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America Still a Nation of Immigrants, Leaders Remind us of our Heritage
by The American Immigration Law Foundation

For Americans, the terrorist attacks of September 11 will forever alter our perception of safety and freedom. As many people struggle to understand these horrific events, some wrongly direct their anger and fear towards immigrants. To their credit, national leaders are encouraging Americans to unite and extend a hand of friendship to all.

"I ask you to uphold the values of America, and remember why so many have come here. We are in a fight for our principles, and our first responsibility is to live by them. No one should be singled out for unfair treatment or unkind words because of their ethnic background or religious faith."

President George W. Bush, address to Congress, September 20, 2001

"Nobody should attack anyone else for racial, religious, ethnic reasons or any other reasons. That's what we're dealing with right now. We're dealing with the insane, sick hatred of people for another group of people because they fit into some kind of group mentality. It would be really horrible if New York has practiced any form of that"

New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani

"We must stand against the broad-based tactic of racial profiling, particularly of Arab-Americans during this time of national turmoil. If we fail to do so, then we will have seriously undermined freedom; the same principle we find ourselves vigorously defending in the wake of the attacks."

Representative John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), The Detroit News, September 30, 2001

"As we seek to eliminate the criminal element, we should remember that
the overwhelming majority of our immigrants are here for the right
reasons: to work hard, raise families and enjoy the American way of life."
--Senator Bill Frist (R-TN), The Tennessean, September 18, 2001

"The Senate declares that in the quest to identify, bring to justice, and punish the perpetrators and sponsors of the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, that the civil rights and civil liberties of all Americans, including Arab-Americans and American Muslims, should be protected; and condemns any acts of violence or discrimination against any Americans..."

U.S. Senate Resolution

"There are going to be some who try to move us in a direction of isolationism. I find that very troubling and I will do everything I possibly can to counter that. The society we have of openness must be continued."

Representative David Dreier (R-San Dimas), New York Times, September 18, 2001

"I know that the American Muslim and Arab communities share the nation's horror and outrage over yesterday's terrorist attacks. They have issued strong statements unequivocally condemning these vicious atrocities and expressing their condolences to the families of the innocent people killed. In the aftermath of these shameful attacks, there is understandable anger across the nation. But it is wrong and irresponsible to jump to conclusions and make false accusations against Arabs and Muslims in our communities. Above all, we must guard against any acts of violence based on such bigotry. America's ideals are under attack too, and we must do all we can to uphold them at this difficult time."

Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Ma)

"I urge our nation must be mindful that there are thousands of Arab Americans who live in New York City who love their flag just as much as [we] do. And we must be mindful that as we seek to win the war that we treat Arab-Americans and Muslims with the respect they deserve."

President George W. Bush

"Just as this horrendous act can destroy us from without, it can also destroy us from within. Pearl Harbor led to internment camps of Japanese-Americans, and today there is a very real danger that this tragedy could result in prejudice, discrimination, and crimes of hate against Arab-Americans and others. The lesson Oklahoma City taught us was the perpetrators of these acts of terror can be evil men of every race, nationality and religion as are the victims. We must ensure that these acts of terror do not slowly and subversively destroy the foundation of our democracy: a commitment to equal rights and equal protection."

Representative John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI)

Prepared, September 2001

About The Author

The American Immigration Law Foundation was established in 1987 as a tax-exempt, not-for-profit educational and service organization. The Foundation's mission is to promote understanding among the general public of immigration law and policy, through education, policy analysis, and support to litigators. AILF is governed by a Board of Directors and a Board of Trustees.

Working closely with leading immigration experts throughout the country, AILF has established three core program areas: the Legal Action Center, the Public Education Program, and an Exchange Visitor Program. Through these programs, the Foundation sponsors numerous awards programs, publishes policy reports, engages in impact litigation, and provides policymakers and the public with complete and accurate information about the benefits of immigration.