National Immigration Forum

Practical Solutions for Immigrants and America


House Hearing Examines Post 9-11 Excesses, Legislation to Restore Civil Liberties Protections

June 29, 2005

Washington, DC – On Thursday, June 30, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims is scheduled to hold a hearing on “Immigration Removal Procedures Implemented in the Aftermath of the September 11th Attacks.” Among the topics expected to be discussed are the range of post 9-11 executive branch policies targeting immigrants, including secret immigration hearings, detentions without charge or timely notification of charges, and blanket detentions without bond. The shortcomings and abuses of these policies have been the subject of much advocacy and scholarly debate, and were detailed by the Bush Administration’s own Inspector General who found that many detainees labeled as “Special Interest” were held without bond, under harsh and abusive conditions, without access to attorneys, judges, or family members.

“I’m glad to see Congress taking its oversight duties seriously,” said Christina DeConcini, Policy Director for the National Immigration Forum, a pro-immigrant advocacy group in Washington. “There’s no legitimate reason why we need to jettison basic civil liberties and respect for the law in moments of national tragedy.  Security and civil liberties should not be seen as a trade-off.  Together they are the hallmarks of our democratic system.”

DeConcini said her organization believes Congress should engage in serious oversight to ensure that there are checks and balances in our democratic system to guard against mistakes and overzealous responses to terrorist acts.

The Civil Liberties Restoration Act (H.R. 1502), introduced by Reps. Howard Berman (D-CA) and William Delahunt (D-MA), contains provisions that would restore some of the basic rights that post 9-11 policies took away. Among other things, this bill would ensure that detainees are charged in a timely manner and served with notice of their charges, allow judges to make individualized bond determinations, and establish open immigration proceedings unless the government can show a compelling privacy or national security interest.

“This hearing should be a catalyst for congressional action to examine the most egregious September 11th policies, repeal those which undermine our safety and values, and pass legislation that restores fairness and equal treatment under law,” DeConcini concluded.

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