The New York Civil Liberties Union hailed a report issued today by the Office of Inspector General of the United States Department of Justice that details a wide range of abuses and misconduct by federal government officials in their treatment of immigrants swept up in the investigation following the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center. Because most of those held were arrested in New York or brought to New York, the NYCLU has been centrally involved in efforts to protect the rights of those who were arrested.
Today's report corroborates a host of complaints filed by the NYCLU and others: immigrants were indiscriminately arrested without any evidence of connection to criminal misconduct, were held without justification in highly restrictive confinement at the federal detention facility in Brooklyn, were denied access to lawyers and family members for long periods of time, were physically and verbally abused by guards, and were held in detention far longer than the law or circumstances warranted. Overall, the report paints a picture of a Justice Department that was unconcerned about respecting the legal and human rights of those swept up in the investigation.
NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said, "This marks an important first step in the history that must be told about the mistreatment of immigrants in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attack. What happened in New York must not happen again, and we call on the Justice Department to implement immediate reforms."
NYCLU Associate Legal Director Christopher Dunn, who visited many detainees at the federal detention facility in Brooklyn, said, "We long have been deeply concerned about the treatment we witnessed while visiting immigrants in federal custody in Brooklyn. This report corroborates what many of us believed was happening: immigrants were indiscriminately arrested, were mistreated in custody, and were detained for long periods of time without justification."