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Alien terrorists and victims

The Patriot Act enacts several provisions aimed at preventing the influx of alien terrorists from entering United States territory. The emphasis placed on this particular area was on migration from Canada. That is, the Act allows for authorities to detain and deport, as necessary, any alien terrorist including the individuals who support them. Further, under this clause, the Act allows for the provision of humanitarian immigration relief for foreign victims of the attacks of September 11, 2001 (Doyle, 2002).

Other crimes and penalties

The Patriot Act created new federal crimes including acts involving terrorist attacks on mass transportation facilities and attacks using biological weapons. Also, it included acts related to the harboring of terrorists, affording terrorists material support, and for money laundering-related offenses. The expansion of criminal offenses also included acts related to fraudulent charitable solicitation.

In addition, the Patriot Act enhanced the current criminal penalties for specific criminal incidents. These included acts of terrorism, raising penalties for conspiracy to commit certain terrorist offenses, sentencing certain terrorists to life-long parole, and increasing penalties for counterfeiting, cyber crime, and charity fraud (Doyle, 2002).

Despite the argument that the Patriot Act is a “necessary tool” to combat terrorist threats against the United States, critics hold that it infringes on the civil rights of most individuals residing in the United States. These critics cite Herbert Packer’s Due Process vs. Crime Control model which is based on the notion that every society, at one time or another, chooses, to some extent, to emphasize due process or crime control. That is, societies may emphasize due process rights of individuals and argue these are more important than most crime control initiatives. On the other hand, others may feel that crime control is more important and deserves more attention than due process rights. Supporters of Packer’s model argue that the United States followed the due process model in the 1960s. This shifted to the crime control model once the Reagan administration launched the campaign to fight drugs in the 1980s. Today, criminologists engaged in this particular dialogue argue that the United States is shifting towards the crime control model. They cite the Patriot Act as symbolic in the shifting towards a more “secure” society (following the crime control model) while abandoning, to some extent, the pursuit of due process rights.

Specifically, the Patriot Act has been severely criticized for its apparent violations on civil rights. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (2005. pg. 1), the following are some of the areas of concern regarding the Act:

The law dramatically expands the ability of states and the Federal Government to conduct surveillance of American citizens. The Government can monitor an individual's web surfing records, use roving wiretaps to monitor phone calls made by individuals "proximate" to the primary person being tapped, access Internet Service Provider records, and monitor the private records of people involved in legitimate protests.

Questions & Answers

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Source:  OpenStax, Immigration in the united states and spain: consideration for educational leaders. OpenStax CNX. Dec 20, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11150/1.1
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