Last Updated: January 11, 2003 - 5:00 pm PST
Just Updated! January 13, 2003Footage of Tom Ammiano, Jeff Adachi and Ai Mara and Marc Van Der Hout from January 10th rally.
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Footage from the December 23, 2002 Protest in San Francisco
In the last several weeks, hundreds of immigrants of Middle-Eastern origin were detained in federal prisons around the country as they tried to comply with a new immigration requirement to register with the INS.
Up to one fourth of those who came to register voluntarily were arrested. Most of the detainees in the Bay area have been taken to a federal prison in the San Diego area where they are held without a hearing or access to an attorney.
The detainees, who represent wide segments of society such as business owners, scientists, and engineers, were handcuffed and shackled as they were transported across several western states before they ended up in San Diego.
There were several reports of inhumane detention conditions such as the collection of 17-40 people in a freezing 8-by-10 cell with one toilet and two pieces of paper each for "hygienic" purposes. One detainee was told to drink from the toilet after he asked for water.
The INS, by its own admission, did not have sufficient resources in place to process all the people who tried to comply with its call for registration. And, in a twisted bit of logic, instead of asking those who came forward voluntarily to return on a later date when more resources would be available, the agency incarcerated them, in an action reminiscent of the way Japanese Americans were detained in this country after Pearl Harbor.
Such treatment is clearly inhumane and violates the most basic civil and human rights guaranteed to both citizens and non-citizens according the US constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is not acceptable for the government to incarcerate people in order to investigate them. Such detentions are highly disruptive of the lives of the detainees and may cost some of them their jobs or their means of livelihood. This is in addition to the emotional and psychological stress it places on the detainees and their families.
Our security is not enhanced by the targeting of innocent people who report voluntarily to the authorities. This is has resulted in a chilling effect on the cooperation of law-abiding, concerned citizens and immigrants with federal agencies as these agencies are increasingly being seen as over-zealous and, in many cases, all too willing to violate the civil and human rights of the people they come in contact with.
We (an adhoc group of concerned citizens who are affiliated with a number of different organizations) are calling on all citizens to show their concern about such assaults on civil and human rights by calling and emailing the White House and their representatives in Congress and asking for:
We must make it clear to the US government that we will not stand by as special registrations single out sections of the population for special categorization, detentions, and further erosion of the very freedoms they are claiming to protect. Acts such as the special registration program and dententions are illegitimate uses of power and do nothing to increase anyone¹s safety. We call on all people who live in this country to show their concern about such assaults on civil and human rights, and to stand in unity with Arabs, Muslims, and other immigrants in this country who have come under attack.
National anti-war organizations, civil rights advocates and immigrant rights groups are joining together in response to the unjust special registration program and the subsequent detentions of Arab and Muslim visitors and immigrants.
From January 6-10, 2003, people will be at the INS offices in San Francisco every day of the week to declare opposition to this special registration program with their presence at the INS offices in San Francisco.
The week will culminate with a large press conference and rally on Friday, January 10th at 1:30pm in front of the INS offices, to protest events that have been all too reminiscent of the World War II era which led to the historically unjust incarceration of Japanese and Japanese Americans whose only crime was their ancestry.