ACLU of Maryland Announces Hotline for Immigrants To Be Questioned by FBI

Affiliate: ACLU of Maryland
December 14, 2001 12:00 am

ACLU Affiliate
ACLU of Maryland
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BALTIMORE-In response to the Department of Justice’s plan to interview thousands of Middle Eastern men across the country, the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland today announced the creation of a “Know Your Rights” telephone hotline for the approximately 85 men in the state who have been targeted for questioning by the FBI.

“We are concerned that the innocent men who have been targeted for questioning — based on absolutely nothing other than their country of origin — are unaware of their constitutional rights or the possible adverse consequences of agreeing to be questioned,” said David Rocah, staff attorney at the ACLU of Maryland. “The FBI agents will not just be asking questions about terrorism.”

The purpose of the hotline is to inform the men about their constitutional rights, the questions that the FBI will ask, the option to decline an interview and the option to bring an attorney to an interview. Additionally, callers will be informed about the possibility of being detained or deported if, for example, the FBI determines that the individual has lied in the interview or has overstayed his visa.

A panel of ACLU cooperating attorneys have volunteered to counsel everyone who calls, and will accompany the men to their interviews should they so desire.

Even though these men are not suspects in the terrorist investigation, they will be asked personal questions about their political beliefs, their travels, and to provide telephone numbers of family and friends, according to Rocah. Also, if an agent discovers an immigration violation during questioning, the person could be detained without bond.

Similar hotlines have been set up by ACLU affiliates in Florida, Michigan and Oregon. Anyone who is contacted for an interview as part of the DOJ investigation who wishes to speak with an attorney can advise the law enforcement agents that they don’t want to talk then, and should contact the ACLU hotline right away.

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