Immigration lawyers estimate between 1,000 and 2,500 Muslim men and boys have been detained in Southern California over the past week by the INS. This according to Reuters.
Most of the men and boys are Iranian. They were arrested for routine visa irregularities after they visited local INS offices voluntarily, to register under a new government directive.
Immigration lawyers say the men and boys were photographed, fingerprinted, interrogated, and subjected to strip searches in freezing, standing room only detention centers. They say they have been held for days in inhumane conditions.
Thousands of Iranian-Americans demonstrated against the arrests outside a federal building in Los Angeles on Wednesday. Some signs read: “Detain Terrorists Not Innocent Immigrants,'’ and “What Next?Concentration Camps?'’
Under the new rules, almost all non-citizen males 16 and over from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan and Syria were required to register with the INS by this past Monday.
Men from 13 other countries are required to register by Jan. 10, while men from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan must register by Feb. 21. Every country on the INS list is predominantly Muslim except North Korea.
- Ban Al-Wardi, immigration attorney and board member of the Los Angeles/Orange County chapter of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee. She represented about 30 men who registered over the past week, about half were arrested and detained.