ACLU of NJ and Immigrant Advocates Offer Free Legal Advice To People Questioned in Federal "Dragnet" Investigation
ACLU of NJ and Immigrant Advocates Offer Free Legal Advice To People Questioned in Federal “Dragnet” Investigation
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NEWARK, NJ–The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey announced today that it is working with Muslim advocates and immigration attorneys to provide attorneys to accompany any individuals in New Jersey who are questioned by officials as part of a U.S. Department of Justice “dragnet” investigation.
The Justice Department has announced plans to question 5,000 men nationwide who have entered the country legally on non-immigrant visas in the last two years. The ACLU estimated that as many as 100 of these men live in New Jersey.
“”We recognize the importance of investigating terrorism, and the right and responsibility of the FBI to gather relevant information for that purpose,”” said Deborah Jacobs, Executive Director of the ACLU of New Jersey. “”At the same time, it is important that Americans not lose sight of the values our nation is seeking to defend. We are working together to provide attorneys to help ensure that people’s legal rights are respected.””
The ACLU is combining efforts with the Human Rights Education & Law Project (HELP), the American Muslim Union, the Council of New Jersey Mosques, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) to reach out to those who are sought for interviews and identify attorneys to provide free legal representation.
The ACLU and its partners are concerned that the Justice Department is interrogating individuals because of their ethnicity without reason to believe that the specific individuals to be interviewed have information about terrorist activities. Questions to be asked (as outlined in Justice Department guidelines for interviewers) go beyond those seeking factual information and include inquiries about people’s political beliefs and the political beliefs of family members and friends.
Former FBI assistant director Oliver Revell recently told the Washington Post that the Justice Department plan is not effective and “really guts the values of our society, which you cannot allow the terrorists to do.”
The ACLU has sent a letter to a number of police departments in New Jersey recommending that they choose not to participate in the FBI’s interviews. While recognizing the vital importance of investigating terrorism, and the right and responsibility of the FBI and law enforcement to gather relevant information toward that end, the ACLU believes that the Justice Department’s interview plan violates our core constitutional principles because of its sweep, intrusiveness, and discriminatory nature.
The national ACLU has created “Know Your Rights” pamphlets for targets of the investigation nationwide; they are available in pdf format on the ACLU’s website.
Click here for the “Know Your Rights” pamphlets:
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