Tag Archives: ACLU

220+ Groups Blast Biden Plan to Expand ‘Harmful, Abusive, and Unjust’ ICE Prisons

“It’s not too late for the administration to take the moral high ground here and put a stop to ICE’s cruel, costly, and unnecessary detention expansion.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-8-2021

Abolish ICE Protest and Rally Downtown Chicago Illinois 8-16-2018. Photo: Charles Edward Miller/flickr/CC

More than 220 human rights groups on Friday sent a letter to U.S. President Joe Biden and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas expressing their outrage over the administration’s plans to reopen and expand immigration detention centers in violation of the president’s campaign promises.

The groups—which include Detention Watch Network, the Shut Down Berks Coalition, JUNTOS, National Immigrant Justice Center, the ACLU, and CASA—are demanding that the administration halt the planned expansion of the privately run Berks County Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center in Pennsylvania and the reopening of the Moshannon Valley Correctional Center, a former Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facility also in Pennsylvania, as an ICE lockup. Continue reading

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Critics Fume as ICC Excludes US From Probe Into Afghan War Crimes

“Allowing powerful states to get away with multi-year, multi-continent torture against so many feeds impunity for all.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams.  Published 9-27-2021

Photo: pixabay

A Monday announcement from the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor saying his office is seeking approval to resume its investigation into potential war crimes in Afghanistan committed by the Taliban and the Islamic State—but excluding alleged atrocities committed by U.S. forces—sparked a flurry of outrage from human rights defenders.

“It seems there is no end to the betrayal of Afghans—now so many victims of torture and other abuses by U.S. and former Afghan government forces have been told there is no justice for you,” Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director for Human Rights Watch, tweeted Monday in response to the announcement. Continue reading

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Feds are increasing use of facial recognition systems – despite calls for a moratorium

Government agencies are increasingly using facial recognition technology, including through security cameras like this one being installed on the Lincoln Memorial in 2019.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

James Hendler, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Despite growing opposition, the U.S. government is on track to increase its use of controversial facial recognition technology.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office released a report on Aug. 24, 2021, detailing current and planned use of facial recognition technology by federal agencies. The GAO surveyed 24 departments and agencies – from the Department of Defense to the Small Business Administration – and found that 18 reported using the technology and 10 reported plans to expand their use of it. Continue reading

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‘Incredible News’ as NC Court Restores Voting Rights to 55,000 Formerly Incarcerated People

While GOP lawmakers ready an appeal, voting rights advocates move to ensure formerly incarcerated people know about the ruling.

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-24-2021

Signs from the 13th Moral March on Raleigh – 2019. Photo: Anthony Crider/flickr/CC

Voting rights advocates in North Carolina on Tuesday applauded a ruling by a panel of three state Superior Court judges for taking “the first step” in restoring justice to tens of thousands of formerly incarcerated people convicted of felonies in the state.

A panel of the Superior Court voted 2-1 to restore voting rights to about 55,000 people who have been incarcerated for felonies in a decision that would terminate a state law which bars people from voting if they are still on probation, parole, or serving a suspended sentence. 
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‘Vile’: Biden DHS to Turn Away Migrant Families Under ‘Expedited Removal’ Policy

“This administration continues to seek efficiency over safety and due process for migrant families.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-27-2021

Photo: Pride Immigration

Immigrant rights advocates are decrying what some called an “appalling” Monday night announcement by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security thatunder  the Biden administration will return to the use of an “expedited removal” process to send families seeking asylum back over the U.S.-Mexico border if they can’t convince immigration agents that they need refuge in the United States.

Groups including Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center and the ACLU had hoped the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) would revoke Title 42, under which the federal government has had the authority to send to Mexico any undocumented immigrants who attempt to cross the southern U.S. border.

Instead, DHS on Monday said that some families, many of whom Mexican officials have refused to accept under Title 42, “will be placed in expedited removal proceedings” to provide “a lawful, more accelerated procedure to remove those family units who do not have a basis under U.S. law to be in the United States. ”

“The announcement we had been hoping for was about an end to Title 42,” Linda Rivas, executive director of Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center in El Paso, Texas, told the New York Times. “This administration continues to seek efficiency over safety and due process for migrant families.”

Under the policy, immigrant families who are intercepted by immigration agents at the border will be screened promptly to determine if they have a “credible fear” of persecution or violence in their home country which led them to seek asylum.

If an agent determines there is no credible fear, families will be expelled from the country without an immigration judge hearing their case.

The policy has been used by both Democratic and Republican administrations in the past.

Before Monday’s announcement, thousands of families who Mexico would not accept under Title 42 have been sent by U.S. Border Patrol agents to stay in shelters while they wait to appear in immigration court.

The departure from that system “is not due process,” tweeted Camille Mackler, founder and executive director of Immigrant ARC, which provides legal services to immigrants and was formed after legal advocates descended on John F. Kennedy International Airport to provide support to immigrants when the Trump administration announced its travel ban in January 2017.

Robyn Barnard, senior advocacy counsel at Human Rights First, described “how due process is run roughshod by expedited removal.”


“There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to seek asylum,” Barnard tweeted. “It is a legal right to be able to do so however you get here. When you block the ports [under Title 42] and leave people in desperate and dangerous situations, what other options do they have?”

Heidi Altman, policy director at the National Immigrant Justice Center, called the DHS announcement “vile.”

“Expedited removal sends asylum seekers back to harm,” said Altman. “End it.”
This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).
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‘Counseling Not Criminalization’ Bill Unveiled to Boot Police From US Schools

“For too long our education system has been intertwined with the criminal legal system and the results have been tragic.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Publlished 6-18-2021

Los Angeles School Police car. Photo: Chris Yarzab/flickr/CC

Rep. Ayanna Pressley and Sen. Chris Murphy on Thursday announced reintroduced legislation to direct budget resources away from police presence in public schools and instead toward providing students with “trauma-informed services”—an approach the lawmakers say will put student well-being over criminalization.

The bicameral legislation, entitled the Counseling Not Criminalization in Schools Act, is co-led by by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) and came amid growing calls to overhaul policing in the nation. Continue reading

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‘Criminal Complicity’: Outrage as Biden Pushes $735 Million Weapons Sale to Israel Amid Gaza Slaughter

“Approving more weapons to Israel would add fuel to the fire and would only embolden Israel to continue its bombardments on Gaza.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-17-2021

Then-U.S. Vice President Joe Biden with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a visit to Israel in 2016. Photo: US Embassy Jerusalem/flickr/CC

Human rights advocates warned Monday that the Biden administration is deepening U.S. complicity in the Netanyahu regime’s ongoing massacre of civilians in Gaza by attempting to push through a $735 million sale of so-called “precision-guided weapons” to Israel.

The Washington Post reported Monday that the Biden administration officially notified Congress of the sale on May 5, just days before Israeli forces began their latest bombardment of Gaza last week—an assault that has killed nearly 200 Palestinians, wounded more than 1,200, and displaced tens of thousands. Continue reading

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‘What Is Going On Here?’ Alarm as Document Reveals USPS Is Monitoring Social Media Posts

“What possible justification could there be for USPS running this kind of social-media surveillance program?”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-23-2021

Photo: SidewaysSarah/flickr/CC

An internal government bulletin obtained by Yahoo News this week revealed that the law enforcement arm of the U.S. Postal Service is monitoring social media posts as part of a surveillance operation known as iCOP, a secretive program that sparked alarm among rights groups and civil liberties advocates.

The sensitive bulletin concerns the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s (USPIS) recent surveillance of Facebook, Parler, and Telegram posts related to the March 20 World Wide Rally for Freedom and Democracy, anti-coronavirus lockdown and anti-vaccine demonstrations organized by far-right groups. Continue reading

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‘Racist, Unconstitutional, and Anti-Democratic’: Florida Senate Passes GOP Anti-Protest Bill

“This bill is a disgrace to our state.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-16-2021

George Floyd protests in Miami, Florida on June 6, 2020. Photo: Mike Shaheen/Wikimedia Commons/CC

After Florida’s Senate Republicans on Thursday passed an undemocratic anti-protest bill—expected to be signed into law by its chief proponent, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, as early as next week—the state’s ACLU chapter condemned GOP lawmakers for “aiming to shut down political speech they disagree with in a direct attack on the First Amendment and at the cost of Black and Brown people.”

House Bill 1 “is racist, unconstitutional, and anti-democratic, plain and simple,” Micah Kubic, executive director of the ACLU of Florida, said in a statement. Continue reading

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‘The OK Legislature Wants Us Dead’: Rights Defenders Decry Advancement of Anti-Protest Bills

The head of the state’s ACLU accused Oklahoma lawmakers of “attempting to silence the voices of their constituents and criminalize vital calls for accountability and racial justice.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-15-2021

A car driven by a white supremacist plows into a crowd in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12, 2017. The attack killed 32-year-old anti-racism protester Heather Heyer. (Photo: Ryan Kelly/The Daily Progress/WikiMedia Commons)

Dismissing warnings from civil liberties defenders, the Republican-controlled Oklahoma Senate on Wednesday approved a pair of bills the state’s ACLU said would “chill dissent, and silence and criminalize Oklahomans who want to exercise our First Amendment right to peacefully protest.”

Tulsa Public Radio reports the state Senate passed H.B. 1674 (pdf) by a largely party-line vote of 38-10. If signed by Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, the measure will grant civil and criminal immunity to drivers who “unintentionally” kill or injure people while “fleeing from a riot” if they have “reasonable belief” that doing so will protect them from harm. Continue reading

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