A U.S. Muslim advocacy group announced yesterday the Congressional Judiciary Committee passed a compromise version of the Secret Evidence Repeal Act. The ammendment would give alien detainees the same rights as defendants in criminal cases.
Under the legislation, the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA) would be applied to immigration cases that involve classified information.
In the bill sent to the House, a detained person would be given an unclassified summary of the classified information. This summary would give the alien "substantially the same ability to make his defense as would disclosure of the...classified information." It would be the only part of the classified information given to the immigration judge. The judge would therefore not be prejudiced by information not shared with the detainee, said the Council on American Relations (CAIR)in a recently released statement.
There would be no "secret evidence" because the immigration judge would base his decision on the same information that is shared with the alien.
The bill is now available to the full House for a vote. It still has to be passed in the House and in the Senate.
"This is a significant advance in civil liberties for the American Muslim community. We thank all those who contacted their elected representatives to press for passage of this legislation. But the fight against secret evidence is not over. We must keep up the momentum produced by today's vote," said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad.
On Monday, CAIR officials met with House staffers, as well as representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom, to discuss the proposed amendment to H.R. 2121.
Many American Muslims and civil libertarians believe secret evidence is unconstitutional and that it is used disproportionately against members of the Muslim and Arab-American communities. A number of Muslim detainees have been held for up to four years based on evidence that is not revealed to them or their attorneys.