Fw: [From ADC] ICE Targets Immigrants from Muslim Majority Countries during 2004 Presidential Election
Joint Press Release:
ICE Targets Immigrants from Muslim Majority Countries during 2004 Presidential Election
Washington, DC | October 31, 2008 | www.adc.org | The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) and Yale Law School’s National Litigation Project have learned of a program conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) prior to the 2004 Presidential Election that targeted immigrants from Muslim majority countries. ICE recently released hundreds of records on “Operation Front Line,” a secret government program designed to “detect, deter, and disrupt terrorist operations” leading up to the 2004 Presidential Election through the 2005 Presidential Inauguration. The operation was commonly referred to as the “October Plan.” The records—released to the
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ADC National Executive Director Kareem Shora said, “We are disappointed to see that despite all the reassurances made by DHS officials in the past four years; the records released demonstrate that DHS’s enforcement efforts during the ‘October Plan’ (Operation Front Line) targeted immigrants from Muslim-majority countries.” Shora said, “When Seventy-nine percent of the foreign nationals in this random sample released thanks to
Profile of Operation Front Line Targets
Who was targeted?
As part of its release of records to the
Of the 300 case files, the leading countries were
Of the 300 cases, 53—or only 18 percent—had alleged immigration violations. The most common allegation, with 19 individuals, was overstaying a visa. Twelve individuals were alleged to have fraudulent passports or visas. Furthermore, of the 56 cases in which ICE provided final dispositions, the vast majority were issued Notices to Appear and processed for removal proceedings. Only three individuals received criminal prison sentences, and all three were sentenced to time served.
Description of Operation Front Line Initiative
According to the records, ICE launched Operation Front Line (“Operation Front Line I”) in May 2004 to identify foreign nationals, both known and unknown to the
On October 4, 2004, ICE commenced Operation Front Line II to target terrorist operations leading up to the 2004 Presidential Election. Operation Front Line II was designed to locate immigration status violators who may pose an elevated criminal or national security threat.
Cooperation with the FBI
ICE cooperated with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to execute Operation Front Line. In particular, the FBI’s Counterterrorism 2004 Threat Task Force provided ICE with information for use in developing further background information about any individuals identified but not meeting the terrorism nexus criteria to be investigated under the Task Force. Furthermore, ICE field offices coordinated Operation Frontline leads with local FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force representatives prior to any enforcement action in order to determine if the subjects may be of further investigative interest.
ADC Requests Nationality Breakdown Used in October Plan Arrests
On November 4, 2004, ICE, an agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), issued a press release entitled “ICE Threat Disruption Effort Results in More than 230 Arrests.” Due to community concerns that DHS and ICE had used NSEERS data in connection with what the media was calling the “October Plan,” ADC requested a nationality breakdown of those arrested by ICE. Indeed, in an earlier statement by ICE, issued on September 30, 2004, the agency had explained that it had utilized three databases (NSEERS, SEVIS, and US VISIT) to reprioritize its leads.
December 14, 2004
ADC Files Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
Read the request at: http://www.adc.org/Doc/ADCtoICE.doc
ADC was, and continues to be, concerned that the Arab, South Asian, and Muslim populations have been disproportionately impacted because of the use of the NSEERS database in Operation Front Line (the “October Plan”) and other general law enforcement efforts. Therefore, on December 14, 2004, ADC filed a FOIA request in order to gain access to data on the nationalities of those arrested, and determine the percentage of Arabs, South Asians, and Muslims who were affected. ADC did not request the names or individual information of any of the persons who had been arrested. Furthermore, ADC did not ask for any information regarding the DHS employees involved in the investigation, or information regarding any law enforcement techniques, sources, methods, or procedures used by DHS or other agencies in connection with the arrests.
ADC's request was intended to assure the Arab-American, South Asian, and Muslim communities, along with the rest of our nation, that ICE was not conducting a “round-up” or “sweep” in any community, and that it was acting consistently with its pledge not to partake in racial, national origin or religious profiling. Such assurances would have been especially important during a national election. Unfortunately, and despite the fact that it had previously released some of that very data in its November 4, 2004 press release, ICE and DHS denied ADC’s request to release the full nationality breakdown of those arrested during the “October Plan.”
March 3, 2005
ADC Files Administrative Appeal with DHS Privacy Office
Read the Administrative Appeal at: http://www.adc.org/Doc/ADCtoFOIA.doc
February 8, 2006
ADC, Represented by Kirkland & Ellis LLP, Files New FOIA Request
Read the FOIA request at: http://www.adc.org/PDF/Feb82006FOIAtoICE.pdf
ADC retained the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis LLP as counsel to address the use of the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) in immigration enforcement efforts. Represented by Kirkland & Ellis attorneys Tefft W. Smith, Amanda J. Wong, and John C. O’Quinn, ADC filed a new FOIA request concerning this issue on February 6, 2006. In violation of law, DHS has never responded to that request.
October 11, 2006
Lowenstein International Human Rights Project and Jerome N. Frank
The Yale Law School’s National Litigation Project filed FOIA requests on behalf of the Jerome N. Frank
October 17, 2006
ADC files a lawsuit against DHS and its component ICE, in the
The lawsuit, which ADC filed under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), sought information that would either validate or dispel the widespread perception that DHS and ICE have been misusing information from the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) to impermissibly target, or “profile,” Arab-Americans and Muslims for general law enforcement purposes. In particular, this lawsuit demanded the immediate disclosure of government records concerning the national origin, ethnicity, race, religion, and gender of the more than 230 individuals detained by the government in connection with a law enforcement operation known as the “October Plan,” which federal law enforcement officials carried out in connection with the 2004 Presidential Elections. Community concerns about the potential for similar law enforcement activities during the upcoming national elections prompted ADC to file this suit.
November 21, 2006
Yale Law School National Litigation Project, on behalf of the Lowenstein Project and LSO, files lawsuit against DHS, the Department of Justice, the Department of State, and the Office of Management and Budget, in the U.S. District for the District of Connecticut.
The FOIA lawsuit sought to compel the release of records of a largely secret program known as Operation Front Line. This generally unacknowledged program constituted a portion of the massive
September 11, 2008
ICE stipulates to the first public release of data regarding Operation Front Line.
September 12, 2008
ICE releases hundreds of records on Operation Front Line to
In partial settlement of the Yale Law School National Litigation Project’s lawsuit, and pursuant to the stipulation filed in U.S. District Court the day before, ICE released hundreds of records on Operation Front Line. The records include the first public data on the program and a statistically random sample of 300 Operation Front Line investigation files.
NOTE TO EDITORS: The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), which is non sectarian and non partisan, is the largest Arab-American civil rights organization in the
The Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Law Clinic is a
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