US to fingerprint more visitors

  • From: "Muslim News" <editor_@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 6 Jun 2002 19:47:41 +0100

The plan is being denounced as racial profiling 

Tens of thousands more foreign visitors will be photographed and
fingerprinted as they enter the US under new anti-terror measures
announced by Attorney General John Ashcroft. 
No one from any country will be exempt from possible checks, but
officials have acknowledged that men from Middle Eastern states would be
most likely to be screened. 

Entry checks 
No country's citizens are exempt 
Applies to visitors staying more than 30 days 
Aimed at men from countries the US believes harbours terrorists 
Fingerprints will identify suspects even if they travel on false
documents 
Wanted criminals as well as terror suspects will be targeted 
Measures to be imposed at air and sea ports 

Details would be checked against databases including fingerprints
gleaned from raids on terrorist training camps and anyone who showed up
as a criminal or a threat could be barred from entry. 

Mr Ashcroft said the new rules were a necessary response to the 11
September attacks committed by terrorists who had entered the US
legally, but Arab and immigration groups were outraged. 

"This system will expand substantially America's scrutiny of those
foreign visitors who may pose a national security concern and enter our
country," Mr Ashcroft said as he announced the National Security
Entry/Exit Registration System. 

"And it will provide a vital line of defence in the war against
terrorism." 

Swift condemnation 

But condemnation of the plans was swift from groups who said they were
discriminatory and probably ineffective. 

Frank Sharry, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, said
the scheme "smacks of the sort of tactics" used by totalitarian regimes
like Iraq. 

Timothy Edgar of the American Civil Liberties Union said: "The Bush
administration is, step by step, isolating Muslim and Arab communities
both in the eyes of the government and the American people. 

"This latest move needs to be seen in the larger context of all the
actions targeted at people of Middle Eastern descent since 11
September." 

James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, said the measures
would add to an already overburdened process and fail to improve
security. 

John Ashcroft reportedly won a row with the State Department over
introducing the measures 

They were simply aimed at showing the American public that the
government was "doing something" about terrorism. 

Officials have said they expect complaints because the plans could be
seen as resorting to a form of racial and religious profiling, but they
said they were necessary. 

All 19 of the men who hijacked four planes and crashed them deliberately
on 11 September entered the US with valid visas, though some stayed
longer than permitted. 

The new system will also be able to identify foreigners who were
overstaying their visas, Mr Ashcroft said. 

There are reports that the proposals sparked a row between Mr Ashcroft's
Justice Department and the State Department. 

The new rules are to be brought in under a little-used law from the era
of World War II. 

It also builds on regulations introduced requiring citizens of Iran,
Iraq, Libya and Syria to go through extra checks before they may enter
the US. 

Source:  BBC

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