Immigration Lawyers as Freedom Fighters

Excellent article today about the immigration lawyers fighting to protect the rights of non-citizens in our post-9/11 world.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project has become a central player in the war on terrorism. Relying on appellate skills honed representing immigrant workers and refugees, director Lucas Guttentag and a small team of attorneys are taking a lead role in opposing some of the government's controversial anti-terrorism tactics against non-citizens....

The group's legal challenges to secret detentions, closed deportation hearings and the material witness statute have put it on the front line of a battle that it says stretches well beyond the boundaries of immigration law. And the effort has led the small group to beef up, nearly doubling to seven full-time attorneys and a handful of paralegals in the past year.

"Oftentimes immigrants are the first victims, or first targets, and that's been especially true since Sept. 11," says Guttentag."
Guttentag, like many others, forsees problems down the road for citizens as well. He cites the treatment of Hamdi and Padilla, both of whom are U.S. citizens, yet are being detained by the military without access to lawyers even though no charges have been filed against them.
The principle of detaining U.S. citizens without any judicial process takes us a huge step closer to Japanese-American internment than we were before," says Guttentag. "Before 9-11 I think everybody would have said there's no way that that could happen again today. And now in this climate, it's much easier to understand how a government could take steps that would be the equivalent of Japanese-American internment. And how the public without sufficient vigilance can let it happen by default."
We can't say we haven't been warned.

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