overhaul / undertow

Thursday, December 19, 2002

The US is now interning middle-eastern boys and men ages 16 and up.

Sounds impossible? Antiquated?

Sadly, despicably, disgustingly, no.

Here's the LA Times coverage: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-register19dec19,0,436924.story?coll=la%2Dhome%2Dheadlines

...and from the BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/2589317.stm

Plus coverage by indymedia sources: http://la.indymedia.org/#349

From the LA Times:

"These people came in voluntarily. They wanted to comply with the law. This is the worst violation of human rights."

Most of those detained posted bail, but now face deportation hearings.

Under the registration program, men who are required to register are photographed, fingerprinted and interviewed. Citizens of 13 other countries -- North Korea and 12 Middle Eastern and North African nations -- will be required to register by Jan. 10. Men from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan who are in the United States on temporary visas are required to register in February.

"If they were terrorists, they would not show up to the INS for the registration," said Babak Sotoodeh, a Santa Ana attorney who emigrated from Iran.

"We ran away from the Ayatollah and the [radical] Islam. We are very patriotic in the United States," Sotoodeh said. "Why are we being targeted? It's a total irony."

One attorney, who said he saw a 16-year-old pulled from the arms of his crying mother, called it madness to believe that the registration requirements would catch terrorists.

"His mother is 6 1/2 months pregnant. They told the mother he is never going to come home — she is losing her mind," said attorney Soheila Jonoubi, who spent Wednesday amid the chaos of the downtown INS office attempting to determine the status of her clients.

Jonoubi said that the mother has permanent residence status and that her husband, the boy's stepfather, is a U.S. citizen. The teenager came to the country in July on a student visa and was on track to gain permanent residence, the lawyer said.

Many objected to the treatment of those who showed up for the registration. INS ads on local Persian radio stations and in other ethnic media led many to expect a routine procedure. Instead, the registration quickly became the subject of fear as word spread that large numbers of men were being arrested.

Lawyers reported crowded cells with some clients forced to rest standing up, some shackled and moved to other locations in the night, frigid conditions in jail cells — all for men with no known criminal histories.

Shawn Sedaghat, a Sherman Oaks attorney, said he and his partner, Michelle Taheripour, represent more than 40 people who voluntarily went to register and were detained.

Some, he said, were hosed down with cold water before finding places to sleep on the concrete floors of cells.

"I came to this country over 40 years ago and got drafted in the Army, and I thought if I die it's for a good cause, defending freedom, democracy and the Constitution," said George Hassan, 65, from the San Fernando Valley.

"Oppressed people come here because of that democracy, that freedom, that Constitution. Now our president has apparently allowed the INS vigilantes to step outside the Constitution."


This is revolting.


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