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Those Who Inspire Us


Ira Kurzban

“The day you find out who you are is when you look back and realize that it was never the words, rather your actions that defined you.”

The contributors to MASIJC wish to acknowledge Ira Kurzban, whose commitment to immigration justice is unwavering. He is a remarkable man who uses the power of his knowledge to guide practitioners in the strength of his vision to benefit those seeking a new homeland, that providing immigrants a homeland with the opportunity to experience the American dream. Immigration policy has become clouded and grossly inhumane. There are few areas of law in which the totality of circumstances can be proven in an immigration court without the expertise of exceptional lawyering. Ira Kurzban is an exceptional lawyer. Petitioners seeking refuge because life has been strangled by terror and fear is often made irrelevant in a court when legal representatives aren’t blessed with the advanced skills of a mentor willing to pilot them through the complicated statutes that change at an increasingly fast pace. Ira Kurzban has given me vital tools that give the direction to help people longing to become inheritors of this remarkable nation.


I must be honest with the clients who have reaped the benefits of our immigrant justice project. When we began entertaining the idea itself, we had a lot of enthusiastic supporters. No one believed that the project would ever be accredited by the Department of Justice. At that time there were no Islamic organizations accredited by the Department of Justice. I cannot count how many encouraged this bold plan. After two denials we were finally accredited. Sadly, promises disappeared, funding did not surface, supporters vanished, and we wondered how we would ever survive and tears were shed. Our small team rolled up our sleeves, found a couple of allies, and a man with a gentle heart. Despite his incredibly busy schedule, Ira Kurzban gave his time and his guidance whenever he could. His skilled partners and staff have also been generous and are amazing people. Jed Kuzban, Keven Gregg, and Lauren Gallagher are not only a part of the firm but everything attorneys should be.


Here we are, 10 years later. I must give credit where it is certainly due. Accredited representatives are emerging personalities in the courtroom.  Such personalities are at a disadvantage without the support of powerful teachers and sincere advocates. In the discipline of immigration law, our project has been fortunate. Such practitioners never feel entirely free from the relentless pressures of a courtroom. Our victory is a victory for an immigrant who is entitled to our compassion and the best representation we can possibly offer.  It helps to have a friend to consult and be a legal compass


Some people are like windows; when you look into those windows, you see something more than a decent person. You see the deep, inextinguishable goodness at the core of a personality. Part of Ira’s personality stems from his ability to want for justice and the limitless potential to render a life rewarding to others.


He sincerely believes that it is a tragedy that this nation is not more widely shared and that immigrants ought to be welcome to have a stake in the enormous richness of America; we deny them needlessly when they are entitled to our shelter. 

Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-CA)

We are protected from tetanus by the work of a Japanese scientist,

and from typhoid by the work of an Austrian taught us to transfuse blood,

and an Italian to protect ourselves from malaria. An Indian and the grandson of

a black slave taught us to achieve major social change without violence. All of us

owe our very existence to the knowledge and talent and effort of those who have

gone before us. We have a solemn obligation to repay that debt in the coin in which

it was given: to work to meet our responsibilities to that greater part of mankind which

needs our assistance, to the deprived and the downtrodden, the insulted and the injured.

Those men who gave us so much did not ask whether we, their heirs, would be American

or South African, white or black. And we must in the same way meet our obligations to all

those who need our help, whatever their nationality or the color of their skin.

Robert Kennedy, Make Gentle The Life of This World


Eric Michael Swalwell is an American lawyer and politician serving as the U.S. representative for California's 15th congressional district since 2013. His district covers most of eastern Alameda County and part of central Contra Costa County. He is a member of the Democratic Party.

Mr. Swalwell spent his childhood in Dublin, California. He was a first-generation college student, having briefly attended Campbell University in North Carolina, before earning degrees from the University of Maryland, College Park and the University of Maryland, Baltimore. What impresses us most is his response to his constituents and the immigrant community. 

Congressman Swalwell has worked to provide a more equitable and just response to the human costs of climate change, particularly for communities that have been disproportionately affected by climate change impacts, extreme weather and water events, and recovery responses. He is with the moral majority that believes every person deserves to be free and treated with respect, kindness, and dignity. The congressman knows our action or inaction impacts the collective and that democracy can only be protected when we all strive to protect it. 


The gifts of liberty are only as strong as the protections it provides to the most vulnerable populations living in this country. Eric Swalwell is committed to listening to the voices of the disenfranchised, religious minorities and people of color. He builds trust with the community by visiting his constituents and listening to their concerns. Not every congressperson is fighting for just rights or advocating for remedies to serve the people. Still, Eric Swalwell is doing so with grace and humanity and standing in solidarity against the challenges faced by immigrants. 


His message has been clear, civil rights shrink or expand in proportion to community action and courage. Forces of extremism have come after Congressman Swalwell, but his actions represent truth, which is rarely clean and never simple. It takes a great deal of heroism to stand up to opponents of peace, but just as much to stand up to colleagues in Congress who would rather divide America than unify it. We appreciate his contributions.

Erik 22718_col.heic

Executive Director

Khalilah Sabra

Bachelor of Science in  Criminal Justice. Master's degree in Civil Litigation, UCLA School of Law and Social Welfare at the University of California at Los Angeles, Certification in Cultural Competence in Islamabad, Pakistan, Ph.D. in International Studies, University of Damascus. Department of Justice/ Board of Immigration Appeals - Full Accredited Representative. 

Through national and local advocacy, community education, and litigation, Khalilah Sabra guides in challenging system that funnel immigrants into an unjust detention and deportation system. She currently leads advocacy efforts, coordinating a communications strategy designed to address social inequality. She brings her experience from Red Cross/Crescent Society in Afghanistan, Save the Children Foundation in Edinburgh, Scotland, and in the United States she has challenged narratives that unjustly label immigrants as criminals and provides public education in support of legislative strategies and grassroots field operations. Prior to beginning Muslim American Society (MAS) Immigrant Justice Center, she was North Carolina State Director of MAS- Freedom Foundation and a Board Member of ACLU Racial Profiling Committee and the first Muslim to serve as the News and Observer Content Advisor. She got her advocacy skills growing up in California.


Siarra Abulhamayel

Advocating for the rights of refugee and asylum-seeking women. She works as the Deputy Director for Women for Refugee Women and is passionate about empowering refugee and asylum-seeking women to speak up about their experiences and enabling them to use their voices for change. She worked and volunteered with human rights and development charities in Saudi Arabia and her activism focuses on advocating for women’s support, connecting refugees with mental health assistance and spiritual support and participatory research. She is passionate about working with young refugees seeking mental health support and recovering from abuse for wartime experience.


Khamsa Enaya

Public relations specialist, responsible for building and maintaining relationships between the organization and the outside world. Depending on their role, responsible for managing communications within the organization itself including crafting awareness programs and getting feedback from employees about the organization’s communications strategy.

In addition to working on internal communications strategies and Ms. Enaya is responsible for responding to media requests and releases and even managing events on behalf of the organization. Often include establishing relationships with the public and the media, liaising with thought leaders in relevant fields.

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Dr. Tarif Shaban

Dr. Shaban is our partner, who respects the lives of the living. He respects the right to the health of those who are not able to afford medical advice and what nurtures the human body. He has been a consultant of internal medicine and emergency care.

Specializes in cardiac electrophysiology, which is the science of elucidating, diagnosing, and treating the electrical activities of the heart. The term is usually used to describe studies of such phenomena by invasive (intracardiac) catheter recording of spontaneous activity as well as of cardiac responses to programmed electrical stimulation (PES). These studies are performed to assess complex arrhythmias, elucidate symptoms, evaluate abnormal electrocardiograms, assess risks of developing arrhythmias in the future, and design treatment. These procedures increasingly include therapeutic methods (typically radiofrequency, ablation, or cryoablation) in addition to diagnostic and prognostic procedures.  Assist refugees who are unable to obtain necessary analysis for much-needed evaluation and treatment.

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Ihab Alomari, MD

Ihab Alomari, MD, is a board-certified interventional cardiologist and says the clinic offers diagnostic and preventive care. “We focus on the prevention and management of coronary artery disease and offer smoking cessation, blood pressure and cholesterol management, education on healthy lifestyle and exercise,” says Dr. Alomari. Some of the diagnostic tests include stress testing (echo, treadmill and nuclear testing) and cardiac catheterization. A calcium coronary score identifies how much calcium is in the arteries. “If the results show a higher level of calcium, then a stress test will be performed if indicated,” says Dr. Alomari. “If the test is positive, we may need to do a cardiac catheterization to prevent a more serious problem,” he says. Dr. Alomari has seen increased numbers of patients coming to the clinic since it opened. “It’s a great location because it’s right in the hospital. We see a lot of patients with coronary artery disease; high blood pressure; arrhythmias, such as A-Fib and A-flutter; and valvular heart disease,” says Dr. Alomari. “The good thing is we can manage these with guideline-directed therapy, preventive measures or minimally invasive procedures, and get people back on the path to good health.”

Ihab has experience in rapid emergency care, in developing countries. where people can find it difficult to access healthcare as the area. Ihab continues to care for his patient as they struggle to recover, regardless of the scale of the problems. Ihab makes sure his patients benefit from his care. 


Mariam Sabra

Mariam Sabra was only fourteen years old when she said that she wanted to do something meaningful with her life and that meant helping others, especially the handicapped. When she was asked why she said because they are the most forgotten in society. People walk by them and act as if they are not there. Just because someone is born handicapped, it does not mean that they are not capable of doing significant things and contributing to things all people need and can appreciate. it is a phenomenal reality when someone so young can decide her life’s vocation when she is just fourteen years old. In pursuit of working for equal opportunity for the disadvantaged, she applied herself to the study of law and equal rights and now her days are in pursuit of justice for them and others. There has never been a sign of hesitancy, the chance to drawback isn’t found in her character.


Sarah Baddour

MASJD would like to express our deep appreciation to a spirited coordinator teammate, Sarah Baddour,  who helped established the justice project and coordinated the program that successfully brought over 100 families together in the first three years. Her willingness to give her time and energy to do something she believed in, made our dreams become a reality.

It began with a firm decision to do something worthwhile and it provided the inspiration that gave other contributors the courage to donate their time.

Commitment leads to action. Action brings results. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses; only results. Next, you embark on the journey towards your goals. To remain on that path requires courage. Sarah Baddour has courage, the kind that empowered a program that continues to exist after 10 years.

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