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ACLU Report Finds Paul Ryan Light Years Away from Civil Liberties – news from ACLULibertyWatch.org

17 Aug

The following blog post was taken from an August 11 post on  ACLU Liberty Watch, a website of the ACLU Liberty Watch 2012 campaign being run by the American Civil Liberties Union. Visit aclulibertywatch.org to learn more about the ACLU’s civil libertarian take on all of the news surrounding the Presidential election campaigns. 

In response to Mitt Romney’s announcement of his vice presidential pick of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, the American Civil Liberties Union Liberty Watch 2012 campaign released a brief report that reveals an appalling civil liberties record for Ryan.

The report finds that Ryan, the congressman representing Wisconsin’s 1st District, holds almost uniformly harmful views on five key civil liberties issues including a humane immigration policy, LGBT equality, reproductive rights, torture and indefinite detention and fair voting access. The report is based on the white paper released by ACLU Liberty Watch 2012, which can be viewed here.

The report was also cited in a recent opinion piece in The Nation where writer Ben Adler called Rep. Ryan out for not really following Ayn Rand’s philosophies on freedom when it came to his staunchly social conservative agenda.

“Paul Ryan may end up a heartbeat away from the presidency but he’ll be light years from civil liberties,” said Anthony D. Romero, ACLU executive director. “Paired with Romney’s already-abysmal record on civil liberties, Ryan’s positions only take this ticket further from the vision of our founding fathers.”  Romero also issued a statement about how Vice Presidential hopeful Ryan would have a plan to unravel civil liberties.

The report found that Ryan held anti-civil liberties positions across all five issue areas.  Below are some highlights from the report.

On immigration, Ryan voted in favor of the Secure Fence Act, a bill that authorized the building of a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border. On LGBT equality, he voted against repealing the military’s discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. In 2011, Ryan voted to reinstate the D.C. abortion ban and the Global Gag Rule, defund Planned Parenthood, and eliminate funding for Title X family planning programs. In addition, he believes discriminatory voter ID laws are important and improve integrity in elections.

Rep. Paul Ryan’s positions:  These positions were taken from the candidate’s public statements, published positions and actions taken as an elected official, including his most recent voting records, where applicable.
On Immigration:
  • Believes efforts should be focused on border security and that pursuing the DREAM Act at this time would be a “serious mistake” (2012).
  • Voted in favor of the Secure Fence Act, a bill that authorized the building of a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border (2006).
On LGBT Equality:
  • Voted against repealing the military’s discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy (2011).
  • Supports the 2006 amendment to the Wisconsin constitution banning marriage equality (2006).
  • Voted in favor of the Federal Marriage Amendment (2004, 2006).
On Reproductive Freedom:
  • Voted to reinstate the D.C. abortion ban and the Global Gag Rule, defund Planned Parenthood, and eliminate funding for Title X family planning programs (2011). 
  • Cosponsored a bill that exempted any employer from providing contraceptive coverage as part of their employees’ health care and opposed the Obama administration’s compromise to require insurance companies to cover contraception (2011).  
  • Cosponsored and voted to pass the Protect Life Act (2011). 
  • Cosponsored and voted to pass the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (May 2011). 
  • Voted to prohibit federal funding for abortion care training in health care centers. (May 2011) 
On Torture and Indefinite Detention Policy:
  • Voted against defense legislation that authorizes the president to send the military anywhere in the world to imprison civilians without charge or trial (2011).
On Voting Rights:
  • Believes discriminatory voter ID laws are important and improve integrity in elections (2012).

ACLU Liberty Watch 2012 is the voice for the Constitution in the this year’s presidential election. Follow Liberty Watch on Twitter: @ACLULW, or ‘Like’ the Facebook page: Facebook.com/ACLULibertyWatch.

A is for ACLU and Avenue Q

2 Aug

Tickets on sale now…

The ACLU of Wisconsin Foundation, in partnership with Skylight Music Theatre, presents a special preview of the Milwaukee premiere of Avenue Q!

Join us on Thursday, September 20 for an evening of irreverent fun and free expression. Thursday night is the final, full-dress rehearsal for Avenue Q and a limited number of seats will be sold to benefit the ACLU of Wisconsin Foundation.

When – September 20, 2012:

6:00 p.m. – Reception – cocktails and ample hors d’oeuvres

7:30 p.m. – Avenue Q in the Cabot Theater

Where – Skylight Music Theatre:

Broadway Theatre Center, 158 N. Broadway, Milwaukee WI 53202

Tickets for the September 20 event are on sale now! Buy tickets online or if you cannot make the event, consider making a donation to the ACLU of Wisconsin Foundation.

Find more about the Skylight Music Theatre’s production of Avenue Q on their website.

Winner of three Tony Awards including Best Musical and written by the composer of The Book of Mormon, Avenue Q is a hilarious adult-themed spoof of Sesame Street. Part flesh (human), part felt (puppets) and packed with heart, Avenue Q tells the story of Princeton, a recent college grad who moves into a shabby NYC apartment in the only neighborhood he can afford, all the way out on Avenue Q. He soon discovers that the residents of his building are not your ordinary neighbors. Together, Princeton and his new friends struggle to find decent jobs, stable relationships and a purpose in life, but ultimately realize the real world isn’t so bad after all.

This event is made possible by:

Birch Lodge Fund of

the Cream City Foundation

Pam Kriger

 Johnson & Pabst

LGBT Humanity Fund

of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation

Host Committee:

Ross Draegert & Robert Starshak

Paul Fairchild

Pam Kriger

Jennifer Morales

Joseph Pabst

Louis Weisberg

Paul Williams

Arizona’s Anti-Immigrant Law: What’s at Stake When the Supreme Court Hears SB 1070

26 Apr

This week the infamous Arizona law that legalized racial profiling and criminalized individuals who do not carry proof of their citizenship status at all times reached the U.S. Supreme Court. The ACLU, along with a coalition of civil rights organizations, have challenged Arizona’s SB 1070 because it invites unequal treatment of individuals by law enforcement, conflicts with federal law and violates basic individual freedoms.

This info graphic helps to explain what is wrong with the Arizona law, where copycat laws were passed in other states and what’s at stake in the SCOTUS decision. Read on for the latest update from the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. Report from the Supreme Court: SB 1070:

On April 25,  the Supreme Court heard arguments in one of the big cases of the term, Arizona v. United States. Several justices, including Justice Stephen Breyer, expressed serious concerns about the law’s impact on civil liberties, as they recognized that it might lead to prolonged detention while an officer investigates a person’s  immigration status.

In response to those serious civil liberties concerns, Arizona was forced to retreat. Arizona was not defending S.B. 1070 as it was written by the state legislature, but rather an entirely different and fictional law that merely notifies the federal government that it has detained someone whose legal status it deems to be suspect.

But make no mistake: even that narrow reading of the law would result in a serious violation of the rights of citizens and lawfully present immigrants. As we heard in court today, there’s no easy way for a citizen who happens not to have their ID on them to avoid being detained for an hour or more on the side of the road while an officer demands that they prove their right to be here.

Tellingly, Arizona did not step up to defend what the state legislature actually did in S.B. 1070. The law, on its face, implements an Arizona state immigration enforcement policy of zero tolerance and maximum harshness. But the federal immigration law that Congress passed recognizes that immigration status is actually far more complicated under federal law. Under federal law, the executive branch can permit someone who is applying for asylum, or seeking other kinds of legal status, to stay in the U.S. while their status is decided. But under Arizona law, they are subject to detention and criminal prosecution, and they take that risk every time they leave their homes and venture out onto Arizona’s streets.

Chief Justice John Roberts asked today whether Arizona v. United States is a case about racial profiling. And although the federal government lawsuit is about the limits on state power, racial profiling is a central issue in the case, as chief law enforcement officials around the country have stated. It’s simply impossible to enforce laws like S.B. 1070 without relying on false and illegal stereotypes. And because that’s true, U.S. citizens and lawful immigrants are caught in the dragnet. Ultimately, it’s not only up to the Supreme Court to decide if S.B. 1070 will stand. The American people must decide whether we will tolerate a nation with such invidious laws.

This blog post was written by Cecillia Wang from the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project and was originally posted on the ACLU’s Blog of Rights.

Información Sobre La Legislación de Inmigración Propuesta de Wisconsin

1 Dec

En Espanol!
Información sobre la legislación de inmigración propuesta de Wisconsin Rep. Pridemore.

http://www.youtube.com/get_player
Razones para oponerse a la legislación (en Ingles) y advertencias del recorrido para Arizona durante el 4 de Julio(en Ingles).

Top Ten Reasons To Oppose an Arizona-Style Immigration Law in Wisconsin

16 Nov

We’ve been saying that “what happens in Arizona, stops in Arizona.” That state’s show-us-your-papers racial profiling law inspired boycotts by travelers and athletes and has come at a huge cost to taxpayers in court.

But in Wisconsin, Representative Don Pridemore has drafted a version of Arizona’s law for our state. The ACLU of Wisconsin is concerned that an Arizona-style state immigration enforcement bill will lead to racial profiling, illegal or mistaken detentions, and waste taxpayers’ money – especially if an unconstitutional law sails unchecked through the state legislature.

Here are the top ten reasons why the ACLU of Wisconsin says an Arizona-style immigration law would be bad for Wisconsin. The bill will:

1). …lead to racial profiling – This bill will force police to detain individuals when the officer believes there is reasonable suspicion that an individual is here illegally. But what constitutes reasonable suspicion? Their ethnicity, accent, economic status?

2). …cause illegal or mistaken detention – How will this bill protect non-criminals who won’t be carrying around or have timely access to documents proving their legal presence? When a police officer stops someone with “reasonable suspicion,” what separates a citizen who is a University student who doesn’t have his wallet and proof of citizenship from an exchange student who doesn’t have his wallet? Again, racial profiling will be likely?

3). …be a wasteful expense to taxpayers – Detention costs will rarely be recovered and will never be recovered from individuals found innocent. There will also be those who are detained, but would have been released earlier otherwise. Defending lawsuits from individuals who have been illegally detained will also cost counties and the state.

4). …distract professional law enforcement from actual crime – Our police officers already have enough to do without taking off time from fighting crime to learn how to identify those without proper documents and enforce federal immigration law. Also arrests and booking are long enough processes without going through additional steps to document reasonable suspicion to the satisfaction of supervisors and courts.

5). …strain relations with federal authorities – Is there any reason to believe that ICE would take custody of or at least take notice of these suspects, including those who are legally present but just can’t prove it within two days? Will this impact the head count in local jails? And why should federal authorities allow Wisconsin to interfere with federal enforcement responsibilities, especially when the federal Department of Justice has sued Arizona for doing so?

6). …pre-empt local control in Madison – It is inconsistent to say that the state of Wisconsin can enforce its own immigration laws while at the same time denying the City of Madison its own stance on immigration. We need meaningful, federal immigration reform now.

7). …harm Wisconsin businesses, including agribusiness – While Rep.
Pridemore’s proposal doesn’t currently include Arizona-type penalties on business, it will hurt businesses nevertheless when legal residents and citizens get sick of racial profiling and employment discrimination.

8). …be an affront to Wisconsin citizens – It goes without saying that this proposal is offensive to honest, taxpaying people, particularly the Latino citizens of Wisconsin. Racial profiling is a big enough problem for people of color in Wisconsin.

9). …create a climate of intolerance in our state – At a time when we are trying to improve our state’s economy, Wisconsin needs to lay out the welcome mat for businesses, workers and students.

10). …open the possibility of a costly lawsuit – The racially motivated Arizona bill will likely cost the taxpayers around a million dollars in court costs. Can Wisconsin afford to pass an unconstitutional bill?

Sidenote: Change.org also has a top-ten list on why this would be a bad law. The proposal also had media coverage in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, UW Daily Cardinal and Badger Herald, and the ACLU of WI was quoted on the issue in the Capitol Times. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel also published a strong criticism of the proposal.

ACLU of Wisconsin Issues Travel Advisory for State of Arizona

1 Jul

The American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin alerts Wisconsin residents to potential threats to the constitutional rights and civil liberties of individuals planning to travel or stay in Arizona. This is especially important for those traveling during the holiday weekend.

Get your bust card:
The ACLU has prepared an informational card for the public entitled, “What to Do if You’re Stopped by Police, Immigration Agents or the FBI.” While the card provides information that applies throughout the United States in any encounter with law enforcement officials, individuals are particularly advised to download and read this card before traveling to Arizona. A copy is available here (en Español).

Key information that applies to all individuals considering travel through Arizona includes the following:

    • If you travel through the state of Arizona and encounter law enforcement officers, remember that all persons within the boundaries of the United States, regardless of immigration status, are protected by the U.S. Constitution.

 

  • Racial and ethnic profiling is illegal. An officer cannot stop you because of physical features or English ability. The officer must be able to articulate a reason for a “lawful stop or detention.”

 

 

  • If you are stopped for questioning:

 

Stay calm. Don’t run. Don’t argue, resist or obstruct the police, even if you are innocent or police are violating your rights. Keep your hands where police can see them. If you are driving a car, stop the car in a safe place as quickly as possible. Turn off the car, turn on the internal light, open the window part way and place your hands on the wheel.

Ask if you are free to leave. If the officer says yes, you have the right to calmly and silently walk away. If you are under arrest, you have a right to know why.

You have the right to remain silent and cannot be punished for refusing to answer questions. If you wish to remain silent, tell the officer out loud. However, under state law in Arizona and some other states, you must give your name if asked to identify yourself. If you are the driver of a vehicle, upon request, show police your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance. Both drivers and passengers have the right to remain silent. If you are a passenger, you can ask if you are free to leave. If the officer says yes, sit silently in the car or calmly leave. Even if the officer says no, you have the right to remain silent.

You do not have to consent to a search of yourself or your belongings, but police may “pat down” your clothing if they suspect a weapon. You should not physically resist, but you have the right to refuse consent for any further search. If you do consent, it can affect your rights later in court. If you are the driver of a vehicle and an officer or immigration agent asks to look inside your car, you can refuse to consent to the search. But if police believe your car contains evidence of a crime, your car can be searched without your consent.

 

  • If you are questioned about your immigration status:

 

You have the right to remain silent and do not have to discuss your immigration or citizenship status with police, immigration agents or any other officials. You do not have to answer questions about where you were born, whether you are a U.S. citizen, or how you entered the country. (Separate rules apply at international borders and airports, and for individuals on certain nonimmigrant visas, including tourists and business travelers.)

If you are not a U.S. citizen and an immigration agent requests your immigration papers, you must show them if you have them with you. If you are over 18, carry your immigration documents with you at all times. If you do not have immigration papers, say you want to remain silent.

Do not lie about your citizenship status or provide fake documents.

 

  • If you feel your rights have been violated, write down everything you can remember, including officers’ badge and patrol car numbers, which agency the officers were from, and any other details. Get contact information for witnesses.

 

 

  • Residents of Hawai’i, New Mexico, and Washington should be aware that, because the driver’s licenses of their states do not require proof of legal residence for issuance, they may not satisfy Arizona criteria for identification under the new Arizona racial profiling law.

 

Wisconsin residents who are subjected to racial or ethnic profiling or other rights violations are encouraged to report these concerns to the ACLU of Wisconsin at (414) 272-4032 x 23.

More on the Arizona racial profiling law:
On April 23, 2010, Arizona enacted a state racial profiling law, SB 1070, that has generated fear and confusion among the public about the treatment and rights of Americans in the State of Arizona. Although the law is not scheduled to go into effect until July 29, 2010, and multiple lawsuits have already been filed to prevent it from taking effect at all, a history of rampant racial profiling by law enforcement officials in Maricopa County, Arizona (which includes the cities of Phoenix, Glendale, Mesa, and Scottsdale) and a stated policy of “attrition through enforcement” adopted by lawmakers in the state give credible reason to be concerned even before the date SB 1070 is supposed to go into effect.

The law will require police officers to demand papers proving U.S. citizenship or immigration status from any individual whom they stop, detain, or arrest, based on an undefined “reasonable suspicion” that the individual is in the country unlawfully. It invites discrimination against and pretextual stops and arrests of Latinos, other racial minorities, and individuals believed to look or sound “foreign,” based on their race, ethnicity, or national origin.

The law expressly provides that even suspected infractions of city or town ordinances – such as jaywalking, excessive noise, or having an overgrown or untidy lawn – can and should lead to immigration questioning. If individuals are unable to prove to the police officer that they are permitted to be in the United States, they may be subject to warrantless arrest without any probable cause that they have committed a crime.

Since 2007, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) has systematically engaged in selective enforcement of minor traffic laws to target Latino motorists for stops and investigation of their U.S. citizenship or immigration status. The U.S. Department of Justice has initiated an investigation into the practices of the MCSO, and there are at least two pending civil rights lawsuits challenging this activity in the federal courts.

The increased risk that individuals and motorists will be stopped, questioned, detained, and arrested because of their race, ethnicity, or national origin makes it imperative that individuals understand their rights when encountering law enforcement authorities in Arizona.

ACLU of WI Supports the Proposed City Resolution on Immigration and Local Law Enforcement

1 Jun

The ACLU of Wisconsin Madison Area Office sent a letter today to the members of the Madison Common Council urging them to support a resolution on the topic of local law enforcement, racial profiling and immigration. This is what we wrote:

“The ACLU of Wisconsin urges the City of Madison Common Council to vote in favor of a resolution affirming Madison’s current sensible approach to enforcement of flawed federal immigration laws and opposing discriminatory policing practices and proposals. Local law enforcement practices that involve racial profiling result in bad policing, overstep the authority of local governments, and ultimately make our communities less safe.

“This important resolution reaffirms existing Madison police policies which oppose racial profiling. In addition, the ACLU of Wisconsin also supports the call by the resolution sponsors for the Dane County Sheriff’s Department to end its current practice of reporting persons who are arrested – but not convicted of crimes – to the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE).

“Around the country, the ACLU has actively challenged racial profiling. The most recent, extreme example of such a biased law – against which the ACLU has filed suit – is the recently-passed Arizona legislation allowing police officers to demand citizenship papers based on a so-called “reasonable suspicion” that a person is undocumented. This law clearly violates the Equal Protection clause of the U.S. constitution: it is inevitable that “reasonable suspicion” will disproportionately impact persons of color and non-native English speakers, U.S. citizens, lawful residents and suspected undocumented persons alike. By interfering with the federal government’s sole authority to regulate immigration, the Arizona law also violates the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause.

“Good community-based policing is essential for effective law enforcement to protect public safety. Local police rely on community residents to provide the information they need to fight crime. Immigration enforcement and racial profiling by local police undermine community policing efforts and add to the loss of trust by large sectors of the community it is obligated to serve and protect. In communities where people are afraid to talk to local police, more crimes go unreported, fewer witnesses come forth, and people are less likely to report suspicious activity.

The ACLU of Wisconsin therefore urges the Madison Common Council to protect everyone in the community and pass resolution 18594.”

Read more about the issue in this article from the Capitol Times.
The Madison common council will vote on the resolution tonight (Tuesday, June 1) at 6:30 p.m. in room 201 of the City-County building.

Take Action: Support the ACLU’s Lawsuit Against the Arizona Racial Profiling Law

17 May

A lot of people are outraged about Arizona’s new racial profiling, “show me your papers” law. And today, the American Civil Liberties Union is taking action.

Just a few hours ago, the national ACLU went to federal court to block this discriminatory law from taking effect.

You can add your name to our list of supporters today. To help you show your public support for reversing this law, we’ll send you a free “What Happens in Arizona, STOPS In Arizona” bumper sticker.

Racial profiling is a deeply offensive affront to the American values of justice and fairness. And using race to demand that people produce “papers” to prove who they are is a police-state tactic that is completely unacceptable in America. If we don’t stop this law now, similar ones could spread across the nation. Already, state lawmakers in at least 10 other states have promised to bring similar bills to their legislatures.

We need to first stop this law in Arizona and then continue to work to prevent such bills from ever passing in Wisconsin.

That’s why the national ACLU is taking Arizona to court, along with our partners the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the National Immigration Law Center, and a number of other civil rights groups.

Under the new law, Arizona police will be required to ask people they stop for their citizenship papers based on “reasonable suspicion” that they are in the country unlawfully. And by leaving “reasonable suspicion” undefined, the law leaves police officers little choice but to act on appearance and language, inviting a new wave of rampant racial profiling. Find out more about the facts on the new Arizona law on-line.

Today, our lawyers took the first legal step to stop this law. You can read a copy of our complaint on-line. And we’ll be organizing on the ground in Arizona, training volunteer lawyers to help people defend themselves against racial profiling. We won’t stand by while this law transforms Arizona into a place where anyone can be forced to “show papers” when they are stopped by police just because of how they look or talk or dress.

Racial profiling is unconstitutional, unacceptable and un-American. But, we’ll only stop extremism and injustice by acting together to end them.

We need you on board. Can we count you in?

For justice,
Anthony D. Romero
Executive Director
ACLU

Remember – we can’t do it without your help!
Don’t forget to support the ACLU in our work to fight racial profiling in Arizona, in Wisconsin and across the country.

ACLU Legal Observers: Witnessing History

11 May

On May 1st, 2010, supporters of the rights of immigrants and workers took to the streets in cities across the United States in support of comprehensive immigration reform and repealing Arizona’s new racial profiling law. At the large marches in Milwaukee and Madison, ACLU volunteers were wearing bright yellow t-shirts that said “Legal Observer” or “Observador Legal” and handed out information on the rights of protesters.

ACLU of Wisconsin Foundation’s legal observers are volunteers who are witnesses of First Amendment rights at protests. After training new legal observers on the rights of demonstrators and how to be effective and efficient witnesses, volunteers go out into the field to monitor protests from start to finish.

In Milwaukee on May Day, march organizers said that over 35,000 people took part in the massive protest. With a large team of volunteer legal observers, the ACLU of Wisconsin Foundation was able to distribute around 10,000 “Know Your Rights with Law Enforcement” brochures with information for participants about their right to protest and how to deal with police encounters.

Observers did not witness any civil liberties violations, but at one point a fire raged in a dumpster near the starting point of the march. Legal observers helped organizers steer the crowd to safety while Milwaukee District 2 Officer Robert Velez acted bravely and quickly to move the flaming dumpster away from the building to prevent a larger fire from spreading.

In Madison, legal observers marched with the May Day crowd from Brittingham Park to the Capitol. Madison Police did an excellent job rerouting traffic down W. Washington and the crowd was orderly as it marched past downtown businesses, houses with Mifflin Street revelers, and into the Farmers Market on the square. No arrests were reported.

In order to document potential violations of constitutionally protected free speech, each legal observer carries their trusty notepads, cameras, cell phones or video cameras. By remaining politically neutral during these events, we guarantee the rights of ALL to assemble and express themselves – regardless of their opinions. From hometown meetings to Tea Party rallies, immigration protests, tuition protests and sit-ins over workplace bias, the ACLU of Wisconsin Foundation volunteers are watching, educating and advocating.

Worried you’re not qualified? Legal observers in Wisconsin are of all faiths, ages and races and have volunteered on foot, bicycle, car and wheelchair. Previous experience? Students, teachers, parents, children, artists, mechanics, lawyers, laborers, musicians, waitresses, businesspeople and retirees are all welcome. So if you have a desire to protect our freedoms and see history being made as you go, contact us.

There’s No Such Thing as a "Criminal Alien" – Local Forum Brings Up Questions About Immigrants’ Rights

8 Feb

On Saturday, I gave a Know Your Rights workshop for the thirty-two people who came to the Union Trabajadores Immigrantes immigrant rights forum. I was invited because everyone, Spanish-speaking Latinos being no exception, should understand their basic 4th, 5th and 6th Amendment rights when interacting with police.

With the help of a translator, I talked about the basics: don’t talk to police, don’t consent to searches, how to tell the difference between detention and arrest and so forth. The questions that people had started off about basic traffic stops. But the questions got harder.

Can you get arrested for having a broken tail light? No, that’s just a citation. Can police ask you about your immigration status if you get pulled over? No, they shouldn’t. Can police ask about the rest of the people in the car? No, they shouldn’t do that either.

What if they say they are going to check your ID on a national immigration database and ask you a bunch of questions? No, local police shouldn’t be doing that and you shouldn’t talk to police. If they pull you over you either need a ticket or a good reason to be arrested.

What do you do when you try to assert your right to remain silent by saying “no se,” and the police get angry that you don’t speak English and it makes it worse? What happens if you get arrested for the third time for driving without a license, sent to county jail and they find that your work visa expired a few years ago? What does a mom do about her kids who were born here and are citizens if she is facing deportation?…

I read about the problems in our broken immigration system every day in the newspaper. I see politicians debating about it and I see tea baggers protesting about it. But then I talk to the people whose lives and families are directly impacted by the debates, the expense, the need for legal counsel, the wait, the bureaucracy, I wonder why we don’t have a year of general amnesty? Why can’t we license drivers separate from state identification or citizenship verification? Why are states doing more and more to criminalize those who were brought here by their parents or who overstayed their visas?

The national ACLU’s Immigrant Rights Project just put out a new Issue Brief on this debate. Below is the basic info you should know and some links to more information.

When someone is present in the United States in violation of immigration laws, it is not a crime by itself. Entering without documentation is an offense, but most immigrants in the country did enter legally but have overstayed work or school visas. Many others who are undocumented enter the country for work with the promise of secure jobs and legal documentation, but don’t get what they are promised. Also when someone is removed from the country and then comes back without permission it becomes a crime.

It is not a federal crime to simply be undocumented. A very controversial proposal (H.R. 4437, also called the “Sensenbrenner bill” for one of our state Congressmen) did pass the House but was rejected by the Senate after massive street protests. At this time, the lack of legal presence is a civil rather than a criminal law and no immigration laws refer to anyone in violation of that law as a “criminal alien.”

The government is also routing valuable resources away from prosecuting violent crime as it pursues non-violent immigrations violations. As our federal resources are spent pursuing immigrants who are statistically less likely to commit crime, money for gun trafficking, white-color crime and organized crime has decreased.

Criminalizing Immigrants Unlawful and Harmful blog post

Immigrants’ Rights Issue Brief

- Stacy Harbaugh, Community Advocate, ACLU of Wisconsin Madison Area Office

Immigration Rights Rally in Madison – Jan. 19

14 Jan

FYI – Immigration rights rally announced:

“Yesterday We Dreamed, Today we Act: March in Support of CIR – ASAP and the DREAM Act” will be held on Tuesday, January 19th. This event is being organized by different high school and college student groups. The goal of the event is to support the recent immigration reform bill introduced by the Congressman Luis Gutierrez (CIR – ASAP) and the DREAM Act.

The schedule is as follows:

4:30pm – We will gather at the Library Mall (711 State St).
4:45pm – We start to march from the Library Mall to the Capitol.
5:30pm – There will be a press conference outside of the Capitol.
6:00pm – People will start moving to the Humanities building
6:30pm-8:00pm – There will be a celebration party with music, food in Room 3650 of the Humanities building (432 East Campus Mall)

The Madison Student Coalition

DREAM Act event in Madison

21 Sep

Community event in Madison on the federal version of what was passed at the state level during the state budget negotiations…

National Day of Action in support of the DREAM Act

Wednesday, September 23, 4:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Centro Hispano, 810 W. Badger Rd. Madison

4:30 – 6:30pm Workshops: the Artz, DREAM Act 101
6:30 – 7:00pm Open Mic, DJ, y Music from Son Mudanza

*the event is free
*there will be food too!
The DREAM Act is a piece of legislation that would create a path to legal status through college education or military service for undocumented youth who have been in this country since an early age. On September 23rd, thousands of students all over the country will rise together and declare that it is Back to School DREAM ACT Day of Action! Here in Madison Alcance, MEChA and Voces de la Frontera invite you to join us at Centro Hispano to learn more about the DREAM Act (and instate tuition) and have fun as well!

Find the event on Facebook.

For more info contact Jannet Arenas: jannet328@hotmail.com (608)333-3515