Federal authorities are using immigration laws as part of its broad anti-terrorism effort, the Washington Post reports in the second part of a series. In the past two years, officials have filed immigration charges against more than 500 people who have come under scrutiny in national security investigations, according to government figures. Some are ultimately found to have no terrorism ties, officials acknowledge.
Whereas terrorism charges can be difficult to prosecute, Homeland Security officials say immigration laws can provide a quick, easy way to detain people who could be planning attacks. Authorities have also used routine charges such as overstaying a visa to deport suspected supporters of terrorist groups. Although immigration violations might seem humdrum, a Homeland Security official said, “They’re legitimate charges.” Muslim and civil liberties activists disagree. They argue that authorities are enforcing minor violations by Muslims and Arabs, while ignoring millions of other immigrants who flout the same laws.