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Torturers and Terrorists Beware By: Bill West
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, December 27, 2004

The Intelligence Reform bill just signed into law by President Bush on December 17 almost didn’t happen due to Congressional infighting over immigration provisions.  After much wrangling, several of those provisions were withdrawn, including those that would have denied driver licenses to illegal aliens nationwide and would have made asylum procedures more difficult for certain asylum seekers.  Fortunately, some key immigration-related provisions stayed in the bill. 

Among those provisions were Sections 5501 through 5506.  These sections amend the Immigration and Nationality Act so that aliens who commit certain acts are excludable or deportable from the United States.  Those acts are torture and “extrajudicial killings.”  The terms are specifically defined in other sections of the U.S. Code.  Essentially, the new provisions make aliens who are human rights persecutors excludable and deportable aliens.  Amazingly, until now, there were no specific provisions in U.S. Immigration law rendering such aliens removable from the United States.  Immigration authorities had to rely on other charges, if they were evident, to bring against such foreign evildoers.  These changes to the law, which have been making their way through various Congresses for five years, do not require a conviction for such actions, but will require U.S. Government authorities to present clear and convincing evidence to support the legal removal standards in immigration proceedings.

The changes also make it a removable offense for any alien who was a foreign government official who engaged in particularly severe violations of religious freedoms, as defined in the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, found in Title 22, U.S. Code, Section 6402.  This is yet another enhanced provision against human rights persecution.


The changes to the law also include a provision that aliens who engaged in such persecutor activities are barred from a determination of having good moral character.  This is important as it should automatically prevent such aliens from obtaining immigration benefits such as permanent residence, various other relief from removal and, of course, naturalization.


And, speaking of naturalization, the new provisions make an important organizational mission change.  Statutorily, the mission for investigating foreign born human rights persecutors will now primarily be with the Department of Justice Office of Special Investigations (DOJ/OSI), the famed Nazi hunting unit within DOJ that has been in existence since 1979.  DOJ/OSI has much experience and success in pursuing foreign-born war criminals that managed to defraud the U.S. immigration system and obtain the ultimate goal therein and naturalize.  Many Nazi war criminals were denaturalized and deported as a result of DOJ/OSI’s efforts.  That experience will now be turned toward a new breed of modern-day war criminal and, indeed, terrorist…those who have committed torture, murder and genocide in the name of political and religious purposes. 


It is expected DOJ/OSI will primarily focus its investigative and prosecution talents on those cases, like the Nazi cases, where naturalization has already been realized and effectively go after the “worst of the worst.”  There is nothing in the law that precludes other appropriate Federal agencies, such as the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that currently investigates such matters, from continuing to pursue alien persecutors with deportation and related violations.  In effect, another highly capable unit, DOJ/OSI, is brought to the front lines to help in the fight.  


Interestingly, the provision against severe violations of religious freedom should be of particular concern to radical Islamists who have served as officials in foreign governments.  Religious freedom is something not widely practiced in most Muslim countries.  In many such countries, religious minorities are routinely persecuted.  U.S. law now provides a powerful enforcement tool to prevent the entry of those in power in those countries who engaged in such persecution, or to remove them if they managed to sneak into our homeland.  And, since these statutes are administrative in nature, they are valid for retroactive acts, meaning that violations that occurred before December 17, 2004 can be prosecuted for removal action in immigration proceedings. 


Foreign-born torturers and terrorists beware.  While the just-signed Intelligence bill has many important features, a few short ones tucked away in the middle will be making some of your lives very uncomfortable in the near future.


Bill West is a counter-terrorism consultant and a freelance writer.  He’s a retired INS Supervisory Special Agent who launched the first human rights persecutor apprehension project in 2000 while serving as the Chief of the National Security Section in Miami, Florida

Bill West is a retired INS/ICE Supervisory Special Agent who ran organized crime and national security investigations. He is now a counter-terrorism consultant and freelance writer.

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