AILA Doc No. 04062366 | Dated June 16, 2004
Letter sent to Senators Leahy, Kennedy, Corzine, Feingold and Durbin upon introduction of the Civil Liberties Restoration Act (CLRA) of 2004
June 16, 2004
The undersigned organizations write to express our support for the Civil Liberties Restoration Act (CLRA) of 2004. Our organizations represent a diverse and growing movement in communities nationwide who believe that the United States can meet new security demands while preserving fundamental liberties and American values of fairness and equal treatment for all. Although we differ in our missions and mandates, we come together around these principles to endorse this important legislation.
Many of the actions taken by Congress, the Administration, and law enforcement in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks represent reasonable responses to the terrorist threat. However, other measures violated basic liberties. For example, after September 11th, hundreds of Arab and Muslim immigrants with no connection to terrorism were arrested and detained for weeks and months. The jailed individuals' names were withheld from the public and their deportation hearings kept secret - in short, a system of secret detention that fosters abuse. A Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General report subsequently confirmed that many were held for prolonged periods without charge; that the DOJ adopted a policy of denying bond to every detainee without any evidence of connections to terrorism or risk of flight; that many were denied access to a lawyer and held in excessively harsh conditions; and that some were physically and verbally abused by prison guards.
These and other measures do not enhance national security; rather, they violate our tradition of due process, alienate immigrant communities, and undermine U.S. efforts to promote democracy, human rights, and the rule of law abroad. The CLRA will help protect core values at home while demonstrating to the world that the United States takes seriously the rights of people it detains. The CLRA will:
The CLRA promotes the integrity of the American system of justice and reaffirms our commitment to core constitutional values. The CLRA moves the United States forward at this important time with a clear understanding that upholding basic rights and the rule of law is essential to our long-term success in countering terrorism and creating a safer and more stable world. We commend your leadership in introducing this critical piece of legislation and look forward to working with you in moving this measure to enactment.
Cite as AILA Doc. No. 04062366.