Contact: Sara Amir, Green Party, Americans for Democratic Action (323) 654-2058
On Monday, December 16, 2002, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) arrested without cause hundreds of law-abiding immigrants across the country who followed INS procedures, reported to INS offices before the registration deadlines, and were awaiting the processing of their visa renewals and residency applications by the federal government.
"This action threatens the rights of all Americans, said Sara Amir, Green Party spokesperson and member of the board of ADA. "This massive escalation by Attorney General Ashcroft is arbitrary and discriminatory," she added, noting that in Los Angeles, nearly 90% of those who complied with registration were handcuffed and detained by the INS, despite compliance with the law and lack of criminal activity.
Those who fail to report by the deadline are subject to deportation. The lack of fair notice is gravely disturbing to many in the immigrant community, an eerie echo of the government oppression many fled in leaving their homelands.
The day after the election, November 6, Attorney General John Ashcroft unilaterally ordered that all male noncitizens over the age of 16 visiting the United States from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, and Syria must report to INS offices by December 16. Only green card holders are exempt from the crackdown. Two weeks later, Mr. Ashcroft added Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Eritrea, Lebanon, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, Somalia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. The list continues to multiply: last week Armenia, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia, were added (Armenia was later removed), and even more may follow. Registration deadlines for these groups are January 10 and February 21.
This is a no-win situation for immigrants and students. These law abiding men, some as young as 16 years old, were arrested when they showed up and those
who didn't show up were also subject to arrest. People who have filed visa applications and renewals, who are waiting for the government to process these documents - people who have followed the law- are being treated like violent criminals. Officials with the INS still hold hundreds, if not thousands of immigrant men in facilities across the country and will only release them if they pay thousands of dollars in bail.
The Green Party and Americans for Democratic Action have sponsored a rally, to take place Saturday, December 21 at 1:00pm. The location will be in front of the Westwood Federal Building, at 11000 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024. The purpose of the rally is to demand the immediate and unconditional release of those still held at INS facilities and to bring this odious action by the federal government to the attention of the world.
In addition to attending the rally on Saturday, please fax, call and e-mail your senators and members of congress and tell them to put immediate pressure on
the Whitehouse to release these innocent detainees.
Senator Barbara Boxer
312 N. Spring Street, Suite 1748
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 894-5042 fax
Senator Diane Feinstein
One Post Street, Suite 2450
San Francisco, CA 94104
Or call (415) 393-0707
Fax (415) 393-0710