MPAC Welcomes New Government
Programs to Address Travel, Religious Liberty, and Immigration
Washington, DC: The Muslim Public Affairs
Council welcomes two new government initiatives addressing
travel and religious liberties, and calls community attention
upon proposed fee increases for immigration and naturalization
applications under the in US Citizenship and Immigration
For the past few years, MPAC has received several complaints
regarding the wrongful inclusion of individuals on watch
lists, resulting in inconvenience and the growing perception
of unfair treatment during travel. On February 20th, the
Department of Homeland Security announced and launched the
Traveler's Redress Inquiry Program (DHS TRIP).
Previously, community members were directed to fill out
separate complaint forms with the appropriate government
agency, such as US Custom and Border Protection (CBP), the
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) or the Department
of State, along with airport operators when applicable.
Now, travelers who have been repeatedly identified for additional
screening can file ONE inquiry through DHS TRIP to have
erroneous information corrected in DHS systems, and to seek
DHS TRIP provides a way for travelers to address situations
in which they believe they have been incorrectly delayed,
denied boarding, identified for additional screening, or
have otherwise experienced difficulties during their travel
screening at transportation hubs, such as airports and train
stations, or crossing US borders.
DHS TRIP enables travelers to outline their concerns in
a single request via a secure Website. The information received
will be shared with applicable DHS component agencies, such
as the Transportation Security Administration and US Customs
and Border Protection, as well as with the Department of
State and when appropriate with airport and airline operators.
In addition to offering DHS TRIP, the department has taken
a number of other steps to make the screening process more
efficient and secure, to include the recent completion of
a name-by-name review of the No-Fly list to ensure that
only individuals currently posing a threat are included.
to learn more about DHS TRIP.
MPAC also welcomes the launch of The First Freedom Project,
a new initiative by the US Department of Justice to protect
the religious freedom of all Americans. This project, announced
last week by Attorney General Gonzales, is designed to provide
additional enforcement tools for laws against religious
discrimination and hate crimes. This new initiative will
create a Department-wide Task Force on Religious Liberty,
chaired by the Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights
Division, to review DOJ policies impacting religious liberty,
coordinate religious liberty cases, and improve outreach
to stakeholder communities. It also includes a series of
regional training seminars for religious, civil rights and
community leaders, attorneys, government officials, and
others interested in religious liberty issues.
For more information about The First Freedom Project, see:
US CIS Process Results
in Drastic Fee Increase
In other news, MPAC would like to call attention to proposed
fee increases for immigration and naturalization applications
under the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
USCIS has submitted a new fee structure to the Federal Registrar
in order to improve customer service, strengthen the security
of the immigration system, and modernize its business infrastructure.
Some applications, such as the I-485 - Application to Adjust
Status from Temporary to Permanent Residence - will experience
an increase from $180 to $1370, which will tremendously
impact immigrants seeking complete naturalization.
Click here more information.
In a meeting with MPAC this week, USCIS officials expressed
their interest in hearing from the public regarding these
fee increases and thus have created space for a 60-day public
comment on this proposal that will expire on April 2nd,
2007. Officials are interested in the potential and actual
impact of these fee increases, and specifically seek factual
data illustrating this impact.
Direct comments on the proposed rule using one of the following
Federal eRulemaking portal: http://www.regulations.gov (a
link is in the upper-right hand corner of this page), follow
the instructions for submitting comments.
By email: Send your comments to OSComments@dhs.gov, Include
the docket number (USCIS-2006-0044) in the subject line
of the message.
By Facsimile: Federal eRulemaking Portal at 866-466-5370.
By U.S. Mail: Director, Regulatory Management Division,
US Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland
Security, 111 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, 3rd Floor, Washington,
DC 20529. To ensure proper handling, please reference DHS
Docket No. USCIS-2006-0044 on your correspondence. This
mailing address may also be used for paper, disk or CD-ROM