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U.S. Muslims hope for better days, but one report indicates these could still be far off

Photo by sadaqah/Flickr (Creative Commons)

In recent days, since the announcement of the death of Osama bin Laden, Muslims around the country have expressed hope that the pall of suspicion they have lived under since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 will dissipate. But that day is a long way off, a new report alleges.

The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund and New York University School of Law's Center for Human Rights and Global Justice has released a briefing paper alleging that since 9/11, Muslims continue to be targets of discriminatory immigration practices via the recently discontinued National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), the naturalization process, the immigrant detention system and racial profiling at U.S. borders. An excerpt:

The charges brought against Muslim immigrants are almost always ordinary immigration violations. Unlike ordinary immigration proceedings, however, the government often insinuates the immigrant’s involvement in some sort of terrorist activity, without providing either the basis or the evidence for its allegations. The low evidentiary standards of the immigration system permit the government to make these accusations without proof, which they would not be able to do in a criminal trial.

Among other things, the report alleges, some Muslim immigrants facing deportation tend to be held longer in immigrant detention:
...thousands continue to be detained by immigration authorities for weeks—and even months—after an Immigration Judge has ordered them removed or released from detention based on a government procedure called a “Third Agency Check.” Under the Third Agency Check process, all immigration detainees who are nationals of “special interest countries” are continuously detained by ICE until they are cleared by other intelligence agencies. While the government has not publicly released a list of “special interest countries” for the Third Agency Check procedure, media reports in other contexts suggest they are almost all Muslim-majority countries.

The report details a few case studies. A post on Monday listed some of the major ways in which the 9/11 attacks influenced immigration and national security policies, including the quick passage of the Patriot Act, legislation that expanded the federal government’s ability to conduct surveillance on Americans, long been criticized by Muslim and other civil rights groups.

A 2003 report from the Migration Policy Institute examined the challenge of balancing civil liberties with post-9/11 security interests.