ACLU Calls on President Not to Deploy Military Troops to Deter Immigrants at the Mexican Border

May 15, 2006 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – In anticipation of President Bush’s address to the nation tonight on immigration reform, the American Civil Liberties Union today called upon the president and Congress to reject any measures that fail to uphold the letter and spirit of our laws and encouraged lawmakers to adopt immigration reform that protects the freedom and privacy of all in America.

The following can be attributed to Anthony D. Romero, ACLU Executive Director:

“Turning immigration enforcement policy into another military operation is not the answer. The president’s proposed deployment of National Guard troops violates the spirit of the Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits the military from getting into the business of civilian law enforcement.

“In addition, the president’s proposal for a so-called tamper-proof employment ID card is both unworkable and unwise. It is unworkable because any card can be forged, stolen or counterfeited. And it is unwise because it will not deter people from working illegally and it will certainly put us on the path to a national ID card system, which will inevitably be used to control the activities of every American.

“Our government and people have long recognized that federal law enforcement officers are the best equipped and trained to deal with these kinds of civilian law enforcement needs. Soldiers are trained to kill the enemy, and they lack the training to conduct proper law enforcement. Furthermore, they lack training to respect and protect border community residents’ civil liberties and safety. History has shown the dangers of using the military to engage in domestic law enforcement activities.

“A tragic incident illustrates the dangers of deploying the U.S. military for federal law enforcement functions. In 1997, a Marine assisting the government’s drug interdiction efforts shot and killed a goat herder, 18-year-old Esequiel Hernandez Jr. That American’s death led to a congressional review and an end to the military’s involvement in similar anti-drug patrols.

“As Congress moves forward to reform our nation’s immigration laws, it must reject measures that threaten to increase the bloodshed on our borders. Innocent peoples’ lives and liberty should not be threatened by this dangerous deployment.”

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