Last updated on: 10/5/2007 | Author:

Does the PATRIOT Act Unfairly Target Minority and Immigrant Communities?

PRO (yes)


The American Civil Liberties Union stated in its July 2003 report “UNPATRIOTIC ACT: the FBI’s Power to Rifle Through Your Records and Personal Belongings Without Telling You”:

“In the war on terrorism, the FBI has unfairly targeted minority and immigrant communities with its surveillance and enforcement efforts. The FBI and the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) rounded up over a thousand immigrants as ‘special interest’ detainees, holding many of them without charges for months. A ‘Special Registration’ program now requires tens of thousands of Arab and Muslim immigrants to submit to a call-in interview from which other immigrants are exempted.”

July 2003


National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ), in its 2002 “Statement on the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001” said:

“NCCJ is opposed to the USA PATRIOT Act because it has resulted in:

Increase of reports and acceptance of racial, ethnic and religious profiling.

Following September 11th, many Arabs, South Asians and Muslims along with Americans of Arab decent reported being questioned by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies, and an increase of racial and ethnic profiling from airport security officers. There were also reports of the FBI collecting data and conducting surveillance on mosques and Islamic centers.

While reasons for this increase in surveillance varied from protecting America from future attacks to ensuring the safety of Muslims and Arabs from becoming victims of hate crime, the result was systematic intimidation of Muslims, South Asians, U.S. citizens and residents of Arab decent.”


Pro, in its July 21, 2003 article “Patriot Act Abuse Seen,” stated:

“Over the six-month period that ended in June, the Justice Department’s inspector general found 34 complaints of rights violations that appeared credible, reports The New York Times…

The complaints concern the way the Justice Department has enforced the 2001 Patriot Act… It follows another report by the inspector general that found ‘significant problems’ in the Bush administration’s actions toward 762 foreigners held on immigration violations after Sept. 11. The FBI took too long to determine whether they were involved with terrorism, as dozens endured ‘lock-down’ conditions 23 hours each day and slept under bright lights, the report found.

The 34 credible cases — a vast minority of the 1,073 total complaints lodged — ‘ranged in seriousness from alleged beatings of immigration detainees to B.O.P. correctional officers allegedly verbally abusing inmates,’ according to the report.”

July 21, 2003

CON (no)


Craig S. Morford, JD, US Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, on the Aug. 21, 2004 FAQs on its website, was quoted as saying:

“No. To the contrary, the USA PATRIOT Act protects Arab and Muslim Americans…

Section 102 of the USA PATRIOT Act specifically condemns acts of violence or discrimination against all Americans, including Arab Americans and Muslim Americans and Americans from South Asia. It directs that their civil rights and civil liberties be protected and that every effort be taken to preserve their safety.”

Aug. 21, 2004


Kevin V. Ryan, JD, US Attorney for the Northern District of California, wrote the Sep. 12, 2003 article “Patriot Act is Right and Just,” posted on Human Events online, which stated:

“Critics have also claimed that the Patriot Act encourages law enforcement to employ racial profiling and targeting. In fact, the act contains a provision explicitly condemning discrimination against Arab and Muslim Americans. The policy of the Justice Department is that terrorism investigations are to be governed by the principle of neutrality. We target criminal conduct, not nationality.”

Sep. 12, 2003


Heather MacDonald, JD, Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, wrote “The War on the War of Terror Continues,” in the July 25, 2003 City Journal, in which she stated:

“The Times announced on July 21 that the Justice Department’s inspector general had ‘received 34 complaints of civil rights violations by department employees that it considered credible.’…

According to [the office of the inspector general’s] July 17 report, the office received several hundred filings over the last six months that appeared to state a claim within its jurisdiction—that is, they concerned a Justice Department entity or official, and claimed a ‘Patriot Act’ or ‘civil rights’ violation.

Upon closer analysis, however, the vast majority of those several hundred complaints, as written, proved unrelated to the Patriot Act—inquiring, for example, about pending immigration matters. That left 34 that, the report stated, ‘raised credible Patriot Act violations on their face.’…

The July 17 report drew no conclusions about the likely truth of those 34 facially valid complaints. Nor could it, for it has opened investigations into only six of them… The inspector general recounts only two complaints for which substantiating evidence has turned up. They hardly support the idea that the war on terror has corrupted the federal government into committing widespread civil-rights abuses.”

July 25, 2003