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Conducting a Voter Registration Drive

 

This page is designed to aid community members when planning to conduct a voter registration drive. To conduct a successful voting drive, we recommend you follow these steps:

Contact your local CAIR chapter to join your efforts with theirs.

Find your closest CAIR chapter.

Gather a reliable core team.

If CAIR does not have a chapter in your state, gather two to four members of the community to help coordinate the drive.

Choose the date, time and location of the event.

Eid festivals and Jumaah prayers are excellent opportunities. Clear your event with those in charge of the location. Make sure that the timing is convenient and fits into the normal schedule of the community. It's always recommended that you keep in mind that you are serving your community: make registering to vote easy for them. Don't expect them to come to you.

Call or visit your state election office for materials to be used in your voter drives.

The rules change from state to state. In many states the office of the secretary of state is responsible for overseeing elections and information can be found on his or her website. Perform an internet search for "state board of elections" along with your state's name, or simply look up the phone number. Many states will give you forms to have filled out (make sure you ask for the proper method of returning the completed forms), others require attending a short, simple certification course. Make sure that you request enough registration materials. Alternatively, call CAIR and ask for assistance. You can also ask CAIR for free copies of CAIR's Civic Participation Guide. These can be given away during your drive.

Get the answers to some basic questions.

The following questions are common from people registering to vote, ask the elections board representative for the answers: Who can register to vote in the state? Do I have to register by political party? Do I have to re-register if I move? When is the latest I can register for the next election? Do I have to re-register for each election? Where do I vote? When can I expect my voter registration card to arrive?

Inform the community about the drive.

Announce it in advance, perhaps by hanging fliers in local mosques. Ask mosques to announce the drive at Jumaah prayers. Call everyone you have in your email and cell phone contact lists and ask them to commit to calling five other people to invite them to register during your drive.

Contact the media.

Send a media advisory to your local media outlets. Include the answers to what you are doing, when you are doing it, exact street address of where it will occur and a contact name and phone number. Events of this nature are an excellent opportunity to obtain positive media coverage for the community. You can call CAIR and ask for help with this.

Conduct the drive.

Make sure you have read all the form's instructions carefully, and help people in filling out the form. Don't be shy. Approach people and ask if they are registered to vote. Call attention to your effort. At the very least you will need: pens, clipboards and signs announcing that people can register to vote.

Keep track of how many voters you have registered.

Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and tell us how your drive went, (What worked? What didn't? What advice would you give others? Your experience will benefit future drives) and how many voters you registered.

Return the completed forms.

Completed voter registration forms should be sent to or dropped off at your state election office.

Want to know more? Need help or advice? Call CAIR and talk to our government affairs department.

Register to Vote

 

Facts you need to know before registering to vote

  • You must be a United States citizen who will be 18 or older on Election Day in order to register to vote.
  • Each state has its own guidelines about who can register, how to register and what information you need to provide. Additionally, each state sets its own registration deadline for voters who wish to participate in the next election.
  • You can register by downloading a copy of the National Mail Voter Registration Form online. You can also visit the office of the local election official in your city or county.
  • According to the US Election Assistance Commission, you can also register to vote "when applying for a driver's license or identity card at State DMV or driver's licensing offices, State offices providing public assistance, State offices providing State-funded programs for the disabled, and at armed forces recruitment offices."

Register to vote from the convenience of your home. Go to CAIR's Rock the Vote-sponsored online voter registration tool. To watch CAIR's video on how to register to vote, click here.

Obtain a copy of the National Mail Voter Registration Form here.

Specific information about registering to vote in your state can be found here.

Want to know more? Need help or advice? Call CAIR and talk to our government affairs department.

Election Center

If you Don't Vote, Don't Complain

It is essential that American Muslims participate in our nation's democratic process. There are many ways to do this; one of the simplest and most critical is voting in national and local elections. Civic participation, especially voting, is a citizenship right.

It is our duty to give our leaders sincere advice. We should support public officials who prove themselves trustworthy and a benefit to the nation. We should vote to remove them from public office when they do not.

Islam's message is comprehensive, encompassing all aspects of life. Inaction--or worse, cynicism--denies this. If you are not present to give your opinions others will do so for you. Your participation in public affairs protects Muslims and promotes good in society--reducing poverty, making quality medical care easily accessible, and ensuring everyone's civil liberties.

If you're planning to participate in national or state elections by conducting voter registration drives, get-out-the-vote drives or other election activities, we hope you will find these materials helpful:

Muslims should not limit their desire to promote good to any exclusive group. We have strong values and ethics to contribute to American culture. Good Islamic character compels us to care for others and show concern for their problems. Faith should compel us to act in ways that benefit all people.

If you're not already registered, please register to vote!

Want to know more? Need help or advice? Call CAIR and talk to our government affairs department.

Working Effectively with a Congressional Office

 

This page is designed help you work more effectively with a congressional office.

According to the Congressional Management Foundation, only 5 to 7 percent of the population communicates with their elected officials. It's fun to share our opinions with our friends and at the dinner table; it's vital that we share these same opinions with those in policy making positions who pass the laws that impact our daily lives, from the taxes we pay to the civil rights we are obliged to protect.

CAIR has shown again and again the power of individuals communicating with decision makers. Put your faith into action and be sure your congressperson addresses the issues that concern you and your family.

Public officials are elected to serve the interests of their constituents. Members of the U.S. House of Representatives are elected by the people living within a defined geographic area in a state known as a congressional district. U.S. senators serve everyone who lives in their state.

You are represented in the U.S. Congress by one representative and two senators.

What can a congressional office do?

Crafting law and shaping policy are among the primary responsibilities of members of congress. Article I of the U.S. Constitution grants congress "all legislative powers" in government. Among these powers are coining money, maintaining the military and regulating commerce. In general, legislative and policy work is handled by the congressperson's office in Washington, D.C.

Another important task for congressional offices is constituent service. This entails everything from helping constituents address major issues with government agencies to sending birthday greetings and flags that have flown over the U.S. Capitol. Congressional offices can also: assist constituents with appointments to U.S. military academies; aid the immigration process; facilitate access to housing assistance and subsidies; help in acquiring information in federal prison cases; and can point entrepreneurs toward government programs that can help their business. In general, this work is handled by the congressperson's office or offices in the district or state he or she represents.

Know your needs; understand their needs

Members of Congress rely on constituents to help them shape their positions regarding the issues of the day. They seek the insights of community leaders and highly-regarded constituents.

When approaching a member of Congress, it is important to be clear about your purpose. As a community leader, you may be looking to foster a long-term relationship. As a concerned citizen, you may want to see action on a particular issue or get your legislator to vote a certain way on an important piece of legislation.

Regardless of your intent or purpose, be specific in your requests and allow yourself the opportunity to follow up. This will ensure that you are building toward a relationship rather than a one-time interaction. For instance asking, "Will you vote in favor of legislation X" or "Will you bring this point up during debate on the House floor" are examples of specific requests. If you are in a position to organize a town hall meeting, inviting the congressperson to visit with the community is another good strategy.

Do not tell the congressperson or their staff that you want to "make them aware of" an issue. Your issue may be fascinating, but their schedules are overloaded. Once they find you are not asking for anything specific, their attention may drift.

Equally important to knowing your goals is understanding the needs of the congressperson and their staff. First and foremost, members of Congress are responsible to the voters in their districts. Voters are the boss and elections are the annual review. You may have the best issue in the world, but if it does not find support in the district it may be hard to convince the congressperson.

It is recommended that you do some reading about the congressperson's views and priorities before your meeting. Information about the congressperson can be found through a visit to his or her website, searching for information about him or her on the internet, or reading articles about him or her in the local paper.

Your reputation

Building a reputation is important. When you call an office, your reputation can result in your phone call going to a decision maker or being transferred to "our convenient general complaint voicemail box that is reviewed daily."

Be honest about what you can and cannot do. Never make promises you can't keep and keep the ones you make. In making a presentation, do not omit information that harms your case but is critical to the issue.

Don't wear out your welcome. Constant visits and letters will strain even the best of friendships. You must balance your need to keep your issue "top of mind" with the reality that a congressional office is inundated with people and issues.

Pitching your issue

As you frame your arguments to elicit support for your concerns, think about how the congressperson adopting the issue will help you both, and how it will impact their district.

Equally, always be able to compromise. On issues where you cannot come to a mutually agreeable conclusion, always maintain basic courtesy. Venting your frustration may be immediately fulfilling, but in the long-term it can lead to a closed door.

Supporting Materials

For congressional consumption, materials supporting your issue should be no longer than five pages. Your first paragraph should clearly state what you are concerned about and what can be done. Research indicates that you have approximately 15 seconds, or 150 words, before the reader decides to continue with what you have written or to move on to something else.

Boil down your arguments to their most basic components, and bullet point key information and requests. Write using short sentences and paragraphs. Massive blocks of text discourage reading by those who already have too much to read. Facts and numbers are important, but don't be afraid to include a personal story that puts a human face on your issue.

There is a good formula to follow in laying out your materials:

  • outline the need for change,
  • propose a specific change,
  • address how workable the change is,
  • review the positive and negative consequences of the change, and
  • rebut any arguments those who hold views different from you might present.

Even if you give the material in print, send it in an electronic form that the office can cut and paste at need. Congressional offices are always seeking good material to help them push issues forward -- be willing to provide it to them.

Congressional staff

Working with staff is important. Frequently, staffers are the office experts on their particular issues. They are also far more accessible than the typical member of Congress. Quickly respond to any requests that staffers make; remember, they are trying to act on your behalf.

Coalitions

Always be willing to build coalitions around issues. Lending your support to the concerns of other communities can bring them on board with your issues. It is sometimes politically easy to turn away from one group, but a coalition representing varied interest groups is harder to ignore.

Want to know more? Need help or advice? Call CAIR and talk to our government affairs department.

Best Practices for Participating in a Meeting with a Member of Congress

 

This page is designed to aid community members prepare for meeting with a member of Congress. In preparation for meeting with a member of Congress, it is recommended to fill out CAIR's elected official meeting planning sheet in conjunction with the information provided on this page.

Who will attend and what is their role?

Avoid delegations larger than five. If the meeting is in DC, two is the best number. Select people who will stay on message and not let their emotions get away from them. Know in advance of the meeting the job you want each member of your team to perform.

What is your outcome?

It is important to be clear about your purpose. Be specific in your requests and create the opportunity to follow up. For instance asking, "Will you vote in favor of legislation X" or "Will you bring this point up during debate on the House floor" are examples of specific requests. Make sure you have a name and contact information so you can follow-up. If you are in a position to organize a town hall with Muslim constituents, inviting the congressperson to visit with the community is another good strategy.

Pitching Your Issue

As you frame your arguments to elicit support for your concerns, think about how the congressperson adopting the issue will help you both, and how it will impact their district. Make adopting your position appealing to their interests. Try to mix a brief personal story in with your facts and figures.

Best Practices

  • Be punctual. Plan on meeting for no more than fifteen minutes; however, be willing to stay longer if the congressperson is receptive.
  • Know the congressperson's views and priorities before your meeting; this will help you frame the most convincing argument. This information can be found through a visit to his or her website, searching the internet, or reading articles about him or her in the local paper. On issues where you cannot come to a mutually agreeable conclusion, always maintain basic courtesy.
  • Be factual and honest. Summarize your three most important points at the beginning and end of the meeting. Never argue motivations, only the merits of the issues.

Things to Avoid

Don't make commitments you cannot keep. Don't tell the congressperson or their staff that you want to "make them aware of" an issue. Once they find you're not asking for anything specific, their attention may drift.

Supporting Materials

Materials supporting your issue should be no more than five pages in length. Your first paragraph should clearly state what you are concerned about and what can be done.

After the Meeting

Fill out a copy of CAIR's lobby meeting report to document the meeting. Send a thank you note to everyone with whom you met. Promptly send any material you promised and take any action to which you committed. Call in two weeks and ask what action has been taken.

Want to know more? Need help or advice? Call CAIR and talk to our government affairs department.

Best Practices for Arranging to Meet with Members of Congress

 

This page is designed to help you arrange to meet with a congressional office.

Put your faith into action, arrange to meet the people who are elected to serve you and share your opinions with them.

  • Research shows that only about 7% of voters contact their elected officials;
  • Congresspersons maintain easy-to-reach in-district offices to serve their constituents;
  • You are not expected to be an expert, just a concerned citizen who has an opinion and maybe a story to go along with it.

Know who represents you

To find out who represents you in the U.S. Congress and how to contact them, click here [Link to CAIR webpage: Contact Your Elected Representatives]. You can also find out by calling the Capitol Hill Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 (have your zip code ready) or CAIR at (202) 488-8787.

Get contact information for the member's scheduler

Call the member's office and ask for the proper spelling of the scheduler's name and their fax number and email address.

Send a written request for a meeting

Include the following information: the topic you wish to discuss at the meeting; names of those who will attend, if possible limit your group to no more than five; when you would like to meet and your contact information. Include your address so they can verify that you are a constituent. Members are generally in the district weekends and during congressional recess periods. Members are generally in Washington, D.C. on weekdays.

Send your request

Send the request to the congressperson's scheduler by fax and e-mail.

Confirm the request was received

Wait two business days and then call the scheduler to confirm that your request was received.

Be politely persistent

Be patient and flexible; it may take several calls to get a firm meeting time.

Call the day before

Call the day before your appointment to reconfirm it.

Want to know more? Need help or advice? Call CAIR and talk to our government affairs department.

Tips for Calling a Congressional Office

 

These are guidelines to help you call a congressional office to express your views on any issue.

Simple and Effective Tips for Phone Calls

  • If it makes you feel more comfortable or helps you organize your thoughts, write your key points on a piece of paper before you call.
  • Ask the person to whom you speak for their name and title and write it down.
  • Express how you feel, but avoid being confrontational or argumentative. Always remain polite and professional even if the person you are speaking with seems disinterested or hostile.
  • Present your message clearly and simply.
  • Get to the point quickly.
  • Know what you want the member to do and ask them to do it. ("I want the congressperson to vote in favor of Legislation X.")
  • Ask again for the congressperson to take action.
  • Let the staffer know that you will be following up.
  • Using the person's name, tell the staffer you will be calling them back to track the congressperson's actions on the issue or legislation. (This will create greater responsibility for that particular staffer and will generate more of your comments going directly to the congressperson.)
  • If the Congressperson or the staffer expresses something with which you agree, thank them.
  • Lastly, be sure to follow up on your phone call. It is important for the congressperson to know that they will be held accountable.

Things to Expect When You Call

  • You will most likely speak to a staffer, not the member of Congress. This is normal practice.
  • They will generally ask for your name and contact information, primarily your zip code. This is how the office identifies that you live in their district. They cannot ask your citizenship status.
  • Due to the volume of incoming calls, congressional offices frequently track only calls for or calls against many issues. Frequently, you will not be asked for any details other than whether you support or oppose the issue or legislation.

Want to know more? Need help or advice? Call CAIR and talk to our government affairs department.

Legislative Action Center

 

Welcome to CAIR's government affairs department legislative action center. We are committed to helping Muslims and all Americans who value civil liberties make their voices heard in Congress, the White House and across the nation.

CAIR encourages you to take action by contacting your elected representatives about legislation and policies that impact the civil rights of American Muslims.

Muslim Americans have the benefit of the guidance, support and wisdom of the many minority groups who have fought discrimination before us. CAIR believes that is the Muslim community's civic duty to stand firmly for Islamic and constitutional principles in the face of efforts to erode the liberties our nation's founders implemented. Not to do so would be a failure to honor the struggle of those before us and a disservice to the next minority that will be the subject of fear, misunderstanding and discrimination.

In the following pages, you will find tips and best practices for:

Click on any of the action alerts or videos below for specific details on how you can get involved. Also check out our past action alerts and videos.

Current CAIR Action Alerts

CAIR Action Alert -- Ask Congress to Remove Detention Provisions from NDAA (5-21-2012) [Link to AA]

Congress has once again begun consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2013 (NDAA). While this annual defense authorization act provides valuable funding for the Armed Forces, it also contains misleading provisions that fail to put an end to threat of indefinite military detention within the United States.

CAIR is urging everyone who cares about civil liberties to contact their members of Congress and ask them to support legislation that reaffirms the due process rights of all Americans and repairs the damage done to the U.S. Constitution by last year's NDAA. (Read more)

CAIR Action Alert -- Tell Congress to End Racial Profiling (5-1-2012) [Link to AA]

Last fall Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) introduced the End Racial Profiling Act of 2011 (S.1670/H.R. 3618). If passed, this act will promote measures to eliminate profiling based on race, ethnicity, national origin, and religion by federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement.

At the same time, Sen. Dick Durbin and Rep. Conyers have gathered signatures from 13 senators and 53 representatives asking the Department of Justice to change its policy on racial profiling. Revisions to the guidance include measures that will prevent profiling based on religion and national origin and eliminate loopholes that permit profiling at U.S. borders and for reasons of national security. (Read more)

CAIR is urging everyone who cares about civil liberties to contact to contact their members of Congress and ask them to end racial profiling in America.


Past CAIR Legislative Action Alerts

Urge Kansas Governor Not to Sign Anti-Sharia Bill (5-15-2012) [Link to AA]

Tell Congress to End Indefinite Detention (5-9-2012) [Link to AA]

Ask Elected Officials to Oppose South Dakota Anti-Sharia Bill (2-22-2012) [Link to AA]

Say No to Indefinite Military Detention of U.S. Citizens (12-6-2011) [Link to AA]

Ask Senate to Reject Detaining U.S. Citizens Without Charge or Trial (12-1-2011) [Link to AA]

Ask Congress to Remove Language Targeting Muslims from DHS Bills (10-19-2011) [Link to AA]

CAIR Video Action Alert: Rally Against Torture June 24th in Washington, D.C. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0PyhwBpML6Q
CAIR Video Action Alert: Call for an End to Racial Profiling in America http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mF8g2fkfU14

CAIR Video Action Alert: Urge Kansas Governor to Veto Anti-Sharia Bill (5/15/12) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nt_ZgVHYdSg
CAIR Video Action Alert: Ask Elected Officials to Oppose South Dakota Anti-Sharia Bill (2-22-12) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQRDXehWbtw
CAIR Video Action Alert: Ask President Obama to Veto Indefinite Detention of U.S. Citizens (12-30-11) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxfiyDTE_Z0

Want to know more? Need help or advice? Call CAIR and talk to our government affairs department.

Help Reform TSA Training Procedures on Civil Rights

Legislative Fact Sheet

(October 2011)

The Issue

  • Current Transportation Security Administration (TSA) workforce education programs do not provide sufficient enough time, training or resources on passenger civil rights to prevent security personnel from screening passengers based on race, ethnicity, national origin or religion.
  • CAIR has consistently encouraged the TSA to eliminated bias in its trainings and amongst security personnel by adopting screening measures that do not rely on protected characteristics to identify security threats. However, a number of recent high profile civil rights cases illustrate that the TSA has not yet eliminated such biases.
  • The civil rights of all passengers remain threatened by not adequately training transportation security officers. Without adequate civil rights training, TSA pilot programs like Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques (SPOT) are also left vulnerable to mismanagement, manipulation or abuse.

What is being asked of members of Congress?

  • Support comprehensive reform of TSA workforce education programs to require sufficient enough time, training and resources on passenger civil rights. Revise the Transportation Security Administration Authorization Act of 2011 to include:
  • An amendment to the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (Public Law 107-71), that:
    • Increases the number of hours required for initial screener classroom instruction and on-the-job training in TSA policies and procedures that protect and promote the civil rights of all passengers.
    • Requires in the annual proficiency reviews of security personnel a demonstration of the knowledge and skills necessary to perform screening in compliance with passenger civil rights.
  • A provision that prevents the use of trainers who demonstrate bias toward Islam and Muslims or other minorities.

Reasons to Support

Current TSA policies and procedures require passenger screenings to be based on specific observed behaviors and not on appearance, race, ethnicity or religion. However, transportation security officers do not always practice such guidelines due to lack of training, bias in trainings, and in some unfortunate cases, personal bias.

  • A Lack of Sufficient Training: In October 2010, the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General released a critical report of the TSA's screening workforce training program. The report found that the "TSA does not ensure that [transportation security officers] (TSOs) are provided the time they need to effectively complete training requirements," and that, "TSOs described rushing through course material without devoting the attention needed to retain the lessons."
  • Only Two to Three Weeks of Training: TSA officers are not provided with enough time to adequately train. Current workforce training programs for TSOs only consist of 40 hours of initial screener classroom instruction and 60 hours of on-the-job training. Those selected as behavior detection officers (BDOs) for the SPOT program only undergo four days of behavioral classroom instruction and analysis, and 24 hours of on-the-job training.
  • Training Procedures Promote Stereotypes (I): Recent media accounts in May 2011 criticized the TSA for hiring an individual who appeared Middle Eastern/South Asian in descent to test screeners at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport by carrying a shaving kit made to look like a bomb. Civil rights advocates believe that when the TSA resorts to ethnic and religious stereotypes in training drills, it leads to inappropriate profiling in passenger screenings.
  • Training Procedures Promote Stereotypes (II): Recent media accounts in May 2011 also criticized DHS, which oversees the TSA, for sponsoring a South Dakota Department of Public Safety conference that paid Islamophobe Walid Shoebat to speak at the event. Shoebat claims that "Islam is the devil," there are "many parallels between the Antichrist and Islam," and that President Obama is a Muslim.
  • Programs Susceptible to Civil Rights Abuses: According to an internal TSA investigation, known as the "Boston Report," from early 2008 to late 2009, BDOs engaged in widespread racial profiling at the Newark Liberty International Airport. Specifically, BDOs would single out Mexican and Dominican passengers as a way to drive-up immigration referrals. BDOs would then falsify behavioral reports to justify their scrutiny. BDOs engaged in such practices were nicknamed "Mexican hunters" by colleagues.
  • Screeners Lack Training on Civil Rights (I): In August 2009, college student Nick George was interrogated, handcuffed and detained for nearly five hours at the Philadelphia International Airport because TSOs had discovered a set of English-Arabic flashcards on his person. The TSA's treatment of Mr. George was a violation of his First and Fourth Amendment rights to free speech and protection against unreasonable search and seizure.
  • Screeners Lack Training on Civil Rights (II): In January 2009, TSA officials and JetBlue Airways paid $240,000 to Raed Jarrad to settle charges that they had discriminated against him because of his ethnicity and wearing a T-shirt with Arabic writing. In order to board the plane, the TSA forced Mr. Jarrad to cover up his T-shirt with another T-shirt and made him ride in the back of the plane. Such actions were a clear violation of Mr. Jarrad's right to free speech and expression and DOJ's 2003 guideline on racial profiling.

Federal Prison Communications Management Units

Legislative Fact Sheet

October 2011

The Issue

  • What are CMUs? In 2006 and 2008, in secret and without the opportunity for public review the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) created Communications Management Units (CMUs). CMUs are prison units designed to isolate and segregate certain prisoners from the rest of the federal population. Unlike other BOP prisoners, CMU prisoners are completely banned from any physical contact with visiting family members and friends and their telephone communications are severely limited.
  • CMUs disproportionately target American Muslims. Currently there are two CMUs nationwide that house between 60 and 70 prisoners in total. However, two-thirds of those prisoners are Muslim, even though Muslims represent only 6 percent of federal prison population.
    • At the Marion-Illinois CMU, 72 percent of the population is Muslim, 1,200 percent higher than the national average of Muslim prisoners in federal prison facilities.
    • At the Terre Haute-Indiana CMU, its prison population is approximately two-thirds Muslim, an overrepresentation of 1,000 percent.
  • CMUs lack transparency and violate due process. CMU prisoners do not received any meaningful explanation of the reasons why they were transferred to CMUs or what evidence was used to make that decision. They also do not receive a hearing to challenge their CMU designation. Likewise, there is no meaningful review process through which they might earn their way out of the CMU.

What is being asked of the U.S. Senate?

On October 7, twelve House members wrote to BOP with questions and concerns about the policies and practices at CMUs, and the circumstances under which they were established. We ask that you reemphasis the House's concern and support a Senate letter of inquiry to BOP demanding that it clarify:

  • Why are CMU inmates not informed of the evidence used to determine their designation in CMUs?
  • Why is there no review process through which CMU inmates might earn their way out of CMUs?
  • If CMU inmate communications are being closely monitored, why are they not allowed contact visits?
  • Why did BOP determine that it is not necessary for inmates to have communications-related infractions before being placed in CMUs, given the focus on the monitoring of inmate communication?
  • What accounts for the large percentage of Muslims in CMUs?

Reasons to Support Reform of the Communication Management Unit Program

  • In 2010, two years after the fact, BOP finally disclosed CMU polices for public comment as required by law. While BOP is expected to release its final rules governing CMU facilities by October 2011, Congress should act now to ensure that these questions are properly addressed in BOP's final rulemaking.
  • As stated above, CMUs lack transparency, violate due process, and disproportionately target American Muslims housed in the federal prison system. In addition, the Center for Constitutional Rights reports that BOP has an unchecked pattern of retaliatory and discriminatory designation of Muslim prisoners and politically active prisoners to CMUs.
  • Although many CMU prisoners have been classified as low security by the BOP and have clean disciplinary histories, their communication with family, friends, and the outside world is severely restricted without clarification or justification. CMUs' visitation policies are even more restrictive than that of ADX Florence, the BOP's "supermax" prison. This policy runs counter to BOP acknowledging the critical importance of communications and visitation to the rehabilitation and re-entry of prisoners.

Note: This document contains text produced by the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Help Reform Immigration Laws

Legislative Fact Sheet

(January 1, 2013)

The Issue

Immigration reform is long overdue and needs to be implemented in a way that is fair, upholds the constitutional values of due process and equality, and ensures human rights.

In the absence of comprehensive federal immigration reform, many states have adopted punitive enforcement of immigration laws that relies on racial and religious profiling.

Current federal immigration laws and practices have also led to racial profiling, indefinite detention, and mistaken deportation of immigrants and American citizens alike.

These laws may endanger public safety by redirecting the limited resources of our nation's immigration law enforcement agencies (LEAs) into programs that: 1) target immigrants without a criminal records, and, 2) inadequately train state and local LEAs required to enforce these laws.

Not only are these laws ineffective, they can lead to deep distrust between immigrant and resident communities and a lack of reporting to law enforcement agencies.

These programs are unaffordable in a time of financial crisis – Congress is expected to appropriate over $5 billion to DHS's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in 2013, including $2.8 billion for immigration detention and removal operations.

What is being asked of members of Congress?

Support comprehensive immigration reform policies that establish a commonsense approach for LEAs, respect civil and human rights, and promote greater public safety. Enact reforms that:

  • Immediately stop the implementation the ICE led Secure Communities program and Criminal Alien Program unless and until meaningful civil right and civil liberties safeguards are put in place to ensure that racial profiling and other human rights violations are not occurring.
  • To prevent such violations, collect data on the perceived race or ethnicity of the people arrested, the charges that are lodged and the ultimate disposition of cases.
  • Completely phase out existing 287(g) agreements and initiate no new agreements, do away with section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Rescind the DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel's 2002 "inherent authority" memo and issue a new memo clarifying that state and local LEAs may not enforce immigration laws.

Establish clear accountability and oversight systems that are transparent and responsive to civilian complaints, maintaining a zero tolerance policy that holds accountable all federal immigration LEAs who commit civil and human rights violations.

Direct immigration LEA resources on deporting "high priority" convicted drug traffickers, gang members and violent criminals, not "low priority" law-abiding immigrants seeking citizenship.

Develop comprehensive workplace immigration enforcement laws that can be implemented in a manner that improves rather than undermines the wages and working condition of U.S. and immigration workers while respecting the due process rights of workers.

Reasons to support reform of the Secure Communities program

  • Background: The Secure Communities program is a "voluntary" state-federal deportation program that enhances information-sharing between ICE, the FBI and state and local LEAs in 24 states. It is expected to be deployed nationwide in 2013. While the program is intended to identify, prioritize, and remove only the most serious criminal offenders, in practice it has led to deportation based on immigration violations, racial profiling, and state disengagement from the program.
  • Wholesale targeting of immigrant communities: According to ICE, 27 percent of those detained nationwide under the program were "non-criminals," and in the state of Illinois 78 percent of those detained were people who had committed only "misdemeanors or had no criminal record."
  • Misuse of resources: State and local LEAs are required to focus on undocumented immigrants, diminishing overall law enforcement efforts to prevent other serious types of crimes. Frequently, those who report crime or are victims of crime are deported because of their immigration status.
  • Not really a voluntary program: ICE has announced that it will "proceed with Secure Communities without the agreement of state and local jurisdictions" after having rescinded its prior agreements with participating states and jurisdictions. Massachusetts, Illinois and New York have already attempted to withdraw from the program.

Reasons to phase out section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act

  • Background: Section 287(g) authorizes ICE to enter into agreements with state and local LEAs, deputizing officers to act as immigration officers in addition to their regular activities. However, according the DHS Office of Inspector General's March 2010 report on the performance of 287(g) agreements, state and local LEAs do not receive adequate training, have engaged in racial profiling and potentially committed civil rights abuses, and like with Secure Communities, have targeted immigrants who have no prior arrests.
  • No accountability: According the March 2010 report, "With no specific target levels for arrest, detention, and removal priority levels, and with performance measures that do not account for all investigative work and criminal prosecutions, ICE cannot be assured that the 287(g) program is meeting its intended purpose, or that resources are being appropriately targeted toward aliens who pose the greatest risk to public safety and the community."
  • Inadequate training: According the March 2010 report, "287(g) training does not fully prepare [LEA] officers for immigration enforcement duties," and that training "curriculum provides limited coverage of three topics: civil rights law; the terms and limitations of [immigration enforcement agreements]; and public outreach and complaint procedures."
  • Unauthorized detention: According the March 2010 report, ICE "has detained aliens identified through the 287(g) program at three facilities that were not authorized by ICE, and therefore not subject to inspection." Many of these facilities are overcrowded and lack sufficient resources.
  • Wrongful detention: According to the American Civil Liberties Union and the Immigration & Human Rights Policy Clinic, "Wrongful immigration determination is yet another legal concern that arises from the implementation of 287(g) ... Because immigration law is complicated ... state and local officers often lack the necessary expertise notwithstanding the 287(g) training that they undergo. Consequently, American citizens and lawful permanent residents as well as undocumented immigrants who have legal claims to lawful status become vulnerable to wrongful detention and even wrongful deportation."

Remove Language Targeting American Muslims from the DHS Reauthorization Act of 2011

Legislative Fact Sheet

(October 2011)

The Issue

  • The Department of Homeland Security Reauthorization Act of 2011 (S.1546 and H.R.3116), pending in U.S. Senate and House, unconstitutionally supports counterterrorism measures that pursue beliefs, not criminal actions. Specifically, the act singles out American Muslims for additional scrutiny over the threat of violent extremism in the United States.
  • Sponsored by Senator Joseph Lieberman and Representative Peter King, both drafts of the bill seek to create a new coordinator position within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to direct efforts on "counter[ing] homegrown violent Islamist extremism" with particular focus on the "ideology of Al Qaeda and its affiliated groups" in the United States. However, it will be ordinary American Muslims, not Al Qaeda extremists, who end up being investigated under such a position.
  • The American Muslim community utterly rejects violent extremism. Creating a coordinator position that narrowly shifts the DHS counterterrorism strategy away from following actual leads and preventing illegal and violent acts, to monitoring the thoughts and beliefs of American citizens is akin to religious McCarthyism.

What is being asked of members of Congress?

Congress should oppose any legislation that unconstitutionally singles out American citizens for unwarranted scrutiny on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion. Specifically, members of Congress should:

  • Ensure that if the Department of Homeland Security Reauthorization Act of 2011 comes to a vote, the bill is amended to remove all problematic language that targets ideology.
  • Continue to support measures that pursue criminal action, not beliefs.

Reasons to Support

  • In a recent letter to Senator Lieberman, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano reaffirmed that, "DHS has made it a priority to counter all forms of domestic violent extremism, regardless of ideology," and that DHS has already established, "the Counterterrorism Advisory Board [led by a Counterterrorism Coordinator] to better coordinate the Department's ... efforts to prevent and protect against foreign and homegrown terrorist attacks."
  • DHS has already established a coordinator to direct efforts on confronting violent extremism. Creating an additional position conflicts with current counterterrorism programs and goals.
  • Profiling is unconstitutional and violates the basic constitutional protections of the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments.
  • Religious and racial profiling is not effective law enforcement. Anti-government, violent extremists like Timothy McVeigh (Oklahoma City Bombing, 1995), John Bedell (Pentagon Shooting, 2010), and Joseph Stack (IRS - Austin, TX Suicide Bombing, 2010) would not have been identified by a coordinator focused on religious ideology.

Help Close the Department of Justice's Loophole on Religious Profiling

Legislative Fact Sheet

(October 2011)

The Issue

  • Since September 11, 2001, thousands of innocent Americans have been wrongfully targeted by federal law enforcement officials because of their race, religion and national origin. They have been searched, investigated, and detained without cause in the name of national security.
  • In 2003, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) made a partial attempt to put a stop to racial profiling by issuing a policy guidance that banned federal law enforcement officials from engaging in such activities. However, the guidance remains ineffective because it includes open-ended loopholes that allow federal law enforcement agencies to profile at U.S. borders and for reasons of national security.
  • The guidance also remains incomplete and ineffective because it:
    • Is only a guidance and not official policy.
    • Does not prohibit profiling based on religion or national origin.
    • U.S. Immigration Customs and Border Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) continue to use ethnicity as a "relevant factor" in decisions to make immigration stops.
    • Has no enforcement mechanism, and is not applicable to state and local law enforcement agencies working in cooperation with federal agencies or receiving federal funds.

What is being asked of members of Congress?

Members should send or support a letter to the DOJ that requests the department to revise its 2003 policy guidance on racial profiling to:

  • Include measures that prevent profiling based on religion and national origin by requiring:
    • Federal law enforcement agencies to maintain policies and procedures that eliminate profiling and any pre-existing practices of profiling.
    • States and local governments working in cooperation with federal law enforcement agencies or seeking federal grants to certify that they maintain policies and practices to eliminate profiling. They must also establish procedures and programs for addressing complaints of profiling.
  • Eliminate loopholes that permit profiling at U.S. borders and for reasons of national security.
  • Ensure that the guidance is enforceable.

Reasons to Support

  • There is bi-partisan support for banning racial, religious and ethnic profiling. Many law enforcement and government agencies also do not support it.
    • In 2009, President Obama pledged to ban racial profiling by federal law enforcement agencies and provide incentives to state and local law enforcement agencies to prohibit the practice.
    • In 2001, President George W. Bush proclaimed in his State of the Union address, "[Racial profiling is] wrong, and we will end it in America."
    • Former Homeland Security press secretary Russ Knocke stated that the department is "opposed to the concept of racial profiling," and its profiling techniques are based on suspect behavior rather than targeting ethnicities or faiths.
    • In a 2006 report, the International Association of Chiefs of Police recommended that all law enforcement agencies put an end to racial profiling.
  • Profiling is unconstitutional. Profiling violates the basic Constitutional protections of the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments.
  • Profiling hinders anti-terrorism efforts. Profiling is not effective law enforcement. Timothy McVeigh (Oklahoma City Bombing, 1995), John Bedell (Pentagon Shooting, 2010), and Joseph Stack (IRS - Austin, TX Suicide Bombing, 2010) would not have been identified.
  • Profiling diverts precious law enforcement resources away from investigations of individuals who have been linked to terrorist activity by specific and credible evidence.

Support the End Racial Profiling Act of 2011

Legislative Fact Sheet

October 2011

The Issue

  • On October 6 and December 9, the End Racial Profiling Act of 2011 (ERPA) was respectively introduced into the U.S. Senate and House. The act would prohibit and promote measures to eliminate profiling based on race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion by federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement.
  • Since September 11, 2001, CAIR has received hundreds of reports from innocent Americans that have been wrongfully targeted by federal and state law enforcement agencies because of their race, religion and national origin. They have been searched, investigated, and detained without cause in the name of national security.
  • In 2003, the U.S. Department of Justice made a partial attempt to put a stop to racial profiling by issuing a policy guidance that banned federal law enforcement from engaging in such activities. However, the guidance remains ineffective because it does not prohibit profiling based on religion or national origin and includes open-ended loopholes that allow federal law enforcement to profile at U.S. borders and for reasons of national security. Also, as a guidance it lacks any enforcement mechanisms.

What is being asked of members of Congress?

Co-sponsor the End Racial Profiling Act of 2011. If signed into law, ERPA would require:

  • Federal law enforcement agencies to maintain policies and procedures eliminating racial profiling and any pre-existing practices of racial profiling.
  • State and local government applying for federal law enforcement assistance grants to certify that they maintain similar policies and practices to eliminate racial profiling. They must also establish procedures and programs for addressing complaints of racial profiling.
  • The Attorney General to collect data on hit rates for stops and searches by law enforcement agents. He or she must also create grants to develop and implement best practice devices and systems to eliminate racial profiling.

Reasons to Support

  • There is bi-partisan support for banning racial, religious and ethnic profiling. Many law enforcement and government agencies also do not support profiling.
    • In 2012, the National Council of Law Enforcement Organizations (NCLEO) signed a letter in support of ERPA. NCLEO members include the Hispanic American Police Command Officers Association, the National Asian Peace Officers Association, the National Latino Peace Officers Association, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, and the Women in Federal Law Enforcement.
    • In 2009, President Obama pledged to ban racial profiling by federal law enforcement agencies and provide incentives to state and local law enforcement agencies to prohibit the practice.
    • In 2001, President George W. Bush proclaimed in his State of the Union address, "[Racial profiling is] wrong, and we will end it in America."
    • In a 2006 report, the International Association of Chiefs of Police recommended that all law enforcement agencies put an end to racial profiling.
  • Profiling is unconstitutional. Profiling violates the basic Constitutional protections of the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments.
  • Profiling hinders anti-terrorism efforts and is not effective law enforcement. Anti-government extremist such as Timothy McVeigh (Oklahoma City Bombing, 1995), John Bedell (Pentagon Shooting, 2010), and Joseph Stack (IRS - Austin, TX Suicide Bombing, 2010) would not have been identified by profiling.
  • Profiling diverts precious law enforcement resources away from investigations of individuals who have been linked to terrorist activity by specific and credible evidence.

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