Lawyer’s Letter to Reno Urging Dropping of LA8 Case
ADC is asking all barred attorneys and law professors to co-sign this letter
As part of ADC’s campaign to get Attorney General Janet Reno to drop the deportation case against eight pro-Palestinian Los Angeles immigrants known as the “L.A. Eight,” we are seeking the support of organizations, including civil liberties, lawyers, and immigrants’ rights groups, as well as barred attorneys and law professors, willing to co-sign the letter to the Attorney General reproduced below.
Those unfamiliar with the details of the case will, we are certain, agree after reading the letter that this case is one of extreme injustice. It is clear that this case is based solely on denying these individual their First Amendment rights. Even if the Justice Department clings to an interpretation of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Reno v. ADC that would effectively deny all non-citizens their First Amendment rights, it is unconscionable that it would continue to persecute and attempt to deport these eight innocent people.
In an effort to end the already 12 year long ordeal of these individuals, ADC is asking all barred attorneys and law professors to co-sign this letter. If you are a barred attorney or law professor or know any, please sign or urge them to sign this letter and return it, or any other statement of endorsement, to ADC by July 31, 1999.
TEXT OF LETTER TO JANET RENO ON LA8 CASE:
June 29, 1999
The Honorable Janet Reno,
Attorney General Office of the Attorney General Department of Justice
Tenth Street and Constitution Avenue,
N.W. Washington, DC 20530 .
Dear Attorney General Reno:
We are immigrants’ rights, civil rights, and civil liberties organizations. We write to urge you to put an end to the government’s twelve-year effort to deport eight Los Angeles area immigrants known as the “L.A. Eight.”
Their case, recently addressed by the United States Supreme Court in Reno v. American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee has raised troubling questions of fairness and selective enforcement of the laws, and has cast a profound chill on the First Amendment rights of the Arab American community and immigrants generally. But it has also continued the 12 year long ordeal of eight individuals whose only offense was to hold views that were once unpopular, and with which the government disagreed. It is high time that the Justice Department drop the attempt to deport the “LA Eight.”
From the outset of the case in 1987, the Justice Department has repeatedly dropped and added charges against the eight immigrants under both the McCarran-Walter Act and more recent “anti-terrorism” legislation. Although these individuals have been stigmatized by the INS as “national security threats” since their arrest, no sustained criminal prosecution of the “LA Eight” ever took place due to a total lack of evidence substantiating such charges. As former FBI Director William Webster testified before Congress, they have never engaged in any criminal conduct, and had they been U.S. citizens, all of their activities would have been protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Therefore, these individuals have been persecuted for over 12 years simply because the government disagreed with their political views and otherwise lawful political activities .
Twelve years after their arrest, the “L.A. Eight” have remained scrupulously within the law, raised families, established homes and businesses, paid taxes and continued to be active in their communities on behalf of Arab American civil rights. Ironically, the unpopular views they held at the time of their arrest — support for an independent Palestinian state and respect for the human rights of Palestinians living under Israeli Occupation — are now the subject of negotiations and agreements between Palestinians and Israelis strongly supported by the U.S. government. Views which were marginal at the time of the arrest of the “LA Eight” have now been adopted by the mainstream of American public opinion, and indeed by much of Israeli public opinion. Some of the impetus for this change came precisely from the free speech activities of the “L.A. Eight,” for which they are still being persecuted.
It is clear that the “L.A. Eight” pose absolutely no threat to our national security. The silencing of their voices, and punishing of their now widely shared political beliefs, would do incalculable harm to freedom of speech, immigrants rights, and principles of political liberty. Moreover, these individuals have suffered enough under 12 years of persecution. They have proven their worth as valuable members of the community, and have demonstrated their good citizenship. To continue to attempt to punish them for their views and otherwise lawful political activities, and separate them from their American spouses and children is unconscionable.
For these reasons, we urge you to drop the case against these eight immigrants, and restore their faith, and that of all immigrants, in the fairness of our system of justice. Have they and their families not suffered enough? How many more years of persecution must they endure, having committed no crime? We urge you to drop the attempt to deport the “LA Eight” once and for all.