Friends of Refugees

A U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program Watchdog Group

Under current US immigration law even anti-Nazi resistance fighters would have been labeled as “terrorists”

Posted by Christopher Coen on April 25, 2012

Memorial plaque to resistance members and wreath at the Bendlerblock, Berlin

Under Section 212(a)(3)(b) of current federal immigration law even the partisans who supported those who fought Nazis in Germany would have been designated as members of Tier III terrorist groups. How could that be? Well, according to an article in City Pages, “under the law, any group of ‘two or more individuals, whether organized or not, which engages in’ terrorist activity can be labeled a Tier III terrorist group, with ‘terrorist activity’ defined as any use of violence for purposes other than personal enrichment”. Not only that, but there is no publicly available list of Tier III terrorist groups. The article explains that groups are labeled Tier III on a case-by-case basis:

…Under Section 212(a)(3)(b) of federal immigration law, immigrants involved with terrorist groups are not admissable to the United States. But in the wake of 9/11, lawmakers broadly expanded the definition of “terrorist.” That transformed thousands of refugees and asylees already granted protection by the federal government into newly minted “terrorists,” delaying thousands of immigrants’ cases for months and years…

The USA PATRIOT Act created new definitions of “terrorist organizations” and providing “material support” to terrorism. It created two categories of terrorist organizations, labeled Tier I and Tier II. Maintained by the State Department, the list includes organizations like Al-Qaeda, Peru’s Shining Path, Colombia’s FARC, Al-Shabaab, and many others.

But the PATRIOT Act also created a third tier: “undesignated” terrorist organizations. Under the law, any group of “two or more individuals, whether organized or not, which engages in” terrorist activity can be labeled a Tier III terrorist group, with “terrorist activity” defined as any use of violence for purposes other than personal enrichment.

A 2005 bill, the REAL ID Act, broadened the PATRIOT Act’s definition of a “Tier III terrorist organization” to include any organization with a subgroup that engages in “terrorist activity.”

Unlike Tier I and Tier II organizations, there is no publicly available list of Tier III terrorist groups. Groups are labeled Tier III on a case-by-case basis, which is a problem for advocates.

“It’s so broadly written and written with such ambiguous language that it essentially allows the government at any time to assert that a group is a terrorist organization based on some very limited connection to violent activity,” says Ashley Huebner, a supervising attorney at the National Immigrant Justice Center. “And that’s where the majority of people are getting caught up.”…

…Critics of the terrorism bar contend that it transforms vulnerable asylees and refugees into terrorists and puts genuine heroes’ applications on hold. Under the current statute, even the partisans who supported those who fought Nazis in Germany would have been flagged… Read more here

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