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Arab Americans Disturbed by INS Cancellation of Citizenship Event

Washington, DC, Jan. 14 — The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is deeply disturbed by the abrupt cancellation by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) of a swearing-in ceremony for new citizens in Dearborn, Michigan.
The ceremony, which had been scheduled for January 14, was to have been hosted by ADC and the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS) on behalf of the Detroit Coalition for Responsible Immigration Policy. ADC and ACCESS worked with Dearborn Mayor Michael Guido and U.S. District Judge Bernard A. Friedman as well as the INS in preparing for the ceremony, which was confirmed in early November, 1998.
On Jan 8, it became clear that officials of the local INS district had canceled the event without consulting or informing the hosts or the Coalition. ADC has demanded a satisfactory explanation for this action from INS Commissioner Doris Meissner.
Local INS chief Carol Jenifer has told the Detroit Free Press that the ceremony was canceled because of the involvement of ADC Midwest Regional Director Imad Hamad. The INS has been trying to deport Hamad for many years because of his political beliefs.
When concerns about his participation were raised, Hamad offered to withdraw, but Jenifer told the Free Press that this would make no difference and that “the people who are going to be naturalized deserve better.”
ADC is disturbed by both the abrupt cancellation of the event without consultation and the reasons for the action advanced by Ms. Jenifer. Imad Hamad is legally employed by ADC as its Midwest Regional Director. His involvement with the ceremony was solely in his professional capacity as an ADC representative. The INS appears to have decided to personalize the issue rather than dealing in a professional manner with organizations. The people who are going to be naturalized deserved better from the INS, which should operate in a more professional and responsible manner. The Arab American community is extremely disturbed by these actions, and expects a satisfactory explanation a remedy.