ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties https://www.aclusandiego.org Wed, 02 Sep 2015 17:21:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Voters Concerned About Digital Privacy, Want to Increase Protections from Warrantless Searches https://www.aclusandiego.org/voters-concerned-about-digital-privacy-want-to-increase-protections-from-warrantless-searches/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/voters-concerned-about-digital-privacy-want-to-increase-protections-from-warrantless-searches/#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 17:21:59 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12675  

Sacramento, CA – By overwhelming majorities, California voters are concerned about their digital privacy and support efforts to increase protections included in the California Electronic Privacy Act (CalECPA, SB 178), a statewide poll released today has found.

CalECPA, which will likely be voted on September 9th by the California Assembly, requires law enforcement to get a warrant before accessing individuals’ electronic information and includes thoughtful exceptions for law enforcement to use in the event of emergencies and other public safety needs.

The major findings of the poll include:

  • When it comes to accessing e-mail and internet activity, 82 percent of voters support requiring a warrant prior to authorities gaining access.
  • Similarly, nearly 79 percent support a warrant requirement for tracking cell phones and what you do on it and 77 percent for accessing text messaging records.

The polling demonstrates strong support among likely voters in the state and comes as leading technology companies see a rise in requests from law enforcement for consumer data.

Google has seen a 250 percent jump in government demands for consumer data in just the past five years. Last year, AT&T received 64,000 demands – a 70 percent increase in just a single year. Verizon reports that only 1/3 of its requests had a warrant, and Twitter and Tumblr received more demands from California than any other state.

“Now is the time for Governor Brown to sign CalECPA into law and update California’s privacy laws for the modern digital age,” said Nicole Ozer, Technology & Civil Liberties Policy Director at the ACLU of California, a co-sponsor of the bill. “Californians want police to get a warrant before accessing our private emails, text messages, and tracking our cell phones. They want to see a change that makes sure their privacy is properly protected.”

CalECPA is co-authored by Senators Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and Joel Anderson (R-Alpine) and supported by top tech companies, including Apple, Google, Twitter, LinkedIn and Dropbox, as well as the Internet Association. The bill is also supported by national and statewide civil liberties, civil rights, and consumer organizations, including the Asian Americans Advancing Justice, California Newspaper Publishers Association, Center for Media Justice, Centro Legal de la Raza, Color of Change, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Internet Archive, Media Alliance, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Restore the 4th, Techfreedom, The Utility Reform Network, and World Privacy Forum.

Read more about the poll.

person at a laptop via Shutterstock

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Voters Agree: It’s Time to End “Theft by Cop” https://www.aclusandiego.org/end-theft-by-cop/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/end-theft-by-cop/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 19:03:03 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12656  

Imagine you’re on your way to buy a used car and a police officer pulls you over. After asking you a few questions, the officer asks to search your car. Knowing you’ve done nothing wrong, you agree. The next thing you know, the officer is telling you that he’s suspicious that you have $2,500 in cash – and he takes it. You explain that you’re on your way to buy a car. He doesn’t believe you and tells you that if you want your cash back, you’ll have to fight for it in court.

You might be surprised to learn that the above scenario happens every day in the U.S. What’s worse: it’s perfectly legal. It’s called “civil asset forfeiture.”

If you’re shaking your head wondering how this could be, you’re not alone. In a recent Tulchin Research poll, Californians said they want an end to this practice. When asked whether police should be allowed to take and keep property from people who have not been convicted of a crime, an overwhelming 76 percent said “no. Support was just as high or higher across political, geographical, and racial/ethnic lines: LA-area Latino Democrats agreed with San Diego Republicans, White Central Valley Independents, and Bay Area African Americans.

It makes sense that Californians want protections put in place against law enforcement seizing property. The practice feels decidedly un-American. So where did it come from? The 40-year-old war on drugs.

Civil asset forfeiture laws were created in the heyday of the drug war in the 1980s. Originally intended to take booty away from drug “kingpins”, civil asset forfeiture has been perverted into an ongoing attack on low-income people and families who can’t afford to fight the government in court.

Despite laws and guidelines intended to protect against it, civil asset forfeiture has become a relied-upon source of funding for law enforcement agencies all across the state. The fact that civil asset forfeiture has become a primary funding source for law enforcement has not only led to greater abuses, but also to an unhealthy and growing overreliance on it. This is well documented.

Fortunately, reform is not only possible, it’s at our fingertips. SB 443 – introduced by Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) and co-authored by Senator Joel Anderson (R-Alpine) and Assembly Member David Hadley (R-Manhattan Beach), among others – will reign in abuses and reestablish the most basic tenets of Constitutional law and values, requiring that someone be convicted of an underlying crime before their cash or property can be permanently taken. SB 443 ensures that California law enforcement and prosecutors will no longer directly profit from cases in which there is no conviction.

SB 443 earned nearly unanimous support in the Senate. Only one Senator voted against the bill: the representative for Pomona, the city with the highest asset forfeiture rates in the state. Now the bill must overcome immense pressure from law enforcement to survive in the Assembly.

Support for SB 443 is broad and overwhelming (including the LA Times and former Republican State Assembly Member Chuck DeVore). Opposition is coming exclusively from the law enforcement agencies and prosecutors that benefit from seized assets. Just like asset forfeiture itself, this feels decidedly un-American.

The protections SB 443 will put in place are needed for all of us, particularly the more vulnerable. Asset forfeiture frequently impacts communities of color, low-income people, noncitizens, and family members of noncitizens, who are often discouraged from fighting for their property because they can’t afford an attorney or because they’re afraid to take on law enforcement. The asset forfeiture process is extremely complicated; without a lawyer, it is nearly impossible to successfully fight against the government to get your property back.

Most forfeiture involves small amounts of money and attorneys frequently tell people that the cost of fighting to get their property back will end up being more than the value of the property itself. The system is stacked against us.

SB 443 will restore the fundamental principle of our justice system that a person should not have his or her property taken away if that person has not first been convicted of a crime.

 

Margaret Dooley-Sammuli is the ACLU of California’s Director of Criminal Justice & Drug Policy.

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Voters Strongly Support Public Access to Police Misconduct Reports, Body Cam Footage https://www.aclusandiego.org/body-cam-footage/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/body-cam-footage/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 18:34:00 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12648  

Likely voters in California overwhelmingly support allowing public access to investigation reports in all cases where a police officer is accused of misconduct, a statewide poll released today has found.

California laws are some of the most secretive in the country when it comes to police misconduct, placing statutory barriers around details of investigations into shootings and other uses of force that keep them hidden from public scrutiny.

But the poll indicates that California voters are ready for major reforms, finding widespread public support for lifting that veil of secrecy. The poll, conducted on behalf of the ACLU of California Center for Advocacy & Policy, also found that four of five voters want police to wear body cameras, and voters support giving the public access to that footage.

“We give police more authority than nearly any other public servant — the power to stop us and our neighbors, detain us, search us, even to kill in our name,” said Peter Bibring, director of police practices for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California. “The public has a right to know how police use that authority, and especially have a right to know what happened when police abuse that authority. This secrecy around peace officer records undermines transparency, obstructs efforts to hold law enforcement accountable for its actions, and breeds distrust between police and the communities they serve.”

Almost four in five California voters (79%) say that where police have engaged in misconduct, the public should have access to the findings and conclusions of investigations into that misconduct.  That overwhelming support for reform carries across all ethnicities within the state, including more than nine out of ten African American voters (91 percent), five out of six Latino and Asian voters (84 percent) and over three-quarters of white voters (76 percent). That support also crosses party lines as strong majorities of Democrats (87 percent), Republicans (67 percent) and independent voters (78 percent) favor public access.

Nearly two-thirds of likely voters (64 percent) support public access to investigation reports in cases that simply allege officer misconduct. That support includes strong majorities in all major ethnic groups in the state including Asian (79 percent), African American (78 percent), Latino (67 percent) and white (60 percent) voters.  Bridging the partisan divide, Democratic (68 percent), Republican (56 percent) and independent (65 percent) voters all broadly support allowing public access to police misconduct investigations in all cases where an officer is accused of misconduct.

Under existing law, no police personnel records can be disclosed, a restriction resulting in the public being unable to find out if an officer has ever been involved in serious misconduct. Bolstered by court decisions, police departments have extended their interpretation of this confidentiality to deny public access to almost any information that could be used in personnel decisions, including internal affairs investigations and hearings on civilian complaints.

“California voters overwhelmingly see a problem with police secrecy and support reforms,” said Natasha Minsker, Director of the ACLU of California Center for Advocacy & Policy. “But for years, the law enforcement lobby has stopped every effort to bring transparency to police misconduct investigations. Our elected leaders need to stand up for the voters or the voters will stand up for themselves.”

The poll also found that support for requiring police officers to wear body cameras is nearly universal, with more than five of six voters (84 percent) favoring this requirement compared to just 8 percent who oppose.

African American voters (91 percent) show the highest support among ethnic groups for requiring the use of body cameras, while Latino (87 percent), white (83 percent) and Asian (80 percent) voters also show resounding support for recording police interactions and stops.

When it comes to the public release of body camera footage, nearly three-quarters of voters (74 percent) agree that footage should be publicly accessible in any case where an officer is reported for misconduct. Nearly the same portion of voters (72 percent) agrees that footage should be made public any time an officer uses force.

# # #

The online poll by Tulchin Research of likely November 2016 voters was conducted from July 10-14. It included a base sample of 800 voters with an oversample of 100 African American voters to provide increased statistical confidence for that specific demographic group. The margin of error for the statewide base sample is +/- 3.46 percent.

Read detailed polling data here.

body cam-sdpd-sm

 

 

 

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Making the Local Control Funding Formula Work https://www.aclusandiego.org/making-the-local-control-funding-formula-work/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/making-the-local-control-funding-formula-work/#comments Fri, 21 Aug 2015 22:28:56 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12646  

While students, parents, faculty and school staff gear up for the excitement of a new school year, a critically important process is unfolding largely out of public view.

California schools are nearing the conclusion of the second annual cycle of the district planning and budgeting process ushered in by Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), the historic reform of the state’s K-12 education finance and governance system.

And what we are seeing so far raises serious concerns.

Under LCFF, school districts receive additional funding based on how many high-need students—English learners, foster youth, and low-income students—they enroll. They also now have significantly more discretion over how to use their state funding.

In exchange for the increased flexibility, districts must engage local stakeholders in developing an annual Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP). That plan shows how the district will use its funding, including the additional money for high-need students, to improve student outcomes based on specified metrics across eight state priority areas. Districts had to adopt their LCAPs by July 1, and county offices of education must review and approve those plans by October 8.

LCFF has tremendous potential to improve student outcomes and close opportunity gaps for high-need student groups. By linking goals for student outcomes with actions and expenditures across multiple indicators, the LCAP process is intended to make analysis of student need the touchstone for all decisions about services and programs, while helping districts engage the community when making hard choices about how to prioritize limited resources.

When districts adopted their first-ever LCAPs in July 2014, the ACLU of California reviewed those plans from a random sample of 40 districts around the state to identify trends and to inform our ongoing advocacy around LCFF implementation. Among our findings, three significant issues stood out as significant barriers to whether LCFF will ultimately be successful:

1. Districts did not address each statutory metric. School districts have much greater flexibility over how to use their resources, but they are expected to track their progress within the eight state priority areas, using the specified metrics. Ten of the 40 districts, however, failed to address at least half of the required metrics, and only one district’s LCAP addressed each relevant statutory metric. And, as reflected in this chart, certain metrics were particularly likely to be omitted.

When districts do not address all of the statutory metrics, districts, stakeholders, and state policymakers cannot assess whether the local choices about the educational program reflected in the LCAP are, in fact, improving outcomes across the state priorities and make adjustments necessary to support a culture of continuous improvement.

2. Most districts failed to account for a majority of their LCFF funds. The LCAP is supposed to function as the central planning and accountability tool under LCFF. But excluding two districts that reported expenditures exceeding their total LCFF funds, the districts in our sample accounted for only $2.5 billion of the $6.3 billion in total LCFF funds they received in 2014-15, meaning that $3.8 billion in LCFF funding was not accounted for. In fact, 29 of the districts failed to account for 90% or more of their LCFF funds.

Districts cannot reliably assess why they are, or are not, making progress toward their goals across the eight state priority areas if a majority of their education program is not even reflected in the LCAP. Additionally, failing to account for the bulk of LCFF funds in the LCAP makes meaningful stakeholder engagement impossible because the public cannot assess how the few actions identified fit within the district’s broader program.

3. The majority of districts did not identify and explain the rationale for non-targeted uses of the additional funds generated by high-need students. Districts may use the additional funding they receive for high-need pupils for schoolwide and districtwide, i.e., non-targeted, programs, as long as they identify each such use in the LCAP and explain how it advances goals set for the high-need students. Our review found, however, that 10 districts failed to identify schoolwide and districtwide uses of these funds, and 20 districts identified only one or two examples, rather than identifying all such uses. And only 10 districts made a meaningful attempt to explain why the schoolwide or districtwide uses that they did identify advanced outcomes for the high-need students who generate the funds.

This requirement is essential to ensure that the funds the Legislature intended to meet the greater needs of high-need student are not treated as indistinguishable from the base funding districts receive. Providing the required explanation ensures that the decisions are anchored in the particular needs of the students who generate the funds, and that stakeholders have appropriate insight into the rationale so that they can participate meaningfully in the local conversation about priorities.

We shared our findings with key stakeholders throughout the spring. We also flagged these issues in a letterthat the ACLU of California and Public Advocates sent to every district and county superintendent in the state in June.

We hoped and expected to see improvement on these areas in the second round of LCAPs, which districts had to approve by July 1. Unfortunately, our preliminary review of a small sample of just-adopted LCAPs reveals that districts are still struggling with these foundational issues.

Implementing the dramatic changes enacted by LCFF is a significant undertaking. It has been and will continue to be a learning process. There have also been many positives over the last few years and some promising practices in LCAP development that I will highlight separately later this month.

But, taken together, these three issues cut to the heart of whether LCFF will succeed. If districts fail to address and monitor progress on numerous statutory metrics, include only a sliver of their LCFF funds, and fail to transparently explain how they are using the additional funds generated by high-need students to serve those students, the LCAP simply cannot be useful as a tool for continuous improvement or to facilitate meaningful local engagement or accountability.

We must all work together to make LCFF work, and getting these foundational components of the LCAP right is essential. County offices have until September 15 to recommend changes to LCAPs, and we believe these three issues should be front-and-center to the ongoing review process.

By David Sapp,  director of education advocacy for the ACLU of California.

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Celebrate Constitution Day 2015! https://www.aclusandiego.org/constitution-day-2015/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/constitution-day-2015/#comments Fri, 21 Aug 2015 16:12:02 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12643  

September 17th is Constitution Day! On September 17, 1787, the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention held their final meeting. Only one item of business occupied the agenda that day: to sign the Constitution of the United States of America.

Eleven years ago, Congress established September 17th as a federal holiday to recognize the signing of the United States Constitution in 1787.

The ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties celebrates the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights every day, but is especially pleased to place focus on these essential foundational documents of our democracy on Constitution Day.

For Teachers and Educators

The ACLU, in conjunction with attorneys from public and private sectors, invites educators to participate in our “Celebrate the Constitution” program on Thursday, September 17th.

Hundreds of San Diego and Imperial attorneys will be volunteering on that day (and throughout the week and even beyond) to engage students in a rich, interactive, multimedia dialogue on constitutional principles and interpretation, and on American law, from both historical and contemporary perspectives.

The session can run in any block of time to meet your school’s schedule -anywhere from 20 minutes to a full block period. The volunteer attorneys can make several presentations at your school on that day or speak to assemblies if that better meets your school’s needs. Also, attorneys can present to classes on other days in the vicinity of Sept. 17, to accommodate block schedules or competing programs.

We provide a nonpartisan pamphlet on the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and on contemporary court interpretations of our rights and laws, with special emphasis on cases that engage and appeal to middle and high school students. A PowerPoint presentation is also available. Teachers are provided with a detailed document addressing the history and social science content standards that are met with this presentation.

Demand increases every year. This will be our 9th year coordinating speakers! Last year, attorneys from the offices of the U.S. Attorney, District Attorney, Public Defender, Federal Defender,and private law firms, including 2014 sponsors Cooley LLP, DLA Piper, Fish & Richardson, McKenna Long & Aldridge Foundation and Sheppard Mullin, and attorneys from the city’s largest firms, including Jones Day, Morrison & Foerster, Procopio Cory,  and Solomon Ward presented in more than 500 classrooms to more than 17,500 students!

Schedule a speaker for your classroom or school 
while they are still available! 
Send us an email with your contact info
!

We offer this program to help you provide mandatory instruction on the Constitution on September 17th. Congress mandated that all publicly-funded educational institutions must provide educational programming on the history of the American Constitution on that day. The United States Department of Education declared that any school that receives federal funding of any kind must conduct lessons on the Constitution on that day.

To guarantee that we will be able to match an attorney to your school’s schedule, please request a speaker by Friday, August 28th. We typically, however, have been able to accommodate requests submitted before the last Friday in August.

To learn more or to schedule a speaker for your classroom or school while they are still available,send us an email with your contact info!

For Attorneys

If you are an attorney and would like to volunteer your services, please contact us today! Just provide us with your name, mailing address, daytime phone and email so we can be in touch with you. Also, if you have any date or geographic constraints that would help us in the scheduling, please let us know that too.

We offer an optional speaker training session to review Con Law and interesting cases that will help engage the students in the interactive dialogue we are all seeking. We have lots of background material on the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and landmark Supreme Court cases, but all attorneys are welcome to develop their own curriculum–as long as it is nonpartisan and will get the kids talking and thinking!

For Parents

If you are a parent and would like to know more about the program or would like us to contact a school or teacher, please email us or call 619.232.2121, ext. 260.

Constitution Day Council

A distinguished panel comprising judges, law firm partners and community leaders advises and supports the ACLU’s Constitution Day activities. If your firm would like to participate on this level,please email us or call 619.232.2121, ext. 260.

Constitution Day Council:
The Honorable H. Lee Sarokin, Retired, U.S. Court of Appeals, 3rd District, Constitution Day Council Chair
The Honorable James Stiven, Retired, U.S. District Court, Southern District of California, Program Chair

Founding Members
Mark Danis, Morrison & Foerster LLP
Eric Isaacson, Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP
Anthony Stiegler, Cooley LLP
and
Past Presidents of the San Diego County Bar Association:
– Candace Carroll, Sullivan Hill Lewin Rez & Engel
– Todd Stevens, Keeney, Waite & Stevens

and 2015 Lead Sponsor
CooleyLLP logo_RGB

 

List of Participating Legal Organizations 

American Bar Association Immigration Justice Project
Andersen Mann Hilbert & Parker
Appellate Defenders, Inc.
Office of the Attorney General – California
California Innocence Project
California Western School of Law
Cooley LLP
Consumer Law Group
Crowley Law Group
Office of the San Diego District Attorney
DLA Piper
Federal Defenders of San Diego, Inc.
Fish & Richardson
Fisher & Phillips
Morgan Foley, City Attorney, City of El Cajon
Higgs, Fletcher & Mack
Jones Day
Joseph Mediations
Kohn Law Office
Latham & Watkins
Laughlin Falbo Levi & Moresi
Law Office of Adam Van Susteren
Law Office of Alex Landon
Law Offices of Eric Morton
Law Offices of Gerald Blank
Law Office of Isaac Blumberg
Law Office of Jennifer L. Coon
Law Office of Jonathan L. Willis
Law Offices of Lance Rogers
Law Office of Lilia S. Velasquez
Law Office of Rebecca P. Jones
Law Office of Stephen D. Lemish
Law Office of Steven Schorr
Law Office of Suzie Mindlin
Legal Aid Society of San Diego
Lincoln Gustafson & Cercos
MacLeod & Catalano
Majors & Fox
McDougal Love Eckis Boehmer Foley & Lough
McKenna Long & Aldridge
Mitchell Gilleon Law Firm
Morrison & Foerster
Multiple Conflicts Office of San Diego County
Neil Dymott
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman
Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch
Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd
Office of the San Diego City Attorney
San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association
Office of the San Diego Public Defender
Seltzer Caplan McMahon Vitek
Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton
Solomon Ward Seidenwurm & Smith
State Bar of California
Sullivan Hill Lewin Rez & Engel
Suppa, Trucchi & Henein
Thomas Jefferson School of Law
Turner Law Group
Office of the United States Attorney, Southern District of California
Van Dyke & Associates

and

Calaway Golf Company
Caltrans
Qualcomm
San Diego State University
U.S. Marine Corps, Judge Advocates General’s Corps
U.S. Navy, Judge Advocate General Corps

Constitution Day Resources for Attorneys, Teachers, Students and Parents

http://www.constitutiondaysd.org/

 

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Youth Organizing Internship https://www.aclusandiego.org/youth-organizing-internship/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/youth-organizing-internship/#comments Thu, 20 Aug 2015 00:56:31 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12639  

The ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties continues its commitment to be community connected through a vital organizing team. This year our youth organizing work in San Diego successfully reached over 1,000 students and community members. As we continue to grow, more opportunities for the development of future community organizing leaders have become available.

The ACLU seeks two interns to become site coordinators for its ACLU high school projects in North and South San Diego County. The internship will be a high intensity ten-month youth organizing program through which interns will develop community organizing, curriculum building, and integrated advocacy skills and knowledge.

About the Program: The San Diego ACLU Youth Program is a leadership and organizing development program for high school youth in San Diego County. Its purpose is to implement a year-round program to introduce youth to critical consciousness, community organizing and their civil rights and liberties. Youth in the program will learn about San Diego ACLU campaigns and the value of integrated advocacy, in which, litigation, policy, advocacy, communications and organizing are key organizational strategies to advance and protect the civil rights and liberties of the community.

Ultimately, this politicization will allow youth to become agents of their own social and political transformation, and guide them to be active participants in advocating for the civil rights and liberties of their communities.

Youth Organizing Interns Responsibilities:

  • Develop a 15-youth program at one of our high school sites and identify a core student group of 5-8 youth
  • Develop and implement a holistic, socially conscious and culturally relevant youth organizing curriculum
  • Assist youth in developing a yearlong civil rights and civil liberties project or campaign
  • Plan workshops to engage students in the ACLU SDIC projects, integrated advocacy model and campaigns
  • Mobilize youth base to attend ACLU SD events and local community partners’ events, rallies and meetings
  • Coordinate with Youth Organizer on the North County Youth gathering, the Youth Summit, and the End of the Year Banquet
  • Strategize with Youth Organizer to develop an alumni youth network
  • Engage youth program alumni as mentors for the high school programs
  • Attend bi-weekly Youth Organizing meetings, and trainings as directed by Youth Organizer
  • Work 15 hours a week
  • Assist in all other Youth Organizing duties as assigned by the Youth Organizer

Qualifications
The ideal candidate will have the following qualifications:

  • Bilingual or multilingual strongly preferred
  • Experience working with high school youth preferred
  • Enthusiastic desire to work as part of a team in a fast-paced environment
  • Highly organized, detail-oriented and a responsible starter
  • Strong listening, speaking, and writing skills
  • Ability to remain calm even in stressful situations
  • Capacity and desire to work in multi-cultural environment where commitment to diversity based on race, ethnic origin, gender, age, sexual orientation, and physical ability is an important institutional value
  • Flexible and willing to put in time as needed especially during rapid response situations
  • Proficiency with software programs including Microsoft Word, Excel, and Power Point, and typing skills at an intermediate level.

Internships are unpaid: However, the ACLU is willing to discuss cooperating with students applying for public interest grants or obtaining course credit. Since this position may involve some travel, mileage reimbursements and public transportation passes are available.

DEADLINE: We encourage applicants to send materials as soon as possible. Please indicate in your cover letter where you found this job posting. Please send application package by September 6, 2015.

Application Procedure: Interested individuals must send a cover letter and resume, preferably by email, to ale@aclusandiego.org or by mail to:

ACLU Foundation of San Diego & Imperial Counties
ATTN: Non-Legal Internship Coordinator
PO Box 87131
San Diego, CA 92138-7131

The ACLU is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and encourages applications from women, people of color, persons with disabilities, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals.

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2015 Fall Legal Internship Opportunity https://www.aclusandiego.org/2015-fall-legal-internship/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/2015-fall-legal-internship/#comments Thu, 20 Aug 2015 00:35:50 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12631 The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of San Diego & Imperial Counties is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, public interest organization devoted exclusively to protecting the basic civil liberties of all. The mission of the ACLU is to assure that the protections of the Bill of Rights are preserved and expanded. The ACLU is widely recognized as the nation’s premier defender of individual rights and fundamental freedoms.

www.aclusandiego.org    www.aclu.org

Position Title: Legal Intern

Position Description: Part-time fall positions (20hrs/week). Duties may include research, writing, interviewing and fact investigation for cases involving constitutional and civil rights.

Internships are unpaid: However, the ACLU is willing to discuss cooperating with students in the grant application process.

Qualifications: Second and Third year law students with a demonstrated commitment to public interest work are preferred. Spanish-speaking a PLUS!

Application Procedure:
Individuals interested in applying for a legal internship at the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties should send a cover letter describing potential projects and interests, a resume, an unofficial transcript, the names and telephone numbers of two references, and a legal writing sample by email to jdauteuil@aclusandiego.org.

Or by mail to:

ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties
2015 Fall Legal Internship
PO Box 87131
San Diego, CA 92138-7131

DEADLINE: until filled.

We encourage applicants to send materials as soon as possible, but applications will be accepted until a candidate is selected.   Please indicate in your cover letter where you found this job posting. 

The ACLU is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and encourages women, people of color, persons with disabilities, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals to apply.

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Majority of California Voters Support Bill to Curb Racial Profiling https://www.aclusandiego.org/majority-of-california-voters-support-bill-to-curb-racial-profiling/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/majority-of-california-voters-support-bill-to-curb-racial-profiling/#comments Wed, 12 Aug 2015 16:49:11 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12622  

Sacramento – A new poll conducted by Tulchin Research shows that 69% of likely California voters support AB 953: The Racial and Identity Profiling Act of 2015, a state bill introduced by Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) to combat racial and identity profiling by law enforcement. The poll results come as the bill heads to the California Senate Appropriations Committee.

The statewide poll, conducted in July for the ACLU of California Center for Advocacy and Policy, found that nearly two-thirds of voters (65%) in California believe black people are more likely to be discriminated against by police. This includes nearly 9 out of 10 black voters (89%) who believe the same.

Additional poll findings include:

  • Nationwide events: Nearly every voter (95%) reports having heard of the recent high-profile police shootings and misconduct cases in Ferguson, New York and Charleston and most voters (80%) believe something like that could very well happen in California.
  • Police discrimination: 71 percent of California voters believe police are most likely to discriminate against young black men. Similarly, voters view Latinos (58%) and young Latino men (61%) as groups that are more likely to be discriminated against.
  • Use of force legislation: There is strong voter support (71%) for legislation aimed to increase transparency and accountability when it comes to law enforcement’s use of force reporting practices, such as AB 619 (Weber) and AB 71 (Rodriguez).

The numbers speak for themselves. When it comes to AB 953: The Racial and Identity Profiling Act of 2015, Californians across the board support this solution-based proposal to put us on the path to fair policing.

In the wake of events in Ferguson, New York, Charleston and Baltimore, we have been left heartbroken and shaken by the sometimes lethal impacts of racially biased policing. This year in California, over 100 people have died at the hands of police officers.

Our leaders and elected officials should listen to California voters and act on sensible reforms like AB 953.

— Natasha Minsker, Director of the ACLU of California Center for Advocacy and Policy

Background

During July 10-14, 2015, Tulchin Research conducted a statewide survey in California among 900 likely November 2016 voters, including a statewide sample of 800 voters and an oversample of 100 African American voters. The margin of error for the statewide base sample is +/- 3.46 percent.

An independent analysis of officer-involved killings found that California leads the nation in the number of deaths, with over 100 peoplekilled so far this year. Additionally, many people have lived experiences with biased policing and police misconduct. However, the state of California does not collect, analyze, or make available information about who the police, stop, search or even shoot.

AB 953: The Racial and Identity Profiling Act of 2014 was introduced by Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) to identify and address problems with disparate policing as they pertain to police stops.

If approved, AB 953 would:

  • Update California’s definition of racial and identity profiling to be in line with federal recommendations by including other demographic characteristics, such as gender and sexual orientation.
  • Require that California law enforcement agencies uniformly collect and report data on stops, frisks, and other interactions with the communities they serve.
  • Establish an advisory board to analyze stop data and develop recommendations to address problems with disparate policing where they exist.

Nearly two dozen police reform proposals were introduced in the California legislature this year. However, AB 953 is one of the last few proposals standing after the law enforcement lobby flexed its political muscle in Sacramento.

You can read Tulchin Research’s full poll memo here and you can read more on AB 953 here.

AB 953 is co-sponsored by the ACLU of California, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Sacramento, California State Conference of the NAACP, Dignity and Power Now, PICO California, Reform California, and Youth Justice Coalition.

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Voting Rights Restored to Thousands of Californians https://www.aclusandiego.org/voting-rights-restored/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/voting-rights-restored/#comments Tue, 04 Aug 2015 15:28:09 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12614  

Padilla withdraws former administration’s appeal to disenfranchise formerly incarcerated

SACRAMENTO – Today, by withdrawing a challenge to the voting rights of the formerly incarcerated that was taken up by his predecessor, Secretary of State Alex Padilla sends the nation a message that California will not stand for discrimination in voting and that he will fight to protect the right to vote for all eligible Californians.

“We have always recognized that our voting rights are larger than the right to cast a vote— it’s about the struggle for formerly and in some cases currently incarcerated people to be respected as citizens,” said Dorsey Nunn, executive director of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children and a taxpayer plaintiff in the lawsuit. “Our votes belong not just to us, but to our communities and families.”

Last year, the American Civil Liberties Union of California, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, and Legal Services for Prisoners with Children filed a lawsuit on behalf of three individuals who had lost their right to vote, as well as the League of Women Voters of California and All of Us or None, a nonprofit organization that advocates for the rights of formerly and currently incarcerated people and their families.

“Secretary of State Padilla is bucking a national trend in which voting rights are under attack,” said Lori Shellenberger, director of the ACLU of California’s Voting Rights Project. “We are thrilled that this administration has effectively said ‘No’ to Jim Crow in California, and instead is fighting for the voting rights of California’s most vulnerable communities.”

The lawsuit charged then-Secretary of State Debora Bowen with violating state law when she issued a directive to local elections officials in December 2011 stating that otherwise-eligible Californians are ineligible to vote if they are on post-release community supervision or mandatory supervision, two new and innovative local supervision programs for people sentenced for low-level, non-violent felonies.

The California Constitution and state election laws state that only people imprisoned or on parole for conviction of a felony are ineligible to vote; it has long been clear that people on other forms of supervision—such as felony probation or drug-diversion—have the right to vote Thus, last spring, an Alameda County Superior Court judge ruled that Bowen’s directive illegally stripped nearly 60,000 of people of their voting rights. In spite of the judge’s determination, Bowen appealed and continued the fight to disenfranchise the formerly incarcerated, a disproportionate number of whom are people of color.

“Formerly incarcerated people should not be disenfranchised and have to fight for their voting rights. Restoration of these voting rights is long overdue and the League is pleased that California is leading the way to protect voting rights for all,” said Helen Hutchinson, president of the League of Women Voters of California.

Earlier this summer, Maryland’s Governor Larry Hogan vetoed a bill that would have restored voting rights to about 40,000 citizens on probation or parole. In stark contrast, Secretary of State Padilla is sending a message to the rest of the nation that California will fight and eliminate the remnants of Jim Crow policies and will work to ensure that every eligible Californian has full and equal access to our democracy.

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Unique Guide Helps Schools Ensure Safe and Supportive Environments for Transgender Students https://www.aclusandiego.org/unique-guide-helps-schools-ensure-safe-and-supportive-environments-for-transgender-students/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/unique-guide-helps-schools-ensure-safe-and-supportive-environments-for-transgender-students/#comments Mon, 03 Aug 2015 16:49:20 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12608 San Francisco—Today, five national organizations, including the ACLU, introduced Schools In Transition: A Guide for Supporting Transgender Students in K-12 Schools, a first-of-its-kind publication for school administrations, teachers, and parents about how to provide safe and supportive environments for all transgender students, kindergarten through twelfth grade.

The lead authors are Asaf Orr, the Transgender Youth Project Staff Attorney for the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), and Joel Baum, Gender Spectrum’s Senior Director for Professional Development and Family Services.  Other co-authors include the National Education Association (NEA), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).

[On August 12, from 11:30 am – 12:30 pm, the guide’s authors are hosting a
Google Hangout discussion for school administrators, educators, and
parents about Schools in Transition. It will include an overview of the
document and much time for questions. Additional resources for
supporting schools to create truly welcoming environments for their
transgender and gender expansive students will also be presented.

To participate, click here to get the Google Hangout link.]

Schools are increasingly being called upon to include and support transgender students. Recognizing that this can seem daunting or overwhelming, Schools In Transition offers practical guidance and field-tested tips to parents, educators, administrators, and community members on planning and supporting a transgender student through a transition at school.

The guide is geared toward the needs of all students, kindergarten through twelfth grade, and incorporates recommendations that will allow schools to tailor those plans to the particular circumstances of the student and school. The authors include statements, recommendations, and resources which are based on data, research and best practices that have been tested in this field, as well as narratives of real experiences from students and educators.

“Having worked with many transgender students and their families, I know that school administrators want to do what they can to meet the needs of their transgender students and comply with Title IX. Unfortunately, many are unsure about how to achieve that goal,” said Asaf Orr. “This guide changes that by giving all the stakeholders in a school the tools to support a transgender student in their school. Following this guide will not only assist schools in complying with Title IX, but also create a safe and more supportive environment for all students in the district.”

Joel Baum added: “Schools in Transition is a unique and crucial resource for educators, caregivers and students. A young person’s assertion of their authentic gender, and the attendant questions it raises can feel overwhelming for all involved. This invaluable tool effectively breaks down the process, helping convert uncertainty to action. It provides a roadmap in which everyone can locate themselves on the journey to a successful experience for all.”

“At the ACLU, I talk with trans and gender nonconforming students and their parents from all over the country all the time,” said ACLU Youth and Program Strategist Chris Hampton. “This guide answers many questions I hear almost daily, and provides practical step-by-step advice for everything from how schools should approach names and pronouns, to privacy concerns, to ways transgender students can use special education laws to get accommodations at school.”

“We could not be more proud of this partnership with other leaders dedicated to creating safe, supportive schools for transgender students,” said Ellen Kahn, head of HRC Foundation’s Children, Youth and Families Program, which includes its national Welcoming Schools effort that works with educators to create LGBT-inclusive and supportive elementary schools. “This groundbreaking publication will provide in-depth and practical guidance for school administrators, counselors, teachers, and parents–all of whom are key to ensuring that transgender children can learn and thrive at school.”

“NEA is proud to be a co-author of Schools in Transition, a first-of-its kind guide to supporting transgender students in K-12 schools,” added NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia. “This publication is an extremely valuable resource for the three million NEA members who work tirelessly to assure that their schools and classrooms are safe and welcoming for all students. And it will be a lifesaver for the increasing number of transgender students who are living as their authentic selves. Only when every school provides an inclusive, respectful environment can every student achieve their full potential.”

More and more transgender students of all ages are asking their families and communities to support them in living their lives authentically. Having that support in school is critical because of the central role that schools play in their lives. A negative school experience not only hinders a transgender student’s academic achievement and growth, but can also interfere with their long-term mental health. Schools In Transition helps prevent that from happening.

The guide includes:

  • Information about basic concepts of gender. It is critical that those supporting a transgender or other gender-expansive child understand the complexity of gender.
  • The importance of gender identity and the harm society suffers when any students are marginalized at school.
  • General guidelines for meeting the needs of transgender students, including intentionality and an awareness of the trade-offs inherent in any decisions about a student’s transition.
  • Specific issues affecting transgender youth, including the use of chosen names and pronouns, student confidentiality and student records, restroom and locker room access, sports and other sex-separated activities and harassment or bullying.
  • Best practices for working with unsupportive parents or parents who disagree about the appropriate response to their child’s expressed gender identity. It also addresses how special education plans can be used to help transgender students.
  • Overview of the legal landscape that administrators, educators, parents and students should be aware of as they work together to create a safe and supportive school environment for all students.

Download the guide here.

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Encinitas Sign Ordinance Unfairly Limits First Amendment Rights https://www.aclusandiego.org/encinitas-sign-ordinance/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/encinitas-sign-ordinance/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 17:13:34 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12603  

Two Sign Limit and 30-Day Period Unconstitutionally Restrictive

By adopting, maintaining, and enforcing a two-sign limit on yard signs, the City of Encinitas is violating the public’s right to freedom of speech, charges a lawsuit filed in federal district court this week.

Americans have used political signs for hundreds of years to participate in the political process. Encinitas adopted a stringent cap on yard signs that violates the hallowed right of homeowners to speak out to their neighbors on candidates and issues they care about.  The ordinance prohibits property owners from posting more than two temporary yard signs at any time outside of thirty days before an election and three days afterwards.

“The right of individuals to participate in civic life is critical to the political process,” said David Loy, legal director of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. “Political signs are one of the few means of speech guaranteed to reach people in the community. They can change the channel or close the website, but they can’t turn off a sign in someone’s yard.”

The First Amendment is clear on this question. “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech.” At the core of free speech is political speech; indeed, the courts have ruled political speech is the most compelling and urgent function of the First Amendment. Because they are relatively inexpensive, political signs, supporting or opposing a candidate or cause, form an essential part of public discourse on the matters of the day. They are also critical for persons of limited mobility who may be unable to participate in other forms of civic engagement such as leafleting or demonstrating.

“This restriction chills the public’s right to free speech,” said Andrew Woodmansee, head of litigation at Morrison Foerster. “It impairs the ability of Encinitas residents to speak on candidates or issues outside of the thirty-day window, though doing so could significantly contribute to their success on Election Day. It limits residents to commenting on the vast array of candidates and issues that routinely are placed on each ballot. And it curbs their right to speak out on important issues that aren’t on the ballot.”

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of plaintiff Peter Stern, a long-time resident of Encinitas and an author and political activist. He has never missed voting in a general election, regularly contributes time and funds to support campaigns he believes in, and, under concern that he could be cited, has complied with Encinitas’ unconstitutional restriction though he has wished to post more than two signs.

“The City of Encinitas cannot justify this draconian limit on the number of yard signs in residential areas,” said Woodmansee.  “It has other means available to protect aesthetic or safety hazards, such as existing regulations on size, design, and placement of signs.”

Potential alternatives cannot substitute for the unique effectiveness and convenience of yard signs. For example, it is not feasible to place multiple messages on individual signs because they would be virtually unreadable by passersby and could have the effect of causing a distraction to drivers, increasing traffic hazards rather than eliminating them, as the ordinance is ostensibly intended to do.

The lawsuit asks the district court to permanently enjoin the City of Encinitas from enforcing the two-sign cap, to declare the two-sign cap unconstitutional, and to award attorneys’ fees and costs.

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Court Rules San Diego DA’s Denial of Sentencing Relief to Juveniles Unlawful https://www.aclusandiego.org/court-rules-san-diego-das-denial-of-sentencing-relief-to-juveniles-unlawful/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/court-rules-san-diego-das-denial-of-sentencing-relief-to-juveniles-unlawful/#comments Thu, 23 Jul 2015 22:09:53 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12572  

SAN DIEGO – The 4th District Court of Appeal, in a stunning rebuke to San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, today ruled that Proposition 47’s sentencing reclassification provisions apply equally to children and adults.

San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis had sought to deprive juvenile offenders of the retroactive relief the initiative provides. Her office argued that juveniles are not eligible to have their past offenses reduced to misdemeanors, even though adults convicted of the same felonies may petition for such relief.

“Bonnie Dumanis, in her ongoing quest to mete out the harshest punishments to the most vulnerable San Diegans rather than pursue smart justice, disregarded the will of California voters and asked the Court to treat juveniles with misdemeanors as if they were felons,” said Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, director of the ACLU of California’s Criminal Justice and Drug Policy Project. “Had her unsupported reading of the law been upheld, it would have given prosecutors across the state the authority to do what many would consider unthinkable – criminalize children more harshly than adults.”

Proposition 47, a measure which passed with nearly 60% of the vote in November 2014, ended felony sentencing for six petty crimes, including simple drug possession and petty theft, and created a resentencing process for those certain felonies to be retroactively reclassified as misdemeanors.

The ACLU argued that denying juveniles the resentencing relief provided to adults with identical offenses, and denying these juveniles similar relief to that provided to juveniles charged after the initiative went into effect, violates juveniles’ equal protection rights under the California and U.S. Constitution.

“Today’s ruling makes the future a little brighter for many young people in San Diego. The Court recognized that juveniles have the same rights as adults under Proposition 47 and may petition to have eligible felony adjudications reclassified as misdemeanors. Such relief opens up doors in education, employment, and the military, and will assist those facing any future criminal or immigration proceedings,” said Chessie Thacher, an attorney at Keker & Van Nest. “Keker & Van Nest is very pleased to have been involved in this outcome and hopes the Court’s well-reasoned decision sets the stage for consideration of this issue across the state.”

It would be absurd for adults to enjoy rehabilitation as misdemeanants while children are punished with felony records and all the collateral consequences. “Doing so would not only run contrary to the rehabilitative purpose of the juvenile justice system, but would be an abdication of a district attorney’s responsibility to seek justice,” said Dooley-Sammuli. “And the Court has now confirmed it is unlawful, something that our district attorney should have known.”

After Proposition 47 passed and went into effect, a juvenile, Alejandro N., and 75 other children petitioned the court to ask that their offenses be reclassified as misdemeanors, thus minimizing the myriad negative consequences of a having a felony on their records. California and San Diego voters overwhelmingly approved the initiative that included the expressly retroactive resentencing and reclassification provisions in order to achieve the broadest relief possible for nonviolent, non-serious offenders.

The children’s cases were joined by the superior court after District Attorney Dumanis opposed them, arguing that Prop 47 should be read to treat child offenders more harshly than adults.

This is now the law of the state of California.

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Individuals with Mental Disorders May Be Able to Return to U.S. https://www.aclusandiego.org/individuals-with-mental-disorders-may-be-able-to-return-to-u-s/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/individuals-with-mental-disorders-may-be-able-to-return-to-u-s/#comments Thu, 23 Jul 2015 21:58:40 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12569  

Franco-Gonzalez v. Holder is a class action lawsuit on behalf of individuals with serious mental disabilities who are detained for immigration proceedings in California, Arizona, or Washington. [Este artículo se repite abajo en español.]

The Court has granted preliminary approval of a partial settlement in the case, which creates a path for reopening the immigration cases of class members who were ordered deported after November 21, 2011 and who did not receive the full benefits of the Permanent Injunction and Implementation Plan Order.

Read the summary notice.

El articulo en español. 

Personas con Desórdenes Mentales Pueden Ser Capaces de Regreso a EE.UU
Un Acuerdo de Demanda Colectiva Propuesto para Inmigrantes Retiradas del de EE.UU

Franco-González v. Holder es una demanda colectiva en nombre de las personas que tienen discapacidades mentales graves y quien detenidas por los procedimientos de inmigración en California, Arizona, o Washington.

La Corte ha concedido la aprobación preliminar de un acuerdo parcial en el caso. Esto crea un camino para la reapertura de los casos de inmigración de miembros de la clase que se ordenó su deportación después de 21 de noviembre 2011 y que no recibieron los beneficios de la Orden Judicial Permanente y la Orden para Implementar el Plan.

Consulte el aviso de resumen.

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Final Report on Marijuana Policy: Recommendations before Legalization https://www.aclusandiego.org/final-report-on-marijuana-policy/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/final-report-on-marijuana-policy/#comments Wed, 22 Jul 2015 17:19:33 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12559  

The Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy released an extensive report detailing the complexities of marijuana legalization in California today. The report includes fifty-eight recommendations for policy makers and the public to consider before California decides to legalize recreational marijuana for production, sale and adult use.

The panel of leading legal, academic, law enforcement and policy experts, chaired by Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom in partnership with the American Civil Liberties Union of California, was formed by Lt. Gov. Newsom in 2013 to help the state prepare for the possibility of recreational legalization for adult use, as initiative drafters prepare to bring the question before California voters in 2016.

”This report offers not only a pathway to carefully crafting a thoughtful initiative but it also gives government the tools to follow up with implementation, if voters decide to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana for adult use,” said Lt. Governor Newsom. “If this is done right, we have an opportunity to improve the status quo by making marijuana difficult for kids to access, while limiting the unintended consequences that have characterized past ballot initiatives.”

The report makes clear that protecting youth and promoting public health and safety must be paramount, and guide all other decisions surrounding legalization. Commissioners also outlined nine policy goals that any initiative should strive to achieve including protections for consumers, workers, the environment, and reducing the size of the illicit market. The subsequent legal and regulatory recommendations are offered for consideration with the intent of achieving these goals.

”We looked at legalization in terms of what is unique about California and at the top of that list is the racial diversity of our 38 million residents,” said Norma Chavez-Peterson, executive director of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties.  “We shouldn’t trade the racial disparities of past marijuana enforcement with racial disparities in a new industry, or in public health. This report recommends defining racial and economic equity as a core goal for legalization.

The Blue Ribbon Commission was emphatic that the goal of legalization and regulation should not be to maximize tax revenue, arguing that such a goal could potentially run counter to the goals of protecting youth and promoting public health and safety. The report is also unequivocal in its goal of preventing corporate consolidation in the marijuana industry, as we have seen with Big Tobacco.

”Diverse stakeholders with diverse views can agree on fundamental goals for marijuana legalization: protecting kids, improving public safety and limiting corporate control,” said Keith Humphreys, a Stanford health policy associate who was a senior policy analyst at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy from 2009-2010. “Regardless of where you think you stand on marijuana legalization, this report is worth reading. It fills in the vital details for what marijuana legalization could look like in practice and what it would mean for our state.”

The report explores in great detail the complexity of moving a large, developed, and largely unregulated multi-billion-dollar industry out of the shadows and into a regulated mainstream to improve public health and safety, and protections for youth. The Blue Ribbon Commission also highlights that legalization would not be an event that happens in one election but rather, it would be a process that unfolds over many years requiring sustained attention to implementation.

The Commission believes any legalization effort should be clear on the goals it is setting out to achieve for the people of California and its forty-five regulatory recommendations aim to achieve the following nine recommended policy goals:

  1. Promote the health, safety and well-being of California’s youth by providing better prevention, education and treatment, keeping youth out of the criminal justice system, limiting youth access to marijuana, and regulating edible products.
  2. Public Safety: Ensure that our streets, schools and communities remain safe, while adopting measures to improve public safety.
  3. Equity: Meet the needs of California’s diverse populations and address racial and economic disparities, replacing criminalization with public health and economic development.
  4. Public Health: Protect public health, strengthen treatment programs for those who need help and educate the public about health issues associated with marijuana use.
  5. Environment: Protect public lands, reduce the environmental harms of illegal marijuana production and restore habitat and watersheds impacted by such cultivation.
  6. Medicine: Ensure continued access to marijuana for medical and therapeutic purposes for patients.
  7. Consumer Protection: Provide protections for California consumers, including testing and labeling of cannabis products and offer information that helps consumers make informed decisions.
  8. Workforce: Extend the same health, safety and labor protections to cannabis workers as other workers and provide for legal employment and economic opportunity for California’s diverse workforce.
  9. Market Access: Ensure that small and mid-size entities, especially responsible actors in the current market, have access to the new licensed market, and that the industry and regulatory system are not dominated by large, corporate interests.

While drawing from the lessons learned following legalization in other states, the Report advises California policymakers and regulators to craft California-centric solutions, and take regional variations into account. Policymakers are also advised to draw from the lessons of the regulation of other industries in California over many decades, notably tobacco and alcohol, even though Cannabis is different than both tobacco and alcohol in its production, processing and physiological effects.

Despite cannabis’ classification by the federal government as a Schedule 1 illegal substance, the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s annual survey for 2014 found that 34 percent of 10th graders had used marijuana, making the substance more prevalent among this age group than tobacco (23 percent). Nearly half (44%) of the surveyed 12th graders had used marijuana.

The final report can be found at www.SafeandSmartPolicy.org. (Direct link to the report here.)

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Development Associate https://www.aclusandiego.org/development-associate/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/development-associate/#comments Fri, 17 Jul 2015 22:28:41 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11227

The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of San Diego & Imperial Counties (ACLU) seeks a Development Associate to manage the day-to-day operations of the affiliate’s fund development program.

The ACLU fights for fundamental freedoms and individual rights for all.  The ACLU promotes and defends civil rights and civil liberties, including First Amendment rights, Equal Protection, Privacy, and Due Process, in San Diego & Imperial Counties through legal, legislative, and public education programs. Located in San Diego, the ACLU affiliate has 23 staff members, eighteen board members, 9,000 members, and an annual budget of $2.0 million.

Located near Downtown San Diego, our ACLU affiliate covers the length of California’s border with Mexico.  We are a 30 member team of highly motivated and dedicated attorneys, public policy experts, community organizers, development and communications staff, and other professionals working together to advance civil liberties in our region and state.  We also work closely with colleagues at the national ACLU headquarters in New York, as well as with our California colleagues based in the Los Angeles and San Francisco offices.  Together, the three California affiliates have more than 120 staff.

The San Diego ACLU has experienced exciting and rapid growth as a result of the successes of the development program, which has allowed the organization to more than triple its staff over the past four years.  The San Diego ACLU currently has a budget of nearly $4 million annually and is poised to play a critical role in raising significant resources through the nationwide ACLU’s largest ever fundraising campaign in celebration of the organization’s 100th anniversary in 2020.  There are tremendous opportunities to continue to grow the resources that sustain the organization and facilitate the expansion of its programmatic work, and we are looking for an enthusiastic, high-performing Development Associate to help manage the development processes that enable the affiliate’s success.  This is an exciting opportunity for an energetic, detail oriented individual to be a part of strong advocacy organization, learn the ins and outs of managing a thriving development program, and share in the affiliate’s success as we continue our ambitious growth and expand our impact in creating real change in our region and state.

PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITIES

Reporting to the Deputy Director/Chief Development Officer, the Development Associate is responsible for providing support in planning, managing, and implementing a multi-faceted fundraising program. This is an entry-level position with significant growth and advancement opportunities as the organization continues to grow.

Specific Responsibilities

  • Manage and maintain confidential fundraising information in the donor database and hold primary responsibility for the accuracy and integrity of the database information. Prepare and deliver reports. Assist in researching prospective donors;
  • Provide high-quality service to members, supporters, and potential supporters through frequent communications;
  • Prepare materials for implementation of cultivation and stewardship strategies for prospective donors and manage donor recognition;
  • Work with the national office to develop and implement strategies for marketing planned giving products to ACLU donors and members;
  • Organize fundraising and cultivation events from start to finish;
  • Organize and implement certain fundraising campaigns in the annual development plan. Coordinate campaign timelines; write and design materials for solicitors and donors; organize trainings; organize mailings; draft reports and correspondence; manage volunteers and assist solicitors; and maintain accurate, up-to-date records of activity.
  • Complete special projects and other duties as needed or assigned by Deputy Director and/or other development officers.

Additional Duties

  • Work collaboratively and cooperatively with other staff members and volunteers to advance the goals of the organization;
  • Provide support for organization events;
  • Work evenings and weekends when necessary;
  • Other tasks as assigned.

Qualifications

  • Firm commitment to the mission and principles of the ACLU;
  • Bachelor’s and at least one year of work experience. Experience in a nonprofit, advocacy, or other community-based group is preferred. Development skills a plus;
  • Excellent oral and written communications skills;
  • Excellent organization skills: a strong, consistent attention to detail, ability to meet tight deadlines, and the ability to follow through on work assignments with a minimum of direct supervision;
  • The ability to work on several significant projects at various stages of completion;
  • Strong problem solving skills;
  • Strong interpersonal skills and comfort working with diverse populations, with donors, and with staff and volunteers;
  • Excellent computer skills.  A strong familiarity with online communication tools.  Strong knowledge of Microsoft Office Suite. Experience with InDesign and with donor databases preferred;
  • Highly motivated, organized, adaptable.

Salary & Benefits: Competitive compensation commensurate with experience.  Excellent benefits.

Application Procedure:  Interested individuals must send a cover letter and resume, preferably by email, to jobs@aclusandiego.org or by mail to:

ACLU Foundation of San Diego & Imperial Counties
ATTN: Deputy Director
PO Box 87131
San Diego, CA  92138-7131

Please send application package by August 14, 2015.

The ACLU is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and encourages applications from women, people of color, persons with disabilities, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals.

 

 

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Associate Director of Development https://www.aclusandiego.org/associate-director-of-development/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/associate-director-of-development/#comments Fri, 17 Jul 2015 00:09:57 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12370  

The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of San Diego & Imperial Counties seeks a dynamic, sophisticated full-time fundraiser to expand the affiliate’s fund development program.  The ACLU fights for individual rights and fundamental freedoms for all, through education, litigation, policy advocacy, and organizing.  The ACLU promotes and defends civil rights and civil liberties, including First Amendment rights, equal protection, privacy, and due process.  In the past several years, our affiliate has led cutting-edge advocacy work to expand voting rights, immigrants’ rights, and criminal justice reform in our state.

The San Diego ACLU works closely with the national ACLU headquartered in New York, as well as with the ACLU affiliates headquartered in Los Angeles and San Francisco.  Together, the three California affiliates have more than 100,000 members and 120 staff in California.  Located in San Diego, our ACLU affiliate covers the length of California’s border with Mexico.  It has 30 staff, 20 board members, and an annual budget of $3.9 million.  San Diego is the eighth largest city in the United States and the second largest in California.  San Diego County has the third largest number of registered voters in California.  Our affiliate also spans Imperial County, which is the poorest county in California.

This an exciting time in the history of our organization.  Leading up to its 100th anniversary in 2020, the ACLU is embarking on the most ambitious nation-wide comprehensive fundraising campaign the organization’s history, in which the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties will play a key role.  The Centennial Campaign will provide significant opportunity to leverage the depth and breadth of the affiliate’s robust major donor prospect pool to increase leadership gifts to the organization, strengthen relationships with our supporters, and facilitate the expansion of our programmatic work.  This is an exciting opportunity for a seasoned fundraiser to take an already strong development program to the next level

PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITIES

Reporting to the Deputy Director/Chief Development Officer, the Associate Director of Development will be responsible for managing a comprehensive fundraising portfolio including annual and planned giving, with a focus on donors and prospects with the capacity to make annual gifts of $10,000+.  The Associate Director of Development will secure individual and planned gifts through a process of identifying, qualifying, strategizing, cultivating, soliciting, closing, and stewarding major gift donors and prospects. This position offers great opportunities as our affiliate continues to grow.

Specific Responsibilities:

  • Produce and implement a fundraising plan to retain and renew current donors while identifying and acquiring prospective donors;
  • Manage a portfolio of donors with capacity to make annual gifts of $10,000+. Serve as a primary contact for donors and make direct solicitations. This includes phone, mail and direct face-to-face contact, attending donor meetings and events;
  • Advise prospects on giving options available; develop gift proposals; and work with donors to complete transfers of funds;
  • Develop donor stewardship efforts, including individual donor correspondence and contact and develop a calendar for regular communications with donors;
  • Maintain fundraising schedules and objectives; ensure that plans are implemented, goals achieved, timely reports generated and information shared; ensure that fundraising is done in the most efficient and cost-effective way. Participate in strategic and operational planning within the development team.
  • Work collaboratively with program staff on fundraising activities germane to their policy area where opportunities exist for engaging donors;
  • Cultivate, steward, and sustain the planned giving program;
  • Work collaboratively with ACLU national office to cultivate and solicit planned gifts from members and donors;
  • Make full use of the organization’s databases and tracking systems;
  • Attend ACLU functions, such as the annual membership meeting and other ACLU events as requested;
  • Serve as a representative of the organization at external events and meetings, as needed;
  • Supervise the affiliate’s participation in national ACLU direct mail marketing efforts;
  • Collaborate with communications and organizing teams in membership development activities.

Additional Duties

  • Work collaboratively and cooperatively with other team members and volunteers to advance the goals of the organization;
  • Occasional public speaking;
  • Work evenings and weekends when necessary;
  • Other tasks as assigned.

Qualifications:

  • An interest in and commitment to civil liberties ;
  • Bachelor’s degree;
  • Five years demonstrated experience in not-for-profit fundraising, including major ($10,000+) and planned giving;
  • A successful track record of identifying, cultivating, soliciting and stewarding major individual donors;
  • Excellent verbal, written and interpersonal skills;
  • Knowledge of and successful experience with e-philanthropy strategies;
  • Advanced computer skills including experience with database management;
  • Demonstrated experience in responding and adapting to opportunities that arise;
  • Highly self-motivated, organized, adaptable.

Salary & Benefits:  Competitive salary commensurate with experience. Excellent benefits.

Application Procedure:  Interested individuals must send a cover letter, resume, list of references, salary history and a writing sample (no more than 5 pages), preferably by e-mail to jobs@aclusandiego.org or by mail to:

ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties
ATTN: Deputy Director
PO Box 87131
San Diego, CA 92138-7131

Please send application package by August 14, 2015.

The ACLU is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and encourages applications from women, people of color, persons with disabilities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals, and veterans.

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ACLU Urges Obama to Reform Criminal Justice System Now https://www.aclusandiego.org/obama-reform-cj-system/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/obama-reform-cj-system/#comments Wed, 15 Jul 2015 23:57:51 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12547  

NEW YORK — In response to President Obama’s remarks on criminal justice reform delivered at the NAACP Annual Convention, ACLU executive director Anthony D. Romero had the following statement:

“President Obama deserves congratulations for confronting one of the greatest challenges facing American society, reforming our broken criminal justice system. But the president must take additional steps to build redemption into our criminal justice system, or this will only be a noteworthy speech that burnishes the president’s legacy.

“We urge the president to take the following actions immediately:

“President Obama should move faster to commute significantly more sentences for those serving time for low-level offenses, a process that has been slow, inadequate, and cumbersome.

“In his remarks, President Obama endorsed ‘banning the box’ for formerly incarcerated people. To match his words with action, he now needs to make the federal government a model employer and ‘ban the box’ for federal jobs.

“The president can do for criminal justice reform what he did for health care reform: provide the hundreds of thousands of people behind bars in this country the opportunity to rejoin their communities, and become productive members of our society.

“It’s in the president’s power to do so. The time is now.”

To help inform our call for criminal justice reform, the ACLU commissioned a poll in early June. The poll demonstrated an overwhelming consensus among voters of the three leading political parties (and various political leanings) about how to reduce the U.S. prison population and build the path forward to reform.

All the respondents were registered voters, likely to vote in the 2016 presidential election. The poll found (in part):

  • Republicans and Democrats alike say that communities will be safer when the criminal justice system reduces the number of people behind bars and increases the treatment of mental illness and addiction, which are seen as primary root causes of crime.
  • Overall, 69% of voters say it is important for the country to reduce its prison populations, including 81% of Democrats, 71% of Independents and 54% of Republicans.
  • In a sharp shift away from the 1980s and 1990s, when incarceration was seen as a tool to reduce crime, voters now believe by two-to-one that reducing the prison population will make communities safer by facilitating more investments in crime prevention and rehabilitation strategies.

87% of respondents agree that drug addicts and those with mental illness should not be in prison, they belong in treatment facilities.

View the President’s full speech below.

 

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Welcome David Trujillo to the ACLU Family! https://www.aclusandiego.org/welcome-david-trujillo-to-the-aclu-family/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/welcome-david-trujillo-to-the-aclu-family/#comments Fri, 10 Jul 2015 19:55:55 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12530  

Microsoft Office Outlook - Memo StyleDavid Trujillo has spent his entire career fighting for social justice. He is profoundly experienced in community organizing, political campaigns and the legislative process. David joined the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties this week as our new advocacy director, and will oversee our policy and community organizing teams.

Prior to joining the San Diego ACLU, David served as the public affairs director of Planned Parenthood Northern California. During his time at Planned Parenthood, he was part of the campaign teams that defeated a parental notification initiative in California and so-called “Fetal Personhood Amendments” in Montana and Mississippi.

David also helped pass legislation that made California the only state in the country in the last five years to expand access to birth control and abortion services.

David grew up in San Diego and has a degree in political science from the University of California, San Diego.

“In order to have social change, we first need to focus on developing the community,” David says. “If our work isn’t reflective and doesn’t relate to what the community needs and wants, any change created is not sustainable.”

David prides himself on embodying honesty and integrity, and is a firm believer of developing our leaders to maintain sustained change.

Because of these shared values and more, we know that David will be a welcome fit to our SDACLU family!

 

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Racial Profiling Bill Moves Forward in California Legislature https://www.aclusandiego.org/racial-profiling-bill-moves-forward-in-california-legislature/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/racial-profiling-bill-moves-forward-in-california-legislature/#comments Tue, 07 Jul 2015 23:42:22 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12524

SACRAMENTO— Today Assembly Bill 953, Law Enforcement: Racial Profiling, made it out of the Senate Committee on Public Safety. AB 953, one of over 20 police reform laws proposed this year, was introduced by Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) to curb racial and identity profiling in California.

Testifying before the Senate Committee on Public safety today, Aaron Harvey recounted his experiences with racial profiling and excessive use of force at the hands of San Diego law enforcement. Harvey has been stopped by law enforcement nearly 50 times, without a criminal history.

“I know that the insane number of interactions I have had with law enforcement is a direct result of racial profiling,” said Harvey. “These countless illegal searches and seizures I have endured have degraded me as a human and violated my civil rights.”

Andrew Clark, Director of Connecticut’s Racial Profiling Prohibition Project, also made the case for AB 953. Connecticut has data-collection requirements and advisory board similar to those proposed under Weber’s bill.

“Moving from anecdotal data to empirical data on police stops is extremely important in addressing police legitimacy concerns,” said Clark. “In Connecticut, what was initially thought to be a burdensome and expensive undertaking turned to be anything but. A minimal investment of time and resources has allowed for a significant building of police-community relations. I encourage California to take similar steps.”

Weber’s bill is one of the last few proposals standing after the law enforcement lobby flexed its political muscle, even as the country reels from several recent high-profile killings of unarmed people of color. An independent analysis of officer-involved killings recently found that California leads the nation in the number of deaths so far this year.

“Recent incidents have forced us to confront some ugly truths about the persistence of racial bias in law enforcement,” said Assemblymember Weber. “One of our best defenses is information about who is stopped by police and why. Currently, information on these incidents isn’t provided publicly in a comprehensive way. The goal of AB 953 is to rectify this so we can make policies with the best information possible.”

If approved, AB 953 would:

  • Update California’s definition of racial profiling to be in line with federal recommendations by including other demographic characteristics, such as gender and sexual orientation;
  • Require that California law enforcement agencies uniformly collect and report data on stops, frisks, and other interactions with the communities they serve; and
  • Establish an advisory board to analyze stop data and develop recommendations to address problems with disparate policing where they exist. 

AB 953 is co-sponsored by the ACLU of California, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Sacramento, California State Conference of the NAACP, Dignity and Power Now, PICO California, Reform California, and Youth Justice Coalition.

 

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Personal Reflection on Court’s Historic Marriage Ruling https://www.aclusandiego.org/personal-reflection-on-courts-historic-marriage-ruling/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/personal-reflection-on-courts-historic-marriage-ruling/#comments Fri, 26 Jun 2015 14:57:44 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12510  

Today the Supreme Court ruled that all couples have the right to marriage in this country. I am thrilled and delighted to see marriage equality come to lesbian and gay couples all across the country. It was only 24 years ago when same-sex couples sued the state of Hawaii for the right to marry. By the timeline of historic civil rights battles, this seems to have moved with amazing speed.

This Wednesday, July 1, my husband and I will celebrate the seventh anniversary of our marriage. We were one of the 18,000 couples married during the brief window in 2008 between the California Supreme Court ruling for marriage equality and the passage of Proposition 8, when that window was slammed shut again.. We had already been together for 11 years when our marriage was recognized by the State of California. At the time I said that nothing had changed, yet everything is different. Recognition and equality are powerful forces. Knowing that our partnership is now equal to those of my sisters’ and my parents’ is a truly amazing sensation.

We should all celebrate the milestone that we attain today with the Supreme Court decision. Drink some champagne. Dance a lot. And then, we need to all go back to work. Seven years ago I said nothing had changed and yet everything was different. Now I want to reverse those statements: everything is different and nothing has changed. While same-sex couples now have the legal right to marry in all 50 states, in 29 of them, you can be fired the next day simply for being yourself.

If we really stand for the principles inscribed in our founding documents— life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness— we must redouble our efforts to insure full equality for everyone in the LGBT community wherever one lives. We have seen a concerted effort to pass so-called “religious freedom” bills that do nothing more than enshrine LGBT discrimination in state law.Importantly, we’ve also seen some success in defeating these bills, most notably in Indiana, but there is a whole industry devoted to denying the LGBT community equal rights, and they are not going away any time soon.

So, let us raise our glasses and toast our great victory for marriage equality, and then let us lock arms and work together to secure full equality for every lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender American.

Jeff1x1

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Marriage Equality Across the Land! https://www.aclusandiego.org/win-win-scenario/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/win-win-scenario/#comments Fri, 26 Jun 2015 14:09:52 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12468  

Today, the United States Supreme Court issued a sweeping ruling in favor of marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges (also: Henry v. Hodges–Ohio; Bourke v. Beshear and Love v. Beshear–Kentucky; DeBoer v. Snyder–MI; Tanco v. Haslam–TN). In a 5-4 decision, the justices endorsed the dual rationales of fundamental rights and equal protection. This is an enormous win for civil liberties.

The ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties is ecstatic that the Court struck down the discriminatory marriage bans that have harmed same-sex couples and their families. With today’s ruling that marriage bans are unconstitutional, marriage equality will come in short order, not only to the four states in the 6th Circuit (Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee), but to all states that currently deny marriage equality. The ruling brings full relief to the petitioners and same-sex couples who are married or who wish to marry across the country.

From the opinion:

“It is now clear that the challenged laws burden the liberty of same-sex couples, and it must be further acknowledged that they abridge central precepts of equality . . . Especially against a long history of disapproval of their relationships, this denial to same-sex couples of the right to marry works a grave and continuing harm. The imposition of this disability on gays and lesbians serves to disrespect and subordinate them. And the Equal Protection Clause, like the Due Process Clause, prohibits this unjustified infringement of the fundamental right to marry.”

From our friends at www.scotusblog.org, “The majority bases its conclusion that same-sex marriage is a fundamental right on “four principles and traditions”: (1) right to person choice in marriage is “inherent in the concept of individual autonomy”; (2) “two-person union unlike any other in its importance to the committed individuals”; (3) marriage safeguards children and families; (4) marriage is a keystone to our social order.”

The ACLU has been working for the rights of LGBT people since 1936, when it brought its first gay rights case. The organization also filed the first freedom-to-marry lawsuit for same-sex couples in 1970, and represented Edie Windsor in her successful challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act in June 2013. The ACLU has filed sixteen federal court marriage lawsuits on behalf of same-sex couples since the Windsor decision.

Before today’s decision, there was a patchwork of relationship protections across the country. Thirty-sixstates and Washington, D.C. allowed same-sex couples to marry; thirteen states refused. The ACLU argues that America shouldn’t have different rules for something so fundamentally important as marriage.

Marriage is about love and commitment. Same-sex couples make the commitment at the core of marriage, and they should also get the protections and respect that come with marriage.

And today, as members of the LGBT community and as allies, we celebrate a tremendous step forward in realizing the vision and values embodied in our precious Constitution and Bill of Rights.

 

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ACLU on Supreme Court Ruling on Housing Discrimination https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-on-supreme-court-ruling-on-housing-discrimination/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-on-supreme-court-ruling-on-housing-discrimination/#comments Thu, 25 Jun 2015 15:56:47 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12498

WASHINGTON – In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court today ruled that the 1968 Fair Housing Act continues to protect victims of discrimination, even where they cannot prove intent to discriminate.

The ACLU filed an amicus brief in this case, Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project.

Dennis Parker, director of the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program, said:

“This ruling recognizes the stark reality that housing discrimination, regardless of intent, persists for many Americans. This decision retains the essential protections of the Fair Housing Act, meaning the law will continue to serve as an important tool in rooting out pernicious forms of racial segregation and discrimination.”

The ruling is at: https://www.aclu.org/legal-document/texas-department-housing-community-affairs-v-inclusive-communities-project-amicus

More information is at: https://www.aclu.org/racial-justice-womens-rights/texas-department-housing-community-affairs-v-inclusive-communities-proj

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ACLU Will Fight Ballot Initiative Targeting Transgender Californians https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-will-fight-ballot-initiative-targeting-transgender-californians/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-will-fight-ballot-initiative-targeting-transgender-californians/#comments Wed, 24 Jun 2015 16:25:39 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12495  

A coalition of leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) and allied organizations has formed to battle a proposed ballot initiative targeting California’s transgender community.

The coalition consists of the American Civil Liberties Union of California, Equality California, the Human Rights Campaign, Los Angeles LGBT Center, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), and Transgender Law Center, as well as a steering committee of organizations representing diverse communities throughout California. Attorney General Kamala Harris today issued a title and ballot summary for the bathroom policing initiative, named “Limits on Use of Facilities in Government Buildings and Businesses,” which would prohibit transgender people from using facilities in government buildings and require the government to monitor bathroom use. The law would also allow anyone offended by the presence of an individual in a restroom to sue that person for a $4,000 in damages, as well as attorney’s fees.

“All Californians should have the same freedom to go about their lives and access government buildings without having their privacy invaded or being forced to undergo invasive examination simply to use a public restroom,” said Kris Hayashi, Executive Director of Transgender Law Center. “The bathroom policing initiative would unfairly single out transgender people and people who don’t meet stereotypes of what it looks like to be male or female for interrogation and exclusion.”

“Privacy for All” is the same group that previously unsuccessfully attempted to overturn AB 1266. The group is backed by the Sacramento-based Pacific Justice Institute, a right-wing legal organization.

“Our opponents clearly have a taste for irony,” said Rick Zbur, Executive Director of Equality California. “Why else would they include ‘privacy’ in the name of their organization that seeks to invade the most basic dignity of the transgender community – or really, of anyone who doesn’t match subjective standards of masculinity or femininity? This initiative has no safeguards about who does the interrogating or how an individual would prove their identity. It’s a recipe for harassment.”

Right-wing activists have increasingly targeted the transgender community for discrimination, proposing a spate of bills and initiatives across the country that would prohibit transgender people from using public bathrooms and otherwise participating in public life.

The bathroom policing initiative goes even farther than efforts in other states or previous California ballot proposals, potentially allowing anyone to sue an individual whose gender expression they found offensive in a restroom. Government analysts say the measure could cost California millions of dollars every year in legal expenses and lost federal funding.

The initiative also includes language authorizing businesses to exclude individuals from facilities for not looking masculine or feminine enough, and preventing individuals from bringing legal action to enforce discrimination laws. The provision in effect could lead to exclusion based on gender altogether from facilities in those establishments with no legal recourse.

Backers of the initiative now may begin collecting the 365,880 signatures needed to place the proposal on the 2016 ballot.

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ACLU on the Deadly Shooting in Charleston https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-on-the-deadly-shooting-in-charleston/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-on-the-deadly-shooting-in-charleston/#comments Thu, 18 Jun 2015 15:43:50 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12479  

All of us at the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties are sickened by the horrific killings in Charleston, S.C. late last night. Police just arrested the suspected white gunman, identified as 21-year-old Dylann Storm Roof, who opened fire at a historic black church, killed nine people, and fled. Six women and three men were killed, including the church’s pastor, who is also a South Carolina state senator, Rev. Clementa Pinckney.

The gunman reloaded five times. NBC News reports that a survivor of the shooting said the gunman entered the church, asked for the pastor, sat next to Rev. Pinckney and stayed for an hour during the Bible study before he began shooting. She said the gunman said, “I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over the country. And you have to go.” An NAACP official said the killer told one woman he was allowing her to live so she could tell everyone what had happened.

The attack is an eerie reminder of the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963, in which four young African American girls were killed and many others injured. We are mournful that our country is still dealing with institutional racism and race-related violence more than half a century later.

Like then, there is an outpouring of outrage over the killing of innocents, especially in a house of worship. There is outrage over the blatant racism exhibited by the shooter. As a nation, we ultimately came together then to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Today, we will fight harder to preserve and extend constitutionally guaranteed rights to people who have been historically denied their rights on the basis of race. At least out of the unspeakable tragedy, we can all recommit to working to create an impact that negates what an angry, racist young man attempted to carry out.

The authors of the Declaration of Independence—which we will celebrate in a few weeks—outlined a bold vision for America: a nation in which all people would be free and equal. More than two hundred years later, it has yet to be achieved. Though generations of civil rights activism have led to important gains in legal, political, social, and other areas, the systems of racial injustice still thrive. From our criminal justice system that disproportionately targets and incarcerates people of color and criminalizes poverty to our public schools, where students of color are often confined to racially isolated, underfunded, and inferior programs, the dream of full equality remains elusive.

Please join us today in mourning the victims, praying for relief, and recommitting ourselves to fight for the dream in which all Americans are free and equal.

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ACLU Raises Concerns about County’s “Free Speech Zone” Proposal https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-raises-concerns-about-countys-free-speech-zone-proposal/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-raises-concerns-about-countys-free-speech-zone-proposal/#comments Tue, 09 Jun 2015 04:40:11 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12460  

An ordinance being proposed to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors tomorrow to create “free speech zones” for protests outside the County Administration Center raises serious free speech concerns that the San Diego ACLU conveyed to lawyers for the county in a letter sent today. 

The ordinance would put new restrictions on where San Diegans can demonstrate. A memo accompanying the proposed ordinance noted that the space surrounding the County Administration Building, now featuring Waterfront Park, needs to be safe as a park and recreational space while still allowing demonstrators a place to express themselves. 

The location has traditionally served as a public forum, as the County acknowledges. Public parks often function as a free forum for people without other means to express themselves, and that ability to express grievances to government officials is especially salient. The government is only able to enforce reasonable time, place, and manner regulations, and only if any restrictions are content-neutral, narrowly tailored to serve a significant government interest, and must leave open ample alternative channels of communication. A failure to meet any one of these points makes the restriction unconstitutional. 

In reviewing the proposed ordinance, David Loy, legal director of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties, found several troubling issues that he asked the County to fix by further clarification or revision: 

1)     “Interfere” is impermissibly vague. Under  the ordinance, “Regulated First Amendment Activities” are restricted to a “Free Speech Zone” unless a permit is obtained. The ordinance would regulate any activity, no matter the number of attendees, that would “interfere” with the uses and functions of the Waterfront Park and/or County Administration Center” if “conducted outside Free Speech Zones or with a First Amendment Activity Permit. The uses and functions include “wedding ceremonies…picnicking, lounging and general enjoyment” as well as “access to the County Administration Center building.” Loy argues that the term “interfere” cannot justify restricting speech. Courts have ruled that it is “unduly vague” because it has no objective standard for determining how particular conduct would unlawfully interfere at a great enough level to restrict speech. Additionally, this proposed ordinance must be subjected to a higher level of scrutiny for vagueness because it regulates speech. Whenever First Amendment freedoms are at stake, courts analyze a measure’s “vagueness” more carefully “because uncertain rules inevitably chill protected speech.”

The ordinance language also appears to be unconstitutional because it would seem to authorize content-based restrictions on speech. If authorities felt that people’s “picnicking, lounging and general enjoyment” would be disturbed or that the park-goers might be offended, the result would be a restriction of speech—thus a violation of the First Amendment. How a person might react to speech “is not a content-neutral basis for regulation.”

2)     “Free Speech Zones” are not narrowly tailored to the County’s interests. The San Diego ACLU says that the ordinance burdens substantially more speech than is necessary to address the County’s interest in safety and access. By excluding large swaths of the public park from speech activity, much more speech is being restricted than is necessary. If people or groups are actually interfering with access, they can be cited or arrested for unlawful obstruction. If noise issues are a concern, existing noise rules can be invoked. If a substantially large group wants to use the space, requiring sound systems, staging and other demands on the space, appropriate permits may be required.

Additionally, the small area of the “Free Speech Zones” compared to the park as a whole raises serious concerns that the zones are not narrowly tailored and do not leave open, ample alternative channels of communication. Courts have ruled that this effective sequestration from the vast majority of the public using the space—presumably part of the audience the protesters wish to communicate with—is impermissible.

3)     Permit requirements are overly burdensome. A requirement to obtain a permit before engaging in speech is a prior restraint and drastically burdens free speech. The First Amendment obliges the government to justify any permitting requirements in s public forum, especially for political speech. The ordinance’s stipulation that a permit is required “regardless of the number of attendees” does not meet that justification. The ordinance’s requirement for advance notice of 20 days is similarly excessive, and the ordinance includes no exceptions for spontaneous events. The outside limit for advance notice for speech activities appears to be three days.

Lastly, the ordinance’s requirement for a permit applicant to “indemnify, save harmless and defend the County of San Diego” and have proof of insurance has no exclusions for losses to the County outside of the permittees’ control. Counter-protesters, hecklers, or County employees themselves could cause harm that the ordinance then makes the permittees responsible for.
 

The ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties hopes that with this deeper background on First Amendment law, the County will revise the problematic sections of this ordinance so that the County can continue to host a successful waterfront park and the public can exercise its hard-fought right to free speech.

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Lawsuit Charges City of Escondido Unlawfully Rejected Housing for Unaccompanied Children https://www.aclusandiego.org/escondidosouthwestkeylawsuit/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/escondidosouthwestkeylawsuit/#comments Tue, 19 May 2015 16:47:55 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12396 ESCONDIDO – Today in San Diego federal court, the ACLU filed a lawsuit charging that the City of Escondido manufactured zoning and land use pretexts to discriminate against vulnerable children fleeing violence and persecution in Central America.

“This is what 21st Century discrimination looks like,” said David Loy, Legal Director for the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. “Whatever the personal beliefs of individual officials, the City of Escondido capitulated to discrimination and xenophobia and unlawfully denied a home to traumatized children.” The ACLU is joined in the lawsuit by Brancart & Brancart, Cooley LLP, and Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

In February 2014, Southwest Key Programs approached the City of Escondido about potential locations to house unaccompanied children pending placement with parents, relatives, or other caregivers while their immigration cases are pending. Southwest Key is the largest licensed provider of housing for such children in the United States.

As required by law, the federal government contracts with Southwest Key and other entities to provide housing for children fleeing from violence and persecution in countries such as El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. Many of those children ultimately qualify for asylum or legal status allowing them to remain in the United States.

Southwest Key already successfully operates such housing facilities in San Diego County and elsewhere around the country. When, at the request of the Federal Government, Southwest Key sought to add a facility in San Diego County, it determined Escondido had the most suitable properties available.  However, when it sought City approval, it ran into a firestorm of opposition led by Mayor Sam Abed. Southwest Key first sought to convert a motel site located in a commercial zone to housing for unaccompanied children. However, City staff rejected that proposal, despite the fact that the municipal code expressly allowed “residential care facilities” in that zone. Attempting to work with the City, Southwest Key agreed to suspend an appeal from that decision and pursued a conditional use permit to convert a former skilled nursing facility located in a residential zone in another part of the City.

But before the City’s Planning Commission held its hearing on the conditional use permit for the nursing home in June 2014, Mayor Abed publicly opposed the project, claiming it was a “federal” issue he didn’t want anywhere in Escondido. Members of the public complained about the project’s “GHETTOIZATION IMPACTS” on the “character of the neighborhood” and objected to the “undesirable taste” it would bring to the “demographic of our neighborhood.”

The Planning Commission then unanimously rejected the proposal.  The rejection came despite a staff report documenting that Southwest Key would bring 90 new jobs and inject $6 or 7 million per year in new revenue into the community, would not impose any significant adverse impact on the community, and was enthusiastically recommended by the mayor of Youngtown, Arizona, where Southwest Key has a facility similar to that proposed for Escondido.  And Southwest Key’s proposal was rejected despite the fact that the Commission had approved numerous applications to expand a skilled nursing facility that had previously occupied the same site. Soon afterward, the Planning Commission and City Council amended the Escondido zoning code to prohibit residential care facilities in the commercial zone where the motel sites are located.

After Southwest Key appealed the Planning Commission’s denial of a conditional use permit to the City Council, Mayor Abed spoke on national television against the project. He professed concern for the “70,000 Hispanic residents in our city,” but claimed that “to have more illegal immigrants to our city is a problem for the entire community,” despite undisputed evidence the unaccompanied children would be housed and cared for entirely at federal expense and would not attend local schools.

The City Council held a hearing on Southwest Key’s appeal in October 2014. Opposing the appeal, members of the public proclaimed, “WE DONT [sic] WANT THESE PEOPLE IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD,” and reminded the City Council, “You are sitting up there right now because the majority of the people wanted you there, not the minority. Speak for the majority. They’re the ones that put you up there.” As one resident said, “I am very much against housing these illegals. I have a teenage daughter at home and do not feel safe with them roaming around the area. This is a nice neighborhood.”

Joseph Rich, Co-Director of the Fair Housing and Community Development Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said: “Such statements have been found by many courts to be coded language for unlawful animus and to support findings of discrimination that violate the Fair Housing Act and other civil rights laws.”

The City Council voted 4-1 to deny Southwest Key’s appeal, ignoring detailed evidence that demonstrated the economic benefits the project would confer on the City, as well as the absence of any legitimate concern about traffic, parking, noise, or public health. As Mayor Abed said in voting to deny the appeal, “half of our community is Hispanic,” and although he professed that “we are committed to help all of them regardless of their immigration background,” he concluded, “Now, do we need more?  I don’t think so.”

The lawsuit charges the City of Escondido with depriving children from Central America of housing based on race, color, national origin, ancestry, immigration status, and/or hostility to federal policy, in violation of federal and state fair housing laws and the United States Constitution.

 

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Historic Ruling in ACLU Lawsuit: Abstinence-Only Sex Ed Violated State Law https://www.aclusandiego.org/historic-ruling-in-aclu-lawsuit-abstinence-only-sex-ed-violated-state-law/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/historic-ruling-in-aclu-lawsuit-abstinence-only-sex-ed-violated-state-law/#comments Tue, 12 May 2015 16:44:28 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12393  

A Fresno County Superior Court judge has ruled that a lawsuit brought against the Clovis Unified School District was justified because the District’s sex education curriculum was out of compliance with California state law. The suit, American Academy of Pediatrics, et al. v. Clovis Unified School District, was brought on behalf of parents, physicians and the Gay-Straight Alliance Network by the ACLU of California and pro bono counsel, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP.

In the first-ever ruling on California’s 2003 sex education law, Judge Donald S. Black created a legal precedent that California students have a right to sex education that is complete, medically accurate, and free of bias. This historic ruling is the first to find that abstinence-only-until marriage instruction is unlawful on the grounds of medical accuracy and bias.

“Teens deserve complete, accurate health information, which they’ll need at whatever point in their life they become sexually active. This ruling is huge victory for students,” said Phyllida Burlingame, Reproductive Justice Policy Director for the ACLU of Northern California.

In his ruling, Judge Black ruled that “access to medically and socially appropriate sexual education is an important public right.” The court specifically noted that the curriculum used by Clovis Unified School District violated the law “by failing to include the required STD and pregnancy prevention information, by promoting and reinforcing bias in gender and sexual orientation, and by containing medically inaccurate information.”

The lawsuit, first filed in 2012, charged that Clovis Unified School District was failing students and providing misinformation that put young people’s health at risk. In a county where teens account for nearly a third of chlamydia cases and a quarter of gonorrhea cases, the district’s high school curriculum provided no information about how to prevent sexually transmitted infections. It taught abstinence as the only means of preventing pregnancy and included a video that compared a woman who was not a virgin to a dirty shoe. In its promotion of abstinence-only until heterosexual marriage, the curriculum also included bias against gay and lesbian students.

As a direct result of the lawsuit, that video and others like it have been removed, the district has adopted a curriculum that includes accurate information about all FDA-approved methods of contraception and STI-prevention, information about sexual orientation has been added to the program and teachers have been trained to use the curriculum and teach their students in an inclusive and unbiased manner. Going forward, students in Clovis will have comprehensive sex education that promotes healthy relationships, healthy decisions, and healthy futures.

Recognizing that the lawsuit conferred a “significant benefit” on the students of Clovis and that the plaintiffs were the catalyst of these important changes, the Court granted legal fees to the ACLU and Simpson Thacher.

teenagers taking a selfie

The ACLU of California is a collaboration of the three ACLU affiliates in the state—the ACLU of Northern California, the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, and the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. Together, we have more than 100,000 members and supporters. 

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Lista de Auto-Identificación con Respecto al Caso Cuestionando “Salida Voluntaria” https://www.aclusandiego.org/cuestionando-salida-voluntaria/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/cuestionando-salida-voluntaria/#comments Thu, 07 May 2015 00:58:38 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10978  

ESPAÑOL
La ACLU, una organización de derechos humanos, interpuso una demanda colectiva en contra de la forma como los agentes de inmigración del sur de California administran las “salidas voluntarias.”

Con aprobación de la Corte empieza la búsqueda en California y México por personas que califican para ser miembros de la demanda colectiva.

Por favor, complete un breve formulario para que podamos contactar ha usted!

Haga clic aquí para llenar el formulario.

 

ENGLISH
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a human rights organization, filed a class-action lawsuit challenging how immigration agents in Southern California administered a policy known as “voluntary return.”

With the Court’s approval, we are now seeking people in California and Mexico who qualify to be members of the class.

To see if you qualify, please fill out this short form so that we can contact you!

Click here to fill out the form.

 

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California is Finally Getting Serious about Police Reform https://www.aclusandiego.org/california-is-finally-getting-serious-about-police-reform/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/california-is-finally-getting-serious-about-police-reform/#comments Wed, 06 May 2015 00:32:34 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12391  

On a daily basis, Americans now see people of color unjustifiably killed by law enforcement. Particularly disheartening is that many of these homicides border on the edge of horrific.

Police officers partially severed Freddie Gray’s spine while he was handcuffed and in custody. Walter Scott was shot in his back and head five times.  He was running for safety.  And, as Eric Garner repeatedly pled for air, officers strangled him until his body laid listless.

Whether it be Maryland, South Carolina, New York, or our home state, these “lapses” of justice have become all too familiar. Indeed, it seems as if our system of public safety produces fixed results which dictate that black and brown males must die, regardless of what they do.

While it is quite difficult to discern betterment in such tragedy, if it exists, it may be that a proverbial “gut check” has been delivered to our nation. Americans, across the ideological spectrum, are no longer casting a blind-eye toward racially biased policing.  Many have instead been forced to deeply wrestle with the rules in place, and the unsettling degree to which they reveal that lives of color are less-valued, despite immense progress since our nation’s founding.

In our State Capitol, legislators, the ACLU, and our partners are responding to this moment by advocating for a broad range of measures that, collectively, could put California on a path toward socially just police reform.

Racial profiling & excessive use of force

In communities of color, racial profiling and police brutality are far from uncommon. As in the cases noted above, there are numerous are examples of these lived experiences. However, to move from anecdotal accounts towards a systemic, evidenced-based understanding of profiling and use of force, we need access to basic information on daily police-community interactions.

Together, AB 953 and AB 619, both introduced by Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), would fill this void. Specifically, AB 953 would update California’s legal definition of profiling, create a uniform system for collecting and reporting data on stops, searches and seizures, modernize law enforcement training, and establish an advisory board that provides recommendations on how to curb profiling.

AB 619 would expand existing state and local law enforcement reporting requirements beyond deaths-in-custody to include serious uses of force that fall short of death. In addition, AB 619 would ensure that the California Department of Justice routinely analyzes and makes public use of force information that it receives from law enforcement agencies.

Transparency & accountability

Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) and Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) have introduced bills that respond to a significant lack of public trust concerning how officer-involved shootings are prosecuted. UnderSB 227, Senator Mitchell would prohibit the use of a criminal grand jury to determine whether an officer should be indicted for using deadly force.  In doing so, it would address concerns about the exoneration of police officers by secret grand juries, which reach decisions that are often viewed as unfair and illogical.

AB 86, introduced by Assemblymember McCarty, would require that fatal officer-involved shootings be handled by an independent prosecutor, who would be appointment by California’s Attorney General. Through this approach, AB 86 addresses the appearance of impropriety that stems from the close working relationship held between law enforcement and district attorneys.

Training: Mental health & respect

Every year, close to a thousand Americans are killed during routine encounters with police.  Many of these deaths occur due to inadequate law enforcement training.

SB 11 and SB 29, both introduced by Senator Jim Beall (D-San Jose), seek to ensure that officers are sufficiently prepared to manage interactions with people suffering from mental health problems. Among other things, SB 11 would add 20 hours of classroom evidenced-based behavioral health training for officers in the Academy, as well as 4 hours of continuing education training on how to work with the people suffering from mental illness. SB 29 mandates 40 hours of evidence-based training for Field Officer Trainers, and 20 hours of field training on mental health issues for new officers.

AB 1118, introduced by Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), seeks to address a growing distrust in law enforcement by revitalizing police-community relationships. The bill would establish a Procedural Justice Task Force, administered by the Board of State and Community Corrections, to implement enhanced procedural justice training for local law enforcement agencies. The training would be based on four key principles: treating people with dignity and respect; making decisions fairly and not based on illegitimate factors, such as race; giving people a voice to tell their side of the story; and acting in a way that encourages community members to believe that they will be treated with goodwill in the future.

Decriminalization

Currently, people identified as suspected gang members are not given a fair chance to address such scrutiny. They are often classified as gang members based on racial profiling and associations they hold with family and friends. When this occurs, they may be placed in a gang database without being told that they have been included or how to be removed.

AB 829, introduced by Assemblymember Nazarian (D-Los Angeles), would address this over-criminalization by requiring that people be notified when they are placed in a gang database, and informed about how to challenge such placement.

The ACLU of California supports the bills listed above. The organization is also a proud co-sponsor of AB 953 and AB 619, along with Asian Americans Advancing Justice–Asian Law Caucus, PICO California, and Youth Justice Coalition.

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ACLU of California Releases Tool to Hold Law Enforcement Accountable https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-of-california-releases-tool-to-hold-law-enforcement-accountable/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-of-california-releases-tool-to-hold-law-enforcement-accountable/#comments Thu, 30 Apr 2015 17:01:17 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12375  

The ACLU of California today launched Mobile Justice CA, a free smart phone app allowing Californians to automatically record and submit cell phone videos to their ACLU affiliate when they feel law enforcement officers are violating civil rights.

Videos captured on the Mobile Justice CA app available for use on Android and iOS phones will be transmitted to the ACLU and preserved even if the user’s phone is later seized or destroyed.

[Leer este artículo en español.]

“The concerns over police practices, including racial profiling and excessive use of force, are very real for communities across the state,” said Norma Chavez-Peterson, executive director of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. “This app will help serve as a check on abuse – whether by police officers, sheriff’s deputies, border patrol, or other officials – allowing ordinary citizens to record and document any interaction with law enforcement.”

Mobile Justice CA can be downloaded free through Apple’s App Store or Google Play. It enables users to register, record, witness and report interactions with law enforcement and includes information on individual rights.

  • Record allows individuals to capture exchanges with police officers and other law enforcement officials in audio and video files that are automatically sent to the ACLU of California.
  • Witness sends out an alert to anyone with the app, giving them the option to go to the location and document the encounter when police stop someone.
  • Report allows the app user to complete an incident report and send it directly to the ACLU for review.
  • Know Your Rights provides an overview of what rights protect you when you are stopped by law enforcement officers.

The Ella Baker Center is partnering with the ACLU of CA to support the launch of the Mobile Justice CA app. EBC will collaborate with the ACLU SoCal on broadening and deepening community organizations’ and community members’ engagement with the app.

“People who historically have had very little power in the face of law enforcement now have this tool to reclaim their power and dignity,” said Patrisse Cullors, director of the Truth and Reinvestment Campaign at EBC. “Our vision is that this app will ultimately help community members connect and organize to respond to incidents of law enforcement violence, and then share their experiences and knowledge with others.”

“From Rodney King to Walter Scott, we’ve seen video bring police abuse into public view that otherwise could have gone ignored,” said Peter Bibring, director of police practices at the ACLU of Southern California. “Helping the public record law enforcement will help deter misconduct and document abuse when it does happen, so both officers and the criminal justice system can be held accountable.”

While Mobile Justice CA is intended for use by bystanders, the ACLU of California recognizes that some users may want to use it while they are involved in a police encounter. Anyone interacting with law enforcement should announce that they are reaching for a phone, and that they are attempting to access the app to record the exchange. Users’ safety depends on their ability to clearly communicate any actions they take and remain calm.

The ACLU of California will be working with community organizations to provide “Know Your Rights” trainings on how to use the app as well as basic rights related to interactions with law enforcement.  We encourage groups to contact us to arrange a training.

A grant from Susan Adelman and Claudio Llanos allowed the ACLU of California to develop the Mobile Justice CA app.

Learn more about Mobile Justice CA and download the app at mobilejusticeca.org.

The ACLU of California is a collaboration of the three ACLU affiliates in the state—the ACLU of Northern California, the ACLU of Southern California, and the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties.

For more information on the app, including a video, FAQ, and one-page overview of how to use the app, please see: https://www.mobilejusticeca.org/press-kit

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ACLU de California Estrena Herramienta Para Que Oficiales de la Ley Rindan Cuentas  https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-de-california-estrena-herramienta-para-que-oficiales-de-la-ley-rindan-cuentas/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-de-california-estrena-herramienta-para-que-oficiales-de-la-ley-rindan-cuentas/#comments Thu, 30 Apr 2015 16:17:47 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12378  

La ACLU de California lanzo hoy Justicia Móvil CA, una app gratuita para teléfonos inteligentes que permite que Californianos automáticamente graben y sometan videos de sus teléfonos a su oficina local de la ACLU cuando sienten que los oficiales de la ley han violado sus derechos civiles.

Videos capturados en la app Justicia Móvil CA, disponible por uso en teléfonos Andriod o iOS, van a ser transmitidos a la ACLU y preservados aunque el teléfono del usuario sea después confiscado o destruido.

“Preocupaciones sobre las prácticas de la policía, incluyendo el perfil racial y el uso de fuerza excesiva, son muy reales para comunidades por todo el estado”, dijo Norma Chavez-Peterson, director ejecutivo de la ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. “Esta app va servir como un sistema de control del abuso – sea por la policía local,  agentes del alguacil, patrulla fronteriza, o otros oficiales– permitiendo que ciudadanos ordinarios graben y documenten cualquier interacción con oficiales de la ley”.

Justicia Móvil CA puede ser descargada gratuitamente mediante Apple’s App Store o Google Play. Permite que usuarios registren, graben, den testimonio y reporten interacciones con oficiales de la ley e incluye información sobre derechos fundamentales.

  • Grabar permite que individuos capturen intercambios con policía y otros oficiales de la ley en archivos de audio y video que son inmediatamente enviados al ACLU de California.
  • Testigo de incidentes cercanos envía una alerta a cualquier persona con la app en la region, dando les la opción de ir a la ubicación y documentar la interacción con la policía cuando alguien es detenido.
  • Reportar incidente a ACLU permite que el usuario del app llene un reporte acerca del incidente y lo manda directamente al ACLU para revisar.
  • Conozca Sus Derechos proporciona un resumen de los derechos que lo protege cuando usted es detenido por oficiales de la ley.

El Ella Baker Center está colaborando con la ACLU de California para apoyar el lanzamiento de la Justicia Movil CA app. EBC (por sus siglas en ingles) va colaborar con la ACLU SoCal para ampliar y fortalecer la relación entre las organizaciones comunitarias y miembros de la comunidad y la app.

“Personas que históricamente han tenido muy poco poder en la presencia de oficiales de la ley ahora tienen esta herramienta para reclamar su poder y dignidad”, dijo Patrisse Cullors, directora de la Campaña  de la Verdad y Reinversión en EBC. “Nuestra visión es que esta app en el fundo va ayudar a miembros de la comunidad conectar y organizar en respuesta a incidentes de violencia a las manos de oficiales de la ley, y después compartir sus experiencias y conocimiento con otros”.

“De Rodney King a Walter Scott, hemos visto como el uso de video trae a la luz incidentes del abuso de la policía que de otro manera hubieron sido ignorados”, dijo Peter Bibring, director de prácticas policíacas en la ACLU del Sur de California. “Ayudar al publico a grabar oficiales de la ley va ayudar a disuadir el  conducto indebido y documentar abusos cuando ocurren, para que ambos los oficiales de la ley y el sistema penal puedan rendir cuentas”.

Aunque  es imaginado que el uso de Justicia Móvil CA va ser por testigos, la ACLU de California reconoce que algunos usuarios quizás la quieran usar cuando están involucrados en un encuentro con la policía. Cualquier persona que está en la presencia de un oficial de la ley debería anunciar que van a alcanzar su teléfono, y que están tratando de usar la app para grabar el intercambio. La seguridad de los usuarios depende en su habilidad a comunicar claramente cualquier acción que toman y mantener la calma.

La ACLU de California va estar trabajando con organizaciones comunitarias para proporcionar talleres “Conozca Sus Derechos” que van a incluir como usar la app y derechos fundamentales relacionados con interacciones con oficiales de la ley. Nosotros invitamos a grupos a ponerse en contacto con nosotros para coordinar un entrenamiento.

Un subsidio de Susan Adelman y Claudio Llanos permitió que la ACLU de California diseñara la app Justicia Móvil CA.

Aprenda más acerca de Justicia Móvil CA y descarga la app de la página de internet de ACLU de Sur de California o mobilejusticeca.org.

La ACLU de California es una colaboración entre las tres oficinas del ACLU en el estado – la ACLU del Norte de California, la ACLU del Sur de California, y la ACLU de los Condados de San Diego e Imperial.

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Prop 47 Communications Strategist https://www.aclusandiego.org/prop-47-communications-strategist/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/prop-47-communications-strategist/#comments Tue, 28 Apr 2015 17:19:20 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12363  

On behalf of the ACLU of California, the ACLU and ACLU Foundation of San Diego and Imperial Counties seek a Communications Strategist to spearhead the ACLU’s contribution to statewide public education, media relations, and new media activities around Proposition 47 with the aim of increasing awareness of the measure’s impact and the benefits of permanently reducing incarceration and shifting savings to education, mental health services, and drug treatment.

The ACLU fights for individual rights and fundamental freedoms for all, through education, litigation, policy advocacy, and organizing. The ACLU promotes and defends civil rights and civil liberties, including First Amendment rights, equal protection, privacy, and due process. The San Diego ACLU works collaboratively with the ACLU affiliates headquartered in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and with a lobbying office in Sacramento. Working together as the ACLU of California, the three affiliates have more than 110,000 members and 130 staff in California.

Position Summary

Based in San Diego, the Communications Strategist leads the overall development of statewide Proposition 47-related communications strategies to achieve maximum reach and impact. The position participates in the statewide Criminal Justice & Drug Policy Project, coordinates with communications staffs of the three ACLU California affiliates, and reports directly to the San Diego Communications Director. The position is for a term of 12 months, with the possibility for extension.

Responsibilities

  • Develop and implement robust statewide campaign to promote awareness of Prop 47 among decision-makers, opinion-makers, and affected communities.
  • Conduct and apply research to develop effective messages.
  • Frame, message, and write in ways that clearly communicate the key principles at stake (racial and economic equity and justice, etc.) and that can capture the interest, attention, and support of the general public.
  • Coordinate media relations through meetings with relevant reporters, editorial boards, and opinion leaders and pitch news and feature stories about real people’s Prop 47 experiences.
  • Use new media tools to reach broader and younger audiences, and target ethnic, community, and alternative media that seek to reach distinct and diverse audiences.
  • Write, edit, copy-edit, and produce clear, engaging, compelling publications.
  • Special attention to developing messaging to communities that have not traditionally been part of the ACLU and who may particularly gain from Prop 47’s benefits, including Latinos and Spanish-speaking communities, Asian-Pacific Island communities, and persons affected by the criminal justice system.

Qualifications

  • Outstanding written and oral communication skills, including 5+ years writing experience, with at least some of that related to public policy, advocacy, and strategic messaging.
  • Experience with opinion research.
  • Experience carrying out strategic communications in the context of community organizing, political, and public education campaigns.
  • Demonstrated ability to manage projects effectively, including projects that require input and approval from others at several stages.
  • Experience and creativity in reaching a diversity of audiences.
  • Ability to quickly produce clear, persuasive, well-organized, and accurate materials.
  • Ability to synthesize complex information from a variety of sources, including attorneys, scholars, and policy makers, and transform it into persuasive copy that is compelling to the targeted audience.
  • Ability to work well under pressure and to reliably meet deadlines in a fast-paced environment while maintaining excellent attention to detail and accuracy.
  • Demonstrated fluency in communicating in all formats and mediums.
  • Excellent computer/internet skills; graphic design skills a plus.
  • Bilingual skills in Spanish preferred.
  • Work evenings and weekends as necessary.
  • Valid driver’s license, insurance, and working vehicle. Ability to travel regularly across the state as needed.

Salary & Benefits

Competitive salary commensurate with experience. We provide excellent benefits.

Application Procedure

For more information on ACLU-SDIC, please go to http://www.aclusandiego.org. Interested individuals must send a cover letter, resume, list of references, two communications-related writing samples (e.g., press release, oped), a sample communications plan (no more than 5 pages), and salary requirements by e-mail to jobs@aclusandiego.org.

Application deadline is May 29, 2015.

The ACLU is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and encourages applications from women, people of color, persons with disabilities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals, and veterans.

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Challenging District Attorney’s Denial of Sentencing Relief to Juveniles https://www.aclusandiego.org/district-attorneys-denies-sentencing-relief-to-juveniles/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/district-attorneys-denies-sentencing-relief-to-juveniles/#comments Tue, 21 Apr 2015 18:43:42 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12343  

SAN DIEGO – The ACLU of California requested permission from the Court of Appeal’s Fourth Appellate District today to file a friend-of-the-court brief in support of a juvenile who was denied sentencing relief under Proposition 47 simply due to his age. The brief argues that denying children’s petitions based on their age incorrectly ignores the initiative’s legislative intent, violates juveniles’ equal protection rights, and creates a series of harmful collateral consequences.

Prop 47, a measure which passed with nearly 60% of the vote in November 2014, ended felony sentencing for six petty crimes, including simple drug possession and petty theft, and created a resentencing process for those certain felonies to be retroactively reclassified as misdemeanors.

But San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis has sought to deprive juvenile offenders adjudicated in juvenile court of the retroactive relief the initiative provides, by arguing that they are not eligible to have their past offenses reduced to misdemeanors even while adults convicted of the same felonies may petition for such relief.

“District Attorney Dumanis is actively frustrating the voters’ clear intent, and violating the most basic constitutional rights of San Diego’s most precious resource, our young people,” said Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, director of the ACLU of California’s Criminal Justice and Drug Policy Project. “Not only does the district attorney misapply the law and undermine the juvenile justice system’s principle of rehabilitation, but in doing so, her office is exposing children to significant problems.” A minor who is adjudicated a felon is more likely to be unfairly stigmatized, subjected to enhanced criminal penalties, turned down for jobs, rejected from military service, denied admission to college, and placed at risk in immigration proceedings.

“Since the purpose of the juvenile justice system is rehabilitation, excluding minors from Proposition 47’s relief is illogical and unjust,” said Micaela Davis, policy attorney for the ACLU of California’s Criminal Justice and Drug Policy Project.  “The District Attorney is relying on a hair-splitting legal distinction between adult and juvenile criminal terminology, rather than following well-established court precedent to interpret initiatives in the ordinary language that the general electorate would be expected to understand.”

Denying juveniles the resentencing relief provided to adults with identical offenses and denying these juveniles similar relief to that provided to juveniles charged after the initiative went into effect violates juveniles’ equal protection rights under the California and U.S. Constitution. It would be absurd for adults to enjoy rehabilitation as misdemeanants while children are punished with felony records and all the collateral consequences. “Clearly our Constitution protects juveniles from being subjected to more severe sanctions than adults who commit the same offense,” said Dooley-Sammuli.

Proposition 47 seeks to relieve the social and financial burden of California’s over-criminalization problem in five ways:

  • Redefines certain drug possession and theft offenses as misdemeanor s for all purposes;
  • Creates a misdemeanor resentencing process;
  • Permits any qualified person who has already completed his or her sentence to have it redesignated as a misdemeanor;
  • Directs savings from the reduced incarceration rates to be funneled into social services, including youth-focused programs; and
  • Mandates a broad construction to accomplish these purposes.

The three affiliates of the ACLU of California argue that the district attorney’s decision to deny juveniles the initiative’s relief because of a tortured reading of its language, overrides the electorate’s intent and ignores its mandate to be construed liberally.

After Proposition 47 passed and went into effect, a juvenile, Alejandro N., and 75 other children petitioned the court to ask that their offenses be reclassified as misdemeanors, thus minimizing the myriad negative consequences of a having a felony on their records. California and San Diego voters overwhelmingly approved the initiative that included the expressly retroactive resentencing and reclassification provisions  in order to achieve the broadest relief possible for nonviolent, non-serious offenders. The children’s cases were joined by the superior court after District Attorney Dumanis opposed them, arguing that Prop 47 should be read to treat child offenders more harshly than adults.

“A ruling in the children’s favor by the Court of Appeal will potentially impact the futures of hundreds to thousands of young people, whose attempts to change the direction of their lives are being thwarted by a district attorney who seeks to mark them for life for their youthful indiscretions,” said Bardis Vakili, staff attorney of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties.

Although the district attorney attempts to discount these collateral consequences by pointing to the confidentiality of juvenile records and the availability of juvenile record sealing, these protections don’t have nearly the benefit as the relief intended by Prop 47. Confidentiality rules governing the disclosure of juvenile records are riddled with exceptions, and success in sealing one’s record is far from guaranteed.

# # #

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of California is a collaboration of the three ACLU affiliates in the state—the ACLU of Northern California, the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, and the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. The ACLU of California has a longstanding interest in preserving the constitutional rights of persons involved with the criminal justice system, and supported and advocated for Proposition 47’s passage.

We are grateful to the law firm, Keker & Van Nest, who drafted and filed this brief.

dumanisProp47

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Join the ACLU: Fighting for Equal Protection For All https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-protecting-american-values-and-fundamental-freedoms-for-all-largest-defender-of-civil-rights-in-the-world/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-protecting-american-values-and-fundamental-freedoms-for-all-largest-defender-of-civil-rights-in-the-world/#comments Wed, 15 Apr 2015 11:16:13 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/site/?p=6015 JenaOlson_ACLUSD_Americana_Nov2011-005.jpg (JPEG Image, 3594 × 2We invite you to join the fight to protect fundamental American values of freedom, fairness, and equality for all by becoming a proud card-carrying member of the ACLU. For more than nine decades, the ACLU has led the fight for equal protection under the law for all people.  The San Diego ACLU has been the region’s civil rights advocate since 1933.

The ACLU works daily in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the rights and freedoms our founders guaranteed in the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and the laws of the United States.

Join today!      ¡Únete a nosotros hoy!

WHO IS THE ACLU?

We are a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that reaches out to and represents anyone whose fundamental freedoms have been violated. We are the largest organization defending civil rights and civil liberties in the world.

The ACLU protects American values and preserves American freedoms. Our job is to conserve America’s civic values – as expressed in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights – and defend these rights even when its unpopular to do so.

Protecting the freedoms of those with whom the majority disagrees or despises is the only way to keep those precious rights alive for future generations. Sticking up for the little guy is fundamental to preserving the integrity of our democracy.

HOW LARGE?

The ACLU’s work is sustained by more than 500,000 members and supporters who play an active role in defending freedom.

–  Nearly 200 ACLU staff attorneys and thousands of volunteer attorneys handle
thousands of civil liberties cases every year.
–  Our legislative advocates are a constant presence on Capitol Hill and in state
legislatures working on civil liberties issues.
–  The ACLU has staffed offices in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C.

OUR WORK

We have been at the forefront of protecting freedom and fairness since our founding in 1920.

–  Teaching evolution
–   Censorship of James Joyce’s Ulysses
–  Japanese Internment

and more recently,

–  restoring the balance of powers, which swung too far to the Executive Branch in past
years and trying to uncover the whole truth and seek accountability for torture,
Guantanamo, rendition, and domestic spying
–  opposing Arizona’s racial profiling law
–  protecting our most vulnerable
–  helping students find their voice and stand up for what they believe in
–  helping all students gain access to quality education

WHAT DO YOU MEAN, “FOR ALL”?

What does it mean to protect and defend fundamental freedoms for all? Here are just a few areas where the ACLU works hard to preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to everyone in this country:

– Religious Freedom For All. Religious freedom is the right to practice the religion of one’s choice or no religion at all. The First Amendment protects religious freedom by
keeping religion free from government interference or coercion.
ACLU’s representation of the religious beliefs of Christians and non-Christians.
– The American Flag.
 Our defense of free speech has included all kinds of speech,
including the right of people to display the American flag. This may come to the
surprise of some commentators, as blogger Conor Friedersdorf points out.
–  Defending Conservatives.
 Although our work to expand fair and equal treatment
of the law to all—including women, African Americans, Latinos, lesbian, gay, and
transgender people, and others—has led to the perception that the ACLU is liberal, we
have stood up in countless cases for the rights of political conservatives, including such
prominent figures as Rush Limbaugh, Oliver North, and Senator Larry Craig.
Click here to read a sampling.
–  LGBT Rights.
 Tom Homann, San Diego’s LGBT champion and corollary to Harvey
Milk, declared, “Locally, there is virtually no other organization that has consistently
litigated the whole range of gay and lesbian issues and supported our cause whenever
we needed help, other than the ACLU…In San Diego, the ACLU has been the only
story in town as far as legal action to protect our rights.”
Read about our 70 years and counting defending the rights of LGBT Americans.
–  Immigrants’ Rights. As during other times in our nation’s history, the United
States is in a major debate over immigrants and their place in our economic and
political life. While the Bill of Rights doesn’t grant foreigners the right to enter the
United States, once they are here, they’re entitled to certain broad constitutional
protections. Read more about our work with immigrant communities.

WHY YOU SHOULD JOIN

It boils down to this: Joining the ACLU is the single best way to take pride in protecting fundamental American values of freedom, fairness, and equality for all.

Other reasons include:

–  For the sixth consecutive year, the ACLU has received a 4-star rating from
Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent evaluator of charities.
–  The ACLU also meets the highest standards of The Wise Giving Alliance of the Better Business Bureau.
–  Your support goes to helping our advocacy on the most urgent issues and cases.
–  Your membership entitles to you the famous ACLU membership card so you can be a proud card-carrier.
–  Your membership also entitles you to newsletters from the local and national ACLU,
as well as invitations to special events.

Join today!      ¡Únete a nosotros hoy!

Thank you for supporting the protection of freedom, fairness, and equality for all.

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Walter Scott Matters. #blacklivesmatter https://www.aclusandiego.org/walter-scott-matters/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/walter-scott-matters/#comments Thu, 09 Apr 2015 18:11:10 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12328  

You’ve probably seen—or at least read about—the gut-wrenching video from South Carolina, in which a white police officer, Michael T. Slager, can be seen shooting an unarmed black man, Walter L. Scott, in the back eight times as he flees the scene.

The video contradicts the self-defense story told by officer Slager about the fatal shooting. It tells the truth about the culture of policing in America today – about how black men and communities of color are brutalized, and excessive force is easily explained away.

We cannot let this continue. Not one more day, not one more unarmed black man senselessly gunned down execution style, snatched from his family far too soon.

Time to shut it down from the top – join over 60,000 other ACLU supporters and tell the DOJ, DHS, and DOD to stop funding the siege on communities of color.

In the video, it appears as if the officer plants evidence to support his story, after gunning Walter Scott down. You can see him handcuff the dying man rather than provide medical attention. Why is no one trying to save him?

What would the current conversation around Walter Scott be if there hadn’t been this video? What would you be reading in the news? And how often does this happen in America, unseen by a camera?

It’s time for us all to stand up and shout from the rooftops – this must end.

It’s up to us to call for a drastic shift in the culture of policing, one that involves addressing racial profiling, excessive force, and the heavy militarization of local police forces.

It’s up to you to take a stand for what’s right. Will you join us? Sign today.

The police, armed to the teeth, continue to treat us like the enemy, especially if we’re black, young, poor, or homeless.

What will it take for police to start protecting communities of color, instead of waging war on them? It’s up to us to make sure the police understand that our communities are not warzones, and we are not the enemy.

We need systemic change so we can stop this constant recitation of names, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott. Not one more.

Stopping the funding and incentivizing of police militarization is a crucial first step to ending this war. Make it stop.

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ACLU of California Applauds Immigration Bill Package Introduction https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-of-california-applauds-immigration-bill-package-introduction/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-of-california-applauds-immigration-bill-package-introduction/#comments Tue, 07 Apr 2015 22:05:32 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12325  

SACRAMENTO–Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego), Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), and other members of the Legislature unveiled legislation today that would enhance protections for undocumented Californians.

The package of bills includes a measure sponsored by the ACLU of California, AB 1352, and introduced by Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton).  AB 1352 eliminates the harsh and unintended immigration consequences when criminal charges are dismissed after people successfully complete deferred judgment programs for minor drug offenses.

Other bills in the package announced by legislative leaders include measures to assist immigrants with integration and citizenship, protect them from fraud, discrimination and abuse, extend health care coverage, ensure due process and confidentiality in legal proceedings, and encourage them to come forward to help in criminal prosecutions.

In response to their introduction, we issued the following statement from Kevin Baker, legislative director with the ACLU of California’s Center for Advocacy and Policy:

“We commend California’s Legislative leadership for taking on a comprehensive agenda to ensure the rights of all Californians are protected, regardless of immigration status.

Immigrants contribute immeasurably to the rich cultural fabric and economic success of California, despite facing serious challenges created by our nation’s broken immigration system.

Yet California continues to lead the nation in forward-thinking laws and policies that recognize immigrants’ contributions. From the California DREAM Act to the Safe and Responsible Drivers Act, California understands that when we take a stand to protect immigrants’ rights, all Californians stand to benefit.”

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Policy and Legal Internships in Sacramento https://www.aclusandiego.org/internships-in-sacramento/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/internships-in-sacramento/#comments Thu, 02 Apr 2015 15:46:54 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12318  

The ACLU of California invites applications for internships for law and graduate students in the Center for Advocacy & Policy (CAP). Students willing to work with intensity and focus will find an internship at the CAP a rewarding learning experience. Internships are available year-round. Qualified applicants are enthusiastic, creative, and detail-oriented; have excellent research, writing, and oral communication skills; and can articulate a commitment to work for social justice and the ideals of the ACLU.

About the Center for Advocacy & Policy

The ACLU of California Center for Advocacy & Policy is responsible for advancing the ACLU’s civil liberties and civil rights policy goals in the State Capitol. The office advocates on a broad range of issues including criminal justice, education, freedom of expression, immigrants’ rights, LGBT rights, privacy, racial justice, reproductive justice, and voting rights. The ACLU of California is a collaboration of all the ACLU affiliates in California, with more than 100,000 members and supporters.

The office currently includes the center director, legislative director, five advocates, the legislative coordinator, and the voting rights attorney. The staff work closely with the ACLU of Northern California, ACLU of Southern California, and ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties affiliates.

Available Internships

CAP Interns work directly with one or more advocates and conduct research and writing in support of active and potential legislation that span the ACLU’s primary issue areas. Interns may be asked to draft legal memoranda, analyses, testimony to the legislature and regulatory agencies, legislative language and amendments, and bill position letters, as well as research and brief the ACLU of California staff on a variety of issues. Interns will have the opportunity to participate in strategy meetings with other ACLU staff and coalition partners.  When possible, interns attend meetings with legislators and staffers.

Internship applicants must have earned their undergraduate degree, though consideration will be granted to college juniors and seniors on a case-by-case basis.  Preference is given to students who will have completed their second year of law school when beginning the internship. The Center for Advocacy & Policy accepts one intern per term.

School year internships

School year internships are full- or part-time, requiring a minimum commitment of 16 hours per week. Students on the semester system must be able to commit to working 12 – 14 weeks. Students on the quarter system can serve shorter quarter-long internships. We greatly prefer that part-time interns commit to work full work days (i.e., two eight-hour days rather than four four-hour days) and recommend that students commit as many days a week as possible for the best internship experience. Semester interns may earn academic credit as determined by their law schools. Work-study funding may be available.

Summer internships

Summer internships are full-time for 10 – 12 weeks and usually begin the day after Memorial Day. Part-time internships are also available during the summer. For summer internships, students are encouraged to seek independent funding through their schools where available. The CAP will consider matching grants and may provide additional funding as available.

Application deadlines

Applicants are encouraged to apply early in the hiring cycle as decisions are made on a rolling basis.

  • Fall term: Applications will be accepted beginning March 1 for the following fall term.
  • Spring term: Applications will be accepted beginning October 1 for the following spring term.
  • Summer term: Applications will be accepted beginning December 1 for the following summer term.

How to apply

Applications from all interested students are welcome. The CAP is proud to be an affirmative action employer. All interested individuals, including people of color, women, persons with disabilities, and persons who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or intersex are particularly urged to apply.

Applications must include the following:

  • Cover Letter that includes a statement about when you would like to intern with the CAP, what issue area(s) you are particularly passionate or knowledgeable about, and a brief statement about why you want to work at the CAP;
  • Resume;
  • Writing Sample; and
  • List of References with contact information.

Please submit your application materials as a single PDF document with the following in the subject line: “Internship Application: [Last Name, Semester Year.]” For example, “Internship Application: Smith, Fall 2015.” Submit applications to via email to bcramer@acluca.org.

The ACLU of California is proud to be an affirmative action employer. All interested individuals, including people of color, women, persons with disabilities and persons who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex are particularly urged to apply.

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Two Policing Bills Could Have Big Impact in Curbing Racial Bias https://www.aclusandiego.org/two-policing-bills-could-have-big-impact-in-curbing-racial-bias/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/two-policing-bills-could-have-big-impact-in-curbing-racial-bias/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 22:24:55 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12303  

If two bills are signed by Governor Brown this fall, California will take another important step toward improving public safety and upholding civil liberties.

The bills, AB 953 and AB 619, introduced by San Diego Assemblymember Shirley Weber, would modernize California’s definition of “racial profiling” and improve public access to invaluable data on profiling and serious uses of force by law enforcement.

Such reforms are critical because biased policing and racial profiling are not only wrong, but also ultimately undermine community trust and public safety.  As Californians, we must join together to fix these problems.

AB 953 and AB 619 are supported by the American Civil Liberties Union of California, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, PICO California, and the Youth Justice Coalition. 

Racial profiling – AB 953

AB 953 aims to curb the harmful and unjust practice of racial and identity profiling, and increase transparency and accountability with law enforcement agencies. ab 953 meme

Racial and identity profiling occurs when law enforcement officers stop, search, seize property, or interrogate a person without evidence of criminal activity.  These practices not only humiliate and frightens law abiding Californians, but also divert limited community resources away from evidence-based policing, thus making us all less safe.

For example, a recent report by a California police department found that blacks were stopped twice as often as their driving age demographic representation, and that blacks and Latinos were respectively searched at three and two times the rate of whites.  However, during these searches, blacks and Hispanics were found less likely to have engaged in criminal activity. 

Police use of force – AB 619

AB 619 seeks to improve transparency and accountability within law enforcement by increasing public access to invaluable information on law enforcement uses of force that result in death or serious bodily injury.

This measure is particularly timely, as numerous deaths at the hands of law enforcement over the course of the past year– such as Erick Garner in New York City, Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Michael Brown in Ferguson, and both Ezell Ford and a homeless man known as Africa in Los Angeles – have broken the hearts of many.  These deaths have also sparked a critical conversation about race, law enforcement agencies, and the communities they serve.

Here in California, the public is far too often left in the dark when it comes to information about force used by law enforcement, even though all state and local law enforcement agencies collect information on deaths that occur while someone is in custody – including those that occur during arrest.

Without access to such important information, community trust in law enforcement is undermined, and our collective ability to develop racially equitable policing reforms is lessened.

 

 

 

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Get a Warrant! https://www.aclusandiego.org/get-a-warrant/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/get-a-warrant/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 19:22:38 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12301  

The California legislature today took an important step toward updating the laws that protect our electronic information when the state Senate’s Committee on Public Safety approved the California Electronic Privacy Act (CalECPA).

The bill, which enjoys bipartisan authorship and the support of numerous leading technology companies including Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft, along with organizations like the ACLU of California, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Center for Democracy and Technology, now moves on to the full Senate.

The technology that we use for everything from balancing our budget to finding a date is constantly evolving – but the laws that protect our electronic information are stuck in the digital dark ages. That’s why it’s so important that the legislature pass, and that Gov. Jerry Brown signs, this essential piece of legislation, authored by Sens. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and Joel Anderson (R-Alpine).

The government is increasingly taking advantage of outdated privacy laws to turn mobile phones into tracking devices and to access sensitive emails, purchase records, digital documents and more without proper judicial oversight. And while the courts and Congress are slowly retrofitting existing laws to the modern world, technology moves too fast to let them move at their own (often glacial) pace. It’s time for California and other states to kick start the process by updating our own privacy laws.

CalECPA requires that police go to a judge and get a warrant before searching our online accounts or personal devices for information about who we are, where we go, who we know, and what we do. Notice, transparency, and reporting provisions make sure that the law is followed and allow ongoing oversight. CalECPA also includes appropriate exceptions to ensure that the police can continue to effectively and efficiently protect public safety.

Updating our electronic privacy laws will protect sensitive information and support the digital economy. In the wake of the Snowden revelations, Americans are increasingly concerned about warrantless government access to their digital information: 70 percent of social networking site users are concerned about government access to their information. And companies recognize that eroding trust in technology impacts their bottom line, with cloud computing companies likely to lose as much as $35 billion as a direct result of reduced confidence in the security of online information.

CalECPA would protect sensitive information and rebuild trust in online services by providing the photos on your smartphone or the emails in your Gmail account with the same protections that currently apply to the printed photos and personal letters you store in your home.

You shouldn’t have to choose between using technology and keeping your personal life private. And companies and individuals shouldn’t be stuck with privacy laws from the digital dark ages. So if you live in California, contact your representative today and tell them to support CalECPA.

Post by Nicole Ozer, the director of technology and civil liberties policy for the ACLU of California.

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ACLU Policy Director Tapped to Lead Criminal Justice & Drug Policy at the ACLU of California https://www.aclusandiego.org/dooley-sammuli-tapped-to-lead-cjdp/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/dooley-sammuli-tapped-to-lead-cjdp/#comments Thu, 19 Mar 2015 20:57:15 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12285  

After three years with the San Diego affiliate and ten years working on criminal justice reform, Margaret Dooley-Sammuli has been tapped to serve as the director of ACLU of California’s Criminal Justice & Drug Policy project. The ACLU of California (comprised of the three ACLU affiliates in the state) has made criminal justice reform one of its top priorities.

In her new role, Dooley-Sammuli will lead the ACLU’s many criminal justice and drug policy campaigns in California – including protecting the significant reforms embedded in Proposition 47 and leveraging the Affordable Care Act to advance a public health approach to drug policy.

She has a decade of experience working on criminal justice and drug policy reform in California, including spearheading historic campaigns to revise the state’s drug possession penalties (SB 1506 & SB 649). Dooley-Sammuli is co-author of the ACLU’s Affordable Care Act: A Primer for Advocates, a guide to leveraging the Affordable Care Act to expand access to healthcare and to reduce incarceration, as well as Public Safety Realignment: California at a Crossroads, the first in-depth look at California’s historic shift of responsibility for low-level felony offenses from state to county authority.

Before joining the ACLU, Dooley-Sammuli was deputy state director with the Drug Policy Alliance, where she led the organization’s criminal justice advocacy in California and co-authored Drug Courts are Not the Answer: Toward a Public-Health Approach to Drug Use, a critical analysis of drug courts and evidence-based alternatives. While at Drug Policy Alliance, she served as deputy campaign manager for California statewide ballot measure Proposition 5 (the Nonviolent Offender Rehabilitation Act) in 2008. In her previous career, she was an editor based in Shanghai, China with The Economist Intelligence Unit.

Dooley-Sammuli will be transitioning from her previous role as the San Diego ACLU’s policy director. While in that role, she led the ACLU of California’s efforts to ensure the passage of the ground-breaking criminal justice reform initiative, Prop. 47, passed overwhelmingly by voters last November, which made California the first state in the nation to end felony sentencing for drug possession for personal use and for petty theft.

She will continue to be based in San Diego.

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ACLU Statement on Report Assessing SDPD’s Misconduct Policies https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-statement-on-report-assessing-sdpds-misconduct-policies/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-statement-on-report-assessing-sdpds-misconduct-policies/#comments Tue, 17 Mar 2015 08:30:04 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12279  

In response to the release today of a U.S. Department of Justice report examining the San Diego Police Department’s policies and practices “related to preventing and detecting misconduct,” the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties issues the following statement, attributable to Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, policy director.

SAN DIEGO – We are gratified by the seriousness with which the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) conducted its assessment of the policies and practices of the San Diego Police Department (SDPD) for preventing, detecting, and investigating police misconduct in its report, Critical Response Technical Assessment Review: Police Accountability—Findings and National Implications of an Assessment of the San Diego Police Department. The review focused on 17 specific cases of misconduct and the policies that prevent accountability and early detection of problematic behavior. “Strong efforts must be taken to ensure transparency and responsiveness to community concerns and complaints,” the report stated in its conclusion. “The SDPD must now use its experiences and the recommendations from this assessment as a launching point for making additional changes and providing further training to its officers and supervisors in areas of concern to the community, especially in response to concerns of police bias.” [Emphasis added.]

We understand that SDPD officers have a difficult job, and many officers perform their duties with a commitment to professionalism, protection, and service. We appreciate the diligence of PERF and the strength of the report’s two-score specific recommendations, including changes to recruitment and hiring practices, improvements to supervision and training, improving complaint handling, and a recommitment to rebuilding the broken trust with the community. We are hopeful that the Department will accept the recommendations in the report to eliminate gaps in policy allowing misconduct to go unnoticed and unaddressed.

Although the report mentions in several places that the community clearly voiced concerns of racial bias in policing, it deliberately skirts the issue (other than asking the Department to “consider” a program to address unconscious bias in policing).  The San Diego ACLU, and many community organizations and leaders, believe there is a culture in the SDPD of selective intimidation and widespread ethnic and racial profiling that do not represent San Diegans’ values of fairness and equality.

Communities of color and economically disenfranchised communities should be able—like all of us—to consider the police department a place to turn to for safety and security. But all too often, they are instead victimized by officers who use racial profiling, illegal searches, and other intimidating actions in interactions with these populations.

It is time for the SDPD to modify its overall culture and make a commitment to protecting and serving all San Diegans. No San Diegan should be subjected to profiling by the SDPD. The SDPD must have a zero-tolerance policy towards racial and ethnic profiling.

Typical of the problem that people of color in San Diego constantly face is the experiences of Stephen Pierce, a former NFL player with the Cleveland Browns and a resident of La Jolla. “I am reminded every day by police officers that I do not belong in La Jolla,” said Pierce. “I am followed and when I am finally stopped by police officers, I am asked, ‘Is this your car?’ ‘Is it stolen?’ ‘Why are you in the neighborhood?’ and ‘Are you on parole or probation?’ They say some things change with age, but I guess when you are an African American man in San Diego, no matter how old you are, the harassment and disrespectful treatment by the San Diego Police Department stays the same.”  Pierce is president of the San Diego NFL Players Association.

The San Diego ACLU echoes the calls in the report for the SDPD to increase measures that allow for accountability and transparency, so that those who are victims of intimidating behavior can report the abuses and reasonably expect a thorough investigation and resolution to their complaint. A police department that seeks and expects respect and trust should welcome such measures.

Further, the SDPD should institute training to ensure that officers are not engaging in behavior that singles out communities of color, LGBT people, women, the poor, or disabled for different treatment.

Although we welcome the scrutiny paid to SDPD by PERF and support most of the recommendations made, the report is not a comprehensive assessment of necessary reform. Instead, it should serve as a starting point for a much larger conversation of how to increase transparency, accountability, and community trust.

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Constitution? What Constitution? https://www.aclusandiego.org/constitution-what-constitution/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/constitution-what-constitution/#comments Wed, 04 Mar 2015 20:52:19 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12229  

“I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California.” That’s the oath every lawyer in California takes, including prosecutors.

But San Diego prosecutors need a refresher course on the Constitution. They’re committing a clear First Amendment violation by prosecuting Brandon Duncan and others for the content of their speech.

That alone is outrageous. But the DA’s office didn’t stop there. It fought the ACLU’s right to file a brief as amicus curiae, or friend of the court. That’s something the ACLU and other groups routinely do, and the parties to litigation almost always agree to such requests.

Not this DA’s office. Could it be the DA is afraid of the First Amendment?

To fight for keeping the First Amendment out of court ignores not only the duty of every lawyer to support the Constitution, but also the prosecutor’s special duty to uphold justice and not to seek victory at any cost.

The district attorney’s office doesn’t just represent one side in a lawsuit. It represents the entire community. That’s why the Supreme Court says the prosecution’s interest “is not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall be done.”

The San Diego DA’s office is betraying the Constitution, the community, and the interests of justice.

I don’t dispute there may be legitimate cases to be made against some of the people charged in Mr. Duncan’s case and similar cases. But the DA’s office has gone way beyond the bounds of legitimate prosecution.

It swept far too many people into a “gang” dragnet based on an absurd interpretation of the “gang conspiracy” statute. That law prohibits an “active participant” in a gang who knows of the gang’s “pattern of criminal activity” from “promoting, further, assisting, or benefitting from” any felony committed by a gang member.

Under California law, “promote, further, or assist” means to “aid and abet”—in other words, to be an accomplice to a crime. But there’s no evidence that most or any of the defendants aided and abetted the alleged shootings.

That leaves “benefit.” There may be cases where one can commit “gang conspiracy” by unlawfully benefitting from a crime. For example, one could take a cut of robbery proceeds, or one could rely on the fact that other gang members committed a shooting to make one’s own threats more effective.

But that’s not what the prosecutors are claiming. First, they claim that Duncan and others “benefit” through speech. As we’ve explained, that violates the First Amendment. To talk about a crime can’t be a crime.

Second, they claim that by definition, every member of a gang is guilty of “gang conspiracy” because all members “benefit” through “credibility” and “respect.” That’s dead wrong as well.

If every “active participant” necessarily “benefits,” the state could prove the crime of “gang conspiracy” simply by showing that the defendant is an “active participant.” That makes the term “benefits” meaningless, in violation of the fundamental rule that statutes cannot be interpreted to make any term superfluous. And it may well violate the constitutional rule that mere membership in an organization cannot be a crime.

This case is a classic example of prosecutors gone wild. It’s time to end this abuse of prosecutorial power. Now.

By David Loy, ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties

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Brandon Duncan (left); San Diego ACLU policy director, Margaret Dooley-Sammuli (w/mic); and Aaron Harvey (3rd from right) at a rally and press conference Feb. 27, 2015, denouncing the prosecutorial over-reach.

]]> https://www.aclusandiego.org/constitution-what-constitution/feed/ 0 New Media Strategist https://www.aclusandiego.org/new-media-strategist/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/new-media-strategist/#comments Tue, 03 Mar 2015 18:06:00 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12222  

New Media Strategist

The ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties (ACLU) seeks a full-time, dynamic team-oriented New Media Strategist for our fast-paced, deadline-driven social justice organization. The Strategist will report to the Communications Director.

The ACLU fights for individual rights and fundamental freedoms for all, through education, litigation, policy advocacy, and organizing.  The ACLU promotes and defends civil rights and civil liberties, including First Amendment rights, equal protection, privacy, and due process. The San Diego ACLU works collaboratively with the ACLU affiliates headquartered in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and with a lobbying office in Sacramento.  Together, the three affiliates have more than 110,000 members and 130 staff in California.

Located in San Diego, the ACLU affiliate covers the length of California’s border with Mexico.  It has 30 staff members, 20 board members, 9,000 members, and an annual budget of $4 million.  San Diego is the eighth largest city in the United States and the second largest in California.  San Diego County has the third largest number of registered voters in California.  Imperial County is the poorest county in California.

Position Overview and Functions:

The New Media Strategist will envision and design cutting-edge and intuitive digital web and print pieces to educate and engage ACLU members, activists, and the public at large. 

Specific Duties and Responsibilities Include:

  • Design and produce a range of print and interactive projects including posters, flyers, advertisements, email blasts, web graphics, landing pages, and branding materials. Follow creative work through from concept to pre-press and production.
  • Interact with staff members to develop and implement designs to address their advocacy and outreach needs.
  • Develop and implement social media plans and tactics across all channels of social media. Help create and curate a social media calendar and develop and create content. Monitor social media performance usage reports and track search engine results. Analyze site performance metrics and make recommendations on content, site design, or features to improve effectiveness.
  • Develop and maintain relationships with key social media influencers and users.
  • Monitor social media trends, tools, and applications and recommend new media strategies as needed.
  • Provide support to the communications team as needed, including producing materials, creating and disseminating CAN emails, seeking job bids, securing printing, proofreading, and other administrative tasks.
  • Perform other projects and assignments as directed by senior staff members.

Qualifications:

  • Commitment to and knowledge of civil liberties. Familiarity with work and mission of ACLU.
  • Superior design, research and writing skills.
  • Bachelor’s degree in fine arts, graphic design, or related field OR at least five years experience as a graphic designer and/or content producer required.
  • Must know general HTML and experience with content management systems (especially WordPress). Experience building micro websites preferred.
  • Exceptional portfolio of publications, social media memes, and web material demonstrating proficiency in Adobe Creative Suite that showcases solid conceptual, color, typographical, and layout skills.
  • 2-3 years of progressive experience working in a social media-focused role preferred. Technical knowledge and understanding of social media platforms, metrics, and tracking.
  • Experience in pre-press and production and solid negotiating skills with printers and mailing houses.
  • Understanding of mobile design elements and experience working on mobile projects preferred.
  • Experience creating videos that tell a story and photography skills desired.
  • Strong concept development and problem-solving skills.
  • Excellent planning and organizational skills, and ability to juggle and prioritize multiple projects and deadlines.
  • Ability to handle smaller tasks and large, complex projects.
  • Ability to work independently as well as collaboratively, and with diverse communities.
  • Spanish bilingual strongly preferred.

Salary & Benefits:  Competitive salary commensurate with experience. Excellent benefits. 

Application Procedure:  By May 1, 2015, interested individuals must send a cover letter, resume, a list of references, and salary requirements, preferably by e-mail to jobs@aclusandiego.org or by mail to: 

ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties
ATTN: New Media Strategist

PO Box 87131
San Diego, CA 92138-7131

While we intend to begin reviewing resumes on May 1, 2015, the job will remain open until the right person is found.

The ACLU is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and encourages applications from women, people of color, persons with disabilities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals, and veterans.

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Familias Separadas por Prácticas Coercitivas de Control Migratorio Podrán Ser Reunidas en los Estados Unidos https://www.aclusandiego.org/familias-separadas/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/familias-separadas/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 20:13:33 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12212  

SAN DIEGO – Cientos, y hasta miles, de no ciudadanos que firmaron documentos de “salida voluntaria” en el Sur de California y fueron expulsados a México tendrán la oportunidad de aplicar para regresar a los Estados Unidos para buscar estatus migratorio legal, una corte de distrito federal ordenó hoy. El Juez John A. Kronstadt aprobó un acuerdo que aborda las prácticas engañosas que usaron agentes de control migratorio que le negaron el derecho de tener audiencia frente a un juez y su día en corte a los que firmaron documentos de “salida voluntaria”.

“La decisión de la corte hoy reconoce que la protección de nuestra frontera no puede venir al costo de los derechos garantizados por la Constitución”, dijo Gabriela Rivera, abogada de la ACLU de los Condados de San Diego e Imperial. “Ahora podemos empezar el proceso de reunir algunas de las familias que pudieran haber permanecido juntas legalmente en los Estados Unidos pero fueron separadas por prácticas del gobierno que dependen en la mal información, engaño, y coerción”.

En Junio del 2013, la ACLU de los Condados de San Diego e Imperial, la Fundación de la ACLU del Sur de California, el Proyecto de los Derechos de Inmigrantes de la ACLU, y Cooley LLP interpusieron una demanda, Lopez-Venegas v. Johnson, departe de individuos demandantes que fueron expulsados injustamente de los Estados Unidos y organizaciones demandantes que fueron forzadas a dedicar sus fondos limitados en respuesta a estas prácticas ilegales.

Los individuos demandantes no tenían historial criminal significativo, y sus raíces familiares podrían haberles permitido recibir alivio de la deportación si los agentes de la Patrulla Fronteriza o oficiales de ICE no hubieran mal representado las consecuencias de firmar un documento rechazando su derecho a una audiencia frente a un juez. Bajo los términos del acuerdo, nueve individuos demandantes regresaron a los Estados Unidos con sus seres queridos en agosto del 2014, con el mismo estatus legal que tenían antes de firmar los documentos de “salida voluntaria”.

“Los Estados Unidos deriva su autoridad al mantener en todo tiempo  los ideales de justicia y debido proceso establecidos  por nuestra Constitución,” dijo Darcie Tilly, una asociada de litigio de la oficina de Cooley LLP. “Estamos animados por la decisión de la corte hoy que va permitir la reunificación de muchas familias que fueron injustamente separadas.”

Una de las demandantes individuales, Isidora Lopez-Venegas, describió la angustia que las acciones del gobierno le causaron a ella y a su familia. “Mi expulsión de los Estados Unidos fue muy difícil para mi familia. Yo sé que muchos otros han sido afectados por la manera en que el gobierno aplica la salida voluntaria y estoy feliz que hoy el sueño de regresar a casa a abrazar a su familia puede convertirse una realidad para ellos– como mi sueño se cumplió” dijo Lopez-Venegas. Ella es madre de tres hijos, y firmó un documento de “salida voluntaria” en el 2011 después de ser amenazada que si no firmaba, su hijo quien es ciudadano americano y que a ese momento tenía 10 años y había sido diagnosticado con una clase de autismo sería mandado a “foster care” mientras que ella estuviera detenida por meses.

Los agentes le dijeron que en vez de que eso pasara ella podía firmar documentos para una “salida voluntaria” inmediata y fácilmente arreglar sus papeles en México. Porque ella es una madre soltera y sostén de su familia, ella estuvo  ansiosa de hacer la decisión que fuera en los mejores intereses de su familia, y con la mal información proporcionada, ella no vio otra opción si no firmar los documentos de “salida voluntaria”. Ella fue inmediatamente expulsada y su hijo – un ciudadano americano – fue forzado a vivir con ella fuera de los Estados Unidos. Ellos vivieron en México por tres años, Lopez-Venegas separada de sus hijas y su hijo de sus hermanas. Durante este difícil periodo, su hijo no recibió el tratamiento necesario para su autismo.

Ahora que Juez Kronstadt ha aprobado las provisiones del acuerdo respecto a la demanda colectiva, la ACLU y las tres organizaciones demandantes Coalición por los Derechos Humanos de los Inmigrantes de Los Ángeles (CHIRLA), el Centro de Oportunidad Económica de Pomona, y el Centro de Servicios Comunitarios de San Bernardino se encargaran de buscar a miembros de la demanda colectiva en México. “Aquí en CHIRLA estamos emocionados de ayudar a familias que han sido afectadas por esta decisión de la corte”, dijo Luis Perez, Director de Servicios Legales de CHIRLA.

“La máquina de deportación es desafortunadamente algo que ha tocado las vidas de mucha de la gente de nuestra comunidad. Es algo que ha separado familias y quebrado la esperanza y sueños de mucha gente buena y trabajadora. Es algo que nos ha afectado a muchos directamente o indirectamente a través de amigos o compañeros de trabajo. Estamos felices porque el acuerdo va regresar algunos de los individuos que fueron quitados de nosotros y reunirlos con sus seres queridos y regresarlos a su camino a una mejor vida”, dijo Fernando Romero, director ejecutivo de Pomona Economic Oportunity Center.

Para calificar y ser un miembro de la demanda colectiva bajo el acuerdo Lopez-Venegas de “salida voluntaria” un individuo debe:

  • Haber firmado un documento de “salida voluntaria” entre el 1 de junio de 2009 y el 28 de agosto de 2014 y haber sido expulsado a México;
  • Haber tenido ciertas opciones legales para permanecer en los EUA legalmente cuando firmo una “salida voluntaria”;
  • Haber sido procesado por agentes de la Patrulla Fronteriza en el sector de San Diego o por oficiales de Inmigración y Control de Aduanas en las oficinas del campo de San Diego o Los Ángeles; y
  • Estar físicamente presente en México al momento de someter una aplicación para ser miembro de la demanda colectiva.

Posibles miembros de la demanda colectiva deben de tener cuidado del fraude de notario. Solo la ACLU y organizaciones aprobadas por el ACLU van a poder someter aplicaciones para aprobación al gobierno por alivio legal bajo este acuerdo. La aplicación para alivio legal bajo este acuerdo es gratis, al igual que consultas relacionadas al determinar si es elegible para la demanda colectiva. Posibles miembros de la demanda colectiva y sus familias deben escribir a avd@aclusandiego.org o llamar 619-398-4189 dentro de los Estados Unidos o, desde México, usar este número gratuito 01-800-681-6917 para solicitar una consulta inicial.

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Families Separated By Coercive Immigration Practices May Be Reunited in U.S. https://www.aclusandiego.org/families-separated/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/families-separated/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 20:08:35 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12208  

SAN DIEGO – Hundreds, if not thousands, of noncitizens who signed “voluntary return” forms in Southern California and were expelled to Mexico will be given the opportunity to apply to return to the United States and seek legal status, a United States district court ordered today. Judge John A. Kronstadt approved a settlement that addresses deceptive tactics used by immigration enforcement officers who deprived those who signed the “voluntary return” documents their right to see a judge and have their fair day in court.

Leer este artículo en español.

“Today’s ruling acknowledges that the protection of our borders cannot come at the cost of the rights guaranteed by the Constitution,” said Gabriela Rivera, staff attorney of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. “Now we can begin the process of reuniting some of the families who could have remained together in the United States but were driven apart by government practices that rely upon misinformation, deception, and coercion.”

In June 2013, the ACLU Foundation of San Diego & Imperial Counties, the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, and Cooley LLP filed the lawsuit, Lopez-Venegas v. Johnson, on behalf of individual plaintiffs who were wrongfully expelled from the United States and organizations that were forced to divert their scarce resources in response to these unlawful practices.

The individual plaintiffs had no significant criminal backgrounds, and their family ties could have helped them obtain relief against deportation had Border Patrol agents or ICE officers not misstated the consequences of signing away their right to see an immigration judge. Under the terms of the settlement, nine plaintiffs returned to the United States and their loved ones in August 2014, with the same legal status they had before signing the documents.

“The United States derives its core strength from embracing the notions of fairness and due process established by our Constitution,” said Darcie Tilly, litigation associate at Cooley LLP. “We are heartened by today’s ruling, which will allow for the reunification of numerous families that were wrongfully separated.”

One of the plaintiffs in the case, Isidora Lopez-Venegas, described the anguish the government’s actions caused for her and her family. “My expulsion from the United States was incredibly difficult for my family.  I know that many others have been harmed by the government’s ‘voluntary return’ practices and I’m happy that today their dream of returning home and hugging their family can come true, like mine did,” said Lopez-Venegas, a mother of three who signed a “voluntary return” form in 2011 after being threatened that if she did not, her then ten-year-old U.S. citizen son who had been diagnosed with autism would be sent to a foster home while she was detained for months.

The agents told her she could instead sign for her immediate “voluntary” return and easily “fix” her papers from Mexico.  Because she was a single mother and her family’s only means of financial support, she was anxious to do what was in the best interests of her family and based on the misinformation she was given, she saw no other choice but to sign. She was immediately expelled to Mexico, and her son—a U.S. citizen—was forced to move with her. They lived in Mexico for three years, separated from Lopez-Venegas’ two daughters. During this difficult period, she was unable to get her son treatment for his autism.

Now that Judge Kronstadt has approved the class provisions of the settlement, the ACLU and the three organizational plaintiffs, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), the Pomona Economic Opportunity Center, and the San Bernardino Community Service Center, will be leading the search for potential class members in Mexico.  “CHIRLA looks forward to assisting families who are impacted by this decision,” said Luis Perez, CHIRLA Legal Services Director.

“This deportation machine unfortunately is something that has touched the lives of many people in our community. It’s something that has broken up families and shattered the hope and dreams of many good, hard-working people. It is something that many of us have been affected by either directly via family ties or indirectly through friends and co-workers. We’re happy because this settlement will bring back some of the individuals who were lost and reunite them with their loved ones and put them back on their path for a better life,” said Fernando Romero, Executive Director of the Pomona Economic Opportunity Center.

To qualify as a class member under the Lopez-Venegas “voluntary return” settlement an individual must:

  • Have signed a “voluntary return” form between June 1, 2009 and August 28, 2014 and been expelled to Mexico;
  • Have had certain reasonable claims to reside in the U.S. lawfully at the time the “voluntary return” form was signed;
  • Have been processed by Border Patrol officers from the San Diego Sector or by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers from the San Diego or Los Angeles field offices; and
  • Be physically present in Mexico at the time of submission of application for class membership.

Potential class members should be wary of notario fraud. Only the ACLU and ACLU-approved service providers will be able to submit applications for approval to the government for relief under this settlement. The application for relief under this settlement is free, as are consultations related to determining class eligibility. Potential class members and their families should write to avd@aclusandiego.org or call 619-398-4189 within the United States or, from Mexico, use toll-free number 01-800-681-6917 to schedule an initial consultation.

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San Diego ACLU Weighs In on SDPD’s Race Data Report https://www.aclusandiego.org/sdpd-race-data-report/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/sdpd-race-data-report/#comments Tue, 24 Feb 2015 06:39:48 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12194 SAN DIEGO – On Wednesday, February 25, San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman will present the department’s demographic data on vehicle stops to the San Diego City Council’s Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods (PSLN) Committee.

The ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties sent a letter today to Marti Emerald, the Chair of the PSLN Committee and other committee members commending the San Diego Police Department (SDPD) for collecting and reporting a full year’s worth of data on vehicle stops, but raising a number of concerns about whether or how that data was being analyzed.

The department’s own figures show that race appears to be a determining factor in whether a driver is stopped and once stopped, subjected to a discretionary search.

The San Diego ACLU joins with scores of community partners in calling for a thorough, independent analysis to interpret the data in a way that is meaningful to helping the police chief attain her stated goal: “I will not tolerate any instances of racial profiling” rather than fall back on the continuing assertion that no conclusions can be drawn.

Further, the ACLU calls for that independent analysis to determine whether the demographic data is being collected on all vehicle stops and, if not, whether data is being collected on a representative sample. We are concerned that more data collection is needed, including the racial makeup of pedestrian stops, data that currently is not being collected let alone analyzed. Please find links here to the raw data, provided to the ACLU by the SDPD under the Public Records Act. The data is public information and we think it is important for the public to have the opportunity to independently sift through the information. [The report is split into two files because the original file was so large. Part 1. Part 2.]

When even the Director of the FBI acknowledges that unconscious bias pervades law enforcement and that much work needs to be done to correct it, it is time for our local law enforcement agents to do the right thing and advance policies and practices that promote bias-free policing.

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Is there a risk when applying for an AB 60 driver license? https://www.aclusandiego.org/risk-applying-ab-60-driver-license/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/risk-applying-ab-60-driver-license/#comments Wed, 18 Feb 2015 00:02:27 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12188 By Katie Traverso, @KatieACLU

Recently, the ACLU of Southern California participated in an event in Kern County on AB 60, California’s new Safe and Responsible Driver Act. The act, which went into effect January 1, 2015, permits any eligible Californian to obtain a driver license, regardless of immigration status.

The excitement in the room over the AB 60 license and its importance to the community was palpable. The event, organized by the State Bar of California and hosted by Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez, was standing room only. Over 350 people were in attendance.

AB 60 is a tremendous victory for immigrants and advocates who have fought for years to get it passed. But there is still work to be done.

A statewide coalition called Drive California, made up of over 35 immigrants’ rights, faith-based, service and civil rights organizations, including the ACLU of California, is working hard to ensure successful implementation of AB 60 and drivers’ licenses for all. This includes providing Californians the information they need and want regarding the license.

One question that we repeatedly hear from the community is whether they should apply for the license and whether there is any risk they could be identified for deportation.

The benefits to the license are clear. The hardships that arise from being an unlicensed driver are undeniable and can even lead to arrest, which itself can land a person in deportation proceedings.  The license has tangible benefits for many immigrants’ daily lives.

But there are also risks for certain individuals whom Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) considers enforcement priorities. The ACLU and the Drive California Coalition are working to ensure that the community is aware of these risks so that they can make a personal and informed decision whether to apply.

As we said in Kern County, if ICE is looking for a particular individual, then ICE can submit a request to DMV to get that person’s address and photo. We explained that ICE may be looking for someone if they fall under one of the Obama Administration’s new immigration enforcement priorities. These priorities include people with a prior criminal history, such as a felony, a DUI, or three or more misdemeanor convictions.

DMV and ICE both confirm that, if requested, DMV can share information with ICE and will do so in certain circumstances.

This information sharing between ICE and DMV is not unique to AB 60 applicants. But as the majority of counties across California have stopped honoring immigration detainers, ICE is increasingly turning to other ways to locate people for immigration enforcement.

The ACLU and the Drive California Coalition will continue to urge the DMV to restrict the federal government’s access to its database. No one should be afraid that he or she may be deported simply for wanting to drive legally in California.

Katie Traverso is Stanford Law fellow at the ACLU of Southern California. Follow ACLU_SoCal.

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Spring-Summer Legal Intake Volunteer Opportunities https://www.aclusandiego.org/legal-intake-volunteer/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/legal-intake-volunteer/#comments Fri, 13 Feb 2015 23:34:17 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12183  

The ACLU Foundation of San Diego & Imperial Counties is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, public interest organization devoted exclusively to protecting the basic civil liberties of all. The mission of the ACLU is to assure that the protections of the Bill of Rights are preserved and expanded. The ACLU is widely recognized as the nation’s premier defender of individual rights and fundamental freedoms.

We are currently seeking two Legal Intake Volunteers: 1) Legal volunteer every Tuesday at the Imperial Regional Detention Facility and 2) Legal volunteer for our Lopez-Venegas settlement; flexible schedule.

www.aclusandiego.org    www.aclu.org

I. Legal Intake Volunteer – Calexico (Tuesdays)

Position Description:  Part-time position every Tuesday (all day). Assisting attorneys with the ‘Access to Justice and Freedom for Immigrants in Isolated Detention Centers Project’ Duties will include conducting intake interviews for Spanish-speaking detainees who do not have access to legal counsel at the Imperial Regional Detention Facility in Calexico and entering information into database; preparing for and assisting with legal orientation program and ‘Know Your Rights’ presentations at the detention center.

Qualifications: Demonstrated commitment to public interest work is preferred. Bilingual-Spanish speaking & writing skills required.

II. Legal Intake Volunteer – Lopez-Venegas settlement

Position Description:  Part-time position with flexible hours. Assisting attorneys with managing intake calls in response to Lopez-Venegas v. Johnson settlement which will allow class members in Mexico to return to the United States and present their cases before an immigration judge. Duties will include listening to intake voicemails in Spanish, entering data into spreadsheet for attorney review, and scanning intake forms.

QualificationsBilingual-Spanish speaking & writing skills required.

Application Procedure for both positions:
Individuals interested in volunteering with the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties should send a resume and a cover letter describing interests and which position you are interested in, by email to jdauteuil@aclusandiego.org     DEADLINE: Until filled.

Or by mail to:

ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties
Legal Intake Volunteer – Calexico
or Legal Intake Volunteer – Lopez-Venegas
PO Box 87131
San Diego, CA 92138-7131

We encourage applicants to send materials as soon as possible, but applications will be accepted until a candidate is selected.   Please indicate in your cover letter where you found this job posting. 

The ACLU is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and encourages women, people of color, persons with disabilities, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals to apply.

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ACLU Files Lawsuit Against Homeland Security for Records Describing Abuse of Children https://www.aclusandiego.org/dhs-abuse-of-children/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/dhs-abuse-of-children/#comments Wed, 11 Feb 2015 18:09:57 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12176  

PHOENIX — American Civil Liberties Union affiliates in Arizona and San Diego, along with the law firm Cooley LLP, filed a lawsuit in federal court today against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for its failure to produce records related to the abuse and mistreatment of children in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and its sub-agency, the U.S. Border Patrol.

DHS oversight bodies have ignored scores of administrative complaints documenting CBP’s mistreatment of children. For years, media accounts, human rights reports, and child advocates have described the same abuse and neglect of children in Border Patrol custody. On June 11, 2014, the ACLU and partner organizations submitted a complaint to DHS oversight agencies on behalf of 116 unaccompanied children alleging abuse and mistreatment in Border Patrol custody—including harsh temperatures, severe overcrowding, and denial of adequate hygiene supplies, bedding, food, water, and medical care.

In response, CBP Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske acknowledged the children’s complaints of brutal detention conditions were “spot-on.” But on Oct. 6, 2014—less than four months after the DHS Inspector General’s Office first stated its intent to launch a full investigation—the office announced it would be “curtailing routine inspections.”

“There’s no better demonstration of the lack of DHS oversight than the agency’s failure to investigate the mistreatment of vulnerable children,” said Mitra Ebadolahi, border litigation staff attorney of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties . “As we’ve seen before, Border Patrol agents generally do not face disciplinary action for civil rights violations, and the agency refuses to reform its notorious detention system, where children—even infants—can still be held for days on end in horrific conditions.”

On Dec. 3, 2014, pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, the ACLU filed a request for DHS records pertaining to alleged or actual mistreatment of children in DHS custody, as well as DHS oversight agencies’ handling of those cases. DHS did not produce the requested documents.

Not only does the failure of DHS to produce the requested documents violate the Freedom of Information Act, it also impedes the ACLU’s efforts to educate the public on matters of pressing concern—namely, the mistreatment of children in Border Patrol custody.

The ACLU is also concerned that Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) officials and contractors have not consistently reported allegations involving Border Patrol, as required by federal child abuse reporting laws. ORR incident reports made public last year show that while shelter workers in Arizona and Texas generally reported abuse allegations to DHS, they did not always report those allegations to state child protection agencies.

Along with its lawsuit, the ACLU today filed accompanying state records requests with child protection agencies in Arizona and Texas, seeking records related to allegations of Border Patrol abuse.

“This case is about the systemic failure of multiple institutions to protect some of the most vulnerable among us,” said James Lyall, ACLU of Arizona staff attorney. “Under any reasonable definition, the neglect and mistreatment that these children experience in Border Patrol custody qualifies as child abuse, and federal officials and contractors are required to report that abuse under applicable child protection laws.”

Attorneys on the case include Victoria Lopez, Dan Pochoda and James Lyall of the ACLU of Arizona; David Loy and Mitra Ebadolahi of the San Diego ACLU; and Whitty Somvichian and Aarti Reddy of Cooley LLP.

Click here for a copy of the lawsuit, American Civil Liberties Foundation of Arizona, et al. v. Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security, et al.

Click here for a copy of the records requests filed with child protection agencies in Arizona and Texas.

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ACLU Demands Transparency of Border Patrol’s Extensive “Roving Patrol” Operations https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-demands-transparency-border-patrols-extensive-roving-patrol-operations/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-demands-transparency-border-patrols-extensive-roving-patrol-operations/#comments Tue, 10 Feb 2015 19:03:54 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12050  

SAN DIEGO – Charging that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have failed to respond to requests for information regarding U.S. Border Patrol’s interior “roving patrol” operations—during which agents stop and detain Southern Californians as far as 100 miles north of the Mexico border—the ACLU Foundation of San Diego & Imperial Counties, the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, and the University of California, Irvine School of Law Immigrant Rights Clinic (IRC) filed a lawsuit in federal court today.

“Many Americans are unaware that the U.S. Border Patrol operates so-called ‘roving patrols’ far away from the border itself, deep into the interior of the United States,” said Mitra Ebadolahi, Border Litigation Project Staff Attorney with the ACLU Foundation of San Diego. “In the course of these operations, federal agents routinely disregard the legal limitations on their authority and violate the civil rights of California residents and visitors.  Yet DHS refuses to hold agents accountable and ignores basic requests for information about these abusive practices.”

Reports of Border Patrol agents stopping farm workers and local residents in Fallbrook (seventy miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border) and Laguna Beach (almost ninety miles north of the U.S.-Mexico Border) indicate the extent to which Californians are targeted by this far-reaching and abusive federal law enforcement activity.

On July 3, 2014, the ACLU of San Diego and the ACLU of Southern California, along with faculty members in the UC Irvine School of Law IRC, submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to both DHS and CBP seeking records related to the Border Patrol’s extensive but largely opaque “roving patrol” operations throughout Southern California.  To date, neither agency has responded to the FOIA.

“It was important for us to join this effort to get basic information about U.S. Border Patrol practices in our backyard,” said Annie Lai, Assistant Clinical Professor of Law at UC Irvine School of Law. Last year, the UC Irvine School of Law International Justice Clinic submitted a report to the United Nations about excessive use of force and lack of transparency by the agency. IRC students Kevin Crockett and Daniel Shahidzadeh assisted with drafting of today’s FOIA complaint.

Roving patrols have long been associated with civil rights violations, and abuses are not limited to the Southwest, as prior FOIA lawsuits have shown.  In 2011, the ACLU obtained records of Border Patrol operations in upstate New York, showing the vast majority of stops did not target recent border crossers and occurred far from the border, with only 1% resulting in initiation of removal proceedings; many stops involved clear violations of agency arrest guidelines, as well as the Constitution, including improper reliance on race as a basis for questioning passengers and arrests of lawfully present individuals.  Another ACLU lawsuit related to roving patrol stop data is currently pending in Arizona.

“The Border Patrol operates as a rogue agency, claiming extra-constitutional powers that extend far from any border, and operating with no effective oversight.  But Border Patrol agents are not above the law and must be held accountable just like any other public officials,” said Adrienna Wong, Staff Attorney with the ACLU Foundation of Southern California.

DHS and CBP fail to adequately collect basic stop data that would allow the agencies to detect, deter, and respond to rights abuses—even though such data collection is an accepted law enforcement best practice used by other federal agencies.  The agencies also regularly ignore FOIA requests and refuse to make public even the basic information that is collected to allow the public to evaluate Border Patrol activities.

The ACLU’s Border Litigation Project, with offices in San Diego and Tucson, is engaged in a coordinated FOIA strategy to lift the veil of secrecy behind which DHS, CBP, and the Border Patrol seek to hide.

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shutterstock_BP station

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Voting Rights Groups Move to Enforce ‘Motor Voter’ in California https://www.aclusandiego.org/enforce-motor-voter/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/enforce-motor-voter/#comments Thu, 05 Feb 2015 16:39:52 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12039  

Citing clear evidence that the State of California is violating its federally-mandated responsibility to offer California drivers and ID card holders the opportunity to register to vote, attorneys from the ACLU Foundation of San Diego and Imperial Counties, Demos, Project Vote, and the global law firm Morrison & Foerster sent a pre-litigation notice letter today to the California Secretary of State on behalf of the League of Women Voters of California, ACCE Institute, California Common Cause, the National Council of La Raza, and several individual California citizens.

“It’s time for the Department of Motor Vehicles to stop dragging its feet and make voter registration easy and accessible for the millions of Californians who apply for or renew their driver’s licenses or ID cards every year,” said Helen Hutchison, president of the League of Women Voters of California.   

Under the National Voter Registration Act (“NVRA”), California and most other U.S. states are required to treat a driver’s license application or renewal as a voter registration application if the applicant chooses to register to vote. If the applicant is already a registered voter, the State must update the existing voter registration with any new information supplied on a driver’s license application, renewal, or change of address form.  Such new information might be a name change, address change, or new political party affiliation.

According to a report issued today by Dēmos, one of the groups that signed the letter to California, the NVRA violations in California are part of a national problem. The report finds that these “Motor Voter” requirements are widely ignored in states all across the county, with the result, in many states, that only a small number of voters are registering through motor vehicles departments (DMVs).  According to the report, California has one of the lowest levels of DMV voter registration in the country.

“Motor Voter was supposed to make registering to vote through the DMV an easy access point to participating in our democracy,” said Stuart Naifeh, counsel in this matter and author of the Demos report. “Around the country, but on an especially large scale in California, massive numbers of citizens must jump through hoops that Motor Voter was intended to eliminate.”

Today’s letter details violations of the “Motor Voter” provisions of the NVRA by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and other state agencies and demands that the Secretary act immediately to bring the state into full compliance with the law or face litigation.  Among other problems, the letter describes how DMV procedures unlawfully require applicants to complete an entirely separate voter registration application and provide the same information required on the driver’s license and ID card forms. These violations, and additional problems with how change-of-address, mail, and online transactions are processed, impede rather than facilitate the ability of applicants to register to vote or update their registrations.

“California’s recent fiscal difficulties cannot excuse its failure to provide seamless, NVRA-compliant voter registration opportunities at DMV,” said Lori Shellenberger, voting rights director at the ACLU of San Diego, “For 13 years, California has been sitting on over 130 million in unspent federal dollars received under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) while other states have used these same funds to ensure their DMV offices are transmitting secure and accurate voter registration information to elections officials.” 

“California has one of the lowest rates of voter registration and voter participation in the country, and it is lowest among citizens of color,” said Delia de la Vara, National Council of La Raza’s vice president for the California Region.  “Fixing Motor Voter in California could go a long way toward rectifying that disparity and strengthening our democracy.”

The state’s failures have real impact.  Until last year, Shelley Small, who is 62 and is one of the individual Californians named in the letter, had voted in every election since she was 19 years old.  In August 2014, Small went to the DMV to report that she moved from Encino to West Hollywood, and she asked for her voter registration address to be updated along with her license.  When she arrived at her local polling place in November, she was told she was not on the rolls and was turned away, unable to vote for the first time in her adult life. “I am a U.S. citizen. I am 62 years old. I have not missed voting in an election for 43 years. Three months later, I am still deeply upset by the fact that I didn’t get to vote in the last election. This has to stop so that no one else is kept from voting,” said Small.

“Every election, we hear stories like Shelley Small’s,” said Kathay Feng, executive director of Common Cause of California, which, along with other organizations, operates a voter protection hotline on Election Day. “Voters believe they have registered at the DMV only to find on Election Day that they are not on the rolls. It’s heart-breaking.”

“Access to voting is one of the most important civil rights issues of our day,” Javier Serrano, an associate in the litigation department of Morrison & Foerster’s San Francisco office, said.  “The NVRA is a key tool in fighting the disturbing trend of voter disenfranchisement in California and across the nation.”

“We work hard to make sure our communities are part of the democratic process,” said Christina Livingston, executive director of of ACCE.  “The DMV’s failure to follow the law has resulted in an increased burden on our families and on registration drives by organizations like ours to pick up the slack in disenfranchised communities.”

“We hope to work with California’s Secretary of State and Department of Motor Vehicles to make registering to vote easy, simple, and accessible for millions of Californians when they apply for a driver’s license,” said Sarah Brannon, director of Project Vote’s Government Agency Voter Registration Program.  “It is time to upgrade voter registration in California to the 21st century and achieve the purpose of the NVRA.”

As Secretary of State, Alex Padilla is responsible for making sure the state meets its obligations under the NVRA.  As a state senator, Padilla sponsored a bill, never enacted into law, addressing this very problem by requiring the state to develop a paperless voter registration system that would easily allow voters to register to vote or update their voter registrations through the response to a single question followed by automatic transfer of voter registration information from the DMV to elections officials.

In the letter, the voting rights groups advised that they are ready to work with California officials to modify the State’s procedures to afford the voter registration opportunities required by federal law. If the State fails to respond or take steps to comply with the law within 90 days of receiving the letter, the groups and the individual citizens have said they will bring a lawsuit to make sure the State fulfills its obligations.

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motorvoterfail

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A Man Faces Life in Prison for … Rapping https://www.aclusandiego.org/man-faces-life-prison-rapping/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/man-faces-life-prison-rapping/#comments Tue, 03 Feb 2015 18:09:34 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12029

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UPDATE!

March 16, 2015
A judge dismissed all charges against San Diego rapper and another man who were accused under a conspiracy law under which District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis’s office prosecuted people identified as gang members if they promote, further, assist in a crime and “knowingly benefit” from the crime.

Judge Louis Hanoian dismissed all charges against Brandon Duncan and Aaron Harvey, but ruled that several other defendants must stand trial.  Judge Hanoian said the defendants couldn’t face a conspiracy charge without having a specific crime attached to the conspiracy.

Prosecutors had charged 33 young men with a series of shootings that took place between May 2013 and February 2014.

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February 3, 2015
San Diego prosecutors admit that Brandon Duncan was not at the scene of any one of several shootings in the city, and they have no evidence linking him to those shootings that occurred between May 2013 and February 2014. Still, the District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis charged him for those crimes because…he rapped about them.

Only recently released on bail, Duncan, who performs under the name Tiny Doo, spent eight months in jail on so-called “gang conspiracy charges” arising from those shootings. The San Diego ACLU is filing an amicus brief in court this morning asking the court to dismiss the charges immediately. In a blog post about the case, David Loy, legal director of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties said that the case was “not only absurd; it is a blatant violation of the First Amendment.”

The district attorney is testing a law in which an “active participant” in a “criminal street gang” who “willfully promotes, furthers, assists, or benefits from” any felony committed by fellow gang members can be charged with “conspiracy to commit that felony.” Unlike traditional conspiracy, the charge does not require any agreement to commit the crime. Instead, it requires either “promoting, furthering, or assisting” the crime, which means being a direct accomplice, and knowingly “benefiting” from the crime.

“Whether or not this law can be used to prosecute others, the prosecution is abusing it to charge Duncan,” Loy said. “To ‘promote, further, or assist’ means to aid and abet, and there is no evidence he did that.” Instead, the prosecution is unconstitutionally twisting the word “benefit” to charge Duncan. The district attorney alleges that he  “benefited” by making a CD called “No Safety,” on which he raps about shootings, and by receiving “praise” for his music. As the prosecutor admitted, he wouldn’t be charged if he sang “love songs.” That’s a classic First Amendment violation.

“This is a textbook case of using a ‘gang’ dragnet to over-criminalize people of color,” Loy said. Beyond that, even if prosecutors could prove that Duncan is an “active participant” in the gang under California law, the prosecution’s theory violates the First Amendment by punishing him for the content of his speech. The government can punish crime, but it cannot punish speech about crime, even by proven criminals about their own crimes, much less an artist like Tiny Doo.

The U.S. Supreme Court has held that the government can’t confiscate income from speech based on its content, even speech about crime, because that would punish the speech itself. Under that principle, the government cannot prosecute Duncan for singing about crime or allegedly receiving “benefits” for doing so. Indeed, this case is even worse, because it involves criminal prosecution, not just loss of income.

On the district attorney’s theory, it could prosecute a current or former gang member for writing a book, giving an interview to an author, or appearing in a documentary about gang life, as well as a substance abuse counselor who draws on his gang experiences, because they all “benefit” from knowledge of crimes committed by gang members.

The government cannot criminalize free speech, and it cannot criminalize Duncan’s music. Duncan is now free on bail, but he still faces “gang conspiracy” charges, which threaten a potential life sentence. The ACLU brief calls on the court to dismiss the charges immediately. “The court should stop this case in its tracks and send a clear message that prosecution for protected speech cannot be tolerated,” Loy wrote in his blog post.

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Yes, Robert, There Is Free Expression https://www.aclusandiego.org/yes-robert-isfree-expression/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/yes-robert-isfree-expression/#comments Mon, 02 Feb 2015 16:48:37 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=12022  

Today, in another stand for free expression, the San Diego ACLU successfully defended the right of a middle school student to wear a t-shirt to school that some may find offensive, but represents classic political speech fully protected by state and federal law.

On January 15, 2015, a teacher and counselor at Standley Middle School objected to a t-shirt worn by 7th grader, Robert Nelson. The shirt bore an illustration of President Obama and text reading, “Somewhere in Kenya a village is missing an idiot.” Nelson was brought to the school office and told by a vice principal that he could not wear the shirt at school—though he had worn it several times previously without incident.

In a letter to the school dated January 29, 2015, David Loy, legal director of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties, noted that a public school must protect freedom of speech and the exchange of ideas. He called on the principal to allow Nelson to continue to wear his shirt as he chose, and to alert school staff about the student’s constitutional rights. It also requested that any references to this incident be expunged from school records.

Loy took exception to the school’s handling of the incident because school staff clearly violated Nelson’s right to freedom of speech under both federal and state law. The First Amendment protects a public school student’s right to freedom of speech unless the speech “materially disrupts classwork or involves substantial disorder or invasion of the rights of others,” according to the landmark Supreme Court decision on student expression, Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District. 

The t-shirt, while offensive to some, or perhaps many, comments on a political topic without creating any genuine threat of disruption to the school beyond what any speech might typically occur at school. In Tinker, the Supreme Court upheld the right of students to wear black armbands to school in protest of the Vietnam War. Such political speech is “at the core of what the First Amendment is designed to protect,” and cannot be prohibited based on the “mere desire to avoid the discomfort and unpleasantness that always accompany an unpopular viewpoint.

California’s law protects student speech even more strongly than the First Amendment, saying, “a school may not prohibit student speech simply because it presents controversial ideas and opponents of the speech are likely to cause disruption. Schools may only prohibit speech that incites disruption…or because the manner of expression is so inflammatory that the speech itself provokes the disturbance.”

Today, the San Diego Unified School District general counsel’s office confirmed that Nelson can wear his shirt to school. The ACLU is glad this matter has been resolved and is proud to defend freedom of speech for all persons, especially young people.

 

 

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Your Rights with an AB 60 Driver’s License https://www.aclusandiego.org/ab-60-drivers-license-rights/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/ab-60-drivers-license-rights/#comments Tue, 20 Jan 2015 17:19:59 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11997

For vulnerable immigrants throughout the California, 2015 brought with it something big, something that will change their lives forever.

Why is this year so special? Because of AB 60 – The Safe and Responsible Driver Act.

In 2013, Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill to increase immigrant integration and road safety throughout the state. The bill came into effect on January 2 of this year and allows all eligible Californians to apply for a driver’s license, regardless of immigration status.

This is huge. For one, AB 60 is an important step toward making sure more drivers are licensed, tested, and insured. But the law’s largest and most immediate impact will be in the day-to-day lives of an estimated 1.4 million Californians who will apply.

AB 60 means that our friends, brothers, sisters, parents, and neighbors will be able to drive without fear of having their cars impounded, being ticketed, or left stranded by the side of the road for not having a license.

One important thing to note is that AB 60 licenses look slightly different than others. On the front they read: “federal limits apply.” On the back they read: “not acceptable for official federal purposes.”

For this reason, it is very useful to know what AB 60 license holders’ rights are when they come into contact with state and local law enforcement (i.e. California Highway Patrol, Sheriff, or police officers).

If you or someone you know has an AB 60 license, here are some key points:

  • Your AB 60 license is a valid California driver’s license;
  • Local and state law enforcement must accept your AB 60 license just as they would any other state-issued license or identification (i.e. for citations, whether you are driving or not);
  • Law enforcement is prohibited from using your AB 60 license to consider your immigration status as the basis for a criminal investigation, arrest or detention;
  • State or local agencies or officials, or any program that receives state funds, are prohibited from discriminating against you because you hold or present an AB 60 license;

There are, however, certain instances where one should use caution:

  • You might put yourself at risk if you show your driver’s license to law enforcement in another state, depending on the laws and policies of that state;
  • You shouldn’t try to use your AB 60 license to enter restricted areas in federal facilities;
  • Don’t use an AB 60 license to pass through TSA at an airport, use another form of identification, like a passport;
  • Don’t try using your license to prove your identity with federal law enforcement officers, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Patrol;

You should also remember that anything you say can be used against you when talking to or in front of law enforcement, so don’t talk about your immigration status, citizenship, when you came to the US, or where you’re from.

If you think you have been discriminated against by law enforcement because of your AB 60 license, please call 619.232.2121 in Southern California or 415.621.2488 in Northern California to report it.

For more information about AB 60 licenses click here and click here for other information about your rights.

Disclaimer: None of this is intended as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding a specific situation, you should consult with a licensed and trusted attorney.

Julia Harumi Mass is a Senior Staff Attorney with the ACLU of Northern California.  

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Applying for a California Driver’s License Under AB 60 https://www.aclusandiego.org/applying-ab-60-license/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/applying-ab-60-license/#comments Fri, 16 Jan 2015 22:34:09 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11992  

People at a rally for AB 60, holding signs that say "AB60 Passes! Immigrants Driving California Forward"

How do I apply for a license?

Beginning January 2, 2015, any eligible California resident will be able to receive a driver’s license, regardless of immigration status. An applicant who does not have proof of lawful presence will receive an AB 60 license, with a visible (though slight) distinguishing feature.

How can I prepare?

You should begin by gathering the documents you’ll need to prove your identity and that you live in California. You should also begin studying for the test. Here are some helpful resources:

Identity and residency documents

You will have to prove your identity and California residency to the DMV using a combination of documents. The DMV released the list of documents that will be accepted to prove identity and residency.

A current foreign passport and consular ID, or an expired foreign passport and foreign birth certificate (translated by the consulate) can be used to prove your identity. If you do not have a consular ID or passport but can obtain one from your Consulate, you should do that now. Some Consulate offices may take a significant amount of time to issue these documents.

You must also establish your California residency with one of the following documents: a lease, utility bill, tax return, medical record, record of a financial institution, or school records. If you do not have residency documents in your name, you should transfer a utility bill or other similar document into your name (note that the applicant will be allowed to use documents under the spouse’s name as proof of residency, but not others in shared residences).

If you don’t have these documents, you can bring one of several other documents and a DMV employee will interview you to ensure that your documents are authentic and match your identity.

Application form and fee

Fill out the DL-44 license application. If you have been issued a valid social security number by the Social Security Administration, you should enter it on the form.  If you have never been issued a social security number, you should check the box on the application that indicates this. Do not use a false social security number or one that was not issued to you by the Social Security Administration. If you are not a United States Citizen, do not complete the voter registration form. Pay the $33 application fee. You should not need to pay any other fees, so beware of those who may try to charge you additional fees.

Tests

Every applicant must demonstrate his or her knowledge of California driving rules and the ability to drive safely. You must pass a rules of road test on day you apply for your license. This can be administered as a written or oral test, in multiple different languages. You must also pass a road test, in which you must demonstrate the ability to drive safely. Here are some useful links:

After you get your driver’s license

Remember that everyone has rights – regardless of your immigration status. Learn more about your rights with an AB 60 license and inform yourself about consumer issues for AB 60 license holders.

You can also get more information at www.driveca.org.

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Information about California’s AB 60 Driver’s Licenses https://www.aclusandiego.org/information-californias-ab-60-drivers-licenses/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/information-californias-ab-60-drivers-licenses/#comments Fri, 16 Jan 2015 22:27:10 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11989

You may legally drive in California and use your AB 60 driver’s license as legal identification in certain situations.

However, use caution

  • If you present your AB 60 license in a state other than California, you may be at risk depending on the laws and policies of that state.
  • Do not attempt to use your AB 60 license to enter restricted areas of federal facilities, pass through TSA screening, or verify your identity to federal law enforcement officers, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP).
  • When talking to or in front of law enforcement, anything you say can be used against you – don’t talk about your immigration status, citizenship, or when you came to the US, or where you’re from.

Federal limits apply

The AB 60 license looks different than a regular California driver’s license. On the front, it says, “federal limits apply.” On the back, it says, “not acceptable for official federal purposes.” What does this mean?

It means federal officials and out of state local law enforcement agencies are not obligated to accept your driver’s license as a form of identification.

Inside of California, your AB 60 license should be accepted by state and local law enforcement in the same way any other California ID or driver’s license would be accepted (including for citations or arrests) whether you are driving or not. Also, it’s illegal for state or local agencies or officials, or any program that receives state funds, to discriminate against you because of your AB 60 license.

Your immigration status is your business

State and local law enforcement officers can’t use the fact that you have an AB 60 license to consider your citizenship or immigration status as the basis for criminal investigation, arrest or detention.

If you think you have been discriminated against by law enforcement because of your AB 60 license, please call (415) 621-2488 or click here to report it.

Interacting with police

Practical tips in English and Spanish on your rights with the police.

Consumer rights

Essential tips about owning a car in California and keeping your AB 60 driver’s license. Did you know that your license can be suspended and your car can be towed if you have too many parking tickets? Get the facts.

Your voice matters!

To get involved, email us and join the Drive California Coalition.

Disclaimer: This information is NOT intended as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding a specific situation, you should consult with a licensed and trusted attorney.
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ACLU Expands Advocacy in Sacramento https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-expands-advocacy-sacramento/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-expands-advocacy-sacramento/#comments Thu, 15 Jan 2015 22:37:37 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11985  

Sacramento Capitol

Sacramento – Today the ACLU of California unveiled plans to expand its advocacy work through its legislative office, the Sacramento-based Center for Advocacy and Policy. The organization also welcomed Natasha Minsker as center director and Kevin Baker as legislative director.

Minsker transitions to this new position after a long and successful tenure at the ACLU of Northern California, where she previously served as the associate director. Before taking on that role, Minsker led the ACLU’s statewide Death Penalty Project and served as campaign director for the Yes on 34-SAFE California Campaign, a ballot initiative to replace the state’s broken death penalty.

“The ACLU’s Center for Advocacy and Policy will amplifying our legislative and policy advocacy efforts in the state’s capitol,” said Minsker, who began her new role in Sacramento on December 1, 2014. “Our goal is to make civil rights a reality for all Californians. We have a lot of work to do.”

Kevin Baker joins the ACLU after serving as deputy chief counsel for the California Assembly’s Committee on the Judiciary, where he worked on policy issues related to civil rights, constitutional law, immigrants’ rights, and privacy, among other issues. Baker also previously served as the national employment litigation and policy director of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF).

“While the ACLU’s robust legislative agenda will continue to include the protection and advancement of civil liberties and rights of all Californians, the ACLU’s legislative office will place special emphasis this year on privacy issues as well as police practices and racial justice issues,” said Baker.

The ACLU also announced other transitions in its legislative office. Long-time legislative director Francisco Lobaco announced his eminent retirement, although he will continue working with the organization through the 2015 legislative session. Additionally, Valerie Small-Navarro, who served as legislative advocate for almost two decades, retired at the end of the 2014 legislative session. Throughout her tenure at the ACLU, Small-Navarro’s dedication impacted a wide range of civil liberties issues, ranging from digital privacy to immigrants’ rights.

The ACLU of California has nearly 100,000 members, more than 150 staff throughout the state. It is comprised of: ACLU of Northern California, ACLU of Southern California, the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties, and the ACLU of California’s Center for Advocacy and Policy, and has offices in Sacramento, San Francisco, Fresno, Los Angeles, Orange County, San Bernardino, and San Diego.

You can follow Natasha Minsker on Twitter for the latest on civil rights and legislative and policy advocacy:@NMinsker.

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Intake Coordinator — Lopez-Venegas Settlement https://www.aclusandiego.org/intake-coordinator-lopez-venegas-settlement/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/intake-coordinator-lopez-venegas-settlement/#comments Sat, 10 Jan 2015 00:02:13 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11976  

The American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego & Imperial Counties (ACLU) seeks a dynamic team member with experience in immigration law to fill a one-year position coordinating the intake procedure for the class action settlement in Lopez-Venegas v. Johnson, which will allow certain Mexican nationals to return to the United States.  Under the supervision of legal staff, the intake coordinator will monitor telephonic, email, and written intakes, respond to inquiries regarding class membership under the settlement, and communicate directly with affected individuals to complete initial screening for class membership eligibility.

In 2014, the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties, along with co-counsel, settled a class action lawsuit with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) and Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) regarding their administration of “Voluntary Return” under Immigration and Nationality Act § 240B(a), in lieu of removal proceedings. The settlement allows for class members who accepted Voluntary Return to Mexico to return to the United States in the same legal position they occupied immediately prior to accepting Voluntary Return.

Position Overview and Functions:

Under the supervision of the legal director and staff attorneys, the intake coordinator will administer and manage the intake process for inquiries related to class membership under the Lopez-Venegas Settlement.  The intake coordinator will respond directly to applicants seeking information about class membership and will diligently organize and maintain logs and spreadsheets to track communication and eligibility assessments.  The intake coordinator will work with and report daily to the class implementation attorney and/or senior staff attorney, and will assist as directed with completion of class membership applications, including providing translations of documents.  The intake coordinator will work as part of the Advancing Immigrants’ Rights Team, will coordinate with organizational partners in the region working on Settlement related issues, and will collaborate across the ACLU’s policy, communications, and legal teams in San Diego and the rest of California. 

Specific Duties and Responsibilities Include:

  • Develop and implement intake protocols to screen potential applicants, track their cases, and log communications.
  • Communicate via telephone, and correspond via letter and email with potential class applicants to gather information regarding eligibility, and to communicate eligibility determinations.
  • Assess and communicate trends in intake process and adjust protocols to accommodate busy work flow.
  • When directed by a supervising attorney, work with potential class members to gather documentation and information to assist in completing class membership application.
  • Translate documents and writings between Spanish and English.
  • Work in collaboration with the class implementation attorney to ensure that the intake process efficiently, promptly, and correctly identifies potential class members.
  • Work with approved class members to coordinate class members’ return to the United States.
  • Work with policy, communication, and legal teams to provide community education and outreach in the United States and Mexico regarding the Settlement.
  • Be accountable to work plans, supervisor check-ins, giving and receiving feedback and debriefs.

Qualifications:

  • Experience in immigration law, including understanding of processing removal and deportation, forms of relief from removal, and immigration agency structures.
  • Experience working with minority communities.
  • Organized and detail-oriented, with strong communication skills.
  • Fluent in English and Spanish, both written and spoken.
  • Patience and a compassionate demeanor, and comfort with delivering unwelcome news.
  • Understanding of civil rights and civil liberties issues, particularly in the area of immigrants’ rights, and enthusiasm for addressing these issues through legal and other advocacy.
  • Able to work collaboratively in a fast-paced environment.
  • Ability to work under deadline and willingness to work variable work schedule if necessary to meet deadlines.
  • Ability to work and build credibility in immigrant, refugee and low-income communities.
  • Strong interpersonal, communication, facilitation, and written skills.

Salary & Benefits:  Competitive salary commensurate with experience. Excellent benefits. 

One-year position.

Application Procedure:  By January 30, 2015, interested individuals must send a cover letter, resume, and list of references, preferably by e-mail to jobs@aclusandiego.org  or by mail to:

ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties
ATTN: Bardis Vakili, Senior Staff Attorney
PO Box 87131
San Diego, CA 92138-7131

The ACLU is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and encourages applications from women, people of color, persons with disabilities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals, and veterans.

 

 

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ACLU Holiday Shopping Guide https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-holiday-shopping-guide/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-holiday-shopping-guide/#comments Thu, 11 Dec 2014 20:21:35 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11931  

Give the Gift of Freedom!

Since 1933, attorneys and community activists working with the ACLU have made us the preeminent organization devoted to protecting civil liberties and civil rights here in San Diego & Imperial counties (see small gallery, below).

Today, all around us we see threats to our precious fundamental freedoms: attacks on our personal privacy, freedoms of speech, association, and religion, and the right to due process and equal treatment before the law are just a few examples.

By supporting the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties, you are supporting our legal, legislative, and community organizing efforts to protect and advance our individual liberties and fundamental freedoms.

Our efforts depend on donations from engaged supporters — like you and your loved ones! Please join us in defending liberty and justice.

DONATE TODAY.

 

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Senate Torture Report Shows Need for Accountability https://www.aclusandiego.org/senate-torture-report-shows-need-accountability/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/senate-torture-report-shows-need-accountability/#comments Tue, 09 Dec 2014 23:55:00 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11923

WASHINGTON – The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence today released the executive summary and findings of its landmark report on the CIA’s rendition, secret detention, and torture program.

The full report was adopted in December 2012 by a bipartisan majority of the committee after nearly five years of investigation. Today’s release comes after long negotiations between the committee and the White House over redactions requested by the CIA.

Responding to the report, the American Civil Liberties Union released a detailed plan for full accountability, and ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero had this reaction:

This is a shocking report, and it is impossible to read it without feeling immense outrage that our government engaged in these terrible crimes.

This report definitively drags into the light the horrific details of illegal torture, details that both the Bush and Obama administrations have worked hard to sweep under the rug. The government officials who authorized illegal activity need to be held accountable. The CIA’s wrongful acts violated basic human rights, served as a huge recruiting tool for our enemies, and alienated allies world-wide. Our response to the damning evidence in this report will define us as a nation.

This should be the beginning of a process, not the end. The report should shock President Obama and Congress into action, to make sure that torture and cruelty are never used again.

The Department of Justice needs to appoint a special prosecutor to hold the architects and perpetrators of the torture program accountable for its design, implementation, and cover-ups. Congress must assert its constitutional role in the system of checks and balances, and oversee the CIA, which in this report sounds more like a rogue paramilitary group than the intelligence gathering agency that it’s supposed to be.

The president needs to use the moral authority of his office to formally recognize both the torture program’s victims and those in government who resisted this shameful and illegal policy.

Over the course of a decade, ACLU FOIA litigation has resulted in the release of the 100,000 pages of documents relating to the torture policies, which are available in a searchable database.

Here is a blueprint for accountability:

Appoint a Special Prosecutor. The attorney general should appoint a special prosecutor with the full authority to conduct an independent and complete investigation of Bush administration officials who created, approved, carried out, and covered up the torture program. The crime of torture has no statute of limitations when torture risks or results in serious injury or death, and the U.S. government has the obligation under international law to investigate any credible evidence that torture has been committed. If there’s sufficient evidence of criminal conduct – and it’s hard to see how there isn’t –the offenders should be prosecuted. In our system, no one should be above the law, yet only a handful of mainly low-level personnel have been criminally prosecuted for abuse.

That is a scandal.

CIA Reform. The CIA’s spying on Senate Intelligence Committee staffers investigating the agency’s use of torture is one more damning piece of evidence that the CIA urgently needs to be reformed. Congress should ensure the CIA never tortures again by taking two steps. First, Congress must prohibit the CIA from operating any detention facility or holding any person in its custody. Second, Congress should subject the CIA to the same interrogation rules that apply to the military. President Obama rightly ended the torture program when he assumed office. Now it’s Congress’ turn to make sure the CIA never again operates free of the checks and balances our democratic system demands.

Apologize to Victims. With only a handful of exceptions, the U.S. government has not officially acknowledged its torture victims let alone extended formal apologies to those men, women, and children for the horrors our nation inflicted on them. With the Senate torture report’s release, President Obama should rectify this.

Apologies alone won’t do, however.

The United States has a responsibility under international law to provide compensation and rehabilitation services to those who suffered torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment at its behest. Restitution is necessary for healing to start. It will also signal to the rest of the world and future generations that torture as U.S. state policy was an aberration that America promises never to repeat.

Honor Courage. Many U.S. service members and civilian officials risked their careers and reputations by objecting to torture after learning it was official U.S. policy. They understood that torture would harm lives, violate the law, undermine national security, and corrupt our institutions – including the military as well as the CIA.

These largely unsung men and women are heroes, and President Obama should formally honor their courage and their commitment to our most fundamental ideals of treating captives with dignity and respect, which stretches back to the Revolutionary War. By honoring these men and women of conscience, the president will also send a strong message to other public servants and officials that they need not fear coming forward when their government does wrong.

Full Disclosure. Even with the release of the redacted Senate report, secrecy still obscures the full extent of U.S. government abuse. If the Obama administration is serious about transparency, it will remove the redactions it forced the Senate to include in the torture report and publicly release all 6,700 pages in full. Complete transparency, however, cannot occur until the government releases President Bush’s 2001 memo authorizing the creation of CIA black sites, the CIA’s cables on the use of waterboarding and other brutal interrogation techniques, and the photographic evidence of U.S. prisoner abuse at Iraqi and Afghan detention facilities.

The other, shameful option is to continue doing what America has done all along on accountability: next to nothing.If we choose to end the story that way, and it is a choice, there will be serious consequences for who we are as a nation. As torture survivor Juan E. Méndez, the United Nations special rapporteur on torture, has shown, history teaches that countries that try to bury or ignore their serious human rights abuses are more likely to commit the same transgressions again.

How the story of America’s descent into the torture chamber ends hasn’t been written yet. We can start righting the wrongs of the past, but only if we have the courage to face our demons fully, and show the world our commitment to putting the darkness behind us.

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ACLU Calls on San Marcos School to Redirect Fundraiser to a Nonreligious Group https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-calls-san-marcos-school-redirect-fundraiser-nonreligious-group/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-calls-san-marcos-school-redirect-fundraiser-nonreligious-group/#comments Mon, 08 Dec 2014 17:53:12 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11916

 * * * * * * * * * *
UPDATE – Dec. 10, 2014

Dec. 10,  2014 – Today, the ACLU received an email from the San Marcos Unified School District announcing the following:

In order to ensure that San Marcos Middle School remains in compliance with California law, Tiffany Campbell, SMMS principal, made the decision that all student monies collected during the Friends and Family Community Connection fundraiser will be donated to a non-religious, charitable organization.  The district has advised the ACLU that Mrs. Campbell and the students in ASB will select and donate to a different non-profit organization to continue their commendable and humanitarian efforts.”

David Loy, legal director of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties, and author of the letter that alerted the school to the constitutional issue, responded by saying, “As always, we are pleased to reach a mutually agreeable solution without litigation. I am satisfied that the school and district understand the serious issues raised. Though I don’t dispute the school’s intent was worthy, a public school must avoid the effect, intentional or not, of giving aid to religion. This principle keeps government out of the business of religion, as our founders intended.”

* * * * * * * * * *

Dec. 8, 2014 – While commending a middle school’s public spirit, the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties raised serious concerns about the school’s sponsorship of fundraising for a religious organization. As stated on San Marcos Middle School’s website, the school is “partnering” with Kids Around the World, which “exists to reach children around the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” to raise $3,500 to provide meals for children in Tanzania.

Acknowledging it is “a worthy goal” to provide for needy children, David Loy, legal director of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties, sent a letter to the school’s principal on November 20, 2014, asking the school to redirect the funds to a nonreligious organization that supports needy children, because California law prohibits public schools from providing any aid to religious organizations, no matter how the funds might end up being used. In essence, when a public school or any other arm of government lends financial assistance to a religious entity such as KATW, the government is effectively subsidizing the group’s religious mission by reducing the financial burden of any part of its operations.

The California Constitution’s “No Aid Clause” prohibits public schools from making any type of contribution to “any religious sect, church, creed, or sectarian purpose,” even if the contribution is ostensibly for nonreligious uses. But the No Aid Clause is not limited to financial assistance. As courts have held, the No Aid Clause also prohibits aid “in the intangible form of prestige and power,” which the school provided by endorsing and sponsoring the fundraiser, even though funds were not coming directly out of the school’s coffers.

As of December 4, 2014, neither the school nor the district has responded. While the San Diego ACLU prefers to resolve maters without litigation, it is considering all options to uphold the core values of California’s Constitution.

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Immigration Officers Ordering Illegal Deportations without Hearings, Finds ACLU https://www.aclusandiego.org/immigration-officers-ordering-illegal-deportations-without-hearings-finds-aclu/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/immigration-officers-ordering-illegal-deportations-without-hearings-finds-aclu/#comments Thu, 04 Dec 2014 21:54:22 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11905  

NEW YORK – In the first comprehensive study of expedited deportations ordered by federal immigration agents instead of judges, the American Civil Liberties Union found numerous incidents of people with rights or strong claims to be in the United States who were deported without the chance to be heard.

Leer más aquí en español.

The ACLU’s investigative report titled “American Exile: Rapid Deportations That Bypass the Courtroom” is based on more than 130 cases of individuals who were deported, sometimes in a matter of hours, without the most basic due process protections — including a hearing before a judge and the chance to defend their claims. These deportations are ordered by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), including officers of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), a DHS agency embroiled in controversy that has been widely criticized for lacking oversight and accountability.

“Under the current system, thousands of people are subject to the whim and mercy of immigration officers who are acting as prosecutor, judge and deporter,” said Sarah Mehta, researcher with the ACLU’s Human Rights Program and author of the report. “These officers are not equipped with the legal knowledge and expertise to decide who has rights or valid claims to enter and live in the United States.”

There are more than 40,000 CBP officers authorized to issue these deportation orders with no lawyers or evidence required and no independent review as mandated by human rights law.

“If fairness and justice matter, our government has to allow people with claims and rights to be in the United States a real opportunity to defend those rights,” said Mehta. “Our government has separated families and deported people to their death when we failed to give them the most basic opportunity to be heard and to defend themselves. We must do better — both for those facing deportation and the families left behind.”

According to the report findings, in 2013 the United States conducted 438,421 deportations. In more than 363,279 of those deportations — over 83 percent — there was no hearing or review by a judge before the person was removed. These deportation orders come with the same significant penalties as deportation orders issued by a judge after a full hearing. An immigration officer can order someone deported and banned from the United States anywhere from 5 years to a lifetime. If an officer makes a mistake and deports some with a right or valid claim to remain in the United States there is virtually no way for that person to rescind the deportation order.

Prior to 1996, the vast majority of people facing deportations from this country had immigration court hearings. Now most do not, opening the way for errors or outright abuse.

“American Exile: Rapid Deportations That Bypass the Courtroom” tells the disturbing stories of individuals like Maria de la Paz, a U.S. citizen who was deported when the immigration agent who interviewed her assumed she was not born in the United States because she couldn’t speak to him in English. Eventually, the U.S. government finally recognized her citizenship and issued her a passport, but only after her attorney filed a habeas petition on her behalf.

Some deportations of individuals in the report had devastating consequences, as in the case of Nydia R., a transgender woman from Mexico. Nydia already had asylum in the United States when she was twice unlawfully deported to danger.

“I didn’t know the immigration agents could have helped me,” Nydia said, recalling her treatment at the U.S. border after being raped and attacked by gangs. “They had known all the reasons I was trying to come back to the U.S. and even knowing them, they sent me back.” Deported to Mexico, Nydia was kidnapped and trafficked into the sex trade.

View their video here. [Vea sus video aquí.]

In addition to information from interviews with deportees, their families, lawyers and community advocates, “American Exile” includes recommendations to the federal government that are even more important in light of President Obama’s recent executive action announcement, which included both deferrals of deportations and new DHS-wide prosecutorial discretion guidance. For example, there are recommendations to immigration enforcement agencies on screening for individuals who qualify for relief and to ensure that people unlawfully deported have the chance to fix those errors.

Last Friday, a report by the U.N. Committee Against Torture expressed concerns over “the expansion of expedited removal procedures, which do not adequately take into account the special circumstances of asylum seekers and other persons in need of international protection.”

The committee’s “concluding observations” also expressed concerns over CBP personnel failing to identify and refer many of the individuals placed in expedited removal for an asylum-screening interview and recommended to the United States to “review the use of expedited removal procedures, and guarantee access to counsel.”

Click here for the full report, executive summary, and more information.

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You Have Rights! Don’t Give them Away! https://www.aclusandiego.org/youhaverights/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/youhaverights/#comments Thu, 04 Dec 2014 21:31:56 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11794 The American Civil Liberties Union works every day—in the courts, legislatures, and in the streets—to preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to everyone in this country. The U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the California Constitution spell out our hopes for the kind of society that we want to be, and protect our rights, including:

  • Right to equal protection, that is, the right to be treated equally, regardless of race, national origin, religion, sex, or sexual orientation.
  • Right to due process, that is, the right to be treated fairly by the government whenever the loss of liberty (being arrested, detained, or questioned) or property (being searched) is at stake.
  • Right to privacy, that is, the right to be free from unwarranted government intrusion into your personal and private business.
  • Right to free speech, association, and assembly, that is, the right to speak your mind, to meet up with whomever you choose, and to call on your government officials, publicly if you like, to make changes if you have any concerns.

Below are our most important Know Your Rights materials. [Recursos en español, más abajo.]

WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE STOPPED BY THE POLICE OR OTHER LAW OFFICERS (resources in English)

QUE HACER SI TE PARA LA POLICÍA (recursos en español)

AB 60 Dreiver’s License Rights

LGBT RIGHTS

YOUR FIRST AMENDMENT-PROTECTED RIGHTS

YOUR VOTING RIGHTS

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ACLU Comment on Ferguson Grand Jury Decision https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-comment-ferguson-grand-jury-decision/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-comment-ferguson-grand-jury-decision/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 03:14:24 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11891  

ST. LOUIS, Mo. — The grand jury in Ferguson, Mo., has declined to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson on charges in the Aug. 9 shooting death of Michael Brown. The following is reaction from Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri:

The grand jury’s decision does not negate the fact that Michael Brown’s tragic death is part of an alarming national trend of officers using excessive force against people of color, often during routine encounters. Yet in most cases, the officers and police departments are not held accountable. While many officers carry out their jobs with respect for the communities they serve, we must confront the profound disconnect and disrespect that many communities of color experience with their local law enforcement.

The ACLU will continue to fight for racial justice. We must end the prevailing policing paradigm where police departments are more like occupying forces, imposing their will to control communities. This ‘us vs. them’ policing antagonizes communities by casting a blanket of suspicion over entire neighborhoods, often under the guise of preventing crime.

To build trust, we need a democratic system of policing where our communities have an equal say in the way their neighborhoods are policed. Collaboration, transparency, and communication between police and communities around the shared goals of equality, fairness, and public safety is the path forward.

Click here to check out your right to protest, and click here to learn more about your rights when interacting with law enforcement. Click here for a downloadable bilingual flyer stating the ACLU’s action steps to address this tragic and too common situation.

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ACLU Celebrates Announcement of Expanded Relief from Deportation for 5 Million https://www.aclusandiego.org/adminrelief/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/adminrelief/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 02:51:31 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11883  

Tonight, the ACLU of California celebrates the President’s momentous move to keep millions of hard working families together by expanding administrative relief from deportation for five million undocumented immigrants, including an estimated 1.5-1.6 million in California.

For far too long, more than 2.5 million Californians have been forced to live in the shadows, trapped by our country’s broken and inhumane immigration system. “Today’s announcement is a significant step in the right direction and away from the criminalization of immigrant communities,” stated Abdi Soltani, executive director of the ACLU of Northern California. “But more importantly, today is a real victory for immigrant families who live, work and make significant contributions to our communities. Today we celebrate them.”

While we commend this significant advance towards affirming aspiring Americans their civil liberties, we recognize that this is just the beginning of a fight in addressing our broken immigration system.

“Though the President has taken an important first step to provide certain undocumented immigrants protection from deportation, that protection is fleeting and tenuous,” said Hector Villagra, executive director of the ACLU of Southern California. “It will depend on President Obama’s successor and the continued exercise of prosecutorial discretion. Real and lasting immigration reform, including a pathway to citizenship, can come only from Congress.”

The ACLU of California will continue to advocate for fuller recognition of all immigrants’ rights, including for those who do not benefit from today’s announcement. We applaud the president’s actions to address this decades-long problem, and call on both houses of Congress to stop putting up roadblocks and find a permanent solution that offers a pathway to citizenship for hard-working immigrants.

The ACLU of California will remain vigilant about any deployment by the administration of additional resources to the border to strengthen enforcement. Our border communities are among the safest in the nation. Border security benchmarks have long ago been met and exceeded.

“We will continue to push back against the over-militarization of our border communities, recognizing that border spending should be tied to the nation’s real national security needs and to facilitating bilateral and multilateral trade and tourism,” said Norma Chavez-Peterson, executive director of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties.

The ACLU of California will continue to seek greater transparency and accountability of our immigration enforcement agencies to ensure that border communities can thrive without the threat of heavy-handed enforcement that tramples everyone’s basic civil rights and liberties.

The ACLU of California also will continue to work to ensure that immigrants receive protections guaranteed under the Constitution, including the right to be treated fairly in court and to be free from discrimination based on race or national origin. The ACLU of California comprises the three California ACLU affiliates—the ACLU of Northern California, the ACLU of Southern California and the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties.

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Your Right to Protest https://www.aclusandiego.org/protestrights/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/protestrights/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 22:51:24 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11878  

The right to join with fellow citizens in protest or peaceful assembly is critical to a functioning democracy. But it is also unfortunately true that governments and police can violate this right—through the use of mass arrests, illegal use of force, criminalization of protest, and other means intended to thwart free public expression.

Standing up for your right to protest can be challenging, especially when demonstrations are met with violence. But knowing your rights is the most powerful tool you have against police abuse. 

These are suggestions, not complete legal advice. Be sure to consult a lawyer. 

FREE SPEECH RIGHTS

Q: Can my free speech rights be restricted because of what I want to say — even if it’s controversial?

A: No. The First Amendment prohibits restrictions based on the content of the speech. However, this does not mean that the Constitution completely protects all types of free speech activity in every circumstance. Police and government officials are allowed to place certain non discriminatory and narrowly drawn “time, place, and manner” restrictions on the exercise of First Amendment rights. 

Q: Where can I engage in free speech activity?

A: Generally, all types of expression are constitutionally protected in traditional “public forums” such as streets, sidewalks, parks, and plazas.  Additionally, some free speech activity may be allowed in certain other government-owned locations or facilities, for example public universities or colleges. You should check with the administrative or security offices of such locations or facilities to find out what is allowed, where, and when.

In California, certain forms of expression may be allowed in certain types of shopping malls. You should check with mall administration or security to find out what is allowed, where, and when. Otherwise, the general rule is that the owners of private property can set rules for speech on that property. If you disobey the property owner’s rules, they can order you off their property (and have you arrested for trespassing if you do not comply). But your speech may not be restricted if it is taking place on your own property or with the consent of the property owner. 

Q: Do I need a permit before I engage in free speech activity?

A: Not usually; however, certain types of events require permits. Generally, these events are: 1) a march or a parade that does not stay on the sidewalk and other events that require street closures; 2) a very large rally; 3) activity which obstructs vehicle or pedestrian traffic. For example, the City of San Diego requires a permit for certain “[e]vents or organized activities for 75 or more people that involve street closures or include event components requiring the coordination of a number of city departments or other agencies such as the use of alcohol, on-site cooking, food sales, or large-scale temporary structures.

Many permit procedures require that applications be filed with the police department well in advance of the event.  However, a permit may be obtained on short notice, or may not be required at all, if the event is organized in response to unforeseeable and recent occurrences. 

Q: Can a speaker be silenced for provoking a crowd?

A: Generally, no. Even the most inflammatory speaker cannot be punished for merely arousing the audience.  A speaker can be arrested and convicted for incitement through speech only if s/he specifically intends to incite imminent illegal action and the speech is in fact likely to incite imminent illegal action. 

Q: Do counter-demonstrators have free speech rights?

A: Although counter-demonstrators should not be allowed to physically disrupt the event they are protesting, they do have the right to be present and to voice their displeasure. Police are permitted to keep two antagonistic groups separated but should allow them to be within the general vicinity of one another. 

Q: Is heckling protected by the First Amendment?

A: Although the law is not settled, heckling should be protected unless you are attempting to physically disrupt an event or are drowning out the other speakers. 

Q: If organizers have not obtained a permit, where can a march take place?

A: If groups of individuals stay on the sidewalk and obey traffic and pedestrian signals, their activity is protected. They may be required to allow enough space on the sidewalk for normal pedestrian traffic and may not obstruct or detain passers-by. 

Q: Can police restrict the size or type of signs or how they are carried or displayed?

A: Yes, but only to the extent necessary to protect safety without excessively impairing the right to display signs. For example, as San Diego does, a city may prohibit the use of metal stakes, clubs, and pipes at rallies, parades, or demonstrations, and it may require that any wooden stakes used for signs must be 1/4 inch or less in thickness and 2 inches or less in width. But a city may not entirely prohibit the carrying of signs attached to any wooden or plastic handles. 

Q: What other types of free speech activity are constitutionally protected?

A: The First Amendment covers all forms of communication including music, theater, film, and dance. The Constitution also protects actions that symbolically express a viewpoint. Examples of these symbolic forms of speech include wearing costumes or holding a candlelight vigil. 

Q: May I distribute leaflets and other literature on public sidewalks?

A: Yes. Pedestrians on sidewalks may be approached with leaflets, newspapers, petitions, and solicitation for donations. These types of free speech are legal as long as entrances to buildings are not blocked and passers-by are not physically detained. No permits are required. 

YOUR RIGHTS DURING INTERACTIONS WITH THE POLICE

You cannot legally be arrested for refusing to identify yourself to a police officer if the officer does not have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to believe you committed a crime or infraction.

You do not have to answer a police officer’s questions, except to identify yourself if you have been stopped on reasonable suspicion or probable cause you have committed a crime or infraction, or except in certain circumstances if you are on probation or parole.

Police may pat down your clothing for weapons only if they reasonably suspect you are armed and presently dangerous. A patdown is not automatically justified just because you are stopped. Don’t physically resist, but clearly state that you do not consent to be searched.

It is a crime to interfere with police action. 

Click here for more on your rights when interacting with police.

IF YOU ARE ARRESTED OR TAKEN INTO CUSTODY

What you say can be used against you. You have the right to talk to a lawyer before you talk to police about your case. Do not give any explanations, excuses, or stories. You do not have to give a statement or sign any statement you might give.

Your person and belongings can be searched, except that police must get a warrant to search your cell phone.

The police are entitled to basic biographical information — i.e., your name and address — and may take your fingerprints and photograph.

Ask to see a lawyer immediately. If you cannot pay for a lawyer, you have the right to a free one. Ask the police how a lawyer can be contacted.

Within a reasonable time after your arrest or booking, you have the right to make a phone call to a lawyer, bail bonds person, a relative, or any other person. The police may not listen to the call to your lawyer. Conversations with people other than your lawyer are not confidential.

You will be interviewed by a court agency so that bail can be assessed. You do not have to answer their questions, but giving accurate information will speed the process.

Sometimes you can be released without bail or have bail lowered. Ask the judge about it.

If you are arrested without a warrant, the police must release you within 48 hours after arrest unless a judge decides there is probable cause to hold you beyond that time. The judge may make that decision by looking at documents without holding a hearing. In California, you must be brought before a judge within 48 hours of your arrest, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays.

Click here for more on your rights when interacting with police.

Click here to read our Activist’s Guide to Free Speech, Protests, & Demonstrations in California.

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Arizona Residents Sue Border Patrol Over Right to Protest Checkpoint Operations https://www.aclusandiego.org/arivaca-checkpoint-right-to-protest/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/arivaca-checkpoint-right-to-protest/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 16:28:02 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11857 TUCSON, Ariz.—Two southern Arizona residents filed a federal lawsuit today challenging U.S. Border Patrol’s obstruction of their efforts to monitor an interior checkpoint near the town of Arivaca.

In the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Tucson, plaintiffs Peter Ragan and Leesa Jacobson assert that Border Patrol agents have infringed and restricted their First Amendment rights by harassing, intimidating, retaliating against and threatening them with arrest for engaging in constitutionally protected speech. Mr. Ragan and Ms. Jacobson are members of People Helping People, a community group that has been attempting to observe, photograph and video record the actions of Border Patrol agents at the checkpoint on Arivaca Road in Amado, Ariz. Over the past year, in response to recurring reports of abuse by agents, the group has monitored the checkpoint from an adjacent public right-of-way.

The Arivaca Road checkpoint has been in operation for about seven years—despite being officially designated as a temporary operation—and is one of four interior Border Patrol checkpoints within 30 miles of Arivaca. Many Arivaca residents must pass through the checkpoints daily to go to work, school, or to run basic errands.

“Arivaca residents have to drive through this checkpoint every day, and every time they have to answer to an armed federal agent,” Jacobson said. “That’s not how this country is supposed to work, but as long as the checkpoint is here I want to do everything I can to document abuses and protest the ongoing militarization of our communities and the border region.”

In response to the checkpoint monitoring campaign, Border Patrol agents have erected barriers that restrict how close the People Helping People observers can be to the checkpoint, parked vehicles in the monitors’ line of sight, and threatened the monitors with arrest.

“They’ve cordoned us off far away from the checkpoint, parked their trucks to block our view and even threatened to arrest us,” Ragan said. “All of this is on top of the harassment and abuse community members were already experiencing at this checkpoint, which necessitated this campaign in the first place. Instead of responding to our concerns, by imposing these restrictions Border Patrol is doubling down on abuse and retaliating against community members who are just trying to hold them accountable.”

Many Arivaca residents have reported civil liberties violations at the Arivaca Road checkpoint, including prolonged interrogation and detention, invasive searches, false alerts by drug-sniffing dogs, racial profiling, verbal harassment and physical assault. Border Patrol refused to share information about the checkpoint or respond to residents’ complaints of abuse, compelling Ragan, Jacobson and other volunteers to document agents’ interactions with motorists.

People Helping People recently released initial findings from its monitoring efforts. Data collected from over 100 hours of monitoring and 2,700 checkpoint stops showed that agents at the Arivaca Road checkpoint systematically discriminate against Latino motorists.

“There couldn’t be a clearer demonstration of Border Patrol’s lack of transparency than literally preventing members of this community from observing the actions of agents in their own town,” ACLU of Arizona attorney James Lyall said. “Border Patrol has paid lip service to transparency and accountability, but our clients’ experience shows the agency’s promised reforms have yet to become a reality for border residents. Fortunately, people like Peter and Leesa are fighting to ensure the nation’s largest federal law enforcement agency is held accountable.”

Ragan and Jacobson are seeking a judicial order preventing Border Patrol from interfering with their monitoring campaign.

“There is a clear First Amendment right for residents to monitor and protest local law enforcement operations such as the Arivaca checkpoint, as confirmed by courts in the Ninth Circuit and across the country,” said Winslow Taub of Covington & Burling LLP. “That right is particularly important here, where the law enforcement activity being monitored raises other serious constitutional privacy and discrimination questions.”

In addition to the ACLU of Arizona’s Lyall and Covington & Burling LLP’s Taub, attorneys for Ragan and Jacobson include Dan Pochoda, Victoria Lopez and Joel Edman of the ACLU of Arizona; David Loy and Mitra Ebadolahi of the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties; and Tracy Ebanks, Christina Dashe and Ethan Forrest of Covington & Burling LLP.

Click here for a copy of the complaint filed today. Visit our Know Your Rights resources page to learn more about what to do and not do at U.S. Border Patrol checkpoints.

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Border Patrol Checkpoint Resources https://www.aclusandiego.org/border-patrol-checkpoint-resources/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/border-patrol-checkpoint-resources/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 06:40:25 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11850 By definition, Border Patrol checkpoints involve the “seizure” of innocent motorists without any suspicion of wrongdoing.  It is fundamentally impossible to reconcile these dragnet stops with the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures.

Additionally, Border Patrol agents regularly ignore the limitations on their authority at checkpoints, resulting in a range of civil rights violations including unlawful searches, prolonged detention, racial profiling, and excessive use of force. Given the persistent lack of agency oversight, many of these abuses are never reported or addressed.

The ACLU is investigating and documenting checkpoint abuses, and fighting to hold Border Patrol accountable.  We hope the following information will assist others to do the same.

On January 15, 2014, the ACLU sent a complaint to DHS oversight agencies regarding widespread abuses at Border Patrol interior checkpoints in Arizona.

On April 28, 2014, the ACLU filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to obtain records related to Border Patrol interior checkpoints in Arizona.

Visit the ACLU National site for additional resources and information on your rights in the U.S.-Mexico border zone.

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Is Your Community Making Smart Decisions about Surveillance? https://www.aclusandiego.org/community-making-smart-decisions-surveillance/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/community-making-smart-decisions-surveillance/#comments Fri, 14 Nov 2014 19:36:36 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11846 “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.”

The saying has been around for decades, but it has never been truer in an era where technology so often seems to promise something for nothing. Dig deeper, and you’ll usually find there’s a hidden cost — and it could be one you’re not so happy to pay.

That’s why the ACLU of California has just released Making Smart Decisions about Surveillance: A Guide for Communities. It provides step-by-step assistance to help your community ask and answer the right questions about surveillance. It includes case studies from California and elsewhere highlighting smart approaches and missteps to avoid, as well as a model Surveillance & Community Safety Ordinance to ensure that public input, transparency and accountability are part of every discussion about surveillance technology.

Unfortunately, too often that’s not the case. As our interactive map on the state of surveillance in California illustrates, while many communities have adopted some form of surveillance technology, there is little evidence that community members had or have the opportunity to debate its adoption or the resources to evaluate its impact. Even courts are sometimes left out of the loop, blocking their essential oversight function.

Because each community and each surveillance proposal may present a different set of issues, there is no one-size-fits-all answer as to whether surveillance is the right choice. The key to making a smart decision is to thoroughly assess every proposal with the benefit of input from the entire community. We’re delighted that San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos and Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian have announced plans to introduce ordinances in their communities to ensure that happens every time. We hope our guide and resources will also help your community make smart decisions about surveillance going forward.

Chris Conley is the Technology & Civil Liberties attorney at the ACLU of Northern California.

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ACLU Launches Statewide Campaign to Curb Secret Surveillance in California https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-launches-statewide-campaign-curb-secret-surveillance-california/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-launches-statewide-campaign-curb-secret-surveillance-california/#comments Wed, 12 Nov 2014 16:41:14 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11839  

SAN FRANCISCO – Counties and cities across California have spent more than $60 million on invasive surveillance technology, with the vast majority being used by law enforcement agencies without any sort of public debate, consideration of costs and benefits, or adequate policies to safeguard against misuse, according to data compiled by the American Civil Liberties Union of California.

In response, the ACLU today launched a statewide campaign aimed at ensuring that communities have the resources they need to make smart choices when considering whether surveillance technologies, including drones, automated license plate readers, facial recognition and stingrays, should be used in their communities.

To kick off its campaign, the ACLU today released a first-of-its kind report that walks communities through the questions that need to be asked and answered when any surveillance technology is being considered. The centerpiece of the report is a model Surveillance & Community Safety Ordinance for communities to adopt that will provide necessary community participation, transparency, accountability and oversight. San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos and Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, who chaired the state Assembly’s Select Committee on Privacy during his tenure as a state legislator, plan to introduce the ordinance in the coming weeks.

“Local law enforcement has been taking advantage of millions of federal surveillance dollars streaming into California to sidestep the normal oversight process of city councils and boards of supervisors and keep the public in the dark about important community decisions,” said Nicole Ozer, technology and civil liberties policy director for the ACLU of California. “After revelations of mass surveillance by the NSA, the public isn’t buying the ‘just trust us’ approach anymore. The public expects to know why surveillance is being considered, how it is going to be used and what safeguards are in place to guard against misuse before any decisions are made.”

The ACLU’s research helped reveal this past August that the San Jose Police Department had secretly obtained a drone with federal funding, with no public debate and no policy safeguards in place. After   protests from community members, the police department apologized and has grounded the drone and initiated a public outreach process.

“Law enforcement agencies shouldn’t be deciding whether to use surveillance technologies in secret,” said Peter Bibring, police practices director for the ACLU of California. “Effective policing requires officers to be transparent and solicit feedback from their communities about the potential use of surveillance technology before making any decisions.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus have also both joined with the ACLU to endorse the need for ordinances like the one the ACLU is proposing. Unchecked surveillance often has a disproportionate impact on communities of color and religious minorities.

“Communities are increasingly concerned about making sure that time, energy and resources are not spent on expensive, ineffective and overly intrusive surveillance systems that create more problems than they solve,” Avalos said. “That’s why public transparency and engagement are key to any decision about whether to use surveillance technology. If surveillance technology is to be used, clear rules must be in place to ensure transparency, oversight and accountability.”

According to the ACLU’s research, only five of the 90 communities studied held a public debate each time they rolled out a new surveillance technology. And less than five percent of the communities the ACLU studied have a publicly-available use policy for every surveillance technology that they use.

Last year, the city of Oakland quietly tried to expand its “Domain Awareness Center” (DAC) beyond the Port of Oakland and into a citywide surveillance network without any meaningful engagement with the community. Public backlash ensued and the city abandoned its plan. The city council appointed a DAC Committee to develop safeguards for the existing program and recommendations to avoid problems in the future. The DAC Committee voted last week to recommend that the city council enact an ordinance similar to the one being proposed by the ACLU.

“Public safety and privacy protection are not mutually exclusive,” said Simitian. “We can protect and respect – protect the public and respect their privacy. The key is an open and public debate about the tradeoffs involved. The steady erosion of our personal privacy has too often occurred without the public’s knowledge or consent.”

 

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Drive California Coalition Welcomes Emergency DMV Regulations https://www.aclusandiego.org/ab60-emer-dmv-regs/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/ab60-emer-dmv-regs/#comments Fri, 07 Nov 2014 20:28:25 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11830 SACRAMENTO – Today, California’s Department of Motor Vehicles issued emergency regulations that will determine how driver’s licenses are granted to undocumented immigrants under California’s AB 60 (Alejo). The DMV’s emergency regulations are effective for 180 days.

Responding to community suggestions raised at hearings in Oakland and Los Angeles, the new regulations expand the types of documents which immigrants may provide to confirm their residency and identity when applying for a driver’s license.

For example, survivors of domestic violence will now be able to provide letters, on letterhead, from domestic violence shelters, homeless shelters, a nonprofit entity, a faith-based organization, an employer or a government within the U.S. attesting that the applicant lives in California as proof of residency.

Applicants will also be able to submit documents relating to a child to satisfy identity requirements under the secondary review process.

And although this isn’t the case yet for all applicants, applicants of Mexican nationality will be able to submit their consular identification card or their passport as their sole proof of identity rather than having to submit both documents to do so – which could have incurred costs of over $128 per person. The Drive California coalition will continue to work with the DMV to encourage that applicants of other nationalities are afforded this opportunity.

With the license’s design finalized and the regulations on the verge of completion, immigrant community members are eagerly preparing for the implementation of the new law on January 1, 2014.

“We welcome these emergency regulations so that after twenty long years, immigrants throughout the state can begin to prepare their documents to apply for driver licenses,” said Homayra Yusufi-Marin, with the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties.

The community’s hard work has also won strong protections from the state against abuse. Now, we need the Obama administration to follow California’s lead and respect the rights and privacy of all applicants. That means making sure that information in the DMV database is safe and secure.

AB 60, the Safe and Responsible Driver Act, will benefit all Californians by ensuring the all drivers are tested, licensed and insured. It is expected that 1.4 million undocumented Californians will become eligible to apply for driver’s licenses under this new law.

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The Drive California coalition includes, the ACLU of CA, American Friends Service Committee San Diego, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles, African Advocacy Network / Dolores Street Community Services, Bay Area Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), C.A.U.S.E. (Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy), Council on American-Islamic Relations-CA, California Immigrant Policy Center, California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance, Canal Alliance, CARECEN (Los Angeles), Consejo de Federaciones Mexicanas en Norteamérica (COFEM), Dolores Street Community Services, Dream Team Los Angeles, Educators for Fair Consideration, Filipino Advocates for Justice, Immigration Action Group (IAG), ILRC, Inland Empire Immigrant Youth Coalition, Justice for Immigrants Coalition, KIWA (Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance), Korean Resource Center (KRC), Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition, Nuestra Casa East Palo Alto, Mixteco Indigena Community Organizing Project (MICOP), Mujeres Unidas y Activas, People Organized for Westside Renewal (POWER), Presente.org, PICO California, Placer People of Faith Together, Pomona Economic Opportunity Center, Promotores of Humboldt, Sacramento Area Congregations Together, Sacred Heart Community Service, San Francisco Day Labor Program & Women’s Collective, Services, Immigrant Rights, and Education Network (SIREN), Thai Community Development Center, TODEC Legal Center, Voces Unidas Solano, Youth United for Community Action.

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This November: Voters said “Yes!” on Prop. 47! https://www.aclusandiego.org/yeson47/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/yeson47/#comments Wed, 05 Nov 2014 00:40:33 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11648  

******* UPDATE *******

UPDATE: Voters statewide – as well as a majority of voters in San Diego and Imperial Counties – overwhelmingly endorsed Prop 47, the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act. Thanks to voters who passed Prop 47, California becomes the first state in the nation to end felony sentencing for drug possession (for personal use) and for petty theft. This historic initiative will focus law enforcement resources on serious and violent offenses and invest a billion dollars in the first five years alone into K-12 schools, drug treatment and mental health care, and crime victims services.

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September 23, 2014

Proposition 47 – the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act of 2014 – is a voter initiative for the November 2014 California ballot that will change sentencing for low-level nonviolent crimes such as simple drug possession and petty theft from felonies to misdemeanors and direct financial savings to K-12 schools, mental health and drug treatment, and crime victim services.

The ACLU strongly supports Prop 47 because it provides Californians a historic opportunity to bring about needed and long-overdue criminal justice reform, while investing in education, prevention, and rehabilitation that will make our communities stronger and healthier.

Help us achieve this historic reform! Contact us to get involved! 

If Prop 47 passes, California will lead the nation in ending felony sentencing for the lowest level, non-violent crimes, permanently reduce incarceration and shift $1 billion in the next five years alone from the state corrections department to K-12 school programs, mental health and drug treatment, and victim services. This reform maintains the current law for anyone with prior convictions for rape, murder or child molestation.

At the same time, Prop 47 will reduce the barriers that many people with low-level, non-violent felony convictions face to becoming stable and productive citizens, such as employment, housing and access to assistance programs and professional trades.

Prop 47 is supported by law enforcement leaders, crime victims, teachers, rehabilitation experts, business leaders, faith-based leaders and civil rights organizations.

This reform will focus our law enforcement resources on violent and serious crime, and use the savings in prison spending to prevent crime.

Vote YES on Prop 47 on Nov. 4!

The deadline to register to vote is Oct. 20. You can register to vote online here

For more information on Prop 47, visit www.safetyandschools.com.

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ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties Recommendations for November 4th! https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-san-diego-imperial-counties-recommendations-november-4th/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-san-diego-imperial-counties-recommendations-november-4th/#comments Wed, 05 Nov 2014 00:23:47 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11787  

******* UPDATE *******

UPDATE: Voters statewide – as well as a majority of voters in San Diego and Imperial Counties – overwhelmingly agreed with the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties’ recommendations on both Prop 46 and Prop 47, resoundingly rejecting Prop 46 and endorsing Prop 47. Thanks to voters who passed Prop 47, California becomes the first state in the nation to end felony sentencing for drug possession (for personal use) and for petty theft. This historic initiative will focus law enforcement resources on serious and violent offenses and invest a billion dollars in the first five years alone into K-12 schools, drug treatment and mental health care, and crime victims services.

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October 28, 2014

YES on Prop 47

On November 4th, Californians have an historic opportunity to put schools before prisons! Vote YES on Prop 47, the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act.

Here’s why this reform matters. By changing the lowest-level, nonviolent crimes, such as simple drug possession and petty theft, from felonies to misdemeanors, Prop 47 will save $1 billion in just the first five years and direct those funds to K-12 schools, victims services, and mental health treatment.

This reform will focus our law enforcement resources on violent and serious crime, and invest prison savings into critical services proven to prevent crime. A vote for Prop 47 is a vote for more schools and fewer prisons.

No on Prop 46

Proposition 46 is a violation of privacy and breaks the single-subject rule for ballot measures. The initiative improperly asks voters to consider three different subjects under the guise of one initiative. Part of the initiative would requite physicians to submit to random, suspicionless drug testing. This kind of drug testing is unnecessarily intrusive and fails to deter drug use. Vote No on Prop 46.

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Ebola and Civil Liberties https://www.aclusandiego.org/ebola-civil-liberties/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/ebola-civil-liberties/#comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 21:14:59 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11783 The following statement can be attributed to Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union:

The government’s response to Ebola needs to be driven by sound medical science, not fear. It is absolutely crucial that we treat those exposed to this disease with compassion and dignity, and the minimum amount of coercion that public health officials recommend—especially when it comes to brave doctors and nurses who have put their own lives at risk to help contain the epidemic.

This is not only a matter of respecting civil liberties—it is a vital part of any effective response to the disease.

Public health experts say that measures like mandatory quarantine of people exhibiting no symptoms of Ebola will deter genuinely sick people who fear quarantine from seeking treatment, while also discouraging caregivers and first responders from helping sick patients who need their assistance.

The ACLU recognizes that when a threat to public health becomes serious enough, it may be necessary to infringe on people’s rights, but those infringements should be based on medical necessity, not politics.”

Design by bf5man from openclipart.org

Design by bf5man from openclipart.org

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ACLU Statement on Escondido City Council Vote to Reject Youth Facility https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-statement-escondido-city-council-vote-reject-youth-facility/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-statement-escondido-city-council-vote-reject-youth-facility/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 17:33:34 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11754  

The following statement can be attributed to the San Diego ACLU’s executive director, Norma Chavez-Peterson:

The ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties is extremely disappointed—though not surprised—by last night’s decision by the Escondido City Council.

By refusing to accept the opening of a legal, humane, and safe housing center for immigrant youth, the City Council majority added another link to the chain of civil and human rights violations holding Escondido back from growing into the great city it could become.

Scores of Escondido residents carried signs and spoke in favor of the center, addressing the counterfeit land use arguments point by point, as did our detailed presentation to the City Council. The Planning Commission’s and now the City Council’s rejection of the facility because of alleged “noise, parking, traffic, and security concerns” is disingenuous, unsubstantiated, and, we believe, illegal.  Many of the speakers who opposed the facility cited unfounded fears, not facts substantiated by the evidence.  Rejecting the ACLU’s call to listen to facts and act with compassion, the Council majority buckled to xenophobic fears and turned its back on this country’s core values of fairness, justice, and equal opportunity.

The proposed housing is for children fleeing violence, where they can be safe and secure while they wait to have their day in court.  It is a temporary home while our government follows the laws and guarantees due process. It provides a humanitarian refuge until the children can be reunited with their families or given other appropriate care while an immigration judge has a chance to hear their case. The children report a deep-seated fear of returning to their home countries because of sharp rises in the numbers of murders, rape, violence against women, kidnappings, extortion, gang recruitment, and other conditions fueled by political instability and the growing dominance of local and transnational gangs.

These children deserve to be treated humanely in a safe environment.

And not insignificantly, the proposed facility will help Escondido. Similar facilities have benefited the local economies in Lemon Grove and El Cajon. This one would add more than 100 jobs and millions of dollars in new money into the economy. How many communities would so casually turn down something that has a humanitarian upside and such a strong economic benefit?

The ACLU will not be letting Escondido off the hook and will consider every option on the table, including litigation if necessary.

 

 

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Another Banner Year in Legislation for the ACLU of California! https://www.aclusandiego.org/another-banner-year-legislation-aclu-california/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/another-banner-year-legislation-aclu-california/#comments Wed, 08 Oct 2014 18:17:15 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11690 SACRAMENTO – This was another banner year in Sacramento for the ACLU of California, our coalition partners, and our members! The governor signed 14 of the 19 proposed laws we played a major part in getting to his desk. Although he vetoed legislation that would have protected and advanced civil liberties in our state, the governor also signed into law several critical priority bills of the ACLU of California.

The governor signed historic education, immigration, and racial justice legislation this year that the ACLU of California sponsored with powerful coalitions.

  • AB 420 (Dickinson) will eliminate the most extreme uses of harsh discipline under the category of “willful defiance.”
  • SB 1159 (Lara) will ensure eligible applicants receive professional licenses regardless of their immigration status.
  • SB 1010 (Mitchell) will end the discrepancies between sentencing, probation, and asset forfeiture for two forms of the same drug– powder cocaine and crack cocaine – that have resulted in a pattern of racial disparities in sentencing and incarceration in California.

Governor Brown’s signature on SB 1159 and AB 420 represents a huge step forward for immigrants and for students in California. And his signature on SB 1010 reflects growing political support in California to do what’s right and finally end racially unjust drug war policies.

The enactment of these and other laws places our state at the front of the pack. We are leading meaningful advancements in civil liberties, just as other states turn in the opposition direction. Other key pieces of legislation sponsored or co-sponsored by the ACLU of California include:

  • SB 1111 (Lara) will require basic due-process protections for students transferring to and from alternative schools known as community day schools.
  • SB 1135 (Jackson) will put an end to the involuntary sterilization of women in California prisons, after a report found unlawful sterilizations were still occurring in California.
  • AB 1522 (Gonzalez) made California only the second state in the nation to pass a mandatory paid sick leave law. We would have been more excited about this victory had the bill not been slashed in the last few days of session to exclude in-home support services workers. Paid sick leave is essential to ensure equal access to healthcare and we will continue to work with our partners to assure that all Californians are entitled to it.

As California led in 2014, we also fell far behind in some areas. The Governor vetoed AB 1327 (Gorell), which would have required police to get a warrant before using a drone to spy on someone. Another painful veto was  SB 1365 (Padilla), which would have extend the California Voting Rights Act of 2011 to single-member district systems in order to guarantee that all Californians can exercise their fundamental right to vote.

All told, the ACLU of California took a position on 142 distinct bills this year. Fourteen of our priority bills were signed and numerous other bills made significant progress in the legislature before ultimately failing. With the help of our coalition partners and our members, we look to next year and the possibility to create more headlines which name California as the national leader advancing our civil liberties.

For a listing of all the legislation we followed this year, click here.

 

 

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ACLU of California Commends Gov. Brown for Unaccompanied Migrant Children Bill https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-california-commends-gov-brown-unaccompanied-migrant-children-bill/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-california-commends-gov-brown-unaccompanied-migrant-children-bill/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 22:00:24 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11678 SACRAMENTO — On Sunday, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 873, a bill which will set aside $3 million to provide legal aid to refugee children fleeing endemic violence in their home countries. In response, the ACLU of California issued the following statement:

“While the ACLU of California applauds California lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown for taking important steps to ensure that some children aren’t forced to go unrepresented in immigration court, ultimately state efforts can only go so far: a comprehensive solution must come from the federal government.

The Obama administration must step forward and do what is right: provide legal representation to all children facing deportation. Leaving children defenseless in immigration court falls short of due process and betrays our core values as a nation.”

The majority of children in immigration court do not have legal representation and are navigating our country’s complex immigration system alone. Many of them are entitled to protection under our law and would be granted relief if given a fair hearing with representation.

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“For far too many years, we have had to watch harsh penalties applied disproportionately to Black and Brown urban communities,” said Susan Burton of A New Way of Life, who spent many years in prison herself for this offense. “This law is a beginning to fairer sentencing policies in California.”

“California is finally moving to the right side of history on this issue,” said Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, senior policy advocate with the ACLU of California. “By signing the California Fair Sentencing Act today, Gov. Brown has chosen a more equitable criminal justice system over failed, racially unjust drug war policies.”

Crack and powder cocaine are two forms of the same drug. Scientific reports, including a major study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, demonstrate that they have nearly identical effects on the human body. Crack cocaine is a product derived when cocaine powder is processed with an alkali, typically common baking soda. Gram for gram, there is less active drug in crack cocaine than in powder cocaine.

People of color account for over 98 percent of persons sent to California prisons for possession of crack cocaine for sale.  From 2005 to 2010, Blacks accounted for 77.4 percent of state prison commitments for crack possession for sale, Latinos accounted for 18.1 percent. Whites accounted for less than 2 percent of all those sent to California prisons in that five year period. Blacks make up 6.6 percent of the population in California; Latinos 38.2 percent, and Whites 39.4 percent.

California is one of 13 states that have maintained sentencing disparities between crack and powder cocaine offenses. The others are Alabama, Arizona, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Vermont, and Virginia.

SB 1010 is cosponsored by a dozen civil rights and criminal justice reform organizations across the state: the Drug Policy Alliance, ACLU of California, A New Way of Life, California State Conference of the NAACP, Californians for Safety and Justice, California Public Defenders Association, California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, Courage Campaign, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Friends Committee on Legislation-California, National Council for La Raza, and the William C. Velasquez Institute. The California Fair Sentencing Act garnered over 100 letters of support from across the state and the nation. Significantly, SB 1010 received support from four sitting district attorneys, Los Angeles DA Jackie Lacey, Santa Clara DA Jeff Rosen, San Francisco DA George Gascón and Santa Barbara DA Joyce Dudley.

Coalition member quotes:

“The passage of SB 1010 moves California in the right direction by decreasing sentencing inequalities that have plagued communities of color for decades,” said Zachary Norris, Executive Director, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. “We are thrilled at this outcome and will continue our efforts to end mass incarceration by shifting resources away from punishment into real solutions.”

“We applaud Governor Brown for supporting and signing SB1010, a historic reform that will help end the ridiculous, racist sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine, which unfairly punishes people of color more harshly than white people for using the same drug, and saving millions of taxpayer dollars in the process,” said Dr. Paul Song, executive chairman of the California-based Courage Campaign. “California’s prisons are broken, unconstitutionally overcrowded, and disproportionately filled by people of color serving sentences for nonviolent drug possession. Solutions like SB1010 are an important step towards a smarter, more humane, and cost-effective justice system in California. We call on Gov. Brown to continue this forward thinking and announce his support for Proposition 47, which would further help California reform its often-misguided sentencing laws.”

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Sign of the Times: Free Speech is Still a Thing https://www.aclusandiego.org/sign-times-free-speech-still-thing/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/sign-times-free-speech-still-thing/#comments Tue, 23 Sep 2014 23:57:19 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11651  

SAN DIEGO – Citing viewpoint discrimination as “an egregious form of content discrimination,” the San Diego ACLU called on the Encinitas City Council to stop enforcing and amend an unconstitutional ordinance that restricts the right to post political signs on private property. By exempting religious symbols and governmental flags but not political signs, the ordinance discriminates based on the content or viewpoint of the message expressed—a core First Amendment violation. The ordinance also violates residents’ right to engage in political speech—which is afforded the highest degree of First Amendment protection—by excessively curtailing how many campaign signs can be posted and for how long.

“When the government regulates what viewpoints people can express and when, we’re getting deep into Orwellian territory, no matter how benign the intent,” said David Loy, legal director of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. “The city has no right to favor some kinds of speech but not others. The First Amendment means nothing if it does not protect an open exchange of ideas, whether on our front lawns or in our public squares.”

By favoring “government flags” over all other flags and signs, the city is unconstitutionally differentiating between speech based on its content. And by allowing an unlimited number of religious symbols of any size, but restricting the number and size of nonreligious signs, the ordinance favors religious over nonreligious speech, regardless of the purpose for doing so. The First Amendment’s Establishment Clause compels the government to seek neutrality towards religion—neither favoring one religion over another nor those who have a religious viewpoint over nonadherents. The ACLU calls on the city to revise its sign ordinance to make sure that its regulations neither favor nor inhibit religious speech.

Another constitutional concern is the ordinance’s time-based and numerical restrictions on political signs, restricting displays to only the thirty days before an election  and three days afterward, and for the remainder of the year allowing only two temporary signs, political or otherwise. The Supreme Court has endorsed residential signs as “a venerable means of communication that is both unique and important,” and courts have consistently found these kinds of restrictions to be unconstitutional.

“We look forward to the day when city officials will be championing the public’s role in creating a diverse marketplace of ideas,” said Loy. “This is well-established law, and we are long past the point where a city should be wasting time and money to restrict free speech.” In the ACLU’s demand letter to the city council, Loy respectfully requested an immediate end to enforcement of the ordinance and commencement of the process to amend it as necessary to comply with the First Amendment. “As in every case, I hope to resolve this matter without litigation, but I am prepared to litigate whenever necessary to defend the First Amendment,” Loy said in the letter.

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ACLU statement: San Diego Unified to Return MRAP https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-statement-san-diego-unified-return-mrap/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-statement-san-diego-unified-return-mrap/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2014 18:58:31 +0000 http://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11631  

SAN DIEGO – The ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties congratulates San Diego Unified School District for announcing it will return the mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle (or MRAP) it had obtained earlier this year from the Department of Defense through Program 1033. MRAPs belong on the battlefield, not a place of learning.

Policing across the United States has become excessively militarized, mainly through federal programs that create incentives for state and local police to use unnecessarily aggressive weapons and tactics designed for the battlefield. San Diego County police agencies have taken receipt of a significant amount of military equipment from the Department of Defense in just the last several years.

In addition to the MRAP obtained by San Diego Unified Schools Police, the Sheriff’s Department took possession of 9 M-14 rifles, and the San Diego Police Department received 75 M-16 assault rifles. These transfers of military equipment to local police agencies have happened with almost no public oversight.

Excessive militarization damages communities, escalates the risk of violence, and erodes public trust in law enforcement. The risks of militarizing school police are even greater. We need to end the use of paramilitary tactics and equipment to conduct domestic policing and commit to demilitarizing our schools.

For more on the militarization of policing in the U.S., see the ACLU report War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing

For your entertainment, hear the Colbert Report’s take on the tank.

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California Voting Rights Resources https://www.aclusandiego.org/voting-rights-resources/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/voting-rights-resources/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2014 17:58:21 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10690 letmevote_logo2

 

ELECTION 2014 MATERIALS! 

VOTING WITH A CRIMINAL CONVICTION 

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Voter Registration Opportunities at Covered California https://www.aclusandiego.org/upcoming-webinar-voter-registration-opportunities-covered-california/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/upcoming-webinar-voter-registration-opportunities-covered-california/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 05:43:33 +0000 http://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11642

After the threat of litigation the ACLU, Demos, and Project Vote reached an historic settlement agreement with the Secretary of State and Covered California that requires Covered California to provide voter registration to every health benefits applicant. California is the first state in the nation to maximize this historic opportunity to register historically disenfranchised individuals across the state.

Millions of Californians will be applying for, or renewing their health benefits with Covered California this fall. Each consumer will be offered the chance to register to vote whether they apply in-person with an enrollment counselor or insurance agent, or by phone, internet, or mail. The ACLU of California and the Western Center on Law hosted a webinar learn more about the second open enrollment period at Covered California and this historic opportunity to register Californians to vote.

Watch the webinar below or download the presentation slides here.

Additional Resources:

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ACLU Celebrates Constitution Day throughout San Diego County https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-celebrates-constitution-day-throughout-san-diego-county/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-celebrates-constitution-day-throughout-san-diego-county/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 14:53:17 +0000 http://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11626 San Diego – September 17, Constitution Day 2014 is a national holiday celebrated by all school children across the country, with a particularly organized and vibrant program here in San Diego. Today, 470 U.S. history and American government classes in the county will celebrate our nation’s Constitution and Bill of Rights with presentations by scores of volunteer attorneys and civic leaders coordinated by the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties.

In its eighth year, the ACLU’s Constitutional Civics Program this year will reach 17,000 students in 48 schools. Scores of volunteer attorneys and business leaders will present the fundamentals of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights in a coordinated program to highlight the brilliance, complexity and wisdom of our foundational documents.

Speakers this year include an eclectic mix of perspectives and experiences:

  • Deputy Mayor Olga Diaz, Escondido City Council
  • City Attorney Morgan Foley, City of El Cajon, City of Poway
  • President Todd Gloria, San Diego City Council
  • Lieutenant Neal Griffin, Escondido Police Department
  • Representative Scott Peters, Member of Congress, 52nd District
  • Councilmember Amanda Rigby, Vista City Council
  • Deputy Mayor Lisa Shaffer, Encinitas City Council
  • Current and retired federal magistrate judges for the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of  California
  • Prosecutors from offices of the U.S. Attorney, the California Attorney General, and the San Diego District Attorney
  • Defense attorneys from offices of the Public Defender and Federal Defenders and the California Innocence Project
  • Judge Advocates General from the U.S. Marine Corps and Navy
  • Law professors
  • Attorneys from the city’s top law firms, including our Constitution Day sponsoring firms: Cooley LLP and the McKenna Long & Aldridge Foundation
  • Attorneys and business leaders from Callaway Golf, Qualcomm, Sony, and State Farm

“With constitutional issues being raised in our nation and community on almost a daily basis, Constitution Day presents a unique opportunity to engage students in a discussion of this great and remarkable historic document and inspire their respect for the Constitution and Bill of Rights,” said the Honorable H. Lee Sarokin, retired from the U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit in an invitation to schools to join the program.

On Constitution Day, September 17 (and the days surrounding), lawyers and civic leaders across the county volunteer their time to give multimedia, interactive, nonpartisan presentations to middle and high school students.

The San Diego ACLU developed its program in response to a 2004 congressional mandate that all schools receiving federal funds provide educational programming on the Constitution on September 17, the date the document was signed in 1787.

The ACLU hopes the program will staunch the trend revealed by numerous surveys that young people have a dismally low level of knowledge about the U.S. government and our fundamental rights and freedoms.  Studies also show, however, that, when teachers and parents emphasize the importance of civic participation and discuss current events, twice as many students profess interest in politics.

A distinguished panel of judges, law firm partners and community leaders advises and supports the ACLU’s Constitution Day activities.  The Honorable H. Lee Sarokin (Ret.), U.S. Court of Appeals, 3rd District, chairs the Constitution Day Council, and the Honorable James Stiven (Ret.), U.S. District Court, Southern District of California serves as program chair.  Law firm sponsors for Constitution Day 2014 are Cooley LLP and the McKenna Long & Aldridge Foundation.

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Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez presents at King-Chavez Community High School in 2013.

 

 

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Support for California’s Death Penalty Is in Rapid Decline https://www.aclusandiego.org/support-californias-death-penalty-rapid-decline/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/support-californias-death-penalty-rapid-decline/#comments Fri, 12 Sep 2014 17:49:36 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11616  

By Gil Garcetti 

Support for the death penalty in California is at the lowest point in half a century. And not only that – a new Field poll shows that this level of support is falling rapidly.

In 2011, support for the death penalty was at 68%. Yet in just 3 years it has tumbled by 13% to a just a small majority. What’s even more striking is that support has fallen as much in the last 3 years as it has in the last 30. And when you consider that people generally favor alternatives to executions—such as life in prison without the possibility of parole, where inmates have to work and pay restitution to victims’ families—even those who might support the death penalty in principle are turning away from it in practice.

The tide is turning and today’s news offers more proof that Californians are quickly moving in the right direction on this issue. In fact, I am one of those very Californians.

As the former District Attorney of Los Angeles County, a county that sends more people to death row than the entire state of Texas, I know that the death penalty is deeply emotional, highly divisive, and very political. However, both sides of the death penalty debate can agree on one thing: California’s death penalty system is broken beyond repair.

In my 32 years with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office, including eight years as the county’s elected District Attorney, I prosecuted the most egregious murder cases to the fullest. I sent many people to death row, believing that I had served the people of Los Angeles—that I had sought justice.

Fast forward to present day—nearly 15 years later—I view the death penalty in a different light. I know that the death penalty is a costly charade that doesn’t make us any safer or deter crime. What’s more, it will always carry with it one fatal risk: executing an innocent person.

The writing is on the wall: the death penalty is quickly losing support among Californians and it is high time we replace it. We can’t go on with a system that is riddled with insurmountable practical and legal problems and fails to deliver on the promise of swift justice.

The only workable solution is to replace it with life in prison without the possibility of parole. That’s justice that works for everyone.

Gil Garcetti

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An Important First Step in Fixing School Discipline in California https://www.aclusandiego.org/important-first-step-fixing-school-discipline-california/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/important-first-step-fixing-school-discipline-california/#comments Tue, 02 Sep 2014 21:30:56 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11604

This video contains all-too common stories in California: young students, even kindergartners, kicked out of school for minor incidents, conduct labeled “willful defiance.”

Hearing these students tell their stories is jarring, particularly when students who are suspended are twice as likely to drop out of school and given the well-known racial disparities in suspension rates.  When we start kicking kids out of school this young, we set them up for failure and build inequality into our system.

One of the ACLU of California’s priority bills – AB 420, authored by Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento – represents an important first step in rationalizing school discipline policies in California and building safe, supportive school climates.

AB 420 passed the legislature with overwhelming support earlier this month and is now headed to Gov. Jerry Brown for a signature.  The bill will prohibit expulsions (between 500 and 600 each year) and suspensions in grades K-3 (around 10,000 each year) for the vague infraction of “willful defiance,” which can include something as minor as missing a homework assignment.

The bill requires reauthorization in three years, which will allow us and our coalition partners to push for additional grades based on the experience under the current provisions.  We will use that window of time to ensure effective implementation and to continue educating Gov. Brown, the legislature, teachers, district leaders, and other stakeholders about the harmful impacts of harsh, exclusionary disciplinary policies at all grades and the availability of effective alternatives.

We are hopeful that Gov. Brown will sign the bill into law.  But this is only a first step.  Much more work is necessary to curb rampant use of this subjective offense, which disproportionately affects students of color, LGBTQ students, and students with disabilities across grades.  We look forward to returning to the legislature when the bill is up for renewal to push for broader reform.

David Sapp is a Staff Attorney with the ACLU of Southern California. 

AB420

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ACLU Achieves Class Action Lawsuit Settlement That Ends Deceitful Immigration Practices https://www.aclusandiego.org/voluntary-return/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/voluntary-return/#comments Wed, 27 Aug 2014 09:58:43 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11581  

* * * * *

IMPORTANT UPDATE –  August 28, 2014

On August 28, 2014, the federal court granted the plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary approval of the class-wide portion of the settlement.  There will now be a 120 day notice period, during which time a third-party will perform undertake a number of measures to inform potential class members of the settlement agreement.  A hearing on final approval of the settlement is set for February 9, 2015 at 8:30 a.m.

* * * * *

August 27, 2014

SAN DIEGO — The American Civil Liberties Union and Cooley LLP today announced an historic settlement in a class action lawsuit, Lopez-Venegas v. Johnson, that alleged deceptive and coercive practices by immigration enforcement officers. Significant reforms to the process known as “voluntary departure” are in effect immediately, including major revisions to the information immigration officers must disclose to people choosing between voluntary departure and a hearing before an immigration judge. The settlement also includes class provisions that, if approved by the court, would allow certain Mexican nationals who have been expelled from Southern California pursuant to flawed voluntary departure procedures over the last several years to seek to reunite with their families here.

Leer este artículo en español.

The settlement relates to a lawsuit filed in June 2013 in which nine Mexican nationals and three organizations that work with immigrants challenged deceptive tactics used by Border Patrol agents and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers to convince the plaintiffs to sign their own expulsion orders. All of the plaintiffs would have had strong claims to remain in the United States had they gone before an immigration judge instead of being pressured to choose voluntary departure.

“This is a substantial reform of how Border Patrol and ICE do business,” said Sean Riordan, senior staff attorney for the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. “If the agencies implement the agreement fully, never again should families be driven apart based on immigration enforcement practices that rely upon misinformation, deception, and coercion.” 

The complaint in Lopez-Venegas v. Johnson alleged that as a matter of regular practice, Border Patrol agents and ICE officers pressure undocumented immigrants to sign what amounts to their own summary expulsion documents. The procedure is formally known as “administrative voluntary departure,” but is often referred to as “voluntary return,” and has been used to summarily expel hundreds of thousands of non-citizens from Southern California in recent years. Because of the coercive and deceptive tactics immigration officers employ, it regularly results in the involuntary waiver of core due process rights. An individual who signs for voluntary departure forfeits his or her right to a hearing before an immigration judge and is usually expelled to Mexico within a matter of hours. The class action portion of the lawsuit (and settlement) addresses the limited number of persons who were given voluntary departure but would have had strong claims to stay in the United States if they had gone before an immigration judge.

“The United States derives its core strength from embracing the notions of fairness and due process under our Constitution,” said Darcie Tilly, an associate in Cooley LLP’s San Diego office who worked on the project with the ACLU. “We are heartened that this lawsuit should lead to the cessation of these forced ‘voluntary departures,’ the improvement of our critical border patrol policies and practices, and if approved by the court, a procedure for the reunification of aggrieved individuals with their families.”

If ultimately approved by the court, the settlement will provide potentially hundreds or thousands of people who meet the class requirement the opportunity to reunite with family members that they were torn apart from by voluntary departure.

The settlement will also impose key changes to how immigration enforcement agencies handle AVD procedures, including:

  • Requiring immigration enforcement agencies to give detailed information—in writing and orally—about what it really means to take AVD to anyone forced to choose between AVD and a hearing before an immigration judge.
  • Requiring immigration enforcement agencies to maintain a 1-800 hotline that gives information about an individual’s rights regarding AVD and the consequences of taking AVD.
  • Prohibiting immigration enforcement agencies from “pre-checking” the box selecting AVD on the forms the agencies provide to immigrants.
  • Requiring immigration enforcement agencies to allow people to use a phone, provide them with a list of legal service providers, and allow them two hours to reach someone before deciding whether or not to take AVD.
  • Requiring immigration enforcement agencies to give lawyers meaningful access to their clients who are detained by BP or ICE.
  • Preventing immigration enforcement agencies from relying on pressure or other coercion to convince someone to accept voluntary departure.
  • Requiring immigration enforcement agencies to allow ACLU attorneys to monitor compliance and ensure transparency and accountability for three years.

The class action lawsuit was filed by the ACLU Foundation of San Diego & Imperial Counties, the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, and Cooley LLP on behalf of the aforementioned plaintiffs, none of whom has a serious or violent criminal background and many of whom were approached by immigration officers while doing routine daily activities, such as waiting for a bus. All of these individuals have close family members in the United States and could have obtained relief against removal from an immigration judge or under Department of Homeland Security programs, but immigration officers affirmatively misstated the consequences of voluntary departure and pressured them to sign their own expulsion documents.

The lawsuit is also filed on behalf of three organizational plaintiffs: the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), the Pomona Economic Opportunity Center, and the San Bernardino Community Service Center, which have been forced to divert their scarce resources in response to these unlawful practices.

The class action portions of the settlement must now go through an approval process before the court. The plaintiffs filed a motion for preliminary approval of the class claims on August 18, 2014. A preliminary approval hearing is set in federal court in Los Angeles on September 8, 2014. If the court grants preliminary approval, there will likely be a final approval hearing in early 2015.

If the court grants final approval of the settlement, class members who meet the settlement’s criteria—Mexican nationals who signed administrative voluntary departure forms between June 1, 2009 and August 18, 2014 in the San Diego Border Patrol sector and the San Diego and Los Angeles ICE field office areas, and would have qualified for certain forms of relief from removal—will be able to apply to be a class member and seek to return to their families.

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ACLU Sues U.S. Government over Life-Threatening Deportation Processes https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-sues-u-s-government-life-threatening-deportation-processes/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-sues-u-s-government-life-threatening-deportation-processes/#comments Fri, 22 Aug 2014 17:36:16 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11574

WASHINGTON — The American Civil Liberties Union, American Immigration Council, National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, and National Immigration Law Center today sued the federal government to challenge its policies denying a fair deportation process to mothers and children who have fled extreme violence, death threats, rape, and persecution in Central America and come to the United States seeking safety.

The groups filed the case on behalf of mothers and children locked up at an isolated detention center in Artesia, New Mexico — hours from the nearest major metropolitan area. The complaint charges the Obama administration with enacting a new strong-arm policy to ensure rapid deportations by holding these mothers and their children to a nearly insurmountable and erroneous standard to prove their asylum claims, and by placing countless hurdles in front of them.

“These mothers and their children have sought refuge in the United States after fleeing for their lives from threats of death and violence in their home countries,” said Cecillia Wang, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. “U.S. law guarantees them a fair opportunity to seek asylum. Yet, the government’s policy violates that basic law and core American values — we do not send people who are seeking asylum back into harm’s way. We should not sacrifice fairness for speed in life-or-death situations.”

According to the complaint, the Obama administration is violating long-established constitutional and statutory law by enacting policies that have:

  • Categorically prejudged asylum cases with a “detain-and-deport” policy, regardless of individual circumstances.
  • Drastically restricted communication with the outside world for the women and children held at the remote detention center, including communication with attorneys. If women got to make phone calls at all, they were cut off after three minutes when consulting with their attorneys. This makes it impossible to prepare for a hearing or get legal help.
  • Given virtually no notice to detainees of critically important interviews used to determine the outcome of asylum requests. Mothers have no time to prepare, are rushed through their interviews, are cut off by officials throughout the process, and are forced to answer traumatic questions, including detailing instances of rape, while their children are listening.
  • Led to the intimidation and coercion of the women and children by immigration officers, including being screamed at for wanting to see a lawyer.

“Fast-tracking the deportations of women and children from immigration detention is an assault on due process. There is no way that justice can be served when so many people are being rushed through the system without any real opportunity to assert claims for relief. What we are seeing in Artesia is nothing less than a sham process that values expediency over justice,” said Melissa Crow, legal director of the American Immigration Council.

The plaintiffs include:

  • A Honduran mother who fled repeated death threats in her home country to seek asylum in the United States with her two young children. The children’s father was killed by a violent gang that then sent the mother and her children continuous death threats.When she went to the police they told her that they could not do anything to help her. It is common knowledge where she lived that the police are afraid of the gang and will do nothing to stop it.
  • A mother who fled El Salvador with her two children because of threats by the gang that controls the area where they lived. The gang stalked her 12-year-old child every time he left the house and threatened kidnapping. She fears that if the family returns to El Salvador, the gang will kill her son. Some police officers are known to be corrupt and influenced by gangs. The mother says she knows of people who have been killed by gang members after reporting them to police.
  • A mother who fled El Salvador with her 10-month old son after rival gangs threatened to kill her and her baby. One gang tried to force the mother to become an informant on the activities of another gang, and when she refused, told her she had 48 hours to leave or be killed.

“The women and children detained in Artesia have endured brutal murders of loved ones, rapes, death threats, and similar atrocities that no mother or child ever should have to endure, and our government is herding them through the asylum process like cattle,” said Trina Realmuto, an attorney at the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild. “The deportation-mill in Artesia lacks even the most basic protections, like notice and the opportunity to be heard, that form the cornerstone of due process in this country.”

The lawsuit, M.S.P.C. v. Johnson, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Co-counsel in this case includes the law firms of Jenner & Block, and Van Der Hout, Brigagliano & Nightingale, LLP; and the ACLU of New Mexico, ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties, and ACLU of the Nation’s Capital.

“Any mother will do whatever it takes to make sure her children are safe from harm’s way,” said Karen Tumlin, managing attorney for the National Immigration Law Center. “Our plaintiffs are no different: they have fled their homes to protect their children, only to find that the U.S. deportation system is intent upon placing them back in the dangerous situations they left. We are filing this lawsuit today to ensure that each mother is able to have her fair day in court, and that we are not sending children and their mothers back to violence or their deaths.

More information about this case is available at: https://www.aclu.org/immigrants-rights/mspc-v-johnson

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Escondido City Council to Consider Housing for Immigrant Children https://www.aclusandiego.org/escokids/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/escokids/#comments Tue, 19 Aug 2014 16:12:22 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11569  

This summer, the Escondido Planning Commission denied a Conditional Use Permit to provide housing for unaccompanied immigrant children. The ACLU is concerned that the City is undermining the rights of immigrants and violating the law.

The ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties appealed the Commission’s decision to the Escondido City Council, which will consider the appeal on Sept. 10, 2014. Learn more about the Escondido Planning Commission’s flawed decision here.

The Escondido City Council needs to hear from city residents and others who frequently visit. We believe the Council needs to understand three main points:

  1. The Planning Commission’s decision is not supported by the facts.
  2. The proposed facility will be a benefit to the local economy, and Escondido residents support it.
  3. On top of these practical, factual concerns, the people of Escondido are compassionate and believe that children fleeing to escape violence should have a safe haven while waiting to have a judge determine what’s best for them.

It will help the Escondido City Council members to hear directly from you. A more detailed examination of the arguments can be found here. But you can use these land use arguments as a starting point:

  • The impact of the housing would be virtually identical to the nursing home that operated on the site for 30+ years. Staffing and occupant numbers would be similar.
  • Issues of parking, traffic, and noise are bogus. They were based on fear, not fact. The immigrant youth housing would have no negative impact on the community.
  • The facility would add 100+ jobs and $8.5 million to the local economy.
  • An abandoned, neglected building isn’t good for Escondido.

You can send emails to each of the councilmembers at:

or send a letter to:

[Name of Councilmember]
Escondido City Council
201 North Broadway
Escondido, CA 92025

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ACLU Celebrates the Constitution and Bill of Rights! Constitution Day 2014 https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclus-constitution-day-2013/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclus-constitution-day-2013/#comments Wed, 13 Aug 2014 08:20:28 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10104  

September 17th is Constitution Day! On September 17, 1787, the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention held their final meeting. Only one item of business occupied the agenda that day: to sign the Constitution of the United States of America.

Ten years ago, Congress established September 17th as a federal holiday to recognize the signing of the United States Constitution in 1787.

The ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties celebrates the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights every day, but is especially pleased to place focus on these essential foundational documents of our democracy on Constitution Day.

For Teachers and Educators

The ACLU, in conjunction with attorneys from public and private sectors, invites educators to participate in our “Celebrate the Constitution” program on Tuesday, September 17th.

Scores of San Diego and Imperial attorneys will be volunteering on that day (and throughout the week) to engage students in a rich, interactive, multimedia dialogue on constitutional principles and interpretation, and on American law, from both historical and contemporary perspectives.

The session can run in any block of time to meet your school’s schedule -anywhere from 20 minutes to a full block period. The volunteer attorneys can make several presentations at your school on that day or speak to assemblies if that better meets your school’s needs. Also, attorneys can present to classes on other days in the vicinity of Sept. 17, to accommodate block schedules or competing programs.

The attorneys bring nonpartisan brochures on the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and on contemporary court interpretations of our rights and laws, with special emphasis on cases that engage and appeal to middle and high school students. A PowerPoint presentation and a student-created DVD are also available. Teachers are provided with a detailed document addressing the history and social science content standards that are met with this presentation.

Demand increases every year. This will be our 8th year coordinating speakers! Last year, attorneys from the offices of the U.S. Attorney, District Attorney, Public Defender, Federal Defender,and private law firms, including 2014 sponsors Cooley LLP, DLA Piper, Fish & Richardson, McKenna Long & Aldridge Foundation and Sheppard Mullin, and attorneys from the city’s largest firms, including Jones Day, Morrison & Foerster, Procopio Cory,  and Solomon Ward presented in more than 450 classrooms to more than 16,000 students!

Schedule a speaker for your classroom or school 
while they are still available! 
Send us an email with your contact info
!

We offer this program to help you provide mandatory instruction on the Constitution on September 17th. Congress mandated that all publicly-funded educational institutions must provide educational programming on the history of the American Constitution on that day. The United States Department of Education declared that any school that receives federal funding of any kind must conduct lessons on the Constitution on that day.

To guarantee that we will be able to match an attorney to your school’s schedule, please request a speaker by Friday, August 22nd. We typically, however, have been able to accommodate requests submitted before the last Friday in August.

To learn more or to schedule a speaker for your classroom or school while they are still available,send us an email with your contact info!

For Attorneys

If you are an attorney and would like to volunteer your services, please contact us today! Just provide us with your name, mailing address, daytime phone and email so we can be in touch with you. Also, if you have any date or geographic constraints that would help us in the scheduling, please let us know that too.

We’ll be offering two optional speaker training sessions to review Con Law and interesting cases that will help engage the students in the interactive dialogue we are all seeking. We have lots of background material on the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and landmark Supreme Court cases, but all attorneys are welcome to develop their own curriculum–as long as it will get the kids talking and thinking! [A Saturday date and a weekday evening date are to be determined…they will be posted here soon!]

For Parents

If you are a parent and would like to know more about the program or would like us to contact a school or teacher, please email us or call 619.232.2121, ext. 260.

Constitution Day Council

A distinguished panel comprising judges, law firm partners and community leaders advises and supports the ACLU’s Constitution Day activities. If your firm would like to participate on this level,please email us or call 619.232.2121, ext. 260.

Constitution Day Council:
The Honorable H. Lee Sarokin, Retired, U.S. Court of Appeals, 3rd District, Constitution Day Council Chair
The Honorable James Stiven, Retired, U.S. District Court, Southern District of California, Program Chair

Founding Members
Mark Danis, Morrison & Foerster LLP
Eric Isaacson, Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP
Anthony Stiegler, Cooley LLP
and
Past Presidents of the San Diego County Bar Association:
– Candace Carroll, Sullivan Hill Lewin Rez & Engel
– Todd Stevens, Keeney, Waite & Stevens

and 2014 Lead Sponsors
CooleyLLP logo_RGB

 

 

MLAFoundationlogo

 

 

 

 

 

List of Participating Legal Organizations 

American Bar Association Immigration Justice Project
Andersen Mann Hilbert & Parker
Appellate Defenders, Inc.
Office of the Attorney General – California
California Innocence Project
California Western School of Law
Cooley LLP
Consumer Law Group
Crowley Law Group
Office of the San Diego District Attorney
DLA Piper
Federal Defenders of San Diego, Inc.
Fish & Richardson
Fisher & Phillips
Morgan Foley, City Attorney, City of El Cajon
Higgs, Fletcher & Mack
Jones Day
Joseph Mediations
Kohn Law Office
Latham & Watkins
Laughlin Falbo Levi & Moresi
Law Office of Adam Van Susteren
Law Office of Alex Landon
Law Offices of Eric Morton
Law Offices of Gerald Blank
Law Office of Isaac Blumberg
Law Office of Jennifer L. Coon
Law Office of Jonathan L. Willis
Law Offices of Lance Rogers
Law Office of Lilia S. Velasquez
Law Office of Rebecca P. Jones
Law Office of Stephen D. Lemish
Law Office of Steven Schorr
Law Office of Suzie Mindlin
Legal Aid Society of San Diego
Lincoln Gustafson & Cercos
MacLeod & Catalano
Majors & Fox
McDougal Love Eckis Boehmer Foley & Lough
McKenna Long & Aldridge
Mitchell Gilleon Law Firm
Morrison & Foerster
Multiple Conflicts Office of San Diego County
Neil Dymott
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman
Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch
Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd
Office of the San Diego City Attorney
San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association
Office of the San Diego Public Defender
Seltzer Caplan McMahon Vitek
Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton
Solomon Ward Seidenwurm & Smith
State Bar of California
Sullivan Hill Lewin Rez & Engel
Suppa, Trucchi & Henein
Thomas Jefferson School of Law
Turner Law Group
Office of the United States Attorney, Southern District of California
Van Dyke & Associates

and

Calaway Golf Company
Caltrans
Qualcomm
San Diego State University
U.S. Marine Corps, Judge Advocates General’s Corps
U.S. Navy, Judge Advocate General Corps

Constitution Day Resources for Attorneys, Teachers, Students and Parents

http://www.constitutiondaysd.com/

 

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Judge affirms CA’s duty to ensure vital instruction for thousands of English Learner students https://www.aclusandiego.org/judge-affirms-cas-duty-ensure-vital-instruction-thousands-english-learner-students/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/judge-affirms-cas-duty-ensure-vital-instruction-thousands-english-learner-students/#comments Tue, 12 Aug 2014 16:09:43 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11558

Parents, students and a former administrator brought the lawsuit, D.J. et al v. State of California et al, more than 18 months ago against the State of California, the State Board of Education, Superintendent Tom Torlakson and the California Department of Education for failing to ensure that students with a native language other than English receive specialized EL instructional services. Such instruction enables English learners to overcome language barriers so they can access core classes like math and science, and greatly increases the likelihood of testing at grade level by middle and high school. Those students who receive no services are among the lowest performing and are more likely to drop out of school.

“State educational officials had created a virtual caste system in which tens of thousands of children—nearly all of whom are U.S. citizens—were denied access to the bond of English language that unites us as Californians,” said Mark Rosenbaum, chief counsel of the ACLU Foundation of Southern California (ACLU SoCal). “Today marks an important civil rights leap forward for all students and all residents of the state.”

The civil rights groups’ legal challenge was bolstered by a brief filed by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division in mid-July stating that the state does not have discretion to ignore information provided by school districts that shows that they do not serve their EL students. The state has “the duty, the data, and the tools” to meet its responsibility under federal law, the brief noted, adding that “California’s (EL) students cannot afford to wait any longer.” The state, belying all the data, had argued in court filings that reports of the denial of English learner instruction are not reliable.

“Education is a basic civil right in California,” said Robert D. Crockett, a partner at Latham & Watkins. “Because of today’s ruling, each young student in California who has yet to master English as a spoken language will have an equal opportunity to understand the entire school curriculum.  This is a victory for parents and students.”

More than 1.4 million children—a quarter of all California’s public school students—are designated as English learners. They are more likely to be children of color and/or economically disadvantaged. More than 20,000 English learner students receive no English instruction of any kind. Targeted English learner instruction is essential to ensuring that students who are not proficient in English can succeed in mainstream classroom settings.

“More than 100,000 students of Asian origin are English learners, and Asian languages account for 80 percent of the top five home languages used by ELs,” said Nicole Ochi, staff attorney of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles. “Today’s ruling means that these students—and all English learners—must be given the necessary tools to succeed in the classroom. They will be better prepared and equipped to contribute to California as part of its skilled, educated workforce and economy.”

“California was a national leader in K-12 education, but we’ve fallen behind because we’re not preparing students for their futures. This case is about making sure the state delivers the fundamental building blocks of education, and there’s nothing more basic than language,” said Gabriella Barbosa, an equal justice works fellow at Public Counsel. “Failing to educate English learners means too many of our state’s residents will continue to lose ground when they should be participating fully in our economy and our civic life.”

In early 2013, the ACLU of California released a report detailing the widespread failure of more than 250 school districts across the state to provide adequate English instruction to English learner students, with more than 20,000 students identified as receiving no English language instructional services at all. In spite of that report and subsequent attempts urging State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson to address the deficit, the state still has not taken the necessary steps to ensure that districts deliver the services.

More information about D.J. v. State of California can be found here.

students raise hands-crop

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ACLU Appeals Escondido Planning Commission’s Shelter Denial https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-appeals-escondido-planning-commissions-shelter-denial/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-appeals-escondido-planning-commissions-shelter-denial/#comments Fri, 01 Aug 2014 22:09:57 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11548  

*********UPDATE********

October 13, 2014: The San Diego ACLU submitted a packet of materials, including an 11-page memo, outlining its appeal to the Escondido City Council of the city’s Planning Commission decision denying a conditional use permit to operate immigrant youth housing. The City Council will consider the appeal at its October 15, 2014 meeting.

**************************

ESCONDIDO – In a detailed analysis refuting the Escondido Planning Commission’s purported reasons for denying permission to operate a youth care facility, the San Diego ACLU today formally appealed the commission’s decision to the Escondido City Council.

The ACLU submitted a point-by-point dissection of the commission’s rationale for its 7-0 rejection of Southwest Key’s proposal to operate a 96-bed former skilled nursing facility as a housing center for unaccompanied immigrant children who are waiting to have their legal cases heard before an immigration judge.

[Lea este artículo en español, aquí.]

“The Escondido Planning Commission got it wrong on every count; none of its findings are substantiated by the facts,” said David Loy, legal director of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. “We are appealing its ill-informed decision because when you do consider the specifics, the impact of the proposed facility would be virtually indistinguishable from that of the nursing home which operated on the same site for more than thirty years.”

The ACLU examined numerous arguments made against approving the youth care facility and addressed each one; the key points are included here:

  • Residential character: The proposed facility would have the same number of residents and provide services similar to the previous use. In fact, the neighborhood would be improved by preventing the vacant building from becoming an eyesore due to decay or vandalism.
  • Traffic: The youth shelter would generate less traffic than the previous use, and the Escondido city staff’s report raised no concerns about traffic.
  • Parking: The commission’s general concerns did not address how 53 parking spaces would prove inadequate, or why any concerns could not be addressed through appropriate and reasonable conditions.
  • Security: Since the police department’s statement on the youth facility said there were “[n]o apparent law enforcement concerns at this time,” and requested—and Southwest Key agreed to—only that a 6-foot fence be constructed, there is no plausible basis for the commission’s statement that “the fencing for the site appears inadequate for the anticipated security needs of the proposed facility,” especially given the undisputed fact that only 0.004 percent of approximately 9000 children served by Southwest Key made unauthorized departures in the previous year.
  • Noise: The Escondido city staff’s report raised no concerns about increased noise, and acknowledged that most of the activities would occur indoors; outdoor recreation would take place at nearby parks and schools.
  • Size: The commission inexplicably determined that the proposed facility had “too many people” in “too small a space” but gave no reason to believe that the staff or resident population would be greater than the previous use.  The proposed facility would have no more residents than the nursing home had.

The San Diego ACLU filed the appeal this afternoon on behalf of Southwest Key Programs. The Escondido City Council typically schedules a hearing for such an appeal within 30 days of receiving the request.

The ACLU has been monitoring Escondido closely since 2006, when the city passed a ban on rentals to undocumented immigrants that ACLU and others immediately challenged in court, resulting in the issuance of a temporary restraining order finding that the ban was unconstitutional, followed by a stipulated permanent injunction against enforcement of the ban.

“Because the city has a long history of trampling on the civil and human rights of immigrants in the U.S., and because this proposed shelter would serve unaccompanied immigrant children seeking refuge from increasing violence in their homelands, the ACLU seeks to ensure that the City of Escondido does not continue its history of discrimination by using unlawful pretexts to deny a permit,” said Loy.

Photo of a press conference

San Diego ACLU’s legal director, David Loy, speaking to the press the morning before Escondido’s Planning Commission unanimously rejected the shelter for immigrant children. Photo (c) Rebecca Rauber

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ACLU Apela el Rechazo de un Albergue por el Comité de Planeación y Uso de Suelo de Escondido https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-apelacion-pornegacion-refugio-por-parte-de-la-comision-de-planificacion-de-la-ciudad-de-escondido/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-apelacion-pornegacion-refugio-por-parte-de-la-comision-de-planificacion-de-la-ciudad-de-escondido/#comments Fri, 01 Aug 2014 03:57:44 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11552 ESCONDIDO – En un análisis detallado que refuta las razones usadas para negar el permiso para operar un albergue para niños migrantes en Escondido, el San Diego ACLU apelo hoy formalmente la decisión del Comité de Planeación y Uso de Suelo.

La ACLU presentó una disección punto por punto de las razones usadas por el comité en su 7-0 rechazo de la propuesta de Southwest Key para operar lo que era anteriormente un centro de enfermería especializada de 96-camas como un centro de alojamiento para los menores inmigrantes no acompañados que están esperando a que sus casos legales sean considerados ante un juez de inmigración.

“El Comité de Planeación y Uso de Suelo de Escondido se equivocó en cada cuenta; ninguna de sus conclusiones se basan en los hechos “, dijo David Loy, director legal del ACLU de los Condados de San Diego y Imperial. “Estamos apelando la decisión mal informada porque cuando tomamos en cuenta los aspectos específicos, el impacto de la instalación propuesta sería prácticamente indistinguible de la residencia de ancianos que operaba en el mismo lugar durante más de treinta años.”

La ACLU examinó numerosos argumentos en contra de la aprobación del refugio de los niños migrantes y refuto a cada uno de ellos; los puntos claves se incluyen aquí:

  • Carácter residencial: La instalación propuesta tendría el mismo número de residentes y proporcionaría servicios similares a la utilización anterior. De hecho, el barrio se podría mejorar con el uso del plantel. Vacío es desagradable a la vista debido a la desintegración y suele ser propenso al vandalismo.
  • Tráfico: El albergue juvenil generaría menos tráfico que el uso anterior, y el informe del personal de la ciudad de Escondido no planteo preocupaciones sobre el tráfico.
  • Estacionamiento: Preocupaciones generales del Comité no especificaron como 53 plazas de estacionamiento resultarían inadecuadas, o por qué las preocupaciones no podrían abordarse mediante cambios apropiados y razonables.
  • Seguridad: Porque la declaración del Departamento de Policía dijo que el albergue para niños migrantes no causa “preocupaciones aparentes de la ley en este momento”, y solicitaron que Southwest Key construyera una cerca de 6 pies y Southwest Key estuvo de acuerdo, no hay base razonable para la declaración del Comité que “la cerca para el sitio parece inadecuado para las necesidades de seguridad esperados de la instalación propuesta”, especialmente dado el hecho indiscutible de que sólo 0.004 por ciento de los aproximadamente 9.000 niños atendidos por Southwest Key hizo salida no autorizada en el año anterior.
  • Ruido: El informe del personal de la ciudad de Escondido no planteó preocupaciones sobre el aumento de ruido, y reconoció que la mayor parte de las actividades que se llevarían a cabo estuvieran en el interior; recreación al aire libre, tomaría lugar en parques y escuelas cercanas.
  • Tamaño: El Comité determinó inexplicablemente que la instalación propuesta tendría “demasiada gente” en “un espacio demasiado pequeño”, pero no dio ninguna razón para creer que el personal o la población de alojados serían mayores que el uso anterior. La instalación propuesta no tendría más alojados que el hogar de ancianos tenía.

El San Diego ACLU presentó la apelación esta tarde en nombre de Southwest Key Programs. El Cabildo de la Ciudad de Escondido típicamente programa una audiencia para discutir la decisión dentro de 30 días de haber recibido la solicitud.

La ACLU ha estado monitoreando de cerca a Escondido desde el 2006 cuando la ciudad aprobó una prohibición de alquiler a los inmigrantes indocumentados, una prohibición que ACLU y otros desafiaron inmediatamente en la corte, lo que resulto en la emisión de una orden de restricción temporal al constatar que la prohibición era inconstitucional, seguido de un estipulado orden judicial permanente contra la aplicación de la prohibición.

“Debido a que la ciudad tiene una larga historia de pisotear los derechos civiles y humanos de los inmigrantes en los EE.UU., y debido a que este refugio propuesto será para servir a los niños inmigrantes no acompañados solicitantes de refugio ante la creciente violencia en sus países de origen, la ACLU busca asegurar que la Ciudad de Escondido no continúe su historia de discriminación mediante el uso de pretextos ilegales para negar un permiso”, dijo Loy.

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Madre de Joven Mexicano Asesinado en Frontera Inicia Demanda Encontra Patrulla Fronteriza https://www.aclusandiego.org/madre-de-joven-mexicano-asesinado-en-frontera-inicia-demanda-encontra-patrulla-fronteriza/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/madre-de-joven-mexicano-asesinado-en-frontera-inicia-demanda-encontra-patrulla-fronteriza/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 23:22:39 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11532  

TUCSON – Araceli Rodriguez, la madre del joven asesinado, José Antonio Elena Rodriguez, inició una demanda hoy en la corte federal en Arizona buscando justicia en el caso de su hijo, quien fue asesinado en octubre 2012 por agentes de la patrulla fronteriza del E.E.U.U., identificados en la demanda solamente como personas desconocidas (“John Does,” en inglés). La madre de José Antonio está pidiendo un juicio por jurado para que se presente evidencia en la corte sobre las acciones ilegales de los agentes.

“Los agentes que mataron a mi hijo en este acto de violencia sin sentido siguen libres y tienen que ser obligados a responder por sus acciones,” dijo Araceli Rodriguez, residente de Nogales, Mexico. “El gobierno de los Estados Unidos no ha responsabilizado a estos individuos, y es por esto que yo inicio hoy esta demanda.”

En la noche de octubre 10, 2012, después de jugar básquetbol con sus amigos en su vecindad en Nogales, Mexico, el joven de 16 años estaba caminando solo hácia su hogar cuando fue acribillado a balazos a travéz del muro fronterizo. Diez balas entraron al cuerpo de José Antonio por la espalda. El joven murio en la calle, en un charco de sangre a cuatro cuadras de su casa.

Cuando recibió los tiros, José Antonio caminaba en la Calle Internacional, una via principal que corre parallela al muro fronterizo. Estaba caminando más o menos a 8 metros de un acantilado sobre el cual sigue el muro. En el lugar donde murió el joven, el muro está más de doce metros arriba de la calle. Cuando fue acribillado, José Antonio no presentaba ninguna amenaza a los agentes o a nadie más.

“Desafortunadamente, la muerte de José Antonio no es aislada,” dijo Lee Gelernt, abogado de la ACLU, Proyecto Inmigrante. “La Patrulla Fronteriza está usando un nivel de violencia excesiva y innecesaria encontra de la gente a los dos lados de la frontera. Los agentes continuan violando nuestra Constitución con impunidad.”

Por lo menos 27 personas han muerto desde 2010 como resultado del uso excesivo de la fuerza por agentes de U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), sin embargo, a la agencia le sigue faltando un proceso razonable y transparente para llevar a cabo investigaciones y para responsabilizar  a los agentes por el mal uso de su autoridád, o cuando cometen un delito. La queja de la familia Rodriguez al Departamento de Seguridad Nacional (Department of Homeland Security)  fue rápidamente rechazada y la agencia ha reusado sacar a la luz los nombres de los agentes involucrados en la muerte de José Antonio Elena Rodriguez, lo que es costumbre revelar en casos semejantes.

“Este caso parece ser la única via para que Jose Antonio y su familia encuentren justicia,” dijo Luis Parra, de Nogales, Arizona, abogado de la familia. “Lo que le pasó a José Antonio nunca debe de occurirle a otra persona. Esperamos que este juicio sirva como una advertencia a los agentes que sí serán responsabilizados por sus acciones en asesinatos por arma de fuego a travéz de la frontera.”

Por la muerte injusta de su hijo, Araceli Rodriguez está pidiendo daños y prejuicios.

Además de Gelernt y Parra, la Sra. Rodriguez es representada por los siguientes abogados: Roberto C. Montiel of the Roberto Montiel Law Offices in Nogales, Ariz.; Dan Pochoda and James Lyall, ACLU of Arizona; Andre Segura, Dror Ladin, and Cecillia Wang del ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project; Mitra Ebadolahi del ACLU of San Diego and Border Litigation Project; Arturo Gonzalez and Hector Suarez de Morrison and Foerster LLP.

Para una cópia de la queja Rodriguez v. John Does en inglés, vea aquí.

 

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Mother of Slain Mexican Teen Sues U.S. Border Patrol Agents https://www.aclusandiego.org/mother-slain-mexican-teen-sues-u-s-border-patrol-agents/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/mother-slain-mexican-teen-sues-u-s-border-patrol-agents/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 16:43:02 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11527  

TUCSON – Araceli Rodriguez, the mother of slain Mexican teen Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez, filed a federal lawsuit today in Arizona to pursue justice for her son, who was killed nearly two years ago by U.S. Border Patrol agents, identified only as John Does in the lawsuit. She is demanding a jury hear evidence about the unlawful actions of these unknown agents.

“The U.S. border patrol agents who killed my son in a senseless act of violence are still out there and they need to be brought to justice,” said Araceli Rodriguez, who lives in Nogales, Mexico. “The U.S. government has not held the agents who shot my son accountable and that is why I am bringing this lawsuit.”

[Lea este artículo en español, aquí.]

On the night of Oct. 10, 2012, after playing basketball with friends in his neighborhood of Nogales, Mexico, 16-year-old Jose Antonio was walking home alone when he was shot approximately 10 times through the border fence by unknown Border Patrol agents. Virtually all of the bullets that struck Jose Antonio entered his body from behind. He died on the sidewalk, in a pool of blood, about four blocks from home.

When he was shot, Jose Antonio was walking along Calle Internacional, a main road that runs parallel to the border fence. He was walking on the far side of the street, about 25 feet away from the sheer cliff on which the border fence is built. At the location where Jose Antonio was shot, the top of the fence towers approximately 40-50 feet above the street level. At the time he was shot, Jose Antonio posed no threat to U.S. Border Patrol agents or anyone else.

“Jose Antonio’s death is unfortunately not unique,” said Lee Gelernt, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union Immigrants’ Rights Project. “Border Patrol is using excessive and unnecessary force against people on both sides of the border. Agents continue to violate the Constitution with impunity.”

At least 27 people have died since 2010 as a result of use of force by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents, yet the agency continues to lack a reasonable, transparent process for reviewing agent-caused deaths and holding agents accountable for misusing their authority or breaking the law. Jose Antonio’s family’s formal complaint to CBP and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was summarily quashed and the agency has so far refused to release the names of the agents involved, a customary practice.

“This lawsuit seems to be the only way to find justice for Jose Antonio and his family,” said Luis Parra, an attorney based in Nogales, Ariz. “What happened to Jose Antonio should never be allowed to happen again. We hope this suit will serve as a warning to agents that they will be held accountable for their actions in cross border shootings.”

For her son’s unjustified killing, Araceli Rodriguez is seeking damages, including punitive damages. In addition to Gelernt and Parra, she is represented by Roberto C. Montiel of the Roberto Montiel Law Offices in Nogales, Ariz.; Dan Pochoda and James Lyall of the ACLU of Arizona; Andre Segura, Dror Ladin, and Cecillia Wang of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project; Mitra Ebadolahi of the ACLU of San Diego and Border Litigation Project; and Arturo Gonzalez and Hector Suarez Morrison and Foerster LLP.

Click here for a copy of the complaint filed by today in Rodriguez v. John Does.

Read an account by our Border Litigation Project attorney, Mitra Ebadolahi.

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Grandmother holding portrait of slain boy.

Taide Elena, grandmother of Jose Antonio, at a protest in Nogales. Photo by Josh Morgan, Tucson Weekly.

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ACLU supports an increased minimum wage! https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-supports-increased-minimum-wage/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-supports-increased-minimum-wage/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 16:07:13 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11518  

The San Diego City Council will vote today on formally adopting an ordinance passed earlier this month to raise the city’s minimum wage to $11.50 an hour by 2017.  The Council voted for the increase on July 14, 2014.

The ACLU has long recognized that poverty inevitably results in subjugation of the poor to violations of their civil liberties and civil rights. Poverty and wealth inequality are legacies of discrimination in the past and manifestations of discrimination in the present. The poor are denied due process, the right of privacy, the equal protection of the laws, and other constitutional guarantees far more seriously and far more frequently than the middle class and the wealthy.

The ACLU supports positive governmental action to reduce the ill effects of poverty and thus eliminate or reduce deprivations of civil liberties and civil rights.

An excessively low minimum wage has universal consequences, most notably its lopsided effect on women and people of color, who are disproportionately represented in low-wage jobs due to historical and current patterns of discrimination in education, employment, and housing. With only dismal minimum wage salaries, many people in communities of color continue to be denied fundamental opportunities for social and economic equality.

Nationwide, people of color make up a majority of those living below the poverty level, while the median wealth of white households remains 20 times that of black homes and 18 times that of Latino homes. In large part due to their systemic economic disadvantage, communities of color continue to suffer persistent violations of their civil rights and civil liberties.

A minimum wage that fails to cover even the basic costs of full-time workers and their families is clearly insufficient.

Raising the minimum wage, an effort that could lift thousands of San Diegans out of poverty – especially women and people of color – presents a powerful opportunity for San Diego to take a step toward addressing the systemic inequality of opportunity faced by communities of color and by all communities living in poverty.

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2014 Fall Legal Internship Opportunities https://www.aclusandiego.org/2014-legal-internship-opportunity/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/2014-legal-internship-opportunity/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 14:27:03 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10943 The American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego & Imperial Counties is a non-profit, nonpartisan, public interest organization devoted exclusively to protecting the basic civil liberties of all. The mission of the ACLU is to assure that the protections of the Bill of Rights are preserved and expanded. The ACLU is widely recognized as the nation’s premier defender of individual rights and fundamental freedoms.

Currently, we are seeking two legal interns.

2014 Bilingual Spanish-English Legal Intern

Position Description:  Part-time fall position(s). Minimum 10 to 15 hours per week. Duties will include interviewing individuals, observing proceedings, and writing reports in order to assist ACLU attorneys monitor the implementation of a judgment and/or settlement agreement in one or more class action cases concerning immigrants’ rights.

Internships are unpaid: However, the ACLU is willing to discuss cooperating with students in the grant application process.

Qualifications:  Bilingual fluency in English and Spanish is required. Second and third year law students with a demonstrated commitment to public interest work are preferred.

Application Procedure:  Individuals interested in applying for a legal internship at the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties should send a cover letter, a resume, an unofficial transcript, the names and telephone numbers of two references, and a legal writing sample by email to jdauteuil@aclusandiego.org or by mail to:

ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties
2014 Bilingual Legal Internship
PO Box 87131
San Diego, CA 92138-7131

DEADLINE: August 29, 2014

We encourage applicants to send materials as soon as possible, but applications will be accepted until the deadline.   Please indicate in your cover letter where you found this job posting.

The ACLU is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and encourages women, people of color, persons with disabilities, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals to apply.

2014 Police Practices Legal Intern

Position Description:  Part-time fall position(s). Minimum 10 to 15 hours per week.Duties will include reviewing public records and interviewing community members about problems they have had with law enforcement officers in San Diego for purpose of developing litigation concerning policies and practices of local law enforcement.

Internships are unpaid: However, the ACLU is willing to discuss cooperating with students in the grant application process.

Qualifications:  Second and third year law students with a demonstrated commitment to public interest work are preferred.

Application Procedure:  Individuals interested in applying for a legal internship at the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties should send a cover letter, a resume, an unofficial transcript, the names and telephone numbers of two references, and a legal writing sample by email to jdauteuil@aclusandiego.org or by mail to:

ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties
2014 Fall Legal Internship – Police Practices
PO Box 87131
San Diego, CA 92138-7131

DEADLINE: September 5, 2014

We encourage applicants to send materials as soon as possible, but applications will be accepted until the deadline.   Please indicate in your cover letter where you found this job posting.

The ACLU is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and encourages women, people of color, persons with disabilities, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals to apply.

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Community Meetings – Assessing San Diego Police https://www.aclusandiego.org/upcoming-community-meetings-san-diego-police/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/upcoming-community-meetings-san-diego-police/#comments Tue, 15 Jul 2014 01:24:28 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11493 Due to recent sexual abuse and racial profiling scandals within the San Diego Police Department (SDPD), the US Department of Justice has contracted with the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) to perform an assessment of the SDPD and make recommendations for change and improvement.

PERF will be holding two meetings in San Diego during the month of July. The meetings will provide community members an opportunity to tell their stories of personal experience with the SDPD and to provide their own comments and recommendations for PERF to consider.

Come to support fellow San Diegans coming forward to share their experiences or to share your experience either by written or verbal testimony.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014
6:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Tubman/Chavez Multicultural Center
415 Euclid Avenue
San Diego, CA 92114

Wednesday, July 23, 2014
6:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Sherman Heights Community Center
2258 Island Avenue, 2nd Floor, San Diego, CA 92102

In the column to the right, you will find flyers for each event in both English and Spanish. If you have any questions, please feel free to call 619-548-5464 or email cgriffin@aclusandiego.org.

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The ACLU’s NVRA Toolkit: How to Comply with the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) https://www.aclusandiego.org/nvra-toolkit/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/nvra-toolkit/#comments Thu, 10 Jul 2014 19:29:31 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11471  

NVRA agency VR toolkit-final coverThe ACLU of California’s NVRA Implementation Project works with public assistance offices and offices serving people with disabilities, county elections offices, and the Secretary of State to improve implementation of the NVRA across California. The NVRA Toolkit was developed for use by agency workers, NVRA coordinators, and county elections officials. The complete version of the toolkit can be downloaded here.

If you have any questions or concerns, or would like assistance in implementing the NVRA at your agency or in your county, please contact us.

For Northern California counties, contact:
Raul Macias, Voting Rights Attorney rmacias@acluca.org
 
For Southern California counties, contact:
Jonathan Stein, Voting Rights Attorney
jstein@acluca.org
 

How To Use This Resource Manual

Answer the questions below to determine which sections of the Toolkit are right for you.

1. Do you help people
(a) Fill out applications for benefits or services…
(b) Recertify benefits or services… or
(c) Submit a change of address…

…at any of the following programs or in any of the following offices?

  • CalFresh
  • CalWORKs
  • Medi-Cal
  • Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
  • In-Home Supportive Services
  • Covered California, California’s health benefit exchange
  • Department of Rehabilitation – Vocational Services
  • Independent Living Centers
  • Department of Developmental Services Regional Centers
  • Offices contracting with the Office of Deaf Access
  • State and county mental and behavioral health departments, and private practitioners providing services under contract with those departments.

If so, you have an obligation to provide voter registration to clients under state and federal law. This toolkit will tell you how. Please read all content for agency staff.

2. Every office subject to the NVRA is required to identify one person who ensures compliance with the office’s voter registration responsibilities. Are you that person?

You are an “NVRA coordinator.” Please read the section titled, “When & How to Provide Voter Registration Services” and all content for NVRA Coordinators.

3. Do you handle NVRA compliance for your county elections office? Do you handle requests from agencies asking for voter registration cards? Do you prepare reports for the state on voter registration card returns?

You are the NVRA coordinator for the county elections office. Please read the entire toolkit. Also, in order to facilitate communication between NVRA agencies and county elections officials, we’ve included the sections for agency workers and NVRA coordinators to serve as reference materials.

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ACLU Challenges Government’s ‘Suspicious Activity Report’ Program https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-challenges-governments-suspicious-activity-report-program/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-challenges-governments-suspicious-activity-report-program/#comments Thu, 10 Jul 2014 18:30:16 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11469 SAN FRANCISCO – On behalf of five Americans who had their information entered into a law enforcement database for innocent things like taking pictures, buying computers, or standing in a train station and were then subjected to investigation, civil rights groups filed a lawsuit today challenging the legality of the federal government’s controversial Suspicious Activity Reporting Program (SAR). The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of California, the national ACLU, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus.

“This domestic surveillance program wrongly targets First Amendment-protected activities, encourages racial and religious profiling, and violates federal law,” said Linda Lye, staff attorney with the ACLU of Northern California. “The Justice Department’s own rules say that there should be reasonable suspicion before creating a record on someone, but the government’s instructions to local police are that they should write up SARs even if there’s no valid reason to suspect a person of doing anything wrong.”

A Justice Department regulation dating to 1978 prohibits the collection and dissemination of “criminal intelligence information” unless there is “reasonable suspicion” of criminal activity. However, the Justice Department’s standard for SARs doesn’t require reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing, only behavior that “may be indicative” of terrorism planning “or other illicit intention.”

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit have learned that such a low bar can cover virtually anything.

James Prigoff is an 86-year-old renowned photographer of public art who has lectured at numerous universities and had his work exhibited at the Smithsonian and other museums around the world. In 2004, he was in Boston taking pictures of a famous piece of public art called the Rainbow Swash, which is painted on a natural gas storage tank. Private secrainbow swashurity
guards told him to stop. Several months later, the FBI went to Prigoff’s home in Sacramento to question him about his activities in Boston and also contacted at least one neighbor about him – a clear indication that a report identifying him as a suspicious person with a potential connection to terrorism had been written about him and distributed nationwide.

“All I was doing was taking pictures in a public place, and now I’m apparently in a government terrorism database for decades,” said Prigoff. “This is supposed to be a free country, where the government isn’t supposed to be tracking you if you’re not doing anything wrong. I lived through the McCarthy era, and I know how false accusations, surveillance, and keeping files on innocent people can destroy careers and lives. I am deeply troubled that the SAR program may be recreating that same climate of false accusation and fear today.”

Another plaintiff, Wiley Gill, was the subject of a 2012 SAR that was obtained by the ACLU of California through a Public Records Act request. He was identified as a “Suspicious Male Subject in Possession of Flight Simulator Game.” At the time, he was likely looking at websites on his computer about video games. The SAR identifies Gill as “worthy of note” because he converted to Islam and has a “pious demeanor.”

The SAR was submitted to one of the nation’s 78 “fusion centers,” which are operated by state and local government agencies and are meant to collect and analyze threat-related information. If an analyst believes that a report meets the SAR program’s standards, he or she uploads it to one or more national databases, where it can remain for up to 30 years. In the case of Gill, the SAR was forwarded to the FBI, which then opened a file on him.

“The only reason that someone deemed Mr. Gill ‘suspicious’ is because he is a devout Muslim, not because he has done anything wrong,” said Nasrina Bargzie, attorney with Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus. “With such a lax standard it’s not surprising that the result is religious profiling of this nature. Racial and religious profiling of Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian communities needs to stop.”

Last year, a U.S. Government Accountability Office investigation found that the SAR program had failed to demonstrate any arrests, convictions, or thwarted threats, even though tens of thousands of SARs have been uploaded to government databases. In 2012, a bipartisan Senate subcommittee report found that fusion centers have not identified a single terrorist threat, and that similar intelligence reporting “potentially endangered the civil liberties or legal privacy protections of the U.S. persons they mentioned.”

“The SAR program is an intrusion into the privacy of citizens and is unwarranted,” said Jonathan Loeb, co-lead counsel in the lawsuit and a partner at Bingham McCutchen. “Furthermore, the program was implemented without the appropriate notice and opportunity for the public to comment.”

No changes to the SAR program have been made since the GAO and Senate reports were issued, despite repeated calls from a coalition of civil rights and other organizations.

Today’s complaint is at:

aclu.org/national-security/suspicious-activity-report-lawsuit-prigoff-v-department-justice-complaint

Read the ACLU of California blog about this case. Read more detailed descriptions of the plaintiff’s experiences here.

Learn more about almost two thousand Suspicious Activity Reports, released in 2013 and obtained by the ACLU of California.

 

 

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Groups Sue Feds over Lack of Lawyers for Kids in Deportation Process https://www.aclusandiego.org/groups-sue-feds-lack-lawyers-kids-deportation-process/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/groups-sue-feds-lack-lawyers-kids-deportation-process/#comments Wed, 09 Jul 2014 16:46:39 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11463  

SEATTLE – The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California, American Immigration Council, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Public Counsel, and K&L Gates LLP today filed a nationwide class-action lawsuit on behalf of thousands of children who are challenging the federal government’s failure to provide them with legal representation as it carries out deportation hearings against them.

Each year, the government initiates immigration court proceedings against thousands of children. Some of these youth grew up in the United States and have lived in the country for years, and many have fled violence and persecution in their home countries. The Obama administration even recently called an influx of children coming across the Southern border a “humanitarian situation.” And yet, thousands of children required to appear in immigration court each year do so without an attorney. This case seeks to remedy this unacceptable practice.

“If we believe in due process for children in our country, then we cannot abandon them when they face deportation in our immigration courts,” said Ahilan Arulanantham, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project and the ACLU Foundation of Southern California. “The government pays for a trained prosecutor to advocate for the deportation of every child. It is patently unfair to force children to defend themselves alone.”

The plaintiffs in this case include:

  • A 10-year-old boy, his 13-year-old brother, and 15-year-old sister from El Salvador, whose father was murdered in front of their eyes. The father was targeted because he and the mother ran a rehabilitation center for people trying to leave gangs.
  • A 14-year-old girl who had been living with her grandparents, but was forced to flee El Salvador after being threatened and then attacked by gang members.
  • A 15-year-old boy who was abandoned and abused in Guatemala, and came to the United States without any family or friends.
  • A 16-year-old boy born in Mexico who has lived here since he was 12 months old and has had lawful status since June 2010.
  • A 16-year-old boy with limited communication skills and special education issues who escaped brutal violence exacted on his family in Honduras, and who has lived in Southern California since he was 8 years old.
  • A 17-year-old boy who fled gang violence and recruitment in Guatemala and now lives with his lawful permanent resident father in Los Angeles.

All are scheduled to appear at deportation hearings without any legal representation and face a very real risk of being sent back into the perilous circumstances they left.

While the Obama administration recently announced a limited program to provide legal assistance to some youth facing deportation hearings, this proposal does not come close to meeting the urgent need for legal representation for all children whom the government wants to deport. And there is no guarantee that additional funding proposed by the administration yesterday will materialize or meet the overwhelming need. In the meantime, children continue to appear alone in court every day.

“While our law firm, and others around the country, provide free legal services to children facing the injustice of appearing alone in court, we can help only a small fraction of the children in need,” said Theo Angelis, a partner at K&L Gates LLP.

Kristen Jackson, senior staff attorney with Public Counsel, a not-for-profit law firm that works with immigrant children, added, “Each day, we are contacted by children in desperate need of lawyers to advocate for them in their deportation proceedings. Pro bono efforts have been valiant, but they will never fully meet the increasing and complex needs these children present. The time has come for our government to recognize our Constitution’s promise of fairness and its duty to give these children a real voice in court.”

The complaint charges the U.S. Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Health and Human Services, Executive Office for Immigration Review, and Office of Refugee Resettlement with violating the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause and the Immigration and Nationality Act’s provisions requiring a “full and fair hearing” before an immigration judge. It seeks to require the government to provide children with legal representation in their deportation hearings.

“Deportation carries serious consequences for children, whether it is return to a country they fled because of violence and persecution or being separated from their homes and families. Yet children are forced into immigration court without representation – a basic protection most would assume is required whenever someone’s liberty is at stake. Requiring children to fight against deportation without a lawyer is incompatible with American values of due process and justice for all,” said Beth Werlin, deputy legal director for the American Immigration Council.

The case, J.E.F.M. v. Holder, was filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle, Washington.

“It is simply unacceptable that children are forced to stand alone before an immigration judge, pitted against trained attorneys from the federal government,” said Matt Adams, legal director for Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. “Any notion of justice or fair play requires that these children be provided legal representation.”

Read more about the children’s experiences here

Want to weigh in on this issue on our non-scientific poll? Scroll down to the bottom of our home page and click on the red “Vote” button.

juvenile holding cell-crop

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ACLU Withdraws Support for ENDA https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-withdraws-support-enda/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-withdraws-support-enda/#comments Tue, 08 Jul 2014 22:53:22 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11457  

WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union today announced that it is withdrawing its support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in a statement also signed by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Transgender Law Center. The ACLU and these allies object to a provision in the bill that would allow religiously affiliated employers to continue to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Federal legislation to protect LGBT people from workplace discrimination is way beyond overdue, but Congress has no place giving religiously affiliated employers a license to discriminate against LGBT workers,” said Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office.

We can no longer support a bill that treats LGBT discrimination as different and somehow more legitimate than other forms of discrimination.”

President Obama has announced his intention to sign an executive order that would ban discrimination against LGBT people employed by federal contractors. The ACLU opposes any inclusion of a discrimination exemption in this executive order.

Read the full statement signed by the five organizations announcing the withdrawal of support here.

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ACLU Statement on Public Reaction to Plight of Immigrant Children https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-statement-public-reaction-plight-immigrant-children/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-statement-public-reaction-plight-immigrant-children/#comments Thu, 03 Jul 2014 16:59:51 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11452  

The following statement is made by the ACLU of California, a collaboration of the three ACLU affiliates covering the entire state, based in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego.

This country was founded as a beacon of hope for people seeking freedom. Our nation’s core values center on fairness, equal opportunity, and the defense of human and civil rights for all.

Our immigration system is broken. The ACLU joins millions of Americans in calling on our representatives to fix it in a way that stays true to those values.

However, with gridlock in Congress and a new wave of refugees fleeing sharp escalations of violence in their homelands, the current dialogue on immigration reform has taken an ugly turn. This week, scores of protesters blocked buses transporting women and children on their way to being processed at a Border Patrol station in Murrieta, California. The protesters blocked the road for hours, pounding on the buses, shouting obscenities and waving signs. The week before, hundreds of residents spoke against a proposed shelter for unaccompanied immigrant children in Escondido, California.

Many have recognized the current influx of unaccompanied children at our southern border as a humanitarian crisis. The ACLU is working to ensure that those children, and all other asylum seekers, are treated fairly and humanely, and in accordance with U.S. law and international human rights standards.

Our nation’s refugee laws were created in the aftermath of World War II to ensure that we would never again turn away refugees fleeing death in their home countries. They require that everyone who legitimately fears persecution must receive a fair opportunity to make their case before an immigration judge, who can decide each case on the facts presented. We also wish, though no law requires it, that refugees fleeing truly terrible conditions in their home countries would be greeted with sympathy rather than fear and xenophobia.

The ACLU is the nation’s staunchest defender of free speech—especially including the right to protest. We believe that the remedy for offensive speech is more speech, not less. That is why we are adding our voice to the debate, to call upon our fellow residents of California to respect the rights of these children, and all others fleeing horrific conditions in their home countries, to seek asylum in our country.

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Constitution Applies on Foreign Soil Says Federal Appeals Court https://www.aclusandiego.org/constitution-applies-foreign-soil-says-federal-appeals-court/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/constitution-applies-foreign-soil-says-federal-appeals-court/#comments Mon, 30 Jun 2014 21:59:26 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11444  

* * * * *

UPDATE –  January 21, 2015

A full panel of the Fifth Circuit reheard Hernandez v. U.S. today. You can listen to the hour-long oral argument here.

* * * * *

June 30, 2014

In a momentous decision, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that the Constitution applies outside of the territorial limits of the United States, in this case Mexico, squarely rejecting the government’s argument that constitutional rights end at the border. The court accordingly reinstated a lawsuit brought by the family of a 15-year-old Mexican boy who was fatally shot by a border patrol agent standing on U.S. soil shooting across the border.

The ACLU and its border affiliates filed an amicus brief arguing, that after the Supreme Court’s Guantanamo decision in Boumediene, there is no basis for the government’s position that the Constitution does not apply abroad.

The following can be attributed to Lee Gelernt, Deputy Director of the National ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project: “Any other result by the court of appeals in this case would have meant that border patrol agents could continue to shoot Mexican nationals such as this 15 year-old-child with impunity, free from judicial oversight. The court properly rejected the notion that the federal government can monitor itself, especially in such an egregious case.”

As the court described the facts in the case, on June 7, 2010, a group of Mexican teenagers were playing on the Mexican side of the border when a border agent detained one of the boys. Hernandez, the victim in this case, retreated but was nonetheless fatally shot by the agent. The district court threw out the lawsuit but the federal court of appeals reinstated the suit, concluding that a Mexican national has Fifth Amendment constitutional due process rights to be free from actions that “shock the conscience” and other official abuses of power.

Contributing to the ACLU’s amicus brief in the case were Lee Gelernt, Esha Bhandari, Cecillia D. Wang and Steven Watt of the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation; James Duff Lyle and Daniel Pochoda of the ACLU of Arizona; Krystal Gomez and Rebecca Robertson of the ACLU of Texas; Sean Riordan of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties; and Alexandra Smith of the ACLU Foundation of New Mexico.

The court’s ruling is available at:
aclu.org/immigrants-rights/hernandez-v-us-fifth-circuit-court-appeals-ruling

The amicus brief filed by the ACLU is available at:
aclu.org/immigrants-rights/hernandez-v-us-aclu-amicus-brief

sergio hernandez

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ACLU Investigating Escondido’s Hasty Decision on Shelter https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-investigating-escondidos-hasty-decision-shelter/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-investigating-escondidos-hasty-decision-shelter/#comments Thu, 26 Jun 2014 19:02:59 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11439  

SAN DIEGO – Concerned that the City of Escondido may once again be undermining the rights of immigrants in its community and possibly violating the law, the San Diego ACLU requested a number of records related to the Escondido Planning Commission’s decision Tuesday evening to reject a proposed shelter for unaccompanied immigrant children.

In an official California Public Records Act (CPRA) request, the legal director of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties, David Loy, requested copies of all reports and records submitted to the commission relating to the proposed facility, the permit for the construction and operation of the intermediate care facility, and any video, audio, or written record of the Planning Commission meeting on June 24, 2014.

To comply with the CPRA, the City of Escondido has ten days to respond to the request.

The San Diego ACLU has been monitoring Escondido closely since 2006, when the city attempted to pass a ban on rentals to undocumented immigrants. Escondido has demonstrated a long history of trampling on the civil and human rights of immigrants in the United States.

The ACLU will be monitoring future actions by the Escondido City Council and other city entities on this proposed shelter for unaccompanied immigrant children, ages 6 – 17, many of whom are seeking refugee status after fleeing from increasing violence and insecurity in their homelands.

In the last year alone, almost twice as many asylum seekers  expressing fear of returning to their home countries have arrived at our borders. Political analysts attribute this sharp increase to dramatic rises in the numbers of murders, rape, violence against women, kidnappings, extortion, and other conditions fueled by political instability and economic insecurity, and the growing dominance of transnational gangs.

Detainers - hands on fence

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ACLU Reaction to Supreme Court Abortion Clinic Buffer Zone Ruling https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-reaction-supreme-court-abortion-clinic-buffer-zone-ruling/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-reaction-supreme-court-abortion-clinic-buffer-zone-ruling/#comments Thu, 26 Jun 2014 16:41:00 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11437  

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Massachusetts law creating a 35-foot buffer zone outside abortion clinics in the state. The Supreme Court’s ruling reverses a decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit upholding the buffer zone. Steven R. Shapiro, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, had the following reaction to the ruling:

This is a hard case and the majority opinion reflects the difficulty and importance of balancing two constitutional rights: the right of women to enter and leave abortion clinics free from the harassment, intimidation, and violence they have too often suffered in the past; and the right of peaceful protestors to express their opposition to abortion on the public streets outside abortion clinics.

We agree that a fixed buffer zone imposes serious First Amendment costs, but we also think the Court underestimated the proven difficulty of protecting the constitutional rights of women seeking abortions by enforcing other laws – especially regarding harassment – outside abortion clinics.

Today’s opinion makes it more important than ever that the police enforce the laws that do exist in order to ensure that women and staff can safely enter and leave abortion clinics.”

US Supreme Court Building

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ACLU of California Endorses SB 396 to Right Serious State Wrongs https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-california-endorses-sb-396-right-serious-state-wrongs/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-california-endorses-sb-396-right-serious-state-wrongs/#comments Fri, 20 Jun 2014 17:54:07 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11428  

SACRAMENTO – Monday marks the 20th anniversary of the introduction of Proposition 187, the divisive initiative passed by California voters in 1994 that sought to deny many public services to undocumented immigrants. Most provisions of the unconstitutional law were rejected by federal courts, but portions of the law still remain technically on the books.

With scores of community, faith, labor and legal organizations, the ACLU of California enthusiastically endorses SB 396, a bill to repeal the unlawful and unenforceable provisions of Proposition 187 that remain in California statute today. These include sections impacting education, health care, social services and law enforcement.

“The ACLU of California was on the frontlines of defeating Proposition 187 when it was first introduced, and we remain committed to ensuring that that the last vestiges of this divisive law are erased,” said Hector Villagra, executive director of the ACLU Foundation of Southern California. “No one benefits if such laws are left in place to create confusion or, worse yet, fear among our immigrant communities.”

Proposition 187, which sought to create an immigration status screening system to withhold public services from undocumented immigrants, was struck down in federal court as unconstitutional in 1999. But its provisions can still be found in California statute, creating insecurity for many. For example, Penal Code 834(b), which required law enforcement to inquire into the immigration status of individuals they arrested, still appears in the statutes, and leads to confusion and violations of civil liberties.

The Senate also introduced a resolution, SR 51, to recognize the harm Prop 187 has wielded on untold number of California residents, and to call for a more united California.

“The ACLU was one of the organizations that opposed Prop. 187 and was also one of the many organizations to sue to stop the unconstitutional law,” said Abdi Soltani, executive director of the ACLU of Northern California. “It’s time to finish the job and get this law off the books.”

“California celebrates diversity and the model with which our multi-ethnic state leads the nation,” said Norma Chavez-Peterson, executive director of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. “Prop. 187 was xenophobic and represents one of the darkest points in our state’s history. We have seen this provision referenced in jail policies and legal memos pertaining to law enforcement with immigrants. When this statute is wrongly enforced, the rights of immigrants are violated. With violations come pain, harm, and real danger for community members across the state.”

The ACLU of California continues to work to ensure that immigrants receive protections guaranteed under the Constitution, including the right to be treated fairly in court and to be free from discrimination based on race or national origin. The ACLU of California comprises the three California ACLU affiliates—the ACLU of Northern California, the ACLU of Southern California, and the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties.

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California: Let’s put a hold on ICE https://www.aclusandiego.org/california-lets-put-hold-ice/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/california-lets-put-hold-ice/#comments Wed, 18 Jun 2014 18:55:17 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11426

How did this happen? Thanks to Secure Communities, federal immigration officials began issuing requests, also known as “detainers,” to local law enforcement officials to hold individuals while U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigated whether they could be deported for civil immigration violations.

If this sounds wrong, it is. These so-called detainers violate a basic constitutional protection afforded to everyone. The Fourth Amendment prohibits law enforcement from detaining someone simply to investigate whether they’ve done something wrong; they must first have probable cause to believe the person committed a crime, or, in this case, are subject to deportation. And if they are arrested without a warrant, the Fourth Amendment requires they be brought before a judge within 48 hours for a probable cause determination.

Yet, none of that happens here: they are detained for investigatory purposes, and they never get a hearing before a judge while they are held for ICE.  That’s why we brought lawsuits against Los Angeles County in 2012 and ICE in 2013 to stop these unlawful detentions.

Detaining people by the droves without justification in some of the worst jails in America, like those in L.A. County, is bad enough. But it gets worse. ICE consistently has said that it was using the Secure Communities program to identify “serious criminals” in our communities for deportation. But the federal government’s own statistics call such claims into question.

Indeed, the vast majority of people for whom ICE issued holds were people who were not deportation priorities.  More than half of people in California who have received immigration holds had no criminal history at all.  And, nationally,four out of five either had no criminal history or had been convicted only of minor misdemeanor offenses, such as traffic offenses.

Many of these people have stronger ties to the U.S. than they do to their home counties and would likely have benefited from immigration reform, if and when reform comes – like my client Isaura Garcia, a domestic violence victim with a young child, who was arrested in a mix-up after calling 911 for help and detained on an immigration hold, or my client Ruth Montaño, whom Kern County Sheriff’s officers arrested and subsequently detained on an immigration hold for having a chihuahua that allegedly barked too loud.

Moreover, ICE’s misguided policy of detaining people first and investigating later, has led to the unlawful detention of U.S. citizens such as our clients Gerardo Gonzalez, Simon Chinivizyan and Antonio Montejano, or individuals who have lawful immigration status and are not subject to deportation.

Thankfully, counties throughout California and the nation are beginning to question the federal government’s use of detainers.

In fact, in the past month, law enforcement agencies across the state have started to say “no” to warehousing people in their jails solely for deportation purposes.  These decisions follow in the wake of federal court rulings that held that immigration holds are voluntary and that they are not supported by probable cause. We need every law enforcement agency in the state, including county sheriff’s departments and city police departments, to stop participating in these unlawful and burdensome detentions. Check our statewide map to find out if your county has said “no.”

Jennie Pasquarella is staff attorney at the ACLU of Southern California. 

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U.S. Citizen Caught in Kafkaesque Immigration Nightmare https://www.aclusandiego.org/u-s-citizen-caught-kafkaesque-immigration-nightmare/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/u-s-citizen-caught-kafkaesque-immigration-nightmare/#comments Thu, 12 Jun 2014 21:57:40 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11411  

SAN DIEGO – Citing Supreme Court precedent and existential Czechoslovakian literature, the San Diego ACLU sued top immigration officials for unconstitutionally preventing a born-and-raised U.S. citizen from returning to the United States from Mexico.

Like Joseph K. in Franz Kafka’s The Trial, Oscar Olivas, a 45-year-old natural-born U.S. citizen, has been detained but does not know why, is unable to access the court before which he stands accused, and has not been allowed to view any evidence used against him. Olivas was unlawfully exiled to Mexico in 2011 and has been trying for three years to convince Customs and Border Protection that if he would be allowed a hearing before a judge, he could demonstrate his citizenship and return to his home and work.

“In preventing Mr. Olivas from returning to his home country, the government has unlawfully disregarded both the practical and constitutional meaning of citizenship,” said Gabriela Rivera, staff attorney for the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. “The benefits of citizenship — including stability, mobility, political rights, and protection against arbitrary expulsion — are not theoretical. They have real life implications for people like Mr. Olivas and his family. The Supreme Court ruled nearly a century ago that a U.S. citizen facing removal must be allowed judicial review to determine his citizenship status.”

Olivas’s nightmare began in August 2011 when he tried to return to the United States from Mexico as he had done numerous times in the past without incident. CBP agents refused to allow him to cross the border. They disregarded the proof he carried with him—a birth certificate, Social Security card, and a California driver’s license—and apparently relied solely on the false statement that consular officials coerced from Olivas’s mother in December 2010. The officers exiled Olivas to Mexico and told him he would have to argue his citizenship claim in front of a judge, but it appears the officers never referred Olivas’s case to any court, depriving him of an opportunity to return to his home country.

Olivas was born in the San Gabriel Valley in Los Angeles County in 1969. His mother was unwed and did not have legal immigration status, though she later became a U.S. citizen. Fearful of giving birth in a hospital , she delivered Olivas at home with the assistance of a midwife. Births in private residences were not uncommon at the time. At an early check-up, a doctor advised that she register Olivas’s birth with the county. Olivas’s mother registered his birth when he was five months old and received a birth certificate from the county.  Olivas also has a certificate of baptism, a Social Security card, and a state-issued driver’s license, all of which corroborate that he was born in the United States.

In 2009, Olivas began the process of applying for an immigrant visa—a “Green Card”—for his wife and step-son based on his status as a U.S. citizen. This process can take months or years and required Olivas’s wife and stepson to live in Mexico while their applications were pending. The Olivas family planned to stay together in Mexicali, which would allow Olivas to cross the border for work, and his U.S. citizen daughter to attend school in the United States and receive treatment for her speech and language impairment.

Olivas’s wife was interviewed at the U.S. Consulate in Juarez, Mexcio, as part of her visa application process. A consular official told her that they would need to interview Olivas’s mother as well. In December 2010, Olivas’s mother, Delia Perez, traveled to the consulate, expecting a brief and non-adversarial interview.

Instead she was confronted by three officers who told her that they believed her son’s birth certificate was fraudulent. One of the officers threatened that Perez would lose her citizenship and be prosecuted for fraudulently obtaining a birth certificate unless she admitted that Olivas was born in Mexico. Perez reasonably felt intimidated and that she would be detained until she signed the declaration. After several hours, she ultimately signed a pre-typed declaration, which was not read to her.

“Mr. Olivas’s unlawful expulsion was not an innocent mistake by immigration enforcement officers,.” said Rivera. “It was the predictable consequence of a system that relies on racial and ethnic stereotypes, empowers officers to act as judge, jury and executioner, and all but prohibits affected individuals from seeking judicial review. A judge should determine citizenship, not an immigration enforcement officer. The Government must prioritize preserving the liberty and security of its citizens to remain within their homeland.”

Olivas and his family are suffering extreme emotional and financial distress in Mexico. Because he is not a Mexican citizen, he cannot work in Mexico to support his family. Olivas’s young U.S. citizen daughter does not receive the special education and language and speech therapy she requires and which she would receive in the United States. Olivas and his daughter miss their home country dearly.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in San Diego, naming the port director of Calexico, the San Diego field director of CPB, Jeh Johnson, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and John Kerry, Secretary of State. The suit asks the court to allow Olivas to return to the United States, declare that he is a United States citizen, and affirm that the order exiling him violated the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment.

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olivas-1st haircut cert-FS   olivas-baby  olivas bday   olivas wedding-crop  olivas-wife-daughter-sm  olivas-daughter-sm

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Unaccompanied Immigrant Children Abused by U.S. Officials in Detention https://www.aclusandiego.org/unaccompanied-immigrant-children-abused-u-s-officials-detention/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/unaccompanied-immigrant-children-abused-u-s-officials-detention/#comments Wed, 11 Jun 2014 16:06:57 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11406 Widespread abuse of unaccompanied immigrant children at the hands of U.S. border officials spurred a group of civil and human rights organizations to file a complaint today on behalf of more than 100 children, each of whom reported experiencing abuse and mistreatment while in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the border enforcement agency within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

“Border Patrol agents are committing appalling abuses of children all along the border,” said Ashley Huebner, managing attorney of the Immigrant Children’s Protection Project at the National Immigrant Justice Center. “Even worse, Border Patrol has been committing these abuses for years, and our organizations have notified the agency numerous times, yet nothing has changed. The recent increase in arrivals of young people at the border makes it especially urgent that CBP ensure all children in their custody are treated safely and humanely.”

“Border agents operate in a zone of impunity,” said James Lyall of the ACLU Border Litigation Project. “Given CBP’s recent promise to be more accountable and transparent, we call on the agency to finally address these systemic abuses in a serious and meaningful way.”

Today’s administrative complaint with DHS—the department’s only mechanism for seeking redress—was filed by the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC), the ACLU Border Litigation Project, Americans for Immigrant Justice (AI Justice), Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project (Esperanza), and the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project (Florence Project).

Children detained by CBP across the country have reported scores of examples of verbal, sexual and physical abuse; prolonged detention in squalid conditions; and a severe lack of essential necessities such as beds, food and water.

The complaint describes Border Patrol agents denying necessary medical care to children as young as five-months-old, refusing to provide diapers for infants, confiscating and not returning legal documents and personal belongings, making racially-charged insults and death threats, and strip searching and shackling children in three-point restraints during transport. Reports of such abuse have been documented and reported for years, but no reforms have been implemented, nor have any actions been taken to hold agents accountable.

Children referenced in the complaint, many of whom fled violence and persecution in their home countries, include:

  • H.R., a seven-year-old boy, was severely developmentally disabled and suffering from acute malnourishment when he was apprehended, but CBP held him in custody for approximately five days without any medical treatment. He was eventually hospitalized and underwent emergency surgery.
  • D.G., a 16-year-old girl, was detained with adults. When CBP officials searched D.G., they violently spread her legs and touched her genital area forcefully, making her scream.
  • M.R., a 15-year-old girl, traveled from Guatemala with her two-year-old son. Both M.R. and her son became sick while in CBP custody, but M.R.’s requests for medical attention were ignored or dismissed for approximately five days, until she and her son were finally taken to a hospital.
  • K.A., a 14-year-old girl, had her asthma medication confiscated by CBP officials and proceeded to suffer multiple asthma attacks in the filthy and overcrowded CBP holding cells. After the first asthma attack, officials threatened that they would punish her if she were faking.
  • C.S., a 17-year-old girl, was detained in a hielera (freezer) in wet clothes. Her clothes did not dry for three and a half days due to the frigid temperature in the holding cell. The only drinking water available to C.S. came from the toilet tank, and the bathroom was situated in plain view of all other detainees with a security camera mounted in front of it.

“We have instances where CBP shackled 13- and 14-year-olds, infants became sick while held in cells maintained at freezing temperatures, and many children were held in CBP custody beyond the legal 72-hour period, without food or blankets,” said Erika Pinheiro, directing attorney for community education programs at Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project.

“Children are fleeing untenable conditions in their home countries, including pervasive violence and persecution, and are often re-victimized in transit to the United States,” said Joseph Anderson, director of litigation for Americans for Immigrant Justice. “We need to ensure that these children are treated with dignity and respect and afforded all applicable legal protections while they are in U.S. custody.”

The complaint’s recommendations include:

  • Enhanced CBP oversight, including creation of an independent oversight body;
  • Binding and enforceable short-term detention standards;
  • Creation of a uniform complaint process at DHS that includes confidential, expedited processes by which children can safely report abuse and receive timely recourse;
  • Adequate training for all officers who may encounter unaccompanied immigrant children;
  • Timely investigation into the complaints of abuse;
  • Accountability for any agent who violates the law and/or agency guidelines; and
  • Publication of the results of any investigations. 

The complaint was filed with the DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties as well as the DHS Office of Inspector General. The complaint emphasizes that abuses of unaccompanied children by immigration officials have been documented and reported to DHS for years but the government has not implemented reforms or taken any action to hold agents accountable.

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SDPD, Addressing Police Misconduct, to Wear Body Cameras https://www.aclusandiego.org/sdpd-addressing-police-misconduct-wear-body-cameras/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/sdpd-addressing-police-misconduct-wear-body-cameras/#comments Tue, 10 Jun 2014 21:09:57 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11404  

After months of scandal, we are pleased to hear that the San Diego Police Department is taking steps towards addressing police misconduct. As announced today, many of SDPD’s officers will now wear body cameras. While body cameras can do much to protect both citizens and officers, we have serious concerns with what is and is not included in SDPD’s draft policies for body worn cameras, as well as for the process of implementation.

The draft policy states that “officers are not required to give notice they are recording. However, if asked, officers shall advise citizens they are being recorded.”

One of the purposes of body worn cameras is to improve both officer and citizen behavior; an opportunity that is missed if a person is not informed the interaction is being recorded. The policy should require officers, where practicable, to notify citizens they are being recorded in a language they understand, including use of information cards in different languages spoken throughout the city.

The policy does not delineate how a citizen can make sure a recording is flagged and obtain a copy. Any citizen who is the subject of a recording should have the ability to flag such recording and obtain a copy without filing a formal complaint. This is necessary to assure citizens trust the system and to realize the full potential that the cameras have for increasing police accountability.

No disciplinary actions are laid out for an officer who violates his/her duties under the policy. We recognize that it will take time to implement this change, but given the amount of control that individual officers will have over the cameras, the policy should be clear that transgressions will not go undealt with.

We are troubled by the process to date. The Department has been running a pilot project with body worn cameras and is asking for approval for funding to expand the program citywide without having released a final policy for their use. Without transparency and public input, the Department is missing an opportunity to build trust with the public and ensure that all concerns are taken into account. The policy as written and process of approval do not reflect the potential of body worn cameras as a tool for rebuilding trust between the Department and the public.

We strongly encourage the City Council to ensure that the final version of the policy includes these and other recommendations we have previously expressed. As a city, we must ensure adequate privacy protections and realize the full potential of body worn cameras as a tool to strengthen trust with the community.

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Make Sure You’re Covered! https://www.aclusandiego.org/medical/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/medical/#comments Wed, 04 Jun 2014 22:20:00 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11379 sheriff flyer

On January 1, 2014, Medi-Cal (California’s public health insurance program for people with low income) expanded to include many more people, including adults without dependent children. As a result, many people who were previously denied are now eligible for free health coverage. Medi-Cal will cover physical and behavioral health services, including mental health and substance use disorder treatment. Increasing financial ability to access health services through Medi-Cal will help people access healthcare in their communities and potentially reduce incarcerations related to unmet health needs. There is no deadline to apply!

To spread the word, the ACLU has teamed up with local health clinics and reentry providers to create Medi-Cal information flyers with referrals to clinics who provide free application assistance.

There are small, downloadable flyers for North County, South Bay, East County, and Central San Diego, and one with referrals for all regions. The flyers in the right column, above, are larger and are suitable for downloading for reproduction.

Please help us share this information!

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Development Director https://www.aclusandiego.org/development-director-2/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/development-director-2/#comments Thu, 29 May 2014 20:11:47 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11351  

The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of San Diego & Imperial Counties seeks a dynamic, sophisticated full-time fundraiser to support and enhance its development efforts.  The Development Director reports to the Executive Director.

The ACLU fights for individual rights and fundamental freedoms for all, through education, litigation, policy advocacy, and organizing.  The ACLU promotes and defends civil rights and civil liberties, including First Amendment rights, equal protection, privacy, and due process. The San Diego ACLU works collaboratively with the National ACLU headquarters in New York, as well as with the ACLU affiliates headquartered in Los Angeles and San Francisco.  Together, the three California affiliates have more than 100,000 members and 120 staff in California.

Located in San Diego, our ACLU affiliate covers the length of California’s border with Mexico.  It has 23 staff members, 20 board members, 9,000 members, and an annual budget of $3 million.  San Diego is the eighth largest city in the United States and the second largest in California.  San Diego County has the third largest number of registered voters in California.  Imperial County is the poorest county in California.

The ideal candidate will have a deep commitment and passion to ensuring civil liberties for everyone and an understanding of what it takes to fight for equality and equal protection under the law for all.

PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITIES

The Development Director is an important position at the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties.  Reporting to the Executive Director, the Development Director will be responsible for managing a comprehensive fundraising program including annual and planned gifts and is part of the senior leadership team.  The Development Director will secure major, mid-level, and planned gifts through a process of identifying, qualifying, strategizing, cultivating, soliciting, closing, and stewarding major gift prospects and individual donors. He/she will also play an active role in membership development. The Development Director will also work be responsible for grant fundraising.

Specific Responsibilities:

  • Produce and implement a fundraising plan to retain and renew current donors while identifying and acquiring prospective donors;
  • Manage a portfolio of donors at annual giving levels of $1,000 and above. Serve as a primary contact for donors and make direct solicitations. This includes phone, mail and direct face to face contact, attending donor meetings and events;
  • Maintain fundraising schedules and objectives; ensure that plans are implemented, goals achieved, timely reports generated and information shared; ensure that fundraising is done in the most efficient and cost-effective way. Participate in strategic and operational planning within the Development team.
  • Work collaboratively with program staff on fundraising activities germane to their policy area where opportunities exist for engaging donors;
  • Maintain and expand a portfolio of foundation/grant prospects and supervise the writing of grants and maintenance of a grants calendar.
  • Track, cultivate, and sustain the planned giving program.
  • Work collaboratively with ACLU national office to cultivate and solicit planned gifts from members and donors.
  • Attend ACLU functions, such as the annual membership meeting, occasional board meetings and other ACLU events as requested. Serve as a representative of the organization at external events and meetings, as needed.
  • Supervise the affiliate’s participation in national ACLU direct marketing efforts.
  • Lead communications and organizing teams in membership development activities.
  • Advise prospects on giving options available; develop gift proposals; and work with donors to complete transfers of funds;
  • In cooperation with the Executive Director, Deputy Director, and board leadership, organize face-to-face solicitations for major gifts. Manage senior affiliate and national ACLU staff fundraising travel, meetings, and calls, as appropriate;
  • Develop and direct donor stewardship efforts, including individual donor correspondence and contact; cultivation events; and the development of a calendar for regular communications with donors;
  • Working with program staff and the Deputy Director prepare grant applications and required reports.
  • Make full use of the organization’s databases and tracking systems to ensure appropriate donor stewardship and to evaluate and report overall program performance;

Additional Duties

  • Overseeing event planning, implementation, staffing and follow-up as needed;
  • Work collaboratively and cooperatively with other team members and volunteers to advance the goals of the organization;
  • Occasional public speaking.
  • Work evenings and weekends when necessary;
  • Other tasks as assigned.

Qualifications:

  • Unwavering commitment to civil liberties principles;
  • Bachelor’s degree;
  • Five years demonstrated experience in not-for-profit fundraising, including major and planned giving;
  • A successful track record of identifying, cultivating, soliciting and stewarding major individual donors;
  • Excellent verbal, written and interpersonal skills;
  • Knowledge of and successful experience with e-philanthropy strategies;
  • Advanced computer skills including experience with database management;
  • Demonstrated experience in responding and adapting to opportunities that arise;
  • Highly self-motivated, organized, adaptable.

Salary & Benefits:  Competitive salary commensurate with experience. Excellent benefits.

Please send a letter of interest and resume with references by June 30, 2014. 

Application Procedure:  Interested individuals must send a cover letter, resume, list of references, and a writing sample (no more than 5 pages), preferably by e-mail to jobs [at] aclusandiego.org or by mail to:

ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties
ATTN: Development Director Search
PO Box 87131
San Diego, CA 92138-7131

The ACLU is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and encourages applications from women, people of color, persons with disabilities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals, and veterans.

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Sheriff Gore Will No Longer Comply with ICE Immigration Holds https://www.aclusandiego.org/sheriff-gore-will-longer-comply-ice-immigration-holds/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/sheriff-gore-will-longer-comply-ice-immigration-holds/#comments Thu, 29 May 2014 19:03:55 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11346  

SAN DIEGO – In a surprising but welcome decision, San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore’s office confirmed that effective immediately, immigration detainees will no longer be held in jail for extra time under unconstitutional immigration “hold” requests. The policy reversal is attributed to a recent federal court decision, which held that a local jail had violated the Fourth Amendment by granting the detainer request without probable cause or a court-approved warrant.

[Lea este artículo en español, aquí.]

“This is a huge policy reversal, and a major victory for our communities, one that advocates have been working on for years,” said Homayra Yusufi-Marin, policy advocate for the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. “We applaud Sheriff Gore’s action recognizing the important values of due process and equality under the law that are foundational to our justice system. This is another step on the path to reform our broken immigration system and promote trust between immigrant communities and local law enforcement.”

The sheriff’s decision also comes in the wake of California’s passage of the TRUST Act, a landmark law designed to decrease deportations and the breaking up of families and the restoration of trust in local law enforcement. The TRUST Act sets a clear standard for when local law enforcement may respond to federal immigration detainer requests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), by prohibiting detentions of undocumented immigrants for deportation in minor arrests.

San Diego is now the largest county in the country to decide to refuse all detainer requests from ICE. Sacramento County also announced today that it would discontinue honoring these requests. Other California counties now include Alameda, Santa Clara, San Francisco, San Bernardino, Santa Cruz, Monterey, and Riverside. Nationally, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Denver, and a number of counties in Oregon have likewise decided they will no longer help federal immigration authorities carry out deportations. A coalition of immigrant and human rights organizations coordinated requests to sheriffs across the western United States urging sheriffs to stop detaining individuals at ICE’s request to avoid damage liability.

“We still need to pass comprehensive immigration reform nationally and the administration needs to implement policies to put a stop to the mass deportations of our immigrant communities,” said Yusufi-Marin, “but this is an important, milestone step towards ending ill-advised immigration enforcement policies that break up mixed-status families, breach community trust in law enforcement, and result in billions of dollars of wasted resources.”

UPDATE: San Diego Sheriff’s Department statement, available 5/30/14.

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Silencio departe de la Oficina de Aduanas y Protección Fronteriza resulta en una demanda https://www.aclusandiego.org/silencio-departe-de-la-oficina-de-aduanas-y-proteccion-fronteriza-resulta-en-una-demanda/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/silencio-departe-de-la-oficina-de-aduanas-y-proteccion-fronteriza-resulta-en-una-demanda/#comments Thu, 22 May 2014 23:19:15 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11340 SAN DIEGO – La ACLU de los Condados de San Diego y Imperial interpuso una demanda bajo la Ley de Libertad de Información (FOIA, por sus siglas en inglés)  esta mañana buscando inmediato acceso a el reporte Foro de Investigación Policial Ejecutivo (PERF, por sus siglas en inglés) analizando las pólizas y prácticas de uso de fuerza por Agentes de la Oficina de Aduanas y Protección Fronteriza (CBP, por sus siglas en inglés).Previamente, la ACLU había hecho  una FOIA  en el 21 de Febrero de 2014, pero hasta esta fecha no ha recibido ni una respuesta, ni si quiera una confirmación que la petición había sido recibida.

[Read this article in English, here.]

“El fracaso de la Oficina de Aduanas y Protección Fronteriza al ni si quiera responder a nuestra petición FOIA es un ejemplo de la agencia’s resistencia a ser transparente y responsable,” dijo Mitra Ebadolahi, abogada del Proyecto Fronterizo de Litigio del ACLU de San Diego. “El reporte PERF es un documento importante, una que detalla las problemáticas y potencialmente ilegales practicas y pólizas de uso de fuerza por CBP. El entero reporte debiera ser hecho público inmediatamente.”

El reporte PERF fue comisionado después de que dieciséis miembros de Congreso pidieron información acerca de las prácticas de CBP después de una serie de muertes que atrajeron mucha atención en la prensa involucrando oficiales de CBP. Desde 2010, por lo menos 28 personas han muerto en encuentros con oficiales de CBP. Por lo menos diez eran ciudadanos estadounidenses; seis estaban en México cuando fueron matados.

Ya en 2014, tres personas han muerto después de encuentros con oficiales de CBP, incluyendo un migrante aquí en Escondido cerca de Otay Mesa. La próxima semana marca el cuarto aniversario de uno de los fallecidos – Anastasio Hernández Rojas.

El CBP si mismo comisiono PERF, una organización sin fines lucrativos, a conducir una auditoría independiente de las prácticas y pólizas del uso de fuerza por CBP. Aunque el reporte fue escrito y entregado a CBP en 2013, el reporte no ha sido divulgado al público. El periódico Los Angeles Times escribió un articulo después de leer una copia del reporte que detalla una crítica severa confirmando lo que organizaciones de derechos civiles largo habían sospechado: que el uso de fuerza por CBP es a menudo excesivo y arbitrario. De acuerdo a LA Times, el reporte PERF sugiere que oficiales de CBP deliberadamente provocaron confrontaciones que resultaron en violencia.

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Radio Silence from Border Patrol on Use-of-Force Policies Leads to Lawsuit-UPDATED https://www.aclusandiego.org/radio-silence-border-patrol-use-force-policies-leads-lawsuit/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/radio-silence-border-patrol-use-force-policies-leads-lawsuit/#comments Thu, 22 May 2014 20:30:04 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11335 *** UPDATE: CBP Releases Report, New Training Handbook 5/30/14 ***

This morning, Customs and Border Protection officials announced the release of a revised use-of-force policy handbook and the Police Executive Research Forum report the San Diego ACLU had sued to get just eight days earlier. We welcome the overdue public release of the PERF report, and hope this is a positive step toward achieving urgently needed CBP transparency that the agency has long resisted.

Today we call on the CPB to ensure that the agency fully incorporates all major reforms in:

  • agent training,
  • use-of-force incident tracking,
  • impartial investigation processes within CBP, and
  • effective oversight and accountability.

With new leadership at the Department of Homeland Security and CBP, it is time to seize the moment to enact rapid and thorough reform of the nation’s largest law enforcement agency, with particular focus on protecting the civil and human rights of families and residents in border communities.

We will hold the CBP commissioner, R. Gil Kerlikowske, to his word, made in announcement of today’s release of the long-awaited documents, to view today’s release of documents as “…the beginning of a continuous review of our responsibility to only use force when it is necessary to protect people.”

* * *END OF UPDATE * * *

SAN DIEGO – Today, the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties filed a complaint in court against Customs and Border Protection for the agency’s failure to respond to a Freedom of Information Act request seeking the release of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) report analyzing the agency’s use-of-force policies and practices. The ACLU previously had filed a FOIA on February 21, 2014, but to date has received no response at all—not even an acknowledgement of receipt of the FOIA.

[Lea este artículo en español, aquí.]

“Custom and Border Protection’s failure to even respond to our FOIA request exemplifies the agency’s resistance to transparency and accountability,” said Mitra Ebadolahi, staff attorney for the San Diego ACLU’s Border Litigation Project. “The PERF report is an important document, one that details CBP’s problematic and potentially unlawful use-of-force policies and practices. The report should be made public in its entirety, immediately.”

The PERF report came after sixteen members of Congress sought information about CBP’s practices following a series of high-profile deaths involving CBP personnel. Since 2010, at least 28 people have died in encounters with CBP officials. At least ten of these were U.S. citizens; six were inside Mexico when killed. Already in 2014, three people have died after encounters with Border Patrol agents, including a migrant here in San Diego near Otay Mesa.

Next week marks the fourth anniversary of one of the people killed since 2010—Anastasio Hernandez Rojas, a longtime San Diego resident whose wife and five U.S. citizen children continue to seek justice for his brutal killing by border agents, which was caught on video by several eyewitnesses.

The CBP itself commissioned the PERF, a nonprofit research organization, to conduct an external, independent review of the CBP’s use-of-force practices and policies. Though the report was written and delivered to the CBP in 2013, it has not been made public. The Los Angeles Times wrote a story after seeing a leaked copy of the report, and detailed a scathing review confirming what civil rights organizations have long charged: that the Border Patrol agents’ use of force is often excessive and arbitrary. According to the LA Times, the PERF report suggests that border agents deliberately provoked confrontations that led to avoidable violence.

Just last month, on April 7, 2014 the San Diego office of the American Friends Service Committee also submitted a FOIA request for CBP use-of-force records, including the PERF report.  Like the ACLU, the AFSC has also not received a response to their FOIA request.  Pedro Rios, director of the AFSC, said, “CBP is the largest domestic law enforcement agency in the country. The general public has a right to know what policies guide its agents and how those agents are held accountable for actions that lead to abusive treatment.”

The Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC), a coalition of 60 organizations from San Diego to Brownsville and of which ACLU and AFSC are a part, has also requested the release of the PERF report directly with the new leadership at CBP. “PERF is a widely respected, professional police review agency whose recommendations set the standard for best practices,” stated Andrea Guerrero, co-chair of SBCC. “There are no excuses for hiding or rejecting any recommendations that could prevent further deaths and abuses.”

Migrant death memorial-El Paso-sq

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San Diego ACLU Urges City Residents: Vote Yes on Props B&C https://www.aclusandiego.org/san-diego-aclu-urges-city-residents-vote-yes-props-bc/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/san-diego-aclu-urges-city-residents-vote-yes-props-bc/#comments Thu, 22 May 2014 00:20:32 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11333  

The San Diego ACLU doesn’t often take a public stand on local propositions. But we support Props B & C because they seek to fix inequities in environmental justice that have fallen disproportionately on people who live in Barrio Logan. 

Stand for justice in Barrio Logan. Pledge to vote YES on Props B & C.

Barrio Logan created a community plan, which was vetted and duly passed by the San Diego City Council last fall. Issues addressed by the plan include the need to create a buffer zone between their homes and the toxins and industrial pollution, which result in asthma rates at three times the rate of the county.

The plan is on the June 3rd ballot because some entrenched business interests were unhappy with the City Council’s decision.

Most of us can agree that we wouldn’t be too happy if people in all the other neighborhoods across the city got to decide what was best for our own neighborhood.

Join the San Diego ACLU: VOTE YES ON PROPs B & C!

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Healthcare Reform and Immigration Status in California https://www.aclusandiego.org/healthcare-reform-immigration-status-california/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/healthcare-reform-immigration-status-california/#comments Mon, 19 May 2014 20:41:39 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11326

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Líderes comunitarios molestos con falla del condado para proporcionar información vital en varios lenguajes durante tiempo de desastre https://www.aclusandiego.org/la-aclu-exige-que-el-condado-proporcione-informacion-para-residentes-que-hablan-ingles-acerca-de-los-incendios/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/la-aclu-exige-que-el-condado-proporcione-informacion-para-residentes-que-hablan-ingles-acerca-de-los-incendios/#comments Fri, 16 May 2014 20:11:52 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11320  

SAN DIEGO – En vista de estos desastrosos incendios, es de gran importancia que todos los residentes del Condado de San Diego sean proporcionados información actualizada acerca de los incendios que están rugiendo por todo nuestro condado.  Organizaciones y activistas de la comunidad latina y asiática y de las islas del Pacífico después de oír las historias de los afectados, imploraron a oficiales del condado desde ayer que información importante acerca de los incendios sea proporcionada en varios lenguajes al fin que los afectados puedan mejor proteger a sus familias y mantenerse fuera de las áreas de peligro.

“Muchos de nuestros clientes solo hablan chino, y cuando hay una emergencia, comunicación en nuestro propio lenguaje es muy importante,” dijo Sally Wong Avery, presidente del Centro de Servicios Chinos. “Confiamos en que nuestros oficiales del gobierno van a tener todos los lenguajes cubiertos para que nadie sea menospreciado.”

Esta mañana, la ACLU de los condados de San Diego y Imperial mandaron un carta vía correo electrónico a la Junta de Supervisores del Condado delineando su obligación legal a proporcionar traducciones de información pertinente a la emergencia, incluyendo tener un traductor en español en todos las conferencias de prensa. Desafortunadamente, el condado tuvo una conferencia de prensa hoy después de recibir el correo electrónico y la información todavía solo fue proporcionada en ingles y en lenguaje de signos americano, continuando a menospreciar a una gran porción de residentes que no hablan ingles que necesitan esta información critica para su bienestar y para poder evacuar.

“Es necesario que el condado se aseguré que durante desastres todos tengan acceso a información vital y servicios,” dijo Norma Chavez-Peterson, la directora ejecutiva de la ACLU de los Condados de San Diego e Imperial. “Sabemos que duro están trabajando los rescatistas para salvar vidas. Nadie debería quedar en áreas de peligro porque no entendieron que grave esta la situación.”

La carta que mando ACLU exige que el condado:

  1. Haga todas conferencias de prensa y comunicados acerca de los incendios en ingles y español;
  2. Se asegure que todos comunicados de prensa y notas para los medios sean emitidos en español, vietnamita, tagalog/filipino, chino, tal como el Condado hace para información electoral;
  3. Se asegure que los operados trabajando las líneas 211 quien hablan español, vietnamita, tagalog/filipino, y chino estén disponibles para responder a llamadas en esos lenguajes.

“Nuestros oficiales elegidos tiene una obligación a proporcionar información vital rápidamente, efectivamente, y en un lenguaje que todos los residentes del Condado de San Diego puedan entender,” dijo Christian Ramirez, director del Coalición de Comunidades de la Frontera del Sur. “No es aceptable que oficiales del gobierno permitan que barreras a lenguaje impidan la proporción de información vital.”

Leyes federales y estatales requieren que el Condado de San Diego proporcione información acerca de desastres naturales a sus residentes en el lenguaje que ellos entienden. La ley en California dice que “es una práctica discriminatoria” que el condado “falle al tomar los pasos necesarios para asegurarse que medios alternativos de comunicación sean disponibles para los últimos beneficiarios.”

Un número significante de residentes de San Diego necesitan urgentemente traducciones de esta información vital:

  • 35% de residentes del Condado de 5 años de edad o más hablan otro lenguaje en vez de ingles
  • 24% de residentes del Condado de 5 años de edad o más hablan español
  • 15% de residentes del Condado de 5 años de edad o más tienen un entendimiento limitado del ingles
  • 11% residentes del Condado de 5 años de edad o más hablan español y tienen un entendimiento limitado del ingles
  • Aproximadamente 15% de residentes del Condado Norte de 5 años de edad o más hablan español y tienen un entendimiento limitado del ingles

La carta cita varias leyes federales y estatales requiriendo que personas recibiendo servicios públicos tengan acceso a información en su propio lenguaje. Lea la carta en ingles aquí.

 

 

 

 

 

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Broad Concern with County’s Failure to Provide Language Access during Time of Disaster https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-calls-county-provide-language-access-wildfires/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-calls-county-provide-language-access-wildfires/#comments Fri, 16 May 2014 20:07:08 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11318  

SAN DIEGO – During this severe fire disaster, it is imperative that all San Diego county residents are being provided with the most up to date information concerning the fires sweeping across our county.  Organizations and community leaders from San Diego’s Latino and Asian Pacific Islander communities hearing from scores of victims who could not access the most recent news about the fires, pleaded with county officials beginning yesterday to provide important fire-related information in multiple languages so that they can take care of their families and ensure everyone’s safety.

[Lea este artículo aquí en español.]

“Many of our clients are monolingual Chinese speakers, so when there is an emergency, communication in our own language is very important,” said Sally Wong Avery, president of the Chinese Service Center. “We trust that our government officials will have all the necessary languages covered so that no one is left behind.”

This morning, the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties informed the county Board of Supervisors of their legal obligation to translate pertinent emergency information and provided recommendations to meet those obligations, including by having a Spanish translator at all press conferences. Unfortunately, the county again conducted its afternoon briefing and news conference in only English and American Sign Language, continuing to leave large portions of the county’s residents in the dark about critical safety and evacuation information.

“It is imperative that the County ensure language access to vital information and services during disasters,” said Norma Chavez-Peterson, executive director of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. “We know how hard our first responders are working to save lives. No one should be left in harm’s way because they didn’t understand the extent of the danger.”

The ACLU letter requested that the County:

  1. Hold all press conferences and briefings regarding the wildfire in both English & Spanish;
  2. Ensure that all written press releases and advisories regarding the wildfires are issued in Spanish, Vietnamese, Tagalog/Filipino, and Chinese, as the County already is required to do for voting materials; and
  3. Ensure that 211 operators who speak Spanish, Vietnamese, Tagalog/Filipino, and Chinese are available to answer calls in those languages.

“Our local elected officials have an obligation to provide life saving information quickly, efficiently and in a language that all San Diego County residents can understand,” said Christian Ramirez, director of the Southern Border Communities Coalition. “It is unacceptable for  public officials to allow language to become a barrier that impedes the flow of life-saving information.”

Both state and federal law require San Diego County to provide its residents with natural disaster information in a language they can understand.  California law says, “it is discriminatory practice” for the county to “to fail to take appropriate steps to ensure that alternative communication services are available to ultimate beneficiaries.”

There are a significant number of San Diegans that are in need of translated, urgent information:

  • 35% of County residents age 5 and above speak a language other than English.
  • 24% of County residents age 5 and above speak Spanish.
  • 15% of County residents age 5 and above have limited English proficiency.
  • 11% of County residents age 5 and above speak Spanish & have limited English proficiency.
  • Approximately 15% of North County residents age 5 and above speak Spanish & have limited English proficiency.

The ACLU letter cited federal and state laws requiring language access to public services. Read the entire letter (in English) here. Loy attached a copy of “A Local Official’s Guide to Language Access Laws.”

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Conoce Tus Derechos Durante y Después de un Desastre https://www.aclusandiego.org/conoce-tus-derechos-durante-y-despues-de-un-desastre/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/conoce-tus-derechos-durante-y-despues-de-un-desastre/#comments Fri, 16 May 2014 16:32:39 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11308  

¿Qué está pasando?
¿Donde recibo ayuda?
¿Cuales son mis derechos?

Durante y después de un desastre, los rescatistas y agencias gubernamentales deben actuar rápida y efectivamente para minimizar los daños y ayudar a los damnificados. Durante un desastre, no debemos olvidarnos de la Constitución. Si eres victima de un desastre, tienes los mismos derechos constitucionales de siempre, incluyendo igualdad de trato y las debidas garantías procesales.

Ultimos Detalles

  • Para últimos detalles sobre los incendios alrededor de San Diego y por información de recursos disponibles llame 211. Para las personas que usan twitter, sigan @sandiegolisto para ver las últimas noticias sobre los incendios.

Tienes derecho a albergue, comida, atención médica, y otra ayuda

  • Si puedes demostrar que perteneces al área afectada, los rescatistas cubrirán tus necesidades inmediatas. Puedes encontrar más información a: www.aclusandiego.org o llame 619.232.2121.

Mantén la calma y defiende tus derechos

  • Tienes derecho a atención médica, comida, albergue y ayuda financiera
  • No tienes que mostrar tu identificación para recibir ayuda
  • No te pueden discriminar.  Sin importar tu raza, color, etnia, nacionalidad, género, orientación sexual, edad, discapacidades o si hablas o no inglés.
  • No te pueden registrar sin razón
  • Tienes derecho a proteger tu información personal

No tienes que mostrar tu identificación

  • Ni la policía ni los rescatistas pueden pedirte ningún tipo de identificación, incluyendo tarjetas de inmigración o de seguro social. Si pueden pedir prueba que vives en la área afectada, pero si no tienes pruebas todavía tienes el derecho a servicios de emergencia y refugio. Si por algún chance, tienes una carta o cualquier prueba de tu vivienda, eso es suficiente. Si tienes un vecino, compañero de trabajo, etc. que tiene un tipo de identificación valido, ellos pueden verificar tu residencia.

Interrogación injustificado por la policía

  • Si llegan a ser víctimas de interrogación injusta, por agentes de policía o de inmigración, al tratar de evacuar o regresar a sus hogares, por favor llamen al 619-269-1823 para reportar el incidente.

Si la policía te detiene

  • Pregúntales si puedes irte
  • No tienes que contestar ninguna pregunta, solo dar tu nombre.

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Rights Leaders Urge County to Provide Emergency Info in Multiple Languages https://www.aclusandiego.org/rights-leaders-urge-san-diego-county-provide-emergency-info-multiple-languages/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/rights-leaders-urge-san-diego-county-provide-emergency-info-multiple-languages/#comments Thu, 15 May 2014 22:35:33 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11307  

SAN DIEGO – As the county braces for another difficult day of wildfires, immigrant rights leaders are urging state, county and local officials and media outlets to provide updated emergency information in multiple languages in order to ensure the safety of all of San Diego county residents.

“It is imperative that local officials and local media are mindful that providing updated information in multiple languages during this state of emergency can save lives,” said Alor Calderon, chair of the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium.

During the 2007 wildfires that devastated the county, immigrant rights organization documented discriminatory practices and unnecessary searches which placed the lives of many at risk.

As a result, in September 2008, the California Legislature passed and the governor signed into law AB 2327, which requires any local or state public employee who provides disaster-related assistance to do so without asking for information or documents that are not strictly necessary to determine eligibility. This generally means that no relief worker or volunteers should ask for IDs of victims seeking shelter, food, water, medical care, or other assistance.

Gov. Code 8596(c) , the resulting law, reads:

Entities providing disaster-related services and assistance shall strive to ensure that all victims receive the assistance that they need and for which they are eligible. Public employees shall assist evacuees and other individuals in securing disaster-related assistance and services without eliciting any information or document that is not strictly necessary to determine eligibility under state and federal laws. Nothing in this subdivision shall prevent public employees from taking reasonable steps to protect the health or safety of evacuees and other individuals during an emergency.

The San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium urges local media to:

  1. Communicate emergency information in the major languages of San Diegans (including spoken languages and sign languages).

The San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium urges local and county officials to:

  1. Communicate emergency information in the major languages of San Diegans (including spoken languages and sign languages).
  2. Abide by Cal Gov Code 8596 to ensure that public employees (emergency personnel and others) are assisting evacuees and others affected by the fires without eliciting information or documents not strictly necessary under law to access emergency assistance.
  3. Do not involve Border Patrol in emergency service roles in which they might have a deterring effect that would discourage immigrant families from getting out of harm’s way or seeking emergency assistance.

The San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium has set up a hotline to report any irregularities during the state of emergency 619-269-1823.

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Know Your Rights During San Diego’s Wildfires https://www.aclusandiego.org/fires-rage-throughout-san-diego-county/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/fires-rage-throughout-san-diego-county/#comments Wed, 14 May 2014 23:33:18 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11290  

SAN DIEGO – At least six wildfires are burning across San Diego’s north county, including Carlsbad, Camp Pendleton, Fallbrook, Oceanside, Las Pulgas, Rancho Penasquitos, and along Route 76. Our thoughts are with all the families in harm’s way.

In 2007, wildfires ravaged huge swaths of San Diego County. In a series of breakdowns in policies, procedures, and standards, many of our county’s most vulnerable residents affected by the devastating wildfires were denied emergency services in their time of greatest need.

Within a week of the fires’ breakout, the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties, Justice Overcoming Boundaries, and the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium released a report (aquí en español) detailing the problems. In concert with a number of allies, including the American Red Cross of San Diego & Imperial Counties, we then helped pass a bill, signed into law in 2008, that requires public employees to provide evacuees with disaster-related assistance without asking for information or documents not strictly necessary to determine eligibility for services. One of the chief concerns during the 2007 wildfires was that aid workers were asking evacuees for proof of identity in order to enter emergency shelters, access emergency food and water, and speak to a relief worker.

Your Rights During and After a Disaster:

– You cannot be discriminated against
– You are free from unreasonable searches
– Your personal information must be protected
– You have the right to medical care, food, shelter & financial aid
– You do not have to show identification
– Be calm and stand up for your rights

To ensure that everyone affected by a disaster is aware of his/her rights, the San Diego ACLU and the San Diego Red Cross created a series of “Know Your Rights During a Disaster” materials. These can be found below.

wildfires 2014

 

Please contact the ACLU if you hear of anyone being denied services during this current fire season.

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Blacks Twice as Likely to be Stopped, Three Times as Likely to be Searched https://www.aclusandiego.org/african-americans-twice-likely-stopped-three-times-likely-searched/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/african-americans-twice-likely-stopped-three-times-likely-searched/#comments Tue, 13 May 2014 20:22:20 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11284 The San Diego Police Department has released the race/ethnicity data on all vehicle stops, from January to March 2014. Sad to say, the data reveals very troubling trends in stops and searches by the San Diego Police Department:

  • Blacks are stopped twice as often as their driving age demographic representation.
    Blacks account for 12.3% of vehicle stops, but only 5.8% of the driving age population (15 years and up).
  • Once stopped, blacks are searched at three times the rate of whites, and Latinos are searched at twice the rate of whites.
  • If searched, blacks and Latinos are significantly less likely than other groups to be arrested.
    Fewer than one in five searches of blacks is associated with an arrest. For Latinos, one in four searches is associated with an arrest.

The ACLU has received many community complaints about suspected racial profiling by the SDPD. In the absence of data, the agency’s response has consistently been that such concerns are merely a matter of perception. Now data, provided by the agency itself, suggests otherwise.

Today, the ACLU sent a letter to Councilmember Marti Emerald, the chair of the Public Safety and Livable Communities committee voicing our concerns about these disturbing trends. Tomorrow night, the SDPD will be presenting this data to members of the City Council.

Join us to voice your concerns!

Public Safety & Livable Neighborhoods Committee & Gang Commission
Wednesday, May 14, 2014 at 6 p.m. (Arrive at 5:30pm to get a seat!)
Cherokee Point Elementary School (3735 38th Street, San Diego, CA 92105)

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SAN DIEGO – The Drive California Coalition, comprising a broad range of civil and immigrants’ rights organizations, applauds members of California’s congressional delegation for urging U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson to approve the California driver’s license proposed by the legislature in AB 60: “The Safe and Responsible Driver Act.”  The license is carefully designed to protect against discrimination and comply with federal law.

[Lea este artículo aquí en español.]

San Diego & Imperial counties’ Congressmember Juan Vargas, Representative for California’s 51st Congressional District and author of the letter sent to DHS, said, “At its core, this is a public safety issue. The fact of the matter is that all Californians stand to benefit from the successful implementation of California’s new driver’s license program for immigrants. Our roads will be much safer when all Californians understand the rules of the road, are trained, tested, licensed and insured.” Nineteen members of California’s congressional delegation signed Congressman Vargas’ letter (see full list, below).

The letter is a response to DHS’s inexplicable rejection of California’s design for its driver’s license program, since AB 60 was especially written to comply with the REAL ID Act of 2005. Under AB 60, the driver’s licenses would have a marking on the front reading “DP,” instead of the traditional “DL.”  Additionally, the back of the license would clearly state: “NOT FOR OFFICIAL FEDERAL PURPOSES.”

Advocates maintain that California’s good faith effort to comply with federal law and discourage discrimination must be respected. “Immigrants are already primary targets for scams, discrimination, retaliation and extortion by unscrupulous individuals,” said Luis Nolasco of the Justice for Immigrants Coalition in San Bernardino. “We’re talking about people’s very real fears of being targeted during simple, everyday interactions like applying to rent an apartment, going to the grocery story, or returning an item at the mall.”

In accordance with Representative Vargas’ letter, advocates agree that the issue calls for more flexibility on DHS’s part. Jazmin Segura of Educators for Fair Consideration in San Francisco said, “It should not be difficult to train federal officials to recognize the distinctive marks on California licenses. Does DHS really have so little faith in the ability of TSA employees to distinguish a license with the statement ‘not for official federal purposes’ from one without?”

Priya Murthy of Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network stated, “We call upon DHS to respect the protections California has established, which carefully balance complying with the REAL ID Act and ensuring the greatest protections for community members.”

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About the Drive California Coalition

Drive California is comprised of a wide range of civil and immigrants’ rights organizations working to ensure to successful implementation of California’s landmark drivers’ license program for immigrants. Members include, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles (AAAJ-LA), the American Civil Liberties Union of California (ACLU-CA), the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), the California Immigrant Policy Center (CIPC), Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), Council on American-Islamic Relations California (CAIR-CA), Educators for Fair Consideration (E4FC), Justice for Immigrants Coalition in San Bernardino (JFIC), Pacific Institute for Community Organization (PICO), Presente, the Services, Immigrant Rights, and Education Network (SIREN), and TODEC – Training Occupational Development Educating Communities.

Members of California’s Congressional Delegation Who Signed On to Rep. Vargas’s Letter

  • Rep. Juan Vargas (51st CD)
  • Rep. Xavier Becerra (34th CD)
  • Rep. Julia Brownley (26th CD)
  • Rep. Tony Cárdenas (29th CD)
  • Rep. Judy Chu (32nd CD)
  • Rep. Sam Farr (20th CD)
  • Rep. Janice Hahn (44th CD)
  • Rep. Mike Honda (17th CD)
  • rep. Jared Huffman (2nd CD)
  • Rep. Barbara Lee (13th CD)
  • Rep. Alan Lowenthal (47th CD)
  • Rep. Doris Matsui (6th CD)
  • Rep. Gloria Negrete McLeod (35th CD)
  • Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (40th CD)
  • Rep. Loretta Sanchez (46th CD)
  • Rep. Adam Schiff (28th CD)
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell (15th CD)
  • Rep. Mark Takano (41st CD)
  • Rep. Mike Thompson (5th CD)
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DMV Releases Draft Regulations on Driver’s Licenses under AB 60 https://www.aclusandiego.org/dmv-releases-draft-regulations-drivers-licenses-ab-60/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/dmv-releases-draft-regulations-drivers-licenses-ab-60/#comments Fri, 09 May 2014 14:38:00 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11272

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) released draft regulations today that outline the potential process and requirements necessary for undocumented immigrants living in California to apply for driver licenses.

Since October 2013, when Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 60 (Alejo) into law, the DMV has been working with experts, immigrant rights activists and community members to draft a process that is accessible for applicants but also manageable for the state. An estimated 1.4 million undocumented immigrants in California are expected to apply for licenses under this new law when it goes into effect no later than January 1, 2015.

The Drive California Coalition, comprising a broad range of civil and immigrants’ rights organizations released the following statement:

“We are glad to see the DMV move forward with the implementation of AB 60, which if successfully implemented, would ensure that all California drivers can be trained, tested, licensed and insured.

“We look forward to taking a close look in the coming days at the proposed draft regulations and analyzing them in detail to make sure they protect immigrant drivers. We will continue to work with the DMV in this public comment period to come up with final regulations that ensure that AB 60 licenses are accessible and protect the civil rights of all immigrants.

“However, these regulations do not resolve the issue of the license design. We urge the Department of Homeland Security to come to agreement with the 19 Members of the California Congressional delegation who just this morning sent a letter urging the Department to respect California law and the license design proposed by the Legislature in AB 60, which carefully balances complying with federal law and protecting immigrant community members from discrimination.”

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About the Drive California Coalition:

Drive California is a statewide coalition comprised of civil and immigrants’ rights organizations working to ensure to successful implementation of California’s landmark drivers’ license program for immigrants. Members include, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles (AAAJ-LA), the American Civil Liberties Union of California (ACLU-CA), the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), the California Immigrant Policy Center (CIPC), Central American Resource Center – Los Angeles, Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE), Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), Council on American-Islamic Relations California (CAIR-CA), Educators for Fair Consideration (E4FC), Justice for Immigrants Coalition in San Bernardino (JFIC), Mixteco/Indigena Community Organizing Project, Mujeres Unidas y Activas (MUA), PICO California, Presente.org, the Services, Immigrant Rights, and Education Network (SIREN), TODEC – Training Occupational Development Educating Communities, and Voces Unidas Solano.

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Judge Says State Unconstitutionally Stripped Thousands of Their Right to Vote https://www.aclusandiego.org/judge-orders-restoration-voting-rights-tens-thousands-californians/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/judge-orders-restoration-voting-rights-tens-thousands-californians/#comments Wed, 07 May 2014 20:03:57 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11257 OAKLAND, Calif. – An Alameda County Superior Court judge today ruled that Secretary of State Debra Bowen illegally stripped tens of thousands of people of their voting rights two years ago. His ruling said people on Post Release Community Supervision (PRCS) and mandatory supervision under California’s Criminal Justice Realignment Act are eligible to vote.

[Lea este artículo en español.]

“Today’s ruling is a victory for California’s democracy,” said Michael Risher, staff attorney with the ACLU of Northern California. “By following the plain language of our state’s voting laws, the court’s ruling will help ensure that in California, one of the nation’s most fundamental rights – the right to vote – will be protected and not restricted.”

In his ruling, Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo said the fact that the California legislature passed the Realignment Act with the legislative goal of better facilitating the reintegration of people with felony convictions back into society suggests legislators would have wanted people on PRCS and mandatory supervision to retain their right to vote, writing that “the plain language of the statute suggests that the integration of adult felons into society would be facilitated by allowing” these individuals to vote.

”Our democracy belongs to everyone who lives in America, not just a select few,” said Dorsey Nunn, executive director of All of Us or None, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. “Democracy functions best when the largest number of citizens possible participate, including formerly incarcerated people.”

Judge Grillo also followed California’s longstanding rule that every reasonable presumption be given in favor of the right of people to vote.

“The significance of this victory cannot be overstated. The right to vote gives meaning to every other right we have as citizens, and it is for this reason that our laws require every reasonable presumption in favor of the right to vote,” said Meredith Desautels, staff attorney with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area. “The court’s decision affirms the voices of Californians returning to their communities, assuring them the opportunity to contribute as equal members.”

In February, the American Civil Liberties Union of California, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Legal Services for Prisoners with Children filed a lawsuit charging Bowen with unconstitutionally stripping tens of thousands of people of their right to vote.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of three people who have lost or will soon lose their right to vote, along with the League of Women Voters of California and All of Us or None, a nonprofit organization that advocates for the rights of formerly and currently incarcerated people and their families.

“We should be expanding voting rights, not shutting out people of color,” said Jennifer A. Waggoner, president of the League of Women Voters of California. “Our democracy is stronger when all who are eligible can express their values and shape their community by voting.”

According to the lawsuit, Bowen violated state law when she issued a directive to local elections officials in December 2011 asserting that people are ineligible to vote if they are on PRCS or mandatory supervision – two new and innovative community-based alternatives to parole created under California’s Realignment Act for people recently incarcerated for low-level, non-violent, non-serious crimes.

The lawsuit also argued that after California voters in 1974 approved Proposition 10, state law has been clear that the only people ineligible to vote in California are those who are in state prison or on parole.

Resources for people with past convictions

 

 

 

 

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Troubling New Evidence of Racial Profiling Culture at SDPD https://www.aclusandiego.org/troubling-new-evidence-racial-profiling-culture-sdpd/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/troubling-new-evidence-racial-profiling-culture-sdpd/#comments Tue, 06 May 2014 21:27:27 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11252 The San Diego ACLU is deeply troubled by a recent report on KGTV in which several active duty police officers exposed several of their fellow officers in the Southeastern Division for complaining that a developing mural in the stationhouse had “too many black faces.” The officers who are reportedly uncomfortable with the faces of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, City Councilmember Myrtle Cole, and their own Captain Tony McElroy, are among the officers charged with protecting and serving San Diego’s southeastern neighborhood, which has the highest density of African American residents in the city.

The San Diego ACLU is concerned by how such biases could influence these officers in their day to day interactions in the community. One officer who was troubled by the comments said, “If they feel this way about a mural, how are they going to treat the public?”

This disturbing report is one more reason that the San Diego Police Department is in desperate need of a thorough audit that investigates the department’s incidences of racial profiling.

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Supreme Court Upholds Town Government Prayers https://www.aclusandiego.org/supreme-court-upholds-town-government-prayers/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/supreme-court-upholds-town-government-prayers/#comments Mon, 05 May 2014 15:19:23 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11245

 

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court of the United States upheld today a New York town’s practice of starting town meetings with official sectarian prayer. The practice was challenged by residents of Greece, N.Y. who objected to hearing government prayers, the vast majority of which were expressly Christian invocations, as a condition of attending public meetings.

“We are disappointed by today’s decision.  Official religious favoritism should be off-limits under the Constitution,” said Daniel Mach, director of the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief. “Town-sponsored sectarian prayer violates the basic rule requiring the government to stay neutral on matters of faith.”

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a friend of the court brief supporting the residents of Greece.

“The constitutional requirement that church and state must be separated rests, in part, on the understanding that when government supports one religion over others, people who are not members of the favored religion are made to feel like outsiders by their government,” said Arthur Eisenberg, legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

No one should be treated like a second-class citizen by their local governments because they do not share a particular set of beliefs.  Religious freedom is alive and well in the United States precisely because the government does not take sides on matters of religion.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, reasoned that Greece had not violated the Constitution because the prayers were “ceremonial.” Justice Elena Kagan’s dissent said that the town’s prayer opening could not be reconciled “with the First Amendment’s promise that every citizen, irrespective of her religion, owns an equal share in her government.”

torch-smWant to weigh in on this issue on our non-scientific poll? Scroll down to the bottom of our home page and click on the red “Vote” button.

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Failed Experiments: Stop All Lethal Injections Now https://www.aclusandiego.org/failed-experiments-stop-lethal-injections-now/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/failed-experiments-stop-lethal-injections-now/#comments Thu, 01 May 2014 21:11:32 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11250

Assurances about lethal injection rest on the premise that inmates are sedated and unconscious before other excruciating drugs are administered. The horrifying experiences of recent executions make clear these assurances are false. The drugs used in recent executions produced not a sleep into death but many wakeful minutes of struggle and pain. Such executions are clear violations of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment and require investigation and action.

In other words, no human being should be death’s guinea pig.

We were all reminded of this Tuesday night when the state of Oklahoma executedClayton Lockett in a gruesome experiment. Using an untested protocol, with secretly obtained drugs, the state started Lockett’s execution at 6:23 p.m. Ten minutes later, Locket was pronounced unconscious and administered the second and third drugs. Shortly thereafter, it became clear that Lockett was not unconscious as he writhed, breathed heavily, and mumbled. He clenched his teeth and tried to rise off the bed.

His lawyer said it looked “like torture.” The prison officials then dropped the blinds, blocking the view. The warden called off the execution, announcing the obvious: The doctor had observed a problem. He said Lockett’s “vein had blown,” and they did not know how much of the drugs he had received. Lockett died shortly thereafter of a heart attack when his heart literally burst in his chest. As the White House acknowledges, Lockett’s execution fell short of the humane standards required when the death penalty is carried out.

This was not the first failed experiment in new lethal injection protocols – and not even in Oklahoma. The main drug used in earlier years of lethal injection, sodium thiopental, is no longer available because its manufacturers object to the use of medication for killing. This has led states to concoct new execution protocols and to scramble for alternative drugs.

The new protocols are no more scientific. Recent executions have relied on pentobarbital or midazolam. Both have terrible track records. The reports from observers of Lockett’s execution, which used midazolam, have a strong resemblance to those from Dennis McGuire, whose botched execution in Ohio took place a few months earlier in January. After McGuire was reported by the prison as unconscious, he clenched his fist, heaved, struggled, and made horrible noises, according to witnesses. He was gasping, choking, and snoring in the 25 minutes it took to kill him. The Ohio death recipe is the same thatLouisiana wants to follow.

We know that pentobarbital, the other drug used in recent executions, will cause excruciating pain in poorly regulated or contaminated batches. Before its new protocol, Oklahoma relied on pentobarbital. This was what was used to execute death row inmate Michael Lee Wilson, who cried out during his execution, “I feel my whole body burning.”

These botched executions raise critical questions: Why did the execution go so wrong? Is there any reason to think that these particular protocols and combinations of drugs would ever work? Where did the drugs come from, and were the drugs themselves contaminated?

Lockett’s lawyers had tried to get answers about the source and the quality of the drugs to be used well before his execution, and a lower court initially ruled that Oklahoma would have to provide these details. But after a wild and unbelievable litigation path – which involved a lawmaker threatening to impeach the state supreme court and the governor asserting that she was not required to follow the supreme court’s ruling – the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that the execution could proceed in a cloud of secrecy.

Where the drugs come from is a critical question. Many of the drugs – including pentobarbital – are not available through traditional manufacturers and can only be obtained through compounding pharmacies, where reliability and safety are major concerns. Eric Robert was executed in 2012 by South Dakota using compounded pentobarbital. After he was injected, he gasped heavily, snored loudly with his eyes open, and his skin turned purple. An expert pharmacologist has described this reaction as consistent with contaminated drugs.

States have tried to fend off these critical inquires about the sources of their drugs by relying on secrecy statutes or litigation. The Supreme Court has yet to wade into this area, but a federal appeals court allowed a Missouri execution to go forward under a total veil of secrecy about where the drugs came from. As a dissenting justice described, the “pharmacy on which Missouri relies could be nothing more than a high school class.”

Last month, the UN Human Rights Committee, which monitors compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – a treaty ratified by the United States in 1992, expressed concerns regarding the use of untested drugs in lethal injections. The committee noted “with concern reports about the administration, by some states, of untested lethal drugs to execute prisoners and the withholding of information about such drugs.”

The committee recommended that the U.S. government “ensure that lethal drugs used for executions originate from legal, regulated sources, and are approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration and that information on the origin and composition of such drugs is made available to individuals scheduled for execution.”

These recommendations – transparency and oversight by the F.D.A. of all drugs used in lethal injections – are important ones, but we need full answers about what has gone so horribly wrong. Governor Mary Fallin has acknowledged the need for investigation, but so far, she has failed to appoint an independent investigation. Oklahoma has given us no reason to have confidence that an executive investigation will provide any serious inquiry.

Before Oklahoma, or any other state, engages in executions, we need real answers from an independent investigation. Only with that information can states formulate the effective and transparent standards that the Constitution requires.

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California Fair Sentencing Act Clears First Hurdle https://www.aclusandiego.org/california-fair-sentencing-act-clears-first-hurdle/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/california-fair-sentencing-act-clears-first-hurdle/#comments Wed, 30 Apr 2014 00:04:12 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11238   

SACRAMENTO, CA — The California Fair Sentencing Act (SB 1010), authored by Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), passed its first hurdle in the Senate Committee on Public Safety. Senator Mitchell’s bill will correct the groundless disparity in sentencing, probation and asset forfeiture guidelines for possession of crack cocaine for sale versus the same crime involving powder cocaine that has resulted in a pattern of racial discrimination in sentencing and incarceration in California. SB 1010 now moves on to the Appropriations Committee.

“There is no rational basis for the disparity between crack and powder cocaine sentencing, and instead it causes an unjustified and devastating racial disparity in our correctional system and in our communities,” said Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, senior policy advocate with the ACLU of California.

Garnering over 100 letters of support, the California Fair Sentencing Act boasts support from national civil rights groups (including the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Advancement Project), human rights advocates (incl. Human Rights Watch and The Children’s Defense Fund), over a dozen Latino and immigrant rights groups (incl. MALDEF and CHIRLA), faith based collaboratives (incl. Los Angeles Metropolitan Churches and PICO California), leading drug treatment experts (incl. California Society of Addiction Medicine and Tarzana Treatment Centers), constitutional attorneys (incl. Dean of UC Irvine School of Law Erwin Chemerinsky and UC Berkeley School of Law Warren Institute Senior Fellow Barry Krisberg), and so many other organizations and individuals who believe that the time has come for equal justice under the law.

“Same crime, same punishment is a basic principle of law in our democratic society,” said Senator Mitchell, Chair of the Black Caucus and member of the Senate Public Safety Committee. “Yet more Black and Brown people serve longer sentences for trying to sell cocaine because the law unfairly punishes cheap drug traffic more severely than the white-collar version. Well, fair needs to be fair.”

The Senate Public Safety Committee staff analysis noted that African Americans are imprisoned for possession of cocaine base for sale at a rate 43.25 times that for Whites. Moreover, it noted that, “despite the fact that white adolescents use drugs at much higher rates than minority adolescents, the US Department of Justice found that juvenile arrests disproportionately involve minorities.”

Crack and powder cocaine are two forms of the same drug. Scientific reports, including a major study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, demonstrate that they have nearly identical effects on the human body. Crack cocaine is derived when cocaine powder is processed with an alkali, typically common baking soda. Gram for gram, there is less active drug in crack than in powder cocaine.

According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, people of color accounted for over 98% of persons sent to prison for possession of crack cocaine for sale in 2005-2010. Blacks accounted for 77.4% of state prison commitments for crack possession for sale, Latinos for 18.1%, and whites for less than 2%. Blacks make up 6.6% of the California state population, Latinos 38.2%, and whites 39.4%.

The California Fair Sentencing Act is cosponsored by a dozen civil rights and criminal justice reform organizations, including the Drug Policy Alliance, ACLU of California, A New Way of Life, California State Conference of the NAACP, Californians for Safety and Justice, California Public Defenders Association, California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, Ella Baker Center, Friends Committee on Legislation, National Council for La Raza, and the William C. Velasquez Institute.

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Online Voter Registration Now Available in 10 Languages https://www.aclusandiego.org/online-voter-registration-now-available-10-languages/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/online-voter-registration-now-available-10-languages/#comments Tue, 22 Apr 2014 16:59:50 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11234 SACRAMENTO – California’s online voter registration website – launched in English and Spanish in 2012 – has now been expanded to include eight additional languages: Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese. In addition, the new system now has improved access for people with disabilities. People who want to register to vote can now visit http://registertovote.ca.gov and fill out an online form in any of these ten languages.

In 2012, the ACLU of California sponsored Senate Bill 35 (Padilla, 2012), which, among other things, required the Secretary of State to translate online voter registration into all languages in which California counties are required to offer voting materials under the federal Voting Rights Act. Voting rights advocates across the country commend the bill’s author, Senator Alex Padilla, and Governor Brown for signing it into law.

Online voter registration offers a convenient alternative to filling out a registration form at the local DMV office, or downloading a form, filling it out, and putting it in the mail. Before the November 2012 election, over half a million people used the online voter registration website to register as new voters.

Advocates expect this to help increase registration among Asian Americans and Latinos in California who tend to have relatively low voter registration rates. While 72 percent of non-Hispanic whites and 69 percent of African Americans in California reported being registered to vote in 2012, only 58 percent of Asians and 57 percent of Latinos were registered.

“This is an exciting moment for California, which continues to work toward expanding access to the electoral process at a time when so many other states are restricting the right to vote,” said Lori Shellenberger, director of ACLU of California Voting Rights Project. “Californians will now have equal access to the state’s online voter registration system, regardless of language preference or a possible disability. If you have access to a computer or a smartphone, you can submit a voter registration application in just a few minutes.”

Californians who want to vote in the June 3 primary but are not registered to vote, must register by May 19. Those who are already registered voters do not need to re-register unless they wish to update their address or change their political party affiliation.

 

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Across the Digital Divide https://www.aclusandiego.org/across-digital-divide/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/across-digital-divide/#comments Fri, 18 Apr 2014 19:19:13 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11230 Raising serious concerns about equal access the San Diego ACLU urged the Oceanside Unified School District to rescind any requirement for families to use an online system for enrolling students. To require families to enroll children online imposes a significant barrier to equal educational opportunity for low-income and people of color and people with disabilities, given the digital divide in access to the internet.

At least one school in the district, McAuliffe Elementary School, informed families that the district “is moving all school registration procedures to online starting May 1st, 2014,” and that parents would need to set up a portal account to register their student for the 2014-2015 school year.

“Many low-income families, especially people of color, simply don’t have access to computers, smartphones, or the internet, and people with disabilities also face obstacles to accessing the internet,” said David Loy, legal director of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. “Given the state of funding for institutions that provide public internet access, such as libraries and community centers, there aren’t enough hours in the day that struggling families could easily use these resources. For something as fundamental as registering or re-registering a child for school, such a burden is indefensible.”

Regardless of whether it is limited to one school or widespread in the district, any requirement for online-only enrollment presents serious legal problems. As noted in the letter, it likely violates state law that says, “No person in the State of California shall, on the basis of race, national origin, ethnic group identification…color…or disability, be unlawfully denied full and equal access to the benefits of, or be unlawfully subjected to discrimination under any program or activity that is…funded directly by the state, or receives any financial assistance from the state.”

Since people of color and people with disabilities often have less access to the internet than other people, the requirement to register online appears to constitute a discriminatory practice, regardless of the district’s intent, by:

  • Giving children of color an unequal opportunity to participate in public education
  • Giving people of color less effective means to reach the same level of achievement as others
  • Effectively discriminating against people based on their ethnic group, color, or disability

“Because access to a public education is a fundamental tenet of the California Constitution, any disparities based on wealth or race in the public education system are strictly prohibited, even if the district did not intend to discriminate,” said Loy.

The San Diego ACLU offered to engage the district’s superintendent, Larry Perondi, in a dialogue to address the issues raised in its letter, sent yesterday. The request called on the district to rescind any requirement to enroll students online, and to notify families that no such requirement exists.

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Guide to Requesting Legal Help from ACLU https://www.aclusandiego.org/guide-to-requesting-legal-help-from-acluhow-does-the-aclu-accept-cases/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/guide-to-requesting-legal-help-from-acluhow-does-the-aclu-accept-cases/#comments Fri, 11 Apr 2014 12:09:35 +0000 http://s.elayers.net/aclu/?p=844 Because of our limited resources, the ACLU can only accept a small fraction of the cases that are presented to us. We therefore select cases primarily based on whether they will help make positive law.

Please read this information carefully to find out the kinds of cases we accept, and how to have the ACLU consider your case.

Esta infomación en español.

 

If after reading this, you believe your case may be the kind of case we can accept, please click here for our Legal Assistance Application Form. (If you have trouble accessing it, call our office at 619/232-2121, and press “4” to request that an intake questionnaire be sent to you.) We cannot accept intake questionnaires or information about your case via fax or e-mail.

Please do not submit additional documentation to our office. If we need more information, we will call you. We will let you know as soon as possible whether we can accept your case, although there may be some delay because of limited resources.

How do we choose cases?
The ACLU generally files cases that affect the civil liberties of large numbers of people, rather than those involving a dispute between two parties. The basic questions we ask when reviewing a potential case are:

  • Is this a significant civil liberties issue?
  • What effect will this case have on people in addition to our client?
  • Do we have the resources to take this case?

What does it cost?
In ACLU cases, the attorneys represent the clients free of charge. ACLU cases are handled by staff counsel and by volunteer attorneys, who are in private practice and volunteer their time for ACLU cases.

What are civil liberties?
The civil liberties we seek to protect include:

  • Freedom of Speech and Press. For example:
    – A student is suspended for writing a newspaper article critical of the principal;
    – A police officer is disciplined for speaking out against police brutality;
    – A group is charged for police protection when it applies for a demonstration permit.
  • Freedom of Religion. This involves both the right of individuals to religious beliefs and the separation of church and state.
  • Privacy. For example, reproductive rights.
  • Equal Protection/Discrimination. This could include, for example, a sheriff’s department that refuses to accept women deputies, or a refusal to allow homeless people to vote because they have no fixed addresses.
  • Due Process. For example, a community group is denied a permit by the police, and the town provides no appeal of the police decision.

What cases affect others?
Lawsuits can affect a large number of people in two ways. First, we sometimes challenge a policy or practice which directly impacts many people. Second, a lawsuit brought on behalf of one person can have a larger impact on others in the long run when it establishes or expands legal protections. For example, a lawsuit challenging drug testing of one employee, if successful, could set a precedent for thousands of workers in the future.

Why we prefer cases without serious factual disputes
We tend to take cases which do not involve complicated disputes of fact, but prefer to take cases where the issue is a question of law. An example of a factual dispute is an employment discrimination case where the employer claims he fired the employee because of poor job performance and has credible evidence to support that claim. The reasons we often decide not to accept cases involving factual disputes are:

  • our limited resources (it is often expensive to prove a case which involves substantial factual disputes);
  • a court might never reach the civil liberties legal issue if it resolves the facts against the client; and
  • the case is less likely to have a broad impact on others if the decision rests upon the specific facts of a case.

Types of cases the ACLU generally cannot accept
Types of cases the ACLU does not generally accept include:

  • A person was fired without a good reason or just cause;
  • A person is being denied benefits, such as worker’s compensation or unemployment benefits;
  • Criminal cases, or complaints about a person’s attorney in a criminal case. Only in limited cases, for example, when a person is being prosecuted for engaging in activity protected by the Constitution (such as participating in a political demonstration), do we consider accepting criminal cases.

Why the ACLU may turn down cases that fall without our guidelines
There are many cases and problems of unfairness and injustice which the ACLU is simply unable to handle. We receive hundreds of requests for help each month at this office alone. Therefore, we cannot accept many of the cases that fall within the guidelines discussed above. We must select those cases which we believe will have the greatest impact on protecting civil liberties.

Can the ACLU advise me about my case, even if you can’t take it?
The ACLU is unable to give you advice about your case, or provide other types of assistance (for example, reviewing your papers, or conducting legal research to assist you) if we do not accept your case. This policy allows us to direct the necessary resources to those cases that we do accept.

Important Note About Deadlines
All legal claims have time deadlines. The deadlines may be different depending on who violated your rights and depending on what rights were violated. For some kinds of violations, you may need to file a claim with a government agency before you can sue, and these agencies usually have their own time deadlines.

The ACLU cannot give you advice about the deadlines that apply to your case. To protect your rights, please consult with an attorney promptly to find out what deadlines apply in your case.

Legal Disclaimer
The information and materials on this web site are intended for informational purposes only and are not intended to be treated as legal advice. The information is general in nature, and may not apply to particular factual or legal circumstances. Neither the web site nor the use of information from the web site creates an attorney-client relationship.

Unsolicited emails and information sent to the ACLU and ACLU Foundation of San Diego & Imperial Counties do not create an attorney-client relationship.

Legal Intake Forms:

Legal Assistance Application Form – English

Applicación para solicitar ayuda legal -Espanol

Guide to Requesting Legal Assistance

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Guía para Solicitar Ayuda Legal de la ACLU https://www.aclusandiego.org/complaint/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/complaint/#comments Thu, 10 Apr 2014 19:02:36 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11210 POR FAVOR LEA esta información con cuidado para informarse acerca de como la ACLU decide qué tipo de casos aceptar y cuál es el criterio que utilizamos para escogerlos. POR FAVOR NO MANDE DOCUMENTACION ADICIONAL A NUESTRA OFICINA.

La applicación para solicitar ayuda legal.

Si necesitamos más información le llamaremos. Le avisaremos lo antes possible si podemos aceptar su caso, aunque puede tomarnos algo de tiempo debido a recursos limitados.

¿CUÁNTO CUESTA?

Los abogados de la ACLU representan a sus clients gratuitamente. Los casos que la ACLU acepta y litiga son llevados por nuestros abogados de planta o por abogados en el sector privado que donan su tiempo a la ACLU.

¿CÓMO ELEGIMOS CASOS?

Por lo general, la ACLU acepta casos que tienen un efecto directo en las libertades civiles de grupos grandes de personas. Nosotros no aceptamos casos en los cuales se trata de disputas entre dos individuos. Las preguntas básicas que nos hacemos cuando examinamos las solicitudes que nos llegan pidiendo ayuda legal, son las siguientes:

  • ¿Se trata de una situación en donde el tema central está directamente relacionado con libertades civiles?
  • ¿Qué efecto tendrá este caso en la communidad en general, no nomas con nuestro cliente?
  • ¿Contamos con los recursos necesarios para litigar este caso?

¿CUÁLES SON LIBERTADES CIVILES?

Libertad de Expresión: Un ejemplo de un tipo de violación en este área es cuando un estudiante se encuentra suspendido después de haber escrito un artícula en el periódico escolar en donde crítica al director de la escuela;

Privacidad: Esto encapsula derechos reproductivos (planeación familiar)

Libertad de Religión: Esto implica tanto el derecho de los individuos a tener sus propias  creencias religiosas, como el de la separación de la iglesia y el estado;

Igualdad de Protección/Discriminación: Un ejemplo valido de esto es si el departamento del Sheriff se negara a aceptar a mujeres como candidatas para ejercer una carrera dentro de ese oficina. También puede ser un caso donde no se les permitierar a personas sin hogar el derecho de votar por que no cuentan con una dirección fija;

Tutela Efectiva (Proceso Legal)-Due Process: Si un grupo comunitario se le niega un permiso por la policía y la ciudad no proporciona alguna  manera para apelar esa decisión.

¿COMO SE AFECTAN LOS CASOS ENTRE SÍ?

Nuestros casos legales afectan a la gente de dos formas. La primera es al cuestionar una práctica o politicá que implica a muchas personas. La segunda es cuando litigamos un caso de un individuo que puede llegar a tener un impacto significativo al establecer o expandir las protecciones legales para todos. Por ejemplo, una demanda en la cual se rete el llevar a cabo pruebas de anti-dopaje en el lugar de empleo, si resulta exitosa, puede establecer un precedente para miles de trabajadores en el futuro.

PREFERIMOS ACEPTAR CASOS EN LOS CUALES
NO HAYA DISPUTAS SERIAS DE LOS HECHOS

Aquí en el ACLU tenemos una tendencia a tomar casos en los cuales no haya disputas de los hechos y que la cuestión sea una directamente de leyes. Un ejemplo de una disputa de los hechos seria un caso de discriminación en el lugar del trabajo donde el jefe dice haber despedido a un empleado por no desarrollar bien su trabajo y tiene evidencia para apoyar sus acusaciones. Las razones por las cuales no aceptamos esos casos son:

  • Nuestros recursos limitados
  • Es posible que la corte no llegue a resolver el tema de libertades civiles si es que se resuelven primero los hechos en contra del cliente;
  • El caso tiene menos probabilidad de tener un impacto sobre todos si la decisión recae sobre los hechos de un solo caso en específico.

¿CUÁLES SON TIPOS DE CASOS QUE LA ACLU NO ACEPTA?

Hay muchos casos y problemas legales que son completamente injustos pero que nomas no podemos aceptar. Aquí en la ACLU de San Diego, recibimos cientos de solicitudes para proporcionar ayuda legal, desafortunadamente nuestros recursos son limitados y por lo tanto no podemos aceptar muchos de los casos que podrían llegar a calificar para nuestra ayuda. Tenemos la obligación de seleccionar aquellos casos que puedan llegar a tener un impacto mayor en las libertades civiles de la población. 

¿ME PUEDE ACONSEJAR LA ACLU CON MI CASO AUNQUE HAYA SIDO RECHAZADO POR USTEDES?

La ACLU no puede darle consejos sobre su caso o proporcionarle con otro tipo de ayuda (no podemos revisar sus papeles o llevar a cabo de la investigación legal) si no aceptamos su caso primero. Esta política permite que dirijamos los recursos necesarios a aquellos casos que si aceptamos. 

NOTA IMPORTANTE SOBRE FECHAS LIMITES

Todos los reclamos legales tienen fechas límites. Estas fechas límites pueden ser diferentes dependiendo de quién violo sus derechos legales y cuales fueron esos derechos que fueron violados. Existen ciertos tipos de violaciones en los cuales se necesita meter el papeleo con una agencia gubernamental antes de poder demandar y estas agencias tienen sus propias fechas límites.

La ACLU no puede darle consejo sobre las fechas límites que son aplicables en su caso. Para proteger sus derechos y averiguar cuáles son las fechas límites de su caso en particular, por favor consulte con un abogado lo más pronto posible. 

La applicación para solicitar ayuda legal.

OTROS RECURSOS

Para obtener más información o para recibir recomendaciones,por favor llame a los siguientes lugares:

Recomendaciones y Referencias para Encontrar un Abogado

San Diego County Bar Association
1-800-464-1529 o (619)-231-8585

Ayuda Legal Gratuita

Legal Aid Society of San Diego
1-877-534-2524

Ayuda con Casos de Inmigración

Casa Cornelia (619)-231-7788
CRLA (760)-966-0511

Discriminación en el Trabajo

(619)-521-1372

Cuestiones Criminales

San Diego Public Defenders
(619)-338-4700

Para más información sobre nuestra organización, por favor visite nuestro sitio Web en www.aclusandiego.org

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Affordable Care Act: A Primer for Advocates https://www.aclusandiego.org/affordable-care-act-primer-advocates/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/affordable-care-act-primer-advocates/#comments Fri, 04 Apr 2014 21:37:55 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11198  

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) presents a monumental opportunity to reduce unnecessary incarceration of people with mental illness and substance use disorders. With new coverage options and the requirement that insurance cover mental health and substance use disorder treatment, the ACA finally allows society to treat these as issues of public health, not criminal justice. ACLU-SDIC works to ensure widespread enrollment of the justice-involved population into health coverage and development of systems for referral into appropriate health services, rather than harmful and wasteful incarceration. By doing so, we can strengthen the health and safety of our communities and reduce the likelihood that people will enter the justice system again.

Download our toolkitAffordable Care Act; A Primer for Advocates: Building Healthy and Safe Communities.

Toolkit ACA + CJ cover-sm

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Website Launched to Expose Border-Related Abuse and Litigation https://www.aclusandiego.org/website-launched-expose-border-related-abuse-litigation/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/website-launched-expose-border-related-abuse-litigation/#comments Wed, 26 Mar 2014 23:46:45 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11187  

Washington D.C. – An alliance of immigration advocacy groups announces the launch of HoldCBPAccountable.org, a website that catalogues lawsuits and administrative complaints brought against U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties, the American Immigration Council, the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project joined forces to document litigation that exposes CBP abuses, including unlawful searches and seizures, removals based on coercion and misinformation, and the use of excessive and sometimes deadly force by Border Patrol agents and CBP officers.

Among the cases included on the website:

  • Laura Mireles, a U.S. citizen, works on the U.S. side of an international bridge in Brownsville, Texas. One day, she crossed into Mexico for 15 minutes to make a purchase. Upon her return, a CBP officer stopped Mireles and searched her car. The agent became agitated and reacted violently when Mireles questioned his reasons for searching her handbag. He grabbed her with both hands and threw her onto the ground with such force that her jeans ripped and she suffered a laceration to her knee and several cuts on her elbows; the officer then handcuffed her so tightly that the fire department later had to cut the handcuffs from her wrists. After being treated by paramedics, Ms. Mireles was released from custody without charges. Mireles seeks damages for the serious harm she suffered as a result of CBP’s unlawful actions.
  • In 2013, four women were apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border by Border Patrol agents. They were then taken to what the agents called a “hielera,” which is Spanish for “icebox” or “icemaker.” Hieleras are short-term holding cells which agents often maintain at very low temperatures. The women all describe cells in which dozens of detainees were crowded together. The cells had no beds, no chairs, and only a single toilet in plain view. The women were detained in the cells for as long as 13 days. All have filed administrative complaints for damages for the suffering they endured at the hands of CBP.
  • Gustavo Vargas was stopped by the Anacortes, Washington police, allegedly for failing to use his turn signal. He provided a valid license, registration and proof of insurance. Despite this, the police officer called Border Patrol to check Vargas’s immigration status. Although the Border Patrol agent found no history of immigration or criminal violations, he instructed the police officer to detain Vargas and subsequently placed him into immigration custody. Vargas was detained for almost ten weeks. He has filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington seeking damages for his unlawful detention.

Details concerning these and other cases can be found at HoldCBPAccountable.org. The lawsuits currently posted were filed in courts across the country. Also included on the website are administrative complaints against CBP, documents received through Freedom of Information Act requests, and resources regarding CBP policies and procedures.

HoldCBPAccountable.org aims to reveal CBP’s widespread abuses against immigrants and U.S. citizens and ongoing efforts to promote greater accountability by one of the largest and fastest-growing law enforcement agencies in the United States.

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Intake Form / Cuestionario para Solicitar Ayuda Legal https://www.aclusandiego.org/intake-form-cuestionario-para-solicitar-ayuda-legal/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/intake-form-cuestionario-para-solicitar-ayuda-legal/#comments Tue, 25 Mar 2014 21:49:46 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11186  

Because of our limited resources, the ACLU can only accept a small fraction of the cases that are presented to us. We therefore select cases primarily based on whether they will help make positive law.

For more information, click here to find out how the ACLU determines what cases to take.

Esta infomación en español.

If after reading this, you believe your case may be the kind of case we can accept, please download our Legal Intake Form (below).  (If you have trouble accessing it or are unable to print it, call our office at 619/232-2121, and press “7″ to request that an intake questionnaire be sent to you.  We will not be able to discuss your case until we have a completed intake questionnaire.) We cannot accept intake questionnaires or information about your case via fax or e-mail.

Intake Form

Cuestionario (Intake form in Spanish)

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California to Comply with Voter Registration Law According to Settlement https://www.aclusandiego.org/covered-ca-settlement/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/covered-ca-settlement/#comments Mon, 24 Mar 2014 14:02:39 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11176  

SACRAMENTO – In a victory for voting rights, the state of California has agreed to mail voter registration cards to nearly four million Californians who have signed up for health insurance through the state health exchange, Covered California, and to ensure that Californians who apply for health benefits through the exchange going forward are provided voter registration opportunities.

The action is the result of a settlement agreement reached with a group of voting rights organizations, the ACLU of California, the ACLU’s Voting Rights ProjectDemos, and Project Vote, which threatened legal action over the state’s failure to comply with the National Voter Registration Act and state laws.

“Nearly four million Californians have applied for health insurance for themselves and their families and we applaud that incredible achievement. With this settlement agreement, Covered California will now offer these Californians the chance to register to vote or update their registration. California is on its way to healthier communities and a healthier democracy. It is exactly the result Congress intended when it passed the National Voter Registration Act more than 20 years ago,” said Lori Shellenberger, director of the ACLU of California’s Voting Rights Project.

The National Voter Registration Act is designed to make it easier for all Americans to register to vote and to maintain their registration. It requires states to make voter registration opportunities available at offices that provide public services, such as the Department of Motor Vehicles and the state health exchanges. Although the enrollment period for Covered California began last October, voter registration has not yet been provided, prompting this possible legal action.

To avoid litigation, Covered California agreed that by no later than the next open enrollment period in the Fall of 2014, it will incorporate all required voter registration services into all processes by which a consumer engages with Covered California, including online, in person, by mail, and in telephone transactions.  Immediately, Covered California will do a remedial voter registration mailing to the nearly 4 million people who applied for health benefits since the launch of the Affordable Care Act on October 1, 2013 and it will continue these mailings until such time as full compliance is achieved.

“Ensuring that all eligible Americans are registered to vote is key to ensuring a robust democracy,” said Lisa Danetz, legal director of Demos. “Agency-based registration under the National Voter Registration Act is a critical tool in making voter registration convenient and accessible. California’s decision to properly implement the NVRA’s requirements for those enrolling through its health benefit exchange should serve as an example for other state-run exchanges around the country. If other states follow, millions more Americans will have the opportunity to join the voting rolls.”

Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s national Voting Rights Project, said this settlement is a warning to other states that operate heath exchanges but have failed to provide required voter registration services. Those states include Nevada, Hawaii, Washington, and Washington D.C.

“It’s time to end the foot-dragging,” Ho said. “States have had months to make voter registration available through their health exchanges. A delay in offering voter registration is a delay for democracy. No more stalling.”

“Covered California is committing to comply with the law and fulfill Congress’s intent that voter registration services be easily available to individuals while they are seeking government assistance,” said Sarah Brannon, director of the Public Agency Voter Registration Program for Project Vote. “Other health benefit exchanges around the country should look to the system Covered California is setting up under the terms of this agreement as a model for how they can effectively comply with the legal requirements of the NVRA.”

The ACLU of California, the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, Demos, and Project Vote were representing the League of Women Voters of California, Young Invincibles, and several individuals who applied for health care benefits through Covered California.

“Many eligible voters fail to register due to lack of access and opportunity. Offering voter registration to the millions of people enrolling in health care is a simple step toward reaching out to them,” said Jennifer A. Waggoner, president of the League of Women Voters of California.

This historic settlement could serve to engage a younger generation in their democracy. “Many young adults are obtaining health insurance for the first time, and this is a great opportunity to both insure young Americans and create a young generation of registered voters,” said Tamika Butler, California Director of Young Invincibles.

The agreement was approved by the California health benefit exchange board and was signed by Covered California’s executive director Peter Lee and California Secretary of State Debra Bowen.​

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ACLU and PETA Sue San Diego Airport for Rejecting Anti-SeaWorld Ad https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-peta-sue-san-diego-airport-rejecting-anti-seaworld-ad/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-peta-sue-san-diego-airport-rejecting-anti-seaworld-ad/#comments Tue, 11 Mar 2014 16:56:28 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11156  whale-flikr CC SAN DIEGO — “Welcome to San Diego!” proclaims actor Kathy Najimy in a new PETA ad designed to greet thousands of tourists arriving each day at the city’s airport. “If you love animals like I do,” she continues, “please avoid SeaWorld.”

Airport advertising vendor JCDecaux has refused PETA’s $17,500 to place the “vertical spectacular” because of its anti-SeaWorld message. But according to the ACLU and PETA, the agency cannot refuse to run PETA’s ad since it welcomes ads from other nonprofits and SeaWorld itself.

As a result of the rejection, PETA, represented by its own lawyers and the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties, has filed a lawsuit against the airport. “While the government has some authority to regulate advertising, this is an example of the government abusing that authority and unfairly discriminating against the message of a specific advertiser,” says Sean Riordan, ACLU senior staff attorney. “The First Amendment stands to protect against this kind of viewpoint discrimination.”

PETA has been campaigning aggressively against SeaWorld and recently its cruel capture, confinement, and treatment of animals was exposed to millions in the critically acclaimed documentary Blackfish. While orcas in the wild travel up to 100 miles per day, SeaWorld confines them to small tanks in chemically treated water. The orcas at SeaWorld also break their teeth and endure chronic pain from snapping and gnawing at the pool gates as a result of stress and aggression. At least 25 orcas have died in SeaWorld facilities since 1986.

“When I was growing up in San Diego, we didn’t know better and our folks took us to SeaWorld,” says Najimy, who is known for her roles in Sister Act and Hocus Pocus and can be found on King of the Hill and HBO’s Veep. “We were blind to the reality that these gorgeous creatures were being abused and belong in their natural habitat. My vegan daughter Samia’s generation is well aware of this and would much rather picket SeaWorld than actually go there. If you want a fun day in San Diego, then take your family to Balboa Park and ride the carousel, see a great play at The Old Globe theater, or get naked at Black’s Beach and hope you see a regal whale in her natural, compassionate, safe home!”

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

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Special Projects Associate https://www.aclusandiego.org/special-projects-associate/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/special-projects-associate/#comments Wed, 05 Mar 2014 19:57:25 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11144  

The ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties (ACLU) seeks a full-time, dynamic team-player to be its Special Projects Associate.

Founded in 1933, the San Diego ACLU is a not-for-profit, nonpartisan organization, which promotes and protects individual rights and fundamental freedoms, including First Amendment rights, Equal Protection, Privacy, and Due Process, through education, litigation, and policy advocacy.

Located in San Diego, the ACLU affiliate covers the length of California’s border with Mexico. It has twenty-three staff members, twenty board members, 9,000 members, and an annual budget of $3 million. San Diego is the eighth largest city in the United States and second largest in California. San Diego County has the third largest number of registered voters in California. Imperial County is the poorest county in California.

The San Diego ACLU works collaboratively with the ACLU affiliates headquartered in Los Angeles and San Francisco, as well as a lobbying office in Sacramento. Together, the three affiliates have more than 110,000 members and 120 staff people in California. 

Position Overview and Functions:

The Special Projects Associate will provide programmatic support to several areas at the affiliate, including the communications and development teams while also running the affiliate’s volunteer program. 

Specific Duties and Responsibilities Include:

  • Perform special research projects and other duties as needed or assigned by Executive and Leadership Teams.
  • Coordinate the affiliate’s annual Constitution Day program, including school and speaker outreach, planning, materials development, day-of coordination and trouble-shooting, and follow-up.
  • Coordinate the affiliate’s annual San Diego Pride contingent, including community outreach, event planning and staff communication.
  • Assist the development team in event planning and administrative support, including coordination of the quarterly Luncheon Conversations and Liberties at Night.
  • Recruit, train and manage the volunteers for the affiliate’s volunteer program.
  • Provide support to the communications team as needed, which may include the production of materials and other administrative tasks.
  • Assist the Youth Organizer in event planning and administrative support for the affiliate’s Inspire San Diego youth civic engagement program.

Qualifications:

  • Commitment to and knowledge of civil liberties. Familiarity with work and mission of ACLU.
  • Bachelor’s degree required.
  • Event planning experience preferred.
  • Proven attention to detail, ability to manage multiple tasks and finish projects within deadlines.
  • Excellent organizational, oral, written and interpersonal skills.
  • Highly self-motivated, organized, and adaptable.
  • Experience with Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, InDesign and other computer programs.
  • Ability to work with diverse communities. Spanish bilingual strongly preferred.

Salary & Benefits:  Competitive salary commensurate with experience. Excellent benefits. 

Application Procedure:  By March 24, 2014, interested individuals must send a cover letter, resume, and a list of references, preferably by e-mail to jobs@aclusandiego.org or by mail to: 

ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties
ATTN: Special Projects Associate

PO Box 87131
San Diego, CA 92138-7131

The ACLU is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and encourages applications from women, people of color, persons with disabilities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals, and veterans.

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Senior Organizer https://www.aclusandiego.org/senior-organizer/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/senior-organizer/#comments Wed, 05 Mar 2014 17:10:06 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11137 The ACLU and ACLU Foundation of San Diego & Imperial Counties (ACLU) seek a full-time, sophisticated, dynamic team-player to join its defense of civil rights and civil liberties as Senior Organizer.

Founded in 1933, the San Diego ACLU is a not-for-profit, nonpartisan organization, which promotes and protects individual rights and fundamental freedoms, including First Amendment rights, Equal Protection, Privacy, and Due Process, through education, litigation, and policy advocacy.

Located in San Diego, the ACLU affiliate covers the length of California’s border with Mexico. It has twenty-three staff members, twenty board members, 9,000 members, and an annual budget of $3 million. San Diego is the eighth largest city in the United States and second largest in California. San Diego County has the third largest number of registered voters in California. Imperial County is the poorest county in California.

The San Diego ACLU works collaboratively with the ACLU affiliates headquartered in Los Angeles and San Francisco, as well as a lobbying office in Sacramento. Together, the three affiliates have more than 110,000 members and 120 staff people in California.

Position Overview and Functions

The Senior Organizer oversees the organization’s efforts to organize and mobilize ACLU and community members, as well as to empower disadvantaged communities to protect civil liberties. This includes:

  • Overseeing the work of three community organizers working on criminal justice reform, immigrant rights, and youth leadership development and providing thoughtful, strategic direction.
  • Directing the organization’s organizing efforts and working collaboratively on issue and initiative campaigns.
  • Developing community leaders and activists to lead organizing, issue, and initiative campaigns.
  • Supporting communities organizing to build power to defend civil liberties and civil rights.
  • Mobilizing ACLU and community activists to pressure public officials to protect civil rights and civil liberties.

The Senior Organizer’s work style will foster teamwork among legal, policy, communications, organizing, and development staff, as well as work effectively with ACLU staff in other offices.

Other specific duties and responsibilities include:

  • Organize education and advocacy events that grow the organization’s strategic relationships, such as “know your rights” presentations, community forums, public hearings, rallies and trainings.
  • Forge and strengthen collaborative efforts with student groups, communities of color, immigrant and refugee communities, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities, and the disability community.
  • Integrate technology as a tool to advance the organization’s program goals.
  • Represent the organization in the media and at public events.
  • Work evenings and weekends and travel when necessary.
  • Other duties as assigned.

Qualifications:

  • Commitment to civil liberties.
  • Bachelors degree required.
  • At least five years in nonprofit or community-based groups, working on legislative, issue-based, and/or civic engagement campaigns.
  • Demonstrated leadership in supervising, challenging, motivating, and evaluating organizers or other staff.
  • Demonstrated leadership in designing and managing issue or civic engagement campaigns, including organizing and motivating allies, volunteers, and activists and working cooperatively with diverse groups.
  • Excellent writing, speaking, and analytic skills; the ability to analyze and articulate complex issues and to communicate them to a variety of audiences.
  • Experience with online organizing, communication and activism technology.
  • Ability to manage several projects and staff members simultaneously and to adjust to changing demands; excellent attention to detail.
  • A commitment to diversity; a personal approach that values the individual and respects differences of race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ability, and socio-economic circumstance.
  • Familiarity with and/or expertise in a broad range of civil liberties issues preferred.
  • Ability to speak Spanish strongly preferred.

Compensation: Salary is commensurate with experience and qualifications. Excellent benefits.

Application procedure: Applicants should submit by April 4, 2014, a resume, cover letter describing the applicant’s specific interest in and qualifications for working for the ACLU, and list of references, preferably by email,  to jobs[at]aclusandiego.org or by mail to: 

ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties
ATTN: Senior Organizer

PO Box 87131
San Diego, CA 92138-7131

The ACLU is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and encourages applications from women, people of color, persons with disabilities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals, and veterans.

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ACLU Statement on Reported Audit of Border Patrol’s Use-of-Force Policies https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-statement-reported-audit-border-patrols-use-force-policies/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-statement-reported-audit-border-patrols-use-force-policies/#comments Fri, 28 Feb 2014 02:12:25 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11122 Following today’s Los Angeles Times story on a report prepared last year criticizing U.S. Customs and Border Protection use-of-force policies and practices, the ACLU of SDIC urges Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to immediately release the full report and implement the report’s recommendations, which to date the agency has spurned.

The report at issue was prepared and issued by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), an independent nonprofit organization specializing in law enforcement best practices.  Although PERF provided CBP with the report in February 2013, the document and its recommendations have been withheld from the public. The San Diego ACLU recently filed a FOIA request to obtain a full and unredacted copy of the report but to date the agency has not responded to the request.

The scathing report—which was commissioned by CBP itself—confirms what civil rights organizations have been charging for years: Border Patrol agents’ use of force is often excessive and arbitrary.

Since January 2010, at least 28 people have died in encounters with CBP agents. At least ten of these people were U.S. citizens and six of them were in Mexico when fatally shot. In none of these cases has an agent or officer faced any public consequences. Just one week ago, a U.S. Border Patrol agent fatally shot a migrant near Otay Mesa; the agent alleged that the migrant had thrown rocks. According to the Los Angeles Times article, the PERF report suggests that border agents deliberately provoked confrontations that led to avoidable violence.

Importantly, the report appears to raise questions about Border Patrol practices that unnecessarily endanger federal agents and innocent bystanders alike.  Among other recommendations, PERF advised CBP to train agents to “get out of the way” rather than confront moving cars and rocks.

In addition to its recommendations on improved use-of-force training and steps to avoid lethal force except in life-threatening situations, the PERF report apparently cites Border Patrol for a “lack of diligence” in investigating agents who have fired their weapons. The report thus casts serious doubt on CBP’s internal investigation of use-of-force incidents, and recommends that immigration enforcement agencies revise their policies and procedures so that these incidents are properly investigated from the outset.

Border Patrol’s immediate response to the published news article was that implementing PERF’s recommendations would endanger agents. But the report does not recommend that agents always avoid using deadly force. Rather, it rightly recommends that deadly force be limited to those occasions when it is truly necessary.

It is troubling that CBP, which commissioned PERF’s review of the agency’s use-of-force policies, is now crying foul because it does not like the findings. This is a further indication of how important transparency and oversight within the agency is. It does not serve public safety or our democratic principles when abuses of authority are swept under the rug. The public has a right to read the PERF report and better understand the use-of-force policies and procedures used by the nation’s largest law enforcement agency.

Read the ACLU’s Use-of-Force Recommendations here.

anastasio-CBP

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San Diego ACLU Statement on Chief Lansdowne’s Retirement https://www.aclusandiego.org/san-diego-aclu-statement-chief-lansdownes-retirement/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/san-diego-aclu-statement-chief-lansdownes-retirement/#comments Wed, 26 Feb 2014 17:19:23 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11115 The ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties commends the Chief for his years of service to our city and for his immediate and serious response to recent allegations of officer misconduct and racial profiling. As he retires, we urge the City Council and our new mayor- elect to follow through on the Chief’s call for an independent audit of the San Diego Police Department.

Civil rights and civil liberties do not need to be sacrificed in the name of public safety. The San Diego Police Department will be more effective at keeping our city safe when the public knows that officers are held accountable and cannot act with impunity.

The ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties is committed to working with City Hall and Mayor-Elect Faulconer to ensure that our city’s police force serves and protects all San Diegans.

lansdowne thumbnail-sm

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Affordable Care Act and Immigrants https://www.aclusandiego.org/affordable-care-act-immigrants/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/affordable-care-act-immigrants/#comments Wed, 26 Feb 2014 16:48:21 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11171 The ACLU of California created in collaboration with our friends at the California Immigrant Policy Center (CIPC) a fact sheet which gives a summary of how the Affordable Care Act (also known as ACA and “Obamacare”) applies to immigrants and migrants in California.

The document describes what the ACA is, and then describes in detail what each group of immigrants or migrants can expect from the ACA, and what their responsibilities are.

There is a handy chart showing each group’s eligibility, and a lengthy list of resources for more detailed information.

Here’s the report in English.
Here is a “cheat sheet” with the main points for each immigrant/migrant group.
Aquí está el informe en español.
Aquí está una hoja informativa con los principales puntos para cada grupo de inmigrantes y emigrantes.

In addition, in May 2014 the ACLU of San Diego teamed up again with CIPC, along with National Immigration Law Center (NILC), to present “Healthcare Reform and Immigration Status in California.” A recording of the webinar and slides are available below. The presentation describes:

  • Basics of the Affordable Care Act, including Medi-Cal expansion, Covered California, the Individual Mandate, and Special Enrollment Periods;
  • Eligibility for Medi-Cal and Covered California, as well as applicability of the individual mandate, based on immigration status;
  • Challenges of enrollment for immigrant families, including fear of negative immigration consequences; and
  • Senator Lara’s Health for All Act (SB 1005), which would provide coverage options for undocumented Californians, and how you can get involved.

Here are the slides.

 

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Attempt to Repeal the School Success and Opportunity Act Fails https://www.aclusandiego.org/attempt-repeal-school-success-opportunity-act-fails/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/attempt-repeal-school-success-opportunity-act-fails/#comments Tue, 25 Feb 2014 02:29:38 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11079 SAN FRANCISCO—Today, the effort to repeal the School Success and Opportunity Act—California’s new law ensuring that all children have opportunities to do well in school—failed to qualify for the ballot.

The law—also known as Assembly Bill 1266—went into effect on January 1st, ensuring that schools have the guidance they need to make sure all students, including those who are transgender, have the opportunity to do well in school and graduate.

The law is modeled after policies and practices that are already working well in several schools, and gives important guidance to educators so they can work with students and families on a case-by-case basis.

Oakland’s Redwood Heights School is among the California schools with policies in place that provide transgender young people with fair chances. Like other schools with similar policies across the state, the policy has been successful since it was established five years ago.

“We want our students to know that when they walk onto this campus, they are welcomed for who they are,” said Redwood Heights Principal Sara Stone. “Every educator I know went into the education field because they truly care about young people and making sure they have everything they need to do well in school.”

The law helps students like Zoey, a 12-year-old transgender girl from the Los Angeles area who transferred out of her school after administrators there refused to acknowledge her as a girl or allow her to use the girls’ restroom. Her mom, Ofelia Barba, says that the law makes it easier for her daughter to go to school and be herself.

“I love my daughter and want the same things for her that other parents want for their children,” Barba said. “I want what’s best for her, for her to be happy, and for her to be able to do well in school. No one wants to see any kid singled out and excluded from school because of who they are.”

The Support All Students campaign is comprised of a broad coalition of nearly 100 state and national organizations supporting the new law. The coalition includes Equality California, Transgender Law Center, National Center for Lesbian Rights, ACLU of California, Gay-Straight Alliance Network, L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, Gender Spectrum, LGBT organizations, racial justice organizations, statewide teacher and parent organizations, and others committed to ensuring that all kids have the opportunity to do well in school and graduate.

Said Transgender Law Center Executive Director and Campaign Chair Masen Davis: “This law gives schools the guidelines and flexibility to create an environment where all kids have the opportunity to learn. We need to focus on creating an environment where every student is able to do well and graduate. This law is about doing what’s best for all students—that’s why it’s supported by school boards, teachers, and the PTA.”

To learn more about the School Success and Opportunity Act and the Support All Students campaign, visit www.SupportAllStudents.org.

ashton

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Community Organizer https://www.aclusandiego.org/community-organizer-immigrant-rights-focus/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/community-organizer-immigrant-rights-focus/#comments Thu, 20 Feb 2014 19:00:51 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11063 The ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties (ACLU) seeks a dynamic Community Organizer with at least three years of experience in immigrants’ rights, labor, and/or political organizing. The Organizer will work on a range of community engagement projects, with particular focus in immigrant communities and on a range of local, state, and national policy change campaigns.

Located in San Diego, our affiliate encompasses California’s border with Mexico and shares the busiest border crossing in the world. It has twenty-three staff members, twenty board members, 9,000 members, and an annual budget of $3 million.  San Diego is the eighth largest city in the United States and second largest in California. San Diego County has the third largest number of registered voters in California. Imperial County is the poorest county in California.

The ACLU fights for individual rights and fundamental freedoms for all, through education, litigation, and policy advocacy. The ACLU promotes and defends civil rights and civil liberties, including First Amendment rights, Equal Protection, Privacy, and Due Process. The San Diego ACLU works collaboratively with the ACLU affiliates headquartered in Los Angeles and San Francisco, as well as a lobbying office in Sacramento. Together, the three affiliates have more than 110,000 members and 120 staff people in California. 

Position Overview and Functions:

The Organizer will be responsible for developing close relationships with a variety of individuals and organizations representative of local communities, with particular emphasis in immigrant communities.  The Organizer will develop and execute an annual work plan designed to promote participation in local, state, and federal campaigns; build an active base of community members who can be mobilized to participate in meetings, rallies, hearings, and delegations; build relationships with community organizations, faith leaders, business leaders, donors, and new and diverse communities throughout our region to advance our civil rights and civil liberties campaigns. The Organizer will work as part of the ACLU’s Advancing Immigrant Rights Team and across the policy, communications, and legal affiliate and statewide teams. 

Specifically, the Organizer will:

  • Develop organizing campaigns around key civil liberties and/or civil rights issues that are generated through community interest and vision and align with affiliate’s priority issue areas.
  • Represent ACLU in coalition meetings and develop strategic partnerships with community-based organizations working in diverse communities of the region.
  • Develop, conduct, and publicize widely Know Your Rights trainings that promote grassroots leadership, strategic issue campaigns, organizing, and coalition building on priority issue areas.
  • Galvanize support of community organizations, public officials, law enforcement officers, faith leaders, business leaders, donors, and new and diverse communities for organizing campaigns.
  • Work collaboratively with grassroots leaders, allies, and ACLU staff to execute large and effective community actions (hearings, rallies, etc.).
  • Work collaboratively with and provide leadership to the ACLU’s internal immigrant rights working team.
  • Identify, cultivate, and develop strong community leaders who will lead campaigns that pursue our civil rights priorities.
  • Complete and execute work plans.
  • Analyze, assess and make recommendations on direction of organizing campaigns.
  • Monitor and analyze local, state and national trends and issues related to civil rights and civil liberties as these impact our constituents.
  • Identify, recruit, and train ACLU members to participate in civil liberties campaigns and programs.

Qualifications:

  • Three years or more experience in base building, membership recruitment, and leadership and strategy development.
  • Deep understanding of this country’s civil rights and civil liberties, particularly in the area of immigrants’ rights; three years direct experience in this area strongly preferred.
  • Ability to and strong passion for working in and raising the profile of the ACLU in immigrant, refugee and low-income communities.
  • Strong interpersonal, facilitation, organizing, and communication skills.
  • Proficiency in Spanish language strongly preferred.
  • Valid automobile driver’s license and working vehicle required; this position will involve extensive travel through San Diego County and occasional travel to Imperial County.  Must be able to accommodate a variable work schedule.

Salary & Benefits:  Competitive salary commensurate with experience. Excellent benefits. 

Application Procedure:  Interested individuals should submit a cover letter, resume, list of three professional references, and a writing sample (no more than 5 pages) by March 7, 2014.  Application materials can be e-mailed to jobs@aclusandiego.org (please combine all materials into a single PDF file) or by mail to: 

ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties
ATTN:  Community Organizer Position

PO Box 87131
San Diego, CA 92138-7131

The ACLU is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and encourages applications from women, people of color, persons with disabilities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals, and veterans.

 

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Development Director https://www.aclusandiego.org/development-director/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/development-director/#comments Thu, 20 Feb 2014 18:37:10 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11056  

The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of San Diego & Imperial Counties seeks a dynamic, sophisticated full-time fundraiser to support and enhance its development efforts.  The Development Director reports to the Deputy Director.

The ACLU fights for individual rights and fundamental freedoms for all, through education, litigation, policy advocacy, and organizing.  The ACLU promotes and defends civil rights and civil liberties, including First Amendment rights, equal protection, privacy, and due process. The San Diego ACLU works collaboratively with the National ACLU headquarters in New York, as well as with the ACLU affiliates headquartered in Los Angeles and San Francisco.  Together, the three California affiliates have more than 100,000 members and 120 staff in California.

Located in beautiful San Diego, our ACLU affiliate covers the length of California’s border with Mexico.  It has 23 staff members, 20 board members, 9,000 members, and an annual budget of $3 million.  San Diego is the eighth largest city in the United States and the second largest in California.  San Diego County has the third largest number of registered voters in California.  Imperial County is the poorest county in California.

The ideal candidate will have a deep commitment and passion to ensuring civil liberties for everyone and an understanding of what it takes to fight for equality and equal protection under the law for all.

PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITIES
The Development Director is an important position at the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties.  Reporting to the Deputy Director, the Development Director will be responsible for managing a comprehensive fundraising program including annual and planned gifts.  The Development Director will secure mid-level, major and planned gifts through a process of identifying, qualifying, strategizing, cultivating, soliciting, closing, and stewarding major gift prospects and individual donors. He/she will also play an active role in membership development. The Development Director will work closely with the Deputy Director on grant fundraising.

Specific Responsibilities:

  • Produce and implement a fundraising plan to retain and renew current donors while identifying and acquiring prospective donors;
  • Manage a portfolio of donors at annual giving levels of $1,000 and above. Serve as a primary contact for donors and make direct solicitations. This includes phone, mail and direct face to face contact, attending donor meetings and events;
  • Advise prospects on giving options available; develop gift proposals; and work with donors to complete transfers of funds;
  • In cooperation with the Deputy Director, Executive Director and board leadership, organize face-to-face solicitations for major gifts. Manage senior affiliate and national ACLU staff fundraising travel, meetings, and calls, as appropriate;
  • Develop and direct donor stewardship efforts, including individual donor correspondence and contact; cultivation events; and the development of a calendar for regular communications with donors;
  • Maintain fundraising schedules and objectives; ensure that plans are implemented, goals achieved, timely reports generated and information shared; ensure that fundraising is done in the most efficient and cost-effective way. Participate in strategic and operational planning within the Development team.
  • Work collaboratively with program staff on fundraising activities germane to their policy area where opportunities exist for engaging donors;
  • Maintain and expand a portfolio of foundation/grant prospects and supervise the writing of grants and maintenance of a grants calendar;
  • Track, cultivate, and sustain the planned giving program;
  • Work collaboratively with ACLU national office to cultivate and solicit planned gifts from members and donors;
  • Make full use of the organization’s databases and tracking systems to ensure appropriate donor stewardship and to evaluate and report overall program performance;
  • Attend ACLU functions, such as the annual membership meeting, occasional board meetings and other ACLU events as requested. Serve as a representative of the organization at external events and meetings, as needed;
  • Supervise the affiliate’s participation in national ACLU direct marketing efforts;
  • Lead communications and organizing teams in membership development activities.

Additional Duties

  • Help with event planning, implementation, staffing and follow-up as needed;
  • Work collaboratively and cooperatively with other team members and volunteers to advance the goals of the organization;
  • Occasional public speaking.
  • Work evenings and weekends when necessary;
  • Other tasks as assigned.

Qualifications:

  • Unwavering commitment to civil liberties principles;
  • Bachelor’s degree;
  • Five years demonstrated experience in not-for-profit fundraising, including major and planned giving;
  • A successful track record of identifying, cultivating, soliciting and stewarding major individual donors;
  • Excellent verbal, written and interpersonal skills;
  • Knowledge of and successful experience with e-philanthropy strategies;
  • Advanced computer skills including experience with database management;
  • Demonstrated experience in responding and adapting to opportunities that arise;
  • Highly self-motivated, organized, adaptable.

Salary & Benefits:  Competitive salary commensurate with experience. Excellent benefits.

Please send a letter of interest and resume with references by February 28, 2014.  

Application Procedure:  Interested individuals must send a cover letter, resume, list of references, and a writing sample (no more than 5 pages), preferably by e-mail to jobs [at] aclusandiego.org or by mail to:

ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties
ATTN: Jeffrey Wergeles, Deputy Director
PO Box 87131
San Diego, CA 92138-7131

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Another Rock-Throwing Incident at the Border Ends in Death https://www.aclusandiego.org/another-rock-throwing-incident-border-ends-death/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/another-rock-throwing-incident-border-ends-death/#comments Wed, 19 Feb 2014 00:26:53 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11043 After another incident involving a U.S. Border Patrol agent fatally shooting a suspect, possibly for throwing a rock at an officer, the San Diego ACLU calls for a full and open investigation. This latest incident occurred this morning in the Otay mountains southeast of San Diego, according to news reports. While the facts are not yet known in this case, the ACLU believes that the policy and practice of the Border Patrol should be to de-escalate violent incidents as much as is possible, and use non-lethal force whenever possible. The news reports indicated that the officer sustained minor injuries for which he was treated at the scene.

Despite the massive influx of Border Patrol agents in our communities, there has been an utter lack of transparency into Border Patrol shootings. At times, Border Patrol has published information about these incidents, as in the 2010 killing of Anastasio Hernandez Rojas, that video evidence subsequently showed to be false. It is imperative that the agency behave honestly and transparently as to this latest incident.

The ACLU continues its call for independent oversight of federal law enforcement agencies and transparency to the investigation of these fatal shootings. The current system still allows investigating agencies and prosecutors to conceal the facts surrounding the incident and refrain from disclosing whether the use of force was justified.

In an open and democratic society, our government’s actions need to be transparent. If Border Patrol authorities believe a shooting was justified, the public should be able to judge whether the facts add up. Incidents should not be covered up because disclosing the facts might embarrass an agent or an entire agency.

The San Diego ACLU has been calling for reform of the Border Patrol’s use of lethal force policies and practices for nearly a decade, but the agency has refused to implement certain recommendations issued by an independent police practices foundation; it recommended that the agency stop responding to rock throwing with deadly force.

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Brown Administration Finally Agrees to More Comprehensive Criminal Justice Reform https://www.aclusandiego.org/brown-administration-finally-agrees-comprehensive-criminal-justice-reform/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/brown-administration-finally-agrees-comprehensive-criminal-justice-reform/#comments Tue, 11 Feb 2014 01:39:35 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11031  

Today’s order from the three-judge panel overseeing the standing federal court order to reduce the state’s prison population to 137.5 percent of capacity gives the state an additional two year extension to comply, and Plaintiffs’ attorneys’ are justifiably concerned about ongoing constitutional violations inside the prisons due to the continued overcrowding.

But today’s order is based upon important concessions by the state, including immediate changes to good-time credit and parole rules, a promise not to ship any additional prisoners out of state, an agreement not to seek further appellate review, and an express commitment to front-end sentencing reform.

It also contains significant new enforcement provisions, including mandatory benchmarks and the appointment of a compliance monitor with power to order prisoners released if the benchmark deadlines aren’t met. This all adds up to create the most specific, structured and enforceable inducement for the state to come up with sustainable population reductions since this litigation was initiated more than a  decade ago.

In the two-plus years since the California legislature passed the California Prison Realignment Act – which shifted responsibility for people who commit low level, non-violent, non-serious crimes from the state prison system to county jails – the ACLU of California has consistently said that much more needs to be done.

We have said repeatedly that comprehensive criminal justice reform must be part of any sustainable plan to achieve a lasting reduction in the number of people who are kept behind bars for far too long who don’t need to be locked up to keep the public safe.

Finally, the Brown administration is on record agreeing, with a federal court watching closely. Now it’s time for our political leaders in Sacramento to roll up their sleeves and get to work.

The long history of the law enforcement lobby killing even incremental attempts to reduce sentences (like Mark Leno’s bill seeking to make personal possession of drugs a misdemeanor) must come to an end. If a sentencing commission is appointed, it cannot be dominated and controlled by the same interests that have blocked reform efforts for decades.

The commission also must have “teeth” – a sentencing commission relegated to merely “advisory” status can be worse than no commission at all, because all other proposals for changing sentencing laws will be put on hold for the months or years the commission operates and the ultimate outcome may be no sentencing reform.

Just ask Professor Gerald Uelman, who directed the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, created by the State Senate in 2004 to “study and review the administration of criminal justice in California, to determine the extent to which that process has failed in the past” and to examine safeguards and improvements.

After four years of exhaustive research and multiple public hearings, the Commission issued a comprehensive final report containing specific recommendations, and supported numerous pieces of legislation introduced in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Of all of these bills, only two were passed by the legislature but both were vetoed by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Twice. Ultimately, of all the commission’s recommendations, a single bill became law, modifying the way in which capital defense attorneys are compensated.

A similarly fruitless sentencing commission is unacceptable. One idea worth considering is to set up any sentencing commission so that its recommendations become law UNLESS a two-thirds vote of the legislature and government overturn them.

Today’s order is a significant step in the right direction.  Now it’s time to put politics and law enforcement obstruction aside and get to work.

By Allen Hopper
Director, Criminal Justice and Drug Policy Reform
ACLU of California

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ACLU and LCCR Charge State with Illegally Denying the Right to Vote to Tens of Thousands of Voters https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-lccr-charge-state-illegally-denying-right-vote-tens-thousands-voters/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-lccr-charge-state-illegally-denying-right-vote-tens-thousands-voters/#comments Tue, 04 Feb 2014 18:58:17 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11012 OAKLAND –  The ACLU of California and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area (LCCR)  today filed a lawsuit charging the state with unconstitutionally stripping tens of thousands of people of their right to vote.

According to the lawsuit, filed in Alameda County Superior Court, the state’s actions clearly violated state law when the Secretary of State issued a directive to local elections officials in December 2011 asserting that people are ineligible to vote if they are on post-release community supervision or mandatory supervision. These are two new and innovative forms of community-based supervision created under California’s Criminal Justice Realignment Act for people recently incarcerated for low-level, non-violent, non-serious crimes.

[Lea el artículo, en español, aquí.]

Court intervention is necessary because a state official should not be able to disenfranchise 60,000 voters with the stroke of a pen.

“The Secretary of State should be working to increase voter participation, not to undermine it,” said Michael Risher, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Northern California. “California has dismal rates of voter registration and participation. The Secretary of State is making this even worse by disenfranchising tens of thousands of California citizens who are trying to re-engage with their communities. With voting rights under attack across the nation, and the U.S. Supreme Court’s disappointing decision striking down a critical law that protected the right to vote for people of color and language minorities, California needs more protection – not less – for voting rights.”

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of three people who have or will soon lose their right to vote, along with the League of Women Voters of California and All of Us Or None, a nonprofit organization that advocates for the rights of formerly and currently incarcerated people and their families.

“The law clearly establishes a presumption in favor of the right to vote, with only limited and specific exceptions,” said Meredith Desautels, staff attorney of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area.  “The Secretary of State unilaterally expanded these exceptions, without any public comment or input, disenfranchising thousands of members of our community and creating confusion around the voting rights of formerly incarcerated people. This unconstitutional disenfranchisement particularly impacts communities of color, who are too often excluded from the democratic process.”

“Society is much more secure when all people feel they are fully part of it,” said Dorsey Nunn, executive director of All of Us Or None, one of the plaintiff organizations. “If we want formerly incarcerated Californians to be good citizens, we need to convince them that they are a part of society too. I have never met a graffiti artist who spray paints his own home or business.”

After California voters in 1974 approved Proposition 10, state law has been clear that the only people ineligible to vote in California are those who are in state prison or on parole.

“Voting should be part of a successful reintegration into one’s community, but the Secretary of State’s memo takes us in the wrong direction,” said Jennifer A. Waggoner, President, League of Women Voters of California, another organizational plaintiff. “People of color are being disenfranchised and thousands of voters and county officials are being confused about their voting rights. The strength of our democracy comes from allowing everyone to fulfill their civic responsibility to vote.” The League has been fighting for expanded voting rights for all since 1920, when it was founded by the activists who secured the right to vote for women.

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San Diego ACLU Mourns the Loss of Iconic Pete Seeger https://www.aclusandiego.org/san-diego-aclu-mourns-loss-iconic-pete-seeger/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/san-diego-aclu-mourns-loss-iconic-pete-seeger/#comments Wed, 29 Jan 2014 05:52:10 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=11002 Pete Seeger–singer, songwriter, peace activist, and civil liberties champion extraordinaire–died Monday at a New York hospital. He was 94.

Seeger was a complex man who defined American activism. In his youth, he was briefly a member of the Communist party in its heyday because of his strong commitment to organized labor and workers’ rights. Though he “drifted away” from it several years later, his membership in the party and his outspoken calls for workers’ rights and racial justice haunted him–in the form of FBI surveillance and blacklisting–for decades.

He was subpoenaed to testify before the infamous House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). His commitment to First Amendment protections was so absolute that he alone, among HUAC’s many, many witnesses refused to assert his Fifth Amendment rights, our constitutional protection from self-incrimination. Instead, he refused to identify personal and professional associations on the grounds that doing so would violate his First Amendment rights:

“I am not going to answer any questions as to my association, my philosophical or religious beliefs or my political beliefs, or how I voted in any election, or any of these private affairs. I think these are very improper questions for any American to be asked, especially under such compulsion as this.”

His refusal earned him a conviction for contempt of Congress and a ten-year sentence, though an appeals court ruled the indictment to be flawed and overturned his conviction a year later.

Because he was blacklisted during these years and banned from bigger venues, Seeger performed across the nation in school auditoriums. When he came to San Diego in 1960 to play in a rented Hoover High School auditorium, the San Diego school board insisted that he sign a non-communist loyalty oath to use the building.

As in the HUAC hearings, Seeger refused to take the San Diego oath on principle. ACLU Attorneys Irwin Gostin and Lou Katz were contacted on a Friday, and, on Saturday morning, won an injunction against the school district. Seeger attended that hearing with a guitar and banjo in hand, planning to perform as part of his testimony. His attorneys were nervous that the judge, with a reputation for being conservative, would not take well to such testimony, but learned after the decision that Judge Clarence Harden was a big fan of folk music and would have loved it.

Just shy of a half-century later, the San Diego Unified School Board apologized to Pete Seeger for insisting he sign that loyalty oath at a meeting in February 2009. In a resolution that passed that evening, the Board offered an apology to “one of our dearest national treasures,” declaring that the board “deeply regrets its predecessors’ actions.”

In a written statement acknowledging the school board’s apology, Seeger said, “It is a measure of justice that our right to freedom of expression and association has been vindicated.”

Because of Seeger’s direct connection with San Diego, we feel his loss profoundly. Seeger served as the founding chair of the Artist Friends of the San Diego ACLU and occasionally surprised us with small, Pete-Seeger-original drawings. Our executive director had the pleasure of chopping wood with him at his home, when Seeger was 89 and still out-chopped the heck out of our 30-something ED.

As he always did, Pete Seeger knew the right words to say, and articulated the struggles of everyday Americans better than anyone:

Now, as I think of our great land
I know it ain’t perfect, but it will be someday
Just give us a little time.
This is the reason that I want to fight
Not ’cause everything’s perfect, or everything’s right.
No, it’s just the opposite. I’m fighting because
I want a better America, and better laws
And better homes, and jobs, and schools
And no more Jim Crow, and no more rules like
‘You can’t ride on this train ’cause you’re a Negro’
‘You can’t live here ’cause you’re a Jew’
‘You can’t work here ’cause you’re a union man.’

Pete Seeger, Presente.

seeger

 

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What Does the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014 Mean for California? https://www.aclusandiego.org/voting-rights-amendment-act-2014-mean-california/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/voting-rights-amendment-act-2014-mean-california/#comments Tue, 28 Jan 2014 04:56:13 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10997 On January 16th, Congress introduced the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014 — a modern-day bill to strengthen voter protections nationwide. The bill is in response to last year’s Supreme Court ruling in Shelby County v. Holder that invalidated a critical part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA): the coverage formula that determined which states and political subdivisions were subject to the law’s preclearance requirement.

Although much of the discussion around proposed revisions to the VRA has focused on states that were subject to the Section 5 preclearance provision prior to the Supreme Court’s Shelby County decision, it is important to remember that modernizing the VRA ensures that every eligible Californian is afforded a real and meaningful opportunity to participate in California elections.  The federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) has been a powerful and critical tool in the ongoing fight against vote suppression and discrimination in California, where racial, language, and ethnic minorities continue to face huge barriers to participation in our democracy.

The new bill includes important provisions like a rolling preclearance formula that will cover jurisdictions with recent, egregious voting records, requiring voting changes be preapproved; an expanded judicial bail-in provision; an enhanced ability for plaintiffs to obtain preliminary injunctive relief for some voting changes; and requirements for jurisdictions to provide public notice of proposed voting changes.

A problematic provision in the bill we will seek to have improved treats violations arising from voter ID laws somewhat less seriously from other voting rights violations. The bill also fails to include more robust protections for minority and language minority citizens who are subject to highly-suspect voting changes. This should be addressed as the legislative process moves forward.

The National Commission on Voting Rights is giving voters an opportunity to testify about their voting experiences at the statewide hearing on the State of the Vote in California at UC Hastings on January 30th. At this hearing, they will receive testimony on ongoing voting rights and procedural barriers in order to evaluate the continued need for strong federal voting rights protections in California. Voting rights experts, academics, and elections officials from across the state will testify regarding the barriers to participation that Californians face, the applicability of the Voting Rights Act in California, and the need to restore the VRA. The testimony voters give will become a part of the federal record supporting the new amendment. The ACLU of California and Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay are among the many voting rights and civil rights organizations sponsoring this event and we encourage the public to participate in this hearing.

Dolores Huerta, President, Dolores Huerta Foundation and Co-Founder of United Farm-Workers of America (UFW), will be in attendance as a National Commissioner. California Guest Commissioners include  Kathay Feng, Executive Director of California Common Cause; Alice A. Huffman, President, California-Hawaii State Conference of the NAACP; Cruz R. Reynoso, (ret.) Justice of the California Supreme Court and Professor, U.C. Davis School of Law.

 

WHAT: National Commission on Voting Rights, California Statewide Hearing

  • Panels – There will be formal panels of witnesses representing voting rights organizations, community leaders, election officials, and other stakeholders. Witnesses are encouraged to submit written testimony in advance of the hearing. The panel of commissioners will also receive the testimony orally and may ask follow up questions.
  • Public Testimony – There will be opportunities throughout the event for California voters to testify about their experiences. The Statewide Hearing is nonpartisan, free, and open to the public; food and refreshments will be provided. The Hearing will also be accessible to the public in Spanish.

WHEN:    Thursday, January 30, 2014, 9:00-4:00 p.m. (registration starts at 8:30 a.m).

WHERE:  UC Hastings College of Law (Louis B. Mayer Room)

198 McAllister Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

Sponsors and Supporting Organizations Include:

Altshuler Berzon

American Civil Liberties Union of California

Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles

Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP

California Common Cause

California-Hawaii State Conference NAACP

California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation (CRLAF)

Disability Rights California

Goldstein, Borgen, Dardarian & Ho

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area

Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP

Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF)

Morrison & Foerster LLP

National Action Network

National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund

O’Melveny & Myers LLP

The James Irvine Foundation

The Greenlining Institute

UC Hastings College of Law, Center for State and Local Government Law

 

blog-votefeet-500x280For more information about the National Commission on Voting Rights or to RSVP, please visit: cahearing.lawyerscommittee.org

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San Diego Receives $1.9 Million Investment to Empower Residents https://www.aclusandiego.org/san-diego-receives-1-9-million-investment-empower-residents/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/san-diego-receives-1-9-million-investment-empower-residents/#comments Thu, 16 Jan 2014 19:49:39 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10986 A team of organizations in San Diego County will receive $1.9 million over the next two years, to build upon efforts to empower the region’s most vulnerable residents. In a competitive process, San Diego was one of three locations selected to receive the grant from the Open Society Foundations. The other awardees were groups in Puerto Rico and Buffalo, New York.torrey pines beach

“This is really about making San Diego more open, just and democratic. It is time that we bring in those who have been marginalized in our community, as a means to make San Diego a more productive and thriving region,” explained Clare Crawford, Executive Director of the Center on Policy Initiatives.

Efforts funded by the grant will focus on the full integration of immigrants and people impacted by the criminal justice system into the region’s civic and economic life through increased access to key services, improvements in the workplace and better access to middle class careers.

“When you are an immigrant it is hard to meaningfully participate in the civic life, if you aren’t making a fair wage or you are afraid to speak up. This grant will help us build the infrastructure to include more residents in rebuilding San Diego in a more equitable and inclusive manner,” said Gloria Morales, a San Diego Organizing Project leader.

“This grant presents a new and exciting chance to expand the opportunities available to those impacted by the criminal justice system. By ignoring these individuals’ rights to participate in society, we don’t just harm the individuals, but we harm their families, friends, and the communities they are a part of. This grant allows us to create spaces for which those impacted by the criminal justice system can grow, learn, and give back to their own communities,” stated Paul Alexander, President and Founder of Pillars of the Community.

The Open Places Initiative was launched in response to profound changes in U.S. demographics, the economy, technology, and shifts in federal and state funding. These changes have dramatically affected local conditions, dynamics, and opportunities and impact how low-income families and communities of color are able to access political, economic, and civic opportunities.

“We hope that our investment in these places, over the years, will encourage people from diverse sectors – policymakers, residents, academicians, advocates, and business people – to come together to bring about positive transformational change,” said Ken Zimmerman, director of U.S. Programs at the Open Society Foundations.

The local team’s proposal was based on three substantive goals:

  • Increasing access to key services that help immigrants and people impacted by the criminal justice system integrate fully into civic and economic life.
  • Decreasing workers’ rights abuses and improving workplace conditions.
  • Reducing barriers that prevent immigrants and people impacted by criminal justice system from having access to middle class occupations.

Organizations in the San Diego team include Employee Rights Center, Center on Policy Initiatives, San Diego Organizing Project, ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties, Christie’s Place, San Diego Youth Development Office, Pillars of the Community and SEIU/Service Employees International Union, Local 221 and United Domestic Workers, Local 3930.

Foundation partners include The California Endowment, The Ford Foundation, The San Diego Grantmakers, The California Civic Participation Funders (The California Endowment, Color of Democracy Fund, Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, James Irvine Foundation, Kapor Center for Social Impact, McKay Foundation, PowerPAC Foundation, Rosenberg Foundation, Women’s Foundation of California) and The Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation.

 

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New Guidelines Issued to Help End School-To-Prison Pipeline https://www.aclusandiego.org/new-guidelines-issued-help-end-school-prison-pipeline/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/new-guidelines-issued-help-end-school-prison-pipeline/#comments Thu, 09 Jan 2014 00:27:08 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10959

 

WASHINGTON – The Department of Education and Department of Justice today released federal guidance to assist schools in administering discipline in a nondiscriminatory way and to provide alternatives to overly punitive school discipline practices.

In the guidance, the agencies have stated what we have known to be true for a long time: race discrimination in school discipline is a real problem. Students of color are punished more frequently and more harshly for the same infractions. Data from the 2011-2012 Civil Rights Data Collection provide a national snapshot of the reach of punitive school discipline policies. For example, Black students make up 44 percent of students suspended more than once and 36 percent of students expelled, though they represent only 15 percent of students.

“With the rise of law enforcement in our schools, the proliferation of zero-tolerance policies, and misuse of suspensions and expulsions, our nation’s school discipline policies are pushing children, most of whom are students of color and students with disabilities, out of school,” said Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU senior legislative counsel. “Today, the federal government has issued groundbreaking guidance that will help all school districts end misguided, discriminatory school discipline policies. This guidance makes it crystal clear for schools what their obligations are under our civil rights laws and provides examples of best practices so that they can easily implement positive alternative practices. This is a victory for all who care about creating environments where students can thrive.”

Though the guidance does not call for the elimination of law enforcement or school resource officers (SROs) in schools, it does provide important guiding principles for their proper role with respect to discipline. This includes improved training and a clear delineation of roles so that officers are not responsible for handling minor discipline.

The ACLU continues to advocate for additional measures to reduce over-reliance on punitive school discipline practices and to protect the civil rights of young people. This includes congressional passage of federal bills promoting positive behavior supports and ending corporal punishment, among others, and the administration collecting data on new categories of punitive school discipline that provide a more complete view of punishments administered to students, such as the total incidents of corporal punishment and reasons for referrals to law enforcement.

The development and release of the federal guidance is the result a collaborative project—the Supportive School Discipline Initiative—between the Department of Education and Department of Justice. It is also a result, in part, of the longstanding advocacy of the ACLU and other organizations committed to ending the school-to-prison pipeline.

The full guidance is available here:
http://www.ed.gov/school-discipline/

Read our ACLU attorney’s blog post on Huffington Post.

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Students and Families Optimistic That AB1266 Will Remain Law https://www.aclusandiego.org/students-families-optimistic-ab1266-will-remain-law/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/students-families-optimistic-ab1266-will-remain-law/#comments Wed, 08 Jan 2014 21:43:25 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10954

 

Transgender students, and their parents, educators, and friends today are relieved that the California School Success and Opportunity Act (AB 1266), which helps schools better understand how to provide a fair opportunity for transgender students to participate and succeed, failed to qualify for a referendum based on a random count of signatures. They remain concerned, however, that the challenge to the law may still qualify for the ballot depending on the outcome of a full count of the signatures.

The law went into effect on January 1st. Today, the Secretary of State announced that a referendum has failed to qualify for the ballot on the first spot count of the signatures, though that finding will be confirmed by a full count.

The referendum fell 22,178 signatures short of the 504,760 needed to qualify in the first count, a result that will be confirmed with a full count of signatures.

“I hope this measure won’t qualify because I think this is going to help students, including transgender students, have the chance to succeed” said Ashton Lee, a student in Manteca, California. “My family stood proud and strong throughout this whole journey, and I know that they will be there for me no matter what.”

“As a Mom, all I want is for my child, and all children, to participate fully in school, succeed, and become wonderful adults. That’s what this law is about,” said Catherine Lee, Ashton’s mother.

“In my experience, supporting transgender students based on their gender identity, including allowing them to use facilities or participate in activities, is just another way that schools work to ensure all students can be successful,” said Sara Stone, a principal at Oakland Unified School District. “This is not an issue that other students are bothered about, and is one that makes a tremendous difference for the transgender students we serve.”

The School Success and Opportunity Act helps schools across the state understand their obligation to provide a fair opportunity for transgender students to participate equally in all school programs, facilities and activities. The law has been welcomed by school officials, teachers, and parents for educating California schools about meeting the educational needs of these students. Both state and federal law already prohibits discrimination against transgender students, and many school districts, have had supportive policies in place for years. But before the School Success and Opportunity Act, many schools did not understand how to fulfill their obligations to support these students.

The new law has already had a significant impact. Since it was enacted last year, several school districts have already adopted new policies to protect transgender students, and the California School Board Association has issued guidance that instructs schools to handle each request by a transgender student, or his or her parent, on a case-by-case basis so that the unique educational needs of every student can be met.

These guidelines advise schools upon request to allow all students to use the gender-specific facility that matches their genuinely-held gender identity; to train and prepare staff on how to support the genuine needs of transgender students; and to allow all students to participate in interscholastic sports consistent with the California Interscholastic Federation bylaws.

To learn more, please visit www.SupportAllStudents.org.

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TRUST Act: Landmark Law Expected to Decrease Deportations in California https://www.aclusandiego.org/trust-act-landmark-law-expected-lower-deportations-california/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/trust-act-landmark-law-expected-lower-deportations-california/#comments Mon, 30 Dec 2013 18:37:59 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10931  

The TRUST Act, a landmark law which is expected to decrease deportations in California and restore trust in local law enforcement, will go into effect this Wednesday, January 1st along with other pro-immigrant measures. These bills are expected to have a significant impact on the immigration debate nationally and improve the lives of immigrants in California.

[Lea el artículo, en español, aquí.]

The TRUST Act will set a clear standard for when local law enforcement may respond to federal immigration detainer requests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) by prohibiting detentions of undocumented immigrants for deportation in minor arrests.

In California, since May 2009, ICE has operated Secure Communities (S-Comm), a federal deportation program that uses local law enforcement databases to  trap undocumented community members in local jails at local taxpayer expense.  S-Comm has been responsible for more than 100,000 deportations in California, resulting in massive family separation and wasteful spending of local resources.

The vast majority of Californians deported through this program have had minor convictions or none at all.

The ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties is part of a local working group of immigrants rights organizations formed to ensure that the TRUST Act is implemented properly in San Diego and Imperial Counties. The group will develop materials and organize a series of educational forums to educate the immigrant community about what the bill means and how this and other bills will affect their rights.  They will also monitor the effectiveness of the bill and will document cases of abuse by having a hotline that local community members can call if a loved one has been mistakenly sent to ICE by local law enforcement.

Special TRUST Act HOTLINE: (760) 239-7959

The bill goes into effect amid growing calls for President Obama to follow California’s example and use his considerable executive authority to halt deportations.

The working group includes the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties, Alliance San Diego, American Friends Service Committee, Employee Rights Center, Islamic Center of San Diego, Justice Overcoming Boundaries, North County Immigration Taskforce, the San Diego Immigrant Youth Coalition, and the San Diego Organizing Project.

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ACLU Comment on Ruling in NSA Lawsuit https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-comment-ruling-nsa-lawsuit/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-comment-ruling-nsa-lawsuit/#comments Mon, 16 Dec 2013 21:27:04 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10916 WASHINGTON – A federal court ruled today that the NSA’s mass call-tracking program violates the Constitution. The lawsuit was filed in Washington by activist Larry Klayman. The American Civil Liberties Union is currently litigating a similar legal challenge in New York, ACLU v. Clapper.

Judge Richard Leon of the District of Columbia ordered the government to stop collecting data on the personal calls of the plaintiffs, and to destroy all records of their call history. The judge stayed his ruling to give the government time to appeal.

In his ruling, Judge Leon wrote, “I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary’ invasion than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval…Surely such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment.”

ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer, one of two ACLU attorneys who argued the case last month, had this reaction to today’s ruling:

This is a strongly worded and carefully reasoned decision that ultimately concludes, absolutely correctly, that the NSA’s call-tracking program can’t be squared with the Constitution.

As Judge Leon notes, the government’s defense of the program has relied almost entirely on a 30-year-old case that involved surveillance of a specific criminal suspect over a period of two days.

The idea that this narrow precedent authorizes the government to place every American under permanent surveillance is preposterous.

We hope that Judge Leon’s thoughtful ruling will inform the larger conversation about the proper scope of government surveillance powers, especially the debate in Congress about the reforms necessary to bring the NSA’s surveillance activities back in line with the Constitution.

The bipartisan USA Freedom Act, which has 130 co-sponsors already, would address the constitutional problems that Judge Leon identifies.”

Resources on NSA reform legislation and other legal actions are at: aclu.org/nsa-surveillance

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Federal Judge Orders Removal of Improper Government Religious Display on Mt. Soledad https://www.aclusandiego.org/federal-judge-orders-removal-improper-government-religious-display-mt-soledad/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/federal-judge-orders-removal-improper-government-religious-display-mt-soledad/#comments Thu, 12 Dec 2013 22:17:42 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10909 SAN DIEGO – A federal judge, the Hon. Larry A. Burns, issued an order from the bench today declaring that the government’s display of a 43-foot Latin cross on Mt. Soledad in California violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.

The federal display was challenged in a lawsuit by the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America and several local residents, all of whom were represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties.

“We support the government paying tribute to those who served bravely in our country’s armed forces,” said Daniel Mach, director of the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief. “But we should honor all of our heroes under one flag, not just one particular religious symbol.”

The current cross was erected in La Jolla, California, in 1954 and was dedicated at an Easter Sunday ceremony describing the monument as “a gleaming white symbol of Christianity.” In 2006, the federal government, through an act of Congress, obtained the title to the cross and its surrounding property by eminent domain, and declared the cross to be a national war memorial.

“A national war memorial should stand for all of those who served,” said Norma Chavez-Peterson, executive director of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. “It is inappropriate and unconstitutional to declare a deeply religious symbol that excludes those outside of that faith as a monument to all veterans.”

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled in 2011 that the cross violated the First Amendment. After the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case, it was remanded back to federal court where today’s order was issued.

Attorneys on the case include Mach of the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief; David Loy of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties; the law firm of WilmerHale; A. Stephen Hut, and James McElroy.

More information on the case can be found at: www.aclu.org/religion-belief/mt-soledad-latin-cross

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Public Safety Realignment and Crime Rates https://www.aclusandiego.org/public-safety-realignment-crime-rates/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/public-safety-realignment-crime-rates/#comments Tue, 10 Dec 2013 19:58:35 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10898 The Public Policy Institute of California today released a report, “Public Safety Realignment and Crime Rates in California.” The following can be attributed to Allen Hopper, director of criminal justice and drug policy for the ACLU of California.

The report released today by the Public Policy Institute of California confirms that Realignment has not caused a public safety catastrophe in California. We now have independent data that confirms that California can successfully reduce our state’s reliance on incarceration.

The report finds there’s been a slight uptick in auto theft, which shows us that we still have room for improvement.  The state and counties must continue to reaffirm their commitment to implementing cost-effective smart on crime approaches to control crime.

Such practices include expanding the use of risk assessments to determine who should remain in jail while awaiting their day in court and who can be safely supervised in the community or released on their own recognizance, thereby freeing up valuable jail bed space while minimizing risk to the community.

Overall, this report finds that after the first year of realignment, crime rates remain at historically low levels and are substantially below those of even a decade ago.”

A summary of the report is attached. To read the full report, click here.

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Report Shows CA Can Reduce Reliance on Incarceration Without Jeopardizing Public Safety https://www.aclusandiego.org/report-shows-ca-can-reduce-reliance-incarceration-without-jeopardizing-public-safety/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/report-shows-ca-can-reduce-reliance-incarceration-without-jeopardizing-public-safety/#comments Tue, 10 Dec 2013 05:27:26 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10894 The Public Policy Institute of California released a report ‘Public Safety Realignment and Crime Rates in California.‘ The following can be attributed to Allen Hopper, director of criminal justice and drug policy for the ACLU of California: 

“The report released today by the Public Policy Institute of California confirms that Realignment has not caused a public safety catastrophe in California. We now have independent data that confirms that California can successfully reduce our state’s reliance on incarceration.

The report finds there’s been a slight uptick in auto theft, which shows us that we still have room for improvement.  The state and counties must continue to reaffirm their commitment to implementing cost-effective smart on crime approaches to control crime. Such practices include expanding the use of risk assessments to determine who should remain in jail while awaiting their day in court and who can be safely supervised in the community or released on their own recognizance, thereby freeing up valuable jail bed space while minimizing risk to the community.

Overall, this report finds that after the first year of realignment, crime rates remain at historically low levels and are substantially below those of even a decade ago.”

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Mourning—but Celebrating—Nelson Mandela https://www.aclusandiego.org/mourning-celebrating-nelson-mandela/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/mourning-celebrating-nelson-mandela/#comments Fri, 06 Dec 2013 01:06:22 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10886  

American Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Anthony D. Romero’s statement on the death of Nelson Mandela: 

The ACLU mourns the death of Nelson Mandela, the revered international symbol of freedom who meant so much to people across the world, and who inspired us to be our best selves.

Mandela fought against class and racial inequality, political corruption and the devastation of AIDS.  He fought for everything we Americans hold dear.  “We have waited too long for our freedom,” he famously said.

And his actions matched his words as he endured 27 years in prison for what he believed—that we are all equal regardless of our class or the color of our skin.

Although it seems unthinkable to imagine a world without Nelson Mandela, we must.

Our dedication to protecting freedoms for everyone—no matter what their race, gender, religion or whom they choose to love–is the precious legacy he has passed on to us.

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Merry Christmas from the ACLU! https://www.aclusandiego.org/merry-christmas-from-the-aclu/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/merry-christmas-from-the-aclu/#comments Wed, 04 Dec 2013 17:03:42 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/site/?p=5164  

Every year at about this time, the ACLU begins receiving scores of Christmas cards, generally unsigned, almost always without return addresses.  Many are simple and nice.  But some call on us to have a “Merry Christmas—whether you like it or not!” and similar not-in-the-spirit-of-the-season wishes.

We welcome all cards and well wishes!  Many of our staff members are practicing Christians and celebrate a religious Christmas; in fact, our offices are closed on Christmas Day!   Our organization was founded to protect, among other liberties, the free exercise of religion. Although some claim that the ACLU is anti-Christian, the truth is quite the opposite: the ACLU has always stood up for the rights of all of us to practice our religion freely, and actively advocates for the right of all people to express and celebrate their beliefs, including, of course, Christians.

Read more about Celebrating Christmas in America.

Some members of the public may be surprised or confused by this.  It is no wonder, given the misinformation out there. But, sadly, the non-existent “War on Christmas” is in reality a cynical rallying cry for some fringe groups seeking attention.

In a Salon interview (“How the secular humanist grinch didn’t steal Christmas“), Chip Berlet, a senior analyst at Political Research Associates, “one of the foremost experts on the religious right,” says, “You have a dynamic here, where you have the Christian right hysterically over-representing the problem, and then anecdotally you have some towns where lawyers restrict any kind of display or representation of religion, which is equally absurd.  It’s a closed loop.  In that dynamic, neither the secular humanists or the ACLU are playing a role.”

In other words, the extremist groups have invented their own nightmare, and then feed off its effects.

Of course, meaningful freedom of religion is possible only because of a separation between government and religion. So, this Christmas, we ask those who wish a war in the name of Christmas to put down arms.  Instead, why not take up these few simple guidelines for respecting the interdependent principles of freedom of religion and separation of church and state:

  • Christmas displays, including nativity scenes, are perfectly acceptable at homes and churches.  This religious expression is a valued and protected part of the First Amendment rights guaranteed to all citizens.
  • Governments should not be in the business of endorsing religious displays.  Religion thrives best when government stays out of deciding which holidays and religions to promote.  Religion belongs where it prospers best: with individuals, families, and religious communities.

Lastly, as a seasonal greeting to all Christians: Merry Christmas from the ACLU!  And for nonbelievers and believers in all other traditions: Thank you for enriching our world!

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ACLU Settles Lawsuit Challenging Police Department DNA Collection Practice https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-settles-lawsuit-challenging-police-department-dna-collection-practice/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-settles-lawsuit-challenging-police-department-dna-collection-practice/#comments Tue, 26 Nov 2013 19:19:43 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10867

In a case challenging fundamental invasions of privacy, the San Diego ACLU and Morrison & Foerster announced a settlement concerning the San Diego Police Department’s collection of DNA samples from five community members. The case settled in advance of a lawsuit that would have charged that police officers violated privacy rights under the U.S. and California Constitutions by taking the DNA samples without a warrant, consent or exigent circumstances.

The settlement provides for compensation and the destruction of all five individuals’ DNA samples, profiles, records and analyses from all databases maintained by the City of San Diego, including back-up files. The City of San Diego must certify that the DNA records covered by the settlement were deleted, and must request that any agency—governmental or otherwise—with which it shared the DNA samples also destroy all samples and delete any related records.

The case stems from an incident in November 2011, when numerous police officers arrived at the home of Delane Beaner in southeast San Diego. Her son, Chris Hill, was a parolee who listed the address as his residence. Although Hill was not there, the officers detained Beaner, her brothers Derick and Taron Beaner and her children Demairus Davis and Dewanya Sudduth for more than two hours while they searched the house, garage and yard. The officers handcuffed all of the family members except Ms. Beaner.

After completing the search and finding firearms in the garage, officers demanded DNA samples from all of the family members, although none of them was ever arrested or charged with any offense justifying the collection of their DNA,  and the city’s own analysis of the DNA samples did not link them to any of the firearms. All of the family members objected to the taking of their DNA, and they continued to object even when the officers erroneously claimed that because the home had become a “crime scene,” they were authorized by law to collect DNA samples from all present.

“Our bodies and our DNA belong to us,” said David Loy, legal director of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. “The police officers had no business casting this kind of DNA dragnet. I’m glad the City of San Diego has agreed to take steps to cure this fundamental invasion of privacy. Although the city did not admit liability, this settlement shows the community that privacy matters.”

“DNA provides a treasure trove of information—the most fundamentally private information that any person possesses,” said Chris Dalton, attorney with Morrison & Foerster. “Absent unusual circumstances, a citizen is entitled to the very highest expectation of privacy with respect to his or her DNA.  The California Constitution recognizes an inalienable right of citizens to a legally protected privacy interest not only in our bodily integrity, but also in our biological and genetic profile information.”

If filed, the lawsuit would have stated that by unlawfully detaining the family members beyond the proper scope and duration of a legal parole search, and collecting their DNA without a warrant, consent or exigent circumstances, the police officers violated the plaintiffs’ Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures, as well as their privacy rights under California law.

The ACLU and Morrison & Foerster note that once the incident was brought to the attention of the Office of the City Attorney, the city conducted a fair investigation and cooperated by working toward a settlement without resorting to litigation.  The city’s efforts in that regard are appreciated.

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ACLU of California Voting Rights Project https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-california-voting-rights-project/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-california-voting-rights-project/#comments Wed, 20 Nov 2013 19:42:34 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10856 Shellenberger at BoS-flip

 

 

 

 

 

Lori Shellenberger, Director of the California Voting Rights Project, advocates for statewide and local election reform to reduce barriers to voter participation.

Since joining the ACLU in 2011, she advocated for the mapping of the first majority-minority supervisor district in San Diego County; worked to increase compliance with the National Voter Registration Act and Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act; and provided technical assistance to San Diego nonprofits to build capacity for civic engagement work.

Shellenberger brings a breadth of legal, nonprofit and community organizing experience to the ACLU. She began her legal career at the Alameda County Public Defender and was associate and capital appellate counsel at the Legal Aid Society of New York where she litigated cases before New York’s Court of Appeals, the 2nd Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court. She graduated from New York University School of Law.

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Covered California Failing to Provide Voter Registration Services https://www.aclusandiego.org/covered-california-failing-provide-voter-registration-services/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/covered-california-failing-provide-voter-registration-services/#comments Fri, 15 Nov 2013 17:41:06 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10844 Expressing strong concern that California’s healthcare marketplace is not offering required voter registration opportunities to the thousands enrolling in healthcare coverage, the American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter this week to the executive director of the state’s health benefit exchange, Covered California, demanding concrete steps toward compliance with the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).

“The goal of the NVRA is to provide people who are underrepresented in our electorate more access to opportunities to register to vote,” said Lori Shellenberger, director of the ACLU of California Voting Rights Project. “The decision to designate the state’s Health Benefit Exchange as a voter registration agency is one of the most significant voter registration policy decisions in the state’s history and has the potential to bring millions of Californians into the democratic process in our state.”

Covered California was the first state-run exchange to be designated a voter registration agency under the National Voter Registration Act and has had six months to implement voter registration.  This week’s letter from the ACLU of California Voting Rights Project, the national ACLU Voting Rights Project, and several national partners, emphasizes the need for transparency as to what is currently being done to ensure that the anticipated one million healthcare applicants receive access to voter registration during the open enrollment period. The letter urges Covered California executive director Peter Lee and the Board to appoint a coordinator to oversee and complete implementation by December 16, 2013, or be subject to possible legal action.

The letter comes in the wake of a separate letter of concern sent to Covered California, signed by more than forty organizations, that conveys widespread support for voter registration opportunities at Covered California. That letter was signed by a broad range of healthcare advocates, consumer advocates, and grassroots community organizations from across the state.

According to a November 13, 2013 New York Times article, Lee said that 30,830 people in California had enrolled in plans in October and 29,000 more enrolled through November 9. At the current rate of enrollment, 2,000 people each day are being deprived of the important opportunity to register to vote or update their voter registration information as guaranteed by federal and state law.

The ACLU remains committed to assisting Covered California meet its NVRA obligations. The National Voter Registration Act is a 20-year-old law that has been implemented at state agencies in California and across the country and we are confident that Covered California will be able to successfully reach full compliance in the immediate future.

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Thousands Serving Life Without Parole for Nonviolent Offenses https://www.aclusandiego.org/thousands-serving-life-without-parole-nonviolent-offenses/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/thousands-serving-life-without-parole-nonviolent-offenses/#comments Thu, 14 Nov 2013 01:05:59 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10836

In the first-ever study of people serving life without parole for nonviolent offenses in the United States, the ACLU found that at least 3,278 prisoners fit this category in federal and state prisons combined.

A Living Death: Life Without Parole for Nonviolent Offenses” provides key statistics about these prisoners, an analysis of the laws that produced their sentences, and case studies of 110 men and women serving these sentences. Of the 3,278 prisoners, 79% were convicted of nonviolent, drug-related crimes such as possession or distribution; 20% of nonviolent property crimes like theft.

“The punishments these people received are grotesquely out of proportion to the crimes they committed,” said Jennifer Turner, ACLU Human Rights Researcher and author of the report. “In a humane society, we can hold people accountable for drug and property crimes without throwing away the key.”

The ACLU estimates that, of the 3,278 serving life without parole for nonviolent offenses, 65% are Black, 18% are white, and 16% percent are Latino, evidence of extreme racial disparities. Of the 3,278, most were sentenced under mandatory sentencing policies, including mandatory minimums and habitual offender laws that required them to be incarcerated until they die.

“The people profiled in our report are an extreme example of the millions of lives ruined by the persistent ratcheting up of our sentencing laws over the last forty years,” said Vanita Gupta, Deputy Legal Director of the ACLU. “We must change our sentencing practices to make our justice system smart, fair, and humane. It’s time to undo the damage wrought by four decades of the War on Drugs and ‘tough-on-crime’ attitudes.”

Douglas Ray Dunkins Jr., who has served 22 years so far, told the ACLU, “It’s devastating, horrible, not being around to see [my children] graduate and go to school.” Dicky Joe Jackson, who has served 17 years, said, “I would rather have had a death sentence than a life sentence.”  

The federal courts account for 63% of the 3,278 life-without-parole sentences for nonviolent offenses. The remaining prisoners are in Louisiana (429 prisoners), Florida (270), Alabama (244), Mississippi (93), South Carolina (88), Oklahoma (49), Georgia (20), Illinois (10), and Missouri (1). The ACLU estimates that federal and state taxpayers spend $1.8 billion keeping these people in prison for life instead of more appropriate terms.

In addition to interviews, correspondence, and a survey of hundreds of prisoners serving life without parole for nonviolent offenses, the ACLU based A Living Death on court records, a prisoner survey, and data from the United States Sentencing Commission, Federal Bureau of Prisons, and state Departments of Corrections obtained through Freedom of Information Act and open records requests.

A Living Death features comments from the prisoners’ family members, and in multiple instances, prisoners’ sentencing judges express frustration and outrage at the severity of the punishment the law required. Judge Milton I. Shadur told Rudy Martinez as he sentenced Martinez to life without parole: “[F]airness has departed from the system.”

The report includes recommendations to federal and state governments for changes in sentencing and clemency. The proposed policy reforms would help bring balance back to sentencing—crucial steps to reduce our nation’s dependence on incarceration.

“We must change the laws that have led to such unconscionable sentences,” said Turner. “For those now serving life without parole for nonviolent offenses, President Obama and state governors must step in and reduce their sentences. To do nothing is a failure of justice.”

The ACLU has placed ads online and in print to raise public awareness of the prisoners serving life-without-parole for nonviolent offenses and the larger problem of mass incarceration. Featuring photographs of six prisoners profiled in A Living Death, the ads will appear multiple times in print and online in such national outlets as Jet, The Nation, the New York Times, USA Today, and the Washington Post.

 

The report is available here: www.aclu.org/fairandsmart.

 

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New ACLU of California Report on Protecting Consumer Privacy https://www.aclusandiego.org/new-aclu-california-report-protecting-consumer-privacy/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/new-aclu-california-report-protecting-consumer-privacy/#comments Tue, 12 Nov 2013 21:48:52 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10828

 

From revelations of widespread NSA spying to high profile data breaches, transparency about how personal information is collected, used, and disclosed is more important than ever.  California has long been at the forefront of transparency efforts. With updates to the California Online Privacy Protection Act and data breach notification law passed this year and a bill to modernize the 2003 Shine the Light law up for a vote in January, the state is continuing to lead the way.

In our new ACLU of California policy paper, Losing the Spotlight: A Study of California’s Shine the Light Law, we take a close look at the state’s landmark transparency law as it turns a decade old. We examine why it’s important and whether it’s continuing to provide transparency about the “who, what, where, and when” of how a business handles personal information. We also highlight public support for transparency and draw specific lessons that can inform policymakers and businesses seeking to protect privacy and increase transparency about data collection, use, and sharing in the modern digital era.

Our major takeaways:

  • Transparency really does work, and in three important ways. It incentivizes companies to take steps that are good for consumer privacy and good for business, facilitates public knowledge about issues that leads to policy change, and empowers consumers to make more privacy-protective choices.
  • Consumers are very concerned about how their personal information is being collected and shared, and rightfully so because information landing in the hands of data brokers, third party advertisers, and applications has led to a wide range of harms. Seniors have been scammed. Americans have been denied jobs and mortgages. Pregnancies, health concerns, and sexual orientation have been revealed too.
  • Californians cannot effectively use the Shine the Light law to learn what is happening to their personal information due to obsolete provisions and large loopholes.

Our suggestions to ensure that transparency measures work effectively for both consumers and companies in the modern digital world:

  • Consumers should be able to learn what personal information companies collect and disclose about them.
  • Transparency rights should encompass a wide array of personal information, including location and sexual orientation information, and should reach businesses that consumers may not directly interact with, such as online advertisers and data brokers.
  • The process for learning how personal information has been collected and shared should be straightforward and quick for consumers.
  • Transparency requirements should be flexible for companies to implement and balance legitimate business and security concerns with fair enforcement.

We are encouraged that policymakers at the statefederal, and international levels are focusing on transparency’s important role in protecting privacy, and we applaud initial efforts by businesses to increase transparency about government demands for information.

Almost 100 years ago, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said that sunlight is the “best of disinfectants.” Echoing Justice Brandeis’ classic observation, Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez recently emphasized the “need to move commercial data practices into the sunlight” in order to “empower consumers to make sure they are being treated fairly.” More needs to be done, and our study of California’s Shine the Light law seeks to help chart a path forward.

Click on the link in the right-hand column to read the full report and for more information and resources about California’s Shine the Light law.

Losing the Spotlight cover letter-size split final.pdf

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D.C. Circuit Rules on Companies’ Challenge to Contraception Rule https://www.aclusandiego.org/d-c-circuit-rules-companies-challenge-contraception-rule/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/d-c-circuit-rules-companies-challenge-contraception-rule/#comments Fri, 01 Nov 2013 17:52:59 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10805 WASHINGTON – The U.S. Court Of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit today issued a decision that the ACLU strongly disagrees with in a case challenging a requirement that employers must provide insurance coverage for contraception. The case was brought by the fresh produce processor and packing companies Freshway Foods, Freshway Logistics, and their owners, who sought an injunction to to allow them not to comply with the federal rule requiring employers to provide insurance coverage for contraception. The court reversed an earlier decision denying the injunction.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case, as in several others, supporting the Obama administration’s rule requiring contraceptive coverage in employee health insurance plans. The challenge in this case was brought by for-profit companies and their owners, which argued that the rule violates their religious liberty.

“We disagree with the court,” said Daniel Mach, director of the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief. “Employers are using religion as an excuse to discriminate by denying employees coverage for contraception. Real religious freedom gives everyone the right to make personal decisions, including whether and when to use birth control, based on our own beliefs.”

This case is one of more than 70 across the country currently pending that address the rule requiring contraception coverage. In similar challenges, the Third Circuit and the Sixth Circuit previously ruled that a for-profit company cannot establish that it can exercise religion. The Tenth Circuit, in contrast, held that the rule substantially burdened the religious exercise of Oklahoma-based craft supply chain Hobby Lobby.

Petitions to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court are pending from the earlier three decisions.

For more information on the cases challenging the federal contraceptive coverage mandate go to our national website.

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Court Protects Abortion Access for Most Women in Texas https://www.aclusandiego.org/court-protects-abortion-access-women-texas/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/court-protects-abortion-access-women-texas/#comments Mon, 28 Oct 2013 21:46:26 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10802 AUSTIN, TX – After a three day trial, a federal court today permanently struck down one provision of a recently enacted law that would have made abortion services for one-third of women in Texas virtually impossible to access.

While U.S. District Court Judge Lee Yeakel blocked implementation of a requirement that all abortion providers obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital, today’s ruling has allowed another harmful measure to take effect on October 29 that severely restricts the use of medication abortion, a safe and effective method to end an early pregnancy.

More than a dozen women’s health care providers, who jointly filed suit last month on behalf of their patients, are currently considering options to protect women’s health in face if this ruling. The providers who filed the lawsuit are represented by Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Texas, and the firm George Brothers Kincaid & Horton.

“The court was right to strike the admitting privileges provision.  It is unconstitutional and it would have shut down women’s health centers throughout the state,” said Louise Melling, deputy legal director, ACLU. “We are disappointed by the ruling on the medication abortion restriction, which ignores accepted medical practice and will force providers to use less safe methods. But we will continue to fight and explore every option to protect women’s health.”

In blocking the law’s admitting privileges requirement, today’s court order protects access to s abortion services for women living in vast stretches of Texas, including areas surrounding Ft. Worth, Harlingen, Killeen, Lubbock, McAllen, and Waco, where one-third of the state’s licensed health centers would have had to immediately halt providing abortions if that part of the law were allowed to take effect.

“We have stood with the people of Texas from the start to oppose efforts to insult the intelligence and undermine the health and safety of women and their families,” said Terri Burke, executive director of the ACLU of Texas. “We will continue the fight until all Texas women have access to the care they need.”

As Judge Yeakel explained in his ruling, “admitting privileges have no rational relationship to improved patient care.”  They also place “an undue burden on a woman seeking an abortion,”

By upholding the law’s restrictions on medication abortion, physicians in Texas will now be forced to go against years of research and their professional experience by requiring most of their patients to follow an outdated and less effective protocol for medication abortion.

“Today’s decision has averted a catastrophic health crisis for women across the state of Texas,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Politicians, not doctors, pushed for both of these unconstitutional restrictions—despite the best medical standards for women’s health care. We are committed to standing with Texas health care providers and our partners in taking every necessary step ensure all women in Texas have the same rights and access to essential health care as women living in other states.”

The provisions that were ruled on today were part of a package of legislation signed by Governor Rick Perry on July 18 following a series of special legislative sessions, but opposed by 80 percent of Texas voters, according to a poll by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. Medical experts in Texas and across the country, including the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Texas Medical Association, and Texas Hospital Association, also publicly opposed provisions in the law because they provide no medical benefit to women and will actually jeopardize women’s health and safety.

“Today’s ruling marks an important victory for Texas women and sends a clear message to lawmakers:  it is unconstitutional for politicians to pass laws that take personal, private decisions away from women and their doctors. While this ruling protects access to safe and legal abortion for women in many parts of the state, but it puts ideology over science by banning a safe method of abortion for many women,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.  ”This kind of restriction on early abortion takes a personal, private decision away from women and their doctors. Planned Parenthood nurses and doctors are taking every step we can to ensure that women in Texas have access to the highest quality health care no matter where they live.”

Courts have blocked similar provisions in other states across the country. Admitting privileges requirements aimed at shutting down all or most of the abortion providers in Alabama, Mississippi, North Dakota, and Wisconsin have been halted before they took effect. State courts in North Dakota and Oklahoma have permanently struck down unconstitutional restrictions on medication abortion.

For more information on this case, please visit: www.aclu.org/reproductive-freedom/planned-parenthood-v-abbott

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Supporting all transgender students https://www.aclusandiego.org/supporting-transgender-students/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/supporting-transgender-students/#comments Wed, 23 Oct 2013 22:47:11 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10800

This summer Californians celebrated a historic victory when Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law AB 1266 – the School Success and Opportunity Act. The law makes sure that all students, including transgender students, have the opportunity to graduate from California’s public schools, by ensuring they can be themselves and fully participate in school facilities and activities such as sports and physical education that match their gender identity.

Unfortunately, anti-equality groups, who are frustrated at their unsuccessful efforts to stop marriage equality, have now taken to targeting transgender children and their families.

In an effort to overturn the law, they have filed a referendum. Fortunately, the referendum would have absolutely no impact whatsoever, as existing California law and existing federal law already provide that transgender students must be allowed to participate in all school programs and facilities consistent with their gender identity.  It is a waste of taxpayer time and money.

Parents and families know that every student should have a fair chance to fully participate and succeed in school so that they can graduate with their classmates. Anti-equality groups, who have lost again and again on issues like gay marriage, have turned to targeting kids as a last ditch effort but public opinion is squarely on the side of LGBT people – young people included.  Who benefits from ostracizing young people who are already struggling to fit in anyway?

We’re optimistic that both the law and the value of fairness will prevail. This bill ensures schools understand their responsibility for the success and well-being of all students, including transgender students. No parent wants to see their child excluded or discriminated against.

Learn more: supportallstudents.org

By: Melissa Goodman, ACLU of California’s LGBT Rights Project

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ACLU CALLS ON ICE TO HALT ARRESTS AT COUNTY COURTHOUSES https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-calls-ice-halt-arrests-county-courthouses/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-calls-ice-halt-arrests-county-courthouses/#comments Thu, 17 Oct 2013 19:14:53 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10783

(Bakersfield)— The ACLU of California and the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project sent a letter today demanding Immigration and Customs Enforcement stop its troubling practice of arresting people at Kern County Courthouses. Over the past year, ICE agents have taken advantage of unsuspecting individuals who were attempting to pay fines, appear for court appearances, get married or obtain restraining orders.

The letter details egregious instances of ICE conducting indiscriminate sweeps through Kern County Courthouses. In one of several examples, Gurvinder Singh was about to marry Kuldeet Kaur when ICE agents disrupted their ceremony and detained and arrested Singh. In another case, ICE agents arrested long-time resident Hector Esquivel Chavez in front of his partner and two year-old daughter, while he was attempting to pay a fine for driving without a license. The arrests have deterred residents from complying with the law and accessing essential court services.

“ICE’s tactics are reprehensible,” said Michael Kaufman, staff attorney with the ACLU of Southern California. “ICE is punishing people for attempting to comply with the law or access important court services, like marriage licenses and restraining orders. By scaring people away from courthouses, ICE is undermining the public health and safety of the entire Kern County community.”

“When ICE officers roam the courthouse hallways, many individuals are placed in the untenable position of choosing between protecting themselves or paying a traffic ticket,” said Gabriela Rivera, staff attorney at the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. “This is exactly the kind of perverse enforcement approach that causes immigrant communities to fear cooperation with law enforcement officials. It is misguided to discourage this population from meeting its civic responsibilities.”

The letter urges ICE to investigate the conduct of its Bakersfield office and take immediate steps to put an end to its harmful and illegal practices in Kern County. The letter further requests that ICE modify its nationwide policies and trainings clarifying that courthouses are sensitive locations where ICE agents are prohibited from conducting enforcement actions absent extraordinary circumstances. The letter details reports that ICE agents have conducted courthouse arrests in other locations, including Santa Clara, California demonstrating the need for reforms nationwide.

“Just as schools and places of worship are considered sensitive locations that are off-limits to immigration enforcement, courthouses should be safe and accessible for all Californians,” said Julia Harumi Mass, staff attorney at the ACLU of Northern California.

“When ICE agents arrest people at the courthouse, they are improperly interfering with the states’ judicial systems and undermining people’s basic right of access to the courts,” said Kate Desormeau, staff attorney at the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. ”ICE’s existing policy already recognizes that there are certain locations that are generally not appropriate for immigration enforcement operations. It should clarify that courthouses are on that list too.”

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ACLU Announces Blue Ribbon Panel Led By Newsom to Study Marijuana Legalization in California https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-announces-blue-ribbon-panel-led-newsom-study-marijuana-legalization-california/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-announces-blue-ribbon-panel-led-newsom-study-marijuana-legalization-california/#comments Thu, 17 Oct 2013 18:29:59 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10771 SAN FRANCISCO – The ACLU of California announced Thursday that Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom will chair a blue ribbon panel to study the complex legal and policy issues that must be resolved as California considers legalizing, taxing and regulating marijuana for adults.

Comprised of leading legal, academic and policy experts from across the state and nation, the blue ribbon panel will engage in a two-year research effort. The panel’s work will be designed to help voters and policy makers evaluate proposals for a strict tax and regulation system that will enable California to benefit from billions of dollars of new revenue while ensuring safe communities and protecting against underage use.

Recent successful marijuana legalization ballot initiatives in Washington state and Colorado, and growing public support for such reform in California, indicate that a similar measure could succeed in California.

“The prohibition of marijuana has had an enormous human and financial cost in communities across this state,” said Lt. Gov. Newsom, the highest ranking elected official in California to publicly endorse taxing and regulating marijuana for adults. “It is far past time for Californians take a serious look at smarter approaches to marijuana, and it is imperative that happen before any marijuana ballot initiative gets underway.”

The ACLU of California Thursday also released results from a fresh poll conducted in the past two weeks by Tulchin Research which shows ever-growing support for taxing and regulating marijuana among likely 2016 California voters across political, racial and geographic lines.

The poll results make clear that voters offer strong support for legalizing marijuana when it is coupled with a comprehensive regulatory system and an ability to collect revenues to fund public services. Specifically, nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of voters support a proposal to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana in California for adults. In fact, nearly half (46 percent) of voters strongly support such a sample measure compared to less than a third of voters (27 percent) who strongly oppose it.

The proposal put to the 1,200 respondents likely to vote in November 2016 makes it clear that marijuana would still be illegal for minors and that there would be penalties for DUI. The sample measure also references the revenue that would be raised with a tax and the types of services that might be funded. When all of this is put together in a ballot measure, the poll finds strong support for legalizing, regulating and taxing marijuana across a wide range of demographic groups.

Joining Newsom on the panel is a broad spectrum of policy, legal and academic experts, including, among others, Keith Humphreys, a Stanford Health Policy Associate who was a senior policy analyst at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy in 2009-2010, Erwin Chemerinsky, constitutional law expert and dean of the University of California, Irvine School of Law, Dr. Timmen Cermack and Dr. Peter Banys, both past presidents of the California Society of Addiction Medicine, Dr. Seth Ammerman, a Stanford University professor and member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith, Sam Kamin, a Denver University law professor who has been appointed to the Colorado governor’s task force for implementing that state’s marijuana legalization initiative and Alison Holcomb, campaign manager of Washington state’s successful 2012 ballot initiative to tax and regulate marijuana.

The panel will spend the next 18-24 months monitoring and analyzing the implementation of tax and regulate laws in Washington and Colorado, publishing a series of policy white papers, convening round-table discussions, panel presentations and town hall events for the public and for policymakers across the state.  The panel will also seek to identify, research and propose answers to the legal and policy questions that these public forums will address.

An ACLU report released in June showed extreme racial disparities in marijuana arrests throughout the country and in California, disparities that would be erased by sensible tax and regulate measure.

“Marijuana prohibition has harmed communities and families by needlessly ensnaring hundreds of thousands of people in the overburdened criminal justice system, with people of color far more likely to be arrested and prosecuted,” said Allen Hopper, director of criminal justice and drug policy for the ACLU of California. “California voters recognize that it’s time for change and will overwhelmingly support reforming marijuana laws provided it can be done responsibly with adequate safeguards and assurances that tax revenues will go to fund public schools and other important social services.”

Gavin Newsom

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Victory! CHP Upholds the First Amendment https://www.aclusandiego.org/victory-chp-upholds-the-first-amendment/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/victory-chp-upholds-the-first-amendment/#comments Wed, 16 Oct 2013 00:14:57 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10752 The California Highway Patrol (CHP) has agreed to uphold the First Amendment right of individuals to protest the Escondido Police Department’s controversial traffic checkpoint program, in a settlement filed today in federal court.

The settlement concludes a case filed in May 2012 against Escondido and the CHP, in which the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties challenged interference by the City and CHP with the First Amendment rights of protesters who oppose checkpoints. The City of Escondido and the ACLU settled in October 2012.

Under the settlement, the CHP agrees to provide written instructions to CHP’s Oceanside office, which covers Escondido, that any alleged distraction of traffic arising from speech alone is not grounds to interfere with roadside protests from a sidewalk or other place pedestrians may lawfully be present. The CHP is also obligated to cover attorney fees and compensate the plaintiffS.

“The freedom to protest is a cornerstone of American democracy,” said David Loy, legal director for the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. “I am glad that CHP has agreed to ensure its officers understand this fundamental principle.”

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Robust Year for Civil Liberties in California https://www.aclusandiego.org/robust-year-for-civil-liberties-in-california/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/robust-year-for-civil-liberties-in-california/#comments Mon, 14 Oct 2013 19:39:17 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10731 The ACLU of California made significant progress toward protecting the civil liberties of all Californians through the State Legislature in 2013.

This year the ACLU played a central role in getting to the Governor’s desk sixteen bills, dealing with a wide range of civil liberties issues including privacy, criminal justice and drug law reform, immigrant rights, and LGBT rights. We are pleased to report that the Governor signed twelve of those bills, most of which will become law on January 1, 2014. (See full list below.)

Of particular importance is AB 4 (Ammiano), the TRUST Act, which restores community relationships with police by making it clear that local jails should not hold people on immigration-based detention requests when they pose no threat to public safety; and AB 154 (Atkins), which expands access to early abortion care for women across the state while many states across the nation are restricting access to the legal procedure.

“In my twenty-five years leading the ACLU’s office in Sacramento, I have seen legislative years come and go, but this year stands as one of the most robust in advancing our civil liberties,” said Francisco Lobaco, legislative director for the ACLU of California.  The ACLU of California is a collaboration of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties, the ACLU of Southern California, and the ACLU of Northern California.

The governor also signed several other bills to enact critical civil liberties protections, including those limiting indefinite military detention (AB 351), requiring videotaping of some interrogations of juveniles (SB 569), and instituting some due process in gang databases (SB 458). He also signed ACLU-backed bills that protect the privacy of health records (SB 138), require public schools to respect students’ gender identity (AB 1266), and facilitate compensation of the wrongfully convicted (SB 618).

Sadly, the governor’s vetoes included three critical ACLU priorities for this year: SB 467 (Leno), which would have updated California privacy law so that our private email and online documents would finally have the same warrant protection as letters in our house and files on our computer; SB 744 (Lara), which would have prevented school districts from forcing students to be transferred to non-mainstream schools after actions for which they could have been expelled, placing a disparate impact on students of color; and SB 649 (Leno), which would have allowed counties to reduce the wasteful and counterproductive incarceration of people for low-level drug possession by revising the penalty to either a misdemeanor or a felony, instead of an automatic felony as it is now. In his SB 649 veto statement, however, the governor promised to “examine in detail California’s criminal justice system, including the current sentencing structure.”

“We have a lot to celebrate this year, and a lot more work to do,” said Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, senior policy advocate for the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. “In 2014, we’ll work to implement the protections that we won this year and will continue to fight for equal protection under the law for all people. In particular, the governor has signaled an historic opportunity for criminal justice reform and we are committed to keeping the pressure on Sacramento to follow through.”

Following is a brief run-down of the ACLU of California priority legislation passed by the state legislature and signed by the governor in 2013.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM

  • SB 618 (Leno).  Facilitates the process for exonerees to recover compensation through the California Victims Compensation and Government Claims Board for time spent wrongfully in jail. Since 2000, when the compensation law was enacted, only 11 exonerees have received any funds from the state, even though 132 people have been exonerated.
  • SB 569 (Lieu). Requires law enforcement to videotape all juvenile interrogations where the charge is homicide. Such taping will help reduce the likelihood of false confessions.
  • SB 458 (Wright). Requires that before a law enforcement agency designates a person as a gang member, associate, or affiliate in a shared gang database, the agency must notify the person or his/her parent or guardian and explain why the designation is being considered.
  • AB 351 (Donnelly). Prohibits any state agency or personnel from aiding an agency of the Armed Forces in any investigation, prosecution, or detention that could lead to a person’s indefinite military detention.
  • SB 380 (Padilla). Requires law enforcement to get a warrant before interfering or shutting down communication services in the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system absent an emergency situation involving immediate danger of death or danger to public safety and there is insufficient time to obtain a court order.

IMMIGRANT RIGHTS

  • AB 4 (Ammiano). Set clear statewide  limits on when local law enforcement will respond to federal immigration requests. “While the federal government has repeatedly promised to stop the unjust detentions and deportations, and to keep families together, this year, California took a major step in that direction,” said Norma Chavez-Peterson, executive director of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. “We hope that the passage of this legislation highlights California’s belief that we can do better than the harmful collaboration between local law enforcement and immigration enforcement imposed on police and sheriffs throughout the country through the Secure Communities program.”

REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE

  • AB 154 (Atkins). Expands access to early abortion for women in California. The law authorizes trained nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives, and physician assistants to provide safe, early abortion care across the state. The law addresses a serious shortage in the state, where more than half of the counties do not have an accessible abortion provider. It also allows women to receive care in their own communities from providers they already know and trust.
  • SB 138 (Hernandez). Starting on January 1, 2015, ensures that billing and other insurance documents for sensitive medical services from insurance and health care providers remain confidential for dependents up to the age of 26 unless they opt out, and for those over 26 if they opt-in.

EMPLOYMENT RE-ENTRY

  • AB 651 (Bradford). Allows people with low-level felony convictions who are sentenced under the new Realignment laws to petition for expungement after completing their sentences and remaining crime free for up to two years. (A similar remedy already exists for people sentenced to felony probation; this law merely extends that remedy to those convicted under the new Realignment laws.)
  • AB 218 (Dickinson).  Starting on July 1, 2014, bars state and local government agencies from asking job applicants about criminal convictions until the agency determines that the applicant meets minimum qualifications for the job. This removes unnecessary and unfair barriers to employment that keep ex-offenders locked out of the job market.

LGBT RIGHTS

  • AB 1266 (Ammiano). Ensures that transgender students have the chance to fully participate in all school activities, sports teams, programs, and facilities that match their gender identity. California law already prohibits discrimination, but transgender students have still been discriminated against and unfairly excluded.
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Governor Vetoes Historic Drug Sentencing Reform Bill https://www.aclusandiego.org/governor-vetoes-historic-drug-sentencing-reform-bill/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/governor-vetoes-historic-drug-sentencing-reform-bill/#comments Sat, 12 Oct 2013 23:11:36 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10729 Today is a frustrating day in California. Despite huge overwhelming support from California voters from across the state and political spectrum, Gov. Jerry Brown has vetoed an historic sentencing reform bill that was sent to his desk with bipartisan support in the state Legislature.

By vetoing SB 649, Gov. Brown has thwarted the will of the voters and their elected representatives, rejecting a modest reform that would have helped roll back some overly harsh penalties in our state that continue to drive the mass incarceration crisis.

California voters and the legislature recognize the urgent need to re-evaluate our sentencing laws and enact smart reforms, especially for low level, non-violent drug crimes, to reduce the state’s reliance on incarceration and free up limited resources for the sorts of community-based treatment, education and job training programs proven to reduce crime and create safe and healthy communities.

Yet Gov. Brown remains inexplicably opposed to meaningful sentencing reform.

If a lengthy jail sentence kept people from becoming addicted, we wouldn’t have any drug problems. But California knows from experience that lengthy jail sentences for possession of a small amount of drugs for personal use just makes things worse – wasted lives, overcrowded jails, and devastating budget deficits.  California had a chance to turn the corner toward commonsense reform. But it was squandered.

The coalition of organizations and elected leaders that backed S.B. 649 is not giving up on sentencing reform!

Along with the ACLU of California, the bill was sponsored by Drug Policy Alliance, the National Council of La Raza, the California NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), the California Public Defenders Association, the William C. Velasquez Institute, Californians for Safety and Justice, and the Friends Committee on Legislation-California. Many other organizations and individuals played an important role in our historic effort to put meaningful sentencing reform on the governor’s desk.

Our work isn’t finished.

Margaret Dooley-Sammuli is the senior criminal justice and drug policy advocate for the ACLU of California

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Governor Signs Reproductive Health Bill to Improve Abortion Access https://www.aclusandiego.org/governor-signs-reproductive-health-bill-to-improve-abortion-access/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/governor-signs-reproductive-health-bill-to-improve-abortion-access/#comments Wed, 09 Oct 2013 20:46:49 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10715

Sacramento – Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation today that would increase access to safe, early abortion for California women. The bill, AB 154 was authored by San Diego’s Assemblymember, Toni Atkins.

“With his signature, Governor Brown is making a commitment to Californians to continue working to make abortion services a human right and not a privilege in our state and is also sending a strong message to the rest of the country that attacks on women’s health and rights stop in California,” said Laura Jimenez, Executive Director of California Latinas for Reproductive Justice. “We are proud that California is the only state in the nation right now that is passing proactive legislation to improve access to abortion and we hope that this law can further efforts to expand access to women throughout the country.“

“With the Governor’s signature on AB 154, a significant barrier to reproductive healthcare for California women has been reduced,” said Assemblymember Toni Atkins. “Increasing the number of trained healthcare providers who can perform abortions on a timely basis without requiring significant travel will improve the lives of women and their families in many ways. I appreciate the Governor’s support.”

AB 154 improves access by authorizing trained and qualified nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives and physicians assistants to perform early abortions. The bill is based on a five-year study conducted by the University of California San Francisco which showed that specially trained health professionals can provide high quality early abortion care.

“The ACLU is committed to ensuring that all people have access to comprehensive reproductive health care. This law will ensure that people can access providers in their own communities who they know and trust,” said Phyllida Burlingame, Reproductive Justice Policy Director for the ACLU of California.

AB 154 was sponsored by ACCESS Women’s Health Justice, ACLU of California, Black Women for Wellness, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, NARAL Pro-Choice California, and Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California. The bill had the support of the California Women’s Health Alliance, which comprises more than 30 women’s health and rights groups that support improving access to women’s reproductive health care.

The California Women’s Health Alliance comprises more than 30 organizations that are dedicated to protecting and improving women’s reproductive health in the state.

California Women’s Health Alliance members:

ACCESS Women’s Health Justice, ACLU of California, ACT for Women and Girls, American Nurses Association/California, Bay Area Communities for Health Education, Black Women for Wellness, Business & Professional Women of Nevada County, California Church IMPACT, California Family Health Council, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, California Nurse-Midwives Association, California Women’s Law Center, Cardea Institute, Center on Reproductive Rights and Justice, Choice USA, Forward Together, Fresno Barrios Unidos, Khmer Girls in Action, League of Women Voters of California, NARAL Pro-Choice California, National Abortion Federation, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Council of Jewish Women – California, National Health Law Program, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, National Network of Abortion Funds, Nevada County Citizens for Choice, Nursing Students for Choice, Physicians for Reproductive Health, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, Reproductive Justice Coalition of Los Angeles, Women’s Community Clinic, Women’s Health Specialists of California

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Gov. Brown signs TRUST Act Citing Congress’s ‘Waffling’ on Immigration Reform https://www.aclusandiego.org/gov-brown-signs-trust-act-citing-congresss-waffling-on-immigration-reform/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/gov-brown-signs-trust-act-citing-congresss-waffling-on-immigration-reform/#comments Sat, 05 Oct 2013 18:14:47 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10643 The ACLU of California applauds Governor Brown for signing AB 4, the TRUST Act, a bill that creates a clear standard for when local law enforcement will respond to federal immigration requests of local law enforcement to share fingerprints of anyone they arrest with immigration authorities. This policy results from a federal program called “Secure Communities,” (S-Comm) that often leads to the detention of immigrants in local jails solely based on their immigration status. This undermines due process and has resulted in decreased trust between immigrant communities and local law enforcement.

The TRUST Act, AB4, a bill authored by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, will enhance school, workplace, and civil protections for California’s hard-working immigrant community.

“The TRUST Act will make all Californians safer. When local law enforcement jails members of our community solely on the basis on their immigration status, trust is undermined” said Norma Chavez-Peterson, executive director of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. “This bill allows victims to report crimes with confidence, police to solve tough cases, and sheriffs to use scarce jail space more wisely.”

“The ACLU has seen the impact of S-Comm on California families and communities as over 100,000 immigrants have been deported through this program in our state alone. The TRUST Act will help to ensure that every Californian is afforded due process and not subjected to unlawful prolonged detention on the basis of their immigration status,” said Hector Villagra, executive director of the ACLU of Southern California.

The ACLU of California has worked with a number of individuals throughout the state who were mistreated because of immigration detainer requests:

  • CHP officers arrested a woman named Perla, a U.S. citizen born in Mexico, for a traffic infraction. Perla was held in the local jail on an ICE detainer for three days before immigration officials instructed the sheriff to release her, citing an error in “the database” as the cause for her immigration hold.
  • This also includes the unconstitutional three month detention acclaimed British film director Duncan Roy while he was awaiting trial in Los Angeles County.  County officials would not allow him to post his bail, in violation of state and federal law, based solely on an immigration detainer request.
  • LAPD officers responded to an emergency call from Isaura Garcia when her boyfriend became violent, but arrested her instead of him and placed her in deportation proceedings.
  • In Bakersfield, Ruth Montano, a farmworker and mother of three, was detained for a week because of an immigration detainer that was issued after she was arrested on charges that her dogs were barking too loudly.

“While the Federal Government has repeatedly promised to stop the unjust detentions and deportations, and to keep families together, today California took a major step in that direction,” said Abdi Soltani, executive director of the ACLU of Northern California. “We hope that the passage of this legislation highlights California’s belief that we can do better than the harmful collaboration between local law enforcement and immigration enforcement imposed on police and sheriffs throughout the country through the S-Comm program.”

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Photo by Ryan Roderick Beller

Photo by Ryan Roderick Beller

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ACLU Supports Drivers Licenses for Immigrants, Urges Vigilance https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-supports-drivers-licenses-for-immigrants-urges-vigilance/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-supports-drivers-licenses-for-immigrants-urges-vigilance/#comments Thu, 03 Oct 2013 19:24:34 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10601 Today, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law AB 60: The Safe and Responsible Driver Act. Starting in January 2015, California residents who learn the rules of the road and pass a driving test will be eligible to obtain a driver’s license regardless of immigration status. The Safe and Responsible Driver Act is an important step forward for over one million undocumented drivers who live in California. Allowing people to earn a driver’s license regardless of immigration status is a practical and long-overdue step that improves road safety for all Californians.

“Since 1993, community members driving to work or school have been subjected to wrongful traffic stops, costly car impoundments, and sometimes even arrests and deportations simply because they were denied access to driver’s licenses due to their immigration status,” said Julia Harumi Mass, Staff Attorney for the  ACLU of Northern California. “Hardworking immigrants need driver’s licenses to do the basic things we all take for granted like going to work, church or school,” added Mass.

The ACLU is very concerned, however, that the new licenses for individuals who cannot prove legal status will carry a distinguishing mark on the front and the back of the license.

“For years the ACLU has advocated that driver’s licenses without any distinguishing marks would provide the strongest safeguard against civil rights violations. As California works to implement AB 60, the ACLU of California will work to ensure that law enforcement agencies do not use these marked licenses to facilitate the arrest and deportation of people who exercise their right to drive lawfully,” said Hector Villagra, Executive Director of the ACLU of Southern California. “We are committed to working with other stakeholders within the regulatory process and will vigilantly monitor AB 60’s impact on vulnerable communities.”

“To protect against potential discriminatory practices, the ACLU of California also calls on the Governor now to sign AB 4 (the TRUST ACT), a bill that is currently on his desk that  sets clear, uniform standards to law enforcement regarding who may be subjected to prolonged detention in local jails based on federal immigration detainer requests,” said Norma Chavez Peterson, the Executive Director of the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties.

“Governor Jerry Brown has said that he hopes AB 60 will ‘send a message to Washington that immigration reform is long past due.’ The ACLU urges Congress and the President to follow California’s example and work to enact long-term solutions that will help all immigrants participate fully in their communities,” said Jennifer Chang Newell, a Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project.

Photo by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez.

Photo by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez.

 

The ACLU of California is comprised of three affiliates of the American Civil Liberties Union: the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties, the ACLU of Northern California, and the ACLU of Southern California.

The ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, founded in 1987, is dedicated to expanding and enforcing the civil liberties and civil rights of non-citizens and to combating public and private discrimination against immigrants.

 

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Court Places Limits on Sheriff Arpaio to Prevent Future Racial Profiling of Latinos in Arizona https://www.aclusandiego.org/court-places-limits-on-sheriff-arpaio-to-prevent-future-racial-profiling-of-latinos-in-arizona/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/court-places-limits-on-sheriff-arpaio-to-prevent-future-racial-profiling-of-latinos-in-arizona/#comments Wed, 02 Oct 2013 21:32:20 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10567 PHOENIX, Az. – A federal judge today set down far-reaching requirements to prevent continued racial profiling by Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO). U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow’s order follows his ruling in May that Arpaio’s office relied on racial profiling and illegal detentions to target Latinos.

“Under the measures put in place by the court, Sheriff Arpaio and his deputies will no longer be able to run roughshod over people’s basic rights as guaranteed by the Constitution,” said Cecillia Wang, director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. “MCSO can no longer balk at reform.  Every person in Maricopa County deserves better than a sheriff’s department that commits pervasive civil rights violations at the expense of public safety.  The court’s order will make sure the agency actually enforces the law and will no longer go on wild goose chases based on racial stereotypes.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Arizona, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and the lead law firm, Covington & Burling LLP, represented a class of Latino residents and a Latino community organization, Somos America, in the lawsuit, Ortega Melendres v. Arpaio.

“Judge Snow recognized that Sheriff Arpaio’s years of discriminatory practices and unconstitutional policies required major change—including appointment of a federal monitor, data collection and video recording for every vehicle stop,” said Dan Pochoda, legal director of the ACLU of Arizona. “Working with the Latino community, the ACLU will seek to ensure that the MCSO’s abuses end.”

In addition to the appointment of a monitor to keep tabs on the MCSO’s behavior, the court insisted upon audio and video recording of all traffic stops, increased training for and monitoring of sheriff’s office employees and the implementation of comprehensive record keeping. Officers will also be required to radio in the basis for each traffic stop before making contact with the people in the vehicle.

“Thanks to the brave souls who came forward to tell their stories, the MCSO is being held accountable,” said Lydia Guzman of Somos America. “It’s not a crime to be brown and now we have the necessary tools to make sure that Sheriff Arpaio doesn’t forget that.”

Recognizing the need to repair the MCSO’s relationship with the public, Judge Snow also mandated the creation of a Community Advisory Board, the appointment of a Community Liaison Officer and the implementation of a community outreach program. The order’s requirements must remain in place for no less than three years, Judge Snow said. In May, the court found the policies and practices of Arpaio and his office are discriminatory, and violate the Arizona Constitution, the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

That ruling stemmed from a three-week trial in July and August of 2012, during which the ACLU and its partners provided evidence to the court that the MCSO was illegally pursuing Latinos. The plaintiffs proved—through the MCSO’s internal correspondence and public statements, and statistical analyses—that the MCSO had the intent to discriminate. Evidence also showed that the discrimination had harmful effects, including higher traffic stop rates and longer stop times for Latinos.

“The monitoring, training, recordkeeping and other provisions in the court’s order today should go a long way toward reforming the MCSO,” said Stan Young, a partner with Covington & Burling. “This reform will help prevent future racial profiling of the kind that Sheriff Arpaio’s past policies encouraged. These remedies were necessary to restore public trust and the principle of equal treatment under law.”

The MCSO’s widespread racial profiling created a culture of fear in Maricopa County, making Latinos anxious that getting in a car could lead to an interrogation by armed officers or incarceration at the county jail.

“The Latino community has waited a long time for the court-mandated reforms that will provide accountability and transparency to the sheriff’s office and prevent the abuse of authority that has been so prevalent,” said MALDEF Western Regional Counsel Nancy Ramirez. “We are hopeful that these long-awaited reforms will bring much needed change to the sheriff’s office.”

The ACLU and its partners will continue to fight if Sheriff Arpaio appeals, and will closely monitor the MCSO’s activities as the court’s order goes into effect. To see a copy of the court’s order, click here.  Regarding Ortega Melendres v. Arpaio:  Click here for more information on the case.

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ACLU Comment on House Immigration Reform Proposal https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-comment-on-house-immigration-reform-proposal/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-comment-on-house-immigration-reform-proposal/#comments Wed, 02 Oct 2013 19:49:49 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10558  

WASHINGTON – Below is a statement from Laura W. Murphy, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington Legislative Office, on the introduction of a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the U.S. House of Representatives today.

“This bill is an admirable attempt to shake Congress free from its immigration logjam. Though mired in a fiscal stalemate, Congress cannot abdicate its duty to fix a broken immigration system that needlessly punishes aspiring citizens and their families. The ACLU will continue to work to make civil liberties improvements to whatever emerges from each chamber before final legislation heads to President Obama’s desk.”

Below is a statement from Vicki B. Gaubeca, director of the ACLU of New Mexico’s Regional Center for Border Rights, on the border provisions in this bill.

“Simply stated, the House bill’s border provisions are an improvement over the Senate bill’s. Whereas the Senate provisions are based on no concrete analysis of actual security needs, the House bill takes a more methodical approach, assessing border security needs before any resources are committed. This is the way sensible border policy should be crafted, horse before the cart.

“That being said, though things like ‘studying border needs’, ‘oversight’, and ‘accountability’, may not sound sexy, they are critical components to ensuring that the civil and human rights of border communities are protected, and the House bill still needs improvement in those areas. This is especially true given Customs and Border Protection’s massive increase in abuses and killings in the past several years.”

Below is a statement from Homayra Yusufi-Marin, policy advocate of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties.

“The San Diego ACLU is heartened by a renewal of the push for commonsense comprehensive immigration reform. We particularly endorse the vital element of an inclusive roadmap to citizenship that this new proposal reinstates, and the rejection of the unnecessary and expensive border surge provisions added to previous iterations. The House had been contemplating a piecemeal approach that likely would doom the roadmap to citizenship, and instead focus almost exclusively on wasteful spending to secure borders that are already secure. Bringing 11 million aspiring citizens out of the shadows would not only advance public safety, it would improve our economy.

The ACLU has committed its resources to a long-term struggle to ensure equal rights for our border communities.“

Read the ACLU of California’s Issue Sheet on Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

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Voting with a Criminal History – Know Your Rights https://www.aclusandiego.org/voting-with-a-criminal-history-know-your-rights/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/voting-with-a-criminal-history-know-your-rights/#comments Wed, 02 Oct 2013 17:07:20 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10621

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Williams “Report Card” https://www.aclusandiego.org/williams-report-card/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/williams-report-card/#comments Mon, 30 Sep 2013 20:10:11 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10548 LOS ANGELES — Today, the ACLU of California celebrates the nine-year anniversary of the historic Williams settlement with the release of a report, “Williams v. California: Lessons From Nine Years of Implementation.” The report examines the continuing impact of Williams, a class-action lawsuit filed in 2000 by the American Civil Liberties Union, Public Advocates, and other civil rights organizations, along with the law firm Morrison & Foerster LLP, on behalf of public school students in California. The case argued that the state and its agencies were denying thousands of students their fundamental right to an education by failing to provide them with the basic tools necessary for a student to learn: clean, safe and functional school facilities; enough textbooks for all students; and teachers who are trained and qualified for the classes and students they teach.

The findings, based on data from the lowest-performing 30 percent of California schools, reveal that the standards and accountability systems established by the 2004 Williams settlement have significantly improved conditions in schools throughout the state. Specifically, the report finds that:

  • More schools have teachers who are qualified for the classes and students they teach. In 2005-2006, 29 percent of teachers in California’s low-performing schools were misassigned, according to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. By 2010-2011, that figure dropped to 13 percent. The improvement is largely attributable to increased efforts to ensure English Learner students are taught by appropriately trained and assigned teachers.
  • School facilities are reportedly cleaner, safer and more functional. In the first four years of Williams’ implementation, county offices of education found 11 to 13 percent of low-performing schools had unsafe facility conditions. By 2012-2013, that figure dropped to 4 percent, even as most school facility officials expressed strong concerns about the future impact of disinvestment in facilities maintenance.
  • More schools provide sufficient instructional materials and textbooks. In 2004-2005, 19 percent of low-performing schools did not have enough textbooks to go around; by 2012-2013, only 5 percent of schools in this category lacked sufficient textbooks. Overall, more than 215,000 new textbooks and instructional materials have been distributed to students in low-performing schools across the state, after problems with missing or inadequate materials were identified through Williams site visits.

The documented progress is particularly remarkable in light of the devastating budget cuts in recent years and indicates that the Williams standards have provided a counterbalance against budget pressures to ensure students receive basic necessities for educational opportunity.  Examining trends and data from the past nine years, the report offers insights into the effectiveness of the accountability systems Williams put in place and identifies necessary improvements as California begins to implement its new school finance and accountability system. That system, called the Local Control Funding Formula, reaffirms the State’s commitment to the Williams settlement by establishing compliance with Williams as the first of eight statewide education priorities.

“This report demonstrates why Williams remains the foundation on which California must build to provide every child a high-quality education,” said Brooks Allen, the ACLU of California’s Williams Implementation Attorney. “The settlement has provided millions of students with the basic essentials they need to succeed. Now we must address the challenges identified by educators across the state and heed their lessons.”

Among the top challenges identified in the report is inadequate investment in school facilities. For example, school districts have been waiting for years for the State to deliver more than half of the $800 million promised in the Williams Settlement for “emergency” repairs.

“The State needs to make good on its long-overdue commitment,” said Sally Chung, educational justice research analyst for the ACLU of Southern California and author of the report.  “The longer funding is delayed for emergency repairs, the longer students and staff are exposed to critical dangers. School officials have made it clear that a crisis is looming if preventative steps aren’t taken swiftly.”

Nine years of implementation have led to significant gains, but still more must be done to sustain the progress achieved by Williams and ensure that all students receive the basic necessities of equal educational opportunity. The work continues.

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Deadly Force on the Border, Without Transparency or Accountability https://www.aclusandiego.org/deadly-force-on-the-border-without-transparency-or-accountability/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/deadly-force-on-the-border-without-transparency-or-accountability/#comments Wed, 25 Sep 2013 00:24:14 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10532 In April 2012, PBS aired a damning documentary about Anastacio Hernández Rojas, a 42-year-old father of five U.S.-born children who had lived in the United States for more than two decades. In May 2010, he was deported. Unable to endure exile from his wife and children, he tried to cross back into the United States. At the border, at least a dozen Border Patrol agents surrounded Hernández Rojas and brutally beat him as he lay handcuffed and prone on the ground. The agents Tasered him at least five times, even as he pleaded for help.

Hernández Rojas suffered a heart attack and lost oxygen to his brain. He died in the hospital; the San Diego County coroner ruled his death a homicide.

After the PBS report aired, 16 members of Congress wrote to the secretary of Homeland Security, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) inspector general, and the attorney general, seeking a thorough, public accounting of U.S. Customs and Border Protection‘s (CBP) use of force policies, training and disciplinary procedures, and investigations into misconduct. The congressmen observed that the federal agents involved in Hernández Rojas’ murder had intimidated eyewitnesses to the beating and tried to delete bystanders’ videos, and that the agency press release issued in the wake of the attack falsely claimed that Hernández Rojas had “become combative.”

Last Tuesday, DHS’s Office of Inspector General released its report on use-of-force incidents involving CBP personnel. (Read the OIG report here.) While the report has a small number of commendable recommendations regarding record-keeping and training, it is disappointing insofar as it fails to answer many of the public’s most pressing questions. And, consistent with CBP’s lack of transparency on uses of force, part of the report is redacted.

Still, the OIG report sheds some insight into the CBP black box that has thwarted public scrutiny of the agency’s troublingly frequent use-of-force incidents. Perhaps most significantly, the report reveals that CBP, the largest law enforcement agency in the United States, lacks any reliable, agency-wide mechanism to track the total number of excessive force allegations and investigations involving agency employees.

Given the lack of complete and accurate data, OIG relied on a partial subset of available records to try to assess CBP’s uses of force. It identified at least 1,187 records of possible uses of excessive force between 2007 and 2012, but does not address whether the uses of force were necessary or justified, and whether any CBP officers involved in these incidents were investigated or disciplined.

According to the report, a field audit team observed in 2012 that many Border Patrol agents and CBP officers “do not understand use of force and the extent to which they may or may not use force.”

The OIG report also indicates that in November 2012, CBP initiated its own internal review of use-of-force issues following several deadly force incidents. This portion of the report, however, is heavily redacted. (U.S. Representative Raul Grijalva (D.-Ariz.), one of the 16 lawmakers who requested the OIG report, has expressed his disappointment about these deletions, adding that he “expected much more content.”)

Since January 2010, at least 19 people have died at the hands of CBP officers and Border Patrol agents. Five of these victims were U.S. citizens; seven were under the age of 21; six were in Mexico when fatally shot. Change is urgently needed not only to hold the officers and agents involved in these tragedies publicly accountable, but also to increase transparency throughout the agency.

The United States will appear next month before the U.N. to answer questions related to the lack of accountability for border killings, and to explain how CBP’s use-of-force policy complies with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), a treaty that was ratified in 1992. The ACLU will be in Geneva to observe the session and advocate for greater transparency and accountability for human rights abuses at the border.

In a shadow report submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Committee earlier this month, the ACLU identifies five key recommendations designed to stop further killings along our borders:

  1. CBP should reform its use-of-force policies to conform with best practices recognized by the Department of Justice and other U.S. state and local law enforcement entities. For example, CBP enforcement officers should be required to wear body-worn cameras, accompanied by appropriate privacy protections for officers and the public; according to DOJ, the use of such cameras both improves the judicial process (by providing effective video evidence) and increases officer safety (both by deterring violent behavior and bringing individuals who attack officers to justice).
  2. Congress should establish meaningful oversight and accountability mechanisms to ensure that immigration officials, including CBP officers and BP agents, are held accountable for rights violations and abuses of authority.
  3. Congress should legislate measures to prevent the deaths and exploitation of migrants along the border.
  4. CBP should provide ongoing and improved training for personnel to prevent civil and human rights abuses.
  5. DHS should create enforceable standards applicable to all CBP short-term custody facilities and hold rooms.

The immediate implementation of these recommendations would provide a concrete starting point for a more just and humane border, and go a long way toward preventing any more tragic deaths at the hands of CBP or BP personnel.

 

By Mitra Ebadolahi

 

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ACLU of California Presentation to Bipartisan Presidential Commission on Election Administration https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-of-california-nvra-implementation-project/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-of-california-nvra-implementation-project/#comments Wed, 18 Sep 2013 18:59:19 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10411  

The ACLU of California Voting Rights Project has been working with state and local agencies across the state to ensure voter registration is offered when people apply for services or benefits.

Lori Shellenberger, Director of the California Voting Rights Project, recently made a presentation to members of President Obama’s bipartisan Presidential Commission on Election Administration to discuss the ways in which effective, modernized and collaborative state NVRA implementation can reduce election costs and increase the accuracy and integrity of voter rolls.  Read the report the ACLU of California submitted to the PCEA here.

For questions and information about the NVRA Implementation Project, email VotingRights@acluca.org.

 

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San Diego ACLU Celebrates Constitution Day! https://www.aclusandiego.org/san-diego-aclu-celebrates-constitution-day/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/san-diego-aclu-celebrates-constitution-day/#comments Tue, 17 Sep 2013 16:18:46 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10396

San Diego – September 17, Constitution Day 2013 is a national holiday celebrated by all school children across the country, with a particularly organized and vibrant program here in San Diego. On Tuesday, 450 classes in the county will celebrate our nation’s Constitution and Bill of Rights with presentations by scores of volunteer attorneys and civic leaders coordinated by the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties.

In its seventh year, the ACLU’s Constitutional Civics Program will reach 15,000 students in 53 schools in eleven school districts. Scores of volunteer attorneys and business leaders will present the fundamentals of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights in a coordinated program to highlight the brilliance, complexity and wisdom of our foundational documents.

Speakers this year include an eclectic mix of perspectives and experiences:

  • Mayor Sam Abed, Escondido City Council
  • Trustee Richard Barrera, San Diego Unified School District
  • Deputy Mayor Olga Diaz, Escondido City Council
  • City Attorney Morgan Foley, City of El Cajon, City of Poway
  • Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, California State Assembly
  • Lieutenant Neal Griffin, Escondido Police Department
  • Deputy Mayor Lisa Shaffer, Encinitas City Council
  • Current and retired federal magistrate judges for the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of  California
  • Prosecutors from offices of the U.S. Attorney, the California Attorney General, and the San Diego District Attorney
  • Defense attorneys from offices of the Public Defender and Federal Defenders and the California Innocence Project
  • 17 Judge Advocates General from the U.S. Marine Corps and Navy
  • Attorneys from the city’s top law firms, including our Constitution Day sponsoring firms: Cooley LLP, DLA Piper, Fish & Richardson, The McKenna Long & Aldridge Foundation, and Sheppard Mullin
  • Attorneys and business leaders from Callaway Golf, Qualcomm, Sony, and State Farm

“With constitutional issues being raised in our nation and community on almost a daily basis, Constitution Day presents a unique opportunity to engage students in a discussion of this great and remarkable historic document and inspire their respect for the Constitution and Bill of Rights,” said the Honorable H. Lee Sarokin, retired from the U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit in an invitation to schools to join the program.

On Constitution Day, September 17 (and the days surrounding), lawyers and civic leaders across the county volunteer their time to give multimedia, interactive, nonpartisan presentations to middle and high school students.

The San Diego ACLU developed its program in response to a 2004 congressional mandate that all schools receiving federal funds provide educational programming on the Constitution on September 17, the date the document was signed in 1787.

The ACLU hopes the program will staunch the trend revealed by numerous surveys that young people have a dismally low level of knowledge about the U.S. government and our fundamental rights and freedoms.  Studies also show, however, that, when teachers and parents emphasize the importance of civic participation and discuss current events, twice as many students profess interest in politics.

A distinguished panel of judges, law firm partners and community leaders advises and supports the ACLU’s Constitution Day activities.  The Honorable H. Lee Sarokin (Ret.), U.S. Court of Appeals, 3rd District, chairs the Constitution Day Council, and the Honorable James Stiven (Ret.), U.S. District Court, Southern District of California serves as program chair.  Law firm sponsors for Constitution Day 2014 are Cooley LLP, DLA Piper, Fish & Richardson, McKenna Long & Aldridge Foundation, and Sheppard Mullin.

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Norma Chávez-Peterson Takes the Helm at the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties https://www.aclusandiego.org/norma-chavez-peterson-takes-the-helm-at-the-aclu-of-san-diego-imperial-counties/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/norma-chavez-peterson-takes-the-helm-at-the-aclu-of-san-diego-imperial-counties/#comments Tue, 17 Sep 2013 14:10:04 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10388 SAN DIEGO – Effective today—the birthday of our Constitution—Norma Chavez-Peterson is the new executive director of the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties, the organization’s board of directors announced.  She will celebrate her new role by giving Constitution Day presentations at her alma mater Chula Vista High School at 8:15 a.m., and a presentation in Spanish at Lincoln High School at 10:30 a.m. (Open to the media; contact Jess Jollett for details.)  Also, this Thursday night, Chavez-Peterson will receive an award on behalf of the ACLU at the Center on Policy Initiative’s gala.

[Lea este artículo aquí en español.]

“We know Norma’s excellent work, and we were deeply inspired by her vision for the organization,” said board president and Qualcomm senior vice president Greg Rose.  “We are excited about the ACLU expanding its fight for civil rights and liberties for all people in San Diego.”

A search committee of the board conducted a national search and interviewed excellent candidates.  Chavez-Peterson, who started with the ACLU in February 2012 as organizing director, was promoted to associate director in charge of legal, communications, policy, and organizing programs in December 2012.

As organizing director, she led the organization’s Latino voter mobilization campaign in Escondido, which turned out seven percent of that city’s electorate, and the San Diego component of the statewide campaign to replace California’s death penalty (Proposition 34).   In Chavez-Peterson’s short time as the associate director, she has been instrumental in creating integrated advocacy campaigns advancing priority issue areas, such as criminal justice, immigrant rights, and voting rights.

She has also been a key leader for the ACLU of California’s efforts in favor of comprehensive immigration reform.  Chavez-Peterson was one of the leaders who created an unusual and groundbreaking coalition of San Diego leaders, which included law enforcement, business, and labor leaders, that called upon Congress for commonsense immigration reform.

Chavez-Peterson has nearly two decades of experience in community leadership and nonprofit management, advocating for affordable housing, neighborhood revitalization, and immigrant rights.  Previously, Chavez-Peterson served as a senior manager at MAAC Project, a social service nonprofit that promotes self-sufficiency for low- and moderate-income families.

Chavez-Peterson was the founder and director of Justice Overcoming Boundaries, a faith-based leadership development and community organizing nonprofit that addresses issues of people historically excluded from decision-making and political power.  She also played a lead role in previous fights for comprehensive immigration reform, leading to massive demonstrations, including a 2006 march of more than 100,000 people through the streets of San Diego.   At JOB, Chavez-Peterson worked closely with the ACLU during the 2007 wildfires when false reports of an immigrant family looting goods from the Qualcomm evacuation center led to abuses and intimidation of immigrants and people of color throughout the county.

Key allies shared enthusiasm for the decision.  Assemblymember and majority leader Toni Atkins said, “I’m excited for San Diego and California to have yet another strong woman in charge of such an important organization serving our communities.”  Nora Vargas, vice president of community and government relations of Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest, said, “Norma is one of those exceptionally strong, strategic, inspiring leaders who also draws on a depth of personal experience to inform her work.”

Former Assemblymember and Republican floor leader George Plescia said, “I got to work with Norma in bringing diverse voices together to support commonsense immigration reform at an unprecedented press conference at Qualcomm headquarters.  I appreciate her leadership in that effort, her advocacy, and her ability to look beyond labels to find common ground.”

“Building on the steadfast foundation created by our outgoing executive director, Kevin Keenan, I am eager to deepen our roots in communities directly affected by the civil rights and civil liberties issues of our day,” said Norma Chavez-Peterson, executive director of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties.  “It is tenacity and heart that makes our organization powerful, and I am excited to continue to work with our excellent staff, board, allies and community partners to build a better region and country for all.”

Chavez-Peterson succeeds Keenan who will move to New York City in December due to his wife being hired by the prestigious Union Theological Seminary as an assistant professor of social ethics.  During his eight-year tenure, Keenan helped grow the organization from seven to 24 staff and achieve other accomplishments.

In the role of strategic projects director, Keenan will assist with the organization’s transition during the coming months.

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What Does the City of Escondido Have to Hide? https://www.aclusandiego.org/what-does-the-city-of-escondido-have-to-hide/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/what-does-the-city-of-escondido-have-to-hide/#comments Tue, 10 Sep 2013 10:00:48 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10127 UPDATE: The City of Escondido has recognized the community’s right to know the details of its severance agreement with former police chief Jim Maher’s, and released the documents to the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties [copies of the documents to the right].

California courts have held that the public has a right to see documents relating to the departure of high-ranking public employees, whose limited privacy rights in the terms and conditions of their employment cannot trump the public’s interest in open government.

“The City made the right choice by disclosing this deal to the public,” said David Loy, legal director at the San Diego ACLU. “Good governance must always include transparency and accountability.”

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The citizens of Escondido deserve to know the details of their former police chief’s secret severance package, charged the San Diego ACLU in a letter sent today to the Escondido’s City Clerk.

[Lea este artículo aquí en español.]

Citing the California Public Records Act, the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties is requesting a copy of all “records containing any settlement, severance, or other agreement entered into between the City of Escondido and its former chief of police Jim Maher relating to his departure from City employment.”

The City of Escondido has ten days to respond.

The public has a strong interest in disclosure of the agreement.  As recently reported in the UT San Diego, former chief Maher “by all appearances received a severance package with a confidentiality clause,” and in “[Mayor] Abed’s opinion, which he arrived at after consulting with city staff, the legal restrictions built into Maher’s settlement practically preclude him from running” for elected office in the City.

“The City of Escondido is disregarding accountability and transparency in this case,” said David Loy, legal director at the San Diego ACLU. “We hope the City will respond quickly and allow community members to see what deals it has struck behind closed doors.”

The courts have a history of siding with transparency. California courts have held that the public has a right to see documents relating to the departure of high-ranking public employees, whose limited privacy rights in the terms and conditions of their employment cannot trump the public’s interest in open government. Interpreting a public records statute with a personnel exemption similar to California’s, the Washington Court of Appeals held that a city was required to disclose a severance agreement with its former fire chief in light of the “reasonable concern by the public that government conduct itself fairly and use public funds responsibly,” and noted that “if a public agency’s settlement agreement cannot withstand public scrutiny, it may be flawed in the first place.”

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Assembly Passes New Drug Sentencing Reforms for California https://www.aclusandiego.org/assembly-passes-new-drug-sentencing-reforms-for-california/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/assembly-passes-new-drug-sentencing-reforms-for-california/#comments Wed, 04 Sep 2013 20:49:18 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10366 SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Less than a month after U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced the nation’s plan to scale back federal prison sentences for low-level drug crimes, the California Assembly today passed an historic drug sentencing reform bill that will allow counties to significantly reduce incarceration costs by giving local prosecutors the flexibility to charge low-level, non-violent drug offenses as misdemeanors instead of felonies.

The bill, S.B. 649 and authored by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), also gives judges discretion to deem a non-violent drug possession offense to be either a misdemeanor or felony after consideration of the offense and a defendant’s record.

“We know we can reduce crime by offering low-level offenders rehabilitation and the opportunity to successfully reenter their communities,” said Leno. “But we are currently doing the opposite. We give non-violent drug offenders long terms, offer them no treatment while they’re incarcerated, and then release them back into the community with few job prospects or options to receive an education. S.B. 649 gives local governments the flexibility to choose reduced penalties so that they can reinvest in proven alternatives that benefit minor offenders and reserve limited jail space for serious criminals.”

If signed by the governor, the bill will significantly reduce jail spending and allow local governments to dedicate resources to probation, drug treatment and mental health services that have proven most effective in reducing crime. It will also help law enforcement rededicate resources to more serious offenders. The Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates reducing penalties for drug possession would save counties as much as $159 million annually.

“S.B. 649 is just the kind of commonsense solution to California’s incarceration crisis that voters have been demanding, and the legislature deserves credit for choosing to be smart on crime,” said Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, senior criminal justice and drug policy advocate for the ACLU of California. “By signing this bill into law, Gov. Brown could give counties the flexibility they need to safely reduce their jail populations while freeing up resources for things like community-based treatment, rehabilitation and job training that are proven to prevent crime and create safe communities.”

“Based on my 35 years in the criminal justice system, including 5 years presiding over an adult drug court, I’ve seen firsthand how fundamentally unjust it is for simple possession offenses to be charged as straight felonies when many more serious and harmful offenses are prosecuted as misdemeanors,” said the Hon. Harlan Grossman, a retired Superior Court Judge from Contra Costa County. “It’s time to rethink how low-level drug offenses are prosecuted in California. As a judge, I can tell you that there is nothing fair or just about a punishment that does not fit the crime.”

Across the country, 13 states, the District of Columbia and the federal government treat drug possession as a misdemeanor. Crime is not higher in those states. A statewide poll conducted by Tulchin Research late last year showed that an overwhelming majority of Californians support this type of drug sentencing reform, with 75 percent of Californians favoring investment in prevention and alternatives to jail for non-violent offenders. In addition, nearly two-thirds of Californians agree that the penalty for possessing a small amount of illegal drugs for personal use should be reduced to a misdemeanor.

S.B. 649 does not apply to anyone involved in selling, manufacturing or possessing drugs for sale. The bill returns to the Senate for a concurrence vote before heading to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.

The bill is co-sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union of California, National Council of La Raza, California State NAACP, California Public Defenders Association, Californians for Safety and Justice, Drug Policy Alliance, William C. Velásquez Institute and Friends Committee on Legislation. Right on Crime, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the California Judges Association, the Conference of California State Bar Associations and the California Society of Addiction Medicine also support the bill.

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50 Years Later, Still Fighting for Voting Rights https://www.aclusandiego.org/50-years-later-still-fighting-for-voting-rights/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/50-years-later-still-fighting-for-voting-rights/#comments Fri, 30 Aug 2013 00:21:24 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10343  

Among the biggest, but hidden, voter suppression issues of our times is the lack of access to voter registration opportunities and poor election administration systems. In a New York Times lead editorial this week addressing the March on Washington and the sadly ever-present attacks on voting rights, the editors proposed a new solution to the problem of the increasing unavailability of judicial oversight and legal remedies to address voting rights violations:

A more robust and lasting solution would include Congress requiring states to improve the accuracy of voter registration databases. Federal laws began this process in the 1990s and early 2000s, but many states’ voting rolls remain woefully unreliable. Making registration easier — for example, by obligating states to identify and register eligible voters or by allowing voters to update their registrations online — would also make a real difference.

This is exactly the work that our California Voting Rights Project is tackling. The ACLU of California is working to:

  • Ensure that online voter registration is broadly accessible to every eligible California voter; and 
  • Ensure all Californians are given the opportunity to register to vote or update their voter information when they interact with government, including interactions with the state’s new Health Benefit Exchange.

Find out more on our Voting Rights issues page.

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ACLU Statement on the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-statement-on-50th-anniversary-of-march-on-washington-for-jobs-and-freedom/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-statement-on-50th-anniversary-of-march-on-washington-for-jobs-and-freedom/#comments Tue, 27 Aug 2013 01:38:56 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10311 WASHINGTON – American Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Anthony D. Romero today released the following statement regarding the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington:

“The ACLU is extremely proud to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and to reflect on the tremendous strides that resulted from that pinnacle moment of the civil rights movement. Yet a half century later, issues that gave rise to the March – racial profiling, voting rights, housing and employment discrimination – remain under attack. The ACLU stands with other civil rights organizations to continue the fight for universal equality, in a quest to finally realize Dr. King’s dream.”

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 Following is a reflection by Dennis Parker, Director of our ACLU Racial Justice Program.

The Fierce Urgency of Now

For me, few anniversaries inspire as much ambivalence as the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. Billed as the “March for Jobs and Freedom,” the event stands as both a shining example of the promise of the civil rights era and a reminder of how we as a nation have, in many ways, betrayed the ideals and vision expressed by the scores of speakers and musicians who addressed the crowd of a quarter of a million people on August 28, 1963.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s prediction that the March would go down “as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation” has stood the test of time. Films of this gathering of people of different races and religions to demand that the nation address its history of discrimination and oppression remain moving today. The words of speakers like John Lewis and, of course, Martin Luther King, still speak to us today. And it is certainly true that the march ushered in a period of changes that would have been unimaginable just a few years before. The actions of courageous demonstrators and the passage of federal legislation outlawing discrimination in voting, housing, employment and public accommodations in the wake of the March helped transform the nation and bring us closer to realizing the ideals which we had often expressed but never truly followed.

And there is much to celebrate this week. We have come a long way from King’s 1963 dissatisfaction with the inability of Black people to vote in Mississippi and the belief of Black people in New York that there was nothing to vote for, to the fact that Black voters across the country could join with others to elect a black president in 2008. And numerous commentators have credited the passage of the mid-1960s civil rights laws and affirmative action with helping to create a Black middle class for the first time.

But the March’s emphasis on jobs and freedom is disquieting during a period when Black unemployment continues to be twice that of Whites and more Black people are incarcerated than at any time in our nation’s history. King’s observation that, 100 years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, black people live on “a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of prosperity” continues to be an apt description given the large, and increasing, wealth disparities between Black and White families. Segregation in schools and housing has proven to be stubbornly persistent in a way that continues to limit opportunities for people of color.

Civil rights groups, including the ACLU, continue to fight to make King’s dreams a reality. Here at the ACLU, we are seeking to address the devastating impact of the financial crisis of 2008 on communities of color by suing Morgan Stanley for the role it played in encouraging lenders to issue extremely high risk, predatory mortgages for people of color, contributing to the higher risk of foreclosure and the stripping of assets from communities of color.

Throughout the country, the ACLU has joined other organizations in fighting the policies and practices that push children of color out of schools into the juvenile and criminal justice systems and that sanction racial profiling. We are litigating against jurisdictions that disenfranchise communities of color in their voting laws. We are working against overincarceration and the racial bias in marijuana arrests. But the task of litigating for equal opportunity has become increasingly difficult as the courts have relentlessly eroded the laws which had been the engines of much of positive changes over the last 50 years.

Decisions that limit the scope of voting rights, place increasing restrictions on voluntary school desegregation, limit the ability of civil rights plaintiffs to bring class action cases, and otherwise make the courts increasingly hostile places for those seeking civil rights demonstrate how incredibly fragile the gains we have made thus far are. And each of us should be active participants in efforts to restore the vitality of civil rights laws.

We each have a deeper responsibility to the 1963 marchers. King spoke “to remind America of the fierce urgency of now.” Sadly, that sense of urgency has been blunted with the complacency that accompanies the passage of time and the false belief that America has reached a point where race no longer matters. We must revive that sense of urgency and realize that, as it was in 1963, “now is the time” to assure that all people are truly given the “riches of freedom and the security of justice.”

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ACLU Statement on Bradley Manning Sentence https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-statement-on-bradley-manning-sentence/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-statement-on-bradley-manning-sentence/#comments Wed, 21 Aug 2013 16:14:24 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10285 A military court-martial today sentenced Pfc. Bradley Manning to 35 years in prison for giving classified material to WikiLeaks.

Ben Wizner, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy & Technology Project, had this reaction:

When a soldier who shared information with the press and public is punished far more harshly than others who tortured prisoners and killed civilians, something is seriously wrong with our justice system.

A legal system that doesn’t distinguish between leaks to the press in the public interest and treason against the nation will not only produce unjust results, but will deprive the public of critical information that is necessary for democratic accountability.

This is a sad day for Bradley Manning, but it’s also a sad day for all Americans who depend on brave whistleblowers and a free press for a fully informed public debate.”

What do you think? Tweet us your thoughts @sdaclu.

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Three San Diego County Police Chiefs Back TRUST Act to Limit Deportations https://www.aclusandiego.org/three-san-diego-county-police-chiefs-back-trust-act-to-limit-deportations/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/three-san-diego-county-police-chiefs-back-trust-act-to-limit-deportations/#comments Tue, 20 Aug 2013 22:32:09 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10273 SAN DIEGO –  Momentum for support of California’s TRUST Act, a nationally watched bill that would limit deportations stemming from low-level arrests, continues to grow with endorsements of three of the county’s top law enforcement officers: San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne, Chula Vista Police Chief David Bejarano, and National City Police Chief Manuel Rodriguez. Each of the police chiefs released a letter declaring their support. [See the three letters by clicking links in right-hand column.]

Besides limiting deportations, which often tear families apart, the TRUST Act (AB 4) will rebuild community confidence in local law enforcement, which has been badly damaged by the federal deportation program, “Secure Communities” or S-Comm. “It is my opinion that “Secure” communities program has reduced the number of victims and witness in immigrant communities and thus made our communities less safe,” wrote Chief Lansdowne in his support letter.

The backing from the police chiefs—two of whom represent San Diego’s two largest cities—comes on the heels of a high-profile letter by 28 members of California’s Congressional Delegation urging Gov. Brown to sign the bill when it reaches his desk. Similarly, a letter signed by several scores of legal professionals and law professors published Monday urges the governor to sign the bill without adding harmful amendments.

Under S-Comm’s original purpose, local law enforcement  runs the fingerprints of people they arrest through an immigration database at the request of federal immigration agents to identify immigrants with criminal backgrounds. But in reality, the program has far more frequently held immigrants arrested for low-level, non-violent offenses—or no crime at all—at local expense, and led ultimately to their deportation. This results in costly, extended detentions of community members who would otherwise be released by local law enforcement agents. Even survivors of domestic violence and other crime victims have faced deportation as a result.

Nearly 100,000 Californians have been deported since the program’s inception, a decisive majority of whom had either no convictions or minor ones according to ICE’s own data. Proponents of the TRUST Act agree with the police chiefs’ assessment that S-Comm and other federal deportation policies make our communities less safe, because immigrants are less inclined to cooperate with law enforcement agents, either as witnesses to or victims of crime.

Chiefs Lansdowne, Bejarano, and Rodriguez, with nearly 90 years of shared law enforcement experience between them, join San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr, East Palo Alto Police Chief Ronald Davis, and a broad coalition of faith, labor, and community organizations in supporting the TRUST Act.

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Five Law School Deans, 46 profs urge Gov. Brown on TRUST Act https://www.aclusandiego.org/five-law-school-deans-46-profs-urge-gov-brown-on-trust-act/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/five-law-school-deans-46-profs-urge-gov-brown-on-trust-act/#comments Mon, 19 Aug 2013 16:49:23 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10256 Today, 51 leading legal scholars issued a detailed letter to California Governor Jerry Brown regarding the TRUST Act, a bill that seeks to limit deportations and rebuild community confidence in law enforcement.

In the letter, the experts urge the Governor to uphold a key feature of the bill as currently written by ensuring that prior brushes with the nation’s broken immigration system do not cause immigration “holds” in California’s jails.

The legal scholars urge against holding individuals simply because they have “prior removal orders” or “re-entry” offenses. The letter explains that these stem entirely from the nation’s  profoundly broken immigration system. They outline several devastating flaws in the nation’s immigration system which result in unjust deportations, including:

  • Serious procedural defects in the immigration court system. An unworkable immigration court system, with many long-time residents ordered deported without their knowledge or coerced into signing away their rights.
  • Inadequate relief from deportation in current U.S. immigration law and policy. Unjust federal policies which prevent immigration judges from considering all of the circumstances of a person’s case, including family ties

Key signatories of today’s letter include Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of the UC Irvine School of Law; Christopher Edley, Jr., Dean of UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law; Kevin Johnson, Dean of the UC Davis School of Law; John Trasvina, Dean of the University of San Francisco School of law; Frank H. Wu, Chancellor & Dean of the UC Hastings College of the Law; and Marjorie Cohn, past president of the National Lawyers Guild.

The letter comes on the heels of prominent TRUST Act endorsements from 28 California Members of Congress and the Police Chiefs of San Diego, Chula Vista, and National City.

“We need immigration policies that uphold the principles of family unity and due process,” said Bill Ong Hing, Professor of Law at the University of San Francisco. “As a first step toward fixing the injustices of our immigration system and advancing common-sense immigration policy across the nation, I urge the Governor to sign the TRUST Act as currently written.”

“Due to this nation’s failure to establish a reasonable immigration process, many people who came to the United States for a better life and have deep family ties here have been swept up in a wave of aggressive enforcement with few legal options,” said Allison Davenport, a Lecturer and Clinical Instructor at the International Human Rights Law Clinic of UC Berkeley’s School of Law. “Caught in a deeply dysfunctional system where judges’ hands are tied and fundamental violations of basic due process principles are rampant, many are deported. They return to be reunited with their loved ones and contribute to this country. Channeling resources to deport them again after trivial or wrongful arrests undermines our values.”

The TRUST Act would ensure that people arrested for low-level, non-violent offenses are not held for extra time at local expense in response to  costly “hold” requests issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), often without probable cause that a person is deportable. Such holds have unfairly trapped citizens in local jails for an extended period of time, including survivors of domestic violence and other crimes, and many aspiring citizens arrested for issues as minor as selling food without a permit.

The ACLU of California is one of the 5 organizational sponsors of the bill, which will restore trust between immigrant communities and local law enforcement, save resources, uphold civil liberties.

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Federal Judge Orders Major Reforms to NYPD Stop-and-Frisk Practices https://www.aclusandiego.org/federal-judge-orders-major-reforms-to-nypd-stop-and-frisk-practices/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/federal-judge-orders-major-reforms-to-nypd-stop-and-frisk-practices/#comments Tue, 13 Aug 2013 05:15:42 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10219 NEW YORK —  In major rulings in two class-action lawsuits, a federal judge today ordered the New York Police Department to take a series of steps to ensure that its officers conduct stop-and-frisk encounters in a manner that will protect New Yorkers’ civil rights and civil liberties. The judge also ordered the appointment of a federal monitor to oversee the implementation of these reforms.

The New York Civil Liberties Union hailed the decision by U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin a major victory for New Yorkers and for fair, just and effective policing by the nation’s largest police force.

“We welcome the appointment of a federal monitor to oversee the much-needed reform of NYPD stop-and-frisk practices and we look forward the broad process of community engagement that the court has ordered to formulate fundamental reforms of stop-and-frisk,” NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said. “With this step, the victims of this illegal and biased program have become central players in cleaning up the program.”

“Today’s decision ordering changes not only to the general stop-and-frisk program, but also to the separate program of trespass stops at private residential buildings shows that every aspect of stop-and-frisk must be reformed,” NYCLU Associate Legal Director Christopher Dunn said. “This marks the beginning of a top-to-bottom revamping of stop-and-frisk.”

Today’s opinions by U.S. District Judge Shira Schiendlin cover two cases: Floyd v. City of New York, the class action lawsuit brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights challenging constitutional abuses in the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program and Ligon v. City of New York, a class action lawsuit filed by the NYCLU in March 2012 with The Bronx Defenders, LatinoJustice PRLDEF and Shearman & Sterling, challenging the NYPD’s enforcement of Operation Clean Halls – a citywide program within the Police Department’s stop-and-frisk regime that allows police officers to patrol in and around certain private apartment buildings.

In a January 8, 2013, ruling in the Ligon case, Judge Scheindlin granted plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction ordering the NYPD to immediately cease its practice of unlawful trespass stops outside Clean Halls buildings in the Bronx.

In one ruling issued today in the Floyd case, Judge Scheindlin declared that the NYPD’s general stop-and-frisk practices have violated the civil liberties and constitutional rights of all New Yorkers, citing the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, which protect individuals against unlawful searches and seizures and guarantee equal protection under the law. In a second ruling, she ordered remedies covering both the Floyd and Ligon cases, including the appointment of a monitor to implement broad reforms.

stop & friskRead the New York Civil Liberties Union’s report on the NYPD’s unconstitutional Stop and Frisk program.

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ACLU of California Responds to Attorney General Holder’s Criminal Justice Speech https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-of-california-responds-to-attorney-general-holders-criminal-justice-speech/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-of-california-responds-to-attorney-general-holders-criminal-justice-speech/#comments Mon, 12 Aug 2013 22:42:34 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10213 meme-eric-holder-FINAL.peg

The ACLU of California commends Attorney General Holder for taking this important step to prevent the use of the most severe federal drug penalties for people convicted of low-level drug offenses.  This is a terrific development.

California must follow the Attorney General’s lead. We must abandon the failed and costly policies of the past that have left far too many people locked up for far too long who don’t need to be kept behind bars to keep our families and communities safe.  Now is the time to focus on front end sentencing reforms, especially for low-level, nonviolent drug crimes, that will reduce wasteful spending on incarceration and free up money for the kinds of rehabilitation, education and job training programs that will reduce crime and enhance public safety.

A crucial first step toward achieving the kinds of sentencing reforms in California that are so badly needed is passing SB 649, which would give local prosecutors discretion to charge simple possession of drugs as a misdemeanor rather than a felony.  

Click here to urge your legislator to vote YES on SB 649. We can help California shift its priorities away from incarceration as one-size-fits-all solution to crime and toward solutions that will truly create safety for our families and communities. 

 

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San Diego ACLU Board Pays Tribute to Board Member James McElroy https://www.aclusandiego.org/san-diego-aclu-board-pays-tribute-to-board-member-james-mcelroy/ https://www.aclusandiego.org/san-diego-aclu-board-pays-tribute-to-board-member-james-mcelroy/#comments Thu, 25 Jul 2013 18:00:34 +0000 https://www.aclusandiego.org/?p=10189 The Board of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties recognizes esteemed board member Jim McElroy, for receiving one of the American Association for Justice’s top honors, the Leonard Weinglass in Defense of Civil Liberties Award this week. The Weinglass award is presented to the person “who has made a notable contribution to the defense of civil liberties by bringing, trying, or resolving a suit, or by otherwise protecting or advancing civil liberties, in a way that has had a significant impact in the past year or over the course of his/her career,” according to a statement by the AAJ, formerly known as the American Trial Lawyers Association.

McElroy has a long and storied history defending the rights of America’s most vulnerable, including years of service with the Southern Poverty Law Center as a cooperating attorney and as chair of the board of directors. He has fought hate, bigotry, and the denial of basic human rights in many forms. Among his notable accomplishments here in San Diego is his decades of work defending the First Amendment’s establishment clause, which says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”  Since the late 1980s, McElroy has worked to challenge the presence of the 43-foot tall Latin cross atop Mt. Soledad in La Jolla, claiming that the religious symbol’s presence on government land violates provisions of the U.S. and California constitutions prohibiting the government from favoring one religion over another. The San Diego ACLU partnered with him on this case for years, and later, in 200