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The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

Oppose Graham Amendment #3 to S. 744, Regarding Arbitrary “Additional Security Screening” for RPI Applicants

Advocacy Letter - 05/20/13

Source: The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Recipient: Patrick Leahy and Charles Grassley


The Honorable Patrick Leahy, Chairman
Committee on the Judiciary
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Charles Grassley, Ranking Member
Committee on the Judiciary
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Leahy and Ranking Member Grassley:

On behalf of the undersigned organizations, we urge you to oppose Senator Graham’s amendment #3 to S. 744. This amendment would add a new requirement that Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) applicants be subject to additional screening if they are or were citizens or long-term residents of countries that have posed national security concerns. Graham amendment #3 is unnecessary, unworkable, and poses a serious threat to the civil rights of many of the people the RPI provisions in S. 744 are trying to help. The legalization process established in Section 2101 already includes wholly adequate security screening requirements, including the collection of biometric data and national security and law enforcement background checks.

In addition, it is not clear what “additional security screening” steps would be required under Graham amendment #3. More importantly, it is also unclear – with growing global mobility, and in light of continuing demographic shifts throughout the world – why RPI applicants from only some countries and not others would be subject to additional screening based solely on national origin, or how such an arbitrary approach would enhance our national security.

Graham amendment #3 seems to do little more than revive the failed approach taken by the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), in which nonimmigrants from countries designated as national security concerns were subject to special screening. NSEERS was widely discredited, as it resulted in unjust racial and ethnic profiling of individuals from mainly Muslim, Arab, Middle Eastern and South Asian communities. While NSEERS resulted in the detention and deportation of thousands of people, i it cost $10 million annually and failed to result in any successful counter-terrorism prosecutions. The Department’s Inspector General reported that the program was inefficient and burdensome. ii There is no reason to believe that the approach in Graham amendment #3 would be any more successful in rooting out national security threats.

Instead, additional screening requirements such as those proposed in Graham amendment #3 would only add to bureaucratic workloads. It will make the Department of Homeland Security less able to focus on actual threats and respond to actual national security concerns.

For these reasons, we urge you to oppose Graham amendment #3. If you have any questions, please contact Rob Randhava, Senior Counsel, at (202) 466-6058 or randhava@civilrights.org.

Sincerely,

American Civil Liberties Union
Asian Pacific American Legal Center
Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council
Arab American Institute
Detention Watch Network
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
NAACP
National Council of La Raza (NCLR)
National Guestworker Alliance
National Immigration Forum
National Immigrant Justice Center
The New American Leaders Project
OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates
Open Society Policy Center
Rights Working Group
SEIU
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)

Notes

i See, for example: Rights Working Group and Penn State Law, “The NSEERS Effect: A Decade of Racial Profiling, Fear, and Secrecy,” (May 2012), available at: http://www.rightsworkinggroup.org/sites/default/files/RWGPenn_NSEERSReport_060412.pdf.

ii Department of Homeland Security, Office of the Inspector General, “Information Sharing on Foreign Nationals: Border Security (Redacted)” (Washington, 2012), available at:http://www.oig.dhs.gov/assets/Mgmt/2012/OIGr_12- 39_Feb12.pdf.

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