Anti-Terrorism Legislation Passed

Cite as “Posted on AILA InfoNet, Doc. No. 43me1026
(October 26, 2001).”

For Immediate Release                                    Contact:            Amanda Carufel

October 26, 2001                                                                Public Affairs Manager

                                                                                    Phone: 202-216-2404


Anti-Terrorism Legislation Passed

New 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.

 “The 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.

 “We 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.” 

 Notwithstanding 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 responses.

 “It 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.” 

 “As 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.


Cite as AILA Doc. No. 01102659.