WAYNE, MICHIGAN, Sunday July 8, 2007 -- Senator Levin was greeted with admiration and esteem Sunday where he met with the Albanian-American community of greater Detroit for an afternoon fundraising reception at the US-12 American Bar and Grill. Many in attendance had a unique opportunity to speak face-to-face with the senator and ask questions that concerned those most.
When the time came to address his constituents, Levin focused on three elements that he considers most salient to Albanians: (1) the defeated immigration bill and how it affects Albanian-Americans and other minorities in the United Sates; (2) The on-going resolution on Kosova’s independence and the U.S. role in its final status, and (3) the status of the Albanian political prisoners detained in Montenegro.
IMMIGRATION: Senator Levin expressed immense disappointment at the failure of the Immigration Bill. He stressed that aliens in this country need a path to citizenship and the Immigration Bill had languages within it that allowed for such a process to be conceived. He argued that Detroit’s immigration courts have the absolute worst record in the entire country when in comes to allowing Albanians to remain in the United States. He stressed that only 7% of Albanians win their cases in Detroit courts whereas the national average is 50%. Levin emphasized that he will continue to fight for new immigration law designed to help those in danger of being expunged and separated from their families. One solution, he pointed out might be found in the Defense Authorization Bill (An original bill to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2007 for military activities of the Department of Defense, for military construction, and for defense activities of the Department of Energy, to prescribe personnel strengths for such fiscal year for the Armed Forces, and for other purposes.) Levin proposed to insert language into the bill that would allow applicants for asylum to be considered for stay under conditions of the country at the time when the application was filled out, and not at the time of the decision of the court.
KOSOVA: Levin supports Kosova’s independence and was pleased that President Bush was well-received in Albania and acknowledges that his comments with respect to supporting Kosova’s independence were “the right thing to do.” He added that the Democratic Congress will continue to support an independent Kosova and looks forward to developments as they come.
MONTENEGRO: The senator assured everyone that he and his staff are closely monitoring the situation in Spuz with respect to the Albanian political prisoners and the trial proceedings. He has advocated for a “just and prompt” decision and is in constant contact with the U.S. Embassy in Montenegro. He stressed that his office is putting pressure on both diplomats and the Montenegrin government to find ways to speed the trial and ensure that the detainees are treated humanely. Levin said that he intends to contact the new Ambassador to Montenegro, Rod Moore, and personally meet with him to discuss the situation concerning (1) Albanians’ sociopolitical and economic status as national minorities, and (2) the case of the Albanian political prisoners.
The event raised approximately $20,000 and will go towards Levin's re-election campaign 2008 where he is the strong favorite to be re-elected for a 5th term in the Senate. Although he was urged to repeat the public service of the late senator Strom Thurmond, and retire at 100, he indicated that Thurmond's feat will not be interrupted, but with the blessing of his wife Barbara, Levin is charged for re-election and continued service for the Albanian community in Michigan and those abroad.
The moderators from FreeMalesia thank the senator and wish him luck in all his personal and political endeavors!