Racist Rhetoric Fuels War Talk

(with intrusive Slingshot editing)

Well, it looks as if the good people of the rural U.S. should be breathing a sigh of relief right about now. What with the President and most Americans itching to bomb any place where terrorists might be hiding one can only imagine the kind of wrath that would have been brought down upon the heads of folks in Iowa or Nebraska had the guilty parties been white boys with crew-cuts, like Tim McVeigh. All this talk of “carpet bomb ’em back into the stone age,” would have to have been replaced with “bomb ’em back to the ‘Dust Bowl”.

But the fact is, we all know that such a scenario would never have transpired, and not because white boys aren’t capable of inflicting mass death. They certainly are. McVeigh proved that, if Hitler, Stalin, Andrew Jackson, Lyndon Johnson and Dick Nixon weren’t sufficient to make the case. But because the folks who are so quick to collectivize the responsibility and the payback when the perps are dark-skinned or “foreign,” are just as quick not to do so when white boys are the ones committing mass murder or engaging in terrorist activities.

Bottom line: people who look different, speak a different language or practice a different religion are a lot easier to view as the “other”, the enemy, somehow cutoff from the common humanity of which we consider ourselves a part. And so we speak now of killing Arabs indiscriminately, of not differentiating between the guilty and the innocent (ironically, the precise mentality of whomever carried out last week’s attacks). But we would have said none of these things had the perpetrators been internal extremists. We would never have heard columnists calling for profiling of white men, the way that reactionary crank Ann Coulter, called for the same against Arabs and Muslims this week. Actually, she also opined that it should be the role of the United States to invade “their” countries, kill “their” leaders, and “convert them to Christianity.” If these were the words of an Imam, calling for the forced conversion of Southern Baptists to Islam, we would call them the fanatical ramblings of a jihad-happy madman. But when Coulter says it she finds mass support for her nuttiness .

And so what does that leave us with? The fact is, I don’t know. And neither do you. And why can’t we just say that, admit our frailties and uncertainties and ignorance. That we demand quick and easy answers is indicative of our cultural attachment to instant gratification.

No wonder so much of the world looks at America with contempt and at Americans as spoiled children. First, we train terrorists the world over, including bin Laden, because we had to “get the commies” at all costs, even if it meant supporting dictators and murderers. Then we support corrupt and brutal regimes that trample the rights of their citizens.

This is not to say that any of these things, no matter how irresponsible or even criminal warrant an act the likes of what we saw September 11th. But there is something to be said for understanding why no one likes you. This is no game. There is no “winner” despite the blustery rhetoric of our frat-boy-in-chief. And unless we begin to fundamentally alter the way we as a nation operate around the world, we are in for many years of violence, empty platitudes and body bags. And if that happens, it won’t merely be the fault of those who attack us from outside, but also the fault of those who are the enemies of justice inside the American empire. There will be more than enough blame to go around.

Anarchy Means Talking to Your Neighbors

The strangest thing about the days immediately following the September 11 attack was a strange sense of unity and community that I felt, even as the nationalism and war fever also began to rage.

I talked to my 80 year old neighbor and held her hand. I talked to another neighbor, a blue collar white tough guy, and he cried openly before me. I said hi to strangers on the street and had substantive conversations with people at the grocery store. A former political rival came up and spontaneously gave me a hug. And these weren’t isolated incidents. According to radio reports, normally tough New York City felt like a small town as strangers comforted and hugged strangers on the subway. This was a feeling of community, of solidarity, of society that most of us have never experienced before.

In many ways, recent events have brought out the worst in people (racist attacks, unquestioning support for Bush, etc.) but something about this crisis also brought out something good.

It seems to me that the essence of the anarchist society we seek to build would be a spirit of community and spontaneous solidarity and caring from strangers such as some of us experienced right after the attack. We need to remember what that felt like and realize how good it felt. In a future society, these feelings of caring – wanting to take care of other people just because they are other people – wouldn’t rise out of the nationalist impulse “we’re all Americans; we’re all in this together.

Such sentiment would arise out of the realization that we’re all human beings. We’re all in this together here on this planet, and life will be much better if we can love each other and take care of people when they need help.

Respect the Beliefs of Others

I was in Lebanon, TN at the tail-end of a bike trip through the American Heartland when I heard news of the terrorist attacks. Predictably, the local Bible Belt response was applause for God and country. The line between church, state, and business grew blurry as towns staged prayer rallies on courthouse steps and churches held emergency services. Car dealerships sponsored the printing of full page “God Bless America” flags in local newspapers (complete with instructions on how to mount in car windows), and banks took out full page ads picturing the middle section of dollar bills with In God We Trust highlighted.

As a Berkeley-based anarchist, I was not prepared for this religious outpouring. Neither was I prepared for the content of the local sermons the following Sunday. I was expecting fire-and-brimstone content along the lines evangelist Jerry Falwell’s widely publicized remarks blaming the attacks on American “sinners”, including homos, liberals, and abortion advocates. Instead, most of the 20-odd sermons highlighted in a 2-page spread in the front section of the Nashville Tennessean denounced Falwell’s comments, advocating racial tolerance and caution in military retaliation.

In contrast to the relatively humble and practical Bible Belt response, President Bush in his address at the Washington Cathedral used Christian language to justify continued arrogance and domination over the rest of the world. “We will rid the world of evil,” he said, practically painting the US as God’s valiant right-hand angel.

To anarchists and other radical activists sequestered in secular ghettos, Bible Belt preaching may seem nothing more than an emotional band-aid, and Bush’s symbolism could be dismissed as more humorous nonsense from a national idiot. But, like it or not, people all over the country are dealing with this attack through prayer, and Bush’s version of Christianity is the same underlying force that justifies capitalist world domination. Anarchists cannot afford to ignore either form of Christian rhetoric. Dismissal severely limits our ability to discuss the events with anybody outside the radical ghetto. A relevant anarchist movement hinges on our ability to connect with people where they are mentally, which at this point is in the church. Revolutionary activists must develop a respectful response to this religious outpouring that relates the love-your-neighbor doctrine to anarchist values of mutual aid, while denouncing Bush’s crusader, “Onward Christian Soldier” -inspired dogma. Instead of shying away from churches, secular activists can use the shared values to help build a broad-based anti-war movement.

The values of loving your neighbor, turning the other cheek, and loving all of (god’s) creation prompt an examination of the root cause of the attacks: not hatred of freedom and democracy, as Bush would have us believe, but hatred of US agenda of total world economic control. Support for anti-American terrorism comes not simply from a mere distaste for ‘Western Civilization and cultural values’ but from feelings of powerlessness in the face of our continued acts of aggression against Muslim states and people. “There are many people in the Muslim world who are not extremists — business people, professionals — who feel the United States is a hegemon, politically and economically,” said John Esposito, Director of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University. “This creates conditions for radicalism.” Bush’s crusader mentality falls directly into the extremist-laid trap of a holy war.

Ironically, some US and Canadian Muslim groups are advising their members to “turn the other cheek” in the face of violence in an effort to prevent intensified hate crimes.

Religion and spirituality are extremely complex forces, both for dealing with personal crisis response and as motivation for larger acts. Although polls continue to indicate majority support for military action, perhaps the fact that Bible Belt sermons advocated caution in retaliation indicates that prospects for a mass anti-war movement are not altogether dim.

Display of Flag May Not Mean What You Think

Part of moving beyond isolation and fear and towards activism to oppose the coming war involves talking to our neighbors and hearing what they think, rather than making assumptions that “the mainstream” all favors war. The media is telling one story, but I’m beginning to think when you actually talk to people a lot of people aren’t being reflected in the polls and man-on-the-street interviews.

Walking around, even in Berkeley, one sees the American flag flying on numerous houses – more than I’ve ever seen before. Far more than on the 4th of July. And according to reports, the flag is up even more in the rest of the Country. Flags are sold out in stores across the Country. Even my normally left/liberal parents have hung out a flag.

Does this mean that all of these people are unquestioning Bush supporters or supporters of war? We must not assume this. I’ve been talking to people flying the flag, and at least around here, average people are really worried about the war being worse than the September 11 attack. While some of these people may want “justice” or some kind of surgical attack on whoever may be responsible (putting aside for a moment whether such surgery is possible with high explosives) most people don’t support a war. The realize that a war where there is no definable enemy is a disaster waiting to happen. At least for the moment, the flag can be merely a symbol of solidarity with people who have lost loved ones. I’m not saying we should all fly the flag, but we shouldn’t immediately assume al the flags means the mass of people in this country wants a disastrous, permanent war. They don’t.

Planning for Revolution Requires Communication

There’s no doubt about it folks, we are in hard times. This country is on the verge of waging a bloody interminable war. Jingoistic nationalism is on the rise. Our civil liberties are already being restricted. In addition, there is good chance that some of us may be looking out from the razor wire before very long. The only bright side of this is that we no longer have to preach quite so hard about the evils of corporate capitalism. The State will soon be graphically illustrating these evils more efficiently than we ever could.

People are not stupid. They will become either increasingly radicalized or increasingly nationalistic. We can discourage the nationalistic option by encouraging participation in any of the of the multitudinous anti-war, anti-racist, civil liberties, pro-justice groups in which they feel most comfortable. As this crisis continues, all these different groups will be forced to draw the same conclusions regarding Capitalism that we reached a long time ago. The remainder of this article consists of a series of tentative methods to facilitate self-organization in our communities.

Work within your own Community

Other groups must organize themselves. You are not going to be very effective if you are a white middle class adult, trying to affiliate yourself with young people of color in Oakland.

Instead, start talking to folks in your own neighborhood. You might be amazed how radicalized most people already are and what bullshit president-select Bush is flinging around when he brags about the unanimous American support for his pro-war and repressive ant-terrorist policies.

Discover what groups your neighbors are already participating in and work out ways of coordinating the efforts of their groups and yours. Suggest new groups that match their inclinations and existing political beliefs.

Encourage local homes and businesses to display flyers and/or posters that are both direct and explicit, while not endorsing a particular organization or cause. Excellent examples are the “Hate Free Zone” flyers made by Global Exchange, or the “War is Not the Answer” Poster by The Middle Eastern Children’s Alliance. Better yet, create your own. This will act as a counter-display to all of those frightening American flags that people are waving. It is also a display of both our solidarity and our diversity.

Avoid Rhetoric

Nothing frightens and alienates people more than someone spewing a bunch of Marxist-Leninist bible-babble or politically correct bullshit at them. You will never communicate with people unless you talk to them about concrete immediate issues, while avoiding any diatribes.

Also, avoid the rhetoric and p.c. criticism within our own groups. We all have some racist, sexist, homophobic, and classist attitudes. We live in a society that has fostered those attitudes in us since birth. The best we can do is be aware of them and minimize them. Rhetoric only discourages individual participation in the group’s discussion. It deflects us from our immediate crucial goals.

Rhetoric also makes it incredibly easy for police agents to infiltrate our movements. The cops can mimic our jargon with few problems. It is much more difficult for them to imitate the way we actually think, feel and relate.

Discover Who Our Allies Are

These groups can range from the Animal Liberation Front to the American Friends Service Committee, from the Pagan Cluster to Jews for Economic Justice to a variety of Christian social justice organizations. Go to a variety of meetings and see if you can coordinate any activities. Alternatively, you could form a separate affinity group, dedicated to a specific action from like-minded people in these different organizations.

Be aware of the existence of these different groups although you might not want to participate. If you know of their existence, you can recommend them to your friends and neighbors.

Likewise, whenever you attend a mass demonstration, go there with the primary goal of connecting with people you don’t normally hang with. These folks might make you aware of further actions. On the other hand, you may want to connect with them at a future time.

Critically Examine All of the Above Statements

All of these suggestions are based solely on my personal experiences. I do not pretend to be an expert theorist and my experiences within the Anarchist movement have been limited. The only thing that I am sure of is this: We must build Solidarity while maintaining our Diversity. Any pre-defined system that replaces the capitalist state we have now will be just as evil.


We Are Not Alone

We know it’s easy to feel isolated for being against the war in a sea of war-mongerers. So, to inspire you and let you know you’re not alone, we’re including a list of some of the many anti-war events that have already taken place in such a short period of time!

  • Sydney, Australia: anti-war, anti-scapegoating rally =”No Retaliation”
  • Chicago: local Direct Action Network called a organizing meeting, 200 in attendance to plan vigils.
  • Minneapolis: “Black ribbon” campaign started, where people are tying black ribbons around trees instead of the traditional yellow ones.
  • Houston: 60 anti-war demonstrators gathered Friday, Sept. 14 at the Federal Building, asking to “end the cycle of violence.”
  • Bar Harbor, Maine: 70 people marched with banners at an anti-war rally at local college, against the attack on civil liberties.
  • New Brunswick, NJ: several activist organizations are planning demos, including the local Food Not Bombs, who has released a statement reagarding the current threat of war.
  • St. Louis: Food Not Bombs put an anti-war theme on one of their servings. A pro-war passer-by alerted some cops who ordered banners and chalk messages removed per local “no signage” ordinance. The busybody objected further, so the cops shut the serving down completely. The whole crowd moved a block east and was able to continue serving.
  • DC: Hundreds participated in an anti-war vigil Friday, Sept. 14.
  • Philly: First meeting of Concerned Students Against Discrimination Thursday, Sept. 20, where 120 Penn State students, primarily people of Middle Eastern descent. Emphasis of the meetings has been the personal safety of students on campus due to recent racially-motivated attacks, as well as holding the mainstream media accountable for its misinformation.
  • London: Peace vigil outside Downing St., about 300 in attendance. Also a smaller rally met outside the Parliament building. There was heavy police presence there, and one protester was assaulted by a cop. The rally then joined up with the larger rally at Downing St.
  • Atlanta: 200 anti-war protesters met downtown Saturday, Sept. 15 at Woodruff Park, including workers’ organizations, monks, and revolutionary knitters. Also 100 people gathered for a peace vigil outside Martin Luther King, Jr.’s tomb.
  • Montreal: Lots of organizational meetings, vigils planned for every Friday, defense groups formed to protect people from racially-based attacks. Also an emergency rally is planned for if/when the US attacks another country.
  • Toronto: Close to 300 attended meeting of concerned citizens to discuss and organize against the war hysteria and recent racist backlashes. Six working groups formed to take collective action.
  • Portland: 3000 anti-war demonstrators rallied and walked around the block. It was a self-directed peaceful march with very little police presence.
  • Concord CA: 300 attended a peaceful vigil downtown organized by a local youth group.
  • Fresno CA: 400 attended a March for Unity, beginning at a church and ending at a mosque. Anti-war and anti-racist, pro-social and economic justice.
  • Austin: 750 demonstrators held an anti-war protest Thursday, Sept. 20 although the mainstream media reported that there were “close to a hundred” there.
  • Boston: 1000 people attended an anti-war vigil Wednesday, Sept. 19 at Copley Square. Hundreds marched afterwards to Harvard Square. Also peace vigil at Harvard the next day.
  • Urbana, IL: 100 people met at the Urbana-Champaign IMC office to discuss anti-war thoughts and strategies.
  • NYC: Several anti-war rallies and teach-ins, including a march on Sept. 21 from Union Square to Times Square.
  • New Orleans: anti-war vigil took place Saturday, Sept. 15. More vigils planned.
  • Quebec: Two anti-war student walk-outs took place Wednesday, Sept. 12 (that’s less than a day to organize!!!), one at a high school and one at a women’s college.
  • Troy, NY: Local Quaker, Catholic Worker, and pagan communities organized a peace rally Saturday, Sept. 15 with 200 in attendance, near an Uncle Sam statue. Banners and flowers a-plenty.

Senate Democrats "Unify" Behind Bush

The Senate unanimously voted to restore $1.3 billion to the defense budget for a “missile defense system” September 22.

Senate Democrats successfully denied funding for missile defense earlier this month. Now in this climate of war-hysteria, they unanimously voted to restore funding for a system that they know could not possibly work., a system designed to protect us against enemies who no longer exist.

Democratic Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, urged the Senate to restore funding for this missile defense system he previously opposed. He also withdrew provisions from a bill that required Bush to obtain congressional approval before undertaking activities that would violate the 1972 Antiballistic Missile Treaty.

Senator Levin said he had backed off on those issues because “An attempt to resolve them now would create dissent where we need unity”.

Unity. The one thing war is very effective at is creating unity by way of fear. Unity behind the president no matter how moronic his policies are. Unity behind a military that’s receiving a $343 billion defense budget this year, but cannot defend its own command center against a passenger plane. The Senate is sacrificing our civil rights with anti-terrorist legislation, but that’s acceptable because it’s in the name of Unity.

Repression in times of war has always been in the name of Unity. Wait and see.

Evironmental Threatcon Delta

The US is in crisis and the Bush administration is scrambling to exploit the few remaining natural resources that aren’t locked down. While Congress is so concerned about anti-terrorist strategy and spending billions to fight an undefined enemy, why is there still talk of drilling for oil in Alaska? The country is thirsty for the instant gratification of war. All efforts for preservation of natural resources and developing renewable energy sources are going in the toilet.

Now, more than ever, environmentalists need to keep monitoring national policies.

Congress has already authorized huge increases in military funding. This means consequent decreases in funding for federal EPA, toxic waste clean-up and the few remaining federal agencies that were supposed to be monitoring or cleaning up our environment.

Factories will try to increase production while decreasing costs by not treating their raw sewage. Instead they will recklessly dump toxic waste directly into our environment. They will justify these actions as “crucial for the National Defense”.

This issue has not been addressed by the media. We can’t be distracted and let those in power undermine what few enviormental laws we have left.

While it is crucial to organize for peace and anti-raciscm, we cannot look away from the continuous threat of environmental degradation that existed before September 11. That threat is even more critical now.

Get Informed! Get Hooked In!

Beware! The corporate/mainstream media is rife with misinformation, not to mention run by and for the ruling class. To get clued in to various anti-war efforts, contact some of the following organizations/media sources.

RAWA(Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan) is a political/social organization of Afghan women struggling for

peace, freedom, democracy and women’s rights in fundamentalism-blighted Afghanistan.



760-281-9855 (USA)

0044-870-1394051 (UK)

Arm the Spirit, an autonomist/anti-imperialist info collective out of Toronto


P.O. Box 6326, Stn. A

Toronto, Ont.

M5W 1P7 Canada

American Civil Liberties Union Freedom Network



Global Exchange SF

http:// www.globalexchange.org


Grassroots Organizers from the Muslim & Arab Community


National Police Accountability Project Inc. (NPAP)

c/o Center for Constitutional Rights

666 Broadway, 7th Floor

New York, NY 10012

phone: (212) 614-6432

fax: (212) 614-6499

e-mail policeproject@nlg.org

American Arab Anti Discrimination Committee

4201 Connecticut Ave, N.W; Suite 300

Washington, D.C. 20008, USA

phone:(202) 244-2990

telefax:(202) 244-3196

E-Mail: ADC@adc.org

National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom Defending the Constitutional Rights of Political Expression and Association,for Immigrants and Citizens Alike

3321- 12th St, NE, Washington DC 20017

202-529-4225, 202-526-4611-fax

Colours of Resistance


Grassroots network of people who actively work to develop multiracial, anti-racist politics in the movement against global capitalism.

c/o Shakti Women of Colour Collective

QPIRG at McGill

3647 University Street, 3rd Floor

Montréal, QC, H3A 2B3, Canada

Peoples´ Global Action


c/o Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), 377 Bank Street,

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

e-mail: pga@agp.org

Tech-heads: the following are alternative media web-sites you can consult for news:









Don't Kiss Your Rights Goodbye

In these dangerous times, activists and everyone else need to be especially careful about police repression. Here are some hints on resisting government repression. The most important response, though, is to avoid succumbing to the disruption and paranoia of government attacks. Keep focused on the goal of building a new society.

What rights do I have?

The Right to Advocate for Change. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects the rights of groups and individuals who advocate changes in laws, government practices, and even the form of government.

The Right to Remain Silent. The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution provides that every person has the right to remain silent in the face of questions posed by any police officer or government agent.

The Right to be Free from “Unreasonable Searches and Seizures.” The Fourth Amendment is supposed to protect your privacy. Without a warrant, no government agent is allowed to search your home or office and you can refuse to let them in. Know, however, that it is easy for the government to monitor your telephone calls, conversations in your office, home, car, or meeting place, as well as mail. E-mail is particularly insecure. The government has already begun stepping up its monitoring of e-mails. Use of an encryption program such as PGP offers relatively secure protection for e-mail communication.

Constitutional Rights Cannot Be Suspended – Even During A State Of Emergency Or Wartime.

What should I do if agents come to question me?

1. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO TALK TO THE POLICE, FBI, INS, OR ANY OTHER LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENT OR INVESTIGATOR. You do not have to talk to anyone: on the street, at your home or office, if you’ve been arrested, or even if you’re in jail. Only a judge has the legal authority to order you to answer questions.

2. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO LET POLICE OR OTHER LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENTS INTO YOUR HOME OR OFFICE UNLESS THEY HAVE A SEARCH WARRANT OR ARREST WARRANT. Demand to see the warrant. The warrant must specifically describe the place to be searched and the things to be seized. If they have a warrant, you cannot stop them from entering and searching, but you should still tell them that you do not consent to a search. This will limit them to the scope of the search authorized by the warrant.

3. IF THEY DO PRESENT A WARRANT, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO MONITOR THEIR SEARCH AND ACTIVITIES. You have the right to observe what they do. You have the right to ask them for their names and titles. Take written notes including their names, badge numbers, and what agency they are from. Have your friends who are present act as witnesses. Give this information to your lawyer. A warrant does not give the government the right to question, nor does it obligate you to answer questions.

4. IF THE POLICE OR FBI OR INS OR ANYONE ELSE TRIES TO QUESTION YOU OR TRIES TO ENTER YOUR HOME WITHOUT A WARRANT, JUST SAY NO! Police and other law enforcement agents are very skilled at getting information from people. Many people are afraid that if they refuse to cooperate, it will appear as if they have something to hide. Don’t be fooled. The police are allowed to (and do) lie to you. Although agents may seem nice and pretend to be on your side, they are likely to be intent on learning about the habits, opinions, and affiliations of people not suspected of wrongdoing, with the end goal of stopping political activity with which the government disagrees. Trying to answer agents’ questions, or trying to “educate them” about your cause can be very dangerous. You can never tell how a seemingly harmless bit of information that you give them might be used and misconstrued to hurt you or someone else.

5. IF YOU ARE STOPPED ON THE STREET, ASK IF YOU ARE FREE TO GO. If you are stopped by the police, ask them why. If they do not have a good reason for stopping you, or if you find yourself chatting for more than about a minute, ask “Am I under arrest, or am I free to go.” If they do not state that you are under arrest, tell them that you do not wish to continue speaking with them and that you are going to go about your business. Then do so.

6. ANYTHING YOU SAY TO THE POLICE, FBI, INS, ETC. WILL BE USED AGAINST YOU AND OTHERS. Once you’ve been arrested, you cannot talk your way out of it! Don’t try to engage the cops in dialogue or respond to their accusations.

7. THE FBI MAY THREATEN YOU WITH A GRAND JURY SUBPOENA IF YOU DON’T TALK TO THEM. They may give you a subpoena anyway, so anything you tell them may permit them to ask you more detailed questions later. You may also have legal grounds to refuse to answer questions before a grand jury. If you are given a grand jury subpoena, you should call a lawyer immediately (see contact information at the end). Tell your friends and movement groups about the subpoena and discuss how to respond. Do not try to deal with this alone.

8. IF YOU ARE NERVOUS ABOUT SIMPLY REFUSING TO TALK, TELL THEM TO CONTACT YOUR LAWYER. They should stop trying to question you once you announce your desire to consult a lawyer. You do not have to already have one. Remember to get the name, agency, and telephone number of any investigator who visits you.

How should I respond to threatening letters or calls?

If your home or office is broken into, or threats have been made against you, your organization, or someone you work with, share this information with everyone affected. Take immediate steps to increase personal and office security. You should discuss with your organization and with a lawyer whether and how to report such incidents to the police and the advisability of taking other legal action. If you decide to make a report, do not do so without a lawyer present.

What if I suspect surveillance?

Prudence is the best course, no matter who you suspect, or what the basis of your suspicion. Do not hesitate to confront suspected agents politely, in public, with at least one other person present, and inquire about their business. If the suspect declines to answer, he or she at least now knows that you are aware of the surveillance. If you suspect government agents are monitoring you, or are harassing you, report this as described at the end of this packet.

What if I am not a citizen?


2. DO NOT TALK TO THE INS, EVEN ON THE PHONE, before talking to an immigration lawyer. Many INS officers view “enforcement,” meaning deporting people, as their primary job. They do not believe that explaining immigration options is part of their job, and most will readily admit this. (Noncitizens who are victims of domestic abuse should speak with an expert in both immigration law and domestic violence.) A noncitizen should always speak with an immigration law expert before speaking to the INS either in person or by telephone.


All noncitizens have the following rights, regardless of your immigration status:

1. The right to speak to an attorney before answering any questions or signing any documents;

2. The right to a hearing with an Immigration Judge;

3. The right to have an attorney at that hearing and in any interview with INS (however you do not have the right to a free, government-paid lawyer); and

4. The right to request release from detention, by paying a bond if necessary. Noncitizens must assert these rights. If you do not demand these rights, you can be deported without seeing either an attorney or a judge. Leaving the U.S. in this way may have serious consequences for your ability to later enter or to gain legal immigration status in the U.S.


Anyone not a U.S. citizen may be barred from coming back to the U.S. if they fall into certain categories of people barred from entering. This includes some lawful permanent residents and applicants for green c
ards. Some noncitizens that have been in the U.S. without INS permission may be permanently barred from re-entering. In addition, some noncitizens that leave the US and return with INS permission may be swiftly removed from the U.S. if they end up in immigration proceedings.


Partnership for Civil Justice

In Washington, DC, request assistance or report incidents of harassment to (202) 530-5630, or legal@justiceonline.org

National Lawyers Guild

National office: (212) 627-2656, www.nlg.org

National Immigration Project: (617) 227-9727

First Amendment Foundation

A resource on civil liberties and the right of political dissent. (202) 529-4225.

National Immigration Law Center

Immigration law information is available on

American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee

Report hate crimes and harassment against Arab Americans and Muslims to

(202) 244-2990.

Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)

Advocating for American-Muslim rights and against acts of discrimination.

(202) 488-8787