NEW YORK ( – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released a new report on Dec. 8 entitled, “Worlds Apart: How Deporting Immigrants After September 11 Tore Families Apart and Shattered Communities.”

The report shares the stories of 13 men who filed a complaint with the Geneva-based United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, charging that they were unfairly arrested and imprisoned by the United States government. According to the ACLU, the UN Working Group has acknowledged receipt of the petition. A decision from the working group is expected in the next few months, stated the ACLU report.

“The U.S. government unfairly deported thousands of immigrants after the September 11 attacks–simply because they were from Muslim countries, and were at the wrong place at the wrong time,” Anthony Romero, executive director of ACLU, said in a press release announcing the report. “For each man who was arrested, there was a network of children, parents, siblings, neighbors and community members who depended on him,” Mr. Romero said.


The report was the focus of a roundtable discussion, also on Dec. 8, sponsored by the New York-based Open Society Institute. Some 20 human rights advocates, Muslim community members and the ACLU discussed the “devastating” effects that President George Bush’s anti-terror policies have had on immigrant families and communities. “The U.S. government correctly condemns other countries when they violate human rights, but we have to be equally vigilant in making sure that those rights are not violated here at home,” said Ann Beeson, an associate legal director for ACLU and the roundtable’s moderator. “Unfortunately, the U.S. continues to arrest and imprison Muslims without evidence and deport them without charges.”

A family member of one of the men mentioned in the report attended the roundtable forum. “My uncle is really suffering from the way he’s been deported,” Hosni Abualeinen told the gathering. Ahmed Abualeinen, 60, was imprisoned in the U.S. for five months before agreeing to leave voluntarily.

Participants complained that the mainstream media did not report on the effects that these “unlawful” imprisonments had on families and communities. Moe Razvi, executive director of the Council of Pakistani Organizations, located in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn, said 30 businesses had closed down in the last three years. He said in some cases the storeowners were part of the exodus that has decimated the neighborhood known as “Little Pakistan”–once home to 100,000 Pakistanis. Some observers have estimated that approximately 20,000 have left because of government harassment, or because they feared they could become victims of the administration’s special registration program. “Store-owners estimate a 30 to 40 percent drop-off in business,” Mr. Razvi said.

Muslim charity organizations also report that since the 9/11 attacks, contributions have dropped “dramatically.” Adam Carroll, relief coordinator for the Queens-based Islamic Circle of North America, a charity that offers its clients a wide range of social services, said they used to feed as many as 400 hungry people a week. Nowadays, they are blessed to have enough to feed 150 people.

“Before September 11, 2001, donations averaged $4 million a year. Today, we get less than half of that,” Mr. Carroll admitted.

Other participants at the roundtable discussion included Engy Asdelkader, director of CAIR; Aisha Al-Adiwya, Women in Islam; Partha Banjeree, New Jersey Immigration Policy Network; Louis Abdelatif Cristillo, Muslims of NYC Project, Middle East; Bhairavi Desai, NYC Taxi Workers Alliance; Susan Davies, Chatham Peace Initiative; Dalia Hashad, ACLU; Subhash Kateel, Families for Freedom; Bobby Khan, Coney Island Avenue Project; and Sin-Yen Ling, Asian American Defense Fund.