House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Congressman John
D. Dingell (D-MI), Congressman John Conyers (D-MI), Congressman Charles
Rangel (D-NY), and other Congressional Democrats were joined yesterday by
national leaders of the Muslim American community in a roundtable
discussion on issues of mutual concern to Democrats and Muslim Americans.
The discussion centered on working together to defend civil rights and to
restore civil liberties.
“This discussion is only the first in an ongoing dialogue between
Congressional Democrats and Muslim Americans,” Pelosi said. “We share a
fundamental principle – the belief that diversity is the backbone of our
communities. Generations of Muslims have made positive contributions in
every aspect of American life. We must now work even more closely to
navigate through the challenges we face as a nation.”
“Since September 11th, many Muslim Americans have been subjected to
searches at airports and other locations based upon their religion and
national origin, without any credible information linking individuals to
criminal conduct,” Pelosi continued. “Racial and religious profiling is
fundamentally un-American and we must make it illegal.
“When the Patriot Act was enacted, it was intended to be accompanied by
strong Congressional oversight to prevent abuses of our civil liberties.
That oversight has not occurred, particularly with the mass detention
campaign ordered by Attorney General Ashcroft, which to date has led to
more than 5,000 foreign nationals being detained since September
11th. Moreover, individuals’ assets have been frozen on the basis of
secret evidence that they have no opportunity to confront or rebut, and
such processes are a fundamental denial of due process. We must correct the
Patriot Act to prevent abuses of our civil liberties.”
Working with Conyers, the Ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary
Committee, Democrats have introduced legislation to end racial profiling,
limit the reach of the Patriot Act, and make immigration safe and
accessible. Leader Pelosi is a proud cosponsor of the End Racial Profiling
Act, the Security and Freedom Ensured Act (SAFE), and the Safe, Orderly,
and Legal Visas Enforcement Act (SOLVE).
“These measures are long overdue, and we call on the Republican leadership
in Congress to bring them to a vote now,” Pelosi said. “As we protect and
defend the American people, we must protect and defend the Constitution and
the civil rights that define our democracy. Ours is a country of great
diversity and we must stand together as one America.”
The following Democrats also participated in the discussion: former
Democratic Whip David Bonior (D-MI), Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-NY), and
Congressman Nick Joe Rahall (D-WV).