In 2009 VOICE did a series of small group discussions with Muslim families that prayed at Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center— a VOICE member congregation in Falls Church, VA. In the sessions, VOICE heard from countless individuals who felt that although they filled out all their paper work correctly and paid all their fees, their immigration applications were delayed and not taken action. They felt they were discriminated against simply for having affiliations with Muslim organizations – even if it was merely their house of worship.
VOICE documented almost 200 cases like this and held an action with 1,500 people in July 2009 with then Governor Tim Kaine, and Senator Mark Warner, and a representative from Senator Jim Webb’s office. At the action VOICE secured commitments from Senators Webb and Warner to take action on the delayed cases and both Senator Webb and Governor Kaine pledged to secure a meeting for VOICE leaders with Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Janet Napalitano to discuss this issue. VOICE was featured in the New York Times of our work. VOICE eventually met with DHS Assistant Secretary Esther Olavarria who agreed to address the 200 backlogged immigration applications.