Cornyn Immigration Amendment Would Rely on Secret Evidence

Action Alert just received by e-mail from the Anti-Arab Discrimination Committee:

Cornyn Amendment Would Allow Use of Secret Evidence

Thursday, May 24, 2007…Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) has introduced an amendment (#1148) to the on-going immigration debate that would deny lawful permanent residents the opportunity to become U.S. citizens based on secret evidence.

....Senators are voting on this amendment as early as 12:15 EST. As this late breaking amendment has just been added and will be voted on very shortly, we are asking everyone to call rather than email their senate offices. The US Capitol operator is (202) 224-3121.

The details:

  • Cornyn’s Amendment denies lawful permanent residents the opportunity to become U.S. citizens based on secret evidence:
  • This amendment gives the Attorney General unreviewable discretion to use secret evidence to determine if an alien is ‘described in’ the national security exclusions within immigration law.
  • A person applying for naturalization could have her application denied and she would never know the reason for the denial.


  • For example, if a lawful permanent resident was giving money for Tsunami relief and accidentally gave money to a charity controlled by the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, then that person could be denied citizenship on the basis of secret evidence and there would be no review in the courts.
  • In sum, it allows deportations based on the unreviewable determination by executive branch that a person lacks "good moral character"; determinations can be made based on secret evidence that the person cannot even see let alone challenge.


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  • Display: Sort:
    this is unacceptable (none / 0) (#1)
    by orionATL on Thu May 24, 2007 at 12:27:51 PM EST
    and unforgivable.

    what the hell is going on in washington?

    has this cohort of republican congressmen forgotten we have a 200+ year old tradition in this country of limiting the powers of government, especially "secret" powers,  vis-a-vis individuals?

    Why do Conservatives hate our American traditions? (none / 0) (#3)
    by Molly Bloom on Thu May 24, 2007 at 12:47:10 PM EST
    Wow. (none / 0) (#2)
    by Gabriel Malor on Thu May 24, 2007 at 12:46:16 PM EST
    If true, that sounds just horrible. Unfortunately, I cannot get to the text of the Amendment which is described as a bar for felons, gang members, terrorists, and violators of prior orders of removal from relief under the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act.

    Of course, my search was made more difficult by the fact that the ADC above list the wrong amendment number. It's #1184, FYI.

    I doubt very much that the need for secret evidence is all that great in adjustment or naturalization cases. So, I would definitely oppose that portion of Cornyn's amendment. But I wholeheartedly support denying relief for felons, and those who have been removed once but entered without inspection a second time.

    Also, the ADC's list of examples is not as horrifying as they'd like to make it.

    They write that a person giving money to the Tamil Tigers could have their naturalization denied on the basis of "secret evidence," but it is highly unlikely that the any secret evidence will be necessary. We already deny folks who've given money to terrorists--it's not all that uncommon to have clients associated with the Tigers at my firm--and DHS has no need of secret evidence to find out about it.

    Furthermore, determinations of good moral character already exist at the discretion of the interviewing officer or the IJ. So this amendment has no change from the current state of affairs, except for the fact that such determinations could be made without the person being able to challenge them. Well, such determinations are already unreviewable under INA § 242. Again, no change.

    Gabe (none / 0) (#4)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu May 24, 2007 at 12:58:23 PM EST
    Whatsa' matter, you don't blindly parrot nor accept at face value whatever the Anti-Arab Discrimination Committee says? Instead you try to apply knowledge and facts about he issue?

    Why do you hate our American traditions?


    tamil tigers (none / 0) (#5)
    by orionATL on Thu May 24, 2007 at 04:35:55 PM EST
    gabriel malor

    thanks for the comment.

    i consider it thoughtful and based on personal experience that most of us commenters here have never had.

    as for the tamil tigers,

    i haven't heard much of these guys in the american press

    but i have followed the murderous career of prabacharan (?) for a couple of decades.

    from your comment, i'd  guess you're not in canada.

    Nicely said orion. (none / 0) (#6)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri May 25, 2007 at 05:30:07 PM EST
    So the text is finally available (none / 0) (#7)
    by Gabriel Malor on Fri May 25, 2007 at 07:09:56 PM EST
    The "secret evidence" portion of the amendment which has really freaked out the ADC is only one part of the amendment which also adds certain firearm offenses, crimes of domestic violence, stalking, or violation of protective orders, and offenses against children to the acts which would render a person inadmissible to the U.S. It also makes aliens who commit social security fraud removeable.

    The part that has the Anti-Arab Discrimination Committee all worried is entitled "Terrorist Bar to Good Moral Character." It would amend the current definition of Good Moral Character (which is a requirement for naturalization) to include the following:

    No person shall be regarded as, or found to be, a person of good moral character who, during the period for which good moral character is required to be established is, or was one who the Secretary of Homeland Security or the Attorney General determines, in the unreviewable discretion of the Secretary or the Attorney General, to have been at any time an alien described in section 212(a)(3) or 237(a)(4) [listing terrorism offenses which render a person inadmissible or removeable], which determination may be based upon any relevant information or evidence, including classified, sensitive, or national security information; and shall be binding upon any court regardless of the applicable standard of review.

    The first contentious part is the fact that the discretion of the AG is unreviewable (although, as I said, that is already the case under current law) and the fact that "classified, sensitive, or national security information" can be used to make that determination.

    And now, it's time to see the new Pirates movie!