Archive for July 10th, 2012

ACLU affiliate addresses city officials concerned about civil rights

Tuesday, July 10, 2012 at 7:44 pm by

The ACLU of Northern California recently raised its forceful voice to support a grassroots coalition defending civil liberties in the Bay Area. In a letter addressed to the mayor and City Council of Berkeley, CA, the ACLU joined with the Coalition for a Safe Berkeley and the Police Review Commission (PRC) in offering a variety of ways to “safeguard civil rights and civil liberties in the context of local/federal law enforcement collaboration.”ACLU logo

Advancing ideas similar to those promoted by the Local Civil Rights Restoration campaign, the ACLU asserts that “there is a clear need to for greater oversight and accountability” in regards to how local police departments, including the Berkeley Police Department (BPD), are funded and trained. Training provided to local police forces by federal agencies, such as the FBI, has been shown to encourage discrimination of minority groups by using exaggerated or false information about Muslims, African Americans, and Latinos. Ultimately, such misinformation dissemination, along with invasive information gathering tactics, can produce damaging–if not dangerous–results for any community.

The principal proposals set forth in the letter are for the Berkeley Police Department (BPD) to (1) sever its ties with the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center (NCRIC), a regional fusion center, (2) terminate its relationship with the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI), which supports the militarization of police departments around the country, and (3) “cease enforcing immigration detainers under any circumstances.” The ACLU points out the threats that unmerited discrimination and blatant privacy violations from the BPD pose to the Berkeley community’s safety.

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News Digest 7/10/12

Tuesday, July 10, 2012 at 5:00 pm by

Dream On: President Obama’s immigration reform could benefit millions

Tuesday, July 10, 2012 at 9:16 am by

On June 15th, President Obama announced he has directed the Department of Homeland Security to stop deporting many undocumented young adults. While Obama’s order will not offer amnesty, according to the Migration Policy Institute, it will allow an estimated 1.4 million undocumented Americans to come out of the shadows and pursue an equal opportunity. Meanwhile, the Immigration Policy Center estimates that anywhere from 800,000 to 2.1 million young people could benefit from Obama’s order.

With the DREAM Act faltering in Congress and comprehensive immigration reform still beyond our reach, President Obama’s executive order is the most significant immigration reform in recent years. Bryan Caplan, an economics professor and immigration policy analyst at George Mason University, even wrote that this decision “sounds like the best U.S. political news of the 21st-century.”

However, Obama was quick to note that his order was “a temporary stopgap measure:”Photo taken by Jobs for Justice

This is not amnesty. This is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship. It’s not a permanent fix. This is a temporary stopgap measure that lets us focus our resources wisely, while giving a degree of relief and hope to talented, driven, patriotic young people. It is the right thing to do.

In keeping with the intent of the DREAM Act, this relief from deportation will not be made available to everyone. To qualify, an individual must have been under age 16 when they entered the United States, have resided in this country for at least five years, have no prior felony convictions, and be under 30. In addition, the person must be in school, have graduated from high school, received their GED, or have been honorably discharged from the military. While the limitations in place dramatically narrow the pool of eligibility, for those millions of young people, this order will mean an opportunity previously denied to them. As one activist put it, “We’ve done away with the fear.”

In the coming months, DHS will begin accepting requests for stays of deportation and applications to work legally. While policy reform for the estimated 12 million undocumented Americans is still needed, Obama’s decision is a step in the right direction for fairness and equality. Indeed, the President himself put it best: “They are Americans in their heart, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper.”