(RNS) Leaders of the nation's Muslim community have asked PresidentClinton to support a bill that would ban the use of "secret evidence" todetain people who are suspected to have ties to terrorists.

Immigration officials can legally detain an individual without everfiling criminal charges by using secret evidence in deportationproceedings. The suspects are thought to be associates of terrorists orterrorist organizations, and the supporting evidence is shown only tothe immigration judge and not to the suspect or his lawyers.

Immigration officials do not have an official count on how manysuspects are being held on secret evidence cases. One official put thatnumber at a half dozen or fewer, while Muslim watchdog groups say asmany as 25 suspects are sitting in prison, not knowing what they arecharged with.

Muslim leaders have said for years that the practice isunconstitutional and unfairly targets people of Middle Eastern heritage.A bill in the House of Representatives would ban secret evidence; sofar, 65 members have signed on to the bill.

At an Atlanta reception on April 14, Nihad Awad, the executivedirector of the Council on American Islamic Relations, presented Clintonwith a letter urging him to support the Secret Evidence Repeal Act.Clinton said he would consider the request.

According to the letter, "the use of secret evidence undermines ourdemocracy and lessens the international credibility of the United Stateson the issue of human rights.