In the wake of the unspeakable tragedies which have befallen our glorious nation, Attorney General John Ashcroft has announced sweeping new immigration legislation which will in one way or another, affect you.
At present, our nation is faced with the cumbersome task of “ratcheting-up” immigration laws to prevent terrorists and their supporters from remaining in or coming to the United States while at the same time, providing those who are entitled to it, due process of law. In this time of international crisis, our law enforcement officers will take their jobs ever the more seriously. They must. This includes, of course, officers and agents of the INS and the United States Department of State. The newly proposed immigration laws, while obviously well-intentioned, are likely to have significant effects on you and your family members, whether here or abroad.
Understandably, Congress recently approved an emergency expansion of immigration detention provisions which now allow the government to detain those suspected of terrorist activities for indefinite periods of time. Congress is now considering a proposal which would allow these same suspects, upon certification from the Attorney General, to be deported without a hearing. Persons who may be detained would also include those who have been found to have supported the lawful activities of an organization that advocated the use of force against person or property. In the alternative, persons may be denied entry to the United States if they are suspected of aiding groups that our government considers to endorse terrorism.
Under the law as we now know it, the government is only allowed to institute the process of “expedited” or “administrative removal”, against persons who are not lawful permanent residents of the United States. The proposed legislation would expand expedited removal to permanent residents. This expedited removal would take place without the presentation of evidence and without a hearing before the court. It would be performed by INS officers upon certification from the Attorney General. There would be no direct appeal, other than review by a federal district court in Washington, D.C.. Put simply, immediate removal from the United States would follow.
Even tasks as routine as adjustment of status based upon marriage to a United States citizen, or consular processing the cases of your children or parents, will be more scrutinized. Investigations will be more common. Processing times will increase. Student visas will be more difficult to come by. Persons who have overstayed their tourist visas will draw attention from the INS.
The newly proposed immigration laws do not apply to citizens of the United States. Therefore, if you are eligible, and before you or one of your loved ones is indefinitely detained, removed from the United States without a hearing or denied entry to the United States, we encourage you to pursue citizenship in the United States.