Do Immigration Agents Want Only Arabs, Muslims?

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Last spring, a police officer in the Philadelphia suburb of Newtown pulled over a car and found four Hispanic men, three with fishy-looking ID cards who blurted that they were illegal immigrants. The officer said he was told by a federal immigration agent to “cut ’em loose,”

the Philadelphia Inquirer says.

The paper reports that despite a stated Bush administration clampdown on illegal immigration after Sept. 11, 2001, the 14 federal immigration agents for southeastern Pennsylvania and South Jersey do not act on police calls unless suspects are criminals or they are from countries where the government says Islamist radicals operate. Said a suburban police chief: “If it’s an Arab or Muslim, they come in a heartbeat. But not for the others.”

Some police worry they may be releasing dangerous lawbreakers. And immigrants may face uneven and unfair treatment from town to town.

After 9/11, the Bush administration declared zero tolerance on illegal immigration and urged local authorities to report anyone suspicious as part of its anti-terrorism campaign.

The federal immigration agency has focused intensively on Muslim nationals since 9/11. Experts say that sends a message that police must do the same, potentially leading to illegal discrimination. “It’s really the job of the [immigration agency] to engage in that kind of profiling. It’s not the job of the state and locals,” said Jan C. Ting, a Temple University law professor and former immigration official.


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