Tags: Proposed | Anti-terror | Laws | Under | Fire

Proposed Anti-terror Laws Under Fire

Thursday, 20 September 2001 12:00 AM

As the Department of Justice has gone about its massive national investigation of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Immigration and Naturalization Service has arrested 75 persons, some as long as eight days ago, but it has refused to disclose their names, where they are being incarcerated or what they have been charged with. The Justice Department, which runs the INS, has said only that these persons are being held on immigration violations.

On Monday, Justice circulated on Capitol Hill draft language for a bill called the "Mobilization Against Terrorism Act," which in part would give the attorney general additional powers to detain and deport aliens without a series of judicial reviews that had previously been available. A copy of the section of the proposed legislation pertaining to immigration was provided to UPI by sources concerned about immigrant rights.

The proposal would expand the definition of "terrorist activity" to things such as soliciting money for a terrorist organization. The proposal would cover not only persons who knew they were furthering a terrorist plan, but also those who "reasonably should know" that their actions would assist a person who has "committed or plans to commit any terrorist activity."

The proposal would also make any of these violations retroactive: "and shall apply to all past, pending, or future deportation, exclusion, removal, or other immigration proceedings."

Jeanne Butterfield, executive director of American Immigration Lawyers Association, said the draft of the legislation she saw caused her deep concern. "The times certainly call for extraordinary measures, but I would caution us not to trample on the Constitution as we figure out what to do in this situation. The INS already has extraordinary powers to detain and to use secret evidence and to deport."

Butterfield said that under current law, updated five years ago, the INS can already detain an alien suspected of terrorist activity without a warrant, hold him in an emergency for unlimited period of time and deport him without a trial, she said.

"They issue what is called a notice to appear, they put you in a hearing before an immigration judge. They can use secret evidence. If they consider you to be a dangerous terrorist, they have a special 'alien terrorist removal court' which has special procedures and secret evidence rules," she said.

But even in those proceedings, she said, "the accused has some basic rights. The right to counsel. The right to hear before an impartial adjudicator, a judge, the right to appeal, though I'm sure that would be expedited. The right to, in some way shape and form, challenge the evidence against you. You can't always see it if it's secret, but your supposed to be given a summary.

"They're proposing in this draft legislation all of that be suspended. The INS commissioner consulting with the FBI may recommend to the attorney general that an alien be certified as someone they have reasons to believe may further or facilitate acts of terrorism or any other activity that may endanger the national security. That recommendation is not subject to a review. You don't get a hearing. You don't get counsel. You get mandatory detention or a removal order. You're gone," Butterfield said.

American Civil Liberties Union echoed Butterfield's concern in a statement issued Wednesday:

"Under the proposed legislation, legal and non-legal immigrants alike would be denied a hearing or any way to contest the accusations against them. This is an unprecedented move inconsistent with the pledge of our leaders not to respond to the terrorist attacks in a way that degrades our system of justice," the statement read.

On Monday, the INS also published in the Federal Register a notice that it was changing its internal rules for handling aliens arrested for violations of the immigration laws in such a way as to allow them to effectively hold the suspects in the terrorism attacks indefinitely.

"When the government has invoked secret evidence in the past," the ACLU statement said, "innocent individuals - virtually all them Arabs and/or Muslims - have been detained without a fair hearing, sometimes for years."

Congress may be concerned as well over the language in the proposed bill. One source told UPI that changes to the language might come out of a meeting was being held Wednesday afternoon between the White House and Justice Department lawyers..

Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

All rights reserved.

© 2019 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

   
1Like our page
2Share
Pre-2008
As the Department of Justice has gone about its massive national investigation of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Immigration and Naturalization Service has arrested 75 persons, some as long as eight days ago, but it has refused to disclose their names, where they are...
Proposed,Anti-terror,Laws,Under,Fire
728
2001-00-20
Thursday, 20 September 2001 12:00 AM
Newsmax Media, Inc.
 

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved