Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 02121644 (posted Dec. 16, 2002)"
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 16, 2002
Contact: Judith Golub (202) 216-2403
Statement of the American Immigration Lawyers Association
Opposition to Special Registration
December 16 is the "special registration call-in" program deadline. In the
name of security, male nationals 16 years of age or older from 5 countries who
entered the US as nonimmigrants before September 10, 2002 must register to be
fingerprinted and photographed by the end of today. A subsequent January 10
deadline applies to nationals from 13 more countries, and a February 21 deadline
applies to nationals from another 3 countries.
AILA condemns acts of terrorism and is committed to working with our nation's
leaders to enhance our security. However, this measure is a false solution to a
real problem because it will not enhance our security. Identifying terrorist
threats to our country is like finding a needle in a haystack. This
program will only increase the size of the haystack by creating huge databases
that will yield little, if any, useful information because the people who come
forward to register are not those who would seek to do us harm. How likely
is it that terrorists would seek to register and self-identify? Call-in
registration offers us little protection because it targets people based on
national origin, race and religion, rather than on intelligence information, and
alienates the very communities whose cooperation we need.
To make matters worse, the registration process is being wrongly applied.
Instead of identifying terrorists, the INS in some local offices is using the
special registration procedure to identify and detain people who are on the path
to permanent residence, but are "out of status" -- sometimes through no fault of
their own. It makes no sense from security or resource perspectives to target
people who eventually will be granted lawful status because they have
applications pending for lawful permanent status, have been issued employment
authorization documents, or otherwise are eligible for lawful status.
Not only is the call-in registration program ill-conceived, it also is being
wrongly and ineffectively implemented. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has
not given the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) the staff and
resources necessary to do its job and has not effectively disseminated
information about the program. In fact, the DOJ/INS did not even issue a press
release or post information about registration requirements until December 6,
only ten days before the deadline, and have indicated that they will not
undertake other initiatives to alert the public. The paucity of information will
make it likely that otherwise law-abiding people will not register or will fail
to comply with program requirements and, therefore, be considered "per se"
guilty of a criminal misdemeanor, deportable, and permanently barred from ever
reentering the U.S. Is this the best use of our resources?
While the call-in registration program does little to seek out and identify
those in the U.S. who might be intending to harm us, it diverts law enforcement
resources from initiatives that effectively enhance our security. One such
initiative is the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act that
includes measures that harness our technological and intelligence capabilities.
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Founded in 1946, AILA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit
organization that provides its Members with continuing legal education,
information, and professional services. AILA advocates before Congress and the
Administration and provides liaison with the INS and other government agencies.
AILA is an Affiliated Organization of the American Bar Association.
American Immigration Lawyers Association
918 F Street NW, Washington, DC,
Phone (202) 216-2400; Fax (202) 783-7853