Posts Tagged ‘ordinances’

Immigration debate rages on

Monday, June 28, 2010 at 3:14 pm by

Following up on my post from last Monday, the small town of Fremont, NE, voted by an overwhelmingly large number to pass the controversial ordinance targeting illegal immigrants. Opponents to the ordinance believe that Hispanics are being unfairly targeted in a city that is far from the US-Mexico border and does not have a problem with illegal immigrants. Opponents are worried that if an ordinance like this can pass in a town where there is no illegal immigration problem, it may be the first of many ordinances targeting immigrants across the nation. Laurel Marsh, executive director of the ACLU Nebraska, believes the ordinance sets a “dangerous precedent” where the license requirement by renters can be turned into a “handy tracking mechanism” on immigrants.

Following the same path as Arizona lawmakers and the passage of this ordinance, State Sen. Charlie Janssen of Fremont has said he may introduce a bill in the Nebraska legislature that is similar to the Arizona law.

With all the commotion and unrest surrounding the immigration debate, it is important to continue to ensure that our individual constitutional rights are protected and upheld. In an effort to protect these fundamental rights and liberties of law-abiding Americans, BORDC has created a model ordinance in an effort to focus local law enforcement agencies on their core public safety mission rather than on illegal immigration.

Dispatches from the US Social Forum

Wednesday, June 23, 2010 at 11:43 pm by

The US Social Forum kicked off yesterday in Detroit, and has already offered eye-opening experiences galore. Bringing together 15,000 people from across the country and coordinating roughly 1,000 separate workshops spanning a wide variety of compelling issues, the Social Forum promises something for everyone. For my part, I’ve found it positively scintillating.

In partnership with the Defending Dissent Foundation, Emma and I helped facilitate a workshop this morning on “Tools to Fight the Surveillance State.”  We shared analysis about how government spying has grown even worse than the sum of its various parts, including the PATRIOT Act, the NSA’s unconstitutional warrantless wiretapping scheme, the FBI’s infiltration of activist and religious networks under the 2008 Mukasey guidelines, and the integration of state and local police through SARs, fusion centers, and 287(g) local immigration enforcement programs.  In addition to learning a great deal about the struggles encountered by activists around the country, we also identified a number of potential coalition partners for our local campaigns seeking legislative limits on law enforcement authorities, as well as several potential collaborators on our FOIA campaign seeking transparency into fusion centers.

A second workshop hosted by the Rights Working Group offered an opportunity to discuss racial profiling issues, and the opportunities they offer to bring communities together across demographic and ideological divisions. One especially interesting notion to me was the tension between responses to Arizona emphasizing comprehensive immigration reform, on the one hand, while resigning solutions to stop profiling as it impacts various communities of color, on the other. Beyond simply talking about “black-brown tension,” we even had a live opportunity to talk some attendees through some of the concerns underlying that tension, which was a useful experience to share with other organizers.

After completing our workshops, I enjoyed a chance to catch up with former DC housemates, colleagues from the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights, longtime mentors, and a small army of activists I’ve never had a chance to meet before. A fascinating conversation with arts professor Dan Wang from Chicago offered an inspiring finish to a wonderful day.

I’m looking very forward to tomorrow. The various events I’ve witnessed here have all been inspiring, as well as informative—and finding partners with whom to collaborate seems as difficult as shooting fish in a barrel. While I’m excited about the chance to address the National South Asian Bar Association’s conference in Boston this weekend, I must confess feeling a bit sad about needing to leave Detroit Friday morning.

Restoring the Fourth Amendment: How We the People Can Win Over Washington

Thursday, June 17, 2010 at 6:02 pm by

Despite promises of change, the Obama administration has proven itself either unwilling—or unable—to shift the paradigm driving increasingly invasive surveillance, or increasingly pervasive profiling according to race, religion, and national origin. Nearly halfway through the Obama administration’s term, the battle to banish the Bush administration’s policy legacy remains largely unfought, let alone won.

But this is no time for progressive and libertarian constitutionalists to throw in the political towel. While “change you can believe in” may have been a premature promise from our president, we at the grassroots enjoy ample opportunities to shift the landscape in DC.

Whether concerned by government spying, or the guilt by association apparent in profiling Latinos, African Americans, and Muslims, Arabs, and South Asians for various so-called “signature crimes,” limits on local law enforcement authorities offer the potential to galvanize solidarity among communities of color. Measures restricting domestic intelligence operations can also attract the support of libertarians—including some elements of the Tea Party—disaffected by the Washington consensus favoring expanding executive power.

BORDC’s June Newsletter

Tuesday, June 15, 2010 at 2:10 pm by

In this issue:

BORDC’s May Newsletter

Monday, May 17, 2010 at 3:12 pm by

Get the latest news from BORDC’s monthly newsletter. The May issue is just out, featuring the following:

Don’t let your town be the next Arizona

Thursday, April 22, 2010 at 12:21 pm by

Last week, Arizona lawmakers approved SB 1070, one of the harshest and most restrictive state-level immigration enforcement bills in the country. The bill passed on a 35 to 21 vote in the House of Representatives and is expected to be signed by Governor Jan Brewer this week. The bill makes it illegal to be in the state without proper documentation and requires police to question a person’s immigration status if the have a “reasonable suspicion” that they could be an illegal immigrant.

The legislation is problematic for a number of reasons; first, it expands the power of local police officials way beyond its original intent and so much so that it impedes their primary mission—public safety. Currently in Arizona, police have some immigration authority under the 287(g) program, which charges local law enforcement authorities with federal immigration authorities, but states that a police officer can only question someone about their immigration status if they are a suspect in a serious crime. But as we learned earlier this month in the report reviewing the program, 287 (g) encourages racial profiling and does not protect the constitutional guarantee of fair treatment and due process.

This new bill is will give legal authority to police officers to discriminate on the basis of ethnicity and will undoubtedly lead to even more civil rights abuses. It will push undocumented workers further into the shadows and make Arizona communities less safe as law abiding members of these communities become more alienated and less willing to report crimes.

Protect your community and stop these violations of civil liberties guaranteed to all of us by the Constitution from entering your town by presenting the BORDC’s model ordinance on law enforcement, domestic surveillance, racial and religious profiling, and immigration enforcement to your city or town government.

BORDC’s April Newsletter

Thursday, April 15, 2010 at 1:57 pm by

In this month’s issue:

Don’t Wait for Congress to Stop Racial Profiling

Tuesday, March 30, 2010 at 2:47 pm by

In 2003, the Bush administration issued guidance on the use of race in law enforcement, yet profiling continued on the streets, at the border, and through immigration enforcement tactics.

The Obama administration has said they support efforts to stop racial profiling, yet they have increased immigration enforcement programs that have resulted in racial profiling and issued Transportation Security Administration guidance that targets people from 14 countries for enhanced searches.

The Rights Working Group has started a campaign to end racial profiling. We cannot wait for Congress to do this work. Here are two actions you can take to help end racial profiling around the US and in your local community:

1. Sign the petition to ask Attorney General Holder to strengthen the Department of Justice’s 2003 guidelines on racial profiling to:

  • include profiling based on religion and national origin
  • close loopholes that allow profiling at borders in the name of “national security”
  • ensure that the guidelines are enforceable and that law enforcement agencies are held accountable
  • apply to state and local law enforcement agencies working in cooperation with federal agencies or receiving federal money

2. Start a campaign to pass BORDC’s model legislation in your community now. Our ordinance imposes limits on local law enforcement authorities and creates enforceable protections against domestic surveillance, immigration enforcement, and racial and religious profiling.

Email Emma for information on a local action or assistance for starting an effort in your city or town.

Also check out BORDC’s other opportunities to raise your voice online.

BORDC’s March Newsletter

Monday, March 15, 2010 at 2:54 pm by

In the latest issue of BORDC’s newsletter:

Alliance for Justice Hosts Panel on OPR Report

Friday, February 26, 2010 at 11:43 am by

Yesterday, the Alliance for Justice sponsored a thought-provoking panel discussion in Washington, DC, to discuss what will happen “After the OPR Report.”

Georgetown law professor David Cole suggested that “keeping this issue in the public eye is critical,” despite today’s consensus among federal institutions to allow torture with impunity. Columbia law professor and Harper’s editor Scott Horton agreed that, in the wake of recent events, “citizen advocacy is extremely important.”

Cole specifically cited BORDC and commended our work organizing local support for accountability. He explained that while our government’s various institutions may have constructed a narrative supporting “the lesson that Dick Cheney wants”—that federal executive officials can violate federal statutes, international law, and the Constitution without incurring any consequences—history will be constructed by civil society over time.

For instance, Cole observed, it took the federal government 40 years to finally apologize in 1988 for the WWII-era Japanese internment and the Korematsu decision that authorized it. Yet, until the Bush administration resurrected arbitrary detention without trial, sustained grassroots pressure forced its universal repudiation. Similarly, a grassroots movement to restore human rights today can compel the appropriate (and previously settled) lesson that torture is wrong. Period.

American University law professor William Yeomans reiterated this point, observing that “the administration lost an opportunity. It was silent for a long time on these issues,” allowing proponents of Cheney’s view to shift popular attitudes. Because few voices in government “carr[ied] the other side of the historical debate,” they essentially “ceded the field,” resulting in the measurable shift in public opinion concerning the legitimacy of torture: President Bush consistently disclaimed torture, whereas Cheney now openly champions it as a policy.