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AILA Statement On DOJ Registration Proposal
by American Immigration Lawyers Association

The American Immigration Lawyers Association strongly opposes the Department of Justiceís recently announced proposal that would require fingerprinting, photographing, and registering of nationals of certain countries. This measure is a false solution to a real problem. It offers little protection against terrorism while subjecting individuals who come to this country to a lengthy and complicated procedure that will not make us safer. In fact, it will subject innocent people to arrest and deportation for failure to report on time to the authorities. It also will waste precious resources because it would be applied to people who already have been screened and determined to be admissible to the United States.

Without consulting Congress, the Department of Justice has moved ahead on this ill-conceived plan that would rely on secret criteria and racial profiling, rather than on any accurate intelligence gathered on individuals. Reports indicate that Muslim and Arab nationals are to be targeted, thus stigmatizing these nationalities and negatively stereotyping these communities here and abroad.

America certainly needs to continue efforts to enhance our security. We have come to a fork in the road; this measure leads us down the wrong path. Immigration is not the problem, terrorism is. To defeat terrorism we need to follow the path blazed by the recently enacted Enhanced Border Security and Visa Reform Act which AILA helped to develop and strongly supports, and which President Bush signed into law less than one month ago. This new law will enhance our security while recognizing that we are a nation of immigrants, with due process protections and important economic considerations that mandate the continued flow of people and goods. Without a strong economy, we will be unable to fund our security needs.

The Enhanced Border Security and Visa Reform Act offers us the right path to enhance our security by harnessing our technological and intelligence capabilities. The Justice Departmentís proposed rule does not. Rather than focusing on implementing a law written for the 21st century, the Justice Department is diverting valuable resources to resurrect a failed 1940s policy. It offers nationality profiling, secret criteria, unfettered discretion of government officials, data bases that will yield little useful information, an ineffective use of resources, and possible reciprocal treatment of Americans by other countries.

The Justice Departmentís registration proposal is fundamentally flawed. The people who mean to do us harm will not participate in it and it will divert resources away from effective efforts to the creation of a huge database of useless information within which important intelligence will remain undiscovered. This measure also will chill relationships with the very communities with whom cooperation is being sought.

We strongly urge the Administration to abandon this regulation and work with Congress in thoughtful ways to enhance our security.

About The Author

Founded in 1946, American Immigration Lawyers Association is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that provides its Members with continuing legal education, information, and professional services. AILA advocates before Congress and the Administration and provides liaison with the INS and other government agencies in support of pro-immigration initiatives. AILA is an Affiliated Organization of the American Bar Association.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.