ANGER OVER INS ARRESTS
Jennifer Mena, Los Angeles Times, 12/18/02
In peaceful Irvine, where Iranians who fled the Ayatollah Khomeini
established a tight-knit community of professionals and young
families, the last thing anyone expected was to be tossed in jail.
On Tuesday -- the day after dozens of immigrants from Middle Eastern
countries and Sudan were taken into custody during a government
registration process -- residents like Ahmad Mesbah were filled with
sadness and anger.
"We suffered a lot, and that is why we are here. We love the United
States, so this has been frustrating," said Mesbah, who helps lead
monthly networking meetings for Iranian professionals. "There's also
something ironic about it. This affects the cream of the crop who
came here. We are scientists, doctors, engineers." The registration,
mandated for people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan and Syria who are
in the United States on temporary visas, led to the detention on
immigration violation charges of as many as several hundred, some
who had nearly completed the process for legal residency, friends
and relatives said.
The U.S. Department of Justice and the Immigration and
Naturalization Service refused to say how many people had been
apprehended in California or around the country in connection with
the registration process. Santa Ana police said as many as 40 people
detained at the INS center there were booked into the city jail
Monday. Police in Los Angeles could not provide an arrest figure.
But in Westwood, Irvine and other communities with large numbers of
Iranian immigrants, and on Persian-language local media, accounts of
detentions were widespread. Local attorneys and callers to radio
stations offered accounts of relatives', some of whom had not been
to their native countries since childhood, being jailed and placed
at risk of being deported.
As some scrambled to bail out jailed relatives, others sought ways
to pressure the government to change course. A lawsuit seeking an
injunction to halt the registration was filed in Santa Ana.
Persian-language radio stations buzzed with commentary. And an
Iranian attorney conducted a vigil outside the INS office in Los
"I have seen with my own eyes at least 450 people being detained
just yesterday [at the INS office in Los Angeles]. They handcuffed
them and walked them away," said attorney Soheila Jonoubi.
"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
DISCRIMINATORY SAMOAN POLICY WOULD BAN ARAB AMERICANS
WASHINGTON, Dec. 18 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Under current American Samoan
policy, Arab Americans including Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham,
OMB Director Mitch Daniels and Senator-Elect John Sununu are banned
from entering the island. On Aug. 7, American Samoan Attorney
General Fiti Sunia issued an alert denying entrance to all persons
of "Middle Eastern descent." Once more, the Attorney General cited
the U.S. State Department as the cause of this discriminatory
policy. The alert states, "because of reports from the U.S. State
Department, until further notice or written approval from the
Attorney General, American Samoa will no longer issue entry permits
to any individual of Middle Eastern Descent." The discriminatory
policy came to light after the Samoa News reported that a Samoan
citizen of Middle Eastern descent filed a lawsuit to force a repeal
of the policy.
The Samoan alert goes further, institutionalizing and outlining the
manner in which ethnic profiling should be used in order to keep all
persons of Middle Eastern descent, regardless of nationality, from
entering the island. It orders officials to "take special note of
arriving passengers and all other individuals seeking entry to the
territory for persons with middle eastern surnames and features."
CONTACT: Jenny Salan of Arab American Institute, 202-429-9210; E-
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