Judge Rules Special Registration Case Violates Rights
Washington, DC, August 11, 2005- The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) welcomed a New York City immigration court decision to stop the deportation of an Egyptian citizen due to the problematic Special Registration program. U.S. Immigration Judge Robert Weisel said that the individual’s deportation is being ended because this ‘Special Registration’ case violated his "fundamental regulatory rights and implicit constitutional rights."
Also, the court ruled that the procedures followed in the ‘Special Registration’ program violated the individual’s constitutional rights as well as the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) own regulations. Judge Weisel ruled, "All evidence obtained from was obtained in violation of the Department’s regulations, so that information must be suppressed."
The Judge ruled that during the ‘Special Registration’ program, the individual, who voluntarily complied with the program’s requirements, was unlawfully detained, unlawfully arrested, not informed of his right to speak to an attorney, and refused assistance of counsel. Additionally, the Judge said that the individual’s statements were provided "in a coercive environment" since immigration officers used coercive methods to obtain information.
The violations mentioned in the decision exemplify the concerns that ADC and many others have expressed relative to the ‘Special Registration’ program. This ruling demonstrates the long-term effects of this discriminatory and ill implemented program.
The ‘Special Registration’ program, also known as the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), was initially divided into a "domestic call-in" phase and a "port of entry" registration phase. In 2002, this program was announced by the US Department of Justice as a counter-terrorism measure. Since the creation of the DHS in March of 2003, the program has been labeled as an "immigration law enforcement" measure. Thousands of special registrants, who voluntarily complied with the domestic phase, have faced deportation.
While DHS suspended most of the program, it has failed to differentiate between the information collected under the domestic phase and that it continues to collect under the port of entry phase. This confusion has blurred the lines between what may be construed as a counter-terrorism measure and what would be viewed as immigration law enforcement. It is important to note that the domestic phase of the ‘Special Registration’ program was discriminatory as it involved only men from a list of 25 countries, 24 of which were Arab or Muslim. There is no information that reveals the port of entry phase, which continues, having such parameters.
In light of this court ruling, ADC renews its calls on DHS to appropriately address the multiple challenges raised as a result of this program.