WASHINGTON – The Obama administration says there are legal safeguards in place in the event suspected terrorists being held at Guantanamo Bay are ever relocated to the United States, and that detainees would not be permitted to seek asylum and would have no right to remain in the country permanently.
In a new report provided to members of Congress, the Justice Department said such a transfer could occur without jeopardizing national security and that detainees held on suspicion of terrorism would not enjoy the same legal rights as other immigrants, including the ability to seek asylum.
The report was in response to a provision in the annual defense policy bill seeking the Justice Department's interpretation of legal rights and asylum if terror suspects held at the U.S. naval facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, are transferred to the United States. Congress has repeatedly barred the administration from moving terror suspects to the U.S., even to maximum-security prisons, though President Barack Obama has called for the closing of the detention facility.
"Of course this report is going to say our nation shouldn't worry about immigration and asylum laws when bringing Guantanamo detainees to the United States," said Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla. "The report is simply giving cover to President Obama so that he can continue what he is already actively working towards, which is bringing terrorists on to U.S. soil."
The report says no court precedent, statute or provision of the Constitution would grant a Guantanamo detainee legal rights in the United States unless Congress were to enact a new law to do so. One outstanding issue, however, is how the courts would rule on the question.