ADC Stunned by Supreme Court Attack on Immigrants’ Rights

Washington, DC, Feb. 24 — The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is deeply disappointed by today’s Supreme Court ruling authorizing the government to practice selective enforcement of the law in deportation cases. The court ruled on ADC v. Reno, also known as the “LA 8” case, in which 7 Palestinians and a Kenyan faced deportation because of their political beliefs. The Clinton administration had argued that the Court should block immigrants from access to District Courts, the only viable forum for asserting constitutional rights, during deportation proceedings. The Court sided with the government and barred access to District Courts to immigrants facing deportation, a serious blow to civil liberties and the principle of equal justice.
But the Court went further. Even though, as Justice Souter pointed out in his dissent, the Court had not been briefed on the issue, it ruled that immigrants can almost never use a selective enforcement argument in deportation cases. On the contrary, it has authorized the government to use selective enforcement in deportation cases as it sees fit, ruling that “The Executive should not have to disclose its ‘real’ reasons for deeming nationals of a particular country a special threat – or indeed for simply wishing to antagonize a particular foreign country by focusing on that country’s nationals …” Given the Supreme Court’s ruling, which grants excessive powers to the Executive, it will now be up to the Legislature to set in motion a corrective process.
Professor David Cole, who argued the case on behalf of ADC said “We were blind-sided. The court has effectively denied to all immigrants in this country the right to engage in the same political activities that citizens have an unquestioned 1st Amendment right to engage in, and they did so after telling us not to address that issue.” Michel Shehadeh, one of the LA 8, said that “We’ve been fighting this for 12 years, and we are not going to give up now. Now our community is leading the fight for immigrant rights and civil liberties in this country. This is not personal, this a fight to make this country a better place.”
ADC Chair Naila Asali said that “This case is not just about civil liberties, but human rights to which the United States government is committed and which it is promoting around the world. There is no justification for restricting these rights here at home.”

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