ACLU Says House Anti-Immigrant Provisions Break From 9/11 Commission; Calls on Members to Reject Mean-Spirited Measures

October 5, 2004 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – Anticipating a vote in the House tomorrow on legislation purported to implement the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission but laden with mean-spirited anti-immigrant provisions, the American Civil Liberties Union today called on lawmakers to remove the anti-immigrant measures in the bill.

“A bill meant to implement the bipartisan 9/11 Commission’s recommendations should do just that,” said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “Unfortunately, the House leadership has decided to laden its bill with many provisions not called for by the commission, but long sought by extremists. If the House is serious about intelligence reform, it must reject these unwarranted assault on immigrants.”

The Republican House leadership “9/11 Commission Implementation Act” was the subject of several committee votes last week, and most efforts to amend the bill to address civil liberties concerns were defeated on party-line votes. The ACLU noted that the final House legislation still differs greatly from its Senate counterpart, where the Collins-Lieberman bill closely mirrors the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. Several commissioners have recently raised concerns about many of the superfluous law enforcement and immigration provisions in the House bill.

Specifically, the House bill would deny immigrants basic judicial review over unfair, arbitrary or otherwise abusive deportations. It would permit the deportation of individuals to countries lacking a functioning government – an issue now pending before the Supreme Court– and would generally make it more difficult for individuals to claim asylum.

Also, the bill would legalize sending those who the government asserts, but does not need to prove, are a danger to national security to be tortured in foreign country. The bill also permits the deportation of individuals to any country, even if it was not the suspect’s home country or place of birth, leading to the possibility that individuals will be sent to countries where they will be subject to torture.

In addition, the House bill includes extraneous anti-immigrant court-stripping provisions that seriously weaken the judicial review process in immigration proceedings. This provision explicitly forbids, in some cases, access to the constitutionally mandated “Great Writ” of habeas corpus. The ACLU said that if enacted, this measure would create the illusion, and not the reality, of judicial oversight of immigration matters in many cases.

The ACLU noted that none of these anti-immigrant policies were recommended by the 9/11 Commission, and many have long been priorities for the hard-line anti-immigration lobby.

“As in times past, immigrants have become the scapegoat,” said Timothy H. Edgar, an ACLU Legislative Counsel. “These measures have been rejected by the 9/11 Commission and the Senate; the House must not cave into pressures from hard-line anti-immigrant groups.”

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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