A new racism?

The black and white footage made the video appear as though it were produced in the 1960s.

Scenes of the March on Washington during the Civil Rights Movement were highlighted to raise an issue that is a concern for some Arab-Americans.

Past instances such as these were used in a film presented Monday evening that attempted to show how racial profiling in the United States has been extended to ethnic profiling.

USF organizations supporting justice and civil rights presented a civil liberties forum in the Chemistry building to discuss how immigrants have been affected by government security plans after the attacks of Sept. 11.

About 40 people listened to Nahla Al-Arian, wife of controversial professor Sami Al-Arian, tell the story of her family’s fight to bring her brother Mazen Al-Najjar to freedom during the past 10 years.

Al-Najjar, a former USF professor, was arrested for failing to renew his visa and was later sent back to prison based on “secret evidence” the government was holding against him.

Al-Arian said the topic was still a sensitive issue because Al-Najjar still has been unable to find a home after he was deported in September.

“I thank God he is still alive, but he is still not here,” Al-Arian said.

While Al-Najjar was held in solitary confinement, Al-Arian said one of the most painful things during that time was visiting him in prison and learning how he was treated.

“He was humiliated many times with the strip searches,” Al-Arian said in tears. “And for an educated person, this was very hard for him.”

The World and Islam Studies Enterprise, established by Al-Najjar and Sami Al-Arian in 1991, was investigated by the FBI in 1995 for alleged ties to terrorism, but no charges were ever filed.

After the Sept. 11 attacks, Al-Arian said she sensed that her brother and husband would become targets of ethnic profiling.

Because of the terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush stressed airports enforce stricter security checkpoints to ensure the safety of Americans.

But immigration attorney Mayra Calo said the government is abusing laws that were already established by the INS to discriminate against non-U.S. citizens.

“The law has always been there; they’re just starting to enforce it,” Calo said. “We need to concentrate on security without restricting civil liberties. This reminds me of whites-only water fountains and bathrooms, but now it’s U.S. citizens only.”

Calo, a USF graduate, said she recently graduated from Stetson Law School but said her experience with immigration clients has been a struggle with the INS because of information provided against clients that is withheld from attorneys.

“It’s frustrating,” Calo said.

She added that the government is abusing its authority to arrest immigrants who do not renew their visas and continue to work in the United States.

“They say they are illegal. … No person is illegal,” Calo said. “Your status may be unlawful in this country, but you can’t be illegal.”

Al-Arian said she hopes the government will drop its use of secret evidence that can be held against immigrants because she said it violates the Constitution.

“We will see how our fight goes on,” Al-Arian said. “These are not fights for one person but for our ideas.”