American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee v. Meese – Government Misconduct – CCR Docket 1989-1990

In April1987, the CCR and the ACLU of Southern California challenged the constitutionality of the McCarran-Walter Act on behalf of seven Palestinians and a Kenyan who were arrested, held without bail, and threatened with deportation because of al­leged “membership” or “affiliation” with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Pales­tine (PFLP), a group which, according to the INS, advocates “doctrines of world commu­nism” and the “destruction of property.” According to government sources, the group was charged under the McCarran-Walter Act after a year- long criminal investigation pro­duced no evidence.

The government defended the act, which authorizes the deportation of aliens for speech and associational activities of a na­ture clearly protected by the First Amend­ment, by saying that the Bill of Rights is “constitutionally irrelevant” when the INS seeks to deport an alien.

The district court initially deferred ruling but, in January 1989, the court issued a historic decision striking down as unconsti­tutional the McCarran Walt er Act provisions that the government was seeking to use against the plaintiffs. The  court held that the First Amendment protects aliens as well as citizens in this country, and that the government is constitutionally barred from deporting aliens for their political beliefs and affiliations. The government has ap­pealed .

David Cole, Michael Ratner, with Paul Hoffman, Carol Sobel, Mark Rosenbaum, ACLU Foundation. of Southern Califomia; Dan Stormer, Marc Van Der Hout, NLG; Wade Hender­son, Hope Nakamura, ACLU; Peter Schey, National Center   for Immigrants’ Rights, Inc.