ADC Urges Government to Respect Rights when Questioning Non-Citizens
Washington, DC — The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) today urged the government to strictly adhere to the law and American values when implementing a newly announced plan to question 5,000 non-citizens in coming weeks. The Justice Department has said it intends to use local authorities to help question 5,000 men aged 18-33 who entered the United States on non-immigrant visas after Jan. 1, 2000, from an unspecified list of countries. ADC notes that the government has the right to request interviews with anyone in the United States, but points out that this list, which seems to be based on age, gender and national origin, smacks of racial profiling and is open to serious abuse if civil liberties are not respected. It is vital that the Justice Department emphasize that these individuals are not suspects in any criminal investigation, and that no one become the target of suspicion merely on the basis of their ethnicity, age or gender.
ADC urges anyone with information relevant to the September 11 attacks to come forward and asks everyone to cooperate with the authorities. At the same time, ADC urges the Justice Department to respect, and to ensure that local authorities involved also respect, the civil liberties of those it seeks to interview. Everyone in the United States has the right to have an attorney present at all times when being questioned by the authorities and has the right to decline to answer questions.
ADC, which along with a number of other organizations formally requested information through the Freedom of Information Act on the post-Sept. 11 detentions of hundreds of non-citizens, also urges the Justice Department to be more forthcoming about the number of people in custody and the reason for their incarceration.