April 26, 2004

Another victory in the war on  immigrants  terror.

If you're from the US, doesn't the deportation of the Kesbeh family to Jordan make you feel much safer? And really proud of the tough stand against terrorism that Duyba's administration is taking?

The American government, of course, has the legal right to deport illegal immigrants, and has been doing so for years. Many of the provisions currently being used to arrest and deport the undocumented aren't even new -- they were enacted as part of the 1996 anti-terrorism law, passed in response to the Oklahoma City bombing. That terrorist attack had nothing to do with foreigners, but the government still responded to it by expanding the grounds on which immigrants can be deported and by removing much of the discretion that, in the past, might have allowed judges to issue waivers for people who, like the Kesbehs, had deep ties to their communities.

After 1996, says Lucas Guttentag, director of the Immigrants Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, "there was a restriction or elimination of the ability or the willingness of the government to consider cases on an individual basis and to exercise discretion to decide who should be prosecuted. Traditionally, with immigration laws, because of their severe consequences, there has always been a recognition that there ought to be an element of discretion."

The little discretion that remained disappeared almost entirely after Sept. 11, when Ashcroft made the persecution of Arab and Muslim immigrants official policy.

"What's happened since 9/11, there's been a specific targeting of particular communities, Muslim and Arab communities, to enforce immigration and visa violations that have traditionally not been enforced, and still are not enforced against other immigrants," says Guttentag. The arrests and deportations have slowed in recent months, but they haven't stopped, says Ahmad Tansheet, community outreach coordinator for the Muslim Civil Rights Center, a Chicago group that closely follows the issue. "We are receiving one or two complaints every day," he says.

Ashcroft has been explicit about using the immigration laws to target people from countries associated, if only tangentially, with terrorism. "Let the terrorists among us be warned," he said on Oct. 25, 2001. "If you overstay your visa -- even by one day -- we will arrest you."

Big thank-yous to reporter Michelle Goldberg for writing the article, and to Salon for publishing it.

[Paid sub or ad view req'd.]

Posted by Magpie at April 26, 2004 07:00 PM | War on Terrorism | Technorati links |