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ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE ACLU Denounces INS Detention of Chinese Boat People and Mounting Hysteria Against Immigrants For IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 10, 1993 NEW YORK -- The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) joined other immigrants' rights organizations today in denouncing the Immigration and Naturalization Service's (INS) detention of more than 200 Chinese immigrants who arrived in New York by boat this past Sunday after a grueling 100-day voyage. In addition, the ACLU denounced the INS and others for using the incident to whip up anti-immigrant hysteria and for denying the immigrants their basic legal rights. "The INS has arrested and jailed these individuals, denied them access to attorneys and others who seek to help them, and most recently, has transferred them to more remote detention centers where they will face even greater obstacles obtaining the legal assistance to which they are entitled," said Judy Rabinovitz, staff counsel for the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project. Under current INS policy, individuals with credible claims to asylum are supposed to be released from detention while they pursue their claims. But INS has decided to arrest and detain the 250 Chinese boat people to serve as an example to others. Ms. Rabinovitz described her own efforts to obtain access to detainees being held at the Service's Varick Street detention center before they were transferred to detention facilities in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland. "We wanted to speak with the detainees before they were moved out of New York," Ms. Rabinovitz explained. "But when we arrived at Varick Street on Monday night, June 7th, we were denied entry. First we were told to present `bar cards' -- something I have never been asked to do in all my years of visiting detainees at Varick Street. Indeed, to my knowledge such cards don't even exist. Then we were told that we would need to provide names of specific detainees. Then, when we did provide names, we were simply told that attorneys were not being allowed." Ms. Rabinovitz later questioned INS Assistant District Director Edward McElroy about this policy, only to be told that INS was protecting the detainees from unwelcome visits by attorneys. "Yet while we were being denied entry, several of the detainees were being interviewed by television cameras without ever having had the opportunity to consult with counsel," Ms. Rabinovitz said. Ms. Rabinovitz also charged the INS and others with manipulating the recent incident to foster fears of uncontrolled immigration and support for their political agenda of radically altering U.S. immigration and refugee laws. "Increasingly, immigrants are being portrayed as a threat to our way of life," she said. "Yet the real threat comes not from immigrants and refugees or from recognition of the legal rights to which they are entitled, but from allowing these exaggerated and xenophobic fears to become the basis for immigration policy." She noted that this kind of unthinking fear of "outsiders" has historically led to even greater denial of legal rights, such as the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and the current spate of anti-immigrant violence in Germany. "It is tragic that similar fears are now being used to punish a group of immigrants whose only crime has been to flee conditions that the U.S. government itself has gone on record as condemning." --endit-- ============================================================= ACLU Free Reading Room | A publications and information resource of the gopher:// | American Civil Liberties Union National Office | | "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty"


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