Release detainees in US jails
Khalid Musa, a 23-year-old Australian citizen, originally from Saudi Arabia, came to the United States last summer to see relatives and earn a few dollars. Instead, he was arrested on October 4 as part of a roundup of foreigners, mostly of Arab or South Asian descent, blamed for the September 11 attacks. Many of the 1100 arrested last fall have been released or deported, but the US Justice Department says about 326 remain in custody. Most are in New Jersey jails, charged with immigration violations. Some had to stage hunger strikes before immigration officials granted them more space for communal prayer meetings and halal food on religious holidays. Khalid Musa's "crime" was staying in the US beyond the 90 days permitted under a waiver program that admits people from certain countries without requiring a visa. Cleared by the FBI in November, he remains in jail on immigration charges. In mid-February, his lawyer sued to get him deported. Musa was supposed to be put on a plane soon as travel arrangements are made and his belongings retrieved, but that had not happened by mid-March. The US Government has taken advantage of the secrecy and indefinite suspensions permitted under the much looser immigration law, instead of the more rigorous provisions of criminal law. It often refuses to release detainees' names, countries of origin, or what they were charged with. Such detentions may be "legal", but they have nothing to do with justice or "fighting terrorism". It would be more accurate to consider these detentions part of an unjust, racist war against immigrants, and against human rights and democracy. As long at the United States continues with such policies, its pose as the defender of "civilised values" is nothing but a smokescreen for its true role as the world's leading imperialist bully.
* * *People's Voice, Canada's leading Communist newspaper