Randall v. Meese – International Human Rights and Solidarity – CCR Docket 1987-1988

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 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.

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 INS read five of Randall’s 40 books, and found that in his opinion she 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 literature supportive of free enterprise. The purported basis for these contentions is 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, Rose and William Styron, and others joined as co­ plaintiffs.

On August 28, 1986, an immigration judge in El Paso, Texas, ruled that Randall should be deported because her writings advocate the “doctrine of world commu­nism:’ The judge explained that butfor his belief that her writings violate the McCar­ran-Walter Act, Randall was in all respects eligible to remain here. The case therefore presents a pure case of deportation on the basis of one’s writing. The CCR is appealing this decision administratively.

In the federal suit, the district court denied a request for a preliminary injunc­ tion and later dismissed the case. The court concluded that Randall had somehow received the relief which she sought when the immigration judge denied her applica­ tion for adjustment of status. The CCR is also appealing this decision.

David Cole, Michael Ratner with CCR cooperating attorney Michael Maggio; Arnold & Porter