Refugees currently undergo the most rigorous security screening process of anyone who comes to the United States.
AILA Doc No. 12061440 | Dated June 14, 2012
NASHVILLE, TN - The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) will award Azadeh Shahshahani with the 2012 Advocacy Award for her tireless work in combating the anti-immigration bills and policies in Georgia and her commitment to the human rights issues of immigrants. She will receive the award today during AILA's Annual Conference in Nashville, TN.
Over the past several years Georgia has been at the receiving end of draconian anti-immigration legislation and policies. As the Director of the National Security/Immigrants' Rights Project at the ACLU of Georgia, Ms. Shahshahani has been instrumental in bringing Georgia and its localities into compliance with international human rights and constitutional standards in treatment of refugee and immigrant communities.
Ms. Shahshahani has helped monitor and defeat anti-immigrant legislation introduced in the Georgia legislature including legislation aimed at establishing English-only driver's license tests as well as a bill that would have authorized the police to seize the vehicle of anyone they deemed to be undocumented. She has done this not only through direct lobbying and testifying but through empowerment of citizen lobbyists by preparing widely used fact sheets and issuing action alerts.
She has also initiated and taken part in impact litigation such as a class action lawsuit which led to blocking of the two most severe provisions of Georgia's anti-immigrant law, HB 87, as well as a lawsuit on behalf of a US citizen with mental disabilities who was detained and then deported. She also helped file an amicus brief in a case which established that defendants in Georgia have a constitutional right to interpreters.
During every legislative session Ms. Shahshahani conducts "By the People" Immigrants' Rights Lobby Days where ACLU offers trainings to immigrants' rights advocates on how to effectively lobby their legislators. Recently, the "By the People" lobby day brought to the Capitol more than 30 students and educators from around the state who lobbied their representatives against the ban on public higher education. Their powerful presence and overwhelming opposition led to the committee chair suspending the vote on the bill.
Ms. Shahshahani also engages in human rights documentation focused on racial profiling by holding "Know Your Rights/Tell Your Story" forums around the state. She has worked with multiple community organizations to found immigrants' rights and human rights coalitions and initiatives, such as Georgia Detention Watch and the Georgia Immigrant and Refugee Rights' Coalition. She currently serves as President-Elect of the National Lawyers Guild.
Ms. Shahshahani is a 2004 graduate of the University of Michigan Law School. She also has a Master's in Modern Middle Eastern and North African Studies from the University of Michigan.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.
Cite as AILA Doc. No. 12061440.