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SUBMISSIONS FOR THE RECORD
May 21, 2007
The Honorable Patrick Leahy, Chairman
Dear Chairman Leahy and Senator Specter:
We strongly support your legislation to restore habeas corpus for detainees in US custody.
The Military Commissions Act eliminated the right to file a Writ for Habeas Corpus, for any noncitizen determined to be an enemy combatant, or even “awaiting” such a determination. That includes millions of non-US citizens who may be long-term Legal Permanent Residents, or legal visitors, students, temporary workers, or even refugees or asylees in the US.
There are millions of foreign-born legal residents in the US who are legally authorized to live and work in the US for months, years, and even indefinitely. These foreign born residents may be citizens of other countries, or even be stateless. However they are living among us with US citizens spouses and children, working in highly skilled and low skilled jobs, studying, teaching, building, discovering, inventing, caring, and investing in our communities in countless ways, and contributing positively to our valued way of life. However, this law treats these valued residents as second-class citizens. This new law provides that non-citizens can be detained, forever, without any ability to challenge their detention in federal court - or anywhere else – simply on the Government's say-so that they are awaiting determination whether they are enemy combatants.
The denial of habeas corpus to these foreign nationals, who live among us, is not in our nations best interest. We cannot hope to maintain a just society while eliminating basic legal and human rights for a considerable segment of our population, based on their immigration classification. Legal immigrants are an essential part of the fabric of our American way of life. Depriving them of the protection from arbitrary arrests and unlimited detention will not only harm immigrants, it will harm our communities and our economy. The right to habeas corpus is a vital check that our legal system provides against Government abuse. The right to file for habeas corpus ensures accountability, accuracy, and credibility.
We urge that Congress to restore habeas corpus for all people who live in the US, regardless of their immigration status, and thus show the world that our legal principals and rule of law apply to all who reside in this country and not just those who are lucky enough to be US citizens.
We hope that Congress will act quickly to pass this legislation.
I am writing on behalf of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York to express the Association's strong support for S. 185, which you jointly introduced, entitled a bill "TO Restore habeas corpus for those detained by the United States.” The bill, among other things, would amend 28 U.S.C. § 2241 by striking out subsection (e), the provision inserted by the Detainee Treatment Act ("OTA") and the Military Commission Act ("MCA") stripping courts of habeas corpus jurisdiction with respect to aliens dclained as "enemy combatants."
I understand that the Senate Judiciary Committec will be holding bearings on this bill and the subject of restoring habeas in the coming week. I have written to you and other members of Congress twice in the last two months, emphasizing the Association's deep concerns about the denial of habeas corpus to these detainees. We hope the hearings you are holding will be the impetus for immediale and urgent action to restore habcas corpus review for these derainecs.
Many of thesc detainces have abready been detained for over five years without charges and without any meaningful process to determine the legitimnacy of their detention. The Supreme Cour, apparently based on its own institutional principles of restraint, has delayed taking up the issue of the validity of the habeas scripping provisions at least pending the exhaustion of the D.C. Circuit's revicw, pursuant to the DTA, of the deuinoes' status determinations.
THE ASSOCIATION OF THE BAR OF THE CnY OF NEW YORK
42 West 44* Strect, New York, NY 10036-6689
That process of review only means more delay and moreover is so limited that it is likely to prove inadequarc. As we previously wged, Congress has a duty imunediately to correct this grave injustice and stain on our Naion's reputation for fairness and support for the rule of law, without waiting for action by the courts.
For your convenience, I am attaching another copy of the Association's Report concerning the restoration of habeas corpus and the March 6, 2007 letter transmitting it, and a copy of our letter dated April 3, 2007, again urging prompt Congressional action to restorc habeas Corpus, in the wake of the Supreme Court's denial of certiorari in the cases seeking review of thc habcas stripping provisions. These documents explain in greater detail why such action by Congress is immediately needed.
Barry M. Kamins
Senate Judiciary Committee
Dear Senalor Leahy, Senator Spector, Represcntative Conyers and Representative Smith:
Founded in 1870, the Association is an independent non-govemmental organization with a membership of more ihan 22.000 lawyers, judges, law professors and government officials, principally from New York City but also from throughout the United Slates and from SO other countries.
Restoring Habeas Corpus and the Judiciary's Role
In Enforcing the Geneva Conventions
Boumcdiene v. Bush, No. 5062, Al-Odah v. Bush, No. 5064 (D.C. Cir. February 20, 2007)
U.S. 466 (2004)