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The government argued Thursday that a federal district court has no jurisdiction in a lawsuit seeking to halt immigration rules that allow the detention of Middle Eastern men. The suit was filed Dec. 24 in Los Angeles by groups representing Muslims, Arab-Americans, Iranian-Americans and Pakistani-Americans, seeking to block future detentions under rules adopted in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The suit also seeks class action status. At least 400 men were detained in Southern California for visa violations when immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan and Syria went to Immigration and Naturalization Service offices the week of Dec. 16 to register as required under the new policy. In their response Thursday, Justice Department lawyers said the lawsuit should be thrown out because the court lacks jurisdiction to review INS decisions regarding detentions. That power is reserved for the U.S. Supreme Court, the lawyers said. Government lawyers also argued against granting a temporary restraining order to the case’s plaintiffs, which include four unidentified men who were detained as illegal immigrants under the policy. The court documents say illegal aliens “are not entitled to remain in the United States, and may be lawfully detained pending their removal from the United States.” Many of those who were detained said their immigration violations were due to slow paperwork processing by the INS. About 3,000 temporary visa holders, ages 16 and older, were required to register nationwide. Most of the detentions occurred in Southern California, and nearly all the detainees have been freed. Copyright 2002 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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