RealNews

Groups Fault Rule on Automatic Detention

The Bush administration’s decision to detain people from Iraq and 32 other countries who are seeking political asylum in the United States has raised concerns among United Nations officials and immigration groups, who say such blanket detentions may violate international norms and could undercut America’s traditional role as a beacon for the oppressed. Homeland Security Department officials said that the decision, made right before the war in Iraq, was a precaution to keep terrorists from slipping into the United States, the latest in a series of steps to tighten monitoring of foreigners since the Sept. 11 attacks. They pointed to several cases in which terrorists came to this country through asylum applications, particularly Omar Abdel Rahman, the Egyptian sheik who was convicted in 1995 of conspiring to blow up the United Nations headquarters and other landmarks in New York. But critics, including some former top immigration officials, say they fear that policies governing asylum in the United States, the world’s most powerful magnet for refugees, are being weakened in the administration’s move to treat immigration as more of a national security issue than a social and demographic one. Full Story

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