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  • Race Starts at the Nation’s Shore

    Filed at 10:31 am under by dcobranchi

    The next time somebody tells you that the federal government needs more power to protect us from terrorism (or cigarette smoke, or unsocialized homeschoolers, etc.), you can point to the plight of David Joseph, a Haitian refugee imprisoned by the United States Government for two years simply on account of his race:

    Mr. Joseph is a refugee from Haiti who is seeking asylum in the United States. He is not a terrorist, and no one has even suggested that he is a threat to anyone. And yet he’s been in federal custody for nearly two years.

    An immigration judge and the Board of Immigration Appeals have ruled that he should be freed on bond, pending a final ruling on his asylum request. But the attorney general of the United States, John Ashcroft, won’t let him go.

    Playing his ever-present, all-encompassing terrorism card, Mr. Ashcroft personally intervened in Mr. Joseph’s case, summarily blocking his release. According to the attorney general, releasing this young Haitian would tend to encourage mass migration from Haiti, and might exacerbate the potential danger to national security of nefarious aliens from Pakistan and elsewhere who might be inclined to use Haiti as a staging area for migration to the U.S . . .

    Senator [Arlen] Specter urged Mr. Ashcroft to consider a policy in which the Justice Department would address cases like Mr. Joseph’s on a less sweeping, “more individual” basis, which would enable officials to determine whether there was any real basis for concern about terrorism.

    Mr. Ashcroft was unmoved. He told Senator Specter: “Sometimes individual treatment is important. Sometimes it’s important to make a statement about groups of people that come.

    When the nation’s chief law enforcement officer stands before a congressional committee and states, without guilt, that racism is the official policy of the Justice Department, I think we have a serious problem.

    (Hat tip: Arthur Silber)

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