Mass deportation of Muslim illegal aliens ruled out

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

The Bush administration has rejected the prospect of mass deportations of Muslim illegal aliens.

The administration plans to relay this message to American Muslim leaders amid the current nationwide alert for an Al Qaida attack. Hundreds of Muslims have been detained as illegal aliens as part of a crackdown by federal law enforcement authorities, Middle East Newsline reported.

On Tuesday, FBI Director Robert Mueller will meet American Muslim leaders to discuss federal measures against Al Qaida threats. Muslim groups have filed a class action suit against the government, charging that the Immigration and Naturalization Service has arrested Muslims illegally.

Muslim groups said the millions of Muslims in the United States have been the target of a backlash since the Al Qaida suicide attacks on New York and Washington in September 2001. They said at least 15 Muslims and a Sikh have been killed in attacks around the country.

Officials said Mueller plans to discuss the attacks on Muslims as well as policy toward illegal aliens. They said this will include a law passed over the last year that requires citizens from many Arab and Islamic nations to register with the INS. The procedure also includes photographing and fingerprinting.

Muslim groups have expressed concern that the law will result in the detention and deportation of hundreds of thousands of Arab and Islamic immigrants who arrived illegally or whose visas have expired. The Alliance of Iranian Americans, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the Council on American Islamic Relations, and the National Council of Pakistani Americans have asked a federal court to issue an injunction to prevent the prospect of mass arrests.

But officials said the administration plans to reassure Muslim groups that special procedures enacted over the last year will be limited to those immigrants regarded as security threats.

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