ACLU, Cuban Americans Call on Congress to Reject Anti-Immigrant Provisions in Intelligence Reform Bill

October 20, 2004 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – In their first-ever national collaboration, the American Civil Liberties Union and the conservative Cuban American National Foundation today called upon on lawmakers to remove the anti-immigrant measures in the legislation to implement the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.

The House and Senate adopted starkly different versions of the bill and a House-Senate conference committee is currently working to reconcile them. “Concerns about these anti-immigrant provisions are not liberal or conservative, they’re American,” said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office. “This election year, immigrants have become a target for scoring cheap political points. The Commission did not call for these provisions, and if Congress is serious about intelligence reform, it must reject this unwarranted assault on immigrants.”

“America has served as a beacon of freedom for those who live in oppressive regimes, but the House bill would dim that light,” added Jorge Mas, CANF Chairman. “This country has a proud tradition of helping those who flee torture and tyranny in search of freedom. Congress must remove those measures that undermine our national commitment to liberty.”

In a joint letter to legislators working to finalize the bill, the ACLU and CANF called the House provisions the worst attack on immigrants in almost a decade. Unlike the House legislation, the Senate bill closely mirrors the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission and therefore includes no changes to the nation’s immigration laws.

The letter points out that, “the House legislation would remove protections for asylum seekers who have real fear of persecution and torture if repatriated.”

“The government would — with no check or balance on its powers — be allowed to decide whether an individual is allowed to stay or be sent to another country, even ones like Cuba, Libya, North Korea or Iran, as long as those governments promise not to engage in torture,” the letter says.

“A commitment to fairness must prevail,” the ACLU’s Murphy said. “Our history as a nation of freedom and justice demands no less. Congress must correct these misguided and un-American provisions.”

To read the ACLU-CANF letter to Congress, go to:

For more on the ACLU’s concerns with Congress’s implementation of the 9/11 Commission’s findings, go to: /intelligencereform

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