Posts Tagged 'Homeland Security'

Free Lynne Stewart!

Protest the Jailing of Lynne Stewart.   One of the first victims of the Patriot Act, she was convicted of aiding and abetting terrorism in the course of her legal work. Based on her years of defending the most exploited, and government infringement of attorney-client confidentiality in the case, she was sentenced to only 28 months of detention, and was freed on appeal.  Now, at age 70 and battling breast cancer, she has been ordered to jail, and her sentence is being reviewed to be increased. Read more.

SF Gray Panther Newsletter, December, 2009
Lynne Stewart’s Appeal Denied

Lynne at the SF Gray Panthers

Lynne at the SF Gray Panthers

After a long career representing the poor, oppressed and unpopular, radical attorney Lynne Stewart has been sent to jail. On November 17, a federal appeals court upheld her 2005 conviction of conspiracy and providing material support to terrorists and ordered her bond revoked. It also faulted District Judge John G. Koeltl for failing to issue a finding on whether she had committed perjury, and ordered him to review the mitigating circumstances that led him to sentence her to 28 months rather than the 30 years requested by the government. .

In the many years since charges were brought against her, the Gray Panthers have participated in nation-wide support and fundraising efforts for Lynne. In a typical political analysis of the events, she said the decision’s timing, “coming as it does on the eve of the arrival of the tortured men from the offshore prison in Guantánamo,” carried a message. “If you’re going to lawyer for these people, you’d better toe very close to the line that the government has set out.”

To send Lynne a letter, write:

Lynne Stewart, #53504-054
MCC-NY
150 Park Row
New York, NY 10007

Read SF Gray Panthers page on Lynne Stewart

Jeff Mackler wrote:

Dear Friends of Lynne Stewart,

I just got off the phone with Lynne Stewart a few minutes ago, that is, late Wednesday (early Thursday, November 19, New York time).  She bravely told me that she has been ordered to report to U.S. Federal Marshals to be imprisoned at 5 pm, Thursday, November 19.  There will be a 4 pm NY rally of her supporters, who will escort her to the courthouse for imprisonment.

In San Francisco, we will rally on Monday, Nov. 23 to protest Lynne’s frame-up trial and imprisonment.  Be there!  (See above.)

Background:

Following the November 16 decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit that rejected Lynne Stewart’s appeal of her 1995 frame-up conviction on five counts of aiding and abetting terrorism, Lynne’s legal team as well as the federal district court were in a quandary as to how to proceed.  (Lynne has been a leading civil and human rights attorney for 30-years.  She is a member of the National Lawyers Guild and a member of the Continuations Committee of the National Assembly to End the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupations.)

The Second Circuit made what amounted to an unprecedented decision to not only affirm her conviction and reject her appeal but to order that her bail be revoked and that she be remanded to prison.  But lacking clear orders as to who would carry out this decision and when it would happen, the last two days have seen Lynne appear, along with her supporters at two rallies in her defense and numerous press conferences and interviews while judges and lawyers tried to ascertain what to do.  That decision has been made and Lynne will begin serving a 28-month prison term.

However, the Second Circuit’s 2-1 decision also remanded the issue of the length of Lynne’s sentence back to Judge John Koeltl’s Federal District Court ordering Koeltl to reconsider the 28-month jail sentence that he originally imposed.  Obviously furious at the relatively short duration of the sentence, the Second Circuit accepted the prosecution’s assertion that Koeltl had not properly considered the question of whether or not Lynne has perjured herself during her trial.  If that were to be determined, according to the Second Circuit, the length of Lynne’s sentence could be extended.  The single dissenting judge went further — expressing his outrage at Lynne’s relatively short sentence and suggesting that a qualitatively longer sentence be imposed than the majority contemplated.  The government originally demanded a 30-year sentence!

Still fighting, Lynne’s attorneys will ask the Second Circuit for a delay in her incarceration based on Lynne’s scheduled December surgery.  Here too, Lynne guesses that this will be denied, with the court holding that prison facilities are adequate for any medical needs that Lynne, a diabetic with hypertension and recovering from breast cancer surgery, may have.

Meanwhile, a new sentencing hearing before Judge Koeltl is scheduled for December 2 at the Foley Square Courthouse.  Federal prosecutors are expected to ask for the maximum sentence possible.  Also appearing in court will be Mohamed Yousry, Lynne’s innocent co-defendant and translator.  Koeltl was also ordered to reconsider Yousry’s 20-month sentence.  The prison term of a third defendant in Lynne’s case, Ahmed Sattar, who was sentenced to 20-plus years, was not challenged.

At this point we can only speculate as to whether Judge Koeltl will stand by his original sentence or be pressured by the Second Circuit to extend Lynne and Mohammed’s sentences.  The judge is known to carefully consider his sentences.  Close observers believe that he is unlikely to bend and impose a longer sentence.

Should Koeltl refuse to add additional years to Lynne’s prison term, the government is expected to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Government prosecutors and obviously the Second Circuit are outraged that a “convicted terrorist” has been walking around the streets for the past five years, free to champion her own cause and those of all others who suffer political repression.  It was clear from Judge Koeltl’s short sentence and high praise of Lynne’s record as an attorney and human being, a “credit to her profession,” said Koeltl during the sentencing hearing, that he felt compelled to take his distance from the government’s desire to put Lynne, 70, in prison for what would amount to the rest of her life.

Lynne will appeal the Second Circuit’s ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.  She has repeatedly stated that her prosecution and persecution are consciously orchestrated by the government to chill the defense bar, that is, to instill the fear of government prosecutions into any attorney who seeks to afford alleged terrorists or others who are victims of unjust government persecution a vigorous and dedicated defense.  Lynne points to the upcoming U.S. prosecution efforts of Guantanamo prisoners as a prime example.

For further information contact: Jeff Mackler, Coordinator, West Coast Lynne Stewart Defense Committee 510-268-9429, <jmackler@lmi.net>.  Mail tax-free contributions payable to National Lawyers Guild Foundation.  Write in memo box: “Lynne Stewart Defense.”  Mail to: Lynne Stewart Defense, P.O. Box 10328, Oakland, CA 94610.

Lynne Stewart is charged for her actions acting as attorney for blind Egyptian cleric named Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman, who is accused for the basement bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993.  Further investigation of this bombing shows that operatives for Federal agencies were involved in setting up this action.  Read more here.

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Immigrant Rights Groups demand end to Homeland Security’s 287(g) program and racial profiling

Immigrant Rights Groups’  Letter to President Obama Demanding An End to
Homeland Security’s 287(g) Program and Racial Profiling in Immigration Enforcement

Also see press release  Obama Accused of Continuing Bush’s Racial Profiling of Immigrants, Democracy Now on racial profiling and abuse in the 287(g) program, and NY Times Firm Stance on Illegal Immigrants Remains Policy (sic),  Shackled While Giving Birth – Police Abuse 287(g), and Immigrant Groups Protest Napolitano’s Visit

A handful of protesters call on the Obama administration to follow through on immigration reform. (Christine Lin/The Epoch Times)

Protesters call on the Obama administration to follow through on immigration reform. (Christine Lin/The Epoch Times)

San Francisco Gray Panthers and the national Gray Panthers have endorsed this letter.

July 31, 2009

The President

The White House

Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We, the undersigned civil rights, community, and immigrant rights organizations, urge you to imme-diately terminate the 287(g) program operated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The program has come under severe criticism this year because local law enforcement agencies that have been granted 287(g) powers are using the program to target communities of color, including disproportionate numbers of Latinos in particular places, for arrest. Racial profiling and other civil rights abuses by the local law enforcement agencies that have sought out 287(g) powers have compromised public safety, while doing nothing to solve the immigration crisis.

We applaud your recent remarks acknowledging, that “there is a long history in this country of Afri-can Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately.” However, DHS’s continued use of the 287(g) program exacerbates exactly this type of racial profiling. In light of well-documented evidence that local law enforcement agencies are using 287(g) powers to justify and intensify racial profiling, Secretary Napolitano’s July 10, 2009 announcement that DHS has ex-panded the 287(g) program to include 11 new jurisdictions is deeply alarming.

Since its inception, the 287(g) program has drawn sharp criticism from federal officials, law enforce-ment, and local community groups. The program, largely recognized as a failed Bush experiment, relinquishes the power to enforce immigration law to local law enforcement and corrections agencies and has resulted in the widespread use of pretextual traffic stops, racially motivated questioning, and unconstitutional searches and seizures primarily in communities of color. In a country where racial profiling by law enforcement agents has led to massive arrests of people of color, these efforts to push immigrants into the criminal justice system is not surprising, but absolutely counterproductive to increasing public safety.

A March 2009 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report criticized DHS for program misma-nagement and insufficient oversight of the controversial program. The DHS Inspector General is currently conducting an audit of the 287(g) program, and the Department of Justice launched a civil rights investigation into the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, whose 287(g) program has been widely criticized for engaging in racial and ethnic profiling. The Police Foundation, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Major Cities Chiefs Association have expressed concerns that deputizing local law enforcement officers to enforce civil federal immigration law undermines their core public safety mission, diverts scarce resources, increases their exposure to liability and litigation, and exacerbates fear in communities.

Reports of abuse in local communities have been widespread. In Davidson County, Tennessee, the Sheriff’s Office used its 287(g) power to apprehend undocumented immigrants driving to work, standing at day labor sites, or while fishing off piers. One pregnant woman—charged with driving without a license—was shackled to her bed during labor. In Gwinnett County, Georgia, even without formal 287(g) powers, over 350 individuals were detained and deported from the jail this February after being arrested for driving without a license, a county ordinance violation, or on traffic or misdemeanor charges. The Gwinnett jail is triple-bunked, with one person in each cell sleeping on the floor, and the jail’s internal SWAT team is known for appearing in ski masks to subdue detainees it deems uncooperative. Yet, Gwinnett County is among the 11 jurisdictions granted new 287(g) approval by Secretary Napolitano earlier this month.

In a recent research report, Justice Strategies, a nonpartisan research firm, found evidence that links the expansion of the program to racial animus against communities of color. According to FBI and census data, sixty-one percent of ICE-deputized localities had violent and property crime indices lower than the national average, while eighty-seven percent of these localities had a rate of Latino population growth higher than the national average.

The abusive misuse of the 287(g) program by its current slate of agencies has rendered it not only ineffective, but dangerous to community safety. The program has worked counter to community po-licing goals by eroding the trust and cooperation of immigrant communities and diverted already reduced law enforcement resources from their core mission. DHS’s proposed changes to the program not only fail to correct its serious flaws, but also create new ones.

We know that you are committed to tackling our nation’s most complex issues, for these reasons we ask that you examine the damaging impact the 287(g) program is having on immigrant communities across the country and terminate the program. We would be pleased to provide additional information or recommendations regarding current programs and operations of DHS.

Thank you for your consideration. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Marielena Hincapié, executive director, National Immigration Law Center at (213) 639-3900 ext. 109.

Cc:

Janet Napolitano, Secretary, Department of Homeland Security

Eric Holder, Attorney General, USDOJ

Loretta King, Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, USDOJ

Congressional Black Caucus

Congressional Hispanic Caucus

Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus

Congressional Progressive Caucus

Mesa, AZ & Florence, AZ:

Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, Rep. Jeff Flake, Sen. Jon Kyl, Sen. John McCain

Sussex, DE:

Rep. Michael N. Castle, Sen. Thomas R. Carper, Sen. Edward E. Kaufman

Gwinnett, GA:

Rep. David Scott, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, Sen. Johnny Isakson

Mesquite, NV:

Rep. Dean Heller, Sen. John Ensign, Sen. Harry Reid

Monmouth, NJ & Morristown, NJ:

Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr., Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, Sen. Robert Menendez, Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg

Guilford, NC:

Rep. Brad Miller, Sen. Kay R. Hagan, Sen. Richard Burr,

Rhode Island

Sen. Jack Reed, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse

Charleston, SC:

Rep. Henry E. Brown, Jr., Sen. Lindsey Graham, Sen. Jim DeMint

Houston, TX:

Rep. John Culberson, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Sen. John Cornyn

Racist, Anti-Immigrant Web Posts Traced to Homeland Security

July 25, 2009

Racist Web Posts Traced to Homeland Security

After federal border agents detained several Mexican immigrants in western New York in June, an article about the incident in a local newspaper drew an onslaught of vitriolic postings on its Web site. Some were racist. Others attacked farmers in the region, an apple-growing area east of Rochester, accusing them of harboring illegal workers. Still others made personal attacks about the reporter who wrote the article.

Most of the posts were made anonymously. But in reviewing the logs of its Internet server, the paper, The Wayne County Star in Wolcott, traced three of them to Internet protocol addresses at the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees border protection.

Homeland Security started an investigation into the posts this month, according to the reporter, Louise Hoffman-Broach, and Richard M. Healy, the Wayne County district attorney. A spokeswoman for the federal agency’s inspector general said she could neither confirm nor deny an investigation; department rules prohibit the use of office equipment for the personal transmission of material that could offend fellow employees or the public.

Coming on the eve of the apple harvest season, the Web posts and the investigation — first reported this week on The Star’s Web site — have ratcheted up longstanding tensions in Wayne County, where farmers and laborers have accused immigration officials of using heavy-handed tactics like racial profiling and arbitrary or unjustified detentions.

Such tactics, the farmers say, have scared Hispanic farmworkers from the region just as growers are preparing for the harvest.

Representative Dan Maffei, who represents the area in Congress, said the allegations of overaggressive immigration enforcement, coming from a wide range of constituents, were “of extreme concern.”

“I’m investigating these reports to make sure that people’s rights aren’t being harmed and that the economy of Wayne County is not being harmed,” said Mr. Maffei, a Democrat.

A. J. Price, a regional spokesman for United States Customs and Border Protection, defended the work of the area’s officers. “We are constantly criticized for doing our job, and that’s just part of our job,” Mr. Price said.

Local officials and residents say that beginning about 2006, federal officials stepped up their enforcement of immigration laws in western New York.

Farmers and other residents said the push created a climate of fear in communities whose economies depend on migrant laborers, many of them illegal immigrants.

The Obama administration has moved to a less confrontational policy at work sites, focusing on employers. But Customs and Border Protection, which does not conduct work-site inspections, had not changed its strategy in New York, Mr. Price said.

The latest flare-up began with a boat trip on June 12. A local farmer, Robert Norris, decided to take a Mexican employee and relatives of another worker for a spin on Lake Ontario, Ms. Hoffman-Broach said.

Federal agents stopped the boat because it had too many people on board, Mr. Price said. When some of the passengers were unable to produce documentation proving they were citizens or legal immigrants, he said, they were detained. All but one was eventually released, The Star reported.

The article about the arrests, posted on June 16, led to a torrent of angry Web postings. One, sent from a fake e-mail address, said, “watcha doing to mi wifey, no checky her papeles. she no legal, but she havey benifit card.”

A response, which carried a Homeland Security Internet protocol address, read: “That sounds like my boyfriend. Leave him alones and get your own. My boyfriend works sometimes but he is really good at getting FREE benefits from the Federal and State government.”

Another post, apparently sent from a separate computer linked to Homeland Security, read in part: “These farmers have a problem because the gravy train that they were riding for soooooo long is being brought to light.”

The newspaper removed the posts. It also reported that it had discovered others, dating to last year, that appeared to have come from computers affiliated with Homeland Security.

Immigrant Rights Activists Condemn Obama Plan to Expand Use of Local Police to Enforce Immigration Law

Immigrant Rights Activists Condemn Obama Plan to Expand Use of Local Police to Enforce Immigration Law

On July 10, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano  announced plans to standardize and greatly enlarge the 287(g) program,  by which local law enforcement is given money, equipment, and powers  to enforce federal immigration law.  (See Homeland Security’s press release.)

As the following press release shows, turning immigration enforcement over to local police has led to  frequent police abuse, racial profiling, and rapid-fire detentions and  deportations.

In a related development, the ACLU has condemned the new standardized  Memorandum of Agreement governing local police under the 287(g) plan,  as a meaningless gesture to reduce local police abuses, writing “The  new standardized MOA makes no serious attempt at discouraging illegal  racial profiling or reducing the conflict between sound community  policing principles and the expansion of this program.”

As one immigrant rights activist wrote, “More groups and individuals going against the “Washington Consensus” –  legalization in exchange for even more enforcement-on immigration.  Please distribute this far and wide as the Obama and Napolitano are  trying to do this below the clouds-and some fog- of excitement around  the Sotomayor confirmation hearings. This is the clearest statement to  date of Obama’s willingness to support racist, dangerous and  ultimately failed immigration policy. That some of these groups have  not previously made statements against Obama and that they waste no  time using language still unheard of in echo chamber of Washington  (ie;” Condemning”) provides,  I think, an interesting preview of where  and how Obama’s credibility may rapidly drop in immigrants rights and  Latino communities.”

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

ADVOCATES ISSUE STATEMENT CONDEMNING OBAMA ADMINISTRATION’S

EXPANSION OF DHS’S FAILED 287(g) PROGRAM

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 17, 2009

Media Contacts:

Adela de la Torre, Communication Specialist, National Immigration Law  Center, 213.674.2832 (office), 213.400.7822 (cell)

Andrea Black, Coordinator, Detention Watch Network, 202-393-1044 ext.  227 (office), 520-240-3726 (cell)

Judith Greene, Director, Justice Strategies, 718-857-3316,  jgreene@justicestrategies.net

Civil rights and community groups across the country denounce  Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano’s  plans to expand the highly criticized 287(g) program to eleven new  jurisdictions around the country.  The program, authorized in 1996 and  widely implemented under the Bush Administration, relinquishes, with  no meaningful oversight, immigration enforcement power to local law  enforcement and corrections agencies.

Since its inception the program has drawn sharp criticism from federal  officials, law enforcement, advocates and local community groups.  A  February 2009 report by Justice Strategies, a nonpartisan research  firm, found widespread use of pretextual traffic stops, racially  motivated questioning, and unconstitutional searches and seizures by  local law enforcement agencies granted 287(g) powers.  Justice  Strategies recommended the program be suspended.  “We found evidence  that growth of the 287(g) program has been driven more by racial  animus than by concerns about public safety.  The expansion of this  deeply flawed program cannot be justified before a thorough test of  corrective actions shows solid proof that they have been effective,”  reports Judy Greene, Director of Justice Strategies. A March 2009  Government Accountability Agency (GAO) report, criticized DHS for  insufficient oversight of the controversial program.

Also in March, the United States Department of Justice launched an  investigation into Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona, to  determine whether Arpaio is using his 287(g) power to target Latinos  and Spanish-speaking people.  In Davidson County, Tennessee, the  Sheriff’s Office has used its 287(g) power to apprehend undocumented  immigrants driving to work, standing at day labor sites, or while  fishing off piers. One pregnant woman—charged with driving without a  license—was forced to give birth while shackled to her bed during  labor. Preliminary data indicate that in some jurisdictions the  majority of individuals arrested under 287(g) are accused of public  nuisance or traffic offenses: driving without a seatbelt, driving  without a license, broken taillights, and similar offences.  Such a  pattern of arrests suggest that local sheriff’s deputies are  improperly using their 287(g) powers to rid their counties of  immigrants, by making pretextual arrests that are then used to  forcefully deport people. “We need only look at the example of  Maricopa County to understand the devastating effects the increased  287(g) program will have on our communities,” said Chris Newman, Legal  Programs Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.  “The Obama administration must recognize that the 287(g) program is  predatory and ripe for corruption and profiling that will harm  community stability and safety for everyone.”

The Police Foundation, the International Association of Chiefs of  Police, and the Major Chiefs Association have expressed concerns that  deputizing local law enforcement officers to enforce civil federal  immigration law undermine the trust and cooperation of immigrant  communities, overburdens cities’ already reduced resources, and leaves  cities vulnerable to civil liability claims.  “When victims and  witnesses of crime are afraid to contact police for fear of being  jailed or deported, public safety suffers,” said Marielena Hincapie,  Executive Director, National Immigration Law Center.

Napolitano’s July 10 announcement that DHS has granted 11 new  jurisdictions 287(g) powers stunned advocates who had been expecting a  major overhaul of – or end to – this failed program.  “DHS is fully  aware that the abusive misuse of the 287(g) program by its current  slate of agencies has rendered it not only ineffective, but dangerous  to community safety.   It is surprising Napolitano did not simply shut  this program down.  Expanding this failed program is not in line with  the reform the administration has promised,” said Andrea Black,  Coordinator of the Detention Watch Network.

Signatory Organizations:

A Better Way Foundation, New Haven, CT

All of Us or None, San Francisco, CA

Border Action Network, Tucson, AZ

Center for Constitutional Rights, New York, NY

Center for Media Justice, Oakland, CA

Detention Watch Network, Washington, D

Families for Freedom, New York, NY

Florida Immigrant Coalition, Miami, FL

Grassroots Leadership, Austin, Texas

Homies Unidos, Los Angeles, CA

Immigrant Defense Project, New York, NY

Immigrant Justice Network

Immigration Law Clinic, UC Davis School of Law, Davis, CA

Immigrant Legal Resource Center, San Francisco, CA

Judson Memorial Church, New York, NY

Justice Strategies, New York, NY

Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, San Francisco, CA

Main Street Project, Minneapolis, MN

Media Action Grassroots Network, Oakland, CA

National Day Laborer Organizing Network

National Immigration Law Center, Los Angeles, CA

National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, Boston, MA

Partnership for Safety and Justice, Portland, Oregon

Project Rethink

Southern Center for Human Rights, Atlanta, GA


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