announced that it would shut down a special unit that spied on Muslim groups. Known as the “Demographics Unit,” the squad allegedly “mapped communities inside and outside the city, logging where customers in traditional Islamic clothes ate meals and documenting their lunch-counter conversations.” Matt Apuzzo and Joseph Goldstein at The New York Times report on the controversy surrounding the NYPD.
India’s Supreme Court recently recognized transgender rights. In National Legal Services v. Union of India, the court recognized the pain and struggle felt by the transgender community while stressing the historical importance of the group within India’s diverse culture. Faculty Advisor for the City University of New York School of Law ACS Student ChapterRuthann Robson writes at Constitutional Law Prof Blog that the court’s decision “not only requires the government to recognize a ‘third gender’… but also directs the government to take positive steps in education, health provisions, and ‘seriously address’ various problems.”
Last week, Utah defended its ban on same-sex marriage before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Kitchen v. Herbert. During the hearings, state officials were “surprisingly straightforward in explaining that its marriage law is based directly upon its citizens’ religious values.” At Hamilton and Griffin on RightsLeslie C. Griffin, Co-Faculty Advisor for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, William S. Boyd School of Law ACS Student Chapter, argues against religious-based law and why, when it comes to the same-sex marriage debate, “Utah has it backwards.”
Juan Haines at The Life of the Law describes District Attorney of Santa Clara County Jeff Rosen’s visit to a San Quentin jail where he spoke with inmates about “crime, punishment, rehabilitation, and reentry.”
Nationwide fasts of immigration reform supporters that started last year will culminate this week after a 48-hour fast in Washington, D.C. SEIU, We Belong Together and the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) have coordinated the fasts and will bring 100 women together in D.C. to cap the nationwide movement.
Thousands of supporters have participated in the fasts and last month, renowned immigrant rights leader Eilseo Medina was arrested while trying to visit Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart at his Miami office to deliver the groups' messages about immigration reform. Medina was released from a Miami jail on March 22.
After the 48-hour-fast on April 9, the groups will share stories from across the country of people supporting immigration reform with lawmakers on Capitol Hill, urging them to pass comprehensive immigration reform and to stop deportations of undocumented persons. (In a lengthy piece from The New York Timesgovernment records show that the Obama administration has been deporting far more undocumented immigrants because of minor offenses than it has stated. The Times' analysis reveals that since Obama “took office, two-thirds of the nearly two million deportation cases involve people with who had committed minor infractions, including traffic violations, or had no criminal record at all.”)
Last summer the Senate passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill containing a path toward citizenship for a large portion of the country's more than 11 million undocumented people. But House leaders have continued to argue they would consider piecemeal actions instead of the Senate bill.
In an April post for SEIU blog, Sylvia Ruiz, wrote, “We want to meet with Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor on April 9 to share the stories we have gathered from across the country from people of faith, businessmen and women, immigrants, community members and constituents who are all supporting reform.”
Those leaders, Ruiz continued, “have the rare opportunity to end the pain and suffering of millions of people that is caused by our broken immigration system. These two individuals are responsible for setting the House voting schedule. If they call for a vote on immigration reform, that vote will happen, and the House and Senate will finally be moving forward to fix a system that has needed fixing for years.”
* Mr. Essaheb will be a panelist at the March 24 event, “From ‘Papers Please’ To DREAM and TRUST,” hosted by ACS and the Center for American Progress. See here to register for the event at SEIU in Washington, D.C.
While high-profile discussions about immigration policy sputtered in 2013, states across the country have proposed—and enacted—inclusive legislation that improves community policing, increases access to affordable education, and improves highway safety. Therein lies the lesson from state capitals to Washington: pro-migrant measures aren’t just good policy, they’re good, bipartisan politics.
It hasn’t always been this way. As recently as 2011, five states rushed to adopt Arizona’s SB 1070, an anti-immigrant law that was subsequently challenged by the National Immigration Law Center and others. Last year, North Carolina was the only state to propose legislation that would require police officers to demand “papers” of those they suspected were in the country without authorization, but this proposal was turned into a study bill. This resulting study found that enforcement measures were unnecessary and costly. Furthermore, states that had vigorously defended their anti-immigrant laws—Alabama, Indiana, and, most recently, South Carolina—have all agreed to settle civil rights challenges instead, and Colorado repealed an anti-immigrant law that had long been on its books.
Last year, the pendulum shifted toward laws designed to restore trust in the community and local law enforcement. California and Connecticut passed different versions of the TRUST Act, designed to mitigate the harms caused by entanglement between state and local authorities and federal immigration law. These laws help improve the delicate relationships between immigrant communities and local law enforcement by limiting the instances in which local authorities can hold an immigrant at the behest of immigration officials. Other states, including Maryland, seem poised to join their ranks this year.
This week, the American Civil Liberties Union advised the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to reject an Arizona law denying bail to immigrants in the country illegally. While those defending the law claim that it is meant to “improve public safety, not punish people for federal immigration violations,” the ACLU maintains that “Latino detainees are [being] unfairly held while other nationalities are allowed to put up bond.” Paul Elias of the The Associated Press has the story.
In Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which required select jurisdictions to submit all changes in voting rules to the Justice Department for review. Writing for MSNBC, Adam Serwer comments on the role Chief Justice John Roberts played in the controversial decision and the implications of “equal sovereignty.” For further analysis on Shelby County, please see ACSbloganalysis by Spencer Overton, former ACS Board Member and the President and CEO of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.
At CPRBlog, James Goodwin follows the developing legal dispute concerning Duke Energy’s violation of the Clean Water Act. Goodwin explains why “federal prosecutors are now looking into whether North Carolina’s environmental regulators engaged in any criminal activity in their efforts to shield Duke.”
Steven R. Morrison at PrawfsBlawg notes “a rare move in terrorism (and all criminal) cases” concerning former Al-Qaeda spokesman Sulaiman Abu Ghayth.
On C-SPAN, Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan reflects on her “life and career” in a conversation with Georgetown University Law Center students.
Yesterday, President Obama requested a review of the administration’s enforcement policies for immigration laws. The White House asked Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson to oversee the process. Seung Min Kim and Reid J. Epstein at POLITICO report on the president’s effort to create a more humane immigration system.
In 1975, Sen. Frank Church (D- Idaho) organized a Senate committee to review American intelligence activities. Referred to as the Church Committee, the group uncovered secret wrong-doings by the U.S. government. Frederick A. O. Schwarz, Jr. at The Nation argues “why we need a new Church Committee to fix our broken intelligence system.”
Mississippi lawmakers voted to “study” a bill that gay rights activists believe would promote discrimination on the basis of religion. Adam Serwer at MSNBC comments on “the latest setback for the religious right.”
Writing for Voices at the Open Society Foundations, Viorel Ursu explains why Ukraine’s future will be decided “by the new government’s response to the fundamental demands for justice.”
At The Atlantic, Andrew Cohen notes the “problem of lengthy delays in capital cases.”
Dan Markel at Prawfsblawg breaks down a new paper by Larry Krieger that helps answer the question, “What makes lawyers happy?”