ADC and DOJ Discuss the USA Patriot Act
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), met with representatives from the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), Civil Rights Division, yesterday as part of a briefing to address community concerns regarding the USA Patriot Act. The meeting was attended by a large group of representatives from the DOJ, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Representatives from the DOJ included Assistant Attorney General, Ralph Boyd; Jennifer Newstead, Office of Legal Policy; Dea Carpenter, Deputy General Council of the INS; David Kris, Office of the Deputy Attorney General; John Elwood of the DOJ Criminal Division, and Robert Jordan and Tom Reynolds of the FBI.
ADC Legal Advisor, Carol Khawly, JD; ADC Board Member, Albert Mokhiber, Esq. and immigration attorney, Denyse Sabah represented ADC at the briefing which included other Arab-American and Muslim organizations. Groups also included the Islamic Institute, the Arab-American Institute, and the American Muslim Council among others.
After welcoming remarks by Assistant Attorney General Boyd, the attendees were provided with an overview of the USA Patriot Act, followed by a question and answer period. The attendees raised concerns about the newly expanded detention powers of the Attorney General under various provisions of the law, the issues of material support and guilt by association and the overly broad statutory definition of terrorist activity. The group also addressed the nationwide voluntary interviews of approximately 5000 Middle Eastern men based solely on their gender, age, and national origin. The attendees stressed the responsibility of the government to provide notice to Arab-American and Muslim communities about organizations perceived to be suspect by the DOJ and urged the government to work with these communities in a constructive manner. The group also requested that the government provide status-immunity for those who want to volunteer for questioning but are afraid to come forward because of minor immigration status violations. The DOJ asserted that this question is being revisited. At the end of the meeting, the DOJ provided the attendees with the phone number of the Department‘s Community Relations Service (CARS) for follow-up questions and assured the attendees that all questions and concerns will be addressed thoroughly.
ADC appreciates the effort made by the DOJ by holding this informative and constructive meeting.