(WASHINGTON, D.C., 7/24/2015) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today called on American Muslims and other people of conscience to contact the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations to urge the committee to oppose the advancement of a House-approved bill that would revoke or deny passports of American citizens accused of having “links” to foreign terrorist organizations (FTO) without actually being charged with any criminal wrongdoing or given the opportunity to meaningfully challenge such a designation administratively or in court.
TAKE ACTION: Contact Congress
Sponsored by Rep. Ted Poe (TX-R), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism, the FTO Passport Revocation Act of 2015 (H.R. 237) was approved in the U.S. House on Tuesday by a voice vote and referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations for further consideration.
CAIR is calling on Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker (TN-R) and Ranking Member Ben Cardin (MD-D) to oppose the advancement of H.R. 237 because the bill: 1) is unnecessary because the U.S. Department of State already has the legal authority to revoke passports for national security reasons; 2) impinges on U.S. citizens’ constitutional right to due process as there is no method to meaningfully dispute and challenge the factual basis underlying a determination to revoke a passport; and, 3) violates U.S. citizens’ right to return home to the United States should a citizen be traveling abroad and have his or her passport revoked.
Legal Problems Concerning FTO Passport Revocation Act of 2015 (H.R. 237)
* Under existing law, the secretary of state already has the legal authority to revoke an American’s passport when his or her “activities abroad are causing or are likely to cause serious damage to the national security or the foreign policy of the United States.” As such, H.R. 237 is unnecessary and redundant.
* Although the federal government may have the right to restrict the international travel of those deemed a threat to national security, H.R. 237’s passport revocation raises serious constitutional concerns as it deprives those abroad of a form of identification that proves that they are American citizens. Moreover, CAIR believes that the Fourteenth Amendment’s citizenship guarantee prohibits the government from any action that curtails or restricts the citizenship rights of Americans. This protection extends to citizens residing in the U.S. and returning home after traveling abroad.
* H.R. 237 also raises due process concerns related to how State Department officials reach the factual determinations that result in passport revocation or denial when such determinations cannot be meaningfully challenged in federal courts or through any transparent federal agency administrative redress program.
* It is apparent that FBI agents have used passport revocation, as well as the “no-fly list,” as a means to gain leverage to coerce Americans traveling abroad who have no connection to terrorism to spy on their family, friends and neighbors in exchange for the return of their passports so they can travel back home. Innocent Americans should not be conscripted to serve as FBI informants as the price to return to their own country merely because federal agents have the administrative power to seize their passports.
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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