A timeline of major events and policies affecting immigrants and civil liberties

Under homeland security; 2001-2003: a timeline of major events and policies affecting immigrants and civil liberties

9/20/01 Detention Without Charge

Department of Justice issues interim regulation allowing detention without charge for 48 hours (or an additional “reasonable period of time”) in the event of emergency.

9/21/01 Secret Proceedings

Department of Justice instructs immigration judges to keep September 11-related bond and deportation hearings closed, allowing no visitors, family, or press and releasing no records or information about cases, including whether they are on the docket or scheduled for hearings.

10/26/01 PATRIOT Act

Bush signs the USA PATRIOT Act, which gives broad powers to conduct searches, use electronic surveillance, and detain suspected terrorists.

10/31/01 Indefinite Detention

Ashcroft issues an edict allowing INS to detain immigrants even after an immigration judge has ordered their release for lack of evidence. The measure, in effect, results in indefinite detention.

11/7/01 Terrorist Task Force

Bush announces the creation of the first Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force, which will deny entry, detain, prosecute, and deport anyone suspected of terrorist activity.

11/9/01 Questioning of 5,000 Men

Ashcroft orders the questioning of 5,000 men ages 18-33 who came from countries connected to al Qaeda. Although “voluntary,” investigators were instructed to check immigration status and hold those with immigration violations.

Bush issues an executive order creating military tribunals to try non-citizens alleged to be involved in terrorism.

11/13/01 Military Tribunals

11/16/01 No Names Released

DOJ declares that identities and locations of 9111 detainees will not be disclosed. By this time, it’s believed there are at least 1,200, mostly Arab and Muslim men.

11/19/01 Airport Screeners Targeted

FAA requires U.S. citizenship for airport security screeners. Out of 28,000 screeners nationwide, 10,000 are thought to be immigrants.

11/29/01 Snitch Visas

Ashcroft authorizes the use of S visas for those who provide information relating to terrorism.

12/01 Operation Tarmac

Operation Tarmac, a multi-agency sweep of airports nationwide, begins–resulting in more than 1,000 arrests and deportations of undocumented airport workers. In southern California, about 100 people were arrested, with 85 charged with document fraud. The government has since reduced most of the charges against workers to misdemeanors.

12/4/01 Senate Hearings

Senate holds hearings on 9/11 detainees. Ashcroft testifies that those who question his policies are “aiding and abetting terrorism,” and goes largely unchallenged.

12/5/01 Absconders Initiative

INS announces that it will send the names of 314,000 immigrants with outstanding orders of deportation to the FBI for inclusion in the National Crime Information Center database. Law enforcement agencies begin to pursue what will become known as the “Alien Absconders Apprehension Initiative”–eventually resulting in 758 arrests, according to the INS.

1/8/02 AAI Targets 6,000 Men

DOJ adds to the “Absconders Apprehension Initiative” the names of 6,000 men from countries suspected of connections to al-Qaeda.

2/02 No-Match Letters

Social Security Administration begins sending “no-match” letters to more than 750,000 employers, compared to 100,000 in previous years. Thousands of workers have lost jobs as a result.

2/4/02 Budget for War on Terrorism

Bush submits a budget proposal that would significantly slash domestic programs to divert funds to the war on terrorism. The proposal includes the largest defense spending increase in 20 years and significant funding for INS enforcement efforts.

2/8/02 Targeting Undocumented

DOJ memo instructs federal antiterrorism officials to apprehend and interrogate thousands of undocumented immigrants with deportation orders. The memo reportedly instructs federal agents to find a way to detain some of them for possible criminal charges.

2/25/02 Militarizing the Border

DOJ enters into agreement with the Department of Defense to provide 700 National Guard troops to assist the Border Patrol at the southern and northern borders.

3/02 Restricting Drivers’ Licenses

Congress and state legislatures begin considering measures to restrict immigrants’ access to drivers’ licenses.

3/19/02 Questioning of 3,000

DOJ announces interviews with 3,000 more Arabs and Muslims in the U.S. as visitors or students.

4/3/02 Police with INS Power

Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel issues an opinion that local law enforcement agencies have authority to enforce immigration laws.

4/25/02 INS Restructuring

The House passes an INS restructuring bill that would dismantle the agency.

6/5/02 INS Registration Requirement

Ashcroft announces a new requirement for certain non-immigrants deemed a national security risk to register and submit fingerprints and photographs upon arrival in the U.S., report to the INS at regular intervals, and notify an INS agent of their departure–with possible criminal prosecution for noncompliance.

6/5/02 Dept. of Homeland Security

Administration announces a proposal for a new Department of Homeland Security, which would combine the functions of multiple agencies in the largest government restructuring since the post-World War II era.

6/26/02 Enemy Combatants

Bush declares two U.S. citizens, Jose Padilla and Yassar Hamdi, “enemy combatants” who can be held until the end of the war on terrorism, without access to an attorney or to challenge their detention in federal court.

7/2/02 Florida Gives Police INS Powers

Florida becomes the first state to sign an agreement with the DOJ to allow state law enforcement officials to enforce immigration laws.

7/11/02 Sept. 11 Detainees Deported

DOJ announces that most of the detainees picked up as part of its investigations of September 11 have been released and many of them deported.

7/26/02 Notify INS of Address Change

Ashcroft proposes implementation of a 50-year-old requirement that foreigners alert the government within 10 days of changing addresses. Failing to register a change of address could result in deportation.

9/9/02 Colleges Turn Over Student Info

DOJ has asked more than 200 colleges to provide information on their Middle Eastern students.

9/11/02 “Special Registration” Begins

New registration requirements are put in effect for non-citizens from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, and Sudan.

11/26/02 Homeland Security Act

Bush signs Homeland Security Act, creating the cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security.

12/18/02 INS Registrants Jailed

Hundreds of Iranian and other Middle Eastern nationals were arrested and held in Southern California when they came forward to comply with registration requirements. Immigrant groups estimate more than 500 people are jailed in Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego.

1/10/03 More Nationalities Targeted

Registration deadline for men from North Korea, United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Afghanistan, and nine other countries. Two more rounds of registrations will follow with the goal of tracking most foreign nationals by 2005.

Sources: American Immigration Lawyer’s Association, Coalition of Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, La Raza Centro Legal

COPYRIGHT 2003 Color Lines Magazine

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