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Volume 68, Issue 1, Date

Opinion
 

Our Lady Liberty turns her head

Craig Byrnes
Opinion Columnist

The United States Senate is in the process of debating a Homeland Security Act that would pull over 170,000 employees from different branches of the government and, in theory, create the largest governmental department the country has ever seen, second only to the Department of Defense.

Looking at the controversy, it would be possible to go on and on about the inner workings of the bill, but let's just sort through a few issues that have citizens and government officials up in arms.

When the terrorists attacked, their intentions were to destroy the freedom we all take for granted. Depending on whom you talk to, recent isolationism has changed the way we walk down our streets.

The Department of Homeland Security unintentionally limits the everyday freedoms we so enjoy, but one in particular stands out above the rest. The great number of immigrants who come to America to find a better way of life for their children are now so scrutinized they fear detainment or deportation. The Immigration and Naturalization Service has started making decisions arbitrarily somewhere along the way.

I am disgusted with recent INS actions. A local Palestinian family of four received their deportation order last Friday after living here for 11 years. They are considered a "flight risk" or "security risk." This innocent family has been through constant turmoil, including a late night raid of their home, during which they were all arrested. The father and brother still remain detained.

For this family to pack up and go, they must close their family flag-making business. They will be removed to the constant conflict of Jordan. I want to know why this is happening.

The INS will not give hard evidence nor will they release any information pertaining to detainments or deportations without court action. Is this the freedom we all expect in the home of the brave and the land of the free?

Laws continue to be squeezed, citing risk to national security. Whatever happened to the Freedom of Information Act? What ever happened to a government by the people for the people? It is impossible to get anything out of the Department of Justice, which oversees the INS. They refuse to comment on anything that might bring them into a bad light.

I feel the need to mention a FOIA exemption in the pending homeland security legislation that gives corporations civil immunity from the release of information without prosecution. Not only are we causing an increase in anti-American sentiment from our immigrants we are giving corporations the opportunity to hide problems larger than those of Enron or WorldCom.

This piece of legislation will ultimately be for the good, but it is imperative for us to look at it a bit closer. We need to stand up and protect the freedom that is rightly ours. If we don't I can only imagine where we will stand.

Byrnes, a junior communication major, 
can be reached at craig_uh@yahoo.com

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