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Jewish World Review Jan. 14 , 2002 Rosh Chodesh Shevat, 5762

Don Feder

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Consumer Reports

INS critics need to reconnect with reality -- DON'T you just hate it when the war on terrorism interferes with political correctness and liberalism's equality fetish?

The Immigration and Naturalization Service's announcement that it will target for deportation visa violators from countries where "suicide bomber" is a term of endearment has provoked the predictable response.

There are 314,000 names on a list of individuals subject to immediate deportation. Eventually, the agency hopes to reel in as many as possible.

In the meantime, INS Commissioner James W. Ziglar announced last week that his agency will give priority treatment to 6,000 from countries where al Qaeda is active. While the INS won't name these countries, it's likely they include such centers of civilization as Lebanon, Egypt, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

Common sense, most would say. Not to special interests and the chronically utopian.

"We would ask for enforcement of the law across the board and not just singling out people based on their religion or ethnicity," commented Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

When last heard from, Hooper was fuming over the Bush administration's decision to close down the Holy Land Foundation ("a respectable Moslem charity that does good work"). Among other odious activities, the foundation raised money for the families of Hamas killers.

The ACLU says it "strenuously objects to selective prosecution, a questionable law enforcement tactic." Booting illegal aliens from jihad land "is completely analogous to racial profiling on our nation's highways," the group warns.

Could we get real for a moment? Hooper knows the deportations can't proceed across the board. The INS has only 2,000 field agents to do non-border enforcement -- or one agent for every 157 on the list.

Since it can't go after all 314,000 simultaneously, where to begin? With the Irish girl who overstayed her student visa or the Mexican dishwasher? Or the Saudi who might be taking flying lessons? Or the Egyptian studying microbiology under an assumed identity?

In light of Sept. 11 and the ongoing threat of more attacks (every few weeks, the director of homeland security puts us on alert), it's imperative for the INS to start with those who pose the greatest danger to our security.

This is not profiling. The INS isn't going after all Moslems or all Arabs, but only illegals whose nationality raises the risk that they could be part of Osama bin Laden's network.

Terrorism expert Steven Emerson told me: "I don't think there's any doubt that there are members of al Qaeda in the U.S. who came here on visas and overstayed. This is a given in law enforcement circles." The question is not if they will strike, but when and where.

The ACLU is correct to this extent: The INS operation does constitute selective enforcement. And, in this context, it's both legal and rational.

Writing for the majority in a 1999 Supreme Court decision, Justice Antonin Scalia observed: "Deportation is necessary in order to bring to an end ongoing violation of United States law. An alien unlawfully in this country has no constitutional right to assert selective enforcement as a defense against deportation."

Those the INS is targeting have already had their day in court. All were ordered deported by an immigration judge. They either chose not to show up for the hearing and got their eviction notice in absentia, or they ignored the order and fled.

These criminals have received due process. We are under no obligation to give them more to satisfy anyone's abstract idea of fairness. Was it fair for 3,000 Americans to die for another fanatic's obsession with a cause?

INS critics also opposed the earlier Justice Department sweep of alien terrorism suspects and military tribunals to try foreign terrorists. (If Osama bin Laden were captured tomorrow, their only question would be: Was he read his Miranda rights?) How many thousands more must die before they reconnect with reality?

Apparently, Hooper and the ACLU would like the INS to put all 314,000 names in a hat and deport them in the order in which they are drawn. That would comport with their idea of fairness. That wouldn't constitute profiling of any sort. That would be just plain nuts.

JWR contributing columnist Don Feder's latest books are Who is afraid of the Religious Right? ($15.95) and A Jewish conservative looks at pagan America ($9.95). To receive an autographed copy, send a check or money order to: Don Feder, The Boston Herald, 1 Herald Sq., Boston, Mass. 02106. Doing so will help fund JWR, if so noted. He is also available as a guest speaker. To comment on this column please click here.

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© 2002, Creators Syndicate