Group of Utah lawyers to work for free to defend Muslim refugees

SALT LAKE CITY – A new group of lawyers announced Tuesday that it will provide free legal services to refugees in Utah who are harassed or bullied, and fear that the future government of President-elect, Donald Trump could put in place a ban on Muslim immigrants, or the keeping of a register of the Muslims live in the United States.

The Refugee Justice League of Utah is a non-partisan group that consists of people of different religious backgrounds, and has about 50 lawyers ready to represent the refugees without cost, said civil rights leader and co-founder James McConkie.

The creation of the group comes as leaders of Utah’s muslim community say that there is an increase in harassment following Trump card for the election.

Recent examples include a girl being bullied at school because she wears a headscarf and a man who yelled profanities at a woman and told her to go back to her country, while she ran home, said Noor Ul-Hassan, a leader in Utah’s Muslim community.

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Utah has more than 40,000 Muslim refugees and the establishment of the group of lawyers is a relief for them, ” she said.

“The community has its worries about where to go and what to do,” she said.

The attorneys of the group also plans to mount legal challenges for all possible efforts to establish a register of refugees, McConkie said.

“They have friends in the state of Utah who are willing to help them live peacefully in their new homes and communities,” McConkie said.

Many Utah residents feel connected with the refugees, because the state was founded by Mormon pioneers over the country looking for a safe place to settle and practice their religious beliefs without interference, said attorney Brad Parker, also a co-founder of the group of lawyers.

“With one exception, who seek refuge here, the fabric of our state stronger and better,” Parker said.

The announcement of the new lawyers’ group came after Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said he would be concerned about a proposal to create a register or list of refugees.

The new group is planning to complaints of people by means of leaders, such as imams, and they also have a complaint form refugees can fill in to report harassment or other problems.

Ul-Hasan said the creation of the group was important, because many refugees are confronted with repression in their own country, do not know their rights in the U.S. and may be reluctant to take action when confronted with bullying, because they don’t want to attract attention to themselves.

The lawyers plan to meet with various groups of refugees in Utah to explain to the refugees their rights while living in the U.S. and ways to deal with problems that may arise.

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