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News ::
12 Jun 2003

By Greg Butterfield
Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the June 19, 2003
issue of Workers World newspaper


By Greg Butterfield

More than 13,000 Arab and Muslim men who voluntarily registered with the U.S. government from December through April face deportation in the largest planned mass expulsion since the attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

Only 11 individuals, out of the more than 82,000 who cooperated with the Department of Homeland Security's demands, were said to have ties to organizations the Bush regime considers "terrorist." But the government claims that 16 percent of those who registered were found to be in breach of some legal technicality in their immigration status and will be deported.

"Many had hoped to win leniency by demonstrating their willingness to
cooperate with the campaign against terror," reported the New York
Times, which broke the story on June 7. "They were not promised special treatment, however, and officials believe that most will be expelled."

Immigrant rights advocates charge that many of those men termed
"illegal" have lapsed visas due only to a government backlog in
processing their paperwork, not through any fault of their own. Some
have charged the Bush administration with deliberately stalling the
process of re-registering work permits, student permits, green cards and citizenship applications.

Others are victims of the capitalist recession that has thrown millions of people out of work. Immigrants with work permits are only allowed to stay if they are employed. In the current climate, Middle Eastern and Muslim immigrants are often the first to be fired.

Like their sisters and brothers from Latin America and other parts of
the world, these workers have been forced to come to the United States to seek jobs and decent living conditions, health care and other basic necessities denied to them by U.S. imperialist super-exploitation of their homelands.

Washington's registration campaign, coupled with the war and occupation of Iraq and the climate of racist demonization against Arab and Muslim people, is having a ripple effect through working-class communities throughout the United States.

"Quietly, the fabric of neighborhoods is thinning," the Times noted.
"Families are packing up; some are splitting up. Rather than come
forward and risk deportation, an unknowable number of immigrants have
burrowed deeper underground. Others have simply left--for Canada or
their homeland."

More than 600 Arab and Muslim men were deported in the first wave of
expulsions after 9/11. When the number of detainees reached 1,200, the Justice Department stopped releasing figures. A second, larger wave of expulsions took place last year, though officials refuse to release numbers.

Deportations of immigrants from Asia and Africa have swelled 27 percent in the past two years. Expulsions of Pakistanis, Jordanians, Lebanese and Moroccans have doubled, and those of Egyptians have nearly tripled.

In Brooklyn, N.Y., the Arab-American Family Support Center says that 500 of its clients are fighting deportation orders.


Attorney General John Ashcroft testified before a congressional
committee June 6. He defended the USA Patriot Act, detentions and
expulsions, and asked for even more sweeping powers to spy on, arrest
and indefinitely hold without charges anyone alleged to have ties with "terrorist" organizations. (Associated Press, June 6)

During questions by members of Congress, Ashcroft brazenly demonstrated his disregard for civil rights. He and his staff couldn't answer simple queries about which personal records could or could not be seized under current Patriot Act provisions.

Just days earlier, on June 2, an official internal Justice Department
review found that "Many immigrants rounded up after the Sept. 11 attacks were chained, physically and verbally abused, held without bail and denied access to lawyers." (French Press Agency)

The report confirmed the charges levied for nearly two years by
organizations that defend civil rights, civil liberties and immigrant

"We found significant problems in the way the detainees were handled," admitted Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine. His report dealt only with the first wave of detentions. Most of the men were Pakistani and had no connection to so-called terrorist groups.

The report singled out the New York branch of the FBI and Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, the site of numerous demonstrations in solidarity with the illegally detained.

"The FBI should have expended more effort attempting to distinguish
between [immigrants] who, while possibly guilty of violating a federal immigration law, had no connection to terrorism but were simply encountered in connection with a ... lead."

And, "The evidence indicates a pattern of physical and verbal abuse by some correctional officers."

All 762 people detained at the time were found guilty of violating
immigration law, the Justice Department says. But according to the
inspector general's report, 130 of these had no lawyer, and at least 54 were held for more than the 90 days in violation of the "anti-terrorist" laws.

Detainees at the MDC were wrongly classified as "witness security"
inmates. This designation "frustrated efforts by detainees' attorneys, families and even law enforcement officials, to determine where the detainees were being held.

"We found that MDC staff frequently-and mistakenly- told people who
inquired about a specific Sept. 11 detainee that the detainee was not
held at the facility when, in fact, the opposite was true."

The report can be read at

The capitalist government is trying to eradicate liberties won over
decades of struggle and go back to the days when immigrant workers had few rights. It's a threat that needs to be answered with the old union maxim, "An injury to one is an injury to all."

- END -

(Copyright Workers World Service: Everyone is permitted to copy and
distribute verbatim copies of this document, but changing it is not
allowed. For more information contact Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011; via e-mail: ww (at) Subscribe wwnews-
on (at) Unsubscribe wwnews-off (at) Support the
voice of resistance

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