Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 38me1045 (posted Mar. 29, 2001)"
March 28, 2001
Public Affairs Manager
Lawyers Urge Congress to
Eliminate the Use of Secret Evidence
– The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) today urged
Congress to speedily approve a bill introduced by Representatives David
Bonior (D-MI), Bob Barr (R-GA), and Tom Davis (R-VA), that would ban the
use of secret evidence during INS proceedings.
of two overly harsh 1996 laws allow the Immigration and Naturalization
Service to use secret evidence to deport permanent residents, deny
asylum, and deny bond to detained immigrants.
This practice has resulted in immigrants being unable to defend
themselves against charges they are unable to review.
Bonior-Barr-Davis bill would require the INS to follow the same rules
for using classified information that are used in the prosecution of
criminals under Federal law. Under the new legislation, the Classified
Information Procedures Act (CIPA) would be applied in
deportation cases, bond hearings, immigration benefit cases and asylum
proceedings. These rules
require an independent judge to create an unclassified summary of the classified
information and provide the summary to the immigration judge and the
accused immigrant. There would be no "secret evidence" because
the immigration judge would base his or her decision on the same
information that is shared with the immigrant. The government could still prosecute and punish terrorists, as it did in
the horrible bombings of the World Trade Center and the Federal Building
in Oklahoma City.
United States has long stood as a beacon of hope for the oppressed
across the world because of our legal principles. These principles have
been enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
Key among them is that people accused of crimes have the right to see
the evidence against them, have a chance to confront their accusers
face-to-face, and interrogate witnesses. The secret evidence provisions
of the overly harsh 1996 laws violate these key principles. They are
un-American,” said Jeanne Butterfield, AILA’s Executive Director.
federal court that has ruled on the use of secret evidence agrees that
these provisions are unconstitutional. Leading attorneys, including a
former CIA Director, have said the use of secret evidence is something
that you would expect to find in a repressive nation. They are right:
totalitarian and oppressive states use secret evidence against people.
Democratic countries like the United States should not. We call upon
Congress to restore American principles and American jurisprudence to
our immigration laws.”