Saturday, February 4, 2012

"Do-Gooder" Organizations: A first hand account of why they matter

I attended the event in which Julie told her story (click the post's title to go to her first hand account). There was not a dry eye in the room. Because I am working with Human Rights First indirect service (behind the scenes work), it always nice to every now and again hear or see a client with whom your organization has made an impact on, or is currently advocating for.

A little background on the topic of Terrorist Related Inadmissibility Grounds (TRIG). When an individual comes to this country and desires to seek asylum, meaning they fear persecution in their home country, there exist certain "bars" for admissibility grounds. The TRIG bars have been a very specific source of frustration for organizations like Human Rights First and pro bono lawyers who represent asylum clients. The language and interpretation of what falls under TRIG is extremely vague and in many ways ridiculous. For example, if an individual gives "material support" to an organization the US has listed (whether as a terrorist organization or not, whether or not the US has previously supported that organization and regardless of the situation leading to that support) it falls under the TRIG standard for not granting asylum. To put this in perspective, at this panel event in which Julie was speaking at, one lawyer discussed what the immigration courts counted as "material support".  His client was beaten up, held at gunpoint by a US deemed terrorist organization demanding money. He did not have the money, and instead they stole the $3 in his pocket and his lunch. The immigration court ruled that that was "material support."

There are issues in and of themselves with what counts as a "terrorist" organization. As a result of the vague language of TRIG bars, including what does and does not count as material support, the term "terrorist" becomes a joke. It is not beneficial for US security, or the innocent immigrants seeking asylum, to have individuals like the client mentioned in the above paragraph labeled as "terrorists". There are countless other examples of ridiculous application of TRIG bars, which make a mockery of "terrorism" ranging from giving water to a thirsty by-passer (who happens to be a part of say, a political group that has an armed component and is therefore a "terrorist") to being a doctor and giving care to a dying member of a rebel army.

Groups like Human Rights First are not advocating that terrorism should not be taken seriously, rather that the law be more specific, reasonable and efficient.

For more information, go to

1 comment: