ADC Meets with the INS Commissioner

ADC Press Release
31 October 2001

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) met with the Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), Mr. James Ziglar, along with a nine-member delegation yesterday at INS headquarters in Washington, DC. The meeting was attended by ADC President Ziad Asali, ADC Legal Advisors Carol Khawly and Kareem Shora, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorneys Gregory Nojeim and Tim Edgar, and attorneys Mo Abdrabboh, Malea Kiblan, and Denyse Sabbagh. 

The group addressed several issues concerning the Arab-American community, the Arab immigrant community, and the civil rights community as a whole including detailed inquiries about individuals being detained by the INS after the September 11 tragedy, the issue of indefinite detention of minor visa violators, denial of bond to detainees, access to attorneys, embassy notifications, family notifications, voluntary departure issues, and detention conditions among others. 

After welcoming remarks by Commissioner Ziglar, Dr. Asali thanked the Commissioner for his public remarks in making the distinction between terrorists and innocent immigrants and provided a general agenda along with sample cases to the Commissioner and his staff. Dr. Asali noted the need to maintain a healthy working relationship between the INS and the civil rights and immigrant rights communities and highlighted the strong willingness of the Arab-American community to work with the INS in defeating the numerous misconceptions and rumors often spread about 
the immigration service. Commissioner Ziglar indicated his strong belief in the difference between innocent immigrants and foreign nationals living in or visiting this country from those who wish to do harm to our country by changing the American way of life. 

The Commissioner said, "The INS will not be involved in anything that looks like a sweep, a round-up, or a general warrant proceeding." He further acknowledged that the right to counsel is an inalienable right of any detainee held by the INS and explained that the immigration service has now established a working group of attorneys that work on a 24-hour basis in Washington, DC to address the concerns brought forth during cases of detention. Commissioner Ziglar indicated that the numbers of detainees quoted by several media outlets are an exaggeration and highlighted the fact that there is confusion between those individuals being detained by the INS under immigration charges and others who may be detained by other law enforcement agencies. Additionally, the Commissioner assigned a member of his staff to act as liaison between ADC and the Commissioner's office. 

ADC is pleased with Commissioner Ziglar's openness and willingness to work with the Arab-American community to ensure that the civil rights and civil liberties of individuals are not violated. ADC commends the INS for its efforts of outreach and looks forward to a close working relationship with the Commissioner's office. 

ADC Contact: (313) 581-1201


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