Advocacy Groups Decry Unfair Policy: Thousands of Muslims May be Deported for Minor Infractions

November 12, 2003

Source: The Washington Post

On November 12, 2003 The Washington Post reported that "a coalition of legal advocacy groups said Wednesday that a federal program requiring males from 25 predominantly Muslim nations to register with the Immigration and Naturalization Service has resulted in the arrest and deportation of thousands of laborers, students and parents for what are characterized as minor, often technical violations. The group studied 219 men, of whom about 110 faced deportation, and found that not one has been charged with having a connection to al Qaeda or other terrorist organizations. About 80 percent of the deportees had overstayed their visas or had pending applications for green cards and other papers. About half left behind wives and children in this country. Visitors from these 25 countries are required to re-register again this year, a process that begins Thursday. ''This program has resulted in the expulsion of working-class Muslim immigrant communities,' said Saurav Sarkar, an organizer with Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund here. 'This program has set a very dangerous precedent for what happens when government decides that Muslims are suspect.' Officials with the Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement respond that such charges are overstated."