to engage in the absentee voting process, which would allow them to participate in August 4 primary elections.
Dearborn City Council candidate Ali Sayed
“There are thousands of voters who are going to be traveling overseas,” he said. “We can’t lose them. We need to express that their vote is very, very valuable.”
To get an absentee ballot, registered voters can download the application by clicking “Regular Absent Voters Ballot Application” on the city clerk’s office’s page on the city’s website, www.cityofdearborn.org.
Applications can also be picked up at the office of The Arab American News, 5706 Chase Road in Dearborn.
Completed applications must be returned to the city clerk’s office, 13615 Michigan Avenue, in person with ID.
Sayed, 28, is one of 24 candidates vying for a spot on the seven-member council. The August 4 primary will narrow the field to 14, who will move on to the Nov. 3 general election.
Sayed is president of Hype Athletics, which works with local school districts and recreation departments to provide after-school and summer activities for youth.
Contact the city clerk’s office for more election information at 313.943.2020.
Comcast awards scholarships in Dearborn
Three high school seniors from Dearborn have been awarded $1000 college scholarships from the Comcast Foundation for their outstanding achievement in academic and community service work.
The 2009 Comcast “Leaders and Achievers” Scholarship Program acknowledges students with leadership skills, academic achievement and a commitment to community service. The foundation distributed 122 scholarships around the state this year totaling $122,000 in grants.
Since the Comcast Foundation was started in 1999, it has given over $11 million to over 11,000 scholarship recipients.
This years scholarship recipients include Rema Chehouri, Dearborn High School, planning to attend University of Michigan; Zeinab Saghir, Fordson High School, planning to attend Wayne State University; and Alyssa Wilkins, Edsel Ford High School, planning to attend Wayne State University. All recipients are invited to attend a ceremony June 3 at the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing.
A reception and banquet in honor of Dr. Wageh Saad’s retirement is to be held on Thursday, June 4, at 5 p.m., at Byblos Banquet Hall, 7258 Chase Road in Dearborn.
Associate Superintendent for Elementary Education in Dearborn Public Schools since 2007, Saad is retiring after 32 years in the Dearborn school system.
Saad moved from Lebanon to Michigan in 1973. He holds master’s degrees in business and education. Saad entered the Dearborn Public School System in 1977 as a bilingual instructor at Salina Elementary School.
Dearborn Schools spokesman David Mustonen announced Thursday that Superintendent Brian Whiston is recommending Norma Jean Sass, director of curriculum and staff development for Farmington Public Schools, to take on Saad’s responsibilities.
The Board of Education will vote on the recommendation at a meeting on June 8.
Physician honored by peers
Dr. Ali Safiedine
Safiedine owns the Michigan Foot and Ankle Specialists practice in Dearborn and is on staff at Oakwood Hospital in Dearborn and Oakwood Southshore Medical Center in Trenton.
Students to hold fundraiser for diabetes research
A diabetes research fundraising dinner for the U-M Brehm Center for Type 1 Diabetes is set to take place Friday, June 5 at 7 p.m. at Byblos Hall, 7258 Chase Road in Dearborn.
All proceeds will go to fund the Brehm Center to support diabetes research. The center will be located in the Brehm Tower, which is under construction and attached to the Kellogg Eye Center.
The project was made possible by a donation of $44 million to the University of Michigan Medical School from Bill and Dolores Brehm, according to Abbas Alawieh, a student organizer of the event.
The donation was the largest ever for the U-M Health System, and the second-largest gift in U-M history. Brehm is a graduate of U-M and Fordson High School.
The Brehm Center will gather the university’s multiple research programs that focus on the aspects and complications of diabetes.
Tickets for the fundraiser are $30. The event will feature Dr. Peter Arvan, Director of the University of Michigan’s Comprehensive Diabetes Center, as keynote speaker.
For more information or to purchase tickets, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Free bilingual diabetes education sessions
The American Diabetes Association and Great Lakes Medical Supply is to hold a free diabetes education class on Thursday, June 4 at 11 a.m. at Dearborn Community and Performing Arts Center, 15801 Michigan Avenue. The class will be followed by a 12 p.m. Arabic translated version. The class gives basic education on proper self care, meal planning and portion size, exercise, diabetes complications.
The “Diabetes Review” will also include training sessions on glucose meters and blood glucose testing tips.
On June 11 at 11 a.m., a foot care presentation called “Healthy Steps” is to be held at the center. The hour-long class will informs guests on proper diabetes-related foot care. To RSVP and ensure that enough educational materials are supplied, contact the American Diabetes Association at 888.342.2383, extension 6690.
Internists treat sleep apnea
Arab American doctors Ihab Deebajah and Emad Alatassi were featured recently on the cover of the Greater Detroit Edition of M.D. News, a business and lifestyle magazine for physicians, for their work in treating sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes intermittent, short lapses in breathing during sleep. Over 12 million Americans suffer from the disorder.
Alatassi is a board certified pulmonologist and sleep medicine specialist, and has been treating sleep apnea for over 10 years.
According to the article in M.D. News, “[Altassi] emphasizes that this is an extremely important disorder because of the ramifications and sometimes life-threatening consequences if left untreated.”
Sleep apnea can lead to hypertension, cardiac problems, memory loss and early dementia. More than 100,000 car crashes are related to fatigue annually, a side effect of sleep apnea.
According to the article, Deebajah said sleep study is a valuable tool for identifying other sleep disorders. He said participants often see immediate results after being observed and treated.
“They see a marked improvement in their alertness, and I hear the word ‘wow’ the next day,” he said. “They have never felt that awake or that alert for a long, long time.”
For more information about sleep apnea and treatment, contact Advanced Pulmonary & Sleep Associates at 734.524.0950 or www.apsamed.com.
Briefs compiled by Jessica Barrow, Natasha Dado and Khalil AlHajal