September 11 Digital Archive: XML Document


Article Order:8

Title:Are immigrant communities collateral damage in the war against terrorism?

Author:Dr. Marco A. Mason

Publication:New York Carib News

Original Language:English



Blurb:The immigration agenda has become a casualty of September 11th. Immigrants are collateral damage in the war against terrorism as draconian anti-immigrant regulatory and legislative measures proliferate


Body:The year 2001 began with high hopes for many immigrants. The enactment of the Legal Immigration and Family Equity (LIFE) Act in December 2000 allowed some foreign nationals to get a green card or gain lawful status in the United States under the family unification provisions of the Act. Consequently, there was a frantic stampede for status adjustment under LIFE, which expired April 30, 2001. There were also high hopes for a fair and just immigration policy reform agenda that would include amnesty for the undocumented.

In the year 2001, labor unions formulated an unprecedented call for legalization of undocumented workers. Moreover, there was much fanfare surrounding President George W. Bushs and Mexican President Vicente Fox Quesadas bilateral Immigration Reform proposal. It would have tackled such issues as amnesty for undocumented immigrants and curtailment of migrant smuggling. Immigrant advocacy groups were pushing for the legalization provisions to be all-inclusive, not just for Mexicans. As a matter of fact, one week before the September 11th tragedy, the Senate passed legislation to extend the special adjustment status of the LIFE Acts status, which was slated for approval by Congress on September 11, 2001 but its ratification is now in jeopardy.

The immigration agenda has become a casualty of September 11th. It is collateral damage in the war against terrorism as draconian anti-immigrant regulatory and legislative measures proliferate.

The U.S. government, under the antiterrorist legislative provisions, is quietly rounding up thousands of immigrants. It is refusing to release the names of the captives, carrying out domestic surveillance operations, conducting racial/ethnic profiling campaigns, tracking, apprehending, detaining, arresting, persecuting, jailing, prosecuting, convicting and deporting non-citizens with no judicial appeal.

Despite vociferous protest from civil rights and immigrant advocacy groups, these measures are intensifying. The assault has created a climate of fear in immigrant communities. For many, the land of hope and opportunity quickly turns to a horrendous nightmare. Many poor, hardworking vulnerable immigrants feel they have no protection under the law. The anti-terrorist measures on the domestic front targets and stigmatized immigrants. The McCarthy-like assault cries out for immediate public policy intervention to protect civil rights, including the rights of immigrants, regardless of their status.
Until that happens, here are some suggestions for people who are not U. S. citizens:

ul>li>If you are in the United States illegally, be careful. A mere traffic violation could result in your being listed in the FBIs National Crime Center database./li>

li>Be very careful about personally visiting the INS. Remember that the INS is a law enforcement agency that locates and deports immigrants./li>

li>If you are apprehended by a law enforcement agent, do not resist./li>

li>Ask for legal counsel before disclosing any information./li>

li>Beware of con artists and operators who offer to get you a green card for a fee to legalize your immigration status./li>

li>While many agencies and lawyers provide confidential, affordable and competent immigration assistance services, beware of those who charge excessive fees, are dishonest or have no training in immigration law./li>

li>If you think that you or someone you know has been a victim of fraud, contact an agency providing immigration services./li>

li>If you are eligible for U.S. citizenship, get it now./li>/ul>

The information presented herein is general in nature and provided as a public service. It is not to be construed as legal advice. For legal advice pertaining to an immigration case, consult an immigration attorney or an accredited, INS-designated agency that provides immigration services at no charge or for a nominal fee.
Caribbean Womens Health Associations (CWHA) Immigration Service Center is located at 123 Linden Boulevard (between Bedford and Rogers Avenues) in Brooklyn. Call (718) 826-2942. CWHA is a not-for-profit organization accredited to represent clients before the INS. The Center provides comprehensive, high-quality, low-cost immigration legal services.

Dr. Marco A. Mason is the executive director of Caribbean Womens Health Association (CWHA). He is a sociologist with more than 20 years of professional experience in immigration policy and law. He is duly accredited to practice immigration law before the Immigration and Naturalization Court and the Board of Immigration Appeals.

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