Immigration laws need to be realistic
By Matt Kelly
country needs to tighten its immigration requirements, while also
being practical and humane, according to U.Va. law
professor David A. Martin, a former general counsel for the Immigration
and Naturalization Service.
the Henry L. and Grace Doherty Charitable Foundation Professor
of Law, spoke Nov. 9 on immigration law as part of a series about
the fallout of the Sept. 11 attacks. He was joined by David Klein,
an assistant professor of government and foreign affairs, who
warned that courts dont always protect civil liberties and
spoke on the impact of recently proposed anti-terrorism legislation.
noted an abrupt swing of the pendulum in immigration law following
Sept. 11. Before the attack, there was talk of an amnesty for
illegal aliens, he said, noting that an effective amnesty has
to be part of a credible enforcement plan. While immigration policies
must be based on the rule of law, they also must be humane and
realistic, he said.
severe measures have been suggested, such as not admitting refugees
to the U.S. and suspending the issuance of student visas, Martin
argued a more realistic approach would involve better immigrant
screening at U.S. embassies, including mandatory personal interviews
of visa applicants, greater sharing of information and improved
noted that there had been an outcry over lax immigration policy
after the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993, but officials
were bound by policies that had been loosened in the 1970s with
the Helsinki human rights accords.
also called for better patrolling of the borders, as well as greater
cooperation from Canada, since the northern border is too expansive
to fully monitor.
INS should also rethink how it monitors, or doesnt monitor,
people once they are in the country, he said. There are 500,000
students and 30 million others who come and go. He said there
are no efforts to note when people leave, so the INS has no record
of who has overstayed visas, he said.
in his discussion, reminded his audience that there has historically
been a tendency in America to clamp down on civil liberties in
times of crisis. In retrospect, such measures usually seem excessive,
but during a crisis, peoples judgments are usually impaired
and they err on the side of severity, he said.
outlined some highlights of recent anti-terrorism legislation,
including a sneak and peek provision, which would
allow law enforcement agents to execute a search warrant without
informing the owner or tenant of the premises. The bill would
also permit using foreign intelligence wiretaps, taken without
any court approval, in a criminal prosecution.
tend to seek out new powers, and the current terror concerns make
this easier, he said. He noted, however, that some congressmen
have admitted that even if police had these powers earlier, they
probably would not have been able to prevent the Sept. 11 attacks.
and Klein discussed judicial reaction to prior restrictions. Klein
argued that the Supreme Court justices have usually gone along
with expanded police power, but Martin noted that the court recently
rejected monitoring heat output of buildings without a warrant
in a case involving the employment of infrared detection equipment
in a surveillance.
to a question from a community activist who feared that police
would use concern over terrorism to hinder other activities, such
as political activism, Klein reassured him that the law distinguishes
between U.S. citizens and aliens from other countries and what
rights they are afforded.