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Meet The Florida Citizen Lobbyists backing ALAC in the 2014 Legislative Session

The Florida version of the American Law for American Courts (ALAC) is up for its fourth try in the 2014 Legislative session in Tallahassee. In contrast to prior years, there is concerted effort by bill sponsors, Sen. Alan Hays (R- Umatilla) and Rep. Neil Combee in the House of Representatives to seek Senate and House leadership, as well as Committee commitments for passage of the bills. There is also  new message that was conveyed to Florida legislators on both House and Senate Committees; Senate Bill 0386/House Bill 903:  “acceptance of foreign law in certain cases”.  The message is that ALAC guards against the recognition of foreign laws in Florida Courts in violation of fundamental Constitutional rights of all citizens, especially women and children.

Professor Margaret McClain

Professor Margaret McClain at CFC 2014 Legislative Prayer Breakfast, Tallahassee

That message was communicated  at the March 13th  Florida Christian Family Coalition (CFC)   Annual Legislative Prayer Breakfast by Professor Margaret McClain , a retired Arkansas State University professor, whose  daughter Heidi  was kidnapped at the age of 5 and removed to Saudi Arabia by her ex-Husband..  See our New English Review article, An American Child Kidnapped in Accordance with Shariah.  Professor McClain’s experience was also  amplified  in a recent  Iconoclast  interview  with  Yasmeen Alexandria Davis, a Florida young woman, who at  13 years of age  was  rescued from  a kidnapping by her Saudi father through the resourcefulness and persistence of her mother and grandmother. Her Saudi father relentless keep tabs on her through a  US lawyers and an ex-FBI agent retained by him. See An American’s Rescue from Abduction to Saudi Arabia.

Both incidents were violations of state, federal and international conventions on parental kidnapping, but sanctioned under Sharia Islamic law. Professor McClain and Yasmeen Alexandria Davis testified about abduction of American children to  Saudi Arabia  in a panel of such women, children, and a father at a US House 2002 Government Reform Committee chaired by former Indian Republican Rep. Dan Burton. Professor McClain  gave proof f to the CFC lobbyists based on her personal experience why passage of ALA in Florida was needed to protect American women and children against alien laws that imperil their  fundamental Constitutional  and basic human rights. The CFC has made passage of ALAC a priority in the 2014 legislature.

Sen_ Alan Hays Sponsor of ALAC

Sen. Alan Hays, Sponsor of Florida ALAC, SB 0386 at CFC Legislative Prayer Breakfast, 2014.

The 75  trained men and women, members of the CFC who heard Professor McClain and ALAC Senate Bill sponsor, Sen. Alan Hays,  Rep. Larry Ahern, sponsor of  a bill, Offenses against the Unborn Children (OAUC), fanned out to meet legislators. They  were  equipped with FAQs sheet on why ALAC  is needed and a  list of nearly  two dozen Florida lower court and appellate cases in which foreign laws were recognized . How effective were they? According to a report by the CFC:

They met with a total of thirty-nine (39) lawmakers and secured thirty-two (32) co-sponsors/supporters on our legislative priorities. Nineteen (19) co-sponsors and supporters on American Laws for American Courts and thirteen (13) co-sponsors and supporters on the Offenses Against the Unborn Bill.

Neither they nor CFC’s executive director, Anthony Vertigo is resting on their laurels.  They are planning another Legislative Prayer Breakfast and Citizen Lobby Day in Tallahassee the week prior to the close of the Florida legislative session on May 2nd, to assure that those ALAC commitments and others are honored.

Anthony Verdugo  CFC executive director

Anthony Verdugo, executive director, CFC Annual Legislative Prayer Breakfast.

CFC, according to its executive director Verdugo has been going to Tallahassee for 10 years to lobby on issues like ALAC and OAUC.   CFC has more than 1,500 pastors and churches and over 16,000 members in Florida.  Its scorecard in conducting Citizen Lobbying on social issues of concern has been effective..  Verdugo said in an email that CFC’s among successes were the bi-partisan Stand for Israel resolution, Prayer Time in Schools, etc. – Parental Notification, Ultrasound Bill, Boy Scout Resolution, and Parental Rights Resolution. A so-called Anti-Bullying and Domestic Partnership bills were dropped.  “All told, we have made the difference on about [a] dozen bills over the last ten years”.

While it is too early to tell, the fourth try at passing ALAC is yielding some initial success, The House version of ALAC HB903 passed the House Civil Justice  Subcommittee on March 18th on a partisan vote of 8 Republicans to 4 Democrats.  The House version of ALAC has been also referred  to the Judiciary Committee for a hearing.  That  is the last Committee hearing  before a  Floor vote is  to be scheduled.  A looming first hearing on the Senate version, SB 0386, is scheduled for Tuesday, March 25th before the Senate Judiciary Committee..  SB0386 has  also been referred to  Government Oversight and Rules before a possible floor Vote.

ALAC in Florida may have better prospects than in the three previous sessions. The evidence  from research of   recognition  of foreign laws in a significant number of lower court and appellate level decisions  in Florida may answer legislators’ questions of why it is needed. Protection of Florida’s women and children from foreign laws appears to  put a human face on why ALAC should be passed.  Nonetheless,  political horse trading will be  crucial in navigating the legislative process to a possible successful conclusion in the 2014 session in Tallahassee.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.

An Abduction to Saudi Arabia: Interview with Floridian Yasmeen A. Davis

We recently interviewed Professor Margaret McClain a retired faculty member of Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, Arkansas. McClain told us her story of the loss of her daughter in an illegal abduction by her Saudi ex-husband in violation of state, federal and international laws against parental abduction. Professor McClain and other American women, a father and some children testified about the trauma of loss of American children kidnapped and removed to Saudi Arabia during a  2002 hearings before the US House Representatives  Government Reform Committee chaired by former Indiana Republican Dan Burton.

One mother and a daughter from Miami, Florida, Mrs. Miriam Hernandez -Davis and her then 16 year old daughter Dria Hernandez Davis told the Congressional committee about the unusual circumstances of her abduction by her father and mother’s ex-husband. The family resorted to using their own resources to rescue Dria after the US government did little to assist in that effort. Professor McClain, who was part of that 2002 House Government Reform panel of hearing witnesses, contacted the daughter’s mother.

Through that contact we were able to interview a beautiful and poised young woman, who now goes by the name of Yasmeen Alexandria Davis. She is now in her late twenties, pursuing a graduate degree in social work while employed at a nonprofit agency in South Florida. She still suffers PTSD effects from the experience. The most troubling aspect is the continued harassment by her Saudi father, who employs US lawyers and ex-FBI agents, to check in with her and ask if she would testify against him in case he returned to the US or cause trouble if her Saudi father if he brought his children, by a subsequent marriage, to visit Disneyland. There is an outstanding warrant for his arrest if he were to step foot in the US. Among the areas of inquiry in our interview with Ms. Davis are:

  • Her mother’s divorce and traditional custody/visitation rights when she divorced her Saudi ex-husband when Yasmeen was two years of age.
  • Her Saudi father’s continued derogation of her background, religion and education.
  • Her mother’s plea with the Florida family court judge to have her ex-Saudi husband surrender his passport during their summer visits to prevent him from taking her  daughter into a country where she might never be able to return without his permission.
  • Her trauma at age 11, after her Saudi Father abducted and removed her against her will to Saudi Arabia during a summer vacation, and refused to allow her to see or speak with her mother.
  • Her protests of the new unwanted circumstances at her father’s residence in Saudi Arabia and her demands to be returned home.
  • The physical abuse she suffered at the hands of her father for refusing to convert to Islam.
  • The several years of deprivation in education while in Saudi Arabia.
  • The social ostracism and isolation she experienced in her father’s household.
  • The failure of the US Embassy to provide assistance to return her, an American citizen and minor, home.
  • How her family had to resort to their own means to rescue her.
  • How she suffered PTSD from the experience and still has lingering effects.
  • What her experience was like testifying as a 16 year old before the House Government Reform Committee in 2002.
  • How her Saudi father continues to keep tabs and harass her with calls and letters from US lawyers and visits from a former FBI agent he has retained.
  • What changes she believes should be undertaken here in the US to protect American children from kidnapping by fundamentalist Muslim fathers.

Watch this Vimeo video interview of Ms. Yasmeen Alexandria Davis by NER Senior Editor Jerry Gordon

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.