An Inclusive Litany


Dan Eggen of the Washington Post, February 8, 2002, reports on a law-enforcement effort to arrest illegal immigrants who have ignored deportation orders. There are an estimated 314,000 such "absconders," and federal officials said they would initially focus on the approximately 6,000 who come from countries that are known to be al Qaeda strongholds, with imminent arrests of fewer than 1,000 from the Middle East and Pakistan, "who are believed to be the most dangerous because they are convicted felons."
The absconder program's initial focus on Middle Eastern nationals has renewed complaints from Arab American and civil liberties groups that the Bush administration is practicing racial profiling in its war on terrorism.

Khalil E. Jahshan, vice president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee here, said yesterday that information in the special terrorism database could be used to unfairly smear the reputations of innocent individuals.

"This whole path the government is taking is clearly a case of racial profiling," Jahshan said. "It's clearly a case of selective enforcement.... These half-baked methods seem totally isolated from a whole tradition of respect for civil liberties and civil rights in this country."

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