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Texas Observer VOLUME 94, NO. 10 A Journal of Free Voices Since 1954 Founding Editor: Ronnie Dugger Editor: Nate Blakeslee Managing Editor: Barbara Belejack Associate Editor: Jake Bernstein Managing Publisher: Jim Ball Circulation Manager: Candace Carpenter Art Director: Julia Austin Poetry Editor: Naomi Shihab Nye Copy Editor: Roxanne Bogucka Interns: Emily DePran, Emily Rapp Seitz Contributing Writers: Gabriela Bocagrande, Robert Bryce, Louis Dubose, Michael Erard, James K. Galbraith, Dagoberto Gilb, Steven G. Kellman, Lucius Lomax, Char Miller, Debbie Nathan, Karen Olsson, John Ross, Brad Tyer. Staff Photographers: Alan Pogue, Jana Birchum. Contributing Artists: Sam Hurt, Kevin Kreneck, Michael Krone, Gary Oliver, Ben Sargent, Penny Van Horn, Gail Woods. Editorial Advisory Board: David Anderson, Chandler Davidson, Dave Denison, Sissy Farentholdjohn Kenneth Galbraith, Lawrence Goodwyn, Jim Hightower, Maury Maverick Jr., Kaye Northcott, Susan Reid. In Memoriam: Bob Eckhardt, 1913-2001 Cliff Olofion, 1931-1995 Texas Democracy Foundation Board: Ronnie Dugger, Marc Grossberg, Molly Ivins, D’Ann Johnson, Jim Marston, Bernard Rapoport, Geoffrey Rips, Gilberto Ocafias. The Texas Observer entire contents copyrighted 2002, is published biweekly except every three weeks during January and August \(24 issues profit foundation, 307 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701. Telephone: E-mail: [email protected] World Wide Web DownHome page: . Periodicals Postage Paid at Austin, Texas. Subscriptions: One year $32, two years $59, three years $84. Full-time students $18 per year; add $13/year for foreign subs. Back issues $3 prepaid. Airmail, foreign, group, and bulk rates on request. Microfilm available from University Microfilms Intl., 300 N. Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Indexes: The Texas Observer is indexed in Access: The Supplementary Index to Periodicals; Texas Index and, for the years 1954 through 1981, The Texas Observer Index. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: The Texas Observer, 307 West 7th Street. Austin, Texas 78701. The Books & the Culture section is partially . funded through grants front the City of Austin under the auspices of the Austin Arts Commission and the Writer’s League of Texas, both in cooperation with the Texas Commission on the Arts. Generous accommodation of travelers, immigrants, and foreigners, it says somewhere in the Bible, is one measure of a society’s godliness. Presumably that page is not bookmarked in Attorney General John Ashcroft’s well-thumbed copy of the Good Book. In recent months, he has told a wide variety of audiences eighth graders, PTA moms, police unions, zookeepersthat freedom is a gift from God. Indefinite detention, secret hearings, and deportation, on the other hand, are a courtesy of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Thousands of Arab or Muslim immigrants are currently detained by the INS, though the exact number, location and identity of the detainees remains an official secret. What began as an investigation following September 11 is evolving into a pathological crusade, with General Ashcroft at the helm. Ashcroft managed to ramrod the controversial Patriot Act through Congress over the objection of civil libertarians. Ironically, for all of his dire predictions about what would happen if the Act failed to pass, the Justice Department has seldom used it, according to Lucas Guttentag of the ACLU’s Immigrant Rights Project, who was in Austin this month for a national staff convention. That’s because as bad as the Patriot Act is, it still has some minimal protections: The Justice Department must report every six months on who has been detained using the act, and detainees have a right to challenge their detentions in federal court. So Ashcroft uses other means at his disposal. “What we’ve seen instead has been a whole series of unilateral initiatives by Ashcroft, along with a basic misuse of immigration and criminal law,” Guttentag said. The Attorney General’s edicts have included, among others: extending the deadline for charging immigrant detainees from 24 hours following an arrest to a “reasonable” period of time in an emergency situation, \(effectively expelling the press and public from immigration hearings; and effectively giving INS the ability to veto an immigration judge’s decision to allow a detainee to bond out ofjail.The Justice Department has also made liberal use of the material witness provision, which allows authorities to detain persons who may have information about a crime for the purpose of obtaining their testimony. “We’ve gotten reports of people who an immigration judge has ordered deported but who are still sitting in jail because the FBI hasn’t `cleared’ them, even though there is no evidence of any involvement with 9/11, or any charges against them just some immigration violations.” In some cases, Guttentag said, the FBI seems to have simply “lost interest” in the detainee. “You might remember that Ashcroft said early on, ‘Hey, if we’re doing something wrong, where are the lawsuits?” Guttentag said. “Well, he has been sued on numerous cases now and his position has been rejected. And they’re persisting in it nonetheless.” The Justice Department now plans to put the names of several hundred thou sand so-called “absconders,” people ordered to leave the country who never showed up for deportation, into a data base accessible by local law enforce ment, who they have asked to assist with the roundup. They plan to begin with the 6,000 or so Muslims or Arabs on the list. The result, Guttentag pre dicts, will be that all immigrants will learn to fear the police. The crackdown is having a ripple effect throughout the nation’s many immigrant communities, especially among foreign students. “For continued on back page EDITORIAL General Ahab 5/24/02 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3