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Dozens of Immigrants detained on US Super Bowl eve

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  • Dozens of Immigrants detained on US Super Bowl eve

    Dozens of Immigrants detained on US Super Bowl eve(Vasantha Arora) Indo-Asian News Service
    Washington, January 25

    On the eve of Super Bowl, one of US' biggest sports festivals this weekend, scores of immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Middle Eastern countries were taken into custody as a preventive measure.

    Sparking criticism from immigrant rights advocates, Immigration and Naturalisation Service (INS) agents in San Diego, California, the venue of the annual football match, detained dozens of immigrant taxi drivers and security guards in an unusual sweep aimed as a security precaution to this weekend's Super Bowl, slated to be held on January 26, reports arriving here said.

    Coming just weeks after hundreds of immigrants in California were detained for alleged violations when they appeared at INS offices to fulfil a new registration requirement, the Super Bowl sweep, dubbed "Operation Game Day", was denounced by civil liberties groups for treating immigration-status glitches as the equivalent of security risks.

    "This is being done in the name of national security," said Jordan Budd, legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union's San Diego chapter.

    "It is being offered as a meaningful gesture to increase safety at the Super Bowl. That is a farce. They're simply making scapegoats of the immigrant community while doing nothing to make the public safer," he added.

    Immigration officials declined to comment on the number of people arrested, their nationalities, their alleged violations or the reasons behind the sweep.

    "Arrests have been made as part of an ongoing investigation designed to ensure that individuals who have access to high-profile venues or restricted or security areas are properly documented and authorised to work under immigration laws," said Ron Rogers, a spokesman for the western regional office of the INS.

    "There was no indication that INS agents were looking for a particular terror suspect. They were looking at every security company, every bus company, every taxi company," Budd said.

    "They haven't caught one person, who's a terrorist or a threat," said Ali Golchin, an attorney for the Coalition of Iranian-American Organisations in San Diego.

    "They have basically caught ordinary working folks in technical violation of their immigration status. There are 10 million such people in America."

    Based on anecdotal evidence, Golchin and others said they believed that over 30 people had been detained, including a number of taxi drivers of Middle Eastern descent and Hispanics working as security guards.

    "The Super Bowl situation is a microcosm of what's been going on throughout the country," said an immigration lawyer, John Mansfield.

    Immigration officials compared the effort to similar, broad reviews of the immigration status of airport employees that have been conducted since the September 11 attacks, and said it was a good use of resources to focus their search for out-of-status immigrants among people whose employment gave them access to security-sensitive areas.

    Critics, however, said it was an indiscriminate tactic that would alienate the immigrant communities whose assistance is needed by law enforcement agencies to protect the country against true terrorist threats.

  • #2
    Dozens of Immigrants detained on US Super Bowl eve(Vasantha Arora) Indo-Asian News Service
    Washington, January 25

    On the eve of Super Bowl, one of US' biggest sports festivals this weekend, scores of immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Middle Eastern countries were taken into custody as a preventive measure.

    Sparking criticism from immigrant rights advocates, Immigration and Naturalisation Service (INS) agents in San Diego, California, the venue of the annual football match, detained dozens of immigrant taxi drivers and security guards in an unusual sweep aimed as a security precaution to this weekend's Super Bowl, slated to be held on January 26, reports arriving here said.

    Coming just weeks after hundreds of immigrants in California were detained for alleged violations when they appeared at INS offices to fulfil a new registration requirement, the Super Bowl sweep, dubbed "Operation Game Day", was denounced by civil liberties groups for treating immigration-status glitches as the equivalent of security risks.

    "This is being done in the name of national security," said Jordan Budd, legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union's San Diego chapter.

    "It is being offered as a meaningful gesture to increase safety at the Super Bowl. That is a farce. They're simply making scapegoats of the immigrant community while doing nothing to make the public safer," he added.

    Immigration officials declined to comment on the number of people arrested, their nationalities, their alleged violations or the reasons behind the sweep.

    "Arrests have been made as part of an ongoing investigation designed to ensure that individuals who have access to high-profile venues or restricted or security areas are properly documented and authorised to work under immigration laws," said Ron Rogers, a spokesman for the western regional office of the INS.

    "There was no indication that INS agents were looking for a particular terror suspect. They were looking at every security company, every bus company, every taxi company," Budd said.

    "They haven't caught one person, who's a terrorist or a threat," said Ali Golchin, an attorney for the Coalition of Iranian-American Organisations in San Diego.

    "They have basically caught ordinary working folks in technical violation of their immigration status. There are 10 million such people in America."

    Based on anecdotal evidence, Golchin and others said they believed that over 30 people had been detained, including a number of taxi drivers of Middle Eastern descent and Hispanics working as security guards.

    "The Super Bowl situation is a microcosm of what's been going on throughout the country," said an immigration lawyer, John Mansfield.

    Immigration officials compared the effort to similar, broad reviews of the immigration status of airport employees that have been conducted since the September 11 attacks, and said it was a good use of resources to focus their search for out-of-status immigrants among people whose employment gave them access to security-sensitive areas.

    Critics, however, said it was an indiscriminate tactic that would alienate the immigrant communities whose assistance is needed by law enforcement agencies to protect the country against true terrorist threats.

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