Questions and Answers:
1. Balancing National Security and Civil Liberties
There is broad consensus on the need to find a workable formula for making needed enhancements to national security without discriminating against citizens, immigrants, and visitors to this country. Yet there are many unanswered questions concerning the impact of legislation and policies passed since 9/11 on our civil liberties, concerns echoed by an internal Justice Department report. Proposals such as "Patriot II" could further constrict our freedoms while instigating questionable procedures for use by law enforcement officials. Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding national security and civil liberties.
Regular Congressional oversight of major law enforcement programs initiated since 9/11, to determine effectiveness in law enforcement use and impact on civil liberties.
Yes, we support such oversight. Congress abdicated its responsibilities by hurriedly rubber-stamping the Patriot Act with little scrutiny and almost no debate. Dennis Kucinich has fought in Congress to ensure that civil liberties are not being trampled. A Kucinich Administration would continue that fight and push for regular and formal legislative oversight.
Sunset provisions on domestic intelligence gathering and surveillance legislation.
Yes, we support sunset provisions on domestic intelligence gathering authorized by the Patriot Act. Many provisions of the Patriot Act relating to domestic surveillance had been previously requested by law enforcement and repeatedly rejected by Congress. Congress must ensure that unconstitutional expansions of federal surveillance power do not become permanent features of our legal landscape.
Full Congressional hearings for any additional legislation such as "Patriot II" that impact civil liberties and national security.
Yes, we support full Congressional hearings on the proposed Patriot II law. This proposal would drastically scale back judicial oversight of law enforcement and opens the way for serious potential abuses of federal power. Peaceful political and religious activity must not be subjected to unlawful government spying.
Annual reports from the Inspector General of the Justice Department on the impact of anti-terrorism legislation on U.S. citizens and legal immigrants.
Yes, we support regular reporting on the civil liberties impact of anti-terrorism legislation.
Elimination of the use of secret detention for immigrants and citizens.
Yes, we support eliminating secret detentions. Such detentions are unconstitutional and represent a blight on our law enforcement system.
Elimination of the use of secret evidence in cases involving immigrants and citizens.
Yes, we support eliminating the use of secret evidence.
Regular judicial oversight for intelligence-gathering and surveillance of U.S. citizens and immigrants.
Yes, we support restoring full judicial oversight of government surveillance programs targeting U.S. citizens and legal immigrants.
Elimination of racial, religious, ethnic, or national origin profiling by authorities, except in suspect-specific situations.
Yes, we support eliminating all forms of discriminatory police profiling.
Elimination of requirements for institutions such as libraries and universities to provide information to the federal government in non-criminal investigations without the consent of the affected party.
Yes, we support eliminating third-party information gathering in non-criminal cases.
Your message to Arab American voters on this issue of national security and civil liberties:
The freedoms enshrined in the Bill of Rights are among our most precious legacies as Americans. Yet even as the Bush administration wraps itself in the rhetoric of freedom, it has been encroaching on our civil liberties and curtailing our rights here at home. The federal government can and must protect Americans from the threat of terrorism without eroding our constitutional liberties. Today, Arab-Americans are especially vulnerable to abuses of government power. Yet ultimately all Americans are put at risk when our rights come under attack. A Kucinich administration will work to preserve our constitutional rights and roll back the most egregious infringements of our individual freedoms.
2. Immigration Rights
Immigrants enrich our society and contribute to the vitality and prosperity of our nation. Most Arab Americans can trace their ancestry to immigration since 1900. Although the Arab American community consists largely (almost 80 percent) of U.S citizens, concerns about immigration are of specific interest to us, especially policies that affect family reunification, humanitarian exemptions, work visas, and similar issues. Some laws passed since 9/11 may lead to better visa and immigration policies; others discriminate against Arabs unfairly and lead to racial and ethnic profiling.
Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding immigration:
Restoring the 245(i) visa exemption that allows legal immigrants to renew their current visa without departing from the U.S.
Yes, we support renewing the 245(i) visa exemption.
Annual reports to Congress on the impact of visa policies on tourism, international students, and visitors for business, tourism and medical treatment by region and sector.
Yes, we support regular and detailed monitoring of the impact of visa policies on visitors to the U.S.
Sufficient resources allocated to consular offices overseas and relevant federal agencies to fully implement visa screening, registration, and review procedures in a timely manner.
Yes, we support giving our immigration system the resources it needs to expedite screening and review procedures.
Special restrictions on immigration from Arab and Muslim countries.
We support eliminating discriminatory exclusion policies targeting individuals of Middle Eastern descent.
Sufficient resources to reduce the citizenship naturalization backlog that is now more than two years' duration.
Yes, we support giving our federal agencies the resources necessary to cut through the naturalization backlog.
Devote needed resources to the "refugee and asylum" programs to eliminate backlogs, expedite security clearances, and reunite families.
Yes, we support devoting the resources necessary to eliminate backlogs in our refugee and asylum procedures.
Your message to Arab American voters on this issue of immigration rights:
The United States has always been a nation of immigrants; they enrich our culture and enliven our heritage. New residents living lawfully in the United States must not be made scapegoats. A Kucinich administration would work to ensure that America will do right by our newcomers.
3. U.S. Interests in the Middle East
The United States has many interests and concerns in the Middle East. Its bilateral relations encompass economic, cultural, security, and political issues. These relations play an important role in how the U.S promotes negotiations to achieve a viable peace between Israel and a new Palestinian state. In addition, for security reasons, the United States must continue to oppose the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in the region and political and economic conditions that contribute to the rise in terrorism.
Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding U.S. policies in the Middle East:
The U.S. should actively promote President Bush's goal of "two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace, and in security."
Yes, we fully support the vision of two free and fully independent states, Israel and Palestine, living peacefully side-by-side and enjoying friendly relations with the other countries of the region. So far, the Bush administration has failed to alleviate doubts over how sincerely it remains committed to this vision. A Kucinich administration would work tirelessly to ensure that Israelis and Palestinians live free from the threat of violence and to bring an end to the occupation of 1967. Such an effort is not only in the interests of the people of region but is also in the interests of the American people.
Consistent with long-standing U.S. policy, the final status of Jerusalem should be negotiated directly by Israelis and the Palestinians.
Yes, we believe that in order to achieve peace in the region, the final status of Jerusalem must be negotiated peacefully between the two parties. Both sides must refrain from unilateral actions that would prejudice the outcome of those negotiations.
The U.S. should oppose the development and stockpiling of all weapons of mass destruction by countries in the region.
Yes, we fully support efforts to make the Middle East a region free of weapons of mass destruction. The George H.W. Bush administration supported that goal when it voted for U.N. Security Council resolution 687 in 1991. Yet little progress has been made in the intervening years. All countries of the region should work with the United States, the U.N. and its partners towards eliminating these weapons from the region.
The U.S. should work with the United Nations and other international organizations to resolve the humanitarian and development challenges in Iraq and Palestine.
Yes, a Kucinich administration would work closely with the United Nations to address the serious humanitarian challenges facing Iraqis and Palestinians. Such an effort will not only improve the lives of the people affected but make Americans safer in the long-term.
The U.S. should work with Arab governments and civic organizations in the Arab world to promote educational, political, and social initiatives to enhance values that promote pluralism, minority rights, transparency, and accountability.
Yes, we believe the U.S. must work with activists and civic organizations fighting for human rights, democracy and greater freedom in the Middle East. We must challenge oppressive governments and stand up for peaceful progressive change in the region.
Israeli settlements are a significant obstacle to a viable peace between Israel and the Palestinians and U.S. policy should continue to oppose their expansion.
Yes, a Kucinich administration believes that Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are unlawful and against the interests of both Israelis and Palestinians. A Kucinich administration will energetically oppose the expansion of settlements in the occupied territories.
The U.S. should work to strengthen bilateral relations with countries in the Middle East including: Algeria, Lebanon, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Qatar, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Iran, Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Syria.
A Kucinich administration would work to improve relations with all governments in the Middle East, while supporting the efforts of those in the region who are striving to achieve democracy, human rights and greater freedom for their citizens.
Your message to Arab American voters on U.S. relations with Arab countries:
We believe the United States must work closely with the Arab countries as well as Israel to promote peace, strengthen ties and achieve greater freedom and human rights for all. Perpetual war and poisonous rhetoric will not help us erase the bitterness that still plagues relations with the countries of the region. A Kucinich administration would establish a Department of Peace to help settle conflicts and would advance foreign policies that aim to promote cooperation, not create enemies.