Jump to Navigation | Jump to Content
American Bar Association
Legadv0.gif - 800 Bytes
spacer.GIF - 56 Bytes

Letters to the 107th Congress

March 28, 2001

The Honorable David E. Bonior
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Bob Barr
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representatives Bonior and Barr:

I am writing on behalf of the American Bar Association to thank you for introducing the "Secret Evidence Repeal Act of 2001." This legislation would prohibit the use of evidence that is presented in camera and ex parte in all removal cases and for denial of bond and immigration benefits, including asylum.

It is important to emphasize that the Secret Evidence Repeal Act would not require the release of dangerous individuals into the United States. In extraordinary cases where there are legitimate national security concerns, a federal court would oversee the creation of an unclassified summary of the classified evidence as it does in criminal cases under the Classified Information Procedures Act. The summary would have to be sufficient to allow the alien to defend him- or herself to substantially the same degree as if the information had been fully disclosed. The immigration proceedings would then resume on the basis of this unclassified summary. Because all cases involving classified information would go to the district court, the secret court established in the 1996 antiterrorism law would become unnecessary.

As Justice Felix Frankfurter observed, "Secrecy is not congenial to truth-seeking."
No person should be deprived of liberty on the basis of evidence kept secret from them. "Star chamber" secret proceedings may be a feature of some totalitarian governments, but not ours.

This legislation is an important step in restoring fair legal processes to our nation's immigration laws. We commend you for introducing it and look forward to working with you in securing these vital improvements.

Sincerely,

Robert D. Evans
Director, Governmental Affairs Office

107th Congress Letters Home

AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION
Governmental Affairs Office
740 Fifteenth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005
ph: 202-662-1760
fx: 202-662-1762

Back to Top