Secret Evidence Creeps Back into Senate Immigration Debate

Washington, DC | June 27, 2007 | | The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is concerned about new developments in the Senate’s debate on immigration, including the possibility of inserting language supporting secret evidence in the bill. Yesterday, the US Senate voted to resume debate on the bill and a series of amendments will be offered to S. 1639 beginning Wednesday morning. ADC remains very concerned that several senators will offer language that will further erode individual due process rights. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is offering an amendment that would turn local and state law enforcement officials into immigration officers; further, it would give the Attorney General unchecked power to use secret evidence to deny lawful permanent residents the chance to become citizens. This issue is of vital importance to the Arab-American community.
Last month, Senator Cornyn offered a similar amendment to the immigration debate which included the use of secret evidence. Thousands of phone calls from ADC members to the Senate ensured that Cornyn‘s amendment was voted down. ADC asks its members and supporters to once again call both of their senators immediately asking them to oppose the Graham “Side-by-Side” Amendment.
As this late breaking amendment has just been added and we are uncertain of when it will be voted on, ADC asks its members to call rather than email their senate offices. Simply tell the congressional aide that answers the phone that you oppose the Graham “Side-by-Side” Amendment. Additional talking points are provided below by the Rights Working Group, which ADC is a founding member.
The US Capitol operator number is (202) 224-3121.
Find out who represents you in the US Senate: . Keep in mind that each state has two senators and be sure to call both offices.
Oppose the Graham Side-by-Side
-The amendment gives the Attorney General unchecked power to use secret evidence to deny lawful permanent residents the chance to become citizens. As a nation, we should be encouraging legal permanent residents to become citizens, and should ensure that the process to do so is a fair one. Instead, this amendment would allow a person‘s naturalization case to be denied based on secret evidence. Not only would there be no requirement of a conviction of any wrong-doing, but the person would not be able to see the evidence against them, let alone challenge it.
-The Graham amendment turns state and local police into immigration officers and would place civil immigration law violators into a criminal database for arrest by state and local police.
-This amendment is not necessary to combat crime and terrorism as claimed by its supporters. Under existing law, DHS already has complete authority to share information about criminal investigations and national security operations with state and local police, whether the suspect is native or foreign-born.
-The amendment gives an overwhelmed and badly resourced agency, USCIS, the unfettered power to erroneously deny U.S. citizenship to thousands of citizens-in-waiting based solely on an immigration adjudicator‘s opinion on the lack of good moral character of the applicant.
-The amendment restricts judicial review for citizenship applicants.

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