The NYCLU and the ACLU today joined thousands of other New Yorkers at the Federal Plaza INS office today to protest the government's latest attack on immigrants from Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian countries.

NYCLU Executive Director, Donna Lieberman, who was scheduled to speak at the rally outside the INS today, sharply criticized the program: "This latest campaign of racial, religious and ethnic profiling has disrupted or destroyed the lives of thousands of Americans and foreign visitors and fostered a climate of fear, intimidation and discrimination. The Special Registration program makes a mockery of the democratic principles upon which we all rely. And in the name of 'anti-terrorism' this program actually undermines meaningful law enforcement efforts, because it alienates and intimidates and retaliates against the very populations whose cooperation is so important."

Lieberman added, "I'll be at Federal Plaza today to register along with the people who are the targets of the ill-conceived program -- I'll be there to register my dissent!"

Lieberman and Dalia Hashad, Arab, Muslim and South Asian Advocate for the ACLU were also at the New York INS office all day today to monitor the program.

Today marks the deadline for this round of special registration which requires a mandatory personal appearance at the INS office where individuals are fingerprinted, photographed, and interrogated.

Last month, in Los Angeles, hundreds of Middle Eastern men, including teenagers, who reported voluntarily to comply with the new INS registration requirements were summarily detained without warrants or charges, and held without bond under harsh and abusive conditions, sometimes without access to attorneys, families, or adequate food or clothing.

Hashad , who was also due to speak at the rally, said, "The ACLU calls upon the government to put an immediate end to this disastrous, and harmful program and we call upon all Americans to join with us and register their dissent."