Thursday, September 30, 2004

You only need the rights that we let you have!

The Bush Administration continues to chip away at the due process and human rights protections that immigrants have. As David Cole argues in this book Enemy Aliens, noncitizen immigrants have often been used as test cases for repressive measures that were then used on citizens and natives. As the Bush Administration has demonstrated in the Padilla and Hamdi cases, it is willing to treat US citizens as if they were "aliens," so it's not much of a stretch to see an expansion of this authority to cover "suspect" natives.

Note, by the way, that this law applies to terror suspects -- nothing has to be proven. This is terribly arbitrary and insidious, allowing agents to use the spectre of suspecthood as a tool with which to intimidate and repress immigrants. We should also not fool ourselves that the Dems are innocent on this count --as it says below, Clinton already gave the CIA authority to act in this manner -- the Republicans just want to democratize the authority.

The Bush administration is supporting a provision in the House leadership's intelligence reform bill that would allow U.S. authorities to deport certain foreigners to countries where they are likely to be tortured or abused, an action prohibited by the international laws against torture the United States signed 20 years ago. [...] "Our laws are not up to date with the war we're fighting," Feehery [spokesman for House Speaker Dennis Hastert] said. In many cases, he said, the Justice Department "can't keep [terror suspects] in detention, they can't convict them, they don't want to try them. . . . If you can't detain them indefinitely, you sure don't want them in America."

The international anti-torture law prohibited the deportation of individuals to countries where there is a reasonable expectation that they will be tortured, abused or persecuted. U.S. immigration law permits non-U.S. citizens to seek political asylum to avoid such persecution and prohibits deportation or removal to countries likely to commit torture or abuse unless the government seeks assurance the country will not do so. [...] "Is it an inconvenience if we can't send people back to torturers? Sure," said Tom Malinowski of Human Rights Watch. "But since Abu Ghraib, everyone from the president to the Defense Department to Congress has said the United States does not have a policy of torture. If this passes, we will have a policy of tolerating torture."

Under the Hastert bill, U.S. authorities could send an immigrant to any country, regardless of the likelihood of torture or abuse.

The measure would shift to the deportee the burden of proving "by clear and convincing evidence that he or she would be tortured" -- a burden that human rights activists say is impossible to satisfy. It would bar a U.S. court from reviewing the regulations, which would fall under the secretary of homeland security. The provision would apply retroactively, to people now in detention and those who may have already been secretly deported under classified procedures to countries with well-documented histories of torture and human rights violations. It also would allow U.S. authorities to deport foreigners convicted of any felony or suspected of having links to terrorist groups to any country -- even somewhere that is not a person's home country or place of birth, contrary to current practice. The CIA already has such authority, under a secret presidential finding first signed by President Bill Clinton and expanded by Bush after Sept. 11, 2001. The CIA has taken an unknown number of suspected terrorists apprehended abroad to third countries for interrogation.

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