Editorial: Fear of the 'enemy' masks the danger withinIn these troubled times, Green Party and coalition activism was able to secure a major victory in San Diego: the INS has released all lawful immigrants and allowed them to return to their families on Christmas.
by Karine Megerdoomian
As we were going to publication on the January issue of Green Focus, we received news of an estimated 500 to 2,000 Middle Eastern immigrants who had been detained in California by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), when male visa holders ages 16 and older from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan and Syria were asked to report to immigration offices to be fingerprinted and photographed. In Los Angeles alone, over 700 men were handcuffed and detained simply because INS did not have enough personnel to handle all cases. In fact, most had been awaiting the processing of their visa renewals and residency applications and were detained because of the failure of the INS to process their adjustment of visa status in a timely fashion.
On Wednesday, December 18, the LA Greens joined thousands of Iranian-Americans in a protest outside the federal building in Los Angeles. In San Diego, the Green Party formed a coalition with local immigrant rights, social justice and community groups, issuing a press release condemning the INS actions and organizing a press conference in front of the INS building. Representatives of various community groups and immigration lawyers met with INS in Los Angeles and San Diego and demanded that bond hearings take place immediately for the innocent detainees.
Thanks to the efforts of organizers and participants, INS has released all lawful immigrants allowing them to return to their families on Christmas, marking a victory for the political groups that organized united actions. In addition, INS has promised to add staff for the January 10 registration deadline, when the second group of immigrants from 13 additional (mostly Arab) countries is to report to INS offices.
The INS targeted people for differential treatment, including incarceration, based solely on their ethnicity and national origin. "This action threatens the rights of all Americans, said Sara Amir, Green Party spokesperson and an Iranian-American herself. "This massive escalation by Attorney General John Ashcroft is arbitrary and discriminatory. It is important to note, however, that INS actions are part of a larger context of the War on Terrorism where in the name of national security, civil liberties and constitutional rights of immigrants as well as those of citizens are being curtailed every day. With the passage of the Patriot Act and the Homeland Security Act in Congress, with virtually no opposition from the Democratic Party and almost no media coverage or public debate, we are headed towards recreating the atmosphere that allowed the FBI to spy on dissenters and activists in the late 50s.
In a striking parallel to the McCarthy era, the government tries to make the general public fearful of the enemy, in this instance terrorists. The frightened and angry public is then ready to take drastic actions against them and concedes to the enemys imprisonment at home and military action abroad. While the hysteria of the war on terrorism keeps growing, our duty is to provide the public debate missing in our newspapers and Congress, and we should ask ourselves whether our freedoms were the problem?
Being a citizen these days can encompass many acts during the course of a week. With the help of many people, we were able to affect thousands of lives for the better, and still produce this, the second issue of the Green Focus newspaper, as a forum for discussion of issues, communication of statewide actions and an outlet for analysis of news with a Green perspective. There is no better method to effectively safeguard our freedoms than to be informed citizens. We hope you subscribe and submit your articlesits a great way to support both the statewide newspaper and the Green Party of California.
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