Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 43me1026 (posted Oct. 26, 2001)"
“Posted on AILA InfoNet, Doc. No. 43me1026
(October 26, 2001).”
Public Affairs Manager
Law Sparks Civil Liberties Concerns
Washington, D.C. – Anti-terrorism legislation
that includes fundamental changes to our nation’s immigration law has passed
the House and Senate and is about to be signed into law. The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA),
the national association of more than 7,500 practicing immigration attorneys, is
concerned that implementation of the new law preserve the important balance
between security and liberties that is so fundamental to our democracy.
broad new powers contained in this legislation must be used wisely and
judiciously, to prosecute real terrorists.
We must ensure that neither innocent people nor the Constitution be
trampled as this important criminal investigation proceeds.” said Jeanne
Butterfield, AILA’s Executive Director.
commend Representatives John Conyers (D-MI) and James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), and
Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Edward Kennedy (D-MA), and Sam Brownback (R-KS)
for their efforts to ameliorate some of the worse aspects of the antiterrorism
legislation that were included in the proposal that the Bush Administration sent
to Congress just a few weeks ago.”
these efforts, the measure that the President will sign into law includes
several troubling provisions. The
new law casts such a broad net that it will allow for the detention and
deportation of people engaging in innocent associational activity and
Constitutionally protected speech, and permit the indefinite detention of
immigrants and non-citizens who are not terrorists.
AILA will be working with Congress to develop oversight hearings to
monitor the impacts of the new law and develop appropriate strategies and
is important to develop effective responses that will deter terrorism and
enhance our nation’s security,” Butterfield continued.
“These responses must reflect the fact that we
are nation of immigrants and a country with a Constitution that upholds
individual rights and liberties—these are the things that make us unique as a
nation. We cannot compromise our security or our values.”
we craft responses to the terrorist threat, we must be wary of false and harmful
solutions to real problems,” said Ms. Butterfield. “We need to
respond in ways that isolate terrorists, not America, recognize that existing
laws and procedures offer us significant protections, and add to our deterrence
capabilities by increasing our intelligence capacities.”
These proposals include:
Increased funding for the Department of State and the Immigration and Naturalization
Service to help these agencies enhance their technological capacities.
Such funding needs to come from direct Congressional appropriations, not
from user fees.
The use of new technologies to achieve the most reliable means of verifying
identity. The federal government
needs to fund the development and use of these new technologies and make sure
various federal agencies coordinate compatible efforts in this area.
Improved access to lookout lists by U.S. federal agencies, as well as
international law enforcement officials. We also must include safeguards against
potential abuse of this data that would limit the re-dissemination of such
information, ensure the security and confidentiality of such information,
protect privacy rights of individuals subject to such information, and establish
procedures that determine who stays on and is removed from these lists.
Provision of accurate and timely intelligence information toU.S. consulates abroad that are our nation’s first line of defense. We
must ensure that U.S. consulates have the necessary intelligence information and
the technological capacity to use intelligence information.
We also need to upgrade the status of the consular officer who has the
all-important job of assessing whether someone should be allowed to enter the
U.S. This decision needs to be
reviewable. In these times of
heightened scrutiny, such review is vital to ensure the integrity of the system.
Expansion of U.S. pre-inspections programs to
other airports to increase the likelihood of a more thorough check. Such pre-inspections would move our system from one that
focuses on a person’s point-of-entry to one that focuses on their point of
origin. Any pre-inspection system
must make adequate provision for genuine refugees to seek asylum protection.
All airlines should transmit passenger lists
to the destination airport to be checked against the lookout list.
Multilateral strategies should be pursued with Canada and Mexico to further
enhance our security and to create a North American Perimeter Safety Zone.
Our nation must ensure adequate personnel and technological improvements
at and between our ports of entry. We need to enhance our data gathering at airports by
mandating an entry/exit system that would collect and correlate data about
arrivals and departures. A 1998
Senate report found that such a system at land borders would contribute little
to our security, and would be exceedingly disruptive to commerce.