New ACLU Report Documents Devastating Effects of Post-9/11 Deportations on Immigrant Communities and Families

December 8, 2004 12:00 am

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NEW YORK-At a roundtable discussion today with more than 20 human rights advocates and Muslim community members, the American Civil Liberties Union released a new report documenting the devastating effects that the Bush administration’s “anti-terrorism” policies have had on immigrant families and communities.

“The U.S. government unfairly deported thousands of immigrants after the September 11 attacks-simply because they were from Muslim countries and were in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said Anthony Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU. “For each man who was arrested, there was a network of children, parents, siblings, neighbors and community members who depended on him.”

The report, “Worlds Apart: How Deporting Immigrants After September 11 Tore Families Apart and Shattered Communities,” shares the stories of 13 men who filed a complaint with the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention charging that they were unfairly arrested and imprisoned by the United States. The ACLU said that the men were among hundreds of Muslims who were arbitrarily and indiscriminately arrested even though they had not engaged in criminal activity of any sort. The men languished in jail – sometimes in solitary confinement – for weeks and sometimes months, even after it became clear that they were innocent of any charges related to terrorism.

As documented in “Worlds Apart,” the communities that were home to these men were also devastated. Many merchants in predominantly Muslim communities have been forced out of business since the September 11 attacks, and some residents fled to Canada or Europe out of fear that they or their family members would be unjustly targeted. One neighborhood discussed in the report is “Little Pakistan” in Brooklyn, New York. More than a third of Brooklyn’s once vibrant Pakistani population has either been deported or moved voluntarily after the September 11 attacks.

“The United States government correctly condemns other countries when they violate human rights, but we have to be equally vigilant in making sure that those rights are not violated here at home,” said Ann Beeson, Associate Legal Director of the ACLU. “Unfortunately, the United States continues to arrest and imprison Muslims without evidence and deport them without charges.”

The report was the focus of a roundtable discussion sponsored by the Open Society Institute today in New York. The discussion, which was moderated by the ACLU’s Beeson and began with an introduction by OSI President Aryeh Neier, featured comments from more than 20 Muslim and human rights advocates as well as family members of some of the men profiled in the report. One relative, Hosni Abualeinen, said that his uncle, Ahmed, is “really suffering from the way he’s been deported.” Ahmed Abualeinen, 60, was imprisoned in the U.S. for five months before agreeing to voluntary departure.

In addition to Beeson and Neier, participants in the discussion included: Engy AbdelKader of the Council on American Islamic Relations; Aisha Al-Adiwya of Women in Islam; Adem Carroll of the Islamic Circle of North America; Anthony Richter of the Open Society Institute; Parastou Hassouri of the ACLU of New Jersey; Omar Jadwat of the ACLU Immigrants Rights Project; Bobby Kahn of the Coney Island Avenue Project; Louis AbdelLatif Cristillo of the Muslims of New York City Project; Dalia Hashad of the ACLU; Moe Razvi of the Council of Pakistani Organizations; Bryan Lonegan of New York City Legal Aid; Partha Banerjee of New Immigrant Community Empowerment; Sin-Yen Ling of Asian American Legal Defense Fund; Susan Davies of the Chatham Peace Initiative; Subhash Kateel of Families for Freedom; Udi Ofer of the New York Civil Liberties Union; Monica Tarazi of the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee; and Bhairavi Desai of New York City Taxi Workers Alliance.

The “Worlds Apart” report and roundtable discussion is part of a week-long series of events calling attention to human rights abuses in the international arena. For more information on other ACLU events, go to /International/InternationalMain.cfm.

For a copy of the report, go to: /node/25078.

For more information on the ACLU’s complaint to UNWGAD, go to: /node/11414.

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