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Human Rights & Civil Liberties

Human Rights & Civil Liberties

Change? Obama's "Crimmigration" Policies Mimic Bush's

  • The Obama administration has chosen to follow its predecessor in pursuing the criminal prosecution of unauthorized immigrants for minor, nonviolent offenses.
  • DHS under the Obama administration is needlessly clogging the federal courts with people who have not committed any serious crime.

Walter Ewing, Immigration Impact

It would seem that the Obama administration has chosen to mimic its predecessor in its zeal to pursue the criminal prosecution of unauthorized immigrants for minor, nonviolent offenses such as crossing the border. As the Associated Press reported recently, “federal prosecutions of immigrants soared to new levels this spring, as the Obama administration continued an aggressive enforcement strategy championed under President George W. Bush.”

However, the IPC has noted that this “dramatic increase in criminal prosecutions can be traced in large part to Operation Streamline, a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) program which mandates federal criminal prosecution and subsequent imprisonment of all persons caught crossing the border unlawfully.” Yet large numbers of these federal immigration prosecutions “have focused on non-violent border crossers.” In other words, DHS under the Obama administration is needlessly clogging the federal courts with people who have not committed any serious crime.

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Federal prosecutions of immigrants soar, Garance Burke, Associated Press, on MSNBC
Obama continues enforcement tactic championed under Bush

Mayor Bloomberg Delivers Teary-Eyed Defense Of Ground Zero Islamic Center

  • "We may not always agree with every one of our neighbors. That's life and it's part of living in such a diverse and dense city. But we also recognize that part of being a New Yorker is living with your neighbors in mutual respect and tolerance. It was exactly that spirit of openness and acceptance that was attacked on 9/11," he said.
  • Zero Tolerance
  • Ground Zero Mosque Appeal: Conservative Law Firm Will Fight Go-Ahead Vote

Sara Yin, Huffington Post

Speaking on Governor's Island, misty-eyed New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg praised a decision to allow an Islamic center to be built near Ground Zero.

Bloomberg choked up during his delivery, which highlighted the spirit of religious tolerance and freedoms once sought by New York's earliest settlers.

"We may not always agree with every one of our neighbors. That's life and it's part of living in such a diverse and dense city. But we also recognize that part of being a New Yorker is living with your neighbors in mutual respect and tolerance. It was exactly that spirit of openness and acceptance that was attacked on 9/11," he said.

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Zero Tolerance, Progress Report, in Newsvine.com

  • Debate Over Ground Zero Mosque Is About American Values
  • Right-wing Freak Out
  • Mainstreaming Bigotry

Religion News Service

Ground Zero Mosque Appeal: Conservative Religious Law Firm Will Fight Go-Ahead Vote, Alfredo Garcia, Religion News Service, in Huffington Post

A conservative religious law firm plans to appeal a decision that grants a green light for the construction of an Islamic community center two blocks from Ground Zero.

Zero Tolerance

  • Debate Over Ground Zero Mosque Is About American Values
  • Right-wing Freak Out
  • Mainstreaming Bigotry
  • Mayor Bloomberg Delivers Teary-Eyed Defense Of Ground Zero Islamic Center

Progress Report, in Newsvine.com

In December (2009), the New York Times reported that "for months," hundreds of Muslims had been gathering every Friday at an abandoned building two blocks north of the World Trade Center for prayer and readings from the Qur'an in Arabic. A group of Muslims purchased the building -- which had been damaged from debris resulting from the 9/11 attacks  -- and now, led by the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA) and the Cordoba Initiative, plan to build a 15-story Islamic community center there that will include a mosque, an arts center, a workout facility, and other public spaces.

ASMA founder Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf said the project "sends the opposite statement to what happened on 9/11." "We want to push back against the extremists," he added. Other faith leaders offered support for the project. "[Abdul Rauf] subscribes to my credo: 'Live and let live,'" said Rabbi Arthur Schneier, a spiritual leader at a nearby synagogue. "Building so close is owning the tragedy. It's a way of saying: 'This is something done by people who call themselves Muslims. We want to be here to repair the breach, as the Bible says,'" said Joan Brown Campbell, a Christian leader in New York. Despite interfaith support for the project, the idea of having a Muslim center anywhere near Ground Zero has set off right-wing outrage based in bigotry, paranoia, bias, racism, and intolerance.

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Debate Over Ground Zero Mosque Is About American Values, Think Progress
In 1790, President George Washington wrote a letter to the Jewish community of Newport, Rhode Island, affirming the values of tolerance and religious freedom that he saw as the bedrock of the country that he had had helped found and done so much to secure. “The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for giving to Mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy,” Washington wrote. It was “a policy worthy of imitation.”

Mayor Bloomberg Delivers Teary-Eyed Defense Of Ground Zero Islamic Center, Sara Yin, Huffington Post

  • "We may not always agree with every one of our neighbors. That's life and it's part of living in such a diverse and dense city. But we also recognize that part of being a New Yorker is living with your neighbors in mutual respect and tolerance. It was exactly that spirit of openness and acceptance that was attacked on 9/11," he said.
  • Zero Tolerance
  • Ground Zero Mosque Appeal: Conservative Law Firm Will Fight Go-Ahead Vote

DISCLOSE Act Passed By House Compromises Free Speech

By exempting larger mainstream organizations from certain disclosure requirements, the bill inequitably suppresses only the speech of smaller, more controversial organizations and compromises the anonymity of small donors.

American Civil Liberties Union

The House today (June 24) passed a campaign finance bill that includes disclosure requirements which raise concerns regarding the right to privacy and speech.

The Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections (DISCLOSE) bill (H.R. 5175) includes an amendment obligating many advocacy organizations that wish to speak out on candidates and, in certain situations, political issues, to release the identities of many of their donors, while allowing a few large mainstream organizations to preserve the privacy of their donors. The amendment exempts organizations that have over 500,000 members, are over ten years old, have a presence in all 50 states and whose revenue from corporations and unions is less than 15 percent. By exempting larger mainstream organizations from certain disclosure requirements, the bill inequitably suppresses only the speech of smaller, more controversial organizations and compromises the anonymity of small donors.

While the American Civil Liberties Union supports the disclosure of large contributions to candidates as long as the disclosure does not have a chilling effect on political participation, the DISCLOSE Act fails to improve the integrity of political campaigns in any substantial way while significantly harming the speech and associational rights of Americans.

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Arizona's D-Day

  • The Reform Immigration for American campaign reports that "there are twenty two copycats [laws] waiting to see which way the wind blows on states' ability to preempt federal immigration law."
  • Arizona to appeal judge's immigration law ruling that put most of measure on hold


The Progress Report

Ninety days after it was signed into law, Arizona's new immigration law -- SB-1070 -- is set to take effect tomorrow (July 29). U.S. Ninth District Judge Susan Bolton is currently considering some of the seven lawsuits brought against the law along with a request by federal government that she approve a federal injunction of the law. Last night, Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ) announced that she expects a ruling within 24 hours. Much is at stake. As one law professor pointed out, if the law is struck down, it will take the "wind out of the sails" of local efforts to pass immigration laws. If it isn't, Bolton's decision will "unleash more copycat legislation." Both sides are bracing themselves for implementation. National and local organizations are preparing a state-wide demonstration that will kick off today with a vigil in several cities. Demonstrators are set to descend on the Arizona state capital without their papers and "dare law enforcement in Phoenix, Arizona, to put SB-1070 to the test." The U.S. attorney for Arizona is encouraging those who believe their civil rights have been violated to contact the FBI. Meanwhile, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio is "setting aside space" in his tent city for more undocumented immigrants as local law enforcement gears up to enforce SB-1070. And while most Americans support Arizona's immigration law, they also think its looming implementation tomorrow will "increase discrimination against Hispanics while not necessarily making a dent in the [immigration] problem."

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Arizona to appeal judge's immigration law ruling that put most of measure on hold, Bob Christie,  Associated Press, in StarTribune | MN
Arizona is preparing to ask an appeals court to lift a judge's ruling that put most of the state's immigration law on hold in a key first-round victory for the federal government in a fight that may go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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