Posts Tagged ‘Department of Homeland Security

10
Nov
10

No Tickee – No Laundry

Exiled From Home

Source: (http://goo.gl/JPAWB)  from Blog of Rights: Official Blog of the American Civil Liberties Union

 

Last summer, the ACLU and its affiliates in Oregon, Southern California, Northern California and New Mexico filed a lawsuit on behalf of 17 U.S. citizens and legal residents to challenge their placement on the U.S. government’s No-Fly List and the failure of the government to give them a chance to defend themselves. Some of these people were in the United States when they found themselves suddenly and without explanation unable to board a plane. Others — including military veterans, students and people visiting family — were overseas and were effectively exiled from their own country because they couldn’t board a plane to fly home.

Although all of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit were facing serious problems, those stuck abroad were in the most immediate need. In August, we filed a motion seeking preliminary relief on behalf of these individuals to help them return to their families, jobs, and homes in the United States. The government has since permitted these individuals to fly home, but will not tell them whether they were taken off the list or if were just given one-time waivers to fly home. Because of the secrecy surrounding the No-Fly List, they won’t know until they try to fly again.

Not having the ability to fly has a huge impact on people’s lives — including their ability to perform their jobs and visit their families. Here is the story of one of the plaintiffs, in his own words:

 

My name is Raymond Earl Knaeble IV. I am an American citizen. I have served my country honorably as a member of the U.S. military.

I am also a new Muslim. I recently converted to Islam when I was in Kuwait about a year ago. I never thought I would become a Muslim until I learned and studied about the Truth of Islam.

I believe it was because of my new faith that the FBI forced me into exile earlier this year. In March, I tried to fly home to the United States from Colombia, where I was recently married. I was not allowed to board the plane. Airline representatives told me to go to the U.S. embassy, and when I got there a government official took my passport. No one told me why I couldn’t fly home. I was forced to stay in a foreign country with no way to return. I fully cooperated with government officials. I answered every question officials asked me, provided my SIM card and all of the contacts I knew in the Middle East, and told them my life story. I was interrogated day in and day out by the FBI, but no one ever told me what charge they had against me or why I could not fly home. What is my crime? The only thing I know is that I am an American citizen, but I am also a Muslim. It seems that being Muslim has become a crime in the United States.

I lost a good job because I could not make it to a mandatory medical screening when the FBI excluded me from America, the country of my birth.

Eventually, desperate to get home, I attempted to fly to Nuevo Laredo in Mexico in order to cross a land border into the United States. I was turned back — after a lengthy detention and questioning — by officials in Mexico City and not allowed to travel by air or land to the U.S. border.

In August, I began a new journey in which I flew to Panama, then traveled by bus through Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and all of Mexico to the U.S. border at Mexicali. During this journey I was subjected to three separate detentions by government officials who searched my belongings and subjected me to extended interrogations. In Guatemala, I was questioned and followed. On one occasion, I had to run after my bus, which had left while I was being questioned. When I finally reached the United States, the country of my birth and my home, U.S. officials handcuffed me. They detained me for 10 hours, put me through intense interrogation, and searched all of my belongings, including my laptop computer and other electronic equipment. They released me at 2:30 in the morning and finally allowed me to enter my country. I took a bus from the border to San Francisco.

I am a veteran of the U.S. armed forces and I have no criminal record. I am no threat to national security and have been charged with no crime. The FBI put me on a list that turned my life upside-down and there is no process in place to make them tell me why, or let me respond to any accusations they may have against me. Now that I have made it home, I cannot fly to visit my new wife in Colombia or other relatives within the United States. Adding insult to injury, since I’ve been back, I am followed by federal agents wherever I go.

Now I am waiting for the legal process to work. But it may be years before I can freely exercise my right to travel in and out of the country freely — a right that belongs to all Americans, but that our government has put on hold for many of us, apparently for no other reason than our religious beliefs and practices.

While the return home of our clients who were once stuck abroad marks a victory, the fundamental problems with the No-Fly List remain and our lawsuit continues. It’s unconstitutional for the government to put people on a list and stop them from flying without telling them why or giving them a reasonable chance to defend themselves. Due process requires that each of the 17 plaintiffs we represent get this chance, including veterans of our armed services, like Ray Knaeble.

 

19
May
09

Racial Profiling – Action Required

racial_profiling

icon_digg A number of social issues presented in both the Primary’s and General Election have been reviewed by our current Obama Administration; with some being overturned by the administration while others have been set aside and left as is.

One issue addressed recently by Attorney General Eric Holder and Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), during Holder’s Confirmation Hearing, was that of “Racial Profiling”, which is a centralized issue I strongly disagree with and was condoned by, adhered to and practiced under the Bush White House approval and implemented throughout the Department of Justice.

We as Americans know it has existed for some time and have either seen it practiced or read about profiling during sometime in our lives.  We see it in local law enforcement agencies (traffic checks) to unwarranted data mining searches by our federal government.

As previously stated I disagree with this policy of categorizing groups of society by placing emphasis on associations or beliefs.  It was encouraging last fall to read a News Brief by the ACLU, entitled “Holder’s Statement Marks Clean Break With Bush Administration”, which in part:

In October, the American Civil Liberties Union expressed concern over controversial changes made to FBI internal guidelines governing investigations that allow agents to use intrusive measures without evidence of wrongdoing. These changes, which went into effect in December, opened the door to racial profiling. In fact, FBI agents are now able to use these same intrusive techniques to investigate potential participants in public demonstrations.

The following can be attributed to Mike German, ACLU Policy Counsel and former FBI agent:

“Attorney General Holder’s statement set a new tone that racial profiling is unacceptable in all situations. The Bush administration had lowered the bar by allowing the use of race and religion as factors in national security and border integrity investigations. Holder sent a clear signal today that the FBI guidelines for investigations need to be redrafted. It makes no sense to use an ineffective law enforcement tool in our most important investigations.”

The following can be attributed to Jennifer Bellamy, ACLU Legislative Counsel:

“Attorney General Holder’s remarks on racial profiling should shut the door on the Bush administration’s use of race and ethnicity in the name of homeland security. Now it is time for Congress to follow the example of the top law enforcement officer and pass the End Racial Profiling Act.”

An excellent article, again by the ACLU, well worth reviewing is entitled “2004 DHS Program Used Racial And Ethnic Profiling” where the following is stated:

In 2001, President Bush declared that racial profiling was “wrong” and that he would “end it in America.”In 2002, Attorney General John Ashcroft said, “Using race… as a proxy for potential criminal behavior is unconstitutional, and it undermines law enforcement by undermining the confidence that people can have in law enforcement,” and his Justice Department banned racial profiling by federal law enforcement in 2003. That ban, however, came with an exemption for national security investigations. Today’s New York Times article shows how DHS drove a truck through that loophole just one year later.

“Despite President Bush’s vow to end racial profiling, his administration embraced it,” said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “This program confirms that racial and ethnic profiling are not only wrong, but they don’t work. The time and resources spent by DHS rounding up, interrogating and investigating innocent American immigrants could have been spent dealing with actual threats to our country.”

Again, recently, we have seen campaign commitments reviewed and some recanted, I sincerely hope both our President and Attorney General will hold true to their promises of eliminating the usage of racial profiling.

Additional articles on Profiling:

Online News Service: Racism in Journalism

Talk – King Downing – Why Racial Profiling Cannot Work

Talk by King Downing National Coordinator of the ACLU’s Campaign Against Racial Profiling on “Profiles in Injustice: Why Racial Profiling Cannot Work”




The Month in Review

August 2017
M T W T F S S
« Dec    
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031