The Fight Against Terror in the U.S. and Its Clampdown on Immigrants: Implications to Civil Liberties, Human Rights, and Social Justice

Michael Welch, Rutgers University

In 1996, at the height of public hostility toward immigrants, Congress passed some of the most sweeping legislation of its kind, resulting in numerous crackdowns on illegal as well as legal immigrants. Similar to other moral panics, anxiety over immigrants eventually waned. Following the events of September 11, 2001, however, there has emerged a renewed suspicion of immigrants. Not only is the 1996 immigration reform and anti-terrorism statute being enforced with unprecedented fervor but government officials also have at their disposal the newly enacted USA Patriot Act and Office of Homeland Security. This paper examines critically recent developments in the government's domestic fight against terrorism, particularly those that have produced egregious violations of civil liberties, human rights, and social justice. Central to the discussion is the controversy over racial profiling and mass detention, a practice that remains shrouded in secrecy.

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Updated 05/20/2006