Revolutionary Worker #1204, June 22, 2003, posted at rwor.org
In December 2002, the U.S. government ordered men over 16 from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, and Libya with non-resident visas to report to the Immigration and Naturalization Service for "special registration"--to be photographed, fingerprinted, and interrogated. Over the following months, Arab, Muslim, and South Asian men from 20 other countries were ordered to report to the INS for such registration.
The government justified the mass registration by declaring it needed to keep "closer monitoring" of certain immigrants because of the September 11 attacks.
Over 82,000 immigrant men came forward voluntarily and registered. Most thought the procedure would be routine. Many had applications pending for permanent resident ("green card") status-- and believed that obeying the government order would help them in the process.
They were wrong. One immigration attorney said, "This is the biggest trap I have ever seen."
Hundreds who came forward willingly to register were detained under brutal and humiliating conditions. Most of those detained were released after days of such outrageous treatment. But that was not the end of their nightmare.
Now, the government is targeting as many as 13,000 men--out of the 82,000 who underwent "special registration"--for deportation.
None of the people threatened with deportation is charged with any "terrorism"-related crime. The government accuses the men of overstaying their visas, working without proper documents, or other immigration violations. For this, they face separation from their families and friends, loss of their jobs, and other great hardships.
The immigrants from the targeted countries who aren't deported--for now--are required to register yearly with the INS and immediately report any changes in address, job, or school. They will be watched and treated by the government as "potential terrorists."
The "special registration" and threats of mass deportations are part of the fascistic clampdown on immigrants after 9/11--especially focused on Arab, Muslim, and South Asian immigrants. Immediately after 9/11, the government began to round up hundreds of Arab, Muslim, and South Asian men and detained them for weeks or months without any charges. Many were deported for minor immigration violations.
At the time of the registrations and detentions last December, the director of ACLU's Immigrants Rights Project expressed fears that this was "a prelude to much more widespread arrests and deportations." Such fears are well justified. Anyone familiar with the round-up of Jews by the Nazis or of Japanese Americans by the U.S. during World War 2 knows that registrations and compiling of lists have been a crucial part of paving the way for mass internment.
The government claims that the clampdown on immigrants is needed to protect the "safety" of people in this country. But the police-state measures by the government--now aimed especially at Arab, Muslim, and South Asian immigrants--have nothing to do with keeping people safe. These moves are about strengthening the government's control over the people as a whole and silencing dissent against the U.S. juggernaut of imperialist wars and "homeland" repression.
Today, they are coming first for immigrants from certain countries. People who aren't immediately affected by these attacks cannot afford to wait and see where this is heading. Things have gone too far already.
Imagine the terror the immigrants must feel in the face of the U.S. government's hateful attacks. Now imagine this: A broad and determined movement that stands clearly and firmly with the immigrant brothers and sisters under attack--a movement that lets the government know that its Big Brother moves will not be tolerated.
Now is the time to speak, resist, and stop these attacks.
"We pledge alliance with those who have come under attack for voicing opposition to the war or for their religion or ethnicity. We pledge to make common cause with the people of the world to bring about justice, freedom and peace. Another world is possible, and we pledge to make it real."
From the Not In Our Name Pledge of Resistance
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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