In In the Matter of Randall, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) is seeking to apply the McCarran-Walter Act’s ideological exclusion provision to force Margaret Randall, a prominent poet and essayist who was born in the United States, to leave her family and her home. Ms. Randall, who has written primarily on women’s issues and Central America, lived for more than twenty years in Mexico, Cuba, and Nicaragua. When she took out Mexican citizenship in order to secure employment to support her three young children, the U.S. revoked her citizenship. As a result, Randall is now in this country as an alien. Living in Albuquerque, N.M., along with her elderly parents , husband, brother, and a nephew, she applied for a green card – permanent resident alien status- on the basis of family ties. Ordinarily, such an application would be granted as a matter of course, but this has not been Margaret Randall’s experience.
Randall’s extraordinary treatment results from her criticism of certain U.S. policies, including, intervention in Central America and Vietnam, and her support for the revolution in Nicaragua. A district director in the immigration service read five of Randall’s forty books, and found that Randall does not deserve to stay in the U.S. because her writings “go far beyond mere dissent.” INS attorneys, in a subsequent deportation hearing, argued that Randall should be forced to leave because she has never published any pro-free enterprise literature. The purported basis for these contentions is in the McCarran-Walter Act, a law which has also been used to keep a number of writers, such as Pablo Neruda, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Dario Fo, Graham Greene, Carlos Fuentes, Farley Mowat, and Angel Rama from entering this country.
The CCR represents Randall in the deportation proceedings and also filed a federal action on her behalf in Washington, D.C. In the latter case, Norman Mailer, Alice Walker, Grace Paley, Arthur Miller, Toni Morrison, Kurt Vonnegut, and Rose and William Styron and others joined as co plaintiffs.
David Cole, Michael Ratner, Margaret Ratner, with CCR cooperating attorney Michael Maggio, and Susan Shiffer, ACLU Foundation