AMLEN Participates in Women’s Competences Forum in Rabat

November 29, 2013 By: Sarah Category: The situation

Joining other Moroccan female representatives from France, Italy, Belgium and Spain, AMLEN participated in the first “Meeting of Moroccan Women of the World” on October 11 in Rabat. The conference, organized by parliamentarian Nezha Elouafi and held on the day of Morocco’s National Women’s Day, focused on the skills and competences of Moroccan women living abroad including the evolution, stakes and challenges they may face. This first gathering focused on three axes: fighting against discrimination; taking action towards equality; and the role of women as citizens.

The event provided an opportunity for women of the Moroccan diaspora to discuss and exchange ideas about various issues related to their double identities – for example, some themes that were raised included “women as actors of change”, “accessing professional paths”, and “equality and state of female emigrants.” The women were also able to meet with various political officials and stakeholders in Morocco including Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane to discuss the Moroccan diaspora in their respective host countries.

In addition to bringing together Moroccan women of different backgrounds to share experiences, the purpose of the forum was to begin to create a network of Moroccan female competences (RCFM) and create partnerships towards a deep knowledge base. This shared knowledge would serve to strengthen the important contributions and role of Moroccan women in the development of both Morocco and their respective adopted countries around the world.


October 08, 2013 By: admin Category: The situation

AMLEN has received many requests for information since the government shutdown last week which is impacting many services and administration to include the USCIS.

Below are a compilation of frequently asked questions for our readers. We recommend that you check the USCIS website frequently for additional updates.


My immigration paperwork is pending or is going to be filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Will it be processed during the shutdown?

USCIS is funded by filing fees and will continue to process petitions and applications. However, USCIS will likely suffer delays since other government agencies subject to the shutdown must act on your immigration process (for example, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Based on past shutdowns, it is expected that USCIS will allow for the submission of H-1B petitions without a certified Labor Condition Application (LCA). This should allow for beneficiaries to continue employment for extensions and change of employer petitions.


My employer has initiated a PERM application (for labor certification for immigrant visa) on my behalf. Will that process be impacted by the shutdown?

Yes. The DOL has suspended processing of PERM applications. Prevailing wage requests and PERM applications cannot be filed at this time and pending processes are suspended. Processing delays will likely continue after government financing is restored. It is likely that the PERM backlog will increase substantially.

H-1B, H-2, AND E-3

My employer has initiated one of these visa processes for me. Will it be impacted by the shutdown?

Yes. Because the DOL has suspended processing, any visa that requires an LCA or prevailing wage determination will be affected. As noted above, in the past USCIS has been flexible in accepting petitions even when the DOL could not provide the underlying LCA certification. However, in the case of E-3s, the inability to obtain a certified LCA will prevent beneficiaries from applying for an E-3 visa at a U.S. Consulate, which is usually preferred since E-3s are ineligible for portability or premium processing.


Can I apply for a visa and if my visa application is pending will it be processed?

U.S. Consulates will continue to process visa applications while monitoring available funding. The U.S. Department of State and its consulates are funded partially based on fees generated by visa applications and other appropriations, but it is not clear how long these funds will remain available. Visa applicants are encouraged not to delay and pursue consular processing.


What if I have applied for my visa at a U.S. Consulate but my case is in administrative processing subject to security clearance?

Since security checks are administered by various federal government agencies that are affected by the shutdown, security checks may be delayed.


Will TN and L-1 visa applications be accepted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the border?

Currently all border ports of entry remain open. CBP continues to process Canadian nonimmigrant petitions at the border. If the shutdown begins to impact these petitions, employers may consider filing petitions with the USCIS services centers as an alternative to a border petition.

I have plans to fly to the United States. Will I have any problems arriving?

CBP has confirmed that airport CBP officers are deemed to be essential personnel needed to process flight arrivals. At this time there is no change in operations as a result of the government shutdown.

Will I be able to obtain my I-94 number after entering the United States?

Yes, the website used to obtain I-94 numbers remains operational.


I just arrived to work in the United States, and my employer advised me to apply for a social security number. Will I be able to apply for one during the shutdown?

The U.S. Social Security Administration will not accept applications for new social security numbers during the shutdown. Although an employee may begin working without a social security number, an employee’s ability to obtain other benefits without a number may be limited depending on the organization providing that benefit (for example, banks, state departments of motor vehicles, etc.).


If I need to apply for a driver’s license, will the shutdown affect my application?

Yes, in many cases it will. State governments that use federal databases to verify a foreign national‘s immigration status may have reduced access to those databases during the shutdown. Therefore, you may experience delays or suspensions of service from state agencies during the shutdown, including in the processing of driver’s license applications.

As noted above, USCIS may decide to accept H-1B extension petitions without a certified LCA for purposes of extending employment authorization, but USCIS will still require a certified LCA to approve the H-1B. Some applicants may be unable to renew their driver’s licenses in states that will only renew licenses based on USCIS H-1B approval notices.


Will I be able to access E-Verify for new employees?

No, the E-Verify system is not operational due to the government shutdown. USCIS has thus suspended the “three-day rule” and extended the time period during which employers may resolve Tentative Non-Confirmations (TNCs).


After the shutdown is over, how quickly will my case be processed?

Depending on how long the shutdown lasts, it could take weeks for government agencies to work through backlogs. Delays should be expected well after a budget agreement is reached.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.


Source: Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. 2013


Moroccan-American Community Calls for Enhanced Rights, Comprehensive Perspective on Diaspora Engagement

October 03, 2013 By: Zineb Category: The situation

Abercrombie Faces a Muslim-Headscarf Lawsuit

October 01, 2013 By: admin Category: The situation

A young Muslim woman hired by Abercrombie and Fitch in 2009 has recently sued the company after being hired and “ was told that her headscarf, though worn based on a religious mandate, was not in compliance with the company’s ‘look policy,’”. She worked at Hollister Co., a subsidiary of Abercrombie & Fitch.
Abercrombie & Fitch has a notorious negative track record when it comes to employee discrimination and the spectacular failure in implementing the principles of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 as enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Since 2005,  Abercrombie & Fitch has been a landmark bad employer starting with a class action suit in which female employees alleged that they had been discriminated against on the basis of race and appearance. In recent years, the trend continued to include employees with disabilities where a young woman with a prosthetic limb was forced to work in the back room, out of sight of customers – which then led to her firing some time later anyway.
The EEOC through this case seeks back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages and injunctive relief to prevent future discrimination. “Ms. Khan held a low-visibility position, willingly color-coordinated her headscarf with the store’s brand and capably performed her stockroom duties for four and half months until a visiting manager flagged her hijab as a violation of their ‘look policy’,” EEOC San Francisco district director Michael Baldonado stated in a press release.
The June 27 lawsuit is the second Bay Area suit the EEOC’s San Francisco office has filed against Abercrombie & Fitch over its failure to accommodate workers who wear a hijab. Just last year the EEOC filed a case concerning Abercrombie’s refusal to hire a female applicant Halla Banafa, due to her headscarf at the “Abercrombie Kids” store in Milpitas. CA.  Halla was asked about her hijab and religious beliefs during her interview for a job at an Abercrombie outlet store  and then not hired. A judge in that case had found in April against Abercrombie on its motion for summary judgment to dismiss an EEOC lawsuit brought on behalf of Halla. In both hijab cases, the company has cited its “Look Policy” and had argued that accommodating the religious headscarf-wearing would have resulted in an undue hardship on its business. We ask: What undue burden did this global retailer face that prevented them from allowing the employee from practicing her faith and wearing a headscarf? Furthermore, their positions has highlighted the type of islamophobic and intolerant position they are so keen to display to their teen customers. The company’s “all-American look” policy has been a focus for prior EEOC litigation resulting in 2005 in a six-year consent decree and $40 million paid to a class of African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos and women who were excluded from hire or promotions in their workforce.
Given the nature of the case brought up by Ms. Khan in California, her case was taken up by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-SFBA) and the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center (LAS-ELC). Both entitites representing Ms. Khan sued Abercrombie & Fitch for religious discrimination and won.
Under the settlement reached by the EEOC and Abercrombie, the company will pay both women (Khan and Banafa) $71,000. It also agreed to reform its hiring practices. Abercrombie promised to create an appeals process for when religious accommodations are denied, tell applicants that accommodations to its Look Policy may be available and incorporate hijab scenarios in its manager training. But based on a statement given by the company to CBS News, it seems  that the company will only support partial changes to its corporate policy: “With respect to hijabs, in particular, we determined three years ago to institute policy changes that would allow such headwear.”
With the company pursuing its “ business as usual” We might see another lawsuit soon.

AMLEN Petition to Strengthen Legislation to Protect Morocco’s Children from Sexual Exploitation

August 05, 2013 By: Zineb Category: The situation

We call upon the Moroccan Government and especially the Ministry of Justice to: Respect its ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and especially Article 34 holding state parties responsible for protecting children from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse; Promote national and international co-operation against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children and set up a specific monitoring mechanism such as the US sex offender registration system ; Take the necessary legislative measures, in conformity with Morocco’s international commitments to prevent all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse by adopting stricter sentences for perpetrators of these crimes and advancing their full implementation by Moroccan adjudicators


Paid Internship Position at the Internatio?nal Peace Institute

June 28, 2013 By: Sarah Category: The situation

The International Peace Institute is looking for an Arabic-speaking intern (paid position) to join The Arab Forum for Citizenship in Transition (FACT) team.

FACT aims to become a regional Forum for the articulation and promotion of the concept and practice of equal citizenship in Arab countries in transition. In partnership with local civil society organizations and government actors, FACT pursues its vision through public policy-oriented research, advocacy, convening, and training, at local and regional levels. FACT’s scope of research work covers the following themes:

1- Perceptions and Practices of Citizenship;

2- Gender Equality and the Constitution;

3- Women’s Political Participation; and

4- Citizenship and Media.

The countries of focus are Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, and Libya.

All the details are here:

Young Moroccan Immigrant Meets Obama

May 27, 2013 By: Sarah Category: The situation

Immigrant Who Met Obama: ‘You’re Dealing With Human Lives’
WASHINGTON — When Mehdi Mahraoui, a 22-year-old legal resident, was a child in Morocco, he thought the coolest possible job would be to sell bleach. There was a man who came to their neighborhood in his village to sell it, and he was always dressed in bright colors and seemed, to Mahraoui as a small child, to live a good life. His father asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up, and he told him bleach peddler. His father didn’t like that — he sold their house and car and saved to come to the United States so Mahraoui would have better opportunities.

Mahraoui was undocumented for 14 years after coming to the U.S. at the age of 7 before finally adjusting his status. He’s now entering his senior year of college at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, which he began attending after his high school friends and crew teammates helped him raise $2,000 to pay the out-of-state tuition — the fee he owed even as a longtime-New York City resident, because he was undocumented.

Read more at The Huffington Post

Memo: AMLEN’s Contribution re : Comité de l’Autorité chargée de la parité et de la lutte contre toutes formes de discrimination

May 12, 2013 By: Sarah Category: The situation

To:  Mme Fatima Zahra Baba Ahmed;;

From:  Leila Hanafi, Co-Founder, American-Moroccan Legal Empowerment Network (AMLEN)

Date:  May 10, 2013

Subject: AMLEN’s Contribution  re : Comité de l’Autorité chargée de la parité et de la lutte contre toutes formes de discrimination

On behalf of  the American-Moroccan Legal Empowerment Network (AMLEN) , we would like to extend our thanks to  the Committee for considering comments from the Moroccan women abroad to ensure that this lawmaking process is inclusive of  Moroccan women’s voices in Morocco and beyond. As Moroccan-Americans, our engagement is quintessential in this consultative framework. After consultations with several members of the Moroccan-American community, you will find below our contribution.

Based on a scoping exercise conducted in the United States by AMLEN in 2013, the research found that the members of the community do not have recourse to Moroccan legal advisers to help them with their legal inquiries; the consulates in the U.S., unlike those in the Europe, do not have the option to offer legal services to the community; and the Moudawana provisions have been poorly communicated to the Moroccan community throughout the country.

The problem as identified by AMLEN is the absence of legal mechanisms to enforce the Family Code among the Moroccan expatriate community. Our recommendations to improve the application of the Moudawana focus primarily on government actors. Morocco’s  Ministry of Justice, in cooperation with the Ministry of RMEs and other relevant Ministries, could focus on capacity-building trainings for personnel in direct contact with the Moroccan communities abroad, such as within consulates, embassies and civil society groups, in order to: familiarize them  with the content of the revised Moudawana to provide accurate information to community members seeking it; to  assign Ministry of Justice staff  to handle the legal requests of the Moroccan community in the U.S.; and to remove the current mandatory rule that requires the physical presence of spouses in Morocco to handle any marriage or divorce proceedings that took place in Morocco. Particularly, capacity-building for the staff of the Ministry of Moroccans Living Abroad is essential to ensure they are well-informed on the wide-ranging aspects of diaspora engagement in areas such as LEGAL EMPOWERMENT for women living abroad. Also,  capacity-building for diaspora groups to be able to provide legal aid services and  adding  legal aides appointed by the consulates to offer awareness and assistance in settling many of the  legal issues such as family issues.

Also, the following points capture the necessity to develop agreements and close collaboration between Moroccan and US authorities for the centralization & efficient resolution of a range of family law-related issues, namely:

  • Child support and hold custody issue: The Moroccan Ministry of Justice should  share data with U.S. customs services in the cases of “runaway” parents as many are freely circulating in the U.S. without care about child support obligations. In parallel, the US would not issue a passport to any citizen with  hold support balance in Morocco, for instance.
  • Recognition of documents and judgments: The need to sign bilateral agreements with the U.S. to recognize legal Moroccan documents such as marriage certificates, divorce certificates … One of the main causes reported by Moroccan-Americans is the conflict between the law applied in Morocco and the one applied abroad.  This situation is aggravated by lack of information and ambiguity as to which rules are applied, all of which lack clear rules of procedure.

AMLEN Calls for Just and Transparent Immigration Reform

April 26, 2013 By: Sarah Category: The situation

Today is another day in America. Another day to serve as a reminder of how immigrants play different roles in the American society. But as typical Washington fashion dictates, this debate over immigration reform is forever stalled for one reason or another. It will always be a difficult topic for politicians to tackle and stand behind, mainly if to speak in support of a humane and reasonable immigration system.

The American Moroccan Legal Empowerment Network was created on the foundation of a simple principle: All have rights and responsibilities. Since its inception a few years ago, we have grown to embrace new ideals and ideas, understand the issues that drive various topics involving and affecting real people in America and beyond.

As American with various backgrounds and native lands, tongues and skin colors, genders and faiths, we stand as a part of a society that was based on the principle of equality and freedom. As Humans, we seek a better immigration system to welcome and guide, protect and teach, educate and empower. A different system than the one we know today, delayed and broken, lengthy and frustrating, biased and mysterious.

As Americans, we ask those who represent us to think of how we all came to this land, either ourselves or our ancestors. We are in full swing for a real reform as the many polls have showed. We support an immigration system that supports and protects human rights for all and especially towards those immigrants coming from the Southern parts of the continents. We ask for humane treatment for all those who land on the American shores, for a stronger, transparent and equitable due process rooted in the principle of our constitution.

We join our voice to the many organizations seeking a just and humane immigration reform today.

We ask for a greater oversight of the various agencies handling immigrants and especially the U.S Customs and Border Protection.

We ask for limits on the detention time a person can be held for immigration violation before seeing a judge.

We ask for a reform that will not be used as a propeller for racial profiling and faith-based or skin-based harassment, among others.

We ask for due process on cases deemed as subject to removal and deportation or purposeful targeting of immigrants at specific locations; asking for expedited processing to have their cases heard by a competent judge.

We ask for a reform that upholds true American and interfaith values that reflect what this country has been and will always be: a land of immigrants and safe haven from persecution for those who show merit.

AMLEN Strongly Condemns Boston Marathon Attacks and Calls for Accountability

April 17, 2013 By: Sarah Category: The situation

(Washington D.C. – 4/16/13) – The American Moroccan Legal Empowerment Network (AMLEN) extends its deepest condolences and support to all of those affected by the bombings that killed three individuals—including an 8-year-old child—and injured more than 170 at the Boston Marathon on Monday.

AMLEN condemns this ruthless act in the strongest terms and calls for a thorough investigation into the details surrounding the tragedy—deemed the worst attack on US soil since 9/11—and accountability for all perpetrators in order to achieve justice for the victims and their families. What occurred in Boston this week represents an attack on American values and Americans everywhere regardless of their color, national origins or beliefs because in the words of Martin Luther King Jr., “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

As Moroccan-Americans, we are inspired by values of compassion, justice and human unity. With the investigation still in its initial phases, AMLEN stands and will continue to remain in solidarity with the individuals and groups affected by this tragedy and those who are calling for answers and clarity. We urge everyone to remain vigilant of his or her surroundings and to report any suspicious activity or information related to the attack to 800-494-TIPS (8477). To identify family members or victims, please call 617-635-4500.

Founded in 2010, AMLEN is a national grassroots advocacy organization committed to a progressive movement for legal empowerment, social and economic justice for the growing Moroccan-American community and immigrants in general.