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Thursday, December 19, 2002

Roundup in California

Hundreds of Muslim immigrants have been arrested and locked up in overcrowded conditions in the last few days. Many had come forward voluntarily to register with the INS. According to Reuters:

The arrests were part of a post Sept. 11 program that requires all males over 16 from a list of 20 Arab or Middle East countries, who do not have permanent resident status in the United States, to register with U.S. immigration authorities.

Monday was the deadline for men from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Sudan. News of the mass arrests came first in southern California, which is home to more than 600,000 Iranian exiles and their families.
INS spokesman Arcaute said those arrested had violated immigration laws, overstayed their visas, or were wanted for crimes. The program was prompted by concern about the lack of records on tourists, students and other visitors to the United States after the Sept. 11 hijack plane attacks on New York and Washington.

Islamic community leaders said many of the detainees had been living, working and paying taxes in the United States for five or 10 years, and had families here.

"Terrorists most likely wouldn't come to the INS to register. It is really a bad way to go about it. They are being treated as criminals and that really goes against American ideals of fairness, and justice and democracy," Khan said.

The Iranian protesters said many of those detained were victims of official delays in processing visa and green card requests.

Might as well ship the Statue of Liberty back to France--it doesn't mean anything here anymore. This gets more and more like the Nazis every day.

More on this: LA Times (registration required); the story hasn't made the front web pages of the NY Times or the Washington Post.