Randall v. Meese & In the Matter of Randall – Government Misconduct – CCR Docket 1989-1990

In In the Matter of Randall, the INS invoked 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. Randall, who has written primar­ily on women’s issues and Central America, lived for more than 20 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.

ln 1984, while residing in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with her family, Randall ap­plied for a green card (permanent resident alien status) on the basis of family ties. Ordinarily, such an applicat ion would be granted as a matter of course, but Randall’s was denied because of her criticism of cer­tain U.S. policies, including intervention in Central America and Vietnam, and her sup­port for the revolution in Nicaragua. An INS district director read five of Randall’s 40 books, and found that Randall did not de serve to stay in the U.S. because her writings “go far beyond mere dissent ..” In a subsequent deportation headng, INS attor­neys argued that Randall should be forced to leave the U.S.,  because she had never written any material which was supportive of free enterprise. It.was the McCarran-Walter Act, a law which has also been used to keep a number of writers, such as Pablo Neruda, Gabriel Garc ia Marquez, Dario Fo, Graham Greene, Carlos Fuentes, Farley Mowat, and Angel Rama from entering this country because of their political beliefs, which made such ludicrous assertions relevant.

The CCR represents Randall in the depor­tation proceedings instituted by the INS, challenging the district director’s denial of permanent resident status, and we also filed a federal lawsuit on her behalf in Washing­ton, D.C. In the latter case, Norman Mailer, Alice Walker, Grace Paley,  Arthur Miller, Toni Morrison, Kurt Vonnegut, Rose. and William Styron, and others have joined as co-plaintiffs. The circuit ruled, over a strong dissent, that Randall’s challenge to the con­stitutionality of the district director’s decision was premature, because it could be renewed in another court when Rand all exhausted the immigration admi nistrative process. In June 1989, the Supreme Court refused to review the case.

In the deportation proceedings, an immi­gration judge in El Paso, Texas , ruled in August 1986 that Randall should be deported because her writings advocate the “doctrines of world communism.” The judge explained that, but for his belief that her writings violated the McCarran-Walter Act, Randall was, in all other respects, eligible to remain here. The CCR appealed this deci­sion administratively to the Board of Immigration Appeals ( BIA). On J u ly 27, 1989, the BIA terminated the deportation proceedings, ruling that Randall should not have been stripped of her citizenship as a result of taking out Mexican citizenship. Citizenship is a const itutional right, and can only be given up voluntarily.The BIA ruled that Randall had acted under economic duress and therefore is still a U.S. citizen.

David Cole, Michael Ratner, with CCR cooperating attorney Michael Maggio; Walter Rockler, Chris Painter, Cindy Lewin of Arnold & Porter; Kate Martin, ACLU