Anti-Terrorism Effort Being Waged with the Help of Immigration Law

June 13, 2005

Source: The Washington Post

On June 13, 2005 The Washington Post reported, "[A] broad anti-terrorism effort [is] being waged [in the U.S.] with a seemingly innocuous weapon: immigration law. In the past two years, officials have filed immigration charges against more than 500 people who have come under scrutiny in national security investigations, according to previously undisclosed government figures. Some are ultimately found to have no terrorism ties, officials acknowledge.

Whereas terrorism charges can be difficult to prosecute, Homeland Security officials say immigration laws can provide a quick, easy way to detain people who could be planning attacks. Authorities have also used routine charges such as overstaying a visa to deport suspected supporters of terrorist groups.

'It's an incredibly important piece of the terrorism response,' said Michael J. Garcia, who heads Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. And although immigration violations might seem humdrum, he said, 'They're legitimate charges.'

Muslim and civil liberties activists disagree. They argue that authorities are enforcing minor violations by Muslims and Arabs, while ignoring millions of other immigrants who flout the same laws."