Skip to comments.Muslims: INS policy is biased - Call it racial profiling
Posted on 02/17/2003 2:03:42 AM PST by kattracks
One man spent 18 hours being fingerprinted, photographed, grilled about terrorism and left in a cell before being sent home.
Another man had his legal papers - including his certificate of marriage to an American woman - confiscated without explanation.
A third made the critical mistake of showing up three days late for his interview.
All could face deportation despite willingly reporting to Immigration and Naturalization Service headquarters at 26 Federal Plaza for enrollment in the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System.
The anti-terror initiative requires some men over the age of 16 from certain terror-linked countries to register at an INS office.
The Justice Department says the program is a necessary component of the war on terror, but critics call it racial profiling and question its effectiveness in targeting terrorists.
"I would understand this if the government was clamping down on all undocumented immigrants, if this were across the board," said Emira Habiby Browne of the Arab-American Family Support Center in Brooklyn. "But this is pure racial profiling."
Browne said more than 300 people have turned to her for help. She said the mostly Muslim men - the only non-Muslim country on the list of 25 is North Korea - know that if they do not register they face stiff penalties including deportation, and if they do register, any visa violation could also earn them a one-way ticket to their homeland.
Many of the men have children who were born in New York - making them U.S. citizens. If they are deported, they worry they will be separated from their families, said Browne.
"Our major concern is what is going to happen to the children, to the wives," said Browne. "Who's going to take care of the families left behind? This is shattering many, many people's lives."
Mohammed Reza Hassani, 38, who is here on a tourist visa that doesn't expire until May, fled his homeland of Iran in the 1980s and is now a legal resident of the Netherlands. He blames himself for showing up late to register, but is angry at the policy.
"It was stupid of me," said Hassani, who is staying with a friend in White Plains. "But what I have done has nothing to do with terrorists. This is like what the Nazis did to the Jewish [people]. The U.S. is separating Arabs, making us register. Now they want to get rid of Middle Eastern people."
Jalel Ben Orthman, of Jamaica, Queens, thought registration would be a breeze. Married to an American woman, he had an interview scheduled in March for a work permit. But when the Tunisian national showed up for registration on Jan. 8, INS officials confiscated the legal documents he said he needs to get a work permit.
"I don't know what's happening," said Orthman, 43, who ekes out a living by selling flowers from a cart on a street near Jamaica Hospital. "Why haven't they decided if there is something wrong with me?"
Another man, an Algerian national who requested anonymity, said he underwent an 18-hour ordeal on the 10th floor of the INS New York headquarters at 26 Federal Plaza that included being fingerprinted, interrogated about terrorism and shackled to a chair.
He told the Daily News the experience left him in shock.
"When I left the building, I didn't know where I was or how to get back on the subway - I was disoriented," said the man, who lives in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and also faces a deportation hearing for a visa violation. "I thought I was doing the right thing, I thought I was helping."
Pakistanis and Saudi Arabians are required to register by Feb. 21. Another group - Bangladeshis, Egyptians, Indonesians, Jordanians and Kuwaitis - must apply between Feb. 24 and March 28.
7 terror suspects nabbed
The Justice Department credits the program with helping nab seven suspected terrorists and 34 wanted felons nationwide, said spokesman Jorge Martinez. He would not give specifics on the suspects.
Although the program has netted some suspected terrorists, it is turning up a far larger number of immigration violations. Martinez said violators swept up in the program will have their chance to plead their case in court.
"It would be safe to assume both INS and the immigration courts will refer to the fact that the person who registered under [the program] would be seen in a favorable light," Martinez said.
Kareem Shora, a lawyer with the Washington-based Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee, says the policy is not reassuring to the men who must register.
"You are basically stigmatizing an entire ethnic population based solely on the fact that they are men and the fact they come from certain countries," said Shora. "If we take the argument that we are a country at war, the first rule of war making is to recognize your enemy, and unfortunately, we are not doing that."
Some critics question the program's effectiveness more than its fairness. Phil Anderson, director of the Homeland Security Initiative for the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, said he is skeptical that any real terrorists will register.
But he said profiling immigrants and visitors from certain countries is justifiable.
"Look, Al Qaeda doesn't come from Argentina or Brazil," said Anderson. "They come from Middle Eastern countries or Southeast Asian countries.
"I just question whether anyone but the law-abiding immigrants are going to come in and register. It doesn't seem like a good way to go after the bad guys."
Ask those dopey medical students from Illinois who made smart remarks in a diner and were nabbed in Florida. Their medical career arc was stunted by their attitude.
Yes, it is racial profiling. And that's a good thing. It wasn't Swedes or Mexicans who took down the World Trade Center. It isn't Latvians or Brazilians who have called for a worldwide jihad. The resources of the INS are finite, and must be used as efficiently as possible. That means that if your name is Sven or Pedro, you are a lot less likely to be a terrorist than if your name is Mohammed or Usama. It is far better to inconvenience some law-abiding citizens who happen to be from countries that foster terrorism than to order three thousand (or more) plastic body bags.
Indeed! I haven't heard of any great increase of young muslim men reporting to US armed forces recruiters to sign up because they have a great love for America and want to do their part to help win the war against terror.
Yes, the INS is focusing on Muslims. Call it racial profiling if you like. Call it ethnic profiling; that works too. But we're looking for Muslim terrorists, who've sworn to deal this country a mortal blow, so get used to it.
Yes, there are abuses. There will continue to be abuses. No government activity is without abuses. By all means tot them up. Pursue the perpetrators; they'll be prosecuted, I'm sure of it. We do that here, unlike Saudi Arabia, and Iran, and Iraq, and whatever Islamic hellhole your ancestors came from. But while you're thundering your righteous outrage over the INS's "racial profiling," remember this:
19 Muslim terrorists killed 3000 American civilians and did about $100 billion in economic damage.
Three of those 3000 were personal friends of mine.
Profile 'em all you want.
Freedom, Wealth, and Peace,
Francis W. Porretto
Visit the Palace Of Reason:
While I agree that we should be "clamping down" on ALL illegals, let's be realistic; it wasn't Mexicans or Haitians that hijacked 4 airplanes and flew them into buildings. It isn't Koreans or Canandians whose "religion" demands the blood of innocents. The cries of racism have been so overused that they sound hollow and meaningless. Isn't it bad enough that airport security humiliates nursing mothers, interrogates and searches grandmothers and frightens children while waving mideastern Muslim males through, doubtless laughing their butts off at us, in the interest of avoiding racial profiling? It is time we stop this insanity. PROFILE, DETAIN, DEPORT!!!
So don't leave them behind. There is no law keeping them from leaving. Stop your d*mn whining and put the blame where it belongs, on your demon-worshipping brethren.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.