There is consensus that the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII was legally and morally wrong. However, we now witness our government committing another major assault on the same basic principle of human rights.
Estimates of 700 male immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan or Syria were arrested and detained during the week of December 15th in California when they showed up at local Immigration and Naturalization Service offices in compliance with the INS‘ new mandatory registration program. These men over the age of 16 who responded to the summons in good faith were summarily arrested and thrown together into crowded detention facilities. Many had only technical visa difficulties, some of which were the result of delays in paper-work processing by the INS.
By Wednesday, the jails in southern California were overflowing. Initially names were not being released, detainees were denied access to attorneys and phone calls; and mothers, wives and sisters were left without knowing what became of their male family members and/or when they would be released. By the end of Thursday, only due to mass protests in Los Angeles from the largest Iranian community in the country and the intervention by progressive legal groups, bonds were set for many of the detainees.
Rather than looking for “needles,“ it appears the United States government is just creating more “haystacks“ with its overbroad, ineffective and discriminatory policy of assuming that all Arabic males are potential “terrorists.“ Does the government really think that real terrorists are going to register at an INS office? In one respect laughable, it is yet absolutely crucial that such actions be met with immediate and broad resistance before the “pitchfork“ is aimed at the rest of us.
Marian Kromkowski Suttons Bay