INS Detains Hundreds of Muslim and Middle Eastern Immigrants in California

January 4, 2003

Source: Mercury News

On January 4, 2003 the Mercury News reported that "with a deadline less than a week away, immigrant community leaders say they're worried that visitors from Afghanistan, Lebanon and 11 other countries may not register as part of a new national security program because they fear they'll be detained or deported... The Immigration and Naturalization Service took hundreds of men from five Middle Eastern countries into custody after the first registration deadline last month, primarily for overstaying their visas or registering late, infractions that rarely resulted in detention until Sept. 11, 2001... The government has defended the crackdown, noting that three of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers were in the United States on expired visitor visas. Among those detained last month were a handful of men with outstanding arrest warrants and a few convicted felons who face deportation because of their crimes... But Bay Area immigrant-advocacy groups and others say even visitors who are here legally on valid visas are nervous about the registration process and Friday's deadline, which applies to male visitors from 13 countries."