Asian American civil rights groups seek disclosure on ‘special interest countries’ – Northwest Asian Weekly


On Dec. 14, two Asian American civil rights organizations, the Asian Law Caucus (ALC) and the Asian American Legal Defense Fund (AALDEF), asked the federal government to reveal how Customs and Border Protection agents single out individuals at the border based solely on their national origin.

The two organizations issued a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to understand how immigration authorities’ internal lists designating individuals from “special interest countries” may be used to stop innocent citizens and non-citizens for indiscriminate searches and questioning. Veena Dubal, a staff attorney at ALC in San Francisco stated that “the American public deserves to know what the policy is and how it is being used.”

The ALC and AALDEF have received numerous inquiries from U.S. citizens and residents regarding CBP interviews and searches at U.S. ports of entry for the past four years.

Many individuals have expressed concerns related to lengthy secondary inspections, searches, and interviews including questioning about lawful religious and political activities.

Sameer Ahmed, a Skadden Fellow at the AALDEF, reiterated the importance of government transparency on this issue. “Only by releasing the requested information will the public know for certain that the government is making good on its promises,” Ahmed said.