Refugees currently undergo the most rigorous security screening process of anyone who comes to the United States.
AILA Doc No. 03022647 | Dated February 26, 2003
“DOMESTIC SECURITY ENFORCEMENT ACT OF 2003” (a.k.a. PATRIOT Act II)
Draft legislation prepared by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and recently leaked to the public contains a number of provisions that would diminish significantly the already compromised due process rights of lawful permanent residents and other non-citizens. Under the pretext of fighting terrorism and enhancing homeland security, this draft legislation, entitled the “Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003” (DSEA), proposes to, among other things: expand significantly the Immigration and Nationality Act’s expedited removal provisions, enhance criminal penalties for minor immigration violations, expand the Attorney General’s authority to bar and remove non-citizens from the U.S. on national security grounds, and authorize removal of aliens even to countries whose governments are not recognized by the United States.
While the Domestic Security Enhancement Act has not yet been introduced in Congress, the draft that was leaked indicates that the DOJ continues to explore ways to amplify its law enforcement and intelligence gathering authorities. Such authorities were expanded significantly in the wake of September 11 when Congress passed the PATRIOT Act. The DSEA would broaden the executive branch’s discretionary powers still more by further marginalizing the due process rights of non-citizens, while circumscribing judicial checks on executive branch activities.
The expansion of authority proposed by DOJ in this draft raises important concerns given that the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, charged with oversight of the DOJ, have criticized the agency for failing to clearly and adequately explain how it is implementing the PATRIOT Act’s provisions. Meaningful congressional review of the impact of the PATRIOT Act’s expansion of executive powers on the rights of immigrants is vitally necessary before embarking on an initiative to further shield executive decision-making from the checks and balances that are the hallmark of our system.
If enacted, the DSEA would trigger the following additional, unacceptable encroachments on the rights of foreign nationals in the U.S.:
AILA’s POSITION: AILA strongly opposes each of the proposed changes outlined above. In the aggregate, this proposal fails to promote its stated goals of combating terrorism and enhancing security. To the contrary, the fundamental lack of fairness and the abrogation of long-standing due process principles embodied in this legislation ultimately could subvert the very objectives it was designed to facilitate. Tearing families asunder and expelling long-time residents of the U.S. without a modicum of due process violates our traditions and will serve only to create an atmosphere of distrust, apprehension, and resentment throughout the immigrant communities in this country. Alienating significant portions of the populace will undermine the cooperation law enforcement authorities regularly identify as a critical component to successful enforcement interdictions.
Cite as AILA Doc. No. 03022647.