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“The U.S. Government does not have the right to incarcerate only foreign nationals suspected of terrorism without formal charges or the advice of an attorney.”

After the tragedy on September 11, 2001 the fear of foreign nationals has grown immensely because of suspected terrorism. In the past three years alone over $145 million has been donated from scared Americans to the Anti – Terrorism program. (Hsu & Cohen 2005) This fear of foreign nationals does not give the U.S. government the right to incarcerate them without formal charges. Why should there be different laws between foreign nationals and U.S. citizens? It is unjust for anyone to be incarcerated without formal charges.
There is an awful stereotype against foreign nationals that portrays them as bad people because of the actions taken by some of them. However, if one was to look at the U.S. Marshals fifteen most wanted criminals, one would find that ten of them are American and only five are foreign. The same type of statistics can be found on each of the different departments’ criminal wanted lists. This illustrates the false sense of fear that the U.S. places on foreign nationals. The idea of incarcerating a foreign national suspected of terrorism without formal charges is a mere mechanism to give the U.S. citizens another false sense of security.
Historically, there are several examples of why nobody should be incarcerated without formal charges. One instance that relates directly to the fear of nationals from the Middle East today is the example of Japanese concentration camps during World War II. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941 there was a sudden fear of the Japanese in the United States. One of the fears was that there were people spying for the Japanese. More than two thousand Japanese were arrested without any evidence against them. They were illegally detained, forced to quit their jobs, and evicted from their homes. It turned out that only ten of the accused were spies and they were all Caucasian. (Yoko 1991) This instance is frightfully similar to the fear of Middle Easterners today. It goes to prove that the stereotypes are often wrong. As it was a violation of the Japanese rights in the 1940’s, it would also be a violation of foreigners’ rights today to be incarcerated without formal charges.
Article One of the New Jersey Constitution states: “All men are by nature free and independent, and have certain natural and unalienable rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and of pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness.” This reinforces the fact that the liberty of all men is a right. To incarcerate a foreign national without formal charges clearly is depriving him/her of his/her natural rights. Article One of the New Jersey Constitution shows the clear reflection of the limits on governmental power that the framers of the Fourteenth Amendment purposely articulated in the Thirty-ninth Congress. (Keynes 1996)
Some may argue that the constitution also made the necessary and proper clause to come into play in instances such as this. The clause that John Bingham introduced on January 12, 1866 said: “Congress shall have the power to make all laws necessary and proper to secure to all persons in every state within this Union equal protection in their rights of life, liberty, and property” (Kedrick 1865). If a terrorist attack is about to happen and the government steps in and arrests the terrorist, the government has helped to secure the people of their life, liberty, and property. This is due process of law. The definition of due process of law as stated by the U.S. Courts is: “The right of all persons to receive the guarantees and safeguards of the law and the judicial process. It includes such constitutional requirements as adequate notice, assistance of counsel, and the rights to remain silent, to a speedy and public trial, to an impartial jury, and to confront and secure witnesses.”
So why should only foreign nationals be subjected to this punishment? Brit Featherston, a federal prosecutor and the government's anti-terrorism coordinator in Texas' eastern district claims, “There's international terrorism and domestic terrorism, but they're all terrorism," he said. "I don't care which one it is or what color their skin is. If their intention is to do harm to the citizens of this country, then all the resources necessary from the local level to the federal level will be put into the case." The Oklahoma City bombing, the bombing in Centennial Olympic Park and the anthrax scare are all examples of domestic terrorism. These terrorists are no different than terrorists from other countries. There is no reason that the U.S. government should be able to incarcerate foreign nationals suspected of terrorism, but not citizens of the United States who are suspected of terrorism.
It seems that it would be a violation of human rights if a foreign national was incarcerated without formal charges and was innocent. The effects of being thrown into jail for days, weeks, possibly months at a time are tremendous. If the man was formally charged and found to be guilty, then it is his fault that his family may suffer, but if the man was innocent and not formally charged, then it is the government’s fault that his family may have suffered and the man may have lost his job. This tragedy occurred in the past to the Japanese in America and it should never happen again. It is because of actions like these that the United States has poor relations with so many other nations. This treatment of foreign nationals is unjust and should be stopped.

Works Cited

Benjamin Kendrick, The Journal of the Joint Committee of Fifteen on Reconstruction, 39th Congress, 1865 – 1867; Columbia University Studies in History, Economics, and Public Law, vol. 62 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1914), 46.

Edward Keynes. 1996. Liberty, Property, Privacy. University Park: The Pennsylvania University Press.

Spencer Hsu & Sarah Cohen. 2005 “More Area Terrorism Funding Not Spent,” Washington Post: A01.

Jonathan Yoko, 1991. “Japanese Americans in Concentration Camps.” [webpage]

I agree with your comments on the topic. I think your argument could be improved by using some addtional sources. Also you might want to make your argument a little longer. I believe it should be something like 1200 - 1600 words or so...


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