New Immigration Legislation Would Divide and Devastate Families

In 1996, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) introduced the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), a draconian piece of legislation that stripped immigration judges of the ability to determine whether a person should be allowed to remain, and permitted the indefinite detention of immigrants whose governments refused to issue travel documents.

The Supreme Court struck indefinite detention down as an affront to liberty in Zadvydas v. Davis stating, “Freedom from imprisonment – from government custody, detention, or other forms of physical restraint – lies at the heart of the liberty [the due process] clause protects.”


A Week in Politics

"Congress"As the dust settles on the midterm election we thought it might be useful to take a moment to assess what implications the results have for the Counter Terror with Justice (CTWJ) campaign.

Economic woes dominated election stump speeches and national security issues were surprisingly little addressed by either main party. However, the changed political landscape is going to have a real impact on our issues.

The likely accession of Lamar Smith (R-Texas) to the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee is going to present further obstacles to the administration’s attempts to close the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay. Smith took the opportunity in his first press statement after the election to pledge that keeping the prison open for business would be one of his top priorities for the coming session.

Republican staffers on the Senate Select Intelligence Committee have already begun to investigate the security regimes under which former GTMO detainees cleared for release are currently living in the European countries that stepped forward to offer them sanctuary. We can expect to see security concerns raised in an effort to block the further release of cleared detainees.

Another troubling outcome of the vote was the election to the House of Representatives of Allen West (R-Florida) whose war record in Iraq one would have thought would have disqualified him from office. In August 2003 Lt. Col. West stood by and watched his men beat up an Iraqi suspect, Yehiya Kadoori Hamoodi. He then threatened to kill Hamoodi, drawing his own handgun and discharging it next to the prisoner’s head.