The U.S. government deported more than 13,000 foriegn nationals starting in June 2002 in a dragnet that officials acknowledge was a hastily assembled and blunt tool, the Chicago Tribune says. The government says it is not targeting Muslims, but people from nations where terrorists operate.
The Tribune tracked passengers on one flight to Pakistan last July. Their stories illustrate how the campaign has separated men from their U.S.-citizen wives and children. The newspaper concludes that “the government effectively put a premium on catching scofflaws from mostly Muslim nations while allowing hundreds of thousands of violators from other countries, including convicted criminals, to wander free.”
The exercise–carried out by executive fiat–has not led to a single public charge of terrorism.
The crackdown has set off an exodus from U.S. Muslim communities, from Pakistanis and Bangladeshis of Chicagos to the Arabs of such cities as Dearborn, Mich. Some lawful residents have fled, fearing they might be next.
One architect of the policy said that selecting men based on their citizenship was logical. “We had to just use the very blunt instrument of nationality,” said Kris Kobach, a former Justice Department appointee, who helped craft the program to register 83,000 men from Muslim countries in the U.S.