The Washington Post attacked the Justice Department's cruelty in holding "people unfortunate enough to have a problem with their immigration status." Page 62 of the inspector general's report, for example, cites the purportedly outrageous delay in releasing an illegal alien who had come under suspicion because of his employment with a Middle Eastern airline. The detainee had been ordered kicked out of the country way back in 1995 for violating immigration laws, but defied the order for six years. In October 2001, he was arrested based on a lead received by the FBI. It took three and a half months for the FBI to clear him.
What's more outrageous: that paperwork oversights and overloaded caseworkers led the FBI to hold this detainee for a little longer than necessary, or that hundreds of thousands of such deportation fugitives are considered by Post editorial writers and their ilk as "run-of-the-mill immigration cases" who should be left alone?
The media elite may remain stubbornly oblivious to the dire consequences of winking at violations of immigration laws. The families of the murdered Sept. 11 victims can't afford that academic luxury. Yet, under the headline "Mr. Ashcroft's abuses," the St. Louis Post-Dispatch piled on: "Normally, immigrants with minor visa violations aren't arrested. But in the wake of Sept. 11, the Justice Department tried to deny the men bond and adopted a 'hold until cleared' policy."
Do these critics really believe that turning all the illegal alien detainees loose before running thorough criminal and terrorist background checks would have been the ideal choice in the aftermath of Sept. 11? And wouldn't all these editorial know-it-alls be the first to complain if Ashcroft allowed the release of a single detainee who turned out to be a terrorist? The squawking never ceases.