ADC Urges Congress to Address Key Civil and Human Rights Issues at Senate Hearing
Washington, DC | www.adc.org | December 10th, 2014 – The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights held a hearing yesterday entitled The State of Civil and Human Rights in the United States. The hearing examined the status of important civil and human rights issues, including surveillance reform, profiling and law enforcement, criminal justice reform, voting rights, the militarization of law enforcement, and police-community relations.
ADC President Samer Khalaf and ADC’s staff attended the hearing to show strong support for civil rights and call for much needed reforms. ADC also submitted an official statement for the record, which can be read here.
In the statement, ADC expressed widespread concerns that Federal, state, and local law enforcement continue to disproportionately target Arab Americans and other minority communities for investigation, interrogation, and arrest. ADC is concerned that the U.S. Department of Justice’s Guidance for Federal law enforcement agencies does not do enough to prohibit the current discriminatory practices of profiling based on race, ethnicity, national origin, and religion. For example, while prohibiting profiling for routine or spontaneous law enforcement decisions, such as traffic stops, the DOJ’s guidelines still allow Federal law enforcement officers including the FBI and TSA to utilize profiling in the context of national security and immigration law.
ADC also urged Congress to pass a number of pertinent reforms and practical bills in order to help address the human and civil rights issues that were discussed in the hearing. ADC called on Congress to pass legislation including the End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA) (S.1038), the USA Freedom Act (S. 2685), the Smarter Sentencing Act (H.R. 3382/S. 1410), the Democracy Restoration Act (DRA) (H.R. 4459/ S. 2235), and the Voting Rights Amendment Act (H.R. 3899/S. 1945).
Chairman Dick Durbin (D-IL) presided over the hearing, and Members of Congress and leaders from the civil rights community participated in the hearing as witnesses. The first panel of witnesses to testify included Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), and Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN). As the first Muslim Congressman, Rep. Ellison testified regarding the pervasive Islamophobia in America, including the rise of hate crimes against Muslim Americans since 9-11.
The second panel included testimony from Wade Henderson (President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights), Dr. Cedric Alexander (President of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives), and Laura Murphy (Director of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office). In addition to articulating the concerns of the civil rights community, this panel of community leaders called on Congress to take immediate action to pass common sense reforms to protect our rights.
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