As the presidential election approaches, federal agents in Michigan and
across the country are ratcheting up their efforts to catch illegal
immigrants who may pose security threats.
Immigration officials said Thursday they are moving to interview, survey
and analyze records that might help them thwart a terrorist attack in
"We know that terrorists look for symbolic events ... for the biggest
impact," said Brian Moskowitz, special agent in charge of investigations in
Michigan and Ohio for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. "This time
period is a crucial one."
Among the events coming up, Moskowitz said, are the International Monetary
Fund and World Bank meeting this weekend in Washington, D.C., the Nov. 2
election, the holidays and the presidential inauguration.
"As you get closer to a period, which by everyone's account is a dangerous
time, everything comes into focus," said Moskowitz, whose agency is
overseen by the Department of Homeland Security. "Our senses are
Moskowitz and Daniel Roberts, head of the Detroit FBI office, have assured
Imad Hamad, an Arab-American leader in Dearborn, that the government would
not unfairly target the Middle Eastern community.
Hamad, regional director of the Michigan chapter of the American-Arab
Anti-Discrimination Committee, said he has no problem with the crackdown on
illegal immigration. But he worries that the plan will result in the
profiling of Arab Americans and Muslims, as past government initiatives did
after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
"This brings a chilling effect on the community," Hamad said. "It has the
potential for creating false impressions again, putting us under clouds of
In addition, Hamad said, the initiative would alienate Arab-American
communities at a time when they are needed to help the government in the
war on terrorism.
"This will not help people to cooperate when it is highly needed," he