Attorney General Mukasey has a chance to show that he's the right man for the job.
DHS is seeking to reverse decades of U.S. policy and reinterpret a 1996 U.S. law in order to return Chinese fathers whose wives have fled forced sterilization or abortion by the Chinese government to Communist China, where they will be separated from their families and face certain retaliation for the crime of fathering an unapproved child. DHS has now convinced the Second Circuit Court of its position, creating a split among the circuits. The matter now rests in the hands of the attorney general, who has previously had discretion to grant asylum to those worthy.Let's hope Mukasey quickly rules that it's not right to split up these families and send Daddy back to face the Red Chinese.
Some more background... it's not pretty, but it should be mentioned:
Under China’s “one-child” policy (which sometimes permits two children), China requires sterilization for new mothers and forced abortions for women exceeding the limit. The State Department reports that in 2005, in just one province, 130,000 women were subjected to forced abortion or sterilization. According to congressional testimony by Chinese refugees and other interviews with Chinese citizens, women who go into hiding to avoid this routinely have their homes destroyed, or members of their family are imprisoned.So DHS is basically going back to the Clinton interpretation.
China’s population-control program also requires abortions for all unwed mothers. This is even more intrusive than it sounds, because another component of the 1979 population policy bans marriage for men under the age of 22 and women under the age of 20 — and in some provinces, the age requirement for marriage is as high as 25.
Because of the marriage ban, many young Chinese couples secretly get traditional marriages that are not sanctioned by the state. Yet this carries with it a risk — if the wife becomes pregnant, the state will frequently force her, as an “unwed” mother, to abort.
As a consequence of this policy, the Reagan administration began a policy of accepting, with open arms, women who have fled China to avoid forced abortions or sterilization. His policy also accepted the baby’s fathers, upon whom Chinese law confers equal punishment for the crime of unauthorized breeding. This included both “legal” husbands and “traditional” ones, and even committed partners who fathered the children, because like the mothers they faced political persecution.
President Clinton reversed course, adopting an extremely callous policy that no longer considered forced abortion a form of political persecution. His undersecretary of state for global affairs, former Sen. Tim Wirth (D., Colo.), famously and cruelly equated China’s regime of forced abortions with “family planning” when he argued in 1995 for the deportation of 13 Chinese women who had arrived in the United States aboard the Golden Venture: “[W]e could potentially open ourselves up to just about everybody in the world saying ‘I don’t want to plan my family, therefore I deserve political asylum.” (Emphasis added.)
Clinton’s decision to reverse the policy and deport these women was received with bipartisan outrage. In order to force Clinton’s hand, Reps. Chris Smith (R., N.J.) and Henry Hyde (R., Ill.) passed a new policy into law the following year by slipping it into a larger immigration bill that Clinton wanted to sign. Their amendment, known as Section 601, was intended to protect Chinese mothers and their husbands who fled procreative persecution from being deported to China.
The Hyde-Smith law protects “a person who has been forced to abort a pregnancy” or faces persecution “for other resistance to a coercive population control program.” The first phrase, says Smith, does not explicitly refer to couples, but it was clearly intended throughout the congressional debate, sworn testimony in committee, and in the House report language on the measure, to refer to both mothers and fathers. Both, after all, are subject to the same penalties, and both are being forced to terminate a pregnancy they initiated together. At the very least, the second phrase would appear to apply to both.
Let's hope Mukasey brings them quickly to heel.