Thursday, October 07, 2004
There is an article in the Daily Star about the FBI and Homeland Security's plan to step up "aggressive surveilance" of Arab and Muslim Americans leading up to the election, what they are calling the "October Plan."
[T]he initiative will include "aggressive - even obvious - surveillance" of individuals "suspected of being terrorist sympathizers, but who have not committed a crime."... Furthermore, "other 'persons of interest,' including their family members, may also be brought in for questioning," and "mosques will be revisited and members asked whether they've observed any suspicious behavior."So even though the program that required registration with Homeland Security (not Immigration, but Homeland Security) based solely on one's national origin was discontinued, it is now going to be used to "protect" us from terrorism. As one might imagine, the Arab American Institute, as well as other Arab and Muslim American and civil rights groups, are none too pleased about this "October Plan."
Additional reports suggest that the DHS component of this initiative will include a massive immigration sweep in major metropolitan areas with the purpose of detaining those who are "out of status." DHS's Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will concentrate its efforts on individuals who had to report as part of the Student Visitor Information System (SEVIS), the National Security Entry/Exit Registration System (NSEERS), and the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology Program (U.S. VISIT). It should be noted that NSEERS, or Special Registration, required citizens from 24 Arab and Muslim countries and North Korea to register with immigration authorities. The national origin based program was suspended by DHS in December 2003.
"We oppose ICE's use of selective enforcement at this time. While doing little to prevent terrorism, these tactics will further alienate Arab and Muslim Americans, the very people with whom law enforcement needs to build trust," said James Zogby, President of the AAI. "We are also concerned, given the pre-election nature of this initiative, that these tactics may have a chilling effect on the participation of some segments of the Arab American and American Muslim communities in the coming election," he added.