IAPAC Trustees and Friends Host Fundraiser for Senator Arlen Specter
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - On August 29th, trustees and friends of the Iranian American Political Action Committee (IAPAC) held a fundraising event for U.S. Senator Arlen Specter, a Republican officeholder from Pennsylvania. The event took place at the home of Dr. Hamid Mootabar, a prominent Iranian American obstetrician and gynecologist in the New York City area.
Elected to the U.S. Senate in 1980, Arlen Specter is Pennsylvania’s first 4-term Senator. Senator Specter, who will be challenged in the fall Senate election by U.S. Representative Joe Hoeffel (D-13) and Constitution Party nominee Joe Clymers, currently chairs the powerful Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health & Human Service and Education. He is also a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, serving in the Subcommittee of Administrative Oversight and Immigration Courts. He is in line to become the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee in 2005. The Senate Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over a broad spectrum of issues, including intellectual property law, civil liberties, immigration, and naturalization. The past two Republican Majority Leaders have appointed Senator Specter to serve on the Republican Leadership Team because his centrist approach has helped to avoid partisan gridlock on key issues.
Senator Specter began the evening by discussing important civil liberty and immigration issues facing the Iranian American community. Specifically, he addressed Iranian American concerns over Section 306 of the Enhanced Border Security & Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002, which contemplates a ban on the issuance of all non-immigrant visas to residents or nationals of countries that appear on the Department of State’s list of state sponsors of terrorism. The legislation has given rise to concerns that matters such as family visitation and emergency medical care for loved ones may become extremely difficult.
While recognizing that the Iranian government’s ties to terrorism have been a chief factor in the restrictions that would affect Iranian nationals, Specter said that they should not be punished for their government’s misdeeds. Voicing the need to balance national security interests with the guarantee of civil liberties and immigration rights, Specter pledged that he would work with Senator Charles E. Schumer in promoting a comprehensive and rational visa policy for individuals who do not pose a threat to the United States and who wish to visit family, study, or work in the United States. “I’ll try to find a way to make it work on an individual basis,” he said.
Guests at the fundraiser also took advantage of the forum with Senator Specter to discuss their views on other pertinent issues. Individuals spoke with the senator about their concerns regarding numerous topics ranging from stem cell research, malpractice lawsuits and US policy towards the Middle East.
IAPAC supports Senator Specter both for his influential position within the Senate Judiciary Committee and his strong record on immigrants’ rights. As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Specter could directly influence domestic policies of importance to the Iranian American community. In 2000, Specter voted to triple the number of H-1B visas available annually. In the 108th Congress, Senator Specter co-sponsored S. 1645: the Agricultural Job Opportunity, Benefits, and Security Act of 2003. The legislation creates a guest worker-amnesty program for agricultural workers.