Audio highlights from the rally at the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) offices in downtown LA last Saturday (Jan 4, 2003), organized by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (LA/OC), Alliance of Iranian Americans, Council on American Islamic Relations and the National Council of Pakistani Americans. Also speaking at the rally were representatives from the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), Service Employees International Union (SEIU) the American Immigration Lawyers Association, and the LA County Bar Association Immigration Section.
In December, the US government instituted what they call a “Special Registration” program where young men ages 16 and older from certain countries were required to go to the INS and register. When they did so, many of them were detained, some for a few hours, others have not yet been released. Some were moved to high security prisons in other cities and even in other states. A few key facts:
--The vast majority of people who went to register were already registered with the INS, and so this additional “special registration” did not give the INS any information they did not already have;
--It appears that it was only in Los Angeles that the INS decided to turn this “special registration program” into an opportunity for mass arrests – there were a few isolated arrests in other cities, but only in LA did the INS engage in mass detentions;
--Unknown numbers of people are still being detained without access to legal representation. The INS is refusing to release their names, status, or their location;
--Most of the people who were detained for being behind deadlines on paperwork were behind because of the paperwork processing backlog at the INS, not due to any action or negligence on the part of the people registering; and
--Thousands of men from other countries are required to register through this “special registration” program in January and February, and are now at risk of mass arrests, if this program is not dismantled.
The groups at Saturday’s rally are demanding
1) Immediate release of all men currently in custody as a result of the “special registration” program;
2) Full lists of all those arrested – including names, status, location, etc; and
3) DISMANTLING OF THE SPECIAL REGISTRATION PROGRAM.
As one speaker put it, “Special registration is a false solution to a real problem.”
They’re asking everyone to call in to the White House (202-456-1111) on TUESDAY, JANUARY 7 FROM 11 AM TO 12 PM and
DEMAND A HALT TO THE SPECIAL REGISTRATION SYSTEM.
The first recording is Babak Sotoodeh of the Alliance of Iranian Americans, asking folks to call in to the White House (66 sec).
Recordings of other speakers at the rally will follow below. See the links below for lots more information.