Sympathetic stories about photo-taking illegal immigrants seem to be the order of the day.
The New York Times gives us the sad story of Purna Raj Bajracharya of Nepal. Shortly after September 11, Bajracharya was seen videotaping a building that contained an FBI office. He was detained for three months in New York City, then deported.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post tells us the sad story of Ansar Mahmood, a Pakistani pizza deliveryman who was detained after he asked a stranger to take a picture of a reservoir. He had violated immigration rules and has been ordered deported.
Bajracharya’s principal complaint is that he was not deported more quickly. Like many illegal immigrants rounded up in the aftermath of 9/11, he had to wait for three months while overloaded caseworkers at the FBI made sure he was not a terrorist. It is unfortunate that Bajracharya was not deported more quickly, but a three month wait is legal and is understandable given the context. (At the time, the FBI was investigating the Sept. 11 attacks and the anthrax attacks; speed took a back seat to security.) Bajracharya’s other complaints–that he was forced to stand naked, that he was “manhandled,” that he was not allowed to return home in a suit–do not amount to much. Even Bajracharya does not seem to feel too wronged. “I still believe the American government is the best in the world,” he told the Times.
The principal objection in the other story is that Mahmood came under scrutiny because he is from a Middle Eastern country. As one supporter put it, “His case was so clearly a case of racial profiling, it seemed only right that they shouldn’t deport him.” Yes, Mahmood probably would not have been detained if he was a native-born, blond-haired man. So, notwithstanding the denials of government officials, there was an aspect of national origin profiling going on here. This is not something to be ashamed of. Focusing on Middle Eastern men is entirely appropriate in the wake of a major terrorist attack carried out by 19 Middle Eastern men.
The bottom line: there is nothing wrong with enforcing immigration law even if those deported were singled out because of their national origin and have no ties to terrorism. As Temple University law professor Jan Ting noted in testimony before the 9/11 Commission, “Such removals indirectly serve the war on terrorism by reducing the number of illegal aliens and the resulting culture of fraudulent documents among whom and in which foreign terrorists can conceal themselves.”
As for the idea that the government is being paranoid when it comes to Middle Easterners acting suspiciously with cameras, here’s a reality check from former federal prosecutor Andy McCarthy and here’s the latest on those Iranian security guards who were taking pictures of New York landmarks and structures.
Captain Ed has some cogent comments on the failure to kick these guys out after being caught three times around these sites:
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Counterterrorism is an unusual place to put in a “three strikes and you’re out” rule, isn’t it? After the first incident, we should have demanded the videotape back, and perhaps we did, but any further incidents should have resulted in immediate expulsion. After all, as the AP notes, it’s not as though it would risk our diplomatic relationship with the Iranian mullahcracy, because we have none to damage.
Taking pictures of infrastructure and transportation appears to be more of a preparation for an attack on the ability to keep people alive in the city rather than just a showy (but deadly) attack on a building complex. Again, when would such systems be taxed to their limits? In August, when thousands of Republicans come to the Big Apple to nominate Bush for re-election, with the nation focused on the convention. I wouldn’t be surprised if something similar has been happening in Boston, either, especially since two of the four 9/11 flights took off from Logan Airport and AQ terrorists continue to operate out of Beantown.
February 19, 2008 01:02 PM by Michelle Malkin
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June 9, 2004 12:15 AM by Michelle Malkin